Monday, April 30, 2012


I'm feeling really lucky that I have several exciting art related things to look forward to this summer. In August I'm going to be the studio assistant for Laura Wait in the class she's teaching at Penland. The class is called Writing as Image: Exposed Sewing. I just checked and there's still at least one opening to take the class. Laura creates amazing imagery based on lettering and handwriting. Here's one of her paintings titled Scriptorium # 2.

The class is also about handmade books with exposed sewing. That is my favorite type of handmade book. A book with exposed sewing usually shows the pages through the back also. You can make neat patterns with the sewing, straps, covers, and pages like I did with these 3 blank sketch books.

Taking a class at Penland is a fantastic experience. The school is in the North Carolina mountains. There are so many trees and plants, it's a crazy experience for this Colorado girl! There's a stand of bamboo, there are magical trees called Tulip trees, and vines all over the place.

There are also cool artistic walls, gates, sculptures, and decorated trees. 

But of course the best part of Penland is the classes and the people you meet. There's sooooo much creativity and fun! I love watching people working in the glass and metal studios. Every discipline has something interesting going on. Here's a photo from Laura's class that I assisted with 5 years ago.

So, even though it's expensive, a class at Penland is totally worth it. Oh, and the food is fantastic! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Color on Linocuts

I've been painting a lot recently. I'm going to have an exhibit at our fabulous local bookstore Off the Beaten Path in June showing my recent children's illustrations. I'm framing them, but I like to also have one print unframed in my drawer as a reference for painting the next one. So, for those pieces that I only have one finished copy of, I'm painting a second.

I try to keep the colors similar but I don't worry about minor variations. Hey, these are hand painted! The Wynken, Blynken, and Nod print on the left above was my original print. I just painted the one on the right and it came out a bit darker. I'm not sure which one I like better.

This isn't the usual way to make a colored relief print. It's not hard to do, but it's not really in line with the printmaking concept. Printmaking is a way to make multiple images in an edition that look exactly the same. I started painting black and white linocuts with watercolor started because I love relief prints, but I want to make them for children's illustration which doesn't need multiples. You only need a digital image that can be reproduced with modern publishing techniques.

The more traditional way to have colors in a print is to carve a block for each color and print them one at a time on top of each other. Here's a picture of one of my older prints that was made this way with 5 different blocks.

My friend Sherrie York does amazing linocuts with a third technique called a Reduction Linocut. First you carve a little bit out of the block and print all of the pieces of paper for your edition. Then you carve out more and print it again with a different color. Some of what you print the second time will cover or mingle with your first color. And you can keep carving and printing as many times as you want. she has a page of information about the process on her website

You should browse through her blog Brush and Baren where you can see lots of photos that document how she makes a print including this one called No Time Like the Present.

One place to see lots of different styles and techniques of hand-made prints is McClain's Printmaking Supplies Gallery. And while you're there you can buy some linoleum blocks and start carving!

Friday, April 20, 2012

New Colorado Drawings

Today I got a couple new drawings done for my series of Colorado images. I'm looking forward to carving and printing them! Next I'm thinking of doing a field of wildflowers. I squeezed in some scarlet paintbrush and columbines in the teepee drawing. Now I want to do more flowers!

These new summer images will go with the ones I'm already selling at Lyon's Drugstore as cards and the Steamboat Art Museum as original prints. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Future is FINISHED

I felt like some sort of evil genius with a plot to destroy the world while typing that title! What I really meant is that I've finished the illustration for the SCBWI RMC contest on the theme The Future is Now. You can see in my earlier posts how I came up with this image and layout.

Apparently the black and white vintage photos of children in spaceman costumes also influenced my color choices. I painted one print with lots of bright colors, but it just didn't feel right. I like the limited palette of this one better. 
It will be interesting to see what other people come up with to illustrate this theme. I thought it was very challenging!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Adding the Future Text

I'm still working on my RMC SCBWI submission for the theme The Future is Now: Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Children’s Book Market. I hadn't planned the placement of the text  completely before I started carving the linocut. Oh, silly me. When I double checked the guidelines I realized the art is supposed to be 10x13 inches vertical. I can't believe I didn't pay more attention! Instead of starting over, I added on to my original drawing.

I laid out the text on the computer and then printed it on my printmaking paper. Next I made two new long skinny blocks and carved out the clouds and the comet for the top and bottom.

I'm not sure I'll be able to paint watercolor over the text from my Epson printer. When I tested it by putting a little water on it, it ran a tiny bit. I know there are types of ink that you can paint over, but I need to do some research to learn more about that. So, I made a couple prints with the text, and a couple without. I can always paint the linocut with watercolor and add the text at the end. Here are the three blocks and a couple of prints.

Next, on to the color! What are the colors of the future??

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Future is Now

The SCBWI regional conference in Denver picks a theme each year and gives us the opportunity to illustrate it. If you win, you get to go to the conference for free and they use your art on all the promotional materials. I usually try to come up with something to submit but this year is HARD. The theme for the conference is: The Future is Now: Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Children’s Book Market.

"The Future is Now" makes me think of 1950's advertising for all sorts of "modern" technology. And it also makes me think of astronauts and rockets which scrambled in my brain and turned into kids wearing vintage-style spaceman outfits. Check out these great photos I found online-

This one obviously originated at Getty Images, but I found it on the blog Amazing Artifacts. It hasn't been recently updated, but it's fun to browse through. 

And this image came from another really fun old blog called The Spaceman's Toy Chest. I love those old photos!

Here's a very romantic photo that came from Favim's archives. Isn't it sweet?

Today I get to start carving my little spacemen linocut. Watch out, The Future is NOW!! :)