Monday, June 29, 2009

Maui Travel Sketches

Back at the Foxhole now. As fun as the trip was, it's always nice to step through the doorway and take a breath of Home!

Returned a little bit darker, a little bit more relaxed. Plenty of travel sketches while I was away. The ink was not idle. Had to send Dana off with the camera to entertain himself at times while I fixated on a quick scribble.

Kept the little book on me pretty much the whole time, except for those outings when there was nothing but "oceanswimming" on the schedule. There's nothing like floating in the cerulean embrace of the sea. So light and effortless!

Rickety old bridge. Eek!

So many lovely old banyans. This one's my favorite.

Then on to Hana. Solitude, and waterfalls, waterfalls, waterfalls!

I've been in a bamboo forest before in Japan, but I suppose the wind must have been still, because what I did not remember was the eerie music like hundreds of bamboo wind chimes each time the wind trailed her fingers across the top of the grove. Paired with the deep blue-green shadows of what little light filtered down through the leaves, it was an otherworldly trek.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fox Kit

Okay, I lied, that wasn't the last post. But I couldn't resist for this one. Sitting here at my desk working on some layouts, and after a while I noticed that there had been a strange sound going in the background for quite a while. Sounded almost like a bird, but not quite like any of the species I'd usually hear (this includes the random roosters crowing at all hours. Roosters!?! Who's keeping chickens in Oakland??)

I looked up and this little guy was staring back at me. He raced off around the corner whenI rose to get my camera, but a minute later I heard, "yipyipyip!" and looked up to see him standing there again. This time he didn't move while I grabbed my camera and took a picture. I think it's a gray fox kit. I've seen their shadows slinking under fences into the Sausal Creek park area at night occasionally, melting into the moonlit underbrush, but this is the first time I've seen one during the day, and up close.

I think he lost mom (she's probably yawning and asleep in some nice dark den somewhere), but after about 5 minutes of circling round and round the house, he either found her or took his search elsewhere because I didn't see him any longer.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dragon Sketch and Vacation

Sketch for the next painting. It's a commissioned piece, and I'm looking forward to painting it. But unfortunately it probably won't be for a while. This might well be my last post for a couple of weeks, as I'll be off on vacation in Maui, leaving this Wednesday. Beaches and warm waters! Bringing along plenty of sketchbooks so perhaps I'll have some scribbles to show for the time as well.

I always feel like I'm traveling so lightly when on vacation (as opposed to flying to a convention) since I don't have to bring along two 50-lb suitcases and a huge carryon as well!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beneath the Eildon Tree

"Beneath the Eildon Tree"
Size: 8.5 x 11 inches
Medium: Watercolor

Thomas the Rhymer and Queen of Elfland beneath the Eildon Tree.

The Eildon Tree was a sacred hawthorne in the hills of Ercildoun, where Thomas was said to hail from. And the hawthorn is also sometimes known as the fairy bush, for the fey folk are said to inhabit its branches and are its guardians. Sprigs of hawthorn and its flowers were gathered to serve as protection from evil.

A hundred years I slept beneath a thorn,
Until the tree was root and branches of my thought,
Until white petals blossomed in my crown.

--- Kathleen Raine "The Traveler"

* * *

On a completely different topic, a whimsical little book I did some fun illustrations for earlier this year will be coming out in July The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker.

* From the publisher's blog, Tachyon Books, with some previews of the ink drawings I did for the interior.

The Artists' Eternal Questions

* Why do art directors always pick the thumbnail you least want to use?
* The corollary to that: Why do customers invariably favor the print you most want to remove from your site?
* Why does the coffee/tea cup always feel like the instinctive place to rinse off a brush, no matter where you position it in relation to the real rinsing bowl, even at the far other end of the desk?
* How the hell does the glass scanner bed, while closed, manage to accumulate so much dust and crap after just being cleaned a few days ago?!?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thomas the Rhymer Sketches

Thomas the Rhymer. He wandered the hills of Ercildoun one evening, when he was come upon by the Queen of Elfland. He kissed her, and the price of that kiss was to be borne away with her from Middle Earth and the mortal realms. For seven years, he stayed in Elfland before being returned to the world, gifted thenceforth with Truth.

Digging through my old sketchbooks again, as I do when looking for ideas. I came across this one, that I've long wanted to do something with. Lutes are such beautiful instruments, with the carved and layered rose at the center. My flamenco guitarist friend Stephen Faulk is also an instrument maker, and I'm always fascinated at the detail work that goes into the rosettes, both in his flamenco guitars and lutes. Little bits of carved and inlaid wood.

I did some minor research to make sure that Thomas could have played a lute (rather than a harp) and discovered that the ballads of the Rhymer are some of the earliest mention of lutes in Scotland. Artistic license is one thing, but I just wanted to ensure I was at least in the ballpark of reality, so it was good to find that confirmation.

A good starting point, but the sketch was a bit old. It could do with an update. So here came the newer improved version. Surprisingly, it didn't really require much brainstorming or redrawing, but came out mostly as I wanted on the first try without too much erasing and frustration.

Cleaned up and transferred to the illustration board. Details added in. Scooted the whole composition over a bit to the right so that it would be a bit more balanced. The initial sketch was too heavy towards the lower left corner, but that was the only major change really.

It's a good stopping point for today. Painting it tomorrow, and then that should complete the Bard chapter!

Etsy Mini Paintings

4x7 inches

Well, trying to clean things out a bit in my studio, and so I've added 13 small originals to my Etsy store. Usually I only lug these little guys around with me to be sold at conventions and they are not available on the Shadowscapes site. For the most part they are between 3 and 7 inches in dimension. Most of them were spot illustrations for some project or other. A good number of them are from Dreamscapes, or the upcoming Dreamscapes 2.

8x7.5 inches

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Colors & Glimmer

7.2x4.6 inches
watercolor colors!
Package arrived in the mail for me on Saturday. Another big batch of that Elderflower purple I love, as well as an array of some others to play with. No doubt the non-artists reading this are not nearly as excited as I am. But what can I say, doesn't take much for me!

Did a mini piece (Glimmer, above) just to try out the new colors and see what I've got here now, and I'm rather pleased with their intensity, as well as the smoothness with which they blend.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Morgan le Fay

"Morgan le Fay"
7x10 inches

A Dreamscapes preview from the chapter just completed.

In some versions of the Arthurian legends, as in Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, she was Arthur’s half sister, born of their mother Igraine’s first marriage to Duke Gorlois of Cornwall. In other tellings, the whisper of fairy blood runs through her veins (thus her name “of the Faeries” or perhaps “Fate”) and she was trained in the magical arts on the Isle of Avalon, sacred Isle of Apples which rose from the lake where Arthur received Excalibur. There are some legends where she is believed to be an incarnation of the Celtic goddess of death Morrigan. Yet in all, there is always the thread of an enchantress attached to her. She is paradoxically a healer and destroyer, a charmer, and a sorceress. And when the mighty King Arthur passed from this life, he was taken on a barge to his final sleep on Avalon by three queens: Queen Morgan le Fay, the Queen of Northgalis, and the Queen of the Waste lands.

* * *

Scribbled some notes today for a section on painting flesh tones since I get asked about that often, and I touched on it only very briefly in the first book. Hopefully this pass will be more helpful to answer more questions.

Off to read in bed before turning in. I think that large coffee milkshake a half hour ago might not have been the smartest idea at 11:30PM, but it was oh so good!!! I'll curl up with Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer. Rereading it, but it's one of my favorite books.

Perhaps I'll paint Thomas next for the Bard chapter. Just two more chapters to go to completion, and then whatever shall I do with the new batch of Free Time??? Perhaps there will be a chance to dig into the lovely jars of new paints from Kremer that I had Sophie buy for me in Germany. I've been itching to get into those!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A night of Cafe Flamenco

Got back from dancing in a flamenco show with Yaelisa's students tonight in San Francisco. We had to get there at 6PM even though the show didn't start until 8. And after changing into costume, painting my face with makeup, and going through some last minute entrance and exit instructions, I found myself back upstairs in the prep room that was getting increasingly stuffy from all the hour-before-the-show rehearsal that was going on around me.

After a quick run through of my number (a farrouca), mostly in my head, I decided to save my energy (and sweat) for the actual show. A quick scan of the room found very few unoccupied spaces, but there was a tiny window in one corner with a chair propping it open. I squeezed over to that bright patch of light and fresh air. It was getting dusky outside, but not yet dark. Settling down I enjoyed the light breeze for a moment, then pulled out the much-neglected-this-past-month sketchbook to do some drawings.
* * *

The complexities of flamenco costumes.... Pinning on a mantone properly for the solea number apparently required multiple pairs of hands.

A young dancer sitting still for a breath as mom fixed her hair. She was impatient to be off!

The chaos and colors of sevillanas. Swirling skirts and bright fluttering fans!

Drawn on brown paper with black, grey, and blue markers, as well as a white gel pen for highlights.

Ah, as for the show itself, it went wonderfully, to a fully packed audience!

Morgan le Fay Sketch

Just a quick little update, and another teaser from Dreamscapes II:

A favorite enchantress for fantasy artists to depict. Sketch for Morgan le Fay:

Trying to finish this one before 5PM tonight when I have to head out for a flamenco show in San Francisco. So can't allow myself to get too distracted today. Focus!

Cafe Flamenco at the Verdi Club. $18.00 for a great show at 8PM for anyone local reading this. :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Printer Woes

*tearing out my hair*

Well, after getting one good book printing run (Inklings II) out of them, QualityPOD goes out of business. Just when I had a second project ready to send them too.

I'm thinking I might try a traditional printer, despite the huge overhead costs, because at this rate I'm probably spending as much money in time costs looking for a Print On Demand company as it would simply to just shell out a huge amount for a 1000 book run with a non-ondemand source.

Generally 1000 is the minimum quantity they will do. So then it means two things 1) can I recoup my costs for that large of a run, since I'm not planning to sell these in retail outlets?, and 2) do I have the storage space for it!!!! I gave up on large runs like that a few years ago when every available space in my tiny apartment (now tiny house) became filled up with all the limited edition prints. That was before Epson printers and large fancy giclees became the thing.

Specifically, for a POD company, my greyscales require that they have one of two types of machines: a Xerox DC250 family or an Xerox igen

Which seems to be exceedingly rare.

*more hair tearing*