Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ART VIEWS - Art Centered Picture Book Reviews

In most all the reviews for children's picture books, the main portion of the review discusses the writing......well I'd like to reverse that in my reviews....and concentrate on a review of the illustrations, from an artist's perspective. I'll try to tell a little about the book, and then highlight how I see the illustrator "building" the story with his/her illustrations. I'd love to hear if you agree with my summery.....or have other comments.

The Worry Stone
The Worry Stone illustrated by Sibyl Graber Gerig  and written by Marianna Dengler is a delightful story, within a story, within a story. The story concerns the connections between generations, told via an American Indian folk tale about a worry stone. Ms. Gerig has paced the story in single, full page illustrations, with the text appearing on the facing page. Her luminescent watercolor illustrations use both large multi colored washes and very tight detailed drawings, which are a delight. She contrasts the flowing landscape colors with her detailed people portraits. She has the skill to flow in pinks,blues and yellows onto a white blouse....and still have it read white. She also uses enough darks, like the grey/black watercolor mixtures in Amanda's hat to provide foils for her white hair.

Ms. Gerig varies her viewpoints through out the book, with her best work showing through on the wrinkles of the grandmother (Amanda) contrasting with the smooth turn of the cheek of the young boy, Jason, who listens to her tale of the worry stone. She sets the opening scenes in a park then switches to flashbacks telling (her) Amanda's story. Within those flashbacks, she also tells the American Indian folktale of the source of worry stones. She identifies the historical story with a lovely intricate basket weave border around the folk tale pages. You can see her medical illustration background in the detail of the accompanying baskets that echo the design of the border.

Text © 1996 by Marianna Dengler
illustration © 1996 by Sibyl Graber Gerig
Used by permission from Rising Moon
ISBN 0-87358-642-5

Monday, May 20, 2013


Even tho' I spend my workday dealing with paints and drawings, I can't seem to let it go at I've taken up spinning as a way to enjoy color even in the evenings in front of the TV.  And of course to do something with the yarn I spin, I've had to take up knitting, crocheting, and that was just the gateway to other nefarious needlework activities.  Shoot......I've even done some temari.
I've put together a coupla page primer on how I work my spinning activities.....

I got the idea to roll these mini-batts from an article in Spin-Off magazine, "On A Roll with Pseudorolags" by Susan Z. Douglas and Rosemary S. Thomas in the Spring 2011 issue.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Visual Art Tip

I've Never Met an Art Technique I Didn't like.....

I've been painting/drawing for almost as long as I can remember.  I've been a freelance illustrator since 1996 and have illustrated ten+ children's books and have artwork hanging in both private and public collections.
My artwork is mostly realistic.....tho' I am trending towards a looser style in my illustration work.  Over the years I've experimented with a LOT of different art techniques and materials.  Everything from a disappointing stab at printmaking to oil paintings to acrylics and then pencils, with a few stops along the way for watercolors and fiber arts.  With each new technique I've tried I've learned so much.
I've found that if I run up against a problem with one media I'm using.....often a change or addition of another media with be just the ticket.  
From time to time I hope to post a VISUAL ART TIP to help other artists remember a forgotten technique that just might help them out of a tight spot on a project.  

Here's a brief overview of one of my favorite techniques.....acrylic glazing.

  I had been studying the work of a 20th century illustrator Maxfield Parrish, and found that he tackled the problem of smooth backgrounds with glazes "pounced" with a large soft brush. Since he worked in oils (i.e. a time before acrylics), he used linseed oil as his glaze medium, and layers took foreeeeever to dry. I am lucky to be living with acrylics, so I could update the technique for my illustrations. I also didn't like the look of pounced glazes....still too many marks in the paint surface.

I hit upon the idea of using sponge brushes after looking at a home dec magazine, and reading about faux finishes. AHA! here was the way to get my smooth colour graduations without any visible brush marks. I bought a collection of different sponges....all the way from sea sponges (which have beautiful textures, when that's what you want) to roller sponges from the paint store to makeup facial sponges sold to apply makeup.

I went thru my paints and found a sample of Golden (brand name) Glazing liquid and I had numerous bottles of Golden fluid acrylics. Fluid acrylics have the same pigment load as regular paints, but are cut with more clear acrylic so they are the consistency of cream as opposed to regular paints which are more like toothpaste. I found that if I puddled a bit of the glazing liquid on my palette then dropped in a drop of fluid acrylics and mixed with a knife.....I got a lovely looking glaze, that would be accepted readily by the sponge.

I was working on 3 ply bristol board at the time. I ran the sponge brush over the entire board and let it dry. It bent a bit at first, but with some adjustment to the liquid load....the board dried nice and flat. I could then apply another coat if I wanted to modify the colour in some way without any lifting that occurs in watercolours. As an extra added benefit, I found that the "tooth" was just perfect for coloured pencils, without the plastic effect that acrylics normally have.
I ended up with the best of all worlds. I could get my graduations without computer or an airbrush. I could also add texture just by changing the sponge brush I use. And any additional artwork I wanted to put on top would be accepted without any problems.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

First Post of a New Blog
I'm starting this blog as an accompaniment to my newly updated website .

I want to use this blog as a place to post different aspects of my interest in illustration.  I've found that if I "explain" something in writing, I end up understanding it better myself!