Friday, July 30, 2010

Joy- Sugar plums, in July?

This is a Christmas card design I did a couple of years ago. I've changed my digital painting style quite a bit since then and am glad I have. I like the drawing well enough but it could definitely be more dynamic instead of so straight on. The color application seems too digital looking to me, too "fuzzy". I've always loved this part of the Night Before Christmas story and just think it reads for such a great visual. I also wanted for some reason to do hand lettering. Successful? Ya, not so much. I need to practice. I might redo this at some point because I picture it so much differently in my mind now. I guess that's part of practicing, learning and working on your craft!

Thanks for stopping by and for any comments!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Play your harmonica- it's time to celebrate Chanukah - - in July


This was a quick watercolor sketch I did last winter while sitting poolside at my daughter's swim team practice. It's 2 hours of hot steamy sitting under heat lamps. I started doing these 2.5 " by 3.5" paintings to pass the time. No real planning- very little pencil first- just jumping in and painting and at the end of the lesson it was a little gem. 

We are a blended family- my husband is Jewish -and I'm not. So- I am a very good shiksa and the Chanukah traditions are a big part of our holiday season. Spin the dreidel - have some chocolate gelt and get some groovy  little gift each night.  I collect a lot of Christmas chachtkes  - Chalkware Santas and bottle brush trees and I make wreaths out of old glass ornaments... every horizontal surface is festooned with Ho Ho Ho, but the simplicity of this holiday is where it's at.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Christmas in July: Family Time

Isn't the best part of the holidays getting together with family and friends for old and new traditions? 

I'm a Christmas nut and we are quite the crafty family so the tree each year is more of an art project than decoration! 

This is a sketch from a dummy book, of course I had to write a Christmas story!  I did mention I'm a Christmas nut, didn't I?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Winter In July

Despite living in Texas, I'm not really a summer person. (And who could be with these miserable temperatures? yuck!) I love the cold and am already anticipating one of my favorite things about winter: curling up with a good book in a toasty room while avoiding the damp cold outside.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Priscilla ~ Christmas Joy in July

With Christmas just a few months away, we thought it'd be fun to celebrate early by sharing some holiday sketches and drawings!   
Wanting to portray joy and love in this drawing, the one area I concentrated on most was the mother's cheeks and eyelashes, conveying pure delight in holding her baby close.

Here, finished digitally with pastels and dry media brushes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sketch Interview - Patrice Barton

Today's sketch interview is from illustrator Partice Barton. 
You can check out more of her work on her website and blog.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A small ripple of Joy

Here is my latest donation to Kelly's wonderful ripple site! Just the finished bottom image of course was given as a 4" x 6" card :o). This was my first digital art donation for ripple. Previously I drew and painted directly on the 2.5" x 3.5" artist cards. So, I figured I'd show you the rough sketch I did in Photoshop on a layer underneath the final image. A lot of times I don't do a sketch first and just start putting down the composition that's in my head. This time I needed a sketch. I was taught to do many "thumbnail" sketches before finding that final image, but, yaaa... no. I'm usually too lazy for that and go with one of my first sketch ideas. Mind you, I do think about it quite a bit first before putting pencil to paper (or stylus to WACOM). Anywhoo, as you can see the sketch is close to the final but definitely has some tweaks here and there. There is a nice brush set you can import to Photoshop called Nagel Series 33. They're free online and really nice to sketch with in the program.

Thanks so much to Kelly for starting the ripple blog!! I know for me, it helped me feel like I could do more than just sit there feeling upset about the whole situation with the Gulf disaster. This was a little something I could do to help.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

If you ever wondered if you could make a difference...

 It's only been almost 2 months since I posted the first sketch on my own blog. Ripple took on a life of it's own so quickly- becoming way more than one person's attempt at a small act. Almost $9,000.00 has been raised by about 850 artists. Each one picking up their pencil- or paint brush - or stylus to help. I feel like Obi Wan Kenobi -  all I did was create the opportunity for all of them to show what a force they could be. (when stuck always use Star Wars metaphors)

Aside from all of the giving - there's just great art. I see them first. I ooh and ahh and then wait to unveil them to the world. I can tell you it is hard for me to not keep some for myself!  The Sketchables have done some of my favorites - not just cause I know these ladies- but- because they are so good at what they do. I am a lucky chick to be a part of this here and over at Ripple.

Yesterday a gentleman from the International Bird Rescue Research Center called my house. He called to thank me and all of the illustrators for doing this.  They firmly believe in the ability of every individual to do small acts to help - and they think Ripple is a great example of that.  - They also love the art. It was nice to hear.

This is my last Ripple sketch- I spent 5 minutes on it. I wish it were more- I'm getting the shakes a bit from drawing withdrawals.  I have to say- that's a tern not a penguin - and a plover not an owl.  - my daughter thought it was a penguin- "WHAT? THERE ARE NO PENGUINS IN LOUISIANA!"

So- if by chance.. I missed showing you the School Library Journal article while FB'ing and Tweeting 6,000 times about it- here it is.  I regret the beret pic- but my Mom insisted.

School Library Journal Ripple article

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Heather - Ripples & Inspiration

Isn't inspiration the most amazing thing?  I read once that creativity is not a piece of pie that we have to greedily horde our share, fearing that our source may run out.  There is a never ending supply of creative spins on everything we have seen, experienced, dreamt and things we can't yet imagine.  I like to think of creativity as an ocean; all encompassing, something that is life-giving, overwhelming at times and a mistress to so many.  

Kelly's efforts for the Ripple fundraiser has sparked artists' imaginations and creativity across the globe as we try to offer some hope during this sad time.   

For my cards I sketched onto watercolor paper and then pulled out the paints.  We've been painting together as a family this summer, so it's been fun and freeing to try my hand a different medium.  Above is a sketch featuring the characters from those cards and that guy buried in the sand is the same fellow you see in the banner above.  I've worked up a story for them and their day at the beach.  Thanks Kelly for yet another ripple - inspiration!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ripple in Progress-Fiddler Crab

Here's a peek at some brainstorming I did for the Ripple Project.  As you can see, I write as much as I draw when I'm hammering out ideas for a project. I'm very much a list person, they make me happy. ;) 

You can see I start out with fairly realistic sketches. I usually do when I'm referencing a real creature.  This time around I think I'd like my Ripple cards to be lighthearted, so they'll be transformed into my usual cartoon style once I have their personalities figured out a little more. 

This guy definitely has my attention: 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Priscilla ~ Creating Ripples

Here's a bit of sharing about the two newest artcards I've created for Kelly Light's marvelously inspiring RippleSketches blog.  A great opportunity to do something positive for this crazy and overwhelming situation taking place in the Gulf.

"She Saves Seashells By The Seashore"
 It's interesting how the tiniest bit of a line or mark can change the dynamics of an expression or emotion.  In this rough sketch, I felt the mouth lines ended up depicting too much concern and worry.  Maybe even a touch of fear? 

Transferred the sketch to the artcard for final painting in gouache.  Altered the final mouth lines to suggest more of an upbeat, hopeful 'you're safe with me, little seashells' feeling.  

"This Is Our Home"
Sketched with watercolor pencils.  Soft, simple lines before any water touched it.

After being painted with water. . .

Scanned in dry image and painted digitally in Photoshop, 
mainly using Dry Media Brushes, and Pastels.  Such a delight to create these for ripplesketches!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sketch Interview: Michelle Henninger

Now that you've seen Michelle's interview hop on over to her blog and website to check out more of her work!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Joy • What I like to do at the Zoo

Heather's post about Sketchcrawl reminded me of one of my favorite things to do, go to the zoo and draw!

In my college animation program we were assigned to draw 100 animals a week for an entire semester. Well, we were expected to always draw, but anywhoo... At the time I thought it was insane. We had other classes and soooo much else to do in that class. The 100 drawings also had to be designed on 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of paper, Xeroxed and hung on the wall for critique. Looking back now, I appreciate the task, otherwise I probably wouldn't have learned how to draw as well. Practice, practice, practice, right?!!

I've tried to go to the zoo still when I can and luckily have a husband and friends who enjoy drawing there as well. I added to my sketches above just some of the tools I use. I love my water brush to add subtle washes to the ink sketches. Sometimes I add color for fun details (ie. Baboon butts).

Where do you like to sketch? Thanks for any comments and for stopping by The Sketchables!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Prying open the sketch Vault -eww it's musty in here

I thought maybe you guys would find this interesting. These are things I never show. Never -ever- never. ("Dis"claimer- I love you house of mouse - I do- I promise -I'll put them back in the vault)
I worked for many years as a character artist in licensed cartoon merchandise. I have about 15 big boxes of sketches from those years. You name the cartoon character (or Muppet) and I've got a drawing I did of them. The last hurrah of this career was with The Walt Disney Company. It was a dream come true to go to their classes and be trained to draw these characters. I haven't drawn them much these past 10 years - except to dazzle children.(and boy does it)  I love to look at these sketches from time to time. I learned so much from these years. Some of which I have had to try to intentionally shed to  pursue children's books - the super polished- overly perfect lines and "mass market" (hate that term) appeal of the "One image" illustration that doesn't tell much of a story. BUT - what a foundation of drawing. The sketches for these are far better than the finish- and my roughs even more so. Here's a rough and a clean up ..
So a peek into my past for ya... Onward and upward!! -Kelly

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The next worldwide Sketchcrawl Day is July 31st. 

What is Sketchcrawl?  Basically it's sketching the world around you for a day or a set time period and if you can do it with a group - all the better!  To read the details visit here.

Are there any in my area?  Check out the forums on the Sketckcrawl website to find out.

What if there aren't any Sketchcrawls in my area?  Well make one!  If you are a member of a group like the SCBWI put a call out to your local members or just gather some of your friends and family for a few hours of sketching.  Head to some place interesting like the zoo, a park or tourist attraction - Alamo anyone?  Most of all, have fun and enjoy seeing the world through your pencil.

They have several events throughout the year in case you miss this one and of course you can always DIY your own event. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sketch to Finish - The First Ripples...

Here are the first two ripples I contributed to Kelly's fantastic Ripple blog Simple though they may seem, I researched quite a few photographs and videos to make sure I got the look of each bird correct. 

When looking at birds to paint, the plover really spoke to me.  It's one of the dozens of coastal birds that depend on the marshlands and shallows for its survival.  As if the oil spill wasn't bad enough, plovers are endangered in many areas of the country because they nest, hunt and live on the beach itself. Increased human activity and development have all but obliterated their habitat.

My birds are on their way to Louisiana right now.  Here's what they ended up looking like:
(I used gouache and white and black ink to make these little jewels.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Priscilla ~ Taking Sketchy Notes

Fun Fact  ~  I have found that I listen and retain what I hear, much better if I am sketching at the same time.  Does anyone else out there have this same disorder?  I'm actually not seeking medical attention for it, though, as it is quite fun.  =0)

Typically, I'll sketch and doodle while taking notes during a meeting, an event, or a speaker presentation.   Often, what will happen is that I end up creating possible new characters, or ideas for new images while I am listening attentively.  The topic or theme of the presentation I am listening to, also sometimes has an affect on what I sketch.  Later, when I look at the sketches I created, what I heard comes right back to me.

So, I guess it could be called taking sketchy notes!?

"Lined Paper Girl"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sketch Dummy Beginnings: Breaking up the text

I'm working on a dummy book right now and the sketch above is the very, very first one. I decided to sketch digitally in Photoshop to do the layout. I work digitally, so figured it would be easier and save paper as well. I'll flatten the sketch and lower the layer's opacity and build the illustration on layers above it.

When I received the story I read it over a few times. My approach was to treat it as a standard 32 page picture book: page 1 Title page, page 2 ISBN/publisher information, page 3 dedication page and then 29 pages in the body of the book. So basically, I need to fit the story and illustrations in some wonderful, clever way within these 29 pages. I really like the story and had all kinds of images in my head when I read it, so I figured that's a good sign, right? I submitted my first version of the text breakdown expecting some feedback. I definitely got some, but was glad there was a pretty clear vision of what was wanted. I agreed with the revisions so am now working from the new breakdown. That's where we are to this point. I hope to eventually show you a finished piece when I have one!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sketch to Finish: Note to self: Don't say it-Show it

This is a book/illustrated play I did of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears".

I had gotten tons of art direction. (16 tons). Some of which I did not agree with. Like putting in an upholstered chair with a print of baseball fabric on it. My thinking was- How was Goldilocks gonna sit on that and break it?? Is she gonna go all rock star in a hotel room on the Three Bears' house? Plus- Mama bear would never allow such an eye sore in her well decorated living room. The coffee table with newspaper was also a request. I thought the scene was already too chock full of stuff- some breathing room was needed and the triangle of the wood floor was supposed to draw the eye back to the table and chairs w/ the bowls.

So I started doing these sketches with notes on top to fight the power. 80% of the time they worked. The other 20% I have to chalk up to experience.  You truly do live and learn in illustration. -Kelly

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sketch to Finish: Dummy Book Cover

The sketch and finished print for a mock cover for a dummy book. 
For my dummy book sketches I work them out on paper in a smaller version first.  Then I scan them, enlarge and rework them digitally.  When the work is ready for the printmaking process, I flip it so it's backward and print them out.  The printmaking process works in reverse and I let Photoshop do the job for me.

After a plate is carved, (yep, old school lino-block) I print a few of them on vellum and hand-color with oil pastels.  I print several to play with and for insurance, there is no undo button! This illustration also has snowflakes that have been stamped in several different color inks. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Diandra-Sketcher's Choice: Thumbnails

These are a few thumbnail sketches for a dummy book I completed last year. Believe it or not, these images were in version eight of the book. It's a counting book told in rhyme, that will probably never see the light of a publisher's mail room, but I consider it a necessary step in my journey to publication. If nothing else I learned some lessons in dummy making, and how vital it is to the writing process.  And I like the mouse so much I can't help but think he may show up in another project.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Priscilla ~ Sketch to Finish Spread

Here is a sketch for one of the spreads in the picture book, "Daddy All Day Long", written by Francesca Rusackas.  Using a black prismacolor pencil (one of my most favorite tools!), my goal was to keep the line quality somewhat scratchy, by hand-sketching the image on paper, scanning it in, and then going right to finish in full color, digitally.  

The text for this spread is,''"Ooey-gooey chocolate caramel ice cream?  Well, I love you more than EIGHT cherries on top!" said Daddy.'  Not only was it fun to make sure there were exactly eight cherries clearly in view for the reader, but it was a delightful treat (pun intended) to do the research needed for this book!  This, of course, included hunting down some actual chocolate caramel ice cream to experience first-hand.  I mean, we illustrators need to know what we're creating, don't we?  
Works for me!