Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cosmicomics Illustration

I was to do one color illustration for the cover, and one black and white inside illustration for Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics. We were to choose 2 different stories for our illustrations—my choices were The Form of Space for my cover, and The Dinosaurs for my inside illustration. We were to do these illustrations in the medium(s) of the artist we researched (mine was Anne Yvonne Gilbert).

My inside illustration is done in silhouette in India ink on 3 ply bristol board.

The Dinosaurs is a story about a dinosaur who may be the very last one. This world has been without dinosaurs for so long that they've been almost forgotten. They're only known in the current time as monsters in stories the inhabitants (who seem to have evolved to be only part dinosaur) use to scare each other. No one knows what a real dinosaur looks like, and when the dinosaur comes upon some of the new inhabitants, they accept him into their community without knowing what he is. This illustration shows the dinosaur meeting the son he fathered with one of the new inhabitants.

My cover illustration  from The Form of Space was done in acrylics on Crescent heavy Illustration board. It was then scanned into Adobe Illustrator and the text was added. Pre-critique, the text was black, there was no text box, and the text was not justified.

The Form of Space centers on the thoughts of a man, who, along with another man and a woman, is falling, endlessly, separately, and without any physical contact....or is he?

I rely heavily upon reference material in almost all of my drawings...drawing out of my head is not my biggest strength...

Monday, April 27, 2009


 Paper craft carnage.....

Paper craft...it sounds so simple, and yet.....

Apparently I don't have the kind of mind that can look at one of these designs either flat or assembled, and visualize them the other way around. As Charlie Brown would say....AUGH!!!!!!! I thought if I put a few together, maybe took them back apart, tried to combine some pieces, that I'd figure it out. So far, not so much. I had a vision in my mind that's apparently beyond the limits of my expertise at this point, so I'm back to the drawing board.......


OK...so....hours and days later, I sort of got the hang of it, after admitting to myself that I wasn't going to be able to build something curved with my current skills. We were allowed to use pieces of other people's blank patterns, so Octomom is made from pieces of 2 different templates, though I changed the proportions, completely. The Octobabies were made from pieces of 2 blank templates, significantly reduced. I used some paper craft artwork for clothing references, and used Octomom photos for facial references. The Octobabies faces were made by taking Octomom's eyes and mouth & shrinking them down; the mouth was altered and new eyebrows & nose were added. All this was done in Adobe Illustrator, and printed out on HP matte presentation paper. There are a few craftsmanship issues, and I've made a few adjustments to the template since I made this model, but overall, I'm happy with the outcome.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

CD and Flyer

I was supposed to get some people together who may or may not be musicians, and create a CD cover and band flyer from collaged images of them, or images pertaining to the message of the band. My people are usually in a band, sometimes as a duo, sometimes not. For the purpose of this project, they're a duo.

These first two pieces are details of choices I played with for the front CD cover. I eventually used the composition in the meadow for the final piece, because the background and color contrast were less distracting in it. The figure and meadow photos were not taken by me, but were used with permission.

I took the background photo for this one. I liked it, but the tree shapes and high contrast just didn't fit with my vision for the cover.

This is the front CD cover without text. Primary area photo with musician, taken by me.

This is the back CD cover without text. Primary area photo by me.

 These pieces are post-critique, but do not have the required text that was included on the critiqued versions. I'm making some corrections from critique suggestions, and will probably be posting those pieces, including the flyer, with the required text. The CD front was created in Adobe Photoshop from 8 different photographs. The CD back was created in Adobe Photoshop from 5 different photographs. No musicians were harmed in this process, but I think one of them got pretty bored.

Memphis in May Chile T-shirt Design

The goal was to prepare a T-shirt design for the Buckman Lab BBQ team. The winning design was printed on T-shirts worn during their participation in Memphis in May's BBQ competition. This was not it, but I had a good time making it.

Drawing #1 is a combination of 2 drawings that were previously presented to Buckman for critique. This combined drawing contains elements from the other 2 pieces (that were specifically singled out by Buckman representatives). It's a graphite drawing on tracing paper, & it was scanned into Photoshop, to edit the composition and size of some of the elements.

Final image, drawn and colored in Adobe Illustrator. The primary images are pigs doing a happy, traditional Chilean Cueca handkerchief dance on the river bluff, with a BBQ grill, the Memphis-Arkansas bridge, and a boat speeding down the Mississippi, to complete the composition. Happy dancing pigs, grilled corn, and a boat ride...what's not to like?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Artist Research

Each semester, we choose, research, and make a presentation on an illustrator whose work we're interested in. This semester, it was required that the illustrator be living, and agreeable to doing an interview with us. My current illustrator of choice is
Anne Yvonne Gilbert, a talented & versatile artist, who has considerable range in her medium, subject matter and style—and she was super nice regarding the interview.



Celebrity Piece

The idea was to do a portrait or caricature of a celebrity in the context of one of their current, or soon-to-be released films. So...I chose Adrien Brody as my celebrity (because he has a great nose), and the film is called Splice.

The plot: Model-pretty geneticists, famous for splicing animal genes together, decide to throw human DNA into the mix, and end up creating a human/animal chimera—things eventually go awry.

It could be a crap film, or not. Guillermo Del Toro is producing; Vincenzo Natali is directing—it could go either way. I have to say, the initial creature images I saw were pretty darned cool.

I'm attempting to convey his conflict, her appealing otherness, and the DNA connection by showing Adrien in the foreground, looking concerned, worried, hopeful, whatever, with creature girl descending the DNA staircase in the background

The painting was created using acrylics on Crescent illustration board. (It began as watercolors on Crescent illustration board, until I found that I couldn't use watercolors successfully on that surface....I need to start making notes about boards and paper.) My post-critique efforts included a considerable amount of darkening of the values in the background, and I changed creature girl's skin color from a cool purple to a warmer pink. In the foreground, I darkened the hair and some shadows, and added some cooler color contrast. I think the composition with the large foreground figure works well, I like the contrast of the warm foreground and cooler background colors, and I believe the values are, for the most part, appropriate. This is a post-critique image (forgot to shoot a "before image), though I still have a couple of additional changes to make—some tweaking of values in a few places. I'm not as satisfied with creature girl as I'd like to be. I never got her body shape or position quite right, and her face is not as developed as I'd originally envisioned it—I don't believe I even came close to doing justice to the reference images, because in the references, she was a seriously great-looking creature girl. I'm wondering if the meaning of the staircase is obvious enough. The foreground portrait works for me; I initially had a couple of problem areas on the side of the face and the hair, but I think they're all worked out now. I believe it looks like him....and I'm happy with his nose.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Postage Stamp Piece Write Up

The idea was to "design 4 grouped postage stamps on the subject of A Celebration of Cultural Diversity in the United States. " We were to "choose a cultural group found in the US, and select 4 aspects of the culture that have been integrated into the broader American culture."

My culture choice was American Indian. The cultural aspects I chose for the stamps were:

Food (stamp design—the 3 sisters—corn/beans/squash) These and other vegetables (as well as the techniques used to grow them) were introduced to European colonists by American Indians, and remain a part the US diet today.

Native Medicine (stamp design—yarrow plant, medicine rattle, "The Good Red Road") American Indians introduced European colonists to native medicinal plants. At least 200 wild medicinal plants & formulas were introduced to colonists, and many are still listed as medicines in the United States Pharmacopoeia. The medicine rattle and "The Good Red Road"represent the general holistic view of traditional native medicine— treating mind, body and spirit, and maintaining the philosophy of a proper "life path" that guards against illness and/or facilitates healing. After the introduction of "mainstream" medicine, traditional methods fell out of favor within the general US population. Within the last 10-15 years, however, there has been a consistent nationwide trend toward the use of "alternative" and "complimentary" therapies, methods which are rooted in traditional holistic and herbal practices.

Native Design (stamp design—traditional, inter-tribal designs from pottery, textiles and paintings) Many of these designs are found present-day in non-native produced textiles for clothing and furniture, home decor (southwest motifs), ceramics, and jewelry.

Lacrosse (stamp design-traditional hand-made lacrosse stick and ball) America's first sport. Played by American Indian tribes across the US as early as the mid-1600's. There are 477 college and college club teams and 14oo high school women's teams, as well as 400 college teams and 1200 high school men's teams in the US, today.

Postage Stamp Piece

Mind map, from sketchbook—favorites of stamps that appealed to me for one reason or another.

Thumbnail groupings, looking for the right combination.

Final drawing mock-ups with text.
Graphite on tracing paper, manipulated in Photoshop & Illustrator.


Final version of stamps.
Watercolor paintings (each stamp 6x6") on Arches Aquarelle 300lb. cold press paper (this stuff is great!), digitally re-sized & manipulated in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

Final version: post-critique. Slight shading added in upper right stamp, 42USA text reduced, and text blocks shifted slightly, drop shadow density increased, color block background removed.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Death Penalty Opinion Piece Commentary

The death penalty. What do I think of it? Am I for it or against it? For me, it isn't clear cut. But then, I'm a Libra, and I rarely find anything like this to be clear cut. Libras like me have a hard time. We weigh, we pace, we try to balance, we get frustrated and wad things up and pitch them physically and metaphorically in the general direction of an overflowing trash can. We worry and fret and wonder why we've been railroaded into a position where we have to actually take one side or the other and stick with it, because we can often see both sides of an argument, and to us, they frequently both make some sense. We spend way too much time looking back and forth, and up and down, and in and out, losing hours and hours while we ponder—our heads threatening to explode from the efforts of our deliberations, as we inevitably cry out to the heavens in desperation for the gift of an infallible cosmic 8-Ball to rescue us from our fear of commitment to the "wrong" side of an issue. But I digress.

How do I feel about capital punishment? To kill or not to kill, is there an easy answer? Arguments for and against capital punishment find common roots in issues ranging from civil rights to religion. Is there a point at which the offenses we commit become so grievous that we must allow the life and liberty we enjoy as citizens to be extinguished? When we take away the rights of others permanently, should our own rights be ignored, as well? And where does religion fit into the puzzle? "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is a very large statement that does not appear to deal so much in specificity. After all, it doesn't say, Thou Shalt Not Kill Unless (You Think) the Other Guy Kills First, but we certainly seem to use this type of reasoning when we're waging war on each other—on global and local scales. It doesn't say Thou Shalt Not Kill Only People, But the Furry, Feathered, Scaled and Leafy Things Are Fair Game—and we're certainly involved in substantial carnage within the animal and plant kingdoms. It doesn't say Thou Shalt Not Kill Only Members of One's Own Race, Religion, Gender or Socioeconomic Group, either. So if Thou Shalt Not Kill means don't do it to nothing, nobody, ever, then haven't we already screwed up royally?

I loathe the fact that we have to have a death penalty. I hate that in response to heinous acts of violence, we take it upon ourselves, collectively, to snuff out even more lives—sometimes traumatizing additional innocents (an addition to those already severely traumatized by the aforementioned heinous acts of violence). It's frightening to me that under our current system, it's possible (and documented) that not only are innocent people sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit, but that in many instances these errors can go completely undetected (except, of course by those wrongly convicted, and the actual perpetrators of the crimes). I find it ridiculous that in the United States (a country which considers itself—for right or wrong—to be the policing agent of the world), the law enforcement and judicial systems (where justice is supposed to be blind), do not appear to utilize standard operating procedures across social, economic, gender and racial lines. Nevertheless, all that being said, I absolutely believe that in this day and age, the death penalty is unavoidably necessary. But for the most part, I believe from arrest to conviction to sentencing to execution, it's a crap shoot, a gamble, and I have to wonder—who's winning?

Death Penalty Opinion Piece

I just noticed the pics of the painting look a little wonky on the left side...they got a little distorted in the photography process.

Final Painting, second go-around. I increased the contrast with more layers of watercolor, and added gouache on top of the red and blue. The red and blue still need to be lightened up some; I didn't quite get the colors right.

Final painting, first go-around. Watercolor on very annoying board. Critique results: 1)in some places the contrast of light and dark needs to be stronger. 2) the brightness of the straight-from-the-tube red and blue needs to be toned down some, and these areas made a little lighter, even.

This is final sketch number two.

This is final sketch number one.

These thumbnails came after the initial bunch. The first batch didn't seem to communicate my ideas as well as I needed them to.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Watercolor Site and Hue Test

This is a link to a site with some pretty good watercolor and gouache info:


This is a link that was sent to me by one of the Contemporary Realist Academy artists:


This one takes you to a world map; you choose your continent, then choose your country & it'll take you to the test. I thought it was pretty cool. My score was a 7...I missed some values in the mid-range. :( I guess I need to work harder on my expensive art school education.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What I did on my Xmas break

I do pet portraits for people who love their furry family members and friends. The above portrait is of Phoebe Grace. She's 21x29 inches. I started working on this at the end of summer, but I have a hard time working on commissioned projects while school's in session, so I wasn't able to finish her until last week. Although I've worked from clients' pet pics previously, I generally prefer to take my own photographs, whenever possible. I then use Photoshop to edit them to the specifications of the client. Once a final pic is approved by the client, it becomes my drawing reference. I begin each painting by creating a visible but faint outline of all large shapes with graphite. I then build up layers of color and texture with NuPastels, charcoal, and Conte crayon. Although I enjoy using NuPastels, I'm considering a switch to hard pastel pencils. I need something that will give a finer line (for hair layering) than the shape of the NuPastels will allow.