Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Meeting the Audience

Some really cool kids' drawings for the assignment that we gave: "Snap, crackle and pop".

I have heard many times, mostly from adults, that my portfolio lends itself to children’s book illustration. I had never had an opportunity to show my illustrations to a bunch of children and ask their opinion, though. This week I finally met my audience. I visited an elementary school where my mother-in –law, Betsy Wish, works as an art teacher. We had 5 classes that day, 4th grade, two 3rd grades and two 1st grades.

Honestly, I was a little nervous to meet the children, because it’s quite intimidating to be standing in front of so many kids that look at you with respect and need to hear something smart and funny from you. Luckily, I wasn’t alone and Betsy showed me a way to engage the kids in a discussion.

I showed them my illustrations, and then Betsy and I asked different questions such as: What do you see in the picture? Why is she/he doing that? Can you tell me what happened before/after of what you see in the picture? The kids absolutely loved it. They raised their hands even before I finished putting the artwork up and were already ready to answer questions before they even had a good look at the picture. That was really funny. Most of the time they guessed pretty soon what was happening in the pictures. They also came up with a lot of other explanations/scenarios that I didn’t have in mind when I was creating the illustrations. It was really enjoyable to see that my illustrations can generate that much enthusiasm and creative thinking. One little boy even told me in all seriousness that he will write a children’s book and hire me as an illustrator. I said, “I will be waiting.”

It was also very curious to see that all the kids, without exception, wanted to draw and didn’t care about the results too much. They simply enjoyed the activity. So at what point do they stop drawing and start being afraid of drawing? At what point does it become engrained in their minds that their drawing is not good enough and they might as well drop it? That makes me so sad. I too had that fear and didn’t do much drawing from the age of 10 until about 20.

At the end of each class I handed out my postcards and they asked me to autograph the back of the cards. For them I’m famous!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Don't Do That!

Don't Provoke a Porcupine!

Don't Kiss a Crocodile!

Don't Irritate an Elephant!

Finally finished these three new illustrations for my children’s book illustration class. The assignment was to create three illustrations with the same character in all of them (one full page illustration and two spot illustrations). The poem that I worked with was “My Uncle Looked me in the Eye”. The challenge is that the poem doesn’t really have any descriptions, only warnings not to annoy different animals. I decided to invent all the scenarios for the lines of the poem that I chose.

“Don’t provoke a porcupine”

“Don’t kiss a crocodile”

“Don’t irritate an elephant”

Even though it could be hard to come up with initial ideas, it also gives you all the freedom and opportunity to read between the lines and come up with some interesting solutions to engage the reader. This is what illustration is all about – a lot of thinking and a lot of drawing, painting, etc.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On Sketch Group and Working from Home

These are some people from the sketch group. Sometimes it's much more interesting to draw them than a model. That wasn't true with these particular models, though. They were very good.

Since I started to keep a sketchbook, I discovered that I really enjoy ink, everything and anything associated with ink: pen and ink, brush pen, ink washes, waterproof ink, non water proof ink, etc, etc. It’s not something I use for my finished illustrations, but for my sketchbook and figure drawing it really feels right. Working with pen and ink and brush for figure drawing is still a foreign concept to me. I don’t have a slightest idea what to use, how to use it, which ink is good, which paper is good, what kind of lines different nibs produce/or not produce, how not to clog the pens. At the same time I really enjoy this spontaneous process. After spending years using only dry media for figure drawing and not enjoying it, it feels refreshing to lose control over media and just let things happen. Let’s face it, pen and ink is not something you can control or erase. When the line is there, it’s there and you have to figure out how to make it all work. This kind of drawing/painting will never produce the most accurate results, but who cares anyway. I’m learning human anatomy, I’m developing visual memory, I’m improving my lines and I’m enjoying it much more than I ever enjoyed charcoal or pastel.
Not only the models and set up is really good at this sketch group, but people are genuinely nice and friendly. They all know each other for years. Every Monday after figure drawing they go for a beer at a local restaurant. That was something that I didn’t expect and I was pleasantly surprised. Having some beer with good people is always a plus.
Going to figure drawing and spending time with these people brings a little bit of routine to my otherwise not that structured life. Monday night is figure drawing; Thursday night is Illustrating Children’s Books class, which I also enjoy. That’s about it for structure.
I always suspected that working from home could be difficult, but I never thought it would be THAT lonely and isolated. It’s been only about two months, but I found it really hard so far. I guess that’s the nature of the profession. I will figure out eventually, and maybe very soon, how to make it all work. For now I’m trying to take each day at a time and keep myself motivated and work towards my goals. Everything will fall into its place eventfully, it always did, it always will.
How philosophical of me! Ha-ha.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Petite Prodigy Piglet Played the Piano for his Proud Parents.

This is my first illustration for my children's book class. The assignment was to first write a sentence with alliteration for an alphabet book. Then, we needed to create an illustration of the sentence featuring animals.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Sketches

Watertown summer concert

Ben # 1

Ben #2

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Malden Sketch Group

Being out of school, I needed to find a figure drawing group. I found Malden Sketch Group that has figure drawing at the community building in Malden. To be honest, I didn’t have high expectation for the place. I imaged a bunch of amateur artists, who don’t know what they are doing. I thought for sure there will not be a special light directed on a model.

How wrong I was! The people are very serious, mostly about 20-30 years older than me, but well, who cares. They draw well and they organize different painting/drawing related events. And yes, there is a light directed on the model. Everything is so well organized and the place is much nicer than any art school painting studio. And it’s only 10 minutes from my home.

I’m determined to get way better in figure drawing and I think I already see improvement in the last few months. I always try to keep in mind what Jon Foster (Illustration Academy instructor) answered to my question whether his drawing ability improved after art school. He said something along the lines that he improved tons after he graduated. If a person has an interest in drawing/painting, they will constantly improve.

SketchCrawl Sketches

Last Saturday I attended the SketchCrawl session in Cambridge. SketchCrawl happens on the same day (once in 3 months or so) all over the world. It’s a pretty interesting event. I met some nice people and we had a fun time sketching at the cafes and bars, talking and laughing.

Our last destination was a bar in Cambridge. I was pleasantly surprised that people really respond and appreciate you doing your fast doodles. I was asked by some guys to sketch them and while doing that I met some more fun people who were curious to see me draw. We talked about drawing and painting, writing and all that artistic stuff.

Anyway, it was fun to see how excited people are to see you draw and I think my husband Ben and I made some new friends at that bar. How strange…

Illustration Academy figure drawings

These are 15-20 minute poses done in Prismacolor NuPastel