Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Queen of Night and Magic

Medium: Watercolor
Size: 12x15 inches

A cover for Kobold Quarterly Magazine. The fey queen, who rules of the faery Shadow Realm. Being presented with an entrapped firebird that she has long craved to possess.

First chance to do a painting in nearly two months. This has probably been the longest period of time I've gone without taking a brush to hand in the past decade.

And while we're bringing up the past decade, about halfway through this piece, it occurred to me that it looked familiar. I couldn't figure out how at first, but then I remembered an old painting that I had long removed from my website to make way for newer (better) work. "The Dreamweaver", from June 2000. Unconsciously I had echoed the color, composition, and even the shape of the tree and the figure's pose, right down to the angle of her body! Funny how the mind has patterns and concepts that one revisits over the years.

I'd like to think that this new painting is much better than the old one! It's a decade's worth of painting experience and practice after all that has filled the interim.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Queen of the Night Sketch

For an upcoming painting, a cover for Kobold Quarterly Magazine.
First painting I've done in nearly two months now! Time to dig out the brushes and watercolors.

Monday, December 21, 2009

MInor Arcana Book Borders - More Cups

Shadowscapes has been shut down for holiday shipping as of this past Friday. It's a nice break for me. I decided years ago that it was hard enough dealing with my own stress of trying to buy Christmas gifts for people, without having to also deal with other peoples' stress as they try to purchase last minute gifts from the site. It's just easier this way for me to have a chance to enjoy the holidays! Also, I get to avoid the horror of the post office lines as Christmas creeps closer.

A bit of an update about the deck that Llewellyn is publishing. I worked with the graphic designer, and we really tried very hard to make the cards borderless as many people requested. But unfortunately it was finally decided to have a minimal border. The reason being that all other solutions of just putting the text onto the images either looked bad, or covered up important aspects in the images. With a borderless card, this would necessitate a bleed around all 4 edges that would further crop out even more of the art! Many of the pieces have interesting elements that go right up to the edges of the piece. So I think in the end that this will be the best solution.

* * *

Next installment of border images for the Minor Arcana book, for cups 3 through 7:

The distant birds here were Claire's contribution. She decided to swat at my drawing hand while in my lap as I did this one.* * *

Probably no more posts before Christmas, so happy holidays everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2009

MInor Arcana Book Borders - Fish!

I did mention I felt like drawing "some fish" in that last entry right?
Ace and two of cups borders here.

"Creepy," says Dana.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Minor Arcana Book Borders - More Wands

Thanks for all the feedback regarding what you would like for the minor arcana book(s)! I will definitely take everyone's input into consideration when it comes time to make that decision. Though it will be a while off yet still.

Just for an idea of the timeline of what such a project like this entails (since I've gotten some hopeful people asking if it would be available in the near future) -

* 6 weeks - Finishing the borders - at the current rate I've been going at about 1 per day, and with 42 more borders to do, that's about a month and half.
* 6-12 weeks - Gathering sketches, writing text, and doing layout - No telling really how long this would take exactly. Hopefully in a few months Claire won't need to be held constantly, so I can dig around for old sketches, and work on layouts at my computer more easily. So it's a wide estimate. Also, I'll probably be picking up commissions again around this time, so it'll fit in between projects.
* 2 weeks - Proof from the printer - The printer takes 1 week turnaround to get a proof of the book to me. Add in the shipping times and a chance for me to look over the proof and approve it.
* 4-6 weeks - Shipping of final books - They've got a long ride chugging across the Pacific Ocean to dock here in Oakland!
* Add that up, and it looks like somewhere in the range of 5-6 months before I'll have them here on the doorstep ready to send out. Which means it'll probably be ready around the time that the deck is released by Llewellyn.

* * *

Meanwhile, enjoy these last few Wands borders for the Page, Knight, Queen, King. After this, on to Cups I think. I'm feeling like drawing some fish!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Minor Arcana Book Borders - Wands

Since I'm mostly glued to an easy chair these days, I've had lots of time to work on ink drawings. I figured it's a good time to get started on the borders for the Minor Arcana book. Here's the borders for the Wands so far. Slightly different format from the Major Arcana book. I wanted some variety for myself!

As for the Minors book, I'm currently pondering what to do with it. Since there are many more minor cards than majors, there's a lot more material to squeeze in.

So, Question:

Would you be interested in a single volume (~150 pages maybe, with about 10 pages of sketches per suit, instead of the dedicated 2 pages per card that the majors had) of all four minor suits and be approximately $50.00, or I could split it up further into two volumes of two minor suits each of $35.00 (and maintain the two pages of sketches per card)?

Pricing is still a guess for the single large book as I've yet to get a quote from a printer for that.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Lull

A feature from Tachyon Publications, whom I have had the pleasure of working with several time over the years:

Journal updates, and new artwork will probably be a bit sporadic for a few months here while things settle down. Between getting to know Claire, and holiday orders to pack! Though I've found the time to start working on the Minor Arcana book. Having fun with the ink boarders. I'll post some in a few more days, when I have a chance to scan them!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sword Dancer

I've been silent for a bit, but still here. Just been a bit preoccupied with what the stork brought in last week. A little bundle named Claire Miranda Dawes. Sleep deprived. Managing to squeeze a bit of artwork in here and there though. Enjoying the chance to do more ink work.

Another couple of commissions:

Sword Dancer
Size: 9x11 inches
Medium: Ink on Bristol Board

And a piece for Kobold Quarterly magazine. Working on a cover for them as well, I think for the same issue this ink interior piece will be in.
The Ambassador
Size:7x9 inches
Medium: Ink on Bristol Board
Original available on etsy

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On Hopeful Wings

On Hopeful Wings
Size: 8x12 inches
Medium: Ink

Another commission piece, with a nice open theme, and a chance to do more ink work. Irises in the foreground. In the Victorian language of flowers: Hope, Faith, Wisdom, and Valor.

Also the woman, if you've followed previous entries, might be familiar as the original figure I had for the Aries sketch before the art director asked me to make that a male figure instead. She's found her place in this drawing though. No sketch idea ever goes wasted!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Under the Hill

Under the Hill
Size: 7x11 inches
Medium: Ink

There's a strange aspect to Sausal Creek:

At a glance it's a tangle of wild vines, old oaks, and giant pines. I walk along the path at the top of the ravine that cuts from my house to be swallowed by the green. And then suddenly in the middle of the path is a manhole cover. Incongruous, like it was dropped there in the dirt. A prop. But no, you can hear the rush of water far down below that dark iron circle. The sound is as real as the louder rush that trickles along the open stream at the base of the ravine.

It's an overlay of the man-made and the wild, a weird juxtaposition; like a lamppost in the middle of the frozen forests of Narnia. Instead of being a reminder of the streetlamps and roads I step off of when I set foot on this path, the manhole cover seems instead to be a marker, a footprint to follow down into the dense woods. As if to say, "Someone else was once here." And now there is just a dirt path slowly obscuring the evidence. Keep walking along the path and perhaps I too will be swallowed into the green.

Crouch down over that dark hole in the path. What lies beneath this hill?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Designing Knotwork - Spirals

Another element of celtic knotwork designs are spirals. Here's a quick tutorial of how to work with them. Having a compass and ruler are extremely useful for this type of work, though it is possible to eyeball it as well.

Two Coils
Start with a circle. Bisect the circle through the middle, and mark off segments of equal length outwards from the middle of the circle. Both the bisecting line and these marks are used for guides, so don't make them too dark.

After you have the guides set up, start the spirals from the center of the circle with twin arcs moving in the same direction, to the first pair of your markers. Pick clockwise or counterclockwise -- it doesn't matter which, as long as you are consistent.

From here, it's a matter of just continuing the arcs expanding outwards, always bringing each arm around to the next pair of markers.

And continue until you reach the outside of the circle. A simpler two-coil spiral can be made with fewer segments spaced farther apart, and a more elaborate one with more segments closer together.

* * *

Three Coils
Start with a circle. Mark off some guidelines by dividing the circle into thirds (either by using a compass or protractor to measure the 120 degrees). Mark off segments of equal length outwards from the middle of the circle along each of these three guidelines. These marks are used for guides, so don't make them too dark.

After you have the guides set up, start the spirals from the center of the circle with three arcs moving in the same direction, to the first set of your markers. Pick clockwise or counterclockwise -- it doesn't matter which, as long as you are consistent.

From here, it's a matter of just continuing the arcs expanding outwards, always bringing each arm around to the next set of markers.

And continue until you reach the outside of the circle.

* * *

Working Multiple Spirals Together
Okay, so those are the basics for a single spiral. You could apply the same technique to creating a spiral with as many arms as you want, just subdivide the circle with the number of guidelines equaling the number of coils you want the finished spiral to have. But how do you go about weaving those basic patterns into a more elaborate design?
Start with laying out some guidelines/circles for yourself. In this particular design, I want to have three interlocking spirals combined in a single circle. Visualize the final underlying structure, and with that in mind, lay out the guides that you need. This may take a bit of practice to be able to conceptualize beforehand and know what you need, but one thing you can do is start with what you think you need, and as you go, sketch in more guides as required.

The initial framework is in place, but each of the inner circles is to be a spiral, and so these must have their own guidelines and markers in place.

Start the arms of the spiral as previously described in the Three-Coil section above.

Finish up the three coiled spiral, and repeat on each of the three circles in this design.

After finishing 4-2, you would have a large circle, with three smaller circles contained in it, each with a separate three-coiled spiral. Now you can get creative about how to link these three elements together into a cohesive design. The most natural junction of these three spirals is for the lines to lead directly into a central three-coiled spiral in the middle of the design.

Now the three spirals are all linked together, but the design still has a lot of empty space, and the larger coils could use some tweaking and details as well.

In a large enough piece, you could even insert panels of simple knotwork inside the arms of the coils.

Or fill the surrounding space with a bit of knotwork.

Repeat whatever motifs you choose to implement around the entire design, and erase the guidelines to have your finished creation!

* * *

Examples from my current project
I'm currently working on designing a stained glass hanging lampshade for my room. Here are some practical examples of the design process I go through myself.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Coyote & Bear Knot

Size: 12x12 inches
Medium: Watercolors & Colored Ink
*Designing the Knotwork*

Another commission piece. Haven't done extensive knotwork like this in a while, so it was a fun change. As I was working on this I found in my Hulu queue a National Geographic movie about Yellowstone Park, particularly about coyotes (with plenty of bears in it too)! It was quite apropos for getting inspiration.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Designing Knotwork

Knotwork design can be very daunting. Someone was just telling me today that when she asked an artist at Dragoncon who utilized a lot of knotwork in his portfolio how to get started, his response amounted to, "you just feel it."

Unhelpful as that sounds, it does eventually come to that. But having some basic understanding of how to construct a very simple design, and the underlying patterns to create the weave are a necessary starting point. With enough practice from there, you do just start to feel it, and it becomes less of a technical nightmare.

Artist Cari Buziak has several free tutorials to get you started on knotwork, and the book that I learned from and found to be the most helpful was Celtic Art: the Methods of Construction, by George Bain.

However, the method of instruction he uses is very compact and concise, and might be confusing to some people, though it worked quite well for me. He does cover all types of designs, including knotwork, spirals, key patterns, and anthropomorphics.

* * *

Initial Concept

This particular commission was for a circular knotwork piece incorporating coyote(s) and bear(s), so I start with sketching out some guidelines. The circle itself, as well as separating it off into segments.

With the two animals to work in, I can either choose to create a non-symmetrical design, or else portion off the circle and create a repeating pattern. I chose to the do the latter for this, and divided the circle up into thirds (with a subdivide in each segment so that half is the coyote, half is the bear).

I then can roughly sketch in how the animals will fit into the design. You can see how I pull the coyote's tail down into the adjacent segment -- eventually it goes much further than that even, but this helps to tie the whole design together so that it's not just 3 big pie slices in their separate containers, but a melded whole.

* * *

Scanning and Propigating the Pattern

Here's where the joys of the digital age kick in. Once I have the basic structure in mind for one segment of the pie, I scan it in.

Digitally, I take that segment and rotate it 120 degrees to fill in the rest of the pattern. I now have a framework of the pattern to work with.

At this point now I can see how the segments will interact with each other. I print this rudimentary pattern out.

* * *

Elaborating on the Basic Pattern

With a sheet of tracing paper I can elaborate on the pattern. Being able to see how the segments will interact, I can now pull the coyote's tail through from one segment into the other, weaving it into the aspects of the design in the adjacent segment, and also fill in the dead spaces (like that upper left triangular segment you can see in this sketch on the right). I can also fill in some filler knotwork patterns as well inside the bear, coyote, and surrounding areas. This is where basic understanding of knotwork design comes in. I don't bother with the grids and dots and things explicitly any longer, but it's there in my head still, and helps when laying this type of stuff out.

* * *

Scanning Again

I scan in the results of that refined sketch, and once again (copy, paste, rotate 120 degrees) x 2 to see how the full design will look, and to make sure that all the adjacent segments line up properly.

There's a little awkwardness with the coyote's tail not lining up properly as it crosses over into the next segment, and the triangle overlaps the coyote's back too much, but those can be fixed in the next round. This gets printed out once again.

* * *

Final Tweaking

Once more, I lay a sheet of tracing paper over the print, and sketch out one entire segment. This will be the sheet I use for transferring to the final painting surface, and so I sketch out the whole circle, as well as the small spiral patterns at each third to use for lining things up, because the next part happens without any more digital aid. No more quick "rotate 120 degrees" with the click of a button!

Once this is done I go through my usual sketch-to-illustrationboard transfer method. I lay the sketch face down on the final painting surface, and tape it securely. I then burnish the back side of the sheet (fingernail works fine for this), and it transfers the lead from the tracing paper to the illustration board. I rotate the sketch 120, lining up the circles, tape it once again, and repeat.

* * *

The End Result

After all that sketching and re-sketching, here's the final result, ready to be painted.

Dark Phoenix

Dark Phoenix
Medium: Watercolor
Size: 11x18 inches

A proliferation of wings in these recent pieces. One more winged piece to come, after I finish the knotwork commission. This piece btw a commission as well, and a pleasure to work on. I've been painting up a storm lately, getting as much work done as I can in anticipation that dedicated painting time might be an uncertain thing and in short supply in a few weeks. The new member of the household is due to be born pretty much at any time now. We're eagerly awaiting her arrival!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The First Star

Size: 14.5 x 19 inches
Medium: Watercolors

I do think I've finally broken my Green streak at least, and instead landed squarely in a Blue/Gold one. Though with the next paintings I've got planned I'll be moving on from this as well. More wings and more angels coming up.

The other night I was going for an evening walk around the neighborhood with my husband, and we came across a 12x12 inch wacom intuos tablet that someone had left out with the trash (on top of a 21 inch CRT monitor, now that is trash!) I took it home, figuring it must be broken, but I'd give it a try anyway. Surprise, it worked! So it's quite a bit larger than the one I've been using all this time, 6x8 inches. I'm almost thinking it's too big for most of my purposes! Still it's fun to have such a large surface to work on.

Mmm...oven's preheated, off to throw together that pizza for dinner tonight! After years of searching, I've finally found the perfect dough recipe. It's really wordy, but the actual steps are pretty simple: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001199.html

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mat Inkings & Computer Whinings

And here I was, thinking my computer troubles were finally over. But such luck was not to be mine. Windows Vista (which I got saddled with as a necessity following the emergency purchase of a computer in September) upgrade to Windows 7 (which fortunately came free since it was so close to the release date when I purchased previously mentioned computer)...should have been a rather easy thing right??? As all the Windows 7 marketing material and packaging would have you believe. Well, after much more hair tearing (amazing I have so much hair still after these past couple months), and fortunately being able to search for fixes to my installation woes online with my husband's computer (he's a big fan of Ubuntu...and I'm getting there), I finally set about ditching the upgrade and just going for a clean install. Even though it feels like I just got my computer back into full working order less than a month ago. It took the whole day, but finally everything is all set again. Crossing my fingers that this is the end of the line for this string of unfortunate computer events.

My hands were not idle today while waiting for the install to finish though. I managed to finish these two mat ink designs. Normally I only do these for Dragoncon, but someone asked very nicely, and I haven't done any inks in while, so the fingers were feeling the itch. Besides, I just bought another big stash of pens from Jetpens.com the other day. If you're interested, I use the 0.3 thickness high-tec-C pens for all my ink drawings. They flow wonderfully smooth, and I enjoy the fine 0.3 point (they also come in 0.5 and 0.7).

And also added a bit more to the angel sketch. She's ready to be painted tomorrow I think. I'm a bit hooked on the color scheme and themes of "Gemini" and "The Transformative Nature of Music", so don't be surprised when I whip those out again. I'm having too much fun with those colors to be moving on just yet, though I think after this painting I should have it out of my system.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Coyotes, Bears, Phoenixes, and Angels - Oh My!

A number of sketches for new paintings in the works.

Part of a knotwork piece for a commission. Haven't done this type of celtic designwork in a while. Bear & coyote in here (and some stray fish!)

* * *

A dark phoenix commission. Rough stages still. Started off as bits and pieces of abandoned Scorpio and Virgo sketches, but she's finding new life now in another form.
* * *

And some angels... I missed my annual Christmas card angel last year, because too many deadlines got in the way. So getting an early start! Not sure which I liked better here, so I'm going for both!