Monday, March 14, 2016

Dream Book Cover Show

At the beginning of the year I was contacted by Lauren Panepinto from Orbit Books and Julie Baroh of Krab Jab Studios in Seattle, WA to participate in an exhibit in April featuring mock-ups of book covers. Each artist was asked to select a book that was significant to them and paint a cover for the book. Lauren would also take a digital copy of the image and work her typography magic to come up with a pretend cover. First off, I was shocked to be asked. As I gazed at the roster of illustrious artist's names next to mine,a Sesame Street song kept running through my head. "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong...."  Once Lauren assured me that it wasn't a mistake but an AWESOME OPPORTUNITY, I said yes. 

Next was selecting a book. This was harder than it seems, especially for someone who reads...A LOT. So many titles ran through my head but what floated to the top was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. This book came into my life after losing a granddaughter and the older couple in the story struggled with their own grief and pain while finding hope and healing through the hardships of the Alaskan wilderness. There's also this ambiguous nature of the girl who comes into their lives. Is she fairy tale or real?

With my choice made I listened to the book again, taking lots of notes and came up with several ideas. None of them seemed right or good enough, especially considering the other amazing artists involved. My confidence, or the lack of, was hobbling my decision making preventing me from moving forward. I reached out to Dan Dos Santos, book cover artist extraordinaire and his advise helped me break through the barrier of blocks I had put in my way. This is part of his response:

I love the book I chose, and so I'm painting this piece for me, not someone else. If I were you, I would do the same. Don't worry about what you think the piece SHOULD look like, or what size it SHOULD be, or if it's cover-y enough. Just paint something beautiful that interests you. If it's pretty and sincere, it's going to resonate with the audience and do well. It's really not more complex than that. There are times when making compromises are beneficial for marketing purposes, but I don't think this is one of those cases. I think it's more important you make something you're passionate about. This is a gallery piece. Let the tangible painting be the priority, not the fake cover treatment.

These wise words were just what I needed. I moved forward, trying to keep it honest and simple. Here's the process I went through:

 Rough thumbnail.

 Digital color.

Digital mock-up. The colors are quite specific in the book and after listening to it again I realized it was a red scarf not a hat that she wore. This actually helped give the child a more wild look, with her hair loose.

This is the final sketch. The surface is vellum which allowed me to use both sides of the paper. I scanned it in, ghosted it with a layer of white and printed it out.
I began with colored pencils and slowly, with very light layers built up her skin tones and eyes. I put down the rest of the base colors and sealed the color pencil with matte medium. I then went in with oil glazes. I ended up bringing in tree branches in the background.  

Here is a snippet of the final painting. I'll show the full picture once they start advertising for the show. She's at the framers right now and then I'll ship her off. I've seen a few other pieces from the show posted on Facebook and all I can say is this show will be spectacular and I am so honored to hang with some of the best in the industry.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Every Day Original

Over a year ago, Marc Scheff and Lauren Panepinto created an online gallery called Every Day Original. I mentioned them in my last post. Basically, they offer smaller, affordable original paintings, drawings, etc. for the public. It's challenged me to have a new piece every month. This month's is called "Camouflage", a 10" x 10" oil on canvas. Here are the progress shots.

I began with a cradled canvas panel and applied 3 coats of gesso, WET sanding in-between each layer. On top of that smooth surface I drew the sketch. Next I applied a coat of acrylic matte medium which created a nice texture with the graphite.

 Next I began with oils.

 This was the first pass.
And below is the finished piece. A wonderful patron bought it within the hour which for me, makes all the hours spent on the painting so know that someone out in the world connected with something I created is so fulfilling.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Arches Oil Paper

I finally got around to experimenting with a pad of Arches Oil Paper purchased a while ago. There are 12 sheets sized 12" x 16" in the pad I bought. The texture is very similar to cold press watercolor paper. The weight is 140# and much more pliable than the gessoed or matte medium sealed WC paper I've used in the past.

 I started sketching on a very small piece. The paper texture grabs the graphite nicely, plus it erases fairly well too. I decided to use the pencil as the underpainting for the piece.
After finishing the drawing, I mixed together raw sienna acrylic with matte medium to sealed the graphite. Up to this point, with exception to taping the border, I hadn't taped the paper down to a board. It buckled considerably after applying the acrylic mixture so I stapled and taped in on my Incredible Art Board and waited to see if it would flatten out. It eventually did but I will say, it took longer than watercolor paper. 

I slowly started building up layers of oil glaze, Establishing my darkest areas first.The paper is very absorbent, even with the acrylic medium. The more layers I applied, the more I liked the surface.

As I worked the opaque warm white into the glaze on her skin, the paper took on a soft, fabric like feel. I continued to apply glazes on the scarf to darken it. I use Daniel Smith's painting medium to help dry the layers more quickly.

"The Girl with a Curl"
10" x 10"

Here is the final painting. It sold rather quickly on Everyday Originals, which is so thrilling. I will try the oil paper again but I don't think it will replace my preferred surface, gessoed panel.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Women of Wonder

I think I can share this now since the book is posted for pre-order all over the internet. Last year, I was contacted by Cathy Fenner to participate in a book she planned to edit this spring, entitled Women of Wonder. It highlights the female illustrators in the fantasy art genre. It is such an incredible honor to be included in this book...there are no words. In fact, I won't believe it until I see myself in print (I'll share which illustration is included later). It comes out next month (May 19th) and will be available at Spectrum Live. Today, shared the introduction, written by Lauren Panepinto, as well as some of the artist pages. It states on the cover that it's a celebration of women creators of fantasy art and truly, as a female artist, it's something to joyously acknowledge. Back in 2007, when I first made it into Spectrum 14, there were a mere dozen women included in the whole annual. I don't know what the current ratio is exactly, but this year's publication award nominees alone, list 13 women (some have been nominated twice, but you get my meaning I hope). Yahoo! Girl Power!
Here's the awesome cover by Chie Yoshii .

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I'm Still Alive's everyone been? Yikes! I fell off the earth there, didn't I? Well, I'm back and the Astro Calendar for Llewellyn Worldwide is completed. I'm satisfied with most of the paintings; some...not so much. Several other happenings have occurred as well. Rather than go into any lengthy explanation I'll just document some of the highlights.

First, here are a few of the completed zodiac signs. The calendar will be available in 2016. It was a learning experience for sure.



In November, fellow Utah artist Greg Newbold invited me to participate in the "Lost in Fantasy" art show at the Pioneer Theatre Loge Gallery. It was my first experience of the kind and was so honored to hang with the other wonderful artists, including James Christensen. We could display both prints and originals. Out of 7 pieces, 5 sold. Very surprised and pleased.
Pluck, Defender of Daffodils
One of the originals that sold.

I was both amazed and honored to be selected for inclusion in this year's Spectrum 22. The piece that got in is Aquarius from the calendar.

I've also sold a few originals.


This was a difficult piece to let go due to it's personal nature, but she went to a wonderful collector who has purchased other pieces for his wife.

Back in November, I was invited to participate in Every Day Originals, a brain child of Marc Scheff and Lauren Panepinto. Basically, it's an online gallery that daily posts small originals priced $500 or less. You have a specific day to post your original every month. I've sold 4 so far. It's also provided motivation to experiment on personal pieces. Here's the most recent painting to sell.


In June I will be heading to IMC once more. It's been 4 years since I attended. They have added a group that explores taking one's illustrations into the gallery genre. Brad Kunkle will be the guest artist. Very excited/scared to attend.

I hope this hasn't sounded like one brag after another. I've suffered set backs as well, mainly due to my lack of confidence and skill. Makes me want to push through these short comings and work, work, work. It's always a struggle to balance family and art. I have such admiration for the young women who brave motherhood and work on their art careers. I wasn't able to but that was my journey. Energy only goes so far. I am so grateful to have the support from friends and family now. It's been an incredible adventure...the good and the bad. 

And now, I end this blog post with the best news. Grandchild # 19 was born last month.

9# 6 oz.
He is one of those "surprises", It's been 10 years since my 40 year old daughter's last baby. Lots of arms to hold him. Such a blessing to live close by and be able to witness and help during his birth and watch him grow.

Life is good.
Bye for now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Calendar Progress

I've been holed up in my studio for about a month working away on these two commissions. I can share the calendar, but not the other. Here is the finished Aquarius piece. I ended up changing the head so that she would engage the viewer more.

Here is where I am on the calendar's cover. Watercolor wash has been put down. It's been sealed with Acrylic Matte medium and then proceed with oils...
...and finish by MONDAY!!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Astro Cal Progress

Continuing with the calendar- met my deadline for another interior thumbnail and the cover concept. Rather than simply stick the 12 zodiacs randomly in the scene, I tried to "step into the picture" and make a story. This is what I came up with. Aries lights the way next to the Leo masthead, Gemini twins do the paddling, Sagittarius has her bow ready next to Virgo (sheaves of wheat), Taurus blows a bull's horn to signal their approach next to Libra on the banner, Capricorn plays with Pisces while Aquarius (the swan) and Cancer (crab) look on. The herons flying in the background are for Scorpio but they asked me to also include a scorpion on the banks. I asked if I could do a stencil of it on the boat instead and they said yes.

Here is Aries which has received the okay. That's dogwood in her hair with Mars in the background. The symbol with be in her earrings.

 I also redesigned the swan for Aquarius and changed a few things for a redo. It's ready for oil glazes.

Now I have a month to finish all three. Yikes!