Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Illustration work...what's missing

This piece is supposed to afford me the opportunity to do some work that will add missing elements to my current portfolio. What's missing from my portfolio? A lot.

I chose to base this illustration on my own writing, but changed my mind several times about which piece of writing it should be. My final choice was this story:

This is the rough drawing...

Here's the finished watercolor painting....

There are so many things wrong with it. I tried to correct one of the most glaring problems, but am wondering if I only made it worse. There are some wonky striations that are the result of scanning the painting in, in 2 pieces, but I tried to camouflage most of them. So I'm back to the drawing board to start all over...literally. I really like the idea of the shark as a shadow, but the painting didn't accomplish exactly what I wanted. I plan to take some time and do the original over again....better, this time.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

State of the Union - Post 6

Review your responses to the above questions. What sort of an illustrator are you?

Besides an overly wordy one?

It seems pretty clear that I’m someone who’s on a completely different career trajectory than...well...I'm thinking most everyone else, I guess...but as far as the questions go, it appears that I’m definitely leaning in the direction of the stay-at-home freelancing of children’s book writing and art, book cover art in general, and/or greeting card art and/or writing…no surprise there. I’m an artist with some life limitations, who’s immensely interested in the story that inspires the art, and an artist who derives great pleasure from the fact that art can inspire emotion in people. I think doing freelance work for one, or even all three of these particular markets might be a good fit for me.

What sort of career do you want to have?
My dream career would be one as a rocking children’s book illustrator and writer, with time left over to do some personal painting, and maybe travel, but if that didn't happen overnight, illustrating for children's magazines, smaller print magazines, online magazines, and/or greeting card companies is something I'd like to look into (in the meantime, I'm doing pet portraits whenever I'm up to it), and I'd still like to try to make room for illustrating my own writing.

Because of the challenges I face with my less-than-healthiness, my intention when I started school was to hone the skills that I had and acquire new ones, so that I could do some sort of freelance work, strictly from home. Since the the health situation hasn’t changed, and is maybe getting worse, that’s still my goal. I didn’t originally have a specific art career in mind, I just wanted to find something I enjoyed...something that I had talent for, something that despite my physical limitations, I could actually do, that might help me to become a little less destitute, and at least a small part of the world-at-large, again. I declared Illustration as my major because I’ve had a lifelong interest in children’s book art, book cover illustrations, and to a lesser degree, greeting card designs; Illustration seemed to be an agreeable amalgam of Fine Arts and Design Arts, and it appeared to be a more financially practical path than Painting or Surface Design.

Does your present body of work reflect your aspirations?
Not completely.
After looking at everything two or three or four or five times, I think there are some pieces that might actually appeal to a children's book, book cover art, or greeting card market. I think the shortcomings of my body of work are...first...about the quality of the work—I need to show better skills, and after that, the types of work, and then the number of pieces in the portfolio.

Could it do so more strongly?
I’ve been happy with many of the ideas that I’ve come up with for my assignments. That being said, at the very least, I don’t believe my present body of work is accurately indicative of my painting and drawing skills. I know that I’m better than what I’ve produced, at least as far as some of the work I’ve done in my Illustration classes, goes. I’m slow, and much of the time my completed pieces either look unfinished, or hurried, or both, and not in a good way. I think in many instances, I had solid, workable (maybe even potentially salable ideas to the right demographic and market); I even managed to come up with a couple of pretty good ideas once in awhile, and my preliminary drawings weren’t bad. In the end, however, the quality of my final pieces was often not what I’d hoped for. Looking back over my body of work…again, mostly from my Illustration classes…I’m not miserably disappointed with what I’ve done, but my portfolio definitely needs to be stronger and more substantial than it is now. There are just a few pieces that I'd be pretty comfortable showing to a prospective client, since the idea is to actually impress and attract them with my work, but I think that...over a period of time...several of the pieces could be reworked, or even redone from the original drawings, to add strength to my portfolio. It certainly wouldn't hurt to do some new pieces with a target audience in mind, either, and I'd like to offer as much variety as I can. Though the work I’ve done in Illustration has never widely appealed to the peer group, I’m certain that there’s an audience out there for my ideas and my ways of creating, it’s just a matter of finding that market, and then doing whatever I can do, to produce work that meets both my standards and the clients’.

List ten images/themes/techniques/subjects/formats that your portfolio needs in order to become more in line with your aspirations.Besides the rework of some of what I've got,
1. illustrations based on my writing, because I don't have any.

2. a greeting card or two or three

3. something in a happy, colorful, fun style that's specifically aimed at kids; I don't think many of my pieces set a mood or elicit emotion from a viewer the way I'd like for them to.

4. something in a quirky, darker style to contrast with the happy, colorful, fun stuff, but still kid-friendly. I actually prefer darker-themed pieces, but I don't have any.

5. water - I've not done much water; what I did do, I didn't do well.

6. flora and fauna - I don't have many animals or plants in my illustrations. I don't think the dogs in my portraits count, because they're much more realistic than my illustrations.

7. photo collage - I've only used photo collage for an Illustration piece, once. More and more it's being used on book covers, though not always well.

8. ink - I only have one piece in ink, & it's a silhouette.

watercolor - I don't think I have any watercolor illustrations, & it seems to be popular medium with the children's book crowd, plus, I have a looser style with watercolor.

10. better, more consistent values in my painting

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

State of the Union - Post 5

If you had to spend the rest of your life illustrating one book, what would it be? Why?
I guess there are some obvious choices; the Bible, because it’s long, complicated, and full of stories that can be interpreted in many different ways, or I could go for some uber-long, historical-minutiae-of-the-world compilation...from what the dinosaurs ate for breakfast the day the comet hit, thru whatever Paris Hilton is planning for next week...that would certainly take up the time, or I could even illustrate MY BIG NOVEL that I haven’t written yet. If, however, I was going to spend the rest of my life illustrating one book, I'd really want to enjoy it, so my choice would be an anthology by Pat Murphy, called Points of Departure,

just because it includes some of my favorite stories, ever (my copy's falling apart, I've read it so many times). It would be a labor of love, and I think that would be a great way to live out a life.

If you could go apprentice with any two artists in the history of the world, who would they be? Why?

Leonardo da Vinci

image source 1 image source 2

Because he was a genius, so much more than an artist, and ahead of his time; I think learning from him would make you ready for anything.

and Leonor Fini

images source - previous Fini link

Though I’d have to do something about my cat allergy, because she was heavily into the felines, I'd like to apprentice with her, because she was a skilled painter and designer, she was a writer, she did illustrations, and she was kind of a wild woman, plus, she got to hang out with all the cool surrealist kids.

I guess I like multi-taskers.

If you were banned from the art world, but could have any career you wanted that wasn’t in art, what would it be? Why?
I wanted to be a singer when I was a little kid.

I loved to sing…it still gives me a huge rush...but then (as now), I turned out to be better at digging, than performing in front of people, so I began to dream of becoming an archaeologist. The idea of traveling all over the world, working outside on digs, and uncovering mummies and bones and pottery, while solving the mysteries of history and prehistory, sounded like the best adventure, ever. Sites like Pompeii and Herculaneum, the caves at Lascaux, anything to do with Neanderthals (you’ve gotta love those guys), discoveries in Egypt, and the exploration that’s gone on beneath the Mediterranean (how cool would it be if someone found that the contents of the Library of Alexandria hadn’t been totally destroyed?), all fascinate me, still. I think learning about history that we're not 100% clear on, is important. So if I couldn't be an artist, and it was possible physically, financially and in every other way to do anything else, then I'd want to be an archaeologist/paleoanthropologist, I guess. I could be Lara Croft,

minus the rocking body, the cool clothes, the independent wealth, and the weapons & fighting skills.

I’d still like to go on a dig one day, even though I am an artist, and a not-always-so-healthy girl.

Describe the project you would propose under the following circumstances. Describe the project in detail: what would it be, how would you spend the money (all of which must be spent on art expenses), how would you schedule the time allotted, and how would the work be presented upon completion?

So no paying off the school loans, huh?

image source

Ok....let's see...
1)One month, one thousand dollars:
A thousand dollars is a lot less than you'd think. Heck, if I had it, I could easily drop over $400.00 at Walmart and Whole Foods in just a few hours. I'm not sure I could even self-publish a book properly for $1000.00, of course, it's not like I could put a book out in a month at my turtle pace, anyway, so I guess it doesn't make much difference. But enough whining about what I can't do with it.

So. $1000. and a month. I'd like to buy some canvases, boards, paints and brushes...good stuff...and any other supplies I might need, to try to work up a few ideas I've had for paintings, for quite awhile. I have a journal that I write my ideas down in, whenever I have them...sometimes I go back and look at them and it's a real WTF moment, but I think there are a few ideas that have some me, if maybe not to anyone else. A cash windfall would allow me to explore one or more of those ideas.

If I bought really good supplies, I could probably spend $1000., but because I'm so slow, I doubt that I'd be able to get more than 2 or 3 really good paintings done in a month, so I'm not sure the cost would be justified...but maybe the kind benefactor who gave me the cash would be ok with that.

Time allotment? I'd pretty much be painting non-stop all month...eating, sleeping and painting, I guess; I don't get out much, anyway. For presentation of my 2 or 3 paintings, I could have a very, very small show, but it might have to be in my living room.

2)Six months, Ten thousand dollars:
A little over $1500. a month. Depends on exactly what "art expenses" means. I'd like to do something indulgent. I'm really slow, but since I'm a hermit anyway, and if it was all I worked on, I might be able to produce a children's book in six months...of course, maybe that's naive, from a time perspective; I'd have to do more research. $10,000. would cover plenty of proper (not cheap) supplies, with possibly a computer upgrade, or at least some software purchases to help with putting it all together (no sense in trying to create something big with obsolete equipment and wonky programs); the $10,000. would also hopefully cover self-publishing, copyright expenses (even though sending something to the Copyright Office now is like sending it into a black hole, it's probably necessary), as well as some advertising and marketing, maybe, and miscellaneous costs that I haven't thought of.

Time...again, pretty much non-stop work, I'd figure: write a story if I couldn't use something I already had, and then get up and paint every day, and occasionally eat and sleep, for the whole six months. Though, now that I think about it, the book has to be created, put together and printed, so that would require some creative time-juggling. Plus, some of the 6 months would have to be devoted to online set-up and marketing, and I'm pretty sure they'd want me to have a book before I started trying to do that.

I know someone who's self-published a couple of books. She markets hers through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and maybe some other Internet booksellers, so I'm reasonably certain I could do the same. She's also been able to tie her books to the Internet book launches of smaller, niche publishing companies, so that's a thought, too. I'd have to do more research to figure it all out, preferably, before the six months began.

I think there would definitely have to be some sort of real world launch, though...maybe I could talk Burke's into letting me have it there, and I could try to get the local paper to run a story, in conjunction with the opening.

3)One year and one hundred thousand dollars:A little over eight thousand dollars a month. Again, I'm not exactly sure what "art expenses" covers, but I'll go ahead and outline something that's been rattling around in my head for awhile. It's a proposal for an art-therapy center, specifically for veterans; something that goes beyond whatever services the VA offers, which from what I've read, often aren't much, if any, at least as far as art therapy goes.

There will be so many returning soldiers, eventually, and I've read that while art therapy helps them with PTSD and other disorders, both emotional and physical, there aren't nearly enough treatment centers available. I'm not a fan of war in general, but I believe that if, as a nation, we send people to war, then we should absolutely be taking better care of them when they return, and I believe in the benefits of art therapy.

This proposal would get the idea into the real world to see if it was doable, and hopefully attract the attention of people who could expand it. I have no idea how much something like this would cost, but I'm hoping $100,000. would be enough. I'm thinking a lot would depend on the kindness of strangers, and the cooperation of government people who aren't known for being cooperative.

It would be a place where the vets could go to hang out for a few hours a day, in a laid back, but semi-structured environment, with people who've been through what they've been through, with them all using art to try to get above and beyond those shared experiences. The services would be provided free of charge.

It would probably, hopefully, be possible to get a facility, maybe with utilities included, donated for a year (there's an atelier I know of here, that has a similar arrangement), since it would be just a trial run, happening over a finite amount of time, and it would be for veterans. I don't know if you can get a non-profit status for something temporary, but if so, that might help with expenses. It's possible that a proposal could be made to solicit more funds from the government, in the form of a grant, if it looked like more capital would be needed.

There would need to be consultations and/ or brainstorming sessions early on, with different art therapy experts (and maybe some brand new art therapists, just to get a fresh take on things) to determine how to set up a program that would go well beyond what's currently available, and be specifically geared for returning soldiers. With Skype, and other Internet means of communication, the participants would not have to be in the same location, and maybe that would help cut costs. It's possible that the experts would donate their time and expertise, but maybe not. If not, then their (hopefully reduced) fees would come out of the pile o' money. There would have to be at least a couple of licensed/certified/educated art therapists on hand, on-site, during hours of operation, and unless they wanted to donate their time, part of the money would go for their (hopefully small) salaries, too. It would most likely be possible to get some assistants, preferably people from local art programs or local artists (art students and artists are used to volunteering), to donate their time and skills.

Money would also be spent on art supplies and tables/furnishings/a single phone line/whatever, but we'd get everything donated that we could...I know some people who can talk anybody into just about anything. I don't know if you have to rent snack/soda/coffee machines, but I'm guessing we'd need to have a few. If we could get the VA and vet agencies on board, we could get vet referrals from them, and no advertising or solicitation would be necessary. I think it would be important to periodically arrange exhibitions of work that the participants would be comfortable showing, either at the (hopefully donated) facility, or maybe at a local gallery, so there might be a few costs associated with shows. If, eventually, these art groups were to spread across the country, maybe there could be state and national shows, as well.

My role would be to oversee the creation of the center and implementation of the program, coordinate the efforts, report on its progress, or lack thereof, be an art assistant, and make a final presentation to IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN AUTHORITY, at the end of the year.

Overall, my hope would be that by the end of the year, the center would have proven to be something that would be viable for veterans' agencies to consider adopting nationwide, but even if we weren't successful in accomplishing broad change, I believe we would have made a difference in the lives of quite a few veterans over the course of the year. You can't just drop people from any kind of therapy though, so something would probably have to be in place at the outset, to allow for referrals in the event that we couldn't continue beyond the first year. If the program did manage to be implemented nationwide, and/or our facility stayed open (with some other source of funding, because the $100,000. would be spent), and someday, miraculously, the country managed to run out of wars and veterans, the facilities and therapy program could be adapted for other types of participants.

Time...this is such a huge idea that I have absolutely no idea how to begin to imagine the allotment of time. First, I think I'd have to get some art-therapy professionals and veterans on board with the idea, then maybe try to secure support from IMPORTANT PEOPLE. Then, the appropriate agencies and groups would have to be contacted, necessary approvals and support procured, grants, if needed, applied for, brainstorming sessions held, a program finalized, facilities secured, personnel acquired, and all of that takes time, before the first client ever walks in the door. Once all that was done, and everything was in place, the launch could be held at the facility; we could have an official "opening"...maybe A.C. could come down, cut a ribbon and say a few words.