Monday, May 31, 2010

Recognition from Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators

I feel very honored to receive an Honorable Mention for SCBWI's Don Freeman Grant. This is my first year out of school and being a member of SCBWI, and it means a lot to me to receive this recognition from society. It proves one more time that I am moving in the right direction by choosing to focus on children's book illustration.
Here's the letters that I received from SCBWI.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Five Works Sold! Goodbye my Darlings...

Last weekend I sold five of my works. I think the way it happened was really cool.
I went to a doctor for a routine physical. He was nice enough to ask me what I do for a living, so I showed him my promotional postcards that I drag everywhere with me. Long story short, some time later he and his partner came to see the artwork in person. They are avid art collectors and they really appreciate art and respect the artists and their hard work.
Now my artwork is in the collection of Drs. Steve Williams and Michael Stillman, whose home is beautiful and has a few paintings or photographs on every wall. I never gave too much thought where my artwork would be and I suspected that it would probably be there to match a couch. In this case though, Steve and Michael enjoy and appreciate their collection and are proud to show it to their guests. I wish everyone treated artwork this way.
Even though I was a little sad to let two of my favorite original paintings go, I know that they will be displayed beautifully.

Petite Prodigy Piglet Played Piano for Proud Parents

The Fish was This Big!

Consumerland: Overexposure to Advertising

Consumerland: Overeating

Consumerland: Overmeticating

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Malden Sketch Group Exhibit: Come visit

The Malden Sketch Group that I go to for figure drawing is having a group exhibit that features work of the artists of the group.
The exhibit will take place at Commerce Place, 350 Main Street, Malden, MA. Come to the Artists' Reception on Friday, May 21st 6-8pm.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NYC: Visiting Children's Book Publishers and beyond

In the last couple of weeks I visited NYC twice for several days at a time. The main goal of my trip was promotion, visiting childern's book publishers to show my portfolio personally or to do a portfolio drop off. I was able to get a few personal appointments and those were extremely helpful (it's really hard to get a meeting with an art director in this day and age), the rest were portfolio drop offs. I was also able to arrange one portfolio drop off with a Boston publisher.
Thank you to everyone involved in this process for taking the time to look at my portfolio and helping me along the way: art directors, designers, design assistants, receptionists and security guards. Planning these trips took about three weeks in advance, and still there were a lot of confusion and hustle and frustration in NYC. I'm really glad that I finally took the courage and made the trip and took charge of my career. Plus, it was exhilarating to get out of the studio and have a complete change of scenery and pace.
I learned so much just from seeing how different publishing houses operate, where they are located, who they are, how the whole process of dropping off portfolios really work and seeing actual people in their work environment. You can only get so much from talking to people on the phone, the rest you just observe and listen and process and make notes and meet all these nice design assistants/receptionists who share some valuable insights with you.
The trip gave me such a boost of confidence and encouragement. While my work might not be suitable for some publishers, I got the general idea that I am definitely moving in the right direction, that I can do sequential images for children's books and I just need to keep working on my skills. The main compliments were that paintings were very expressive, playful and fun, I had some dramatic compositions, good technical ability in using media and unique visual elements. Some of the most frequent criticisms were to brighten up colors a bit and keep working on my children and people characters (my animal characters are already appealing), experiment more with composition and refine the style. I feel really good about all the comments that I got, especially the ones from personal meetings. It's nice to know that I'm on the right track and I just need to keep working.

NYC: Beyond

While in NYC on business, I had a lot of down time, so I visited my favorite places in NYC: Society of Illustrators, the American Watercolor Society and Animazing Gallery. Society of Illustrators had a Student Scholarship Exhibit which was really inspiring and sometimes I think those student exhibits are even better than professional shows.
Plus, visiting NYC is always a pleasure. I lived in Brooklyn five years ago for five years, so coming to NYC always feels like coming home, though I don't have to deal with the craziness of it all for too long. And I have so many Russian/Belarussian friends that still live in Brooklyn, so it's so much fun to see all of them again.
I have been curious for the longest time about "Jazz & Sketch" at the Society of Illustrators. It's a figure drawing sessions that happen every Tuesday and Thursday. The event was exactly what I expected it to be: the best figure drawing I went to. Live music (nice and easy), some people had wine while they drew and really good models that knew what they were doing. The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly. The music helped you to just enjoy drawing and not to worry about the results (fresh concept). The worst enemy of figure drawing is trying too hard to make it work. That's when the drawing really falls apart. I know it too well. I remember just four and a half years ago when I was a freshman at MassArt, age 24, drawing from a model for the first time in my life. I was one of the worst students in the class and I knew it. I was desperately trying to figure out "the secret" to figure drawing. There had to be some perfect method of drawing, right? I was always so tense and determined to make the drawing work. I pressed on the conté crayon or charcoal so hard, but the results were pitiful.
Only after about three or even four years of figure drawing, taking classes with different instructors, reading books on figure drawing, listening, observing, making connections in my head, I realized that there is no "secret". You just need to draw a lot, try a million approaches, make a million mistakes. Only then something will start clicking in your head and you come up with the way you draw, make decisions, choose media that is going to be personal and unique.
Now and then I get some compliment on my figure drawings. It's very special and exciting to me to know that the way my drawing ability improved was only because I just kept trying and pushing myself even though a lot of times it feels that it'll never get better. That said, there is still soooo much to learn and improve.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Recognition from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles

I am happy to announce that four of my works received Certificates of Merit from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles in three categories: Institutional, Editorial and Student.



Institutional Category: Image for NEAFA (New England Arts for Animals) 2010 calendar

Editorial Category: "Weekly Dig" cover, December 2008

Student Category: Consumerland- Overeating

Student Category: Consumerland- Overmedicating

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Watercolor Figures

I don't usually use watercolor for my figure drawing/painting. This week, though, I had a very strong desire to use watercolor. Yes, I know the proportion or the gesture could be quite off when using watercolor (due to difficulty of correcting mistakes), but the freshness, the liveliness you can get using watercolor... This medium fascinates me like no other due to its difficulty and unpredictability, sort of similar to my own personality. You never know what you are going to get with watercolor and it can either frustrate or fascinate you, or both at the same time. One day, I hope, I'll be able to master it, but for now I spend a lot of fun or furious times experimenting.