Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Begins

This past week the kids were out of their WeekDay School Program for the break between spring and summer sessions. I managed to keep the bickering and whining to a minimum . . . and the kids were pretty good also. Memorial Day weekend finally rolled around we spent the entire weekend on the deck. The splash pool was pulled out and two hours later a couple of soggy kids finally came in for lunch. The flagship image of that morning is Small Fry running and jumping into the pool. I don't think my sketchbook was actually big enough to accurately capture how much water is displaced from a 60 inch pool when a 38 pound boy barrels into it.

Small Fry also took part in his first tree planting. A friend had given us a small maple, with the advice that maples do well in rocky soil. Jim Dear dug the hole, while Fry anxiously watched to see if we would hit a giant boulder. Amazingly, we dug right down into soft dark dirt and the tiny tree was planted and watered judiciously by Fry and Sprout, each arguing over who got to roll the hose down to it. Jim Dear and I joked that we play a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors every time we plant something. . . only in our backyard its Rock, Rock, Dirt.

Monday, May 23, 2011

the Facelift

So over the last few months readers may have noticed I've made cryptic referals to some cosmetic surgery. Fortunately we are not hanging by our fingernails to the edge of endtimes as predicted so I'll go ahead and reveal my big project for the summer: a facelift.

Not for me, silly, for my portfolio.

In October of last year I decided to do seven knockout pieces to show the world. Seven because it replaces the majority of my older work and it's just enough to be do-able. The parameters are thus: each piece has to look good as a mailer, which means fairly close detail. The group has to show a variety of ethnicities and expressions. And, most important, each piece has to have that wow factor. I wanted these to be better than any illustration done previously. That is a seriously tall order.... pushing one's work is hard anyway, but I'm fitting these in around my regular projects and the assorted family obligations. My regular weekly sketches have been a conditioning factor for creating these, and of late, working on them has replaced my nighttime sketchbook ramblings.

At any rate here they are. Two have already been completed and I've stacked them at the top:
The Storm

The Pea

The Super Hero (and the one I'm currently working on)

The Cheshire Cat

The Race Down the Beanstalk

The Tea Party

The Nightmare (and the runt of the litter, this one still needs some work..... it'll be posted again)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Illustration Friday- Soaked

This week's Illustration Friday topic is great for this new illustration:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Things Right on Top of Our Nose

In this week's installment I have to post about one of the cutest, itty bitty, tiny things you can imagine. At first I wasn't even sure they were there.... I peered closer in the bathtub thinking it was just dirt. So I scrubbed harder but, no, they did not disappear.

I'm talking, of course, about Small Fry's freckles.

It seems that all this outdoor time with baseball has caused a smattering of brown dust to bloom across his nose. Small Fry is not as overcome about this as I am. His response was "will they eat me?"

Freckles aren't the only things coming out now that the days are longer and warmer. Round here we are experiencing the beginning of the 13 year cicadas. For the next four weeks these critters will be underfoot and smeared on windshields. They've waited 13 years underground to finally emerge, leave their husks behind, fall madly in love, consummate said love, and then die (presumably they were not planning on the windshield part.) This is Small Fry's first cicada invasion and he's smitten. So far we have collected half a dozen husks, bringing them home carefully in the car by hooking their little husk pod legs into the car's upholstery. Yesterday the Fry picked up a live one for the first time. Actually it picked him. In a flurry of wings and eyes it buzzed up and landed on his hand. It gazed at Fry for moment with its weird, red, lazy eye stare - then it was gone.

"Ewww, cool," said Fry, "will it eat me?"

Fortunately it turns out cicadas are just as harmless as freckles.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Illustration Friday-Beginner, and Derby Day on Sketchbook Sunday

This weekend was Derby Day, as I'm a horse lover it stands to reason that I follow the Kentucky Derby. Its the most exciting two minutes in sports after all. But because its only two minutes, I love how for two hours prior to the running of the race NBC fills the screen with all the heartwarming and gripping stories behind each contender. Accordingly there is also a herd of video shots showing foals cavorting alongside their mamas, while the voice-over intones about the destiny of one of these little guys: 3 years, and a mile and quarter later a blanket of roses and greatness is waiting for them. So here's my Illustration Friday for Beginner:

Also on the horse lovin' theme I decided to add another Lessons I Learned from My Horse:

Lesson # 2
Always know where home is

A horse will return to the barn in half the time it took to ride away from it. If they "lose" their rider along the way, they'll go home anyway. Horses know what to value in life: food, safe stall, and friends. If a raging thunderstorm or careless owner separates them from home, they don't get distracted by circumstance, but work to find their way back. They know what's important, we should be so good at figuring this out ourselves

Monday, May 2, 2011

What do you get when you don't get what you want?

A learning experience....

I'll begin my weekly post with a sketch for Illustration Friday's theme - Lesson. Last week we were desperately out of food in our house. Old Mother Hubbard's dog was long keeled over. So I did the unthinkable - I grocery shopped with two children. Allow me to set the scene: Fry and Sprout had been to Sweet Cece's Yogurt joint earlier in the day and the sugar buzz was just ratcheting into high gear. Then there was the Holy Grail of shopping carts in the waiting area, the red Shop Buggy. After they clambered in with Sprout riding shotgun, I (stupidly) agreed to let them remain unbuckled. We set off to purchase wholesome and nutritious food.

Fast forward forty-five minutes.

We are now exiting the store. Instead of following my carefully prepared list I have purchased spaghetti sauce, but no spaghetti; a gallon of milk, some pretzel crackers, and a box of Kroger breakfast bars. We also have in tow, not one, but two helium filled balloons that a store employee foisted upon me as we rounded Aisle 9 in a well meaning attempt to distract my little darlings from starting a chain reaction of falling soup cans with their outstretched arms.

Said balloons are attached to two giant suckers.

Just what we need, more sugar.

For a while afterward Baby Sprout was content to garner Mommy's attention by slathering her unwrapped sucker along the floor beneath the Shop Buggy. Fry popped his lollipop directly in his mouth and proceeded to garner Sprouts attention by encouraging her to pop her balloon - and when she didn't fall for it, trying to pop it himself.

Thus we become one of those families in the Nippers Corner Kroger.

The moral of the story? It is better to drive through McDonald's for the third time this week than attempt to keep your wits, your coupons, and your calorie counts in order while accompanying two children to the grocery store.

Lesson learned.

However it was not all cheap dusty suckers this week for the Fabulous Illustrator
I did have some sweets, particularly these sketches for a licensing project. Each cupcake will be for a different greeting card - birthday, new baby, wedding etc, Here's some of the sketches. These will be done with flatter color and some repeating patterns behind them. Again a bit of a departure from my usual style but I'm really digging this not having to worry about light source thing.

The first few sketches:

The final sketch for the wedding cupcake:

And finally I'm pleased to show the first finished illo in my "portfolio facelift" series. This is for The Princess and the Pea