Raise your hand if you had an ideal childhood. I think there are some people who do, or who remember it that way. If you look in the dictionary, ideal has to do with perfection. I think an ideal childhood would be linked to ideal parents. And it's hard to find ideal parents. I think there are wonderful parents out there and I think a lot of them got that way after a lot of practice. But I think when they first started out, none of them were ideal.
This illustration is kind of about that -- the less than ideal childhood. It actually illustrates a story I wrote that's going to be in my upcoming ebook.
Here's a bit of my process.
I started with a traditional background created with acrylic on cardboard:
Then I took these photos: A reference photo of my kids,
You know that poem, Monday's Child? I was thinking about it yesterday.
Monday's child is fair of face.
Tuesday's child is full of grace.
Wednesday's child is full of woe.
Thursday's child has far to go.
Friday's child is loving and giving.
Saturday's child works hard for a living.
But the child that's born on the Sabbath Day,
is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
I like Wednesdays, because they're like my Thursday, since I don't have school on Fridays. With Halloween coming, and my complete lack of time, since we're moving, this will probably be the only Halloween painting I do.
So I really love Halloween. I usually start planning costumes around March. No really. I will scour thrift stores, garage sales and the internet for the perfect piece to complete the ensemble.
Here are some costumes from my past. Actually, some of them aren't costumes. They are things I used to wear daily. So even at the last minute, putting together a costume wasn't difficult. I always had weird wardrobe pieces lying around.
Pink boots, one of my favorites:
It's not hard to feel like you're in costume every day with boots like these:
Put this together for a mystery dinner:
Bride costume, made from a crazy thrift store dress.
Ren fest costume. Yes, that's a tail:
Scarborough Faire in Houston, TX:
A cat's the easiest costume, but the face paint makes it special.
Me and my offspring:
For Wednesday Addams, I found the dress and shoes at one thrift store, and the doll at another. It's the perfect doll and after I sawed off it's head with a pocket knife, it stands on it's own. I still have the head somewhere.
I called this one, Demon Goddess of I-15. As I drove to school, I pretended I could curse all the Utah drivers for their transgressions:
My latest costume project: steampunk.
But this year, I literally don't have time. We are actually in the process of moving. Friday. All of my costumes are packed into boxes in storage. Saddest thing ever. So I don't know what I'll be wearing for Halloween this year. Which is sad, because it will be our last Halloween here with The Collective.
In the meantime, I'll be posting awesome costume ideas on Facebook this month.
I feel that I've been developing them over the past three years. I mean, seriously, look at this piece. My first Wacom drawing. Back in 2006, with a borrowed Wacom 2.
Here's another one. An original character design based on a short story I was working on. This is a nymph, or something.
It's pretty simple stuff. I remember being completely overwhelmed by the possibilities of digital media. Here's another one, me as a fey goth. I used to draw this girl a lot.
I like single figures a lot. That hasn't changed.
So, there it is. My rudimentary digital painting skills. I received some feedback on a painting recently that made me angry, so I painted a lot more on it. I was like, "I'll show you employment of traditional skills in rendering the human form in this post-modern world!"
Here's the result. I started with this custom texture, acrylic on cardboard:
Then I worked up a digital comp to show Richard. I actually like the flat aspect of the arms in this one.
Then I added some details of machinery in the background and shading to the arms. The arms were originally purple, but Richard said they looked like long underwear, so I changed the color and did a little variation with the red line on the hands.
Then I did some more painting work on the arms. I really liked this painting when I first started working on it. But now I'm over it. Ready to move on to the next one. But this has steampunk looking cogs and stuff, so it's all good.
What do you think? But the painting skills have gotten a little better huh?
ps. This piece is second in a series of illustrations for a collection of short stories I have written.
Thomas Edison said, "If we did all the things we are capable of we would literally astound ourselves."
I agree with Thomas Edison. So many of us are trapped by believing we are less than we are.
Not a good student.
Not a good writer.
Not a good artist.
Not a good parent.
Not a good child.
We've been labeled 'weird' by society (you all know who you are) for being passionate about something, or good at something, or really not good at something and for some of us, that 'weird' became a badge of shame. Now I get to work and associate with a group of people for whom 'weird' has become something to be proud of: geeks, nerds, weirdos. But even amid all the celebration of things that made us weird in elementary school, many of us still suffer from unbelief. Unbelief in ourselves. In what we can really accomplish. What if instead of deciding what we're not, we gave ourselves permission to be what we are, which is nearly anything we could imagine.
In the past few years, I've decided to give myself permission to be weird and proud of it. I can be a geek, I can be really good at something and I don't have to worry about what people think. Because people will be drawn to things I create with passion and geekery. After all, as Simon Pegg says, "Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and no being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. Being a geek is extremely liberating."
Spring semester, Richard assigned us to put together a book of illustration images we found compelling. It was a good exercise, and while I do it all the time anyway, it made me focus on deconstructing the pieces I find fascinating. I realized I was drawn to surreal images with strong value and use of line, such as these works by Sterling Hundley:
And the same qualities of value and line, including vivid color and the melding of traditional and digital media, such as in these works by Dave McKean:
This semester, I realized that I wanted to create images like the ones that fascinate me. Not to copy these skilled artists (though I could learn a lot by literally copying them) but to take elements of what I love about their work: color, line, value, and the surreal, and use them to create my own original compelling images. Compelling to ME anyway.
So I love books and stories. I read a lot. I write a lot. And I write all sorts of things: poetry, essays, short fiction, a NOVEL (it's almost done, so close to done, nearly done) and for a long time, these things just "banged around in drawers" as Christian McKay Heidicker would say. Since I started school, a lot more people have been reading my little stories and responding well to them. With Will Terry and Thomas Edison as my inspiration, I've decided to put together a collection of my short fiction and make them available as an ebook anthology.
In Richard's class, I'll be making several illustrations to go in the collection. One illustration for each of at least six stories. Here's the first one:
I started with this texture, painted with acrylic on brown paper and cardboard...
and this drawing, done in pen and ink.
Then I combined them in Painter 12 and using my skillz, made this:
And in the critique, Richard said (get this): "There's nothing I would change."
Best critique ever. Last one of that kind I'm likely to get at UVU. But it was great while it lasted. And I think it happened because I decided to do what I'm passionate about. Tyler asked, "So does that mean you get an A?"
ps. If you want to know what this illustration is about, stay tuned and get the book when it comes out!
Let's decide to do the things we're capable of (which, remember, can be nearly anything we can imagine for ourselves), and stop holding ourselves back.
I'm taking Biology online. I know, I'm a senior and I still have two generals left. It's not for any lack of interest in the sciences. It's just that they didn't seem as pressing. So for my online bio class, I watch streaming videos of Dr. James Harris addressing a studio classroom in basic lectures on biology. Here are some of the things that Dr. Harris' lecture either addressed or led me to ponder while I was taking notes.