Back to business

Hey, you may have heard about that derecho storm the eastern half of the US experienced the other night! We were pretty lucky here in Annapolis, in that I don’t believe there were any deaths or major injuries (except to trees). There was a fair bit of property damage (none to mine) and quite a few people lost power (including me). The worst was probably the heat index of 105F+ on Sunday, which didn’t combine well with lack of electricity.

The power just came back on early this morning, after about 76 hours without. Really grateful to have the AC and internet back. Also grateful to not have to look forward to another evening of reading by oil lamp (there are cons as well as pros to oil lamps, and the cons multiply the longer you have to use them).

Evan and I were up late when the storm hit and had the opportunity to watch it arrive. The night was perfectly still and quiet, almost oppressively so, though the lamps in our room had been flickering intermittently. Then a wall of wind abruptly hit the trees with speed and force akin to a massive train, causing them to whip back and forth violently. It brought copious amounts of thunder and almost constant flickerings of white and purple lightning with it, and sheets of rain.

Normally our huge, damaging storms come from the opposite direction and give us a little bit more warning. Time enough to panic and hoard bottled water and city-provided sandbags. Thanks, derecho.

(I think we actually experienced a fair bit more damage than the much-dreaded hurricane Irene produced last year. Though there wasn’t really any flooding this time, which was a nice change of pace).

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Drawing inspiration

You’ve heard the recommendation to draw studies from the work of folks who inspire you, to get a sense for their craft, right? I’d add that it also helps you appreciate their work on an entirely different level. Take these sketches I did from Rembrandt the other day. I love the intense darks and smoky sepia tones in his work, but it took sketching from him to realize just how subtle and mischievous the facial expressions of his subjects are. For anyone who’s painted or drawn from a live model, you’ll realize what a challenge this is–over very long sitting periods both artist and model tend to settle into a grim and rigid expression. The number of quick sketches he did for these must have been extensive.

Rembrandt sketches

The look of bemusement on the man in the gorget’s face–I’m imagining that this is a ridiculous outfit even for the wealthy of 17th century Holland. Or the sly and considering look of the woman in the door, her wedding ring just peeking over the top of her blouse. You can really see why his work is so enduring.

Brooklyn in the springtime

Folks who keep up with me on social media might have noticed how quiet I’ve been for the past few days. I’ve been in New York! In Brooklyn mostly, though there was a nice hike across Brooklyn and over the bridge to Manhattan.

Brooklyn bridge 1Brooklyn bridge 4Brooklyn bridge 3

Which ended in highline park just as it was closing on Sunday. What a beautiful way to reclaim obsolete architecture. Seattle? You hear me?

Highline tracksHighline underpass

Hudson sunset

I spent the weekend catching up with my good college chum Eve, meeting her cat and her local friends. Finally seeing Teresa Galus and Babette Daniels in person. There was also a very nice (though cold, and too brief!) dinner with Zelda Devon and Kurt Huggins, the dynamic duo behind Teetering Bulb studio and their gorgeous and prolific output. Also a tour of their studio, which has made me feel like a complete slacker. The illustration chops on those two! (though Zelda definitely needs to work on more watercolors and personal work… :3)

On a tangent, our respective art school experiences were a repeated topic of conversation. None of us were very satisfied with our formal illustration educations. Technical skill has been almost completely subsumed by the nebulous blanket of “concept”, which is really of pretty limited application to most of us. Perhaps I’d advise burgeoning illustrators to spend the money on illustration master classes, figure drawing sessions, and tickets to illuxcon instead. If I could do it again, this might have been my strategy. If I could have convinced my parents to endorse it.

All that aside: my feelings about New York have always been mixed. I get so easily lost in cities, and in one so big I feel lost almost by default. Yet the people there are wonderful, and the art scene so much more relevant to my ambitions than DC’s. It’s a wonderful place, and I hope I can get back there soon. Who knows, next time I might even make it to the Way station to drink some beer and see their Tardis.

Ghostbusters firehouseManhattan street

The Renfest

Oh I know there are folks who have disparaging things to say about Renaissance Festivals, or the “kind of people” who attend them. Those folks have likely never lived in a real Renfest town.
Living in Annapolis, I’m about 20 minutes down the road from one of the largest Renaissance Festivals in the world. It’s not just and event that happens every fall around here, it’s pretty much the event happening every fall here. I have very few friends in the tri-state area that do not attend at least once a season, regardless of their nerdiness level, and some friends for whom the fair is basically home. I’ve never gotten quite that into it, I’m not a big costume person (and I’d want to wear hose and a tunic, not a huge unwieldy gown if I was). Though I do appreciate a good beesting (beer and mead) and a cheesecake-on-a-stick (90% of renfest food is on-a-stick) and a round or two of jousting (our state sport!) a few times a season.

This post is an excuse to share a few photos I took on Saturday, during my brief foray. I’m really going to miss this when I move to Seattle. Gotta remember to snap some photos of the jousts next time I go.

Painting day

I know! I have so much to get done! D: But I also have a pretty bad infection in my jaw from the wisdom tooth extraction, and either it or my antibiotics are making me a bit woozy and lacking in focus. So today, I finished my dad’s birthday present:

Ship for dad

Dad likes his ships

(His birthday was on August 17th…oops….)

And then there’s the 4th card that went with the ones I posted last time. It was for a wedding invitation company, and I thought “Hey! They’re based in DC. Maybe some paleontologists from the Smithsonian will want a proto-bird on their card!” but then I chickened out at the last minute and didn’t send it to the client. In fact, I didn’t even ink it until today.

Anchiornis card

A very Anchiornis wedding

Uncolored ink drawing after the cut!

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To do list

Today:

  • Finish, scan, and send sample cards to letterpress card company. √
  • Begin throwing together wordpress blog for Cinnamonopteryx Press*. √
  • Finish, scan, and send promo illustration (involving a dinosaur) to client. √
  • Work in Adobe Illustrator a bit, slap together something cute to show a potential client my vector art skills.
  • Work on further character illustrations for comic I’m collaborating on.
  • Finish (belated) birthday present for dad, a painting of a sailing ship.

And I’m participating in Artomatic Frederick which begins at the end of next month. And I’m possibly flying to Seattle for a week at the beginning of September, due to one of the aforementioned potential clients. :| Sadly, I can’t promise you’ll hear from me much during the next several months. Wish me luck.

* This is Evan and I’s collaborative press/studio. We’re finally getting it together!

Everything goes back to normal

So I think my art crisis is over. I’m back to painting in about the same way I did originally (save for the fact that I ink last, rather than first) and I no longer feel quite as convinced that my color work is terrible. I do think that the experimentation was really useful, but it’s nice not to feel so panicky whenever I think about making work for someone. Expect more of that sort of thing next time I start feeling insecure about my art (which knowing me will probably be next week).

Three creaturesI tried using gouache for the first time in this one! And I also used salt successfully for the first time! So I guess I’m not actually done experimenting, but at least it’s more typical to my work. Ink, I missed you. I think I’d like to practice painting slimy things some more.

I was having an extremely strong urge to draw pokémon fanart, which I channeled into this instead. So I guess this is what pokémon would look like if I’d been the one to design them. This must be your three starter options. Which would you choose?

I forgot to get a scan of the initial pencil lines, but I do have an ink-less and gouache-less stage below the cut, if you’re interested.

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