I've been working on a series of animals for a child's room. They are so much fun to make! There will be 8 total and I've made 5 so far. Each one will also be painted with watercolor. I don't want to show them completely yet, but here are some sneak peeks!
Earth Day is this Friday, April 22! A few years ago I made this edition of books celebrating the beauty of Earth. There are 12 original linocuts painted with watercolor. The covers are wooden boards and the whole book was lovingly made by hand.
I'd like to give this book, number 2/10 to one person on Earth Day! To be entered in the giveaway, please share in the comments here, or on my Facebook, or Instagram post and I will put everyone in a hat and draw the winner on Friday morning. I'd like to hear in your comment what you love especially about Earth or your favorite place on Earth. Or I'd love to see your artwork or photography about the beauty of Earth. I don't think you can post images in the comments here, so you could share those on Facebook or Instagram.
The Peppermint Tree was one of my favorites from the 100 Trees project. Partly it's the shocking red contrasting with green and white. I got to a point about 2/3 of the way through the project that if I had extra ink or paint out I would just use it up as a background for the next painting. That's how this one got such a rich red background. I loved doing that because it would send me in an unexpected direction the next day when thinking of an image- I wasn't starting with a blank page, I was starting with a color. The color would sometimes lead me in a predictable direction (like adding stars to a dark page) but sometimes free association would take me somewhere fun and different! This red made me think of peppermint candies and the added green made it look extra Christmassy.
So, no surprise that I wanted to turn it into a Christmas card. But I wanted to use a traditional pine tree instead of a leafy green tree.
I loved the final Christmas card, but I missed the round green tree with spiky leaves. So I used it and a similar color scheme to do a birthday card. Both of the 2 final cards are much cleaner and tidier that the original Peppermint tree and I kind of miss that messy rich color. But I'm happy with the final versions and it's fun to see all of them together.
Developing an idea takes lots of tries usually. Most often the trial and error happens in the sketch stage. But sometimes you make it all the way to a finished image and realize you have to redo it because you know how to make it better. One of the big things I learned from doing the daily sketchbook project is that it's really fun to let instinct and inspiration lead you without editing yourself too much. And then you can redo the image later if it has qualities that you like. It's more like a writing process than my usual art-making process. When writing, I have to just get it on the page. Don't edit, don't make it perfect. Chase the idea around and think it through with pencil moving on the paper. THEN in the next drafts I edit.
I think an important part of working this way is sharing the sketchbook art publicly. That forced me to actually finish the image instead of taking it part way in my sketchbook and then abandoning it to start the final art. I still had fun and learned unexpected things about each piece I did all the way until the very end. Some of the tree images I made wound up containing so many seeds of ideas that they are sprouting more than one finished piece.
The snow is melting around us here in Colorado, the grass and flower shoots and coming up and the trees are starting to bud. It's my favorite time of year! May spring bring you lots of beautiful ideas!
I'm still going through my 100 Trees sketchbook and turning some of the images into greeting cards. I always hate trying to get into a holiday frame of mind in the wrong season, but that's how it goes with card images. And when I made this painting last December, I really liked it and knew I wanted to turn it into a card. So here it is- Happy Holidays!
My friend is going to have a baby soon and has requested a series of woodland animals. Here are my drawings. I'll be finishing them as linocuts painted with watercolor. I'm having a great time with these already!
I've really only just started going back through the 100 Trees sketchbook and reworking some of the images as cards. There are so many ideas in there, I'm having a great time! Here are two that got started because I had some extra black ink left on my palette. Even though they are dark, I hope they brighten your day!
Author Vivian Kirkfield has created a fun writing challenge, 50 Precious Words. Can you create a story or poem for children in 50 words or less? It's hard! 50 is so short! But I had to try. I started with a story I'd written that was already short at 150 words and completely rewrote it to get it down to a slim 50. I hope it still has a little charm and makes sense!
Remodeling the Castle
The new dishwasher squeezed into the kitchen.
We got the box.
Mae and I magicked it into a castle.
We added rooms,
We grew gardens,
We sailed to the edge of the world,
and into the stars.
Then the truck brought our new REFRIGERATOR.
And just for smiles, below is a photo of my daughter from a couple of weeks ago working on the interior decoration of her own cardboard castle. We are busy growing the forests and the oceans right now. :)
Yesterday I finished the 100 Trees daily project. Wow, what a lot of fun I had with these! You can see all of them on my website. Here are the last 50:
A few of them were actually full spreads including the giant redwood, General Sherman who was Number 100. Here are those for the fun of it:
I learned so much from doing this project- I was able to zero in on my favorite colors and styles, to trust in my skills, to loosen up, not worry about making it perfect, and I generated so many different ideas that I want to explore further! If anyone is considering doing a daily project, I definitely recommend it!
I haven't done Illustration Friday in a while, but when I saw the topic this week I wanted to share this recent drawing from my sketchbook. It's my daughter sitting in an imaginary tree. Childhood isn't all magical, but parts of it definitely are!
I made a few new pieces quickly and out of curiosity this week. I'm getting better at making art on a whim and following my instincts. In the past I've mostly worked in a long, drawn-out process, like an entire book with years of critiques and rewrites behind it. Also, my usual medium is linocut and they take time. I've started feeling really good about this new combination of mixed-media techniques I'm using that can happen much faster than a linocut.
There was really no good reason to make these three little illustrated poems. I'm not trying to get them published, but I think I'm trying to get more comfortable sharing my writing even if it isn't perfect. So I made these and posted them on Facebook and Instagram. All of these were written in the past but rewritten this week, and the art is new. I hope you like them!
In this recent version of my text, I added some more detail and made the story a little longer. That means I have more images, but I want to keep the book to 32 pages. So some images are being combined or only taking one page instead of a full spread. I think it makes the book feel a little more dense and hopefully a little faster paced.
The photo above is a redrawing of two spreads from the last dummy combined into one image now. It took me a while to get done! Now on to the next page!
I wanted to share some of my favorite sketchbook pages from the last couple weeks of my 100 Trees project. Seeing them together, I realize I like the strong colors! I guess that shouldn't be a surprise. I like adding animals or people too, but most of the ones I made recently were painted in a way that didn't grab my eye when I was picking out these favorites.
I only have a month's worth of trees left to do and I'll be at 100!
I've also started working on my picture book dummy again after taking a break from it for a couple of months. I'm excited to see it develop. I will share some drawings as I have them. Thanks for checking in!
I sooooo love beautiful layered textures and mixed media. Some of my favorite artists work this way- check out the amazing Pamela Zagarenski for example! I've been trying for years to find my own way of combining printmaking with other media and lots layered color. It's been a challenge but I think I've worked out ways to balance watercolor, ink, stamps, collage, and drawing. Just in case you think it was easy, let me show some of the steps I went through to get the final 5 images. Each progress photo shows the original sketchbook idea (or two!) and then some not-successful attempts.
It helped this one a lot when I went back to the warm yellow background, more like the original sketchbook painting.
Above is the final sweet blue bird, happy in her nest.
I was anxious to get this one right because it's a special image for my daughter. It wasn't working for me with the traditional colors but I went crazy and tried a dark purple/blue/maroon background with white ink, kind of like my original sketchbook painting and that was the winner!
Off she goes into Dreamland.
Part of my struggle with this one was that the paper I was using didn't take water very well. If I used too much watercolor or gouache the paper got too wrinkly. But a layer of ink with a little water media on top is a neat effect and the paper stayed pretty flat. I actually used a cut-out and glued tree and heart for the final one instead of trying to paint white around where I wanted them to be like in the image above.
The Love Birds in their Love Tree!
This one I did so many times I was starting to hate it. But I'm glad I stayed with it. And you notice, my daughter also got to do her own interpretation of a starry tree.
I love stars and star stamps. Obviously!
I tried collaging the trees on this one like I did for The Love Tree, but they didn't look good with the dogs and moon stamps. So I cut the trees out of thin cardboard and printed them. It gave them a look that matched with the carved stamps better.
There they are- the first cards in my new series! I'm having them printed and I can't wait to hold them in my hands. There will be a line of text inside each also, but you have to wait to find out what the insides say!