As a kid, Halloween was one of my favorite times of year, we used to go camping at Kentuckiana in Hopedale. This campground had everything: a house Opry band, scavenger hunt, haunted hayrack ride, kids' games, a medallion hunt, and the coup de grâce -- a costume contest. We would start planning months in advance what we were going to be. And the year I won second place I was Lisa Frank's Ballerina Bunny circa 1994, I was on cloud nine. Ever since I moved into my house I've dressed up for the trick-or-treaters and it's always a joy to see their creativity come to my door and I'm reminded of the pure joy and excitement of seeing my friends and our bags getting so heavy with candy we could hardly carry them. Here's a sampling of my costumes in recent years. My secret to a successful costume: a little eyeliner can go a long way :) If you ever need an idea for a costume, I can hook you up!
It's been quite a year to remember thus far, both good and bad swirled together. And with all of the ugliness in our personal lives and in the media, it remains vitally important to keep putting beauty into the world. So many tragedies have taken beautiful people out of our lives this year and that deficit of goodness becomes our responsibility. I took up plein air painting this summer and it was been very therapeutic, it allows me to unplug and really take in all of the details that surround me. This is a recent 12x12 oil that I did during our Blick Charity event, the leaves were just starting to change on Lake Storey in Galesburg, and it was a gorgeous sunny fall day. I only had an hour and a have to get to work, so it's not as polished as I usually paint but I've learned that it's not always the polish that's important, it's capturing a mood. When you have to paint fast, you make instinctual decisions that are many times more honest than the calculated ones, you quickly react and keep re-reacting until the time runs out. And that's life, it's messy, it's painful, and it's beautiful.
"Plein air" is a French term in the art world meaning "open air" and it refers to the act of creating a piece of art outdoors. This past weekend, I had the honor of joining Ken Tiessen's plein air group for a painting day out at my parents' farm. It was hot, sticky, bright and buggy but it was very rewarding. We encircled the old barn with our easels and set up shop from morning until afternoon. While Ken and I painted in oils, the other two artists worked in watercolor. I intend to do more plein air painting throughout the year as it's just nice to get outside after being cooped up in an office all week. It calibrates your eyes to truly see all the subtle shades of light and color which God has imbued the world around us. There is beauty in broken and rusty things, smudges and clean lines, changing shadows and happy accidents. Happy painting!
PS: Prints and original paintings will be coming to my shop very soon :)
One of my mantras going into this year has been "Finish what you've started." As any artist knows it's the finishing that's the hardest, I can't tell you how many times I get 98% there, and there's that dang 2% left, like leftovers you swear you'll eat, and then they're old and moldy by the time you think of them and you don't remember what they were in the first place. This was a project that has sat around my house for months, I finally finished it. It's drawn with colored pencils (Crayola and Prismacolor on Strathmore Windpower Watercolor Paper) from a photo that I took on my birthday at the Air and Space Museum in DC. Standing there before Glenn's uniform, I found it amazing that all the little mundane things we encounter every day can be combined to achieve great things, like go to space. Every strap, patch, and zipper is necessary. I picked the round format because I'm drawn to interesting cropping to focus the eye. What are you hoping to finish this year?
I recently finished reading this Heinlein treasure for the first time, I've never read his work but I'm aware that he was one of the godfathers of sci-fi writing and the title is well deserved!! This is labeled a "juvenile" series book but his detailed scientific explanations of the properties of relativity and the like made my scalp tingle as they went over my head. Don't judge this book by the campy cover, it's not all technicolor dragon adventures. A recent scientific discovery reveals that certain pairs of twins are linked telepathically, after this discovery several are recruited for space exploration as the telepathic link seems to be simultaneous despite the lightyears of distance. The book centers around a pair of 16 year old twin boys, Pat and Tom, and their journey into adulthood. One twin is left on earth and the other inhabits a flagship on a journey to find new worlds for humanity to expand to and survive all the while staying linked. Though, due to the nature of relativity, time begins to stretch the earth twin aging faster than the space twin, thus forcing him to develop telepathic links with the earth twin's offspring. Heinlein was far ahead of his time, much of the story feels timeless to me, save for a few lapses in technology and social behavior. Many moments stick with me on this book but one thing I found fascinating was that Heinlein commented on the change in language and slang on earth. As the space twin continues to communicates with earth he has difficulty parsing out phrases that his grand niece is using as the vernacular has changed in 60 years. The premise reminded me of the movie Interstellar at times. Overall, I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more of his work.
What is your favorite piece of sci-fi literature?
Happy Easter everyone!! I took a little blog break during Lent and I'm back. It was a fruitful time of spiritual reflection and writing for me. Though I've found immense room for improvement in my life, I'm still celebrating Easter and looking forward to creating work that is rich and deep in meaning :) Lately I've been dipping my toes back into oil paint. This painting was a quick study based on a mental image I snapped on my drive home from work since, well, it's not exactly safe or legal to take pictures of God's glorious landscapes while driving. (Believe me, I've tried, ha ha) We had about one good snow and I love the colors it reflects in winter. Now that it's spring it's time to take it outside and do some plain air work. Any suggestions of where I should go??
If you are a fan of audiobooks, this is a masterwork. World War Z is an oral account of the zombie apocalypse told from the vantage points of military and civilian parties. It's expertly written by Max Brooks, who was able to craft a story best told in audio form. He wrangled top tier voice actors to fill each account. My nerd brain was overflowing with joy when the likes of Alan Alda, Bruce Boxleitner, Martin Scorsese, Simon Pegg, Masi Oka, and MARK HAMILL! started filling my ears with their amazingness. I'm not really a fan of zombie stories in general, but this book is so much more than that, and raises thoughtful questions and consequences to what the aftermath of another world war would bring. It asks how would society's structure change, who would be in power, and are the regulations and standards of practice in place today sufficient for our future survival. Alan Alda's chapter was one of my favorites, in which he portrays, the Director of Strategic Resources, tasked with getting the infrastructure of America reestablished. It highlights a point in the future where artisans and tradesmen become highly valued and in demand to physically rebuild what we had lost. Maybe my inner Luddite is showing on that one, but it's a great read. Also if you have not heard Max Brooks speak or haven't read his work, check him out. For those of you who don't know, he's Mel Brook's son, and is extremely talented.
My takeaway: We are an incredibly resourceful and resilient species, even if there are frightening and shady things on the horizon. And, everyone should be required to learn basic survival skills.
So we just got a Wacom tablet at work and were encouraged to try it out. With advancements happening at the speed of light we often struggle to keep up with the times. I appreciate art no matter if your method is analog or digital, but my heart will always be with getting your hands dirty. That being said, I had a blast trying out the tablet, there are so many ideas I often want to sketch out but don't have proper media handy, this tool fills that gap and saves time in the process. I'm still getting a feel for the stylus, straight lines are not my friends, but the ease of color selection and Ctrl+Z make up for it in spades. This sketch took about an hour and a half and I created no mess at the desk. I'm pleased with the result and might use this as I plan comic book art, because it's high res and easily scalable and the layers are malleable. This tablet might make it on my next Christmas list :) What tools do you use to save time and frustration.
When I travel I usually always bring a sketchbook, even if I end up being too busy to use it, because you never know when inspiration and time will meet. When I do a drawing of a place or in a place it connects me to that place in a way a photo does not, tying more physical memories and emotions to the image. I worked on this sketch of two characters, a king and queen from a story in my head, in stages. I started out just scribbling vibrant colors on a blank page. Then I sat with that for weeks until I was on a plane and just decided to let the characters out of my head. It's a lot less intimidating starting work on a scribbled surface, the ice has been broken and you can get down to business. I did the majority of this drawing in the air and I can remember the gentleman sitting next to me and how he fell asleep and caught himself snoring :) This was done using Copic markers, Micron pen, and white Gelly Roll pen. What's the last thing you sketched?
So the D17 Spring Academic 48-pg flyer has been my life for the past few months and now it's finally in hand!! We select 4 different covers for this book and two of mine made the final cut, the one on the left was a concept that rolled around in the bone pile for months and was shot 3 times and now finally lives in print :) That's the nature of design, just when you've laid a fresh grave and moved on, it's time to grab the shovel. The concept on the right was a vendor cover so I had to design a fun concept that promoted Prang's fine tip markers. The top middle I did not design but was used as a model for the NAEA Convention Ad. I'm guessing they used me because I look the most like a kid in our department and the jacket fit, ha ha! So that's what I've been working on at work, stay tuned this week to see what projects I have cooking in my off hours! What have you been working on, tell me! I'd love to hear it!