Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I come across the darndest things while researching photo references for my illustrations! For example, this dandy of a picture:

Is that not the cutest thing ever?! And, did you know that the two New York Public Library lions are nicknamed "Patience" and "Fortitude"? Who knew.

I love a good clipping file. RISD had its own "picture library", where you could ask at the desk for photo references for any subject under the sun. I wonder if that's still around, what with the advent of "the internets", and all. Anyway, I've taken to keeping and filing all of the photo references I print out, resulting in eclectic collections like the following:

Someday I'll rival that RISD photo collection...

Friday, February 15, 2008

More from The Vault

Here are some more pieces from my "Australia Period". Both were part of a project for school that I was doing in connection with the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales.

This was for the Hyde Park Barracks Museum (part of the HHT). The museum was the barracks (go figure) for some of the early convicts in Australia. Apparently, rats played a big role in conserving many of the artifacts from the barracks. They would take buttons, combs, etc, from the barracks & place them in their hidey-holes- and thus provided a great boon to archaelogists later on.

On a side note, the museum had a kids' educational program called "Convict Sleepover", where you could SPEND THE NIGHT at the museum, livin' life like a convict. AWESOME. And I thought I was hard core when I spent the night at the Franklin Institute with my Brownie troop as a kid.

And this was the cover for an activity book for Elizabeth Bay House. The view from that house was BEAUTIFUL, let me tell you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sheep Evolution

You know how it's really weird when you see Season 1 episodes of The Simpsons, or images of "Mortimer" Mouse before he blossomed into "Mickey"? You know they're the same characters, but there's something just sliiiiiightly different and odd about them. That's the same feeling I got when I dug up some old sheep paintings that I did back in Australia (see previous post about how this interest began).

Here's maybe the first known depiction of Bea:

Slightly prim, purse-carrying oldish lady. I was thinking of her in a Miss Marple-ish kind of way.

Fast forward to 2008!
She's hip! She's energetic! She's eating pretzels like there's no tomorrow!

Just for good measure, here are 2 more sheep drawings from back in the day. I did them both for a project I was working on for school, for the Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales. The dismembered sheep is meant to be an activity sheet for kids.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

How It All Began

I thought I'd share a little story about how I came up with the idea for Bea Rocks the Flock in the first place. Well, it all began. . . (time travelling music). . .

In 2003, I spent a year in Australia, getting my master's degree. Look, here's the proof:

And in my time in the southern hemisphere, there was one animal that kept appearing in my life, tickled my fancy, and gradually took hold of my imagination. I know what you're thinking:

But no, it was a different exotic and awe-inspiring animal- The Sheep! It turns out sheep had quite a lot to do with the early success of the colony (don't ask me the details- this was 4 years ago, I can't retain all of that information!) But, sheep definitely still play a role in Australia today, as evidenced by the number of sheep shearings I witnessed.

And if I zoom in on this picture, Mission Impossible-style. . . let me just tap a few keys here. . .

Why yes, the sheep shearer IS blindfolding himself! And yes, that sheep DOES look like it's dead! But that's a real, live sheep. They just go kind of inert when placed in the shearing position. That detail did not make its way into Bea Rocks the Flock- the image is a little traumatizing to me.

So how did all of this sheep shearing work its way into a story about a sheep who disguises herself & changes her appearance in a variety of zany ways? It can all be dated back to this one picture:

Big deal, right? Just a couple of girls chillin' on a sheep bench, what else is new? Well, these two lovely ladies (2 friends from school) and I were breathlessly awaiting 3:00, when the next Fashion Parade would begin. We were visiting the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and spotted the Sheep Shearing & Fashion Parade on the schedule of events, and thought it sounded like a doozy (plus, the diving pig show was full).
Whilst sitting around on this bench, we amused ourselves by imagining what a Sheep Fashion Parade could look like. Would the sheep be dyed outrageous colors, and sheared into the latest styles of woolwear? We imagined our delight, and prepared such exlaimations as "Wool, would you look at that!". Needless to say, we were beyond disappointed when the fashion show turned out to be humans, parading some outfits that were made completely from wool. BUT, the idea lived on, and 4 years later, the Sheep Fashion Parade of my dreams will finally see the light of day.

PS- just to show I'm not making this up, when I looked up the Royal Easter Show URL, I found this on their homepage:

Don't tell me you don't see that trio of sheep up there!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Running Commentary

I recently heard about the blog Read Write Believe, and I was instantly hooked with this interesting series on The Excercise of Writing. (This is only one entry in a week full of interesting entries). I was hooked because I, too, am a runner, and get extremely grouchy and unfocused in my artwork when I don't go running. One is very definitely linked to the other, in my case. And, this theme seemed especially apropos this weekend, as I ran a 4-mile race in Central Park on Sunday, and took the opportunity to take some reference photos for Bea Rocks the Flock. With a limited time schedule, I find I am always looking for ways to kill 2 birds with one stone.

Here's a photo I took of Sheep Meadow...

. . . in order to update (actually, re-do) this scene from Bea Rocks the Flock. Sheep Meadow-- get it?!

I don't think I'll be able to exactly mimic Sheep Meadow as it is- as you can see, there's no path running through the real meadow- but I'd like to include some of the same buildings.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Setting Up

It's been a frustrating few evenings for me at Studio Jamieson. I am changing my mode of operation, from painting on illustration board to painting on paper. Here is the reason why. I work for a large publishing company, and many artists send in illustrations on illustration board, which is not a problem for us, because we have our own camera room in-house where we can shoot these pieces for final production. Works done on paper are usually sent overseas (usually China), where they are wrapped around a drum scanner for high-quality scans. It has only embarrassingly recently come to my attention that oh, most publishers (especially smaller houses) do NOT have their own camera room at the ready! Things are much, much simpler if the art is on a flexible background.

So, as my mantra as an illustrator is "Make things easy for the publisher", I've decided to make the switch to painting on paper. I thought I remembered the basics of paper preparation from school, but it turns out I needed a little refresher course.

First I made a trip to Home Depot, and bought a composite board that can be stapled into. Homasote is best, but since the Manhattan Home Depot is not a "regular Home Depot" (as an associate told me), they don't sell homasote. Also as it is not a "regular Home Depot", they couldn't cut the board for me at the store, which made for an interesting subway ride home.

Luckily, my wonderful boyfriend was able to cut the board in our bathroom/slash/woodworking studio. Ah, how I daydream of having a garage.

I took the watercolor paper I had bought during lunch that day, and stapled that puppy to the board with my trusty staple gun. I got out my gesso, and put down the first layer. Almost immediately, things started to go awry....

Warping. After working on board for so long, I had forgotten how fickle paper can be. Rrrrrrh. I turned to my next course of action: Phone a Friend. Luckily, I have many talented and generous friends who were willing to share their paper expertise with me (in this case, the talented Theresa Bloise and Amy Ryan).

So I listened to their words of wisdom, and hightailed it to New York Central art supply the next day over lunch (If you're ever in the mood for service with amusing hipster attitude, this is the place to go!). But they have a great paper selection, and I bought a heavier stock of paper (300 lb, as opposed to the 140 lb I was using earlier). I did some experimentation when I got home, and with a little pre-wetting and a litttle patience, I achieved this beauty:

Smooth as can be, and ready to go! I cannot wait to start painting!!