Monday, June 24, 2013

The Picture Book Challenge

This was the week I was waiting for in the Make Art That Sells E-course, creating art for the Children's Picture Book market. I have a long history with picture books. A love affair of sorts. When I was 19 I took a creative writing class on writing children's picture books. I totally fell in love with the process even though its probably one of the hardest things to write. The stories tend to be short and they have to appeal to adults and children. Not long after taking this class I began working in bookstores. The children's department was my favorite. I wrote on and off and worked in bookstores for 15 years.

I never dreamed of illustrating a children's book until recently. My artistic style is growing. A lot of people have said "I can see that in a picture book" regarding my art. Then this course came along. Our mini assignment was drawing snails. Snails? Yes, snails. A challenge for sure but if Dreamworks can do it, so I can. (The movie Turbo is coming out this summer).





So I had loads of fun creating whimsical snails. And then we got the assignment, "illustrate the cover or a two page spread from Hans Christian Andersen's The Snail and the Rose Tree". Can I just say, what a depressing story. I was totally stumped. No snail giraffe in this tale.

I figured out the grumpy snail.

And I thought I figured out a rose tree.

But I admit, I wasn't in love. Friday came and the kids and I hit the park. I brought my sketchbook and came up with this.


When I was creating the rose tree the previous day I kept looking at my art hanging on my wall. I realized I wasn't creating what I normally create; girls, cute animal characters and lots of color. I decided to scrap all the work I had done and start over. Then, later on Friday I got sick from a horrid migraine. I'm talking "do we have to get you to the hospital?" sick. No creating for the rest of the day.

Saturday, I felt a little better but took things slow and started creating. I was able to finish on Sunday and post my work. I need to improve my hand lettering. I would've played more if I had the time (and strength). I'm happy with my colors and characters though. This class is really, really pushing me. I'm surrounded by amazing artists and I am trying my best to learn from them instead of feeling intimidated. I want to stay motivated.

Here is the work as it progressed. I used my acrylic inks, paint and my Neocolor II crayons. All the old faves!




There are two weeks left to Part A of Make Art That Sells. I am really going to miss it when it's over. Part B isn't until October. I'll be spending the months in between painting, drawing and learning Illustrator and Photoshop. Knowing those programs will make me a better artist overall. It's exciting and scary but I know I can do this. I can become the artist I want to be.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Creating My Own "How"

The past two weeks I've been knee deep in Lilla Rogers' E-course, Make Art that Sells. It is such an amazing course. I have not experienced anything like it. There are about 500 people taking this course and they are all amazingly talented.

If you don't know who Lilla Rogers is, she is an artist's agent. She finds paying gigs for artists in all types of industries like, home goods, bolt fabric and children's illustration. She has also authored a fantastic book, "I Just Like to Make Things", which is all about how to be a licensed artist. This class is an intense expanded edition of her book.

I said above that I've never experienced an e-course like this one. I am finding each week to be a big challenge of my artistic abilities, in a good way. I had the most difficulty in week one. We had to make a piece for the bolt fabric market. Now, I thought I could handle it since I just finished a course on creating surface patterns. Well, I struggled. This class is filled with very talented artists, some of whom are already licensed. I fell into the comparison trap. I created a piece that was ok.

It actually works as a coordinating piece but not as the main piece. Ironically, a few hours later I thought of this. I wish I had thought of it sooner. Oh well.

The second week was all about making plates. Fun or fancy plates that are hip and can be used everyday, not just on Thanksgiving. I think I did better on this assignment. See, this class is not about showing you how to do something like all the other courses I've taken. Lilla did not film one of her artists painting a plate design and then sent us off to do it. She just shows some examples of what is trending and then gives us the assignment. I'm a visual learner so that's the tough thing for me. I have to figure out the "how" on my own. This is actually a good thing. I think that's how you become a true artist. You are creating your own "how".


With the plate project I worked really hard on creating lots of layers and details. I usually don't think when I paint. I go with the flow. I need to work on finding a balance between creating thoughtfully and creating from flow. I know finding that balance will make me a better artist in the end.

This week is about illustrating children's books and part 1 of our assignment is snails? Yep, snails. I am enjoying being challenged. Snails were never on my drawing radar, until now.



Monday, June 3, 2013

Learning New Things and Growing My Career

I just finished Module 1 of Rachel Taylor's The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design. I had never considered surface pattern as a career option. The computer aspect scared me. This particular module doesn't require using the computer, though you can if you want to. It's primarily about creating designs and coming up with concepts. All the exercises can be done with paint and paper if you want.

This course was an eye opener for me. Everything you create. Every mark you make can be used in your surface pattern art. To me that takes so much pressure off. Just having the idea that everything has potential is o freeing creatively. I did give the software a try. (My accomplishments on the computer are sprinkled through this post) The industry uses Illustrator and Photoshop and Adobe offers a 30 day free trial of the software. Module 1 included bonus exercises for the software and I actually managed to follow the directions to create things! The entire module is PDF based. No video lessons. I'm a video learner so off to to watch videos on the software to get a better grip on things.

I enjoyed the class. There was so much information and I found it helpful. My only criticisms would be a lack of video instruction. There doesn't seem to be video instruction all in one place for surface pattern design using Illustrator and Photoshop. I'm still looking around though and I've found some things that look helpful. Even though I don't tend to use software when I create, I can see so much potential now having some experience with it. There was also a very limited chapter on character work. Characters are one of my favorite things to create, more so than florals, which Rachael Taylor is brilliant at. I think if the course included an interview with someone who is successful with characters in the surface pattern world.

I haven't decided if I will be taking the next two Modules in the class. Right now I'm taking Lilla Rogers' e-course, Make Art That Sells. This course goes over ten markets that want artists' work. I'm very excited for this course. It started today and it was filled with eye candy and oodles of info. I see changes in my career this summer. I'm going to continue learning Photoshop and Illustrator. I'm going to get that Etsy shop opened. I'm going to be building my portfolio.

Thanks for stopping by!