Friday, July 31, 2009

I made this quick, tiny painting for my stepdad. He's into praying mantises.The caption reads, "As he exchanged vows with Mathilda, Fred felt a growing sense of unease." A lot of the detail is lost in blogger's translation of this photo. It helps to click on the image to enlarge it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Nature Walk and Other Bits of Art and Life

This week I'm teaching a class about art and nature (art made from nature, art about nature) at the Arsenal Center for the Arts. My students are four, five and six years old. Oh, forgive me! They're four, five, six and six-and-a-half. I was afraid that today would be our only sunny day this week, given the monsoon summer we've been having in Massachusetts, so I took the kids out on a looong nature walk to gather some materials for the rest of the week. I really love spending time outside (hiking and camping and all that jazz) but nothing–and I mean nothing–allows a person to fully appreciate the outdoors like a nature walk with little kids. First of all, there's the pace. The pace is slow. Every blade of grass, every pebble, every leaf, every dried-up earthworm shriveled on the pavement, is scrutinized with the utmost care. In my experience, few grown adults have the patience or the time for a true nature-walking pace. Usually, when I hike with friends or family, it's all about reaching the summit and seeing the view from the top. Nature-walking is about wandering aimlessly, looking carefully and finding things you would have ordinarily passed right by. The joy is in the process of discovery. It's just like painting, really. To further extend and distort this simile, a dried-up earthworm is sadly not like watercolors, and will therefore not reconstitute/reanimate if one gets it wet. It's more like acrylic, and may be solemnly buried or offered up to any nearby robins who might be hopping by.
Last week was so packed with teaching that I didn't get to the studio at all. The week away and my post nature walk clarity gave me fresh eyes and mind, and I rediscovered some new stories and possibilities hidden in some old, abandoned paintings fragments. I like this one so far:
I started this piece eons ago, but couldn't figure out where to go with it. Adding those ribbons to the upper right seems like the start of something interesting and layered.

In other incredibly exciting news, I spent last weekend creating a book nook in our living room.
It looks a whole lot bigger and more impressive in real life than it does in this picture. I like to lie on the couch and pretend that I live at the library.

I've also discovered something delicious: a blueberry/grapefruit smoothie. Vanilla yogurt, frozen blueberries and grapefruit juice, with a few frozen raspberries thrown in for good measure.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Moleskine Exchange Phase II

Last week I received Sarah's moleskine in the mail. She had created a clear, spare image consisting of straight, ruled lines in a kind of maze-like grid, a tiny stick figure sitting at a desk, several chess pieces and one collaged-on giant rose. You can see Sarah's rose at the far left hand side of the image below. The rest is my response to her images. You can see these images better here.
I took my cues from Sarah's rose, which struck me as a kind of airy release from the gridded order of the images that preceded it. And I sought to push that release further, into a messy, intuitive burst of imagery. I drew in pencil, tinted my drawings with watery acrylic and collaged on some of the loose bits I have hanging around my studio. Here are some details:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Teeny Tiny Newbies

Workin' on some little uns for the Teeny Tiny Art Show in September.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

To compensate for my recent blogging negligence, I've super-saturated this post with images. I do hope that that makes up a little bit for my bad ways.

I've been continuing my work to develop an illustration style appropriate for children's picture books. I feel like I already have a pretty good handle on a style for kids 9–14. But in order to present myself as a more versatile illustrator, I want to adapt my style and way of working to even younger kids. Here's my most recent study:

I really liked this little painting, but for some reason I got it into my head that I should work with a brighter palette. Here's what happened with that:It's a bit difficult to see (on my monitor at least) but the result was downright lurid. A kind of one-note Disney knock-off palette that made my stomach lurch uncomfortably. I can't stand it when people talk down to kids, and between you and me, this use of color is one big visual "coochy, coochy coo." So I've decided to abandon this one and go back to my more subdued colors. What can I say? They just feel right to me.

Here's the finished version of a graphite illustration geared toward that 9–14 age group:

I'm also very excited to be participating in a moleskine sketchbook exchange. This particular exchange was organized by my college classmate (Wellesley '01 baby!), Sarah. Here's a blog written by another group of moleskine exchanging artists, so that you can get a better idea as to what the heck I'm talking about. The idea behind ours is this: 10 artists each buy one japanese accordion moleskine book and fill the first six pages with whatever our creative little hearts desire. Then each artist sends her book to the next artist, who in turn, fills the next six pages of the book and sends it off to the next artist, etc....By the end of the project everyone will have created an image/images in everyone else's book. Likewise, each of us will have a book containing the work of nine other artists. Here's what I came up with to kick off our moleskine exchange:

Here's a detail: