Monday, August 26, 2013

Riddle Me This: Figure out the answer to the riddle and you'll learn a bit more about PBs today.

Figure out the answer to the riddle and you'll learn a bit more about PBs today.  Every time you click on a cover or read a review, or even flip thru a PB in the bookstore, you add a bit more to your knowledge base, which can help you to figure out just where YOU could fit into the current publishing scene.  Whenever I see a neat book (PB or otherwise) at a bookstore......I can almost bet it'll be in my library ASAP.....usually without me even asking for it!  And those few I do ask for.....they getz them.  Your local library is an excellent place to start researching the PB industry.

Today's Riddle Me This:
I am an Aussie with a love of enigmas. I paint with details and color and great animal characters in mind. My publisher and I both head up the alphabet. Who am I? 

I'll post the answer tomorrow!

The answer to yesterday's riddle is Graeme Base. His current PB is the Legend of the Golden Snail. With this PB he is advancing into the world of the App and 3D side of illustrating.  One of his recent PBs is Enigma. It's a lively riddle all in itself, and is drawn with the author's wonderful color sense. It is chock full of engaging animal characters. The publisher is Abrams.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

VISUAL ART TIP: Sponge Brush Painting is good for both illustrations and paintings

Sponge Brush Painting
This Visual Art Tip is a little about my technique of sponge brush painting as it applies to "fine art" painting. I developed my technique to accomplish a certain look for some illustrations I was working on.....but sponge brush painting can easily work in many "fine art" situations as well.
My initial problem was to get nice smooth graduations in a monochromatic background for a page in an alphabet book. For the illustrations for Easter Day Alphabet, I'd come up with the concept to paint designs as a kind of "wallpaper" background with the main image, text and large alphabet letter going on top.I wasn't using any computer graphics for this particular book, I don't use an airbrush, and I was working in acrylics....not known for their ease of getting a smooth graduation in colours. Unwanted visible brush marks being one of the main problems.
I hit upon the idea of using sponge brushes after looking at a home dec magazine, and reading about faux finishes. You can see more about it in a previous post: I Never Met a Art Technique I didn't like.....
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

Smooth sponges allow me to graduate colours. After one coat of glaze dries I can easily smooth on a different colour and seamlessly blend the edge. All this without any muddying of the two colours, as the dried acrylic glazes stay separate. I usually use a gessoed ground on masonite board for my fine art paintings. This accepts the glazing especially well....the light just goes right thru the acrylic glazes and bounces off the white gesso and returns outward with a lovely glow.
For landscapes in the "fine art" mode, I found that skies would be luminous done in layers of acrylic blues and greens, just as Maxfield Parrish discovered using oils. When I wanted to fill in foliage for trees and such, I just grabbed a sea sponge and dabbed away. First using a blue base for shadows, and covering with a variety of greens for the background foliage. Then (following Maxfield Parrish's technique) I would dab on pure white for highlights on leaves, which would later be glazed over with various colours as needed....i.e. oranges for fall, yellow for summer etc. I used this technique for this painting:

among others: It was the perfect technique for grasses, clear skies and flowing water.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Here is a brand new FREE coloring book page just for G is for Grits.  Just click on it and print!  Enjoy!

Monday, August 5, 2013

VISUAL ART TIP- How I Learned to Love a Very Emotional Thesaurus or A Visual Take on a Book Meant Mostly for Writers: The Emotion Thesaurus.

VISUAL ART TIP- How I Learned to Love a Very Emotional Thesaurus or A Visual Take on a Book Meant Mostly for Writers: The Emotion Thesaurus.

I've been working recently on my character drawing skills.....and in preparation for a round of sketching I bought Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi's latest offering: The Emotion Thesaurus. It was reviewed in a recent SCBWI Bulletin, and I liked the idea of a book of physical signals reflecting emotions.

I was delighted to find full page entries of 75 different kinds of emotional states. I typed up a list of all the emotions (they were arranged alphabetically in the book) and rearranged the 75 listings according to loosely based categories that I put into light, medium and heavy groups. Like the three emotions Conflicted, Confusion and Overwhelmed felt like they should be arranged going from Conflicted which seemed to be a lite emotion, which could escalate to a medium emotion, Confused and which if not resolved, could go into a heavy Overwhelmed mode. These were purely arbitrary categories.

After this I “ran with my scissors”, and cut up all the 75 categories into individual slips of paper, and threw them into a cup. I pulled out one listing to start my sketching, resolving to try to do the same each day or so.

Of course the first slip of paper I pull out from the cup, Conflicted, led me to also pull out Confused and Overwhelmed. After reading the three entries in Emotion Thesaurus, I started sketching. You can see my first efforts below.

While sketching, I was already musing what I could do to “up the ante” on the poses I chose. How to make the kid's expressions “even more so” than my beginning sketch. And I was also thinking ahead about just “WHAT” had elicited these emotions in my models. I'm already thinking that the little boy that's Overwhelmed could be trying to wave off an overly exuberant St Barnard puppy with muddy paws.......or a cat that has just been sprayed by a skunk? The possibilities are endless!