Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ugly Duckling Painted

Here's how the first Ugly Duckling print turned out. I didn't originally know if the central image and the border would fight, but I think they are working together ok!

I've just started carving the second image. I'll post that when there is something worth seeing.

I wanted to share a little inspiration for the style of this linocut. I've always loved doing borders, but they are sort of old-fashioned for illustration. Sometimes I give in though, like in Dreaming of Flowers above.

One of my favorite illustrators who uses a lot of black and is not afraid of decorative patterns and borders is Julie Paschkis. She has a wonderful blog about children's books with several talented friends called Books Around the Table. Here are some of Julie's illustrations:

There's a Czech illustrator named Josef Paleček who I discovered online while poking around. Wow! I just love his colors, textures, and his style. Here are some of his Ugly Duckling illustrations:

And in an older style- Maxwell Armfield. I love the detailed paintings with the ancient style borders and text.

I just wanted to share some of the beautiful illustrations that were stirring around in my head as I created my own version of The Ugly Duckling. Thanks for taking a look!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ugly Duckling Progress

I've been working on lots of different things lately but I managed to squeeze in enough time to finish carving and print my first Ugly Duckling Block. 

Here it is black and white. I'm definitely going to add color though, so stay tuned!

I've already gotten started on the next image. This is when the Ugly Duckling is all grown up and meets some swans for the first time. I'm going to carve an apple tree and lilacs in bloom. This will be a very fragrant print!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Stamps at the Library

I wanted to share some photos of the kids stamping, drawing, and making some great art at our library during Children's Book Feast! It was so much fun and the stamps I made were a success. Yay!!

It started off rather calm and in control...

You should have seen the little twin on the left at work. She was incredibly enthusiastic. I think she may even grow up to be a printmaker! Or a drummer?

It got rather chaotic at times.

Here's my daughter in the middle with some of her friends having a great time.

And me toward the end. Whew!

Here's how the painting turned out. Most kids were more interested in doing their own pictures on blank paper, so if I do this again, I may just skip the big painting and make more stamps for the kids to use!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Stamping a City Scene

I'm getting ready for the Creativity Fair this weekend at Steamboat's Bud Werner Memorial Library. I'm excited! It's part of the Steamboat Book Feast, a festival of children's books this Saturday May 9th. Check out the schedule- Brian Floca and Avi are doing presentations! Here is a nice article from The Steamboat Today about the festival.

The Creativity Fair is aimed at the younger kids with arts and crafts, face painting, and storytelling. I'm going to be helping the kids do some stamping. I've been cutting cars, trucks, people, dogs, cats, and birds out of foam and sticking them on blocks. The foam prints really well with stamp pads. Here are some test prints with the blocks from my sketchbook.

Here are more blocks along with part of the scene I painted. 

And here's the whole scene. I am having to restrain my self from stamping on it right now. It's just calling out for some cars driving on that road! I'll be sure to share some photos and let you see how it looks once the kids are done with it.

If you are in Steamboat, please come and play at the library from 10-12 this Saturday, May 9th!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ed Emberley

I got to go to The Tattered Cover in Denver the other day. I love bookstores and this big marvelous bookstore is my favorite! We were at the one on 16th Street which is in an old building that has incredibly high ceilings, worn wooden floors, old furniture, and just feels like a perfect bookstore.

I spent time in the children's section of course. But I also looked very closely at the art books. I never get to browse art books anymore! I had four books picked out but I knew I could only buy one. The one I settled on surprised me. It's a very big book about the artwork of Ed Emberley by Todd Oldham and Caleb Neelon.

My brother and I grew up learning to draw from his Drawing Book of Animals. We drew on big stacks of old-school computer paper. My mom was studying Computer Science in college when the paper for printouts had holes running along the sides to feed it, and each sheet was connected to the next with perforated lines so you could have one long continuous printout. We drew his animals on that computer paper over and over again. We LOVED this book.

I knew that Mr Emberley was also a children's illustrator beyond the drawing books, but I didn't realize just how many books he's created until recently. He's made about 80 books!

The reason I kept coming back to this book while trying to pick one to take home was because of the many different styles, the fun exuberance of his artwork, the skill, and the variety of subjects. It's pretty amazing! I want to share some of the pages that I like best.

And here's a quote that made me really happy:
"I didn't consider myself an illustrator. I considered myself a book maker."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! I have always been preoccupied with the health of our planet. And feeling helpless to do anything about it is a terrible feeling. I do my average American best to recycle, reuse, conserve water, use non-damaging products, etc. But compared to the issues our world faces, my tiny contribution is nothing. So I do what I do and make art to express my thoughts.

I have made so many images of Earth over the years. You can see my evolution as an artist and experiments with media though these images. Above is my first and only attempt at scratchboard. I think it's from 5 or 6 years ago.

Here's a photo of one of my very early pieces that's hanging at my mother's house. I used to collect different colored dirt, and using glue I'd make dirt paintings on wood. This one even has some gold leaf on the words Divinity and the stars. I don't have a full photograph of this piece, just this artsy one I took last time I was visiting my mom.

Above is the same quote in a stamp and mixed media experiment. A long time ago, I got this book The Home Planet edited by Kevin W. Kelley. It has influenced me so much and made me want to make my own book about Earth. This big book of photos and quotes from astronauts, cosmonauts, and other space explorers is from 1988!!!! Isn't that incredible that a compilation could have been made so long ago? We humans have been in space for a long time already. If you can get your hands on this book, do. The quotes are the most precious thing to me. These people who left our planet and came back had very insightful and touching things to say about it. Many beautiful coffee table books have been made about Earth since, but none is as wonderful as this book, in my opinion. I wish someone would remake it with newer material but the same concept. Oh, and if you want, I'll tell you about the compilation book I want to make…….

Here is a little boy sleeping in my sketchbook of many years ago.

This is a card image that I made while learning Adobe Illustrator about 10 years ago.

This is an early linocut of our home. I like comets, too! I think I could draw comets all day.

Here is my next attempt at a linocut of Earth. Early on, I realized I couldn't ever duplicate the delicacy, richness, and detail of our world. So I didn't even try. Instead, I was trying to find an interesting graphic way to show the world and surrounding space.

Above is a test I did trying to figure out how to do a multi-color linocut with text, either carved text or letterpress. I was never able to make the piece, but it evolved into it's own picture book dummy over time.

Here is the first linocut for the dummy Home. I wound up changing the style and text a bit so this didn't make it into the current version. I still think its a nice image on its own, though.

And here's a more recent version of our home from the same picture book dummy.

And if you are familiar with my work you've seen these before. They are the 9 views of our planet that I made for a hand-bound book titled Earth.

Here is the cover made of cut and painted wood. 

And a view of the painted linocuts mounted onto black Somerset Velvet paper.

This book is listed in my Etsy shop right now for half off. You may not be about to save the Earth by yourself, but at least you can save money. And think about our gorgeous planet while holding a hand-made book.

I saved the best picture for last- isn't it beautiful?!! I am so glad that I live in a time period when I can see photos of the entire world set against space. The only thing that would be better would be to be up there looking down and that's just not going to happen. 

If you love pictures of our world, check out the NASA website and follow Terry Virts on instagram from the International Space Station.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Book Feast

The library in my small town is the best library in the whole world! It's beautiful, dynamic, friendly, comfy, modern, and has anything you could ever want or they will get it for you if at all possible.

An example of how great my small town library is: The Bud Werner Memorial Library hosts a one day Children's  Book Feast that is a celebration of children's books. This year Caldecott winner, Brian Floca will be here as one of the guests along with Newberry winner, Avi who lives near here and is pretty active as a guest star at the library when they have an event.

And this year, I get to do something fun during the Book Feast, too. There will be a Creativity Fair for the 5 and under kids and I'm going to be helping them do some very basic printmaking: stamping. I haven't done this exact presentation before, so I'm figuring it out as I go along. 

The paintings above aren't done, I'll post photos when they are. I've made simple drawings on full sheets of  paper and I'm painting them with very watered-down acrylic. It acts like watercolor. I'm trying to work fast and not worry about being very precise. These will be the backgrounds for the kids to stamp onto.

And here's my test of the blocks. I got particle board scraps from my lumber store and my husband and I cut a zillion little blocks. The I used Creativity Street Wonderfoam Peel & Stick Sheets to draw and cut these flower shapes out with scissors. The back is sticky, so it's easy to attach the shapes to the block. They soak up stamp pad ink and work really well! I plan to make a bunch of different stamps and 2 or three different background scenes. It's going to be so much fun!