Sunday, December 27, 2009

Illustration Friday: Pioneer

"Pioneer" brings up many images, but I thought about the umbrella style seeds of the wild artichoke. Brave little seeds leaping off the mother plant and going where the wind carries them. Earlier this month I went with my son's class to the San Mateo County History Museum where I learned that artichokes were Italian imports, brought to California in the mid 1800's. The first farms were in Half Moon bay.
Pioneers are the people who go before and pave the way for the rest of us. This image is based on a photograph of my mother and me sniffing a wild artichoke plant near my house. (I also used this technique on Music.) I put down a field of black on a layer in Photoshop--and erase out the positive image. I use a copy of the background over the black layer with reduced opacity to guide me. Then I convert the background color to watercolor using filters.
I like to trace from photographs--but it feels like cheating. But I was heartened by an article in Smithsonian Magazine about Norman Rockwell. He also used photographs as the basis of his paintings (and also felt like it was cheating.)
Norman Rockwell, my mother: artists who have come before me and paved the way.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Illustration Friday: Hatch

It's been a while, but time this time of year is difficult. I had the line drawing for this image from a postcard project I was working on.
But this one fit the topic. So I added some color.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Illustration Friday: Music

I'm working on creativity in my studies. And wondered what your creative process is in terms of coming up with ideas? Also, is artistic creativity different from problem solving creativity?

My creative process for IF usually goes like this. I get the email and ponder the word briefly. A few images may come up--sometimes they don't. I will spend a few minutes actively thinking about it. Usually the first thing to come up is the most obvious, for this one it was a musical score. So I try to get a few more. I then try to forget about it for a while. Often I don't think about it again until the next day--sometimes in the morning just as I'm waking up images will float into my head. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want when I start sketching. But when I head to the computer sometimes other ideas crop up while I'm working. (on this one I did it from a photo but didn't want the photo background of people's legs and the idea for the background lines came while I was working on the background."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Illustration Friday: Unbalanced

As an artist I found this a challenging topic! How do you illustrate "unbalanced" and maintain an aesthetic sensibility?
So I thought about balance. The tree pose is one of the fundamental balance poses in Yoga. But I also thought about the unbalance of thought. I'm working with how to teach creativity in my graduate degree and I feel constantly unbalanced as I try to reconcile typical academic requirements with creative ones.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Illustration Friday: Blur

Follow that kitten shaped blur! We are adopting a cat from the Humane Society. She is two years old but is tiny and fast--sort of a perma kitten. (I also used the motion blur filter in Photoshop to do this one.)

Illustration Friday: Fast

Ironically it took me this long to post my efforts for the topic from two weeks ago: fast. I did this while flying home from Colorado after visiting for my SIL's baby shower. (Her baby was born on Halloween!) I didn't get to finish it the way I had invisioned--but I kind of like it like this.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Illustration Friday: Flying

This week's topic brought up a seasonally appropriate topic: bats! There is a large colony of Mexican free tail bats under the McNeil bridge in Round Rock, TX. At dusk thousands of bats leave the bridge to go out and feed. They look like dark ribbons in the sky.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Illustration Friday: Pattern

An oldie but goodie. This one was very much about the patterns. I visited Egypt in 1992 and took the photo below of the Al Rifa'i Mosque in Cairo. A couple years later I noticed how the negative space in the photo looks like the head of a veiled woman. That led to the painting. (The patterns themselves were inspired by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey--another place I visited in '92)
Also my mom in on vacation in Egypt right now--visiting many of the same sites I went to--so I've got Egypt on the brain.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Illustration Friday: Infinity

Just a quick sketch--to keep me in the loop! I had to do a Basic Skills Builder course this past week and bring my reading comprehension, grammar and statistics skills up to par. The reading and writing stuff was actually fine, I just missed a few APA style specific things. They like commas where fiction doesn't need them. And I hadn't done statistics type stuff in 20 years. At that point asking for the mean is just plain mean. So all those symbols were floating around in my head.
I'm also struggling with finding a problem. Actually not with finding one, but with narrowing a multitude of large scale problems down into one specific, can be addressed in a Graduate program, problem... Complicated stuff that feels like infinite mental gymnastics.
On top of this sprinkle a little Art in Action training course, and then teaching my first kindergarten Art in Action class. It was a busy week.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Illustration Friday: Strong

It is amazing to me how wind can push water into strong powerful waves. I watched it happen in micro scale in a pool along the shore of the bay the other day. The wind was blowing lengthwise to the pool, on the windward side there were little tiny ripples, but at the other end were wavelets that were 4 times the size of the ripples.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Illustration Friday: Magnify

My focus will be changing. Next week I start online classes for my Masters in Instructional Design at Western Governors University. Long complicated story on how I came to this decision, the short of it is that it is time for a number of social, economic and personal reasons. When you start down a path like this you never quite know where you will end up--but it is my hope that I can use this training to further the mainstreaming of art education, and expand the horizon's of educational media. (I have more hope after Arne Duncan's letter to educators about arts being a core subject.)
I also hope that I can maintain a relatively regular presence on my blog with IF illustrations, but I don't know how much time I will have. A big thanks to all my friends out there for your support so far.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Illustration Friday: Caution Executive Control Malfunction

I just read Dr. Adam Cox, Ph.D's book No Mind Left Behind. He describes executive control as eight essential brain skills, attention being only one of them. (the terms ADHD and executive control dysfunction are often interchanged but Dr. Cox puts forth that executive control is much more complex than attention and hyperactivity.) But attention is the one I will focus on. There are three faucets to attention: length of time, scope or boundaries, and depth or concentration. I think these three things are important to note in designing illustrations as well. How long will someone need to look at it to understand? What elements do they need to notice? How much of the information will be needed later? (an important consideration in a picture book.)

How does my illustration meet these three questions?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Illustration Friday: Wrapped

Ansein feared something had gone horribly wrong with his embalming.
Not sure how to explain this one--just one of those random thoughts.
My son wanted to do an IF too, the image below is his version of "Wrapped."

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Illustration Friday: Impatience

I think we all suffer from this one. It is so hard to let things grow in their own time. It is even harder when there is no visible progress.
There is a tree I see in the mornings. It is about 20 or 30 feet tall and it has morning glory vines growing on it all the way to the top. It is an amazing sight festooned in bright purple flowers.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Illustration Friday: Modify (Storyboard)

This is more about process than finished art. I'd been working on a set of postcards, (which I've become completely stalled on for a number of reasons.) I started my postcard series with a storyboard because I wanted them to tell a story. I then taped the storyboard up on the wall to serve as my inspiration. In the way these things go--I lost motivation on the project, but the storyboard never came down off the wall (piece of paper on the left.) Yesterday my daughter (age 5) asked for large paper and those pastel things. (I like to use oil pastels when I'm thinking because they prevent me from focusing on detail too quickly.) And she proceeded to do the "story paper" as she called it on the right. A modification of my own. My storyboard has a large image for the overall mood and color of the story and then rectangles mark out the scenes. She dutifully copied the number and location of my rectangles (including the one I'd crossed out!) and inserted her own story which involves a cat with wings, a flying horse (like mine) her babies and moose with wings--that even she is not sure what he's doing there. (I find it fascinating that the moose anomaly shows up in the "extra" 7th square.) She also went on to point out to me that she put the sun in the same place I did and that she did the grass the way I did it. The large yellow spots are dog pee.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Illustration Friday: Idle

I'm now going to be idle and leave this one as a black and white. But I like it this way.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Illustration Friday: Tango

I missed last week because I couldn't connect with the topic, and because life around here has been a lot like the Tango. There are steps and music that must be followed. And there is a passionate debate going on. Sometimes I struggle to move my way, sometimes I am just dragged along. But there is a stability that keeps the couple dancing.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Illustration Friday: Shaky

Hope everyone had a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend! Many people enjoyed fireworks displays around the country that left many dogs feeling more than a little bit shaky.
I've been noticing successful night scenes that use a lot of color--so thought I would try.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Illustration Friday: Worn

It was very hot this weekend and swimsuits were worn most of the day. (I know, a bit of a stretch.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Illustration Friday: Drifting

Driving along the coast into San Francisco we saw a whole fleet of hang gliders drifting along. I was amazed because there didn't seem to be a hill high enough to launch them. But then where I come from hang gliders jump off the 10,000 foot high mountain and cruise down into the foothills at 5,000 feet. I guess sea level and sea breezes make a difference in lift.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Illustration Friday: Unfold

Amazing how a new born foal is able to unfold his legs and run with his mother within an hour, while it takes us humans 12 months or so to learn to walk.

Mustangs: A living legacy

I took a four day horseback pack trip in the Inyo National forest lead by Craig London of Rock Creek Pack Station. It was an amazing four days in high sierra desert seeing wild horses in small family groups and larger herds.

June 5, 2009
Of course an exciting trip like this would be fraught with travel complications. My husband, who would be looking after the kids for the six days I would be gone (four for the trip and two days of travel on either end.) Got called on a business trip to E3 at the last minute. He arrived home Friday morning at 10:15. At 10:30 I was on the road heading east towards Benton Hot Springs where I would spend the night at a B and B there.

I had a good book on CD, plenty of snacks and a sandwich. I was a bit confused when computerized signs for Tioga pass through Yosemite said, “Closed. Due to snow.” The website said the pass had opened May 19th. But I figured these signs might be more up to date and headed for Sonora pass—which the green signs indicated was open. I was a little nervous when I saw some signs saying “Chains required.” Having never used the chains in TX they didn’t make the move. But even though it was a little foggy there was no sign of snow or any other precipitation. I drove on, and on and on. I’d been winding through pine forests for about two hours when I came to the big “Road Closed” gates shut over the road (and still no sign of snow.) I panicked. When I turned around my GPS wanted me to make a U turn and go back. I stopped into a little mountain general store where they told me that the pass over Hwy 4 was also closed! But they said I could take 88, up by Lake Tahoe.

So I did. I was able to get across on 88 and pulled into the Benton Hot Springs B&B at 10:30 pm. A six hour trip that took 12. Thank goodness it was a really good book on CD! I’d had about 15 minutes of cell phone coverage on the other side of the mountain where I was able to tell the B&B I would be late, and tell my husband what was going on. I didn’t have cell service again for 5 days. Amazing how we get dependant on these things.

June 6, 2009
The pack station met us early Saturday morning on the patio of the B&B. There were nine guests: seven women and two men. Three of us were named Heather. Later in the trip one of the men, the ESL instructor, declared he’d changed his name. We should now refer to him as “Heather 4.” So H-2 and I decided everyone needed a Heather name. She was traveling with her mother. Mom could be “Heather Maker.” The Norwegian Actress in the tent next to mine and across from Heather’s was “Heather Neighbor.” The Korean sailing instructor with his camera always out: “Heather Photographer.” The guitar teacher who labeled herself as a “Quazi-vegetarian” would be “Quazi Heather.” The third Heather was traveling with her cousin: “Heather Cousin.” And of course there was “Heather Cook” for the camp cook, and “Heather Wrangler” (except there were several wranglers—so we had to have Heather Leader and Heather Follower.” And Cody the dog got to stay Cody.

We caravanned our cars out to River Spring, where horses were waiting for us in a lava rock corral. After piling our dunnage: duffle bags, sleeping bags and the like; on a tarp for loading in a 4-wheel drive truck, we were assigned our horses. I was on Mud: a beautiful tri-color pinto, with “metabolism issues,” that was like riding a sofa and walked about as fast as one. With my competitive trail riding training—where you were docked points for riding too close to the horse in front of you, riding in the nose to tail pack string was a strange experience. But there are mountain lions in those hills waiting for stragglers. Better to be safe, even though mountain lions rarely take on an adult horse. The lions are the reason the horse herds in this area are so special and the subject of numerous studies. With natural predation the populations are stable and are not managed with round ups the way other herds are.

There were two wild horses just up the hill from where we were parked. They were very hard to spot, blending into the hillside and moving slowly up the hill. But with some instruction, “there right by the power pole, not the one on top of the hill, the other one.” We were able to see them. As we rode along the ridge above the jeep road wending our way towards camp we had our first dismount and sneak through the bushes drill. We rode in silence. Human voices alarm the horses and send them into flight mode. There are some lead mares old enough to remember a time when Mustangers were rounding them up and a person on horseback means danger. For the younger ones, voices are not part of their known environment. The wild horse MO is run first, ask questions later. So we had to pay attention to a series of hand signals from the wranglers. That first attempt was rocky—as was the rest of the terrain. None of us knew the special knots to tie the horses to the trees—so by the time the wranglers had tied up the horses and we started clattering across the rocks, the horses we’d hoped to see were long gone.

But down in Adobe Valley, under the high voltage power lines running off into the distance, was a set of brown dots. It might have been the power line herd. We ate lunch, which had traveled along with us on back of a mule, and watched the dots through our binoculars elated. Day one and we had seen horses.

The camp at Pizona was a huge surprise. A giant mess tent stood over an organized kitchen and camp cook already at work on our gourmet dinner: chicken burritos with two types of cheese, salad, Indian beans and corn, marinated beef and some kind of potatoes. Set just off from this were the showers—with hot water! A hot water tank was rigged to a propane cylinder and plumbed with hoses to two PVC and tarp shelters each with a garden sprinkler attached overhead. And the privies, while nominally a big hole in the ground, had tarp shelters around them, and a big wooden box with a seat. Not bad for roughing it. Even more surprising was the evening lecture. This was a UCLA Extension class. Craig is a vet with connections to the UC system. A white tarp was hung at the end of the mess tent. And with the help of a small generator, laptop and projector we got a PowerPoint presentation. Many of the photos had been taken by a Czech woman, named Ivana, who joined us on day two. So we learned about the multiple organizations with authority over this region, The Montgomery Pass Wild Horse Range. It spans two states and multiple agencies—there is a group that was formed to have a consistent management policy for these horses. We also learned about the basic structure of wild horse bands, what sort of terrain they prefer and some history of the area.

The Pack Station provided the tents. We each got our own “two person” Coleman job. (Except for those who brought their own tents.) I was a little worried about my tent since it had quite a bit of water inside it when I was setting up my gear. But it rained twice since we’d gotten into camp—and they said a few of the packed tents had accidentally been left out. My tent stood up well and I stayed dry even though it often rained in the late afternoon or at night for the whole trip. Craig passed out extra sleeping bags, and rain ponchos when we’d laid out our dunnage. It was needed. At the 7000 to 8000 feet altitude it got down into the 20s at night. But with my sleeping bag inside the extra I was quite toasty each night.

June 7, 2009
I was relieved last night when Craig said he’d made some horse changes and I was assigned to a horse named Tex. Mud was pretty, but I feared for my legs if I’d had to kick him the entire day. These horses go out pretty much on back-to-back trips. Tex had been carrying riders out from camp as I was riding Mud in. So Craig rotates the riding list to rest horses at certain times. It was also a relief that I got to ride Tex for the rest of the expedition so I didn’t have to get used to a new horse each time.

After a pancake breakfast, we rode out about 8:30 along Pizona creek. Not too far out from camp we spotted a family group, a stallion, mare and young foal, slipping over the next hill. Then we rode for quite a while in silence. Taking in the smell of the sagebrush, the dry caliche dirt and the warm sun on the black volcanic rock. We’d just remounted after a leg stretch and squat in the bushes potty break when Collin, the wrangler in the lead made the dismount sign. We crept through the sagebrush on foot to the edge of the hill we’d been on. Three faces with up pricked ears stared back at us, barely visible above the tall sage. Another family group with foal, (or was it the same one as before? So hard to tell.) They watched us watching them for a few moments and then turned to lope across the short valley and over the next hill. They behaved a lot more like deer than I’d expected from wild horses. Really hard to spot, standing stock still and then easing back into the background with little fan fare.

Lunch was on a hill of black rock overlooking a valley. There were petroglyphs on the rock. One looked like an alien with three legs wearing a space helmet. We’d seen some other with squiggly figures on an outcropping that seemed to also have a mountain lion den. Tex was about 16 hands (over 5 feet at the shoulder), which gets much taller after lunch when you’ve been in the saddle all morning. I was maneuvering him to a rock for mounting when I stepped off and went sprawling in the dirt. My knee stung and I figured I’d bumped it on a rock. It wasn’t until I was in the saddle that I noticed there was a hole in my pants that was starting to turn red. I dismounted so I could take off my gaiter and roll up my pant leg. I called for a band-aid and Kaylin, another wrangler, was right there with one. I was a little worried my knee might swell in the night—but the bump stayed on the surface.

June 8, 2009
Ivana came in last night. Two other wranglers left to go take care of a horse at the pack station, which is across the valley. She’s been here for ten years or so, studying the mustangs. I thought Craig knew an incredible amount about tracking and finding the horses in all that wild open country. But Ivana made him look like a novice. She was very no nonsense with blond hair swept back and an eastern European accent. She showed us a horse skeleton in the lower Pizona spring area. All part of the cycle.
She talked about which bands she’d seen where, and where she thought horses might be today and then we set off in our silent pack string. We rode through an old Mustanger trap. Old fence was still there along the canyon walls and the logs used as a gate were piled under a tree.

Round about lunchtime she spotted a band of five horses. We’d gotten much better at our dismount, tie up and sneak through the bushes routine. The horses were aware of our presence and were about a quarter of a mile off. The stallion trotted out towards us about half that distance—just to see what we were. Then he trotted back and the herd slowly moved along the flat and over a low hill. So we got to watch them for a long time. At first Ivana thought it was a bachelor herd: a group of young stallions that will band together after being expelled by their parents. But after watching the behavior she decided it was a stallion with mares. A bachelor group will “elect” a nominal leader—but all of them would exhibit curiosity about us and approach somewhat when they have no foals or mares to protect. In this case the stallion came out alone and went back lowering his head and laying back his ears at the lead mare to give her the signal to move on.

Later around the campfire Ivana was explaining this exchange and how important the horse’s ears are in communication. She gave a detailed description of different horse expressions and then she said, as matter of fact as the rest of it, “when they put their heads together they are communicating telepathically.” I sat there a little stunned.
One man asked, “How can you prove that?”
Ivana said, “I’ve done it with them.”
Well how can you argue with that? I’ve certainly had moments with my horses that felt telepathic. And I’ve been around alternative horse practitioners that it wouldn’t have surprised me a bit if they said this. But to have Ivana say it with her scientific air and eastern European accent was a bit of a shock.

June 9, 2009
This morning we packed our bags and placed our dunnage on the tarp to be loaded on the truck and then got on our horses. Ivana took us out looking for the power line herd. But when we got in the hills near the power lines, before they run through Adobe Valley, there was little sign of horses. The tracks I saw looked old to me and Ivana said something about the horses not having passed over the ridge in at least a day. She also said the tracks she saw were heading the opposite direction. I guess they’d gone over the ridge but not come back yet.

So she showed us another skeleton. This one had been out for over a year and the scavengers had scattered it quite a bit. The skull was up under a tree while the pelvis and half the jawbone was out in the open. The teeth on the skull and jaw indicated that the horse was quite old when it died, and because it didn’t have the wolf teeth that it was a mare. If the wild horses survive to adulthood they then live quite long lives. About 60% of the foals are killed by mountain lions.

We then saw some horses way across the valley. Again little tiny dots I could barely distinguish as having a horse shape with my binoculars. But at least we’d spotted horses. We could say we saw horses every day.

We rode parallel to the ridge for a while and then stopped. Ivana crept ahead to the edge of the ridge and then motioned us forward. Down below in the River Springs was a herd of 18 horses. We got our lunches and sat and watched them. Three young stallions had a play fight, rearing up and pawing at each other. Some of the horses were taking naps others were grazing. There were also two horses in the River Springs area that were far away from the main group. We were able to watch this herd as we rode back to our parked cars. The herd moved out into the greener area around the springs and came upon one of the lone horses. There was some squealing we could hear and the stallion reared up and then turned and kicked his heels at the lone horse, which then turned and moved away. I guess that lone horse was one of the younger stallions that’d been turned out and was still following the herd at a distance.

It was disappointing to come around the bend and see our cars glinting in the dusty air. The trip was over. But my camera and memory banks were full.

June 10, 2009The passes were open and I had a lovely drive home through Yosemite National Park. Stunning scenery so different from the high desert I’d been in and the bay flats I returned to.
More photos are on my Picasa Album.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Illustration Friday: Adapt

The subject is less about Adapting (although the sea and the shore are constantly adapting to each other as the tides come and go.) But the process of this one does talk about adapting. I didn't do last week's prompt--and I could feel myself veering away from this one as well. A slippery slope of adjusting to not doing art. So rather than start with a thought, that I then translate into an image, and then plan on the paper as a drawing, etc. I started with the word and how it makes me feel. I chose a watercolor crayon from my box at random and with my eyes closed sketched a few lines. When I opened my eyes the wave was there. So from there I decided it was a shore scene. Which I guess does talk about me and my process of adapting to my new home nearer the ocean when I've been land locked the rest of my life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Illustration Friday: Contagious

Wanting to keep it positive I thought of laughter. What can be more contagious than laughter, especially if it is transmitted by big brother tickles?

I had a color issue with this one. I was using a cool purple for the shadows and it didn't give the right mood. So I warmed up the shadows and the background.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Illustration Friday: Parade

Well lots of images come up for Parade, but I pulled from personal experience on this one. I was the Torrance County (NM) 4-H Horse show/Rodeo Queen in the mid 80's. In one of the county parades for some reason they put me right in front of the Honda Gold Wing club. Needless to say my horse was not thrilled about having all those gunning motorcycles behind him. But that wasn't as bad, in his mind, as the State Fair Parade with the clown carrying a big cluster of balloons.

And just for grins heres a photo of Nifty and I all decked out right before a parade.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Illustration Friday: Hierarchy

All I can say is not all work is portfolio worthy... I realised I have a lot of kids and animals, but not a lot of characters. So I need to practice. This is the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. She's the top of the heap in the card hierarchy in the story.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Illustration Friday: Theatre

I've been struggling with some artist's block, so I returned to traditional media for this. Brush and ink colored with watercolor pencils. You just can't get that wet in wet action from a computer. I really liked the way it looked in black and white too with just the ink and wash.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Art in Action: Wang Yuan-Ch'i

Today's Art in Action lesson was from the Chinese landscape artist Wang Yuan-Ch'i: Pavilion with Distant Mountain. Today I had a full class of third graders--which went fine. (I usually have half of a combined 2nd/3rd grade class, but today had both sets of 3rd graders from two combo classes. ) The art part of the lesson was about Chinese brushwork--which is something I've studied a little. I have a chop (a stone stamp with my name in Chinese) that I had made when I was in Hong Kong (on Semester at Sea.) The kids thought it was great that I let each of them stamp my chop on their painting to give it an authentic feel.
Shown here is my demo painting (on the right) and my daughter's (who tags along and does the lesson too.)(on the left--I got it correct this time.) My daughter decided to put a lion in her Chinese landscape.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Illustration Friday: Fleeting Space Commander

I think he may have lost his fleet. So this is a little different, a costume design inspired by Mark Mitchell's How to be a Children's Book Illustrator online class. (Don't ask why an illustration class resulted in a costume design--it's complicated.)
I spent many years in Theatrical costuming--a little blaster from my past. Just a fleeting moment...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Illustration Friday: Poise (Art in Action)

A deviation from what I've been working on. I volunteer for Art in Action at my son's school. And my five year old daughter tags along with me. So she does the projects too. Today's lesson was based on Albert Bierstadt's Buffalo Trail. It was about drawing trees and forest animals. The image on the left is my demo, and the image on the right is my daughter's work. Besides the obvious comment on it taking a certain amount of poise to stand up in front of a group of third graders and talk to them about a painting that was created 140 years ago, I'm going to mention the amount of poise it takes to create art in a classroom setting. I take a lot of the creative process for granted. I hadn't really thought about the performance pressure to try something new in front of your peers. It takes a great deal of poise to put something down on paper while others are watching. As simple as my trees are, the kids were wowed as I took the oil pastel to the blank white paper and made a tree. I made sure to point out my out of scale rabbit--that seemed to relax them a little. "See even I can make mistakes. Yes it is okay that your table mate is painting with her sponge like that."
My daughter on the other hand, had no problem laying her drawing down boldly.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Illustration Friday: Subtract

I thought this topic would be really hard, but then I started thinking about subtractive art processes. My process is subtractive. I start with a black field and then erase to reveal the image. Sculpture is a subtractive process. And sculpture led me to thinking about classical sculpture with all the missing arms and heads because many of the statues were found in trash heaps and had been damaged by time and wars and whatnot. (Which leads me to the theme for the Lenten period at my church: Beauty in Brokenness. With the metaphor being beach glass, how it is something once broken that has become beautiful again.) How many of these broken statues grace our museums in places of honor? Time to try once again to let go of the Perfectionism demon. There is beauty in mistakes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Illustration Friday: Legendary

(I've been working on another project--so I'm posting an older work.) This is Quan Yin a legendary Goddess of Mercy. A legend is, in a way, a stylized story. It has been repeated and honed over the years. But I've noticed we are all interested in stories, and the stories behind things. (like the prevelence of DVD extras--even if some survey I took claims that watching them counts towards being a geek.)

So here's the story behind my painting. It is the ink resist version of a sketch I did while traveling. In 1992 I participated in Semester at Sea. One of the countries I visited was Taiwan. I took a trip to the National Palace Museum where I saw a beautiful carving of Quan Yin. Back on the ship I did a watercolor sketch related to the carving.

Also in Taiwan, some friends and I went to Lion's Head Mountain where we encountered a statue garden that was full of identical Quan Yins. Opening our umbrellas, and posing with one hand up in the gesture of mercy and the other pouring the waters of life from our water bottles, we had another friend photograph us.

So that's my legendary encounter with Quan Yin.