Monday, September 19, 2011

On Storybook Illustration...

... and its gurus.

Like Will Terry. I find Children's Book to be my favorite class. I get to choose my medium, and get to paint things that are CUTE. And I learn a ton from this class. We get all sorts of practical lectures on composition, design, color theory, marketing and dealing with clients and publishers.

So here's the first assignment in Will's class:

An illustration for this poem:

I like bugs.
Black bugs.
Green bugs.
Bad bugs,
Mean bugs,
Any kind of bug.

A bug in a rug,
A bug in the grass,
A bug on the sidewalk,
A bug in a glass -
I like bugs.

Round bugs,
Shiny bugs,
Fat bugs,
Buggy bugs,
Big bugs,
Lady bugs,
I like bugs.

- Margaret Wise Brown

Critique went rather well. I like the butterfly.

Monday, September 5, 2011

On Heads...


So this isn't easy. In fact it's pretty dang hard. I started painting heads. As part of the 48 paintings from outside of class due at the end of the semester.

I don't know how to paint heads. Not in flesh tones. I don't know how to mix flesh tones. I don't know how to paint heads. I brought this up to Amy in class.

Me: "So you want us to start painting before we know what we're doing?"

Amy Davis: "Yes."

Me: "So we're just going to start on these paintings without any knowledge of technique whatsoever." (I am of course referring to the techniques involved in painting human heads in accurately color alla prima.)

Amy Davis: "Yes."


Ty gave me a lecture, cuz I complain so much. The whole put in 10,000 hours, you have to do the work to make progress, you'll learn by doing, aren't you grateful you have the Illustration program at UVU lecture. I agree with him. But I still complain. I guess I'll just consider these practice. Like doing scales. Maybe I'll feel better about them once they start getting BETTER.

So here are two I did this weekend:

I'm not even going to post the first one I did. Soooo ugly. As if these aren't.

They can only get better, right?

On New Toys...

Friday, September 2

I have had new toys in the past. Some of my favorite toys have been:

My Little Pony Dream Castle - Yes. This was my all-time favorite for many years. JD Hawkins would laugh if he knew this.

Various My Little Ponies such as Sky Dancer.

Spuda Fett - This is Mr. Potato Head as Boba Fett. I know. Amazing.

The Wacom Intuos 2. I wasn't pursuing a profession in art when I received this from a friend. So it was a toy.

And now I have a new toy... er, tool.
It's a Wacom Intuos 4 and it came in the FedEX today. It's so awesome that I'm kind of afraid of it. I mean, look at this thing.

So now I have professional tools. And Corel Painter 12. And Photoshop CS5.

I feel like Rod Serling is going to walk into the frame any moment and start talking about how I'm about to enter The Twilight Zone.

On Really Being There...

For a while I had a hard time being there. Being here. In my life. I was so caught up in the past, or worried about the future, that I couldn't be in the present. I have learned how to be in the present, but sometimes I still struggle with it.

Thursday, September 1st

ARTH2780 -

I come ready to take a quiz. Perry doesn't end up giving one. Instead we meet in a new classroom, with desks enough for all of us. We have an introductory lecture, about the origins of art, the importance of art and the Dark Ages.

Again, I'm really angry at the Holy Roman Church for making that happen. Great job, guys, for plunging us into an age of ignorance and such. Took about a thousand years for us to recover from it.

I don't have my peeps surrounding me in this class. But there's Ginny :) and Ty, along with Adam Munoa and Nate Call, both of whom I enjoy.

ART328R -

I come prepared to paint, with my paint box. Complete with cup holders. You know the one, you've seen me carrying it around. Denise always makes fun of me. But it has CUP HOLDERS. I'm going to take pictures of it one day and post them here so you can all laugh at me. But how many of you have cup holders on your paint boxes, huh? None, I bet. Ha.

We are doing a wipe-out with burnt or raw umber. I only have burnt umber. As I feel burnt and raw umber are virtually the same, I never bought raw. Sorry Don! ;) All we need are an umber, rags and turpentine or some medium. I like doing wipe-outs. I learned them in Don's Illustrative media tech class. Of course, we did a saber tooth cat skull or something. This is a head. Oh. A HUMAN head. ;)

We are supposed to toning our grounds. I take a long time to set up. We are supposed to start wiping, I am toning my ground. People are starting to use paintbrushes. I start wiping. I'm thinking, as I do in every art class: They're going to find out. They're going to know. I'm an imposter. A spy from the English department. "You're not an artist," they'll say. "You're a writer. Get back down to LA." Of course, I always think the same thing in English classes: They'll figure it out. They're going to know I'm not a writer.

Practice practice practice. That's what it takes to stay in the present. Finally I start painting (wiping out). I block in the main shapes, save details for later. Amy comes by: "The forehead is a little to far forward." Which I knew, but it's good to be reminded of what needs changing. After that, I get no feedback from her other than, "Looks good."

Here is the result:

You can see Denise's behind mine. I liked hers too. So this turned out better than I thought it would. I wasn't expecting it to turn out looking anything like the model. Or a human head for that matter. But it's kind of soft, with a nice sense of serenity. This model was Sabrina. She had a nice face.

Maybe I AM an artist... ?

Thus ends the first week of classes!

On Being Prepared...

I like to be prepared. Remember how prepared I was before I started this whole be-an-art-student-at-UVU thing? I got my books the week before. Walked around campus to orient myself and make sure I knew where classes were. Wrote everything down in a planner.

Well I've got my planner.

Wednesday 8/31

ART2260 -

Wednesday morning, I went to the lab to check out a Wacom, like Peter told us to do. "We don't have any," they told me. As I'm heading out of the lab, Micah's heading in. "Got your tablet?" he asks. "They don't have any," I say. Oh noes! We head back to the classroom, GT539 (how do I only have one class in GT413 this semester? SO WEIRD) and Rani comes in. "You guys got your tablets?" We tell her the bad news.

So 95% of the class didn't bring tablets, planning to check one out from the lab. So we watched Peter do a demo instead. Here is the demo image. So Peter's really good with Corel Painter. REALLY GOOD. You can see. You recognize that painting. He did that in about an hour and a half. I know. Think I'll ever be that good? I keep asking myself that.

Maybe when my tablet comes, I'll be rarin' to go. More likely I'll be paralyzed by fear and unable to use it until the last minute. I should actually be sitting here with my tablet, getting used to the tools, downloading the brushes I need. But no. This is easier. How is it easier to sit here thinking about how hard it will be than to sit there figuring it out and reassuring myself that it's not really that hard?

ART324R -

I have a five hour break between my morning and evening classes. As Cyndal says, "That's a long recess. I wish I had a recess that long." I spend the hours downloading programs, running errands and drawing thumbnails for Will's class.

I leave early enough to get to class on time, but I have to stop by the school post office to send out some prints sold on Etsy. Of course, they take forever to process my envelopes. I have two going international. Finally they're done and Ty drops me off at the top of GT so I can run down to class seven minutes late. I interrupt Will's presentation/lecture about publishing. Darn it all! "I'm so sorry, Will Terry," I say. "It's okay. I'll put you on the roll," he says. I say, "Thank you for your mercy." He says, "You're assuming a lot." Yikes! ;)

We talk about publishing and he shares important lessons he learned through his publishing experiences. It's nice to learn from other's mistakes, isn't it? I go last to get my thumbnails approved. "Which ones do you feel strongly about?" he asks. "Meh," I say, "none of them really I guess." He says, "In my experience, when you don't feel strongly enough about one of them, you haven't done enough of them." Great.

So we need to have a sketch for next time.

I show Will Terry a bunch of picture books I brought with me. I'm trying to gauge what he's looking for in this class. He has assured me that any style is allowable, in almost any medium (except photography) as long as it's a finished illustration. Nice. I think I'd like to experiment again with this class. Maybe some digital too? Depends on how confident I feel with it I suppose.

Full steam ahead!

On Workloads...

Tuesday 8/30 - Second day of school, first day of T/R classes

11:30am - 12:45am - ARTH2780 - History of Illustration

Perry Stewart paces back and forth in front of the classroom. We are packed into GT 516A, an art lab, not a lecture hall. The vents above us make a lot of noise, but we feel none of the cool air. I sit next to Ginny and we fan ourselves with some cardboard mailer envelopes.

I ran up from the outer LA parking lot. Ty walked next to me. "I'm going to be late," I said. "I know," he said. "That's what I told you a few minutes ago." I walked faster, "I can't be late." Tyler said, "It's fine. It's the first day of class." I said, "I know. But it's PERRY."

Here's my history with Perry. Actually, I don't need to expand on the history. Let's just say that he scares me. Of course, everyone who's taken a class from him tells me, "Perry is great! You'll love him." I'm sure I will. But I'm also sure that he will make me cry. At some point, in an art class, his critique will cause me to shed actual tears in class. I know this because I've heard it happen to others. Several others. And since I'm such a crybaby, I know it will happen to me.

(For those of you who don't know, I cry at the drop of a hat. When I'm happy, when I'm sad. I cry at Pixar movies, Hallmark commercials, Campbell's soup ads and just thinking about my kids. I cried when I heard Stewart was having a baby. I cried when I met Stewart's baby. I cry when I'm scared, when I'm anxious, when I'm tired and when I can't stop laughing. I cried once in Don's class. Kenna was there. It was the day we discovered we were average.)

So I've decided that I will take a HISTORY class with Perry first, to ease my way in. He calls roll. "Alisha VanNoy," he calls. "Present," I say. "And it's Lee." He marks his roll with a smile, "Yeah, I know sweetie." (HOW does he know?)

He tells us there will be a quiz every day, that there is an illustration project due at the end of the semester. (We can either do an illustration project or write a 30 page paper... hmm... which one will I do?)

A girl comes into class, sits down and then gets up again five minutes later and walks out. Perry gives the door a look that makes us laugh. Another girl opens the door and then shuts it again. "Sorry," she says. Perry calls after her, "You're gonna be." This gets another laugh. He tells us to look up the name of the guy who got credit for inventing movable type. I'm thinking, Gutenberg. He says, "You'll be quizzed on his middle name." I'm thinking, Gutenberg had a middle name? Turns out he does: Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg. (I looked it up later.)

Afterward, I tell Perry I'm looking forward to the class. He says, "This is the history class I always wanted to take." We talk about artists we like and those who inspired the illustration world. I tell Perry that I might miss classes for writing workshops. "Just let me know beforehand," he says. "I'm not worried about you ditching class. I know you'll work hard." (Again, HOW does he know?) It reminds me of the reputation I somehow built in the English department. Karin Anderson telling me, "I've been looking forward to working with you." WHAT?

We shake hands before we part. So far, so good.

2:30pm - 5:20pm - ART328R - Painting the Human Head

It's a funny title. When non-art people ask me what classes I'm taking and I say, "Painting the human head," they laugh. Like they think the fact that the head is human should be a given. I guess they don't think about all the other types of heads we have to paint as illustrators.

This class is being taught by Amy Davis. She seems busy, somewhat harried and serious. I don't know that she'll have an appreciation for my weird sense of humor. By the time we're done with the introductory lecture, I decide that I'm just going to keep my head down and paint as well as I can. I don't want to get on her bad side. I'll write more about her maybe once I get to know her better.

We will paint from a model every day in class. We will have 48 paintings due at the end of the semester. These 48 paintings will be painted outside of class. The paintings we create in class will have no effect on our grade. If we show improvement in the 48 paintings from beginning to end, we will get an A. The paintings are to be two hours each, in oils. Alla prima. That's four paintings a week, outside of class. *sigh* Oils are not my favorite, as Kenna will tell you.

Everyone in the class seems friendly enough.

So . . . 48 paintings outside of class, a painting for every day inside of class: that's 66 oil paintings. Plus the five for Will Terry's class, plus the 30ish paintings for Peter's class and Perry's illustration project. That 's a grand total of over 100 paintings to do this fall.

Whoa. Gotta run.

On A New School Year...

Monday 8/29, first day of school.

8am to 11am - ART2260 - Digital Painting for Illustration

Peter Sakievich is teaching this class. I had Peter for rendering the human head. He is a very good artist. See here. Actually, if you follow this link, you will have access to a seemingly unlimited amount of information and resources and you can follow along with the class.

On the first day, he taught us how to download Corel Painter, told us which tablet we needed and went over his class policies. The thing I like about Peter is that he knows his business. He's very good at what he does and very professional as well.

While I find the Corel Painter program quite intimidating -- there's such a wealth of options with this tool, it seems impossible to learn them all -- I am looking forward to gaining some proficiency with it. When I first owned (borrowed then owned) a Wacom Intuos 2 tablet, I did a lot of digital drawing with it and enjoyed it very much. Then it broke (maybe just the pen broke, I don't know), and my life fell apart for a while and I got out of the habit of digital drawing/painting. When I lost PS3, it got even worse. Then I didn't even have a program to use for digital painting! Now, I have Corel Painter 12 and a Wacom Intuos 4 on the way. We'll see how it goes!

5pm - 8pm - ART324R - Children's Book Illustration

Will Terry is teaching this class. You all know how much I think of Will Terry. He's very personable, as well as a very good teacher. You can see his work here. He's become a mentor for me and I feel very privileged to work with him.

We will have five projects due, creating fully rendered illustrations for specific subjects or passages. I'm excited. I haven't done much art this summer, except for business, and I'm looking forward to getting back into the more creative stuff.