Friday, September 25, 2009


My flying trapeze spider illustration is DONE!

(click for larger view)

*Whew*!! That took longer than I'm used to, but I really wanted to create a lush yet detailed environment. And now it's DONE! To reward myself for all of my hard work, I am planning on relaxing this weekend with Xanadu (rented from the library), re-reading CATCHING FIRE (bought from Powell's because I got tired of waiting for my copy from the library. TEAM GALE!), and by finally making the bird furniture for my birdcage like I've wanted to do forever. Hey, I work hard- I deserve it!

Happy weekend!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Inside the Illustrator's Studio

When last we spoke about current work-related things, I was busy working on my new dummy. Well, I'm happy to say that part is all wrapped up. For now. Next step? I wanted to do a finished piece from the dummy. Which piece to choose? Well, the vote was unanimous:

This was a vote that quite frankly, I wished to contest, because... this is the hardest illustration in my dummy. I feel a bit unprofessional saying that one piece is "harder" than another- I mean, did Michelangelo shy away from, say, painting horses because they were too "hard"? Then again, Michelangelo never painted trapeze-swinging spiders, did he? But all in all, the tricky perspective, the lighting I wanted, the X-treme close-up of the spider... This was going to take some time.

First up, I got out my spider references. Maybe you thought spiders were ugly? Well, take a look at this mug:

AWWWWW! A little too cute, actually. I used this spider as my actual reference:

Then, I fiddled around with my black & white sketch in Photoshop to test out different lighting & color scenarios. Truth be told, I was a little worried about the X-treme contrast (dark to light) that I wanted to achieve in the painting, and printing out this little color study will (I hope) help me overcome any wimpiness I run into.

So, I printed it out:
...and transferred it to my waiting paper (gessoed and stapled to a board).

First round of color...

second round...

and third round.
(click for an X-treme close-up of the x-treme close-up)

With many more rounds yet to come. One of the (many) things I thought about while painting today was this: I think that one of my main attributes that led me to be an illustrator is being able to do something for hours & hours on end without getting bored (this was while I was painting the teeny tiny floorboards). When we were kids, my brothers & I had this wooden duck marionette puppet, and every time you turned around, its fishing line strings were jumbled up in a giant tumbleweed knot. For some reason, I really enjoyed sitting down- for an hour, or two- and untangling all of the knots. Even at the time, as a kid, I would think, "This is really boring, and yet I'm enjoying it!" I'd say painting is more fun than untangling a bunch of fishing line, but still. The other thing I thought about today was, "How did I possibly listen to the High School Musical soundtrack 3 times in a row WITHOUT EVEN NOTICING?!?, and will this cause some sort of psychological damage?" I guess I just had my Head In the Game*. Will I be painting again tomorrow? Bet On It!**

*Zac Efron, HSM
**Yes, that's right, sharp readers! "Bet On It" is actually from High School Musical 2! I have both soundtracks! Not #3, though- I wasn't a big fan.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cure for the Common Cold

What can cure an illustrator of her last-days-of-summer, I've-got-a-cold-that's-a-bummer, sneezy, wheezy blues? (I'll blame those cold meds tomorrow for making me write those terrible rhymes!)

Well, I'll answer that riddle: A lovely email from my editor at Bloomsbury, sharing this with me!

(click for a larger view)

I can't tell you what a thrill it is to realize that people whom I've never even met are reading and enjoying my book! I am honored. And on the same page as Matt Phelan, one of my favorite illustrators, to boot!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

100th Post!

I've been putting off writing this post, because I was a little daunted by the big anniversary. 100 Posts! What to do to commemorate? I finally settled on a "Family Ties" type episode- the ones where they didn't feel like writing a new story so they just reminisced on times gone by. I HATED those episodes!

Anyhoo- wow, more than a year and a half since I started this blog! Here are some pictures from that first post, my ole painting studio in Brooklyn:

Oh, how I hated that apartment. Here's the comparison to my new Portland studio:

Old view...

New view.

And though times they are a changing: since that first post, I've gotten married, moved across the country, had my first book published, landed an agent, sold a second book... It's reassuring to see that some things remain the same. Remember this doozy of a sign from my old apartment building? (from one of my favorite old posts):

I thought I had left all such signs behind me when we left New York. Imagine my delight in finding this sign outside a building just a few blocks away:

Just shows to go you. everywhere you go, peoples is peoples, and peoples make stinks. Here's to the next 100 posts!