I’ve been working on a new series of faerie sketches for a children’s book. Some are more finished than others. Most of them are in a little 5×7 sketchbook that my wife gave me as a gift, so the sketches are kind of small. These newer ones are being done with water soluble graphite, watercolor pencils and markers. They are helping me to flesh out the story. I’ve also been writing some poetry for the book, but again, more as sketches or ideas that may or may not end up in the book.
All I can really tell for sure is I probably won’t do the finished pieces in watercolor pencil and marker.
I was sitting at home the other day looking through some of my art books. I have a giant Degas book that was a gift from my parents, that came from the Norton Simon Museum (the book, not my parents.) I love Degas and the way the application of chalk or paint (he can do both with equal effectiveness) can communicate the transitory quality of a fleeting moment. It adds an intimacy to the piece as if we were there as the washerwoman yawns while she works (presumably from being overworked and raising a family)
This quality, as well as his use of cropping the frame like the relatively new medium of photography, incorporating patterns in a similar fashion to the Japanese wood block prints that were popular at the time, and employing as subject matter, working class women (instead of upper class subjects or religious or classical subject matter that pervaded previous art genres) are indicative of post impressionism, that includes Degas’ contemporaries, Van Gogh, and Cezanne, as well as the original impressionists Monet, Manet and their buddies.
But my work doesn’t really look anything like Degas’.
I do use women as subject matter, but I look for what I believe would be strong women role models for a future daughter. I believe that our culture has a deficit of depicting strong women role models and I want them to be there for my daughter if and when she is old enough to look for them. There are plenty of women for her to look to, but they are not commonly depicted in popular culture. This is part of a vicious cycle where women remain in the minority of leadership positions or few are considered cultural heroes, and so girls grow up thinking that the best option is to get married and have babies, (which is of course an option, but women should have more choices. that’s the point.) In any case, as an artist, I make the conscious decision to promote strong women role models.
This is a big enough subject that is should have its own separate blog post, so I won’t say anymore about it here.
Back to influences.
I have always cited Michelangelo & Da Vinci as huge influences, and I really love their work; especially the Pieta and the Madonna of the Rocks. I love Leonardo’s use of Chiaroscuro and the glazing techniques that combine to give depth and texture to the beautifully rendered figures. I love the way that Michelangelo poses and renders his figures. These poses are a precursor to Mannerism.
My work doesn’t look anything like these guys’ work.
I also love Rembrandt, & Rothko, Homer, Hopper, Franz Kline, Sargent, Courbet, & many many others. I love illustrators like NC Wyeth, Arthur Rackham, Leyendecker, Rockwell, Frazetta, Lee, Gorey, and many many others. My first influence was Charles Schutz. Then came my love for comic books; Spiderman, Batman, Xmen, etcmen… Maybe I have so many influences that it’s hard to discern any single one. Maybe I’ve been drawing and painting for so long that I’ve developed my own way of doing things. Maybe I’m such a crappy artist I can’t even copy my heroes very well.
I’m working on handmade books written and illustrated by yours truly soon to be available on Etsy! (and here!)I’ve written and illustrated books before, but never had any success getting them published (my dream of dreams) for me, it has been a long drawn out process: I was taught to have the entire manuscript done (which I did in two cases, but have several others under construction, which can be seen here.) Then send it in to ONE publisher, which was chosen through careful research to determine the most likely to buy your unsolisited manuscript, then in 6 weeks to 6 months, when it returns rejected; as it will (longer than 6 months is a rejection also) you then repeat the process having eliminated the last publisher. The only way to get a manuscript solicited is to have an agent who can only be gotten by being already published: Yay!
Anyway, I recently discovered that Etsy has a book section (most of which is journals, sketchbooks, repurposed books, and used or vintage books. But there are a few actual original books that are professionally handmade, and I will be adding myself to that category.
I’ve made books before, so I know what I’m getting into. They won’t be cheap, but they will definitely be worth it!
Now that Halloween is over, the holidays are coming at us like that round bolder in Raiders of the Lost Ark! I have been making cards and gifts for Christmas since late summer, but I feel constantly behind. I finished the painting I told you about last time and am pleased with how it came out. It was originally supposed to have fog, but you can’t have everything. I made it into a card, and maybe I’ll make a second one out of it. I sold a print of St. Hildegard (Thank you!) so now I’m offering more prints of my paintings.
I am also offering t-shirts with my block prints on them. I’m really happy with how they look, and hope that people will get them as gifts. The images I make are meant to be iconic so they really work well on shirts. I have tried to solve the problem I would have with overhead and storage by making shirts to model but stating that they can be any size and will be made to order. I would like to offer long sleeved shirts and sweatshirts, but I also have to spend $ on presents so I can’t just buy a bunch of sweatshirts hoping someone will buy something. I know Ihave to spend money to make money, but I have to be realistic also.
That doesn’t mean I can’t still make more stuff for Christmas. Going with the icon theme I’ve been trying to come up with an iconic Christmas image for a block print. I’ve already done a Christmas tree which came out great, but I’m looking for something that will have more of an impact; is bolder or more “dramatic”. My girlfriend suggested Santa, which I initially rejected as too cliche to register with viewers but I like the idea that icons originally were saints portraits and Santa Clause is just how little kids pronounce Saint Nicholas. This probably won’t go on a shirt, but I’m just thinking about Christmas cards. It makes sense that in order to catch anyone’s attention whether it’s cards shirts or anything else, my job as an illustrator is to create an image that is bold, iconic, arresting, and all the other synonyms for “eye catching” I’ve used so far.
Religious Icons generally hold something in their hands to make it easy for viewers to recognize them. I’m haveing a hard time figuring out what to have Santa hold. First it was his list of naughty and nice, but I thought people might not know that’s what the scroll was meant to be. I thought maybe coal in one hand and a toy in the other, but I really think Im going to stick to red and white for colors, so that wont work. let me know if you have any ideas!
Oh! Maybe a thumbs up with one hand and thumbs down with the other!