Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Home Grown Gifts

As an artist and generally craftsy person, when the holidays roll around I like to look for ways to make unique gifts. The downside to homemade gifts is that they can sometimes become objects that just take up space, that everyone appreciates but nobody really wants

So this year I decided to try to make things that would function as artwork AND be useful at the same time. I thought - what is something that most people like to have around, but isn't usually very pretty? And then it came to me - matchboxes! Just about everyone has a box or book of matches shoved in a drawer somewhere. So I started looking around for some nice, plain wooden boxes that weren't too expensive (it took a while) and finally found the perfect thing - pencil boxes! THESE are the ones I bought.
First I sanded and stained the wood a nice cherry color. Then I taped off sections of the lids and painted them with geometric shapes. Each box had it's own unique colors and shapes. Then I took some little wood shapes that I had on hand (because I'm so craftsy) and painted and stacked them and glued them on as little handles, to make it easier to open the boxes.

 So pretty!

I used "strike on box" matches because they are safer, and glued the "strike" strip to the bottom of the box. I also added little feet to protect tabletops and other surfaces.

The boxes went over well! ... Unless my relatives were all just being polite...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Constellations and Decorative Animals

This year I began working on a set of images which ended up adding a whole new section to my portfolio. It started as just little experiments, playing around with ways to simplify shapes and use flat colors. I find it satisfying to distill an object down to it's most basic, pleasing shape, and these experiments allowed me to fully explore this idea. Eventually it evolved into two separate series.

The first was a set of 12 animal/creature constellations, which I turned into a big, pretty, calendar poster, available for purchase HERE. The calendar is not a Zodiac calendar, although some of the signs are represented. Rather, the constellations are ones that can be found in the Northern Hemisphere during the month they are displayed with.

The second series also involves animals, but they are more decorative, with elements from nature creating small landscapes that the animals sit inside of. When folks looked at these, they regularly suggested I turn them into greeting cards. So I did! There are two sets, the Wild Animals set, and the Domestic Animals set, both available on Etsy.

It is exciting when something that started as just an experiment, something meant as an exercise to stretch my art-making muscles, ends up as products out in the world. There's a lot to be said for allowing oneself to explore new ideas and methods, without any pressure or clients to worry about. You never know what might come from it!

Buy local/from artists this holiday season!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Children's Book Illustration Course

I am excited to share that I will be teaching two classes and a workshop this coming Fall and Winter at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA. Housed in what used to be a women's prison, the Workhouse is now home to six huge artist studio buildings, classrooms spaces, galleries, and more. It is really a unique place, and I look forward to contributing to their offerings.

The first course that I am scheduled to teach is called Illustrate a Children's Book. It's for anyone who has ever wondered what is involved in illustrating a children's book, and is geared towards adults and young adults of all skill levels. Students will learn about visual storytelling, the layout/design of children's books, and the process of conceptualizing a book from start to finish. Everyone will choose a story to work with (or write their own), and ultimately create a book dummy and a finished illustration sample (if there is time).

Students will learn about storyboarding...

And rough sketching...

 And everyone will create a book dummy for their story!

We will also discuss how to pitch a book to publishers, agents, and the option of self publishing. A lot of info will be crammed into these six weeks! I hope to make the course really fun and informative.

If you or someone you know might be interested in this class, please share!

Here are the details:
Illustrate a Children's Book
Fall Quarter (6 weeks) - Classes meet on Sundays, 2-4pm
First class meets on Sunday, Sept. 20th. No class on Oct. 25th
Tuition: $165
To Register CLICK HERE

You can also check out the other course I am teaching in the winter, Drawing Animals, and a December workshop on Basic Pen & Ink Techniques. I will be writing individual descriptions for these as we get closer to the time.

Thanks for looking (and sharing)! If you have any questions about the course, please feel free to ask.

I am currently knee-deep in illustrating my second book for Cengage Learning. I can't share images yet, but I can say that it's set in the late 18th century, and it involves a shipwreck and lots of animals, so I am definitely having a lot of fun doing the illustrations!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Most Fabulous T-Shirt

It has been a while since I last posted! I am back home in Washington, DC, and am currently preparing to move to a new house where I will have a larger studio space! Joy!! I will share some photos once it's all set up. Meanwhile, I want to share this great new t-shirt printer which does all-over printing (not just a square in the middle of the shirt, oh the possibilities!). Nuvango.com has a great line-up of artists selling printed work, and you can also upload your own work to get printed on various products. As an experiment, I uploaded one of my paintings and ordered a t-shirt, and I LOVE IT! Check it out.
That's me modeling the shirt, and that wall is attached to my new house!
I may eventually open a shop with them - I'll let you know when it happens. For now, this shirt is one of a kind :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

2014 Year in Review

Well it's been quite a year. At almost this exact time last year I left my day job to pursue freelance illustration full time. The next day, I moved from NYC to Washington, DC. It was one of the more terrifying and stressful times of my life. Ack! But some really great things happened in 2014, and let's focus on those for now. Here are the highlights:

I exhibited at my first two conventions ever!
Here is my table at AwesomeCon DC, which I shared with the glorious Marc Scheff.

Here I am at my Illuxcon Showcase table. Illuxcon was inspiring and loads of fun. There was an embarrassment of wonderful art and lovely people there to meet and reconnect with. I was also thrilled to sell a lot of my drawings and even a painting. I will be back in the showcase again this year!

 I produced my first Sketchbook, containing sketches from my Russian Fairy Tales series.

I opened an Etsy store, where I sell original art and other products (like my sketchbook!), and an INPRNT store where I sell a selection of art prints.

I started a series of drawings based on the animals at the National Zoo, which, lucky for me, is a short walk from my home in DC.

I dipped my toe back into teaching by leading two art workshops for teenagers, one about book cover illustration and design, and another on mural painting. Here is a shot of the mural my students created, with the theme "Our World". It was awesome and I look forward to doing more teaching.

I did concept art for a film which will be based on an Irish folk tale.

I busted out my big brushes to paint a 40 foot long mural in a children's library.

I turned 30!

I illustrated and designed the covers for a Young Adult book series which will come out in 2015. This is Book 1 of the series.

And here is the cover for Book 2! I love that the main character is a strong young woman. Keep an eye out for these (and a third book in the works!) in the coming year.

I had the opportunity to move to Oakland, CA for four months, and have been getting lots of inspiration from the art scene and all the twisty trees.

I got to be a model for the Dazzle Camo clothing line designed by Stephanie Syjuco for The Workshop Residence in San Francisco. 

I got to meet sloths and feed them apples!!!

I designed my first game character - a kick-butt 11 year old girl! Fun!

And the biggest milestone of all - I got my first full PICTURE BOOK assignment from Cengage Learning in Australia, for which I just wrapped up the last of the 23 illustrations. Phew! I will have some images from this project up once I get the green light from the publisher that I can share them. Thanks to my agent at The Illustrators Agency for bringing me the project!

Lessons learned - Overall, even though I earned less than in the years when I had a day job, I feel that last year was more valuable than any previous year of my career. I took huge leaps forward in improving my art and gaining a wide variety of freelance experiences. I am also happy to be getting a lot of work that focuses on portraying strong female characters, and also work based on folk tales, as these are two of my major areas of interest. I am still getting used to the ebb and flow of freelance life - weeks can go by without new projects coming along, which is always nerve wracking, but I am learning to make use of those times through personal projects and networking.

There were moments when the fear of failure loomed so large that I felt frozen, immobilized by uncertainty. I recognize that these moments will come along every so often, and I have found that the best way to deal with them is to just make something. Anything. A drawing, some jewelry, bake some cookies - just do what you can to get up and be productive and then get back to work. I am also working on making and maintaining connections with people - the freelance experience can be a very isolating and lonely one, and it takes some extra effort to stay in touch. This has been a year of learning and challenges and growth and fun projects and frustrating projects. It's been harder than I ever imagined, but also more rewarding and full of wonderful surprises.

And now for 2015!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blue Fairy

This summer has been filled with a wide variety of freelance projects which have kept me very busy (a mural, 11 illustrations for a film, a YA book cover, and jewelry design, phew!). It's been awesome, but every so often I need to work on something for myself. I've been plugging away at this little series of Blue Fairies, and finally the trio is complete. All three fairies will be traveling with me to Illuxcon next month. Come meet them (and me!) at the Friday/Saturday Showcase.

(Click to view larger)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Deer Park Library Mural

This summer I was commissioned to do a mural for the library at Deer Park Elementary School in Centreville, VA. Prior to this, I had painted backdrops and murals with students (at summer camps and schools), but never tackled one all on my own. Eep! Exciting! The librarian and principal were very open to my ideas, and after sending sketches back and forth we settled on a design and they placed their giant 250 square foot wall in my hands.

Here is a piece of the wall, all taped off and ready for primer!

I transferred my sketch by projecting it in sections onto the wall and tracing it in pencil.

Using regular old interior house paint, I kicked things off by doing a night to day fade across the wall (about 40 ft long) using a big brush and gradually mixing dark blue and light blue paints together.

Next, I painted in the green landscape - that's me up on top of the ladder, take THAT fear of heights!

Then came the real fun! I started painting in some details of the Reading Tree.

Here is a progress pic - things are filling in! Also, big shout-out to my mom who came and helped for a couple of days by painting in and around all of those flowers!!

The lions are sleeping under the Leo constellation.

A baby bunny meets a worm! Also, you can see I was using a muffin tin to mix smaller batches of color.

Dinosaurs arrive to terrorize the non-fiction section! Also, an airplane and a reading monkey.

I used a lot of paint and destroyed a lot of paint brushes in the making of this mural.

Finally, after about 3 weeks of painting, it was time to take off the tape and be done! Here are some final shots.

Non-fiction section

The Reading Tree in the reading area, plus me! Hi again!

I managed to quickly get these last shots just as it was getting dark out.

I'm going to miss climbing that ladder every day.

In the end, everyone was happy with how the mural turned out and I learned a lot from the experience. It was fun to do something different, and be challenged to simplify my style a bit in order to paint on such a large and rough (cinderblock) surface. 

And now the next question is - what to do with all of this leftover paint?