Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Illo-Talk Has Moved...

Please follow current and future illustration posts now at this link http://dianesmithillustration.wordpress.com/ .

Thanks for stopping by and hope you will come and visit me and my new home!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Illo Talk Moves to a New Home...

After several years on Blogger, I'm moving to a different site.  If you'd like to follow what's going on in my illustration life, you'll have to go HERE instead.  Thanks...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Flurry of Activity!

I can't believe we're only a couple months into the year, yet it feels like several months of progress, travel, delight, and sadness have been crammed into this brief time!  And here's a glimpse of what has been happening.

Story draft, photo references, preliminary storyboard...OH MY!

Praise God for His inspiration!  My son will be leaving to join the Army in March and in dealing with all of the emotions that come with that, the idea for a picture book began to take shape - the words, the characters, everything has been a steady flow.  I do feel that it's inspired because I've prayed for such a light to turn-on and it's amazing how all of the pieces are just sliding into place.  I finished an initial storyboard today...a first step on a long road.  It's quite beautiful, really, and I'm really excited to see how it all unfolds.

From 2011 - Here comes trouble...I will miss you, Basha!

And, if saying good-bye to my first-born isn't sad enough, our family had to say a more lasting good-bye to our dearest doggy - Basha.  Her health deteriorated rapidly at the end of January, and I miss having her at my feet when I work.  I've jotted down many notes over the years inspired by her interactions with my youngest child.

Go Crusaders!

On a more positive note, we've had 2 weekends of State Cup tournaments out-of-town and we're coming up on the final "Elite Eight" this weekend - ROAD TRIP!

In spite of all the ups and downs and running around, all of these experiences prompt ideas for potential stories, illustrations, and such projects.

I love being an artist and a mom!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Creating Characters...

I really identify with Leonardo da Vinci.  Not that I'm an artistic genius - I wouldn't claim that title at all - but I once read a biography about him that described his love for the process of creating.  He sometimes left projects unfinished because he lost interest.  His light shone most bright while working through his ideas and the bringing of work to completion was more tedious.

I do like to finish work.  In fact, I can't wait to see how things end up.  But, I totally understand the energy that comes from the invention part of the process.  I think that's my favorite part as well.

Anyway, this brings me to the characters that I've been working on.  In a video by Will Terry on developing characters, he talks about identifying the characteristics of an animal (or whatever your subject is) and then using those points to create various characters.  It reminded me of how I used to take field guides into the breakroom when I worked at the bookstore and would sit drawing various animals (on my lunch break, of course).  I've posted many of them here in the past.

So, I thought that would be a wonderful thing to return to, but then turn those animals into characters.

My daughter had a "Koalas" Zoobooks from the library and I found them quite interesting - especially the TWO opposable thumbs!  They were also pretty easy to draw - all rounded and fuzzy.

On the other hand, anteaters where much more complicated.  They just popped into my head, so I went with it.  Then, in my online research, I discovered that there are several types with some stark differences.  That meant, I did several studies...

And, while their long faces and noses are very unique, their tiny mouths make some facial expressions difficult - I had to consider the eyes/eyebrows and body language to tell more of the story.

So, what animal is next...don't know yet.  Or, maybe I'll do something else...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Capturing Movement...

Lots of activity lately which has given me a chance to do some gesture drawing.  I'll be doing a lot more of this - it's very helpful in learning about dynamic movement.

Last night, I found myself sitting on very uncomfortable benches at the skating rink while my daughter and friends skated for 2 1/2 hours.  I was able to observe and capture the movements of various skaters, young and old - some casual, some speedy, some wobbly.

This morning, I was at another daughter's soccer scrimmage.  This was more challenging to draw as skating offered a lot more repetitive movement and so was slightly easier to draw.  However, soccer is all over the place and positions are so fleeting.  Not to mention the fact that I get easily engaged in watching the kids play...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ready for the Church...

Well, in between soccer tournaments and games, I was able to bring this project for my church to a close.  All that's left is the clear topcoat and Cubbie will take up his post, welcoming families to the Cubbie room.

During part of this project, I had company out in my garage/studio as I could often hear little scratchings and nibblings.  We located the little critter's hide-out...and this is what happens when you give a mouse a box of papier mache masks.

What one little garage mouse can do!

We dumped out the box and all of its contents in the yard - and watched the little mouse scurry right back toward the house.  Where are all those neighborhood cats when we need them?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Vision, New Perspective...and Mixed Emotions

Day after day I have taken one step after another, moving forward through life toward this demand or that goal.  For so many wonderful, fulfilling years, these goals and demands have been deeply rooted in family and parenthood. 

Our children - ages 4, 11, almost 15, and 18 - continue to grow and are in various stages of independence.  This reality comes with twinges of sadness for what is to come as one by one they pull away from the nest (just today, my oldest informed me of his plans to enlist).  But, I also realize that my art has been patiently waiting to slide into any empty spaces as they open up. I will always be a mom no matter how old they get - they have been, and continue to be, my inspiration and idea-generators.  These years of family experiences have given me a wealth of  insight and motivation.  And, really, it's not over yet.  The 4 year old is already proving to be a fountain of potential stories.  And, I have to think ahead.  An illustration career doesn't develop overnight.

As soon as I made the official declaration - that NOW is the time to establish myself as an illustrator - I see all of my past doodles, drawings, paintings, and projects with a more critical eye.  Are they representative of my best work?  Are they up to the level of a professional illustrator?


If you have visited my blog before, you'll notice that the look has changed.  It didn't pass the test - time for a more thoughtful upgrade.  I was hard-pressed to find a colorful image to put up top, so my over-stuffed house will have to do for now.  But, I'm still working it out - we'll call it a 'work in progress.'

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

First Day of the New Year - First (Real) Steps Down the Illustration Road

Had I been thinking more realistically as a young adult, I would have majored in illustration at Cal State Long Beach instead of going with the Drawing & Painting specialization.  There's a lot of overlap in the requirements, but there were a few classes that I missed out on - mainly those on rendering, character design, sequential imagery, and of course, anything having to do with computers (that all came rushing in as I was on my way out of college).  A lot of these things are topics I've been looking into and practicing on my own over recent years along with practical, real-world, business-end topics.

I've been plugged into YouTube for the past couple days, soaking up everything I can possibly find on illustration and the business of it (the scary part for me).  I was delighted to find quite a bit online. Most notably, Will Terry's Channel seemed to zero right in on most all of the information that I've been seeking.  And, upon visiting his website, I found his video series that included rendering, character design, storytelling with imagery, and the real-world topics of marketing and submitting work!  The series costs about $30, but well worth it as it was just what I was looking for.  And, I appreciate his honesty and experience.

Last thing I'll mention is Will Terry's video on How to Set Up Your Illustration Portfolio - that was very helpful as well.  I felt as though I've been floating around at the whim of an artistic breeze lately.  This helped me to have a more deliberate direction to move in.  And, in turn, the ideas are flowing freely.

Work in Progress - hopefully I can finish in the next week.

However, hands-on art for me at the moment consists of a painting that I'm doing for our church (those with young kids in AWANA might recognize this guy).  It's not a commissioned original design or anything - just something from the Cubbie book to brighten the walls.  And, it's nice to pick up a paintbrush again.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Where Has the Year Gone? I Mean, Really!

I feel like I blinked and 2013 disappeared!

As you can see, it's been 7 months since I posted anything!  Except for being included in a couple of community artist shows, not much happened for me in art.  I've continued to teach some art classes, although not as many.  Also, my mural is still sitting in Santa Maria storage.  Note to self - call the city and see if they have any installation details yet.  After all, they've had it a year.

Still Waiting...    (photo courtesy of the amazing Jill Martin)

My opportunity to be the "Featured Artist" for the Town Center Gallery fizzled when they left their permanent home in January and haven't found another.  So, my plan to spend summer painting turned into months spent up to my ears in homescooling and learning-related studies.  It's just as well - those issues were demanding my attention.  And, in dealing with them, I have found myself in a better place in the balancing of home, school, and art. 

Could it be that I can actually entertain
the thought of pursuing illustration more seriously?

Five years ago, the plan had been to start building a portfolio that I could start presenting by this time.  HOWEVER, then came the unexpected arrival of our 4th child.  This changed the timetable a bit.
My little diversion...

Discovering what's inside an owl pellet...
But, she is now 4 years old and quite the independent, driven, self-directed learner.  Our approach to life and learning makes room for all of us to be more project focused.  So, I see the door starting to open a bit - to pick up where I left off with illustration. 

So, I'm finally looking into joining SCBIW, 12x12, and eventually some online illustrator directories.  Those are things I had decided to put off until I could be more serious about illustration.  I can't do EVERYTHING - time is always an issue.  And, there has been A LOT of prayer this past year in order to discover what God's will is for my time - what, exactly, does He want me to do with the gifts and talents I've been given.  Well, it's time to re-evaluate, reorganize, and discover the possibilities.

So, here I go.  After all, I'm not getting any younger - I hear that clock ticking a little louder now.  I kind of feel like now it's now or never...let's see what happens!

Student work from summer art classes...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Forgive My Absence...But, It's Time For Some New Releases!

I've found it very difficult to get to the creative work recently - it's always hard this time of year with the ending of the school year and trying to get things completed, the end of the Family CoOp and related celebrations, the end of spring soccer seasons and it's related celebrations...if I never have another pizza it will be too soon!!!
"Spring" Signed, Limited Edition giclee print on paper
of original pencil drawing, 9"x12" $50.00

Anyway, during this hiatus from actual art production, I did manage to FINALLY have some new prints made!  They are lovely quality giclee prints from the only place around here that seems to do them (and Les does a wonderful job) - Palette Arts in Nipomo.  They are available directly through me (if you want a signed limited edition, quality guaranteed) or through my site at Fine Art America (which would not be signed and they print on demand on various sizes and surfaces, however I am unable to check the quality against the original - looks good on screen, though).

I'm sure long-time visitors will recognize the drawing above - the first to be released in a series of 4 seasonal drawings.  Obviously, this one represents spring - my goal is to try and release a new one during each season until the series is complete.

"Tweet" Signed, Limited Edition giclee print on paper
of original gouache painting, 6"x 8" $40.00
#2 in the series
#1 in the series

You'll also recognize this little guy - part of a series of 3 kid-friendly, primary color images that were originally done in gouache.

"Still" Signed, Limited Edition giclee print on paper
of original acrylic painting, 9"x 12" $55.00  OR  16" x 20" $65.00

Of course, my favorite is the recent painting "Still."

Last but not least, I have some 9"x12" prints of the chef study that I used for the mural.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Wonderful Event...Followed By More Work...

A while back I posted about doing a design for placemats for the Royal Family Kids fundraising dinner.  That event was held last night and I was able to attend.  It was a lot of fun - outstanding food (world famous Santa Maria BBQ), interesting people, an entertaining live auction, ending with a performance by cowboy singer/storyteller Dave Stamey.  The well-established ranching community of the Santa Maria area was well represented and I guess attendance was double what it was the previous year.  Best news of all, MANY abused kids will benefit through summer camps from the funds raised at this event.

I was delighted to see that my design was used for both the placemat and the program!  Much to my surprise, an elderly couple at the next table asked me to sign their placemats - they were so cute.

Then, today, I found myself back at the easel.  Something just wasn't sitting right about the face - the eye/eyebrow placement was just a bit off from the nose which was a bit off from the mouth and chin.  I don't know if anyone else would have picked up on it, but it was sure bothering me.  So, I was compelled to fix it - which led to feeling like I ruined it - and then realizing that I fixed the proportion and perspective - only to feel like I'd overworked it - followed by prayer - ending with more dabbling and, finally, contentment.

Repainted...don't know if it's done...

Now, when I go back and look at the previous picture I posted, her face looks so obviously goofy - glad I didn't leave it like it was (and I was tempted).  I think it's OK, now.  The problem I face now is that I've made an appointment to have the painting professionally scanned tomorrow.  That means, unless I reschedule, I don't get that "live with it" time to catch any other issues I might regret.  I'd like it to be done, but...

...but, I think the face is much improved...still not sure, though...I think I'm going
to fix something else...and I did - I'll post later...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Perfect Day...Mostly

Another lovely day - great for painting...and smoothies!  I love living in strawberry country!

"Look Mom!  I've only been working 1 minute and I've already got paint on me!"
It was nice to have company in the studio today!

After a morning trip to the grocery store, various around-the-house "to do" stuff, I was beginning to think that I wouldn't get much painting done.  By the time I got out there it was after lunch!  When I finally did get out there, I was quickly joined by two other family artists.

A good start - more to do...

It's alreay Thursday!  What made me think I might actually get 2 paintings done this week?  At least this one did flow once I got started - I was able to get paint on the entire canvas fairly quickly.  What you see above seems pretty far along, but there are still layers to be added, details to be refined, problems to fix...I always notice more problems once I photograph a project.  I'm cringing as I type.  If only I had all of tomorrow to paint.  But, we're off to see a matinee of Robin Hood at Cal Poly's Performing Arts Center.  That will be fun, too.  Hopefully, I will be able to finish it before we start back to school on Monday, though.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Springtime, Easter Vacation, and the Pre-Painting Begins...Finally

Believe it or not, these are flesh tones
 (base, warm & cool shadows, and highlight)
I can't believe it's already Wednesday and I haven't started officially painting yet - Easter Vacation is just flying by!  But, yesterday, I updated my playlists with some new songs and headed out to the garage for some of the prep-work.  I always like to start a larger-size project with as many premixed colors as possible so I don't end up running out of something in the middle of painting.  It was my "mad scientist" day - I felt like I should be wearing a lab coat and laughing maniacally when I achieved the right shade.  I will still have a palette for additional mixing and fine tuning of colors, but I should be able to do a lot with these.

Mixed, labeled, and ready to go...

One of the nice things about working in the garage on a sunny spring day is that my littlest gets to play in the front yard (which she doesn't normally get to do).  Although her big sisters are usually with her, there's a nice big window so I can keep an eye on her and she has her boundaries so that she's stays within that window of sight - of course, that's also the window where crane flies go to die this time of year.  They were all over, stuck between the glass and the screen or in webs in the corners.  So, I had to clean up that disgusting mess, too - YUCK!  But, it's fun to see my bouncing beauty enjoying the sunshine.

Now, I can't wait to actually start painting - maybe I'll get to do that tomorrow.  Hopefully, I'll get at least one painting done this week and still have some family time.  In the meantime, my painting looks a little freaky with all of the test spots created as searched for the right base colors, highlights and shadows.

Color test spots making the subject look a bit strange

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hoping for a Productive Week Ahead...

Easter Vacation is officially here!  The girls finished up their classwork today and we all have a break for the next week (from school, anyway).

The new painting is underway and surprisingly farther along than I thought!  Earlier this week, I started with a pencil drawing which I painted over and refined with burnt umber - I wanted to take the time to get the proportions right.

Happy to have a use for leftover mural mixtures!

I realized that I had several color mixes leftover from the mural - some that I had mixed in quantity and kept in airtight containers - that would actually work with this painting.  Some will need to be adjusted slightly, but they were well suited for the underpainting portion of the project.  Sooooo, I was able to get started.

Underpainting underway...

BUT, I hesitate to say that this painting will go quickly, even with all of my studies and pre-mixed colors.  I've done that before and there's always something that I get hung-up on that extends the project for a while.  I can still hope, though, and I do know that the time I took with the studies has helped me a lot.  After all, it's a complicated pose, especially when it comes to the tilt and angle of the head - I fought with that one a while.  But, I was much more comfortable with it when drawing it out on the canvas (all freehand - no projector for this).

Meanwhile, while mom's busy painting in the garage, my youngest 2 have found a way to entertain themselves before the weather turns.  I'm not sure if this is a rain dance, but...

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fine Art Monday

Well, an unexpected day off takes me one step closer to the painting projects that I've been really excited to begin.  We will taking next week off of school for Easter Vacation and I'd planned to take this Friday off as well.  However, the girls insisted that they would rather take today (Monday) off instead of Friday.  Who am I to argue? But, I think they'll regret it come Friday.

The garage door is a perfect spot to hold the studies - canvas is ready for paint...

So, I gathered all of my drawings and studies for the "Listening" painting and started sketching it on the 30" x 40" canvas.  I can't wait to get going on it - I LOVE the colors, the subject, the pose, and the many studies I did will hopefully result in smooth-sailing when it comes to painting the final.  Since I cleared out the last of the dried-out color remnants from the mural, the next step will be to start mixing some color combinations for the new project - that's what I'll try to work on between now and vacation.

Mural mixes in the trash...time for something new
Another thing that I've been working on is a re-do of my hiking bear.  The paintings that I've been working on are much different than the illustrations that I've been playing with for the past several years.  So, this is a nice little change of focus.  It's still in progress, but not far from done.

Redo in progress...
Hiking Bear original...