Friday, November 28, 2014

Flashlight Art Project

Today I enjoyed reading Mr. Schu's interview with Lizi Boyd, author of Flashlight and Inside Outside, wordless picture books with room to explore. Both of these books include cutouts that allow parts of the next illustration to show through, inviting you to turn the page.

Mathew Winner also interviewed Lizi Boyd in his Let's Get Busy podcast.  In the interview, Matthew suggested that Lizi's illustrations invite children to create art in her style. In particular, in Flashlight Lizi presents spreads drawn with white paint on a black background, except in the flashlight's beam, which she paints in full color.  Matthew envisioned children drawing with white pens on black paper to imitate that look. I thought that was a great idea, and stored it away for future use.

Today, my mother and kids walked in while I was watching the trailer for Flashlight on Mr. Schu's blog. "Oh, I love that book!" Art project time!

We cut white triangles for the parts of our pictures that were to be in our beams of light, and glued them down onto black card stock. Then we drew with Prismacolor pencils and gel pens on both the black and white areas.

Benjamin's light source is just off the page on the left. He was particularly pleased with the lantern garland and the glowing campfire next to the tent.

Here are the results of our efforts. It made for a quick and fun art interlude. Thanks for looking, and thanks Lizi Boyd, Matthew Winner and Mr. Schu for the inspiration.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Rancho Los Alamitos

There's a rancho very close to the university here in Long Beach. It's tucked away in a gated community. We went there this afternoon to look around and draw a little. The kids sat down to draw and drew a couple of pictures before I mentioned casually that they should be drawing something they saw there at the rancho, rather than cars and bears and things.
While I was drawing this corner of the Rancho, a man made a few hilarious attempts to get up into the enormous tree in the garden. I overheard a woman say to him, "You jump up and I'll give you a push." I thought that was likely to be great fun to watch, but I guess he thought so too, since they didn't try it.

See how big the tree is?

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Watercolor Class

I'm taking a watercolor class from Moira Hahn. In this assignment, we considered value, painting a white object in black paint.  We were to choose between a cement squirrel, a cow's skull or a teapot. For me the choice was obvious, though I'm not quite sure why.

In another assignment, we were to practice applying two gradient techniques in eight, credit-card-sized rectangles, and then paint something in the spaces. When I was little, I asked my mother (constantly), what should I draw? She always said "a giraffe." So when I was at a loss for this one, I thought I'd go back to my roots. I decided to think outside the box a little.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Boy Reading

I painted this boy reading again, playing with the lighting. Here's the first watercolor of this boy reading.

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Eye Eye Captain

Studying in the library. I found a book of faces.
Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Boy Reading

Here is a boy reading Virginia Lee Burton's Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. This is the painting I was planning in this post.

Ironically, in the photo reference I used for this, the boy was using an iPad. Perhaps he was reading the eBook. Thanks for looking.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Boy reading

What's he reading? Can you tell?
Boy reading

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Watercolor class projects

I've read loads of books since my last post. There is no way I'm going to keep up with that, given how much time I spend in the picture books at the library and bookstores.  It is a smaller task for me to keep track of some of my progress in art and illustration here.

I'm taking a watercolor class from Moira Hahn, which is demanding and engaging. In our first assignment, we learned to apply a flat wash (aha moment if there ever was one). I painted the absence of a potato masher, three times.
The Absence of a Potato Masher
 In our second assignment, we learned some texturing techniques. Then I doodled on mine.
Blue Sampler
The techniques sampler was to prepare to paint a blue still life. I am not a person to have stuff and things about the house, so I went to Peer One (a borage of stuff and things), and purchased a blue and white botchy ball.  Moira said it reminded her of a bowling ball, and I decided to go with that for my project. Here is my sketch.
Bowling Sketch
Moira discussed the purpose and necessity for a horizon line in a still life, so I added one in the painting.
Because of the placement of my salt shakers, the horizon line was not optimal. I drew a new sketch, and may repeat the project if I have time.
Bowling 2 sketch
I am learning so much at each step. I seem to have primed myself for years to take in, fast and furious, all sorts of things, from strategies in illustrating stories, to sketching to painting. I'm hooked.  Too bad there are not more hours in the day!

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Books I read today

Today I went to Barnes and Noble. I read two books about libraries and how wonderful and supportive librarians can be. One had charming three-colored prints, and owls. The other was about Mouse and the pickle-loving Bear (I know, right?).
TheMidnight Library, by Kazuno Kohara
A Library Book for Bear, by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
(The link is to an inspiring interview with Kady from 2011; here is her website.)
Next I read this Preschool book because it was on theme. It would've gone well with the books I read to my children when they were little.
Books Always Everywhere, by Jane Blatt, illustrated by Sarah Massini
The link goes to her (active) Twitter feed. Here is her (not so active) website.
Then I read an old favorite, because the books about books reminded me of it.
The Fanatastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce
Then my airplane obsessed children appeared, so I read this book about learning to fly, sort of. We loved it.
Flight School, by Lita Judge
Last I picked up this book about a panda, because of the uncomfortable look on his face.
Chengdu could not, would not fall asleep, by Barney Saltzberg
My winner for the day is Chengdu, with Flight School a close second. Animals who solve their quandaries in unusual and satisfying ways won out over lessons about the joy of books. What did you read today?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sketching at the airport

At the airport people sit fairly still.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sandpiper-like bird

I decided it's time to get the photo references out for wings and legs. I started this one and realized that feathers are also an issue.
This is my dunlin, in transparent watercolor (no gouache this tine).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stack number 2

Here is my second stack of birds inspired by Carla Sonheim's Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals: A Mixed-Media Workshop. Yes, that's a yo yo.
Thanks for looking.

Birds on a twig

I am enjoying my new book, Carla Sonheim's Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals: A Mixed-Media Workshop. Here is my first stack of blob birds.
Birds on a Twig

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I am experimenting with color using this sketch, which I compiled from drawings I did at the beach.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sketching at the Beach!

Quick! Draw fast. Kids move.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, July 21, 2014


This is a practice gelli print that I made when my mother was here. Off and on we talk about collaborating on a project in which I provide window fabric and she sews it into something wonderful. This print is on deil paper. I drew on the print with a thin liner, and then added color with colored pencils.
High rise 
This image was inspired by the children's book, The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown.
Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I have coined a new word: illustriteration. Pronounce it "ill-lust-ritter-ation."
In my infinite wisdom, I have engaged in another art form, the art of illustration.  I am finding that much of illustration is iteration, hence the new word. I like creating with some constraint, making pottery that's functional or jewelry that's wearable.  Now, I am learning to make 2-dimensional artwork that illustrates.

The internet is a fabulous resource to learn about illustration. Children's book illustrators use their blogs and websites to post their portfolios, advice, and wonderful trailers for their new books. An ad for this Craftsy class crossed my newsfeed just as I was considering this, and on a whim, I signed on.
Here is a link to the class on Craftsy.
The class is great; the instructor Shadra Srtickland gets right to the point, inviting her students to create character, spreads and story and then illustriterate to make the whole project one piece. (See how useful my new word is?) For my class project, I have a story written by a friend, and I have started the process, but I feel pretty inexperienced. I decided simply drawing more stuff is an efficient way to move forward.

Again through facebook, I happened onto the 52-Week Illustration Challenge. Tania McCartney, an Australian artist and author, launched an illustration challenge, with a topic for each of 52 weeks, announced in advanced. The participants show their work weekly in a facebook group. These folks include published illustrators, children and everything in between. This seemed to me to be a good source of practice material. Today's illustriteration is for Week 39: Planes.

This is a good topic for me. I know loads about planes, thanks to my engineer husband, pre-engineer children, and the plethora of Hotwings die cast models that fly around my living room. I started by brainstorming. I almost went the educational route.
But then, this happened.
Which became this.
And THEN...

Ooh. Spray. I like to spray. So I sprayed. And I got an idea for my "story." I thought, "I've almost got it."
"Hannah the henna artist traded detail work for rides in her sister's plane."
Then, just before I started on the words for what I thought was my final illustration, I heard Shadra Strickland's voice in my head (from her Craftsy class videos). She said, "We need to connect with your characters. The decoration on the plane gives us something to look at, but not a connection to the people." Yeah, I see what she means. That's when this happened.

Now we're talkin'.  On my last trip to the library, I read a fabulous book, Cat Tales by Michael Hall (click for the trailer), and I was inspired to add to my "story" just a bit.
"Hannah the henna artist traded detail work for rides in her sister's airplane. After all, she wouldn't want her sister to have a plain plane."
Is this the final version? I don't know. Should I do the lettering by hand? I don't think the process of illustriterating ever ends; we stop because the deadline pops up and we move on.

So, what are you illustriterating today?
Thanks for looking.