Monday, January 30, 2006

Illustration Friday: Glamour

This is about as glamorous as it gets around my house. (I didn't realize till I was finished painting that I had channeled Really Rosie!)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Finding the joy.

lots of watercolor, in about an hour or so, last night.

I've been feeling lately like nothing I do matters to anyone. Like nobody cares about my artwork and I'm basically unnoticeable, unremarkable. I got a very strange rejection for an illustration job that made me question my work. I've also been feeling REALLY jealous about creative successes good friends are having - I'm thrilled for them and at the same time, thinking, "Hello! What about me? When will it be my turn?" I didn't doubt I was good enough, I wondered how long I wanted to keep throwing things out there and hearing nothing in return.

But you know what? I'm truly okay with it now.

One night after crying about it to Paul, I went upstairs to my studio and started messing around with my digital version of the Owl and the Pussycat picture. I changed the drop shadows on the owl's wing - and saw a setting I'd never touched before that made the wing look like I'd outlined it in charcoal, which was exactly what I wanted to do. And then I got such a rush of what can only be described as creative joy that totally eclipsed the feeling of invisibility I'd been battling. The feeling was so strong that I had to run downstairs to tell Paul what I'd realized: That it honestly didn't matter if I never got another comment, email, request for work/whatever again, because they will not change how I work or what I do. That I was painting and illustrating for myself. I'm painting to be better at it, to learn new things. To explore. Not to seek approval. Don't get me wrong, approval is nice, but in the end, I will paint because I need to, because it's a hunger inside me. And the successes will come in time, if they're meant to.

And... along those lines, I have to question how much pushing of myself I really do. Not just pushing artwise, but pushing marketing-wise. Charlie Brown looked into an empty mailbox and was depressed nobody invited him to anything, but how many cards did he send out? I think I've been (sort of) content to wait and see what came my way.

I think it's time to get off my butt.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Portrait of the artist as a very tired mama

Sometimes I paint better when I'm exhausted. I can't seem to get a break this week, so I drag my sorry self up the stairs to my studio once the kids are in bed so I can paint. When I'm good and tired, I don't care as much as making it perfect. Perfection? Bah! Who needs it? Overrated.

In the past week, we've all had stomach bugs, a trip to the emergency room (Paul, diagnosed with kidney stones), and many, many sleepless nights. People have said to me, "Lucky you weren't sick!" but I was, and it didn't matter. I still am drained, but at least I'm back at work. Yay.

The one thing that kept me from hyperventilating at the hospital, waiting for Paul's results and operating on 3 hours of sleep, was the thought that no matter what happens, God will watch over us, and not to be consumed by worry (easier said than done). This song's refrain, in particular, was a great comfort.

The universe is vast beyond the stars
But You are mindful when the sparrow falls,
And mindful of the anxious thoughts
That find me, surround me, and bind me...

I have been bound by my anxiety... the painting is what gets me through it. I'm going to try to post more paintings and sketches - as I can't seem to stop painting, I may as well share them.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Illustration Friday: Cats

Sketch of the amazing Spackle the Wonder Cat, who lives next door to us but will come over and meow at the door for Paul to come out and pet him.

Every week when I make the shopping list, Sophie insists that I make her a "Sophia is Great" list. The same elements must be present each week: the letters in block type; the cat at the bottom; and lately, the cat must be holding his finger up with Little Cat Z (who is so small you can't see him) on it, who is taking off his hat and releasing VOOM! into the atmosphere. (Sorry if you haven't read the book, I just ruined the ending.)

The cat also must be singing the Kitty Cat Dance song, which is a huge favorite at our house. Go figure.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Illustration Friday: E is for "Explanation"

Our kids like to look at the mail. A while ago, Sophie picked up the Victoria's Secret sales catalog and started reading it like it was the great American novel.

"Look at all the mamas!" (Mama is her word for any woman older than her babysitters, but younger than the librarian or checkout person at the supermarket. Those are "ladies".)

"Here they are all out in the snow." She turned a few pages. "Ooh! Here they all are at the beach! They went to the shore for the day." Flip, flip, flip. She gets to the underwear section. "Now they are having a slumber party!"

She then looked up at me and said, "Wow, that's a lot of mamas!"

My friends, if that wasn't ever a reason to always have the video camera on hand, I don't know what is. Sadly, I missed that one, but now I know better.

and an update from last week.... Here's more of the digital version of the Owl and Pussycat picture. You can get great effects just by messing around with the drop shadow settings in photoshop... all the charcoal-y looking effects are from making the drop shadow grainy.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Works in progress

(Click to see it bigger - don't go blind trying to read that teeny type!)

Giving a little insight into how I work (on three things at once, on the floor) and what the thought process is.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Illustration Friday: Sea

Work in progress for "The Owl and The Pussycat".

latest iteration, flat color in photoshop. watch this space for updates of texture and shading and such... (and I may do it in watercolour as well, just because.)

original sketch

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Read the whole poem - which we sing a lot at my house - here!

ps ~ 2 more days of Bloggies... nominate me for "Best Tagline" and "Best-Kept-Secret" if you feel so inspired!

Friday, January 06, 2006

2006 Bloggies

It's time for the 2006 Bloggies ! If you feel so inclined, I'd love it if you wanted to nominate this one. (hee!) So far I think my best bet is "Best Undiscovered Blog" and "Best Tagline" but hey, who knows? :) And don't forget to vote for your other favorites as well!

ps ~ Thanks for all the butt-kicking, please keep it coming! I hope to have a fresh illustration up this weekend. In the meantime, I finally compiled all my Illustration Friday paintings into one gallery... check 'em out!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Butt-kicking for goodness!

I have artist's block.

I am slooooowly working through it (as you can see by the fact that I did a new sketch, something that would have been nigh impossible a few days ago) with journaling, doodling, and a walk every morning. But darnit, I need a kick in the butt to get me moving.

Jill and I talked last night about ways you can be blocked - how sometimes it takes the form of overplanning ("I can't start this painting without getting new supplies and pricing out frames and seeing what other artists are doing...") or, we identified for me, pressure to perform: the kids are in bed, here's your only time of the day to paint, GO! Be fantastically creative! "The problem," I said to Jill, "Is that that pressure has always worked well for me before." Hmmmmm.

I had a week off for the holidays, and planned to paint every night, redesign my whole site, go for long walks... and instead every afternoon I had to take a nap, and every night I fell into bed at 8 because I was so exhausted. My body hijacked me! So once I was caught up on sleep (um, around Jan. 2) I was staring at blank paper, actually arguing with myself because I was afraid to put anything down on the paper because I might mess it up. Phooey.

So here's where you come in, if you're still reading this far: please, for goodness' sake, give me a kick in the pants to get me going. If you have a tip for getting through a block, please share it. The only way I know how to do it is to paint and give myself permission to throw it in the fireplace if it stinks.

Any words of wisdom?

UPDATE: I have been a creating fool... this weekend I cooked and baked up a storm, and am working on three pictures at the same time. It's working! I'm working! Will post pics soon.