I have been using watercolors lately and I really love them. They are so different from my usual paints, which are all building and layers and varnishes. Silk chiffon vs. wool.
I was wishing for something a bit lighter & airier to work on a few different things I've got percolating. One thing I'm using them for is to make pictures for a new story I'm writing (like the one above).
This will soon be a black mushroom cavern, all inky and dark, but I liked it white & bright as it is, too.
I'm in the midst of lots of behind-the-scenes work right now. Lots of it is bookish: I'm writing of an expanded novel from a favorite fairy tale, making sketches for my next picture book, but my mind and sketchbook are also filling up with a few series of new pictures.
I will, of course, share dispatches! Happy Spring!
Any excuse to feature some of my favorite oldie superlatives. I've been excited to post these, and since many people's Valentines live far & wide (lots of mine included), I figured I really better do it.
The sheet is sized just a smidge smaller than standard 8.5"x11" paper, so they should be easy to print without fear of cropping, etc. (I'd recommend printing on any card stock your printer can easily handle.)
And of course, these are given for personal use only and cannot be sold or used in any way for commercial or nefarious purposes.
Since I remembered I gave a little peek of Dream Animals, I wanted to share a peek at some of the small people who populate my next picture book, Day Dreamers (the sunny companion to our nighttime dream book.) It will be out this Fall from the excellent Random House Kids!
The book is full of magical beasts and the imaginings of little dreamers, and I can't wait to share more as we get closer to the release...
Julie, who runs Seven Imp, has a wonderful & voracious eye and writes really smart, thoughtful posts that emphasize art and illustration. The fact that it is reliably an art-party over there (and her thoughtful & thorough way of approaching illustrated books) makes it probably my favorite picture book place online. Besides, it's one of the only places I've ever come across a write-up on the work of my favorite Japanese illustrator, Komako Sakai.
If you hop over there, I can't be responsible for the rabbit hole you'll almost undoubtably fall down! There's so much to read & so much to see.
(Painting R) Why the Sea is Salt 11"x14" Acrylic on wood
At the end of this last weekend, The Deep Green Sea came down. I took a few pictures when we visited a little bit back one afternoon with some out-of-town friends, and I kept meaning to post them. It gives you at least a little bit of an idea of what the show was like up on the walls.
I also realized there were still kind of a lot of images I still hadn't posted here (including the title painting) so those are mixed in here.
Soon lots of the images will be in the shop as prints (of course!) and there will be a postcard set, etc.
I already miss the company of all these mermaids & sea monsters!
There are still more Sea paintings to share, so I'm going to be posting them up 'til the show closes (on November 3.) I think I can show you everything by then!
This squidly monster is a companion piece to the whale in Leviathan Below and they hang together in the gallery right now. I have some photos for a little tour of how it all looks up in the space - I'll post that soon as well!
There are still more pieces from The Deep Green Sea to share! This little boy and his Nessie-ish friend inhabit a very quiet place, with only themselves, the pines & the ripples on the water for company.
This one is spoken for, but there are still several paintings (inluding three of my absolute favorites) available for sale.
Thank you so very much for all of your kind words & excitement about Dream Animals! It was such an exciting week.
The Unsuccessful Capture of the Great New England Sea Monster 20"x16" Acrylic on wood
One of the main reasons I wanted to do a seafaring show was to have an excuse to paint a whole bunch of sea beasts, cryptozoological & otherwise. This is one of the larger pieces in The Deep Green Sea; since I don't generally work very big, I often max out at around this size. Most of these big (ish) paintings are the ones with gigantic creatures (although there are some giant beasts in some smaller pieces, too.)
I've been getting some queries about how to purchase art from the show (opening October 11), and I'll let you know the details soon!
I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing 11"x14" Acrylic on wood
This is one of my favorite pieces I've made for The Deep Green Sea, named for one of the best endings to one of the best poems.
I remember the first time I read Prufrock - I sat in the desk in my college English class, unsuspecting and unknowing and it so overwhelmed me with its staggering sadness and beauty that I couldn't keep from crying on the spot, in silence, with this devastating poem. It's the way it builds...it snares you and it drags you further and further into anxiousness and beauty and loneliness and siren songs until you're out too deep. Death by longing!
And there are more mermaids, certainly, in this show - more beasts and sailors and everything briny & wonderful.
My upcoming show, The Deep Green Sea, opens in October at one of my favorite Portland places, Land Gallery.
A Sea Monster Carriage 14"x11" Acrylic on wood
Land hosted my last big solo show (Lost on the Midway) and this time I'm trading the sideshow for the sea and returning with all new work featuring mermaids, krakens, sea monsters, tattooed sailors, and all things watery & mysterious.
I'll be previewing it here (but not every single piece - I want there to be some surprises for those who can make it to the opening.) But, of course, eventually everything will be visitable & viewable online.
There is still some framing & finishing to do, but it has all come together in its melancholy, rather wistful watery way & I'm excited to share it.
I know things are sleepy around these parts and all my dispatches are just little bits of process and/or odds and ends. But I am working so hard behind the scenes (much of it semi-secret), bits and odds and ends are all I can muster.
This is a little peek behind the curtain of work for my next picture book. I love looking at things like this, love looking at sketches next to final art, or in this case, pencil sketch next to color sketch.
Usually, I just make a pencil sketch and then transfer that to my
painting surface and start painting. Since working on picture books, though,
I've started using a middle step - color sketches. While they
aren't necessary for every single illustration, they come in handy at all sorts
of times. For instance, if you want to be sure everyone's on the same
page about the feeling (dark? chipper? dreamy?) the color will impart to
the illustration. Or sometimes, it's just difficult to show what you're imagining in grey shades alone.
They also come in really handy to experiment with and plan colors ahead of time on a small, quick little practice run (this is probably the best and most useful reason.)
There will be so much to share soon, a whole series of new work for my show in October at Land, excitement around the release of Dream Animals (also in October!)
In my matchbox of a studio, there was recently a pretty serious clean-up and move-around. This was all begun to stuff a (miraculous) seventh piece of furniture into this tiny place - a new/oldie chest of wooden drawers in extremely useful sizes. I love the classic old card-catalogues but I can't use all those tiny drawers to flat-file original art or store big bottles of paint or hide away boring paperwork.
During this rigamarole, I tried to do a bit of a ruthless purge of unwanted books and nicknacks and old supplies, but it ended up (unsurprisingly) more timid than I'd hoped. So easy to gather things, so hard to banish them. Still, I can see all my toys and things nicely in this new arrangement, though my toy piano is sadly hidden behind the tiny couch.
I like these funny little planters (on the left) to hold pencils and small brushes and things. And on the right, you can see all my Alices on the top shelf (the Golden Book stack is there, too) hanging out with an unintended mini-collection of swans of varying sizes (and a white bobble-head rabbit.)
My favorite three wind-ups (Monkey, Seal, and Goose) have a place of honor on those old green file boxes, next to some current particular favorite book covers. And my monkey lamp is just where he belongs, glowing while I paint and draw, never shall we part.
A wispy little sketch on my wood panel, ready to be buried under lots of paint and varnish. I think of the sketches as the bones of the painting, the structure holding everything up from underneath.
So many times in art school, one of us would turn to a painting professor and say, forlornly "What's wrong with this? Why isn't it working?" And they would say "There might've just been something wrong with the drawing to begin with." And this is the most heartbreaking thing, when you realize that something was just structurally un-sound from the beginning.
The way I work, I almost always have a pretty well-realized sketch underpinning each painting surface, and since I have my little working methods down, I can usually tell how things are going to go. But once in a blue, blue moon I don't, and sometimes the result is thrilling and sometimes it's awful (and that is the price of playing it fast and loose.)
Right now I'm working on my Sea show and my next picture book at the same time. Iiieee! So much to do!
PS: Thank you for all the nice words about my dress-sewing!