Wednesday, July 24, 2013

So It Has Been Almost a Year...

...since I posted here and of course, the big question that springs immediately to mind is "Why?"  Here's my attempt at answering that query:

A year ago, when I conceived this little blog, I was just beginning to delve into the art of illustration.  I had been drawing little cartoons for years (even teaching cartooning) but I really hadn't made a effort to include illustration as part of my daily art practice.  I thought illustration would just remain a little side venture, an artistic hobby that I sometimes dabbled in alongside my other artistic pursuits such as painting and art journaling.

However, in the last year, I have become fully immersed in illustration, to the exclusion of almost everything else.  It has completely transformed how I journal.  And as illustration/cartooning crept into my work, I shared my efforts on my main blog, Lost Coast Post.

Now, a year later, I find myself in an interesting position.  Illustration is not some quirky habit that I indulge in every once in a while.  Every day, at some point, I make a little drawing.  Many times, cartooning is all I do in the studio.  My current journal is entirely illustrated - no paint, no layers, no mixed media.  As an artist, I am transforming.

So I am currently trying to decide what to do:  keep two separate blogs or focus on one.  I have next to no followers here so it would probably be easy to just send everyone on over to Lost Coast Post and say "Well, it was a nice idea at the time..."  Yet, there remains a key problem: right now, in my head and in my art practice, I am more here than there.  All the followers are over at the blog I've worked on for seven years but Fiddlestick Hollow, however neglected, is a truer representation of who I am and where my interests lie.

Lots of contemplating ahead... 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wee Doodle Wednesday Meets Illustration Friday

My time these days is largely consumed by prep for an art show coming up in October (you can follow the progress of that project at Lost Coast Post.)  However, I'm taking periodic breaks from all the painting madness and using down time to let my mind & pen wander.  This edition of Wee Doodle Wednesday is inspired by this week's topic over at Illustration Friday.  I've wanted to participate in IF forever but really have always been too intimidated.  I thought I'd give it a shot though since an idea immediately sprang to mind when the topic "Bounce," was announced last Friday.  It's often good to tackle the things that frighten you the most.

I imagined that, perhaps, when some little boy or girl is having a sleepover someplace else, their particular closet monster creeps out of the shadows and has a wee bit of fun bouncing on the bed.  I experimented here with limited color, rendering the bed and rug in shades of gray Pitt pens and coloring the little monster with Letraset AquaMarkers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wee Doodle Wednesday

"Doing the Robot" - Pitt pens & micron
Welcome to another addition of Wee Doodle Wednesday here at Fiddlestick Hollow.  If you  follow my other blog, Lost Coast Post, you may already know that I have a fondness for robots.  I think it might be a natural consequence of being such a huge science fiction fan.  Whatever the reason, I draw robots rather regularly and I am starting to practice drawing them doing something instead of just standing still.  (That's something I working on with all the characters I'm doodling.) 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Searching for My Secret Key

"Style has no formula, but it has a secret key. It is the extension of your personality, the summation of this indefinable net of your feeling, knowledge and experience."    Ernst Haas 

As I begin my illustration journey, I am taking a hard look at children's books that inspire me.  Illustrators stick within one particular style and medium; they need to be recognized on sight by their work.  There are a multitude of mediums that can be used for illustrating books, from painting to collage to printmaking to drawing and on and on.  The trick is to develop a look that will become a visual signature.  When publishers match up illustrators to authors (provided the author isn't also the illustrator), much consideration is given to how well the illustrator's style complements the story.

Here's my dilemma: as a mixed media artist, I dabble in all sorts of mediums and techniques.  I need to narrow my focus so I can practice and improve my illustration skills.  The "jack-of-all-trades" mantra of the mixed media artist just won't work for illustration.  Instead, I need to be a "master of one."  But which one?

This much I know at this point: I will definitely be working in water-based media, not acrylics.  In my sketchbooks, all of my drawings are rendered in traditional watercolors (or water-soluble tools like AquaMarkers) and pen & ink.  My first focus in college was scientific illustration with colored pencils so I frequently utilize pencils (wax-based like Prismacolors & water-soluble like Inktense) as well.  I think that any collage that enters my illustrations will play a secondary role.  I will most definitely not be using photography or sculpture; when others use those mediums for illustration, I love the results but I have next to zero experience with either.  I want to at least begin with familiar, comfortable territory.  I'm not looking to reinvent the wheel.

Once I figure out my own unique tool kit, I'll spend most of my time developing, refining, and perfecting my own illustration style.  How will I draw faces and bodies?  How will I shade?  How will I render backgrounds?  Will I work with a limited palette or every color of the rainbow?  Will my look be whimsical or more realistic?  (Look at any of my work and that question has already been answered!)  There are so many questions and the answers will arise over time through faithful practice and eager exploration.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wee Doodle Wednesday

"A Clean Sweep" - Letraset AquaMarkers & Micron
Welcome to Wee Doodle Wednesday!  Each and every Wednesday (barring circumstances beyond my control,) I will post a small illustration (aka a "wee doodle.")  Nothing too involved or elaborate, just a quickie drawing of some little character or critter that bloomed from my pencil into my sketchbook in the past week. 

Remember, this a "No Pinning Please" site.  Direct pinning is already disabled.  Please don't try a work-around pin.  I do monitor Pinterest for unauthorized pins of my work.  Thank you for your respect & protection of my copyrights! 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Outlining How to Get This Journey Underway

"My goal is to surprise myself." - Peter William Brown

That quote is probably the best short & sweet summary possible for what I wish to do during this new adventure.  However, I know it would be helpful for me to map out what I'd like to accomplish.
  • I want to become proficient at rendering faces showing a wide range of emotions.  Pick up almost any picture book and the blank, staring face so omnipresent in today's mixed media work is practically nonexistent.  The same holds true for comics.
  • I must become much more at ease with drawing bodies in a multitude of poses.  That is going to be a serious challenge as I've never taken a figure drawing class.  Practice, practice, practice!
  • I need to move from just drawing to illustration.  There is a difference.  Just like drawings, illustrations can be simple or elaborate and can be rendered in any art medium.  However, illustrating is about helping to tell a story, without or without accompanying text.
  • I need to work on rendering environments for my characters to inhabit.  One look through my sketchbooks and you think all my characters are posing on snow drifts.
  • I need to ease gently but firmly into a daily writing practice, pulling the stuff in my head onto paper.  I haven't written much fiction in a very, very long time so I'm pretty rusty.
Those are some hefty goals.  Notice that "getting published" is nowhere on this list and there's a couple of reasons why: 1) I seriously need to build some skills and confidence before I even think about sending out manuscripts or portfolios and 2) I don't want to have "getting published" as the yardstick for whether or not I've succeeded.  Right now, and for a good long while, I want to focus on the journey.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beginning at the Beginning

 “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Ursula K. LeGuin

For the better part of 12 years, I've been guarding a secret dream, not really doing much about it except keeping it warm.  However, in recent months I've experienced a shift in my thinking and I think it's time to give this dream the attention it is due.  Sometimes, if we hold something too close, it can suffocate and expire right inside our watchful hearts.

Character Development Notes for Fiddlestick Hollow
But since this is the first post of a brand new blog, let's go back to the beginning.  Back in 2000, as I began my journey towards an art degree, I created a little realm called Fiddlestick Hollow.  Initially, it was populated with talking insects dressed in elaborate Victorian clothing.  My brother teased that it was "like the movie Archanophobia but with more flowers." Anyway, I did A LOT of work on this make-believe land:  developing characters, mapping key landmarks, researching insects, brainstorming names for critters & places.  And then I just abandoned my creation.

There are so many reasons for my decision to stop work on this project.  Some reasons were incredibly valid and others were simply imagined justifications.  The bottom line, no matter my reasoning, was that I closed the sketchbook on my dream and walked away.  Over the years, Fiddlestick Hollow expanded to house any creative writing/illustration project I considered too foolhardy or impossible to pursue.

Fast forward to late 2011/early 2012:  I realized that I was opening my sketchbooks more than my journals.  I was dooding new characters every day.  I had been seized with fresh enthusiasm for old projects.  All the beings I had tucked away in Fiddlestick Hollow were shouting in one, collective voice:  "Set us free!"  Slowly, I began to reacquaint myself with the world I had abandoned and in the process, I realized it was really about setting myself free.

I have always dreamed of being a writer & illustrator of children's books and this blog is a place for me to begin exploring that possibility.  I have no experience, no connections in the industry, no idea where to begin, little confidence, lots of hesitation, and certainly no assurance that this dream will ever come true, no matter how hard I work.  Perhaps all I'll end up with are privately-viewed stories for young relatives.  Maybe I'll just have a bunch of sketchbooks filled with little characters.  Those things have their own value.  Where I end up matters not.  What's important is that I am honoring my soul's desire and that is really what it is all about...
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