My concept illustration of Mary Poppins from P. L. Travers’ description in the original story. [Chapter 2, “The Day Out”]
With Snowmageddon raging outside of my window and the start of a new semester lingering overhead, I thought I better take advantage of the unexpected snow days to update my blog with my latest projects.
It has been an exciting couple of months without a doubt! First and foremost, I spent an incredible weekend at the New England SCBWI conference in Springfield, MA last May! I attended writing workshops with some amazing authors such as Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Melanie Hope Greenberg, and enjoyed insights and inspiration from keynote speakers, Grace Lin and Sharon Creech. Next, I learned valuable tips on creating an illustration portfolio from Sarah Brennan, Teri Weidner, Nicole Tadgell and for a grand finale, a two day storyboarding workshop with one of my all time favorite illustrators, Ruth Sanderson! (Insert happy dance here.) By the time we returned home, my head was spinning and my notebook bulging with notes and an action plan, motivating me through the summer and my upcoming semester.
Last Fall, I had the opportunity to enroll in an Illustration class. Our first project was a children’s book illustration based on a character of our choice. With Peter Pan and Robin Hood tied as runners up, Mary Poppins lead the way in first place. A few weeks later, we were given the assignment to design a product label in my Digital Imaging class, that we would eventually wrap around a jar in Photoshop and finally insert this new product image into a magazine ad. I used a hybrid of this illustration along with other images I was able to find along the way, to create Poppins Preserves… “Just a spoonful of sugar in every practically perfect jar!” Too much fun – I just couldn’t resist!
What a great couple of months this has been! I have been caught up in a rush of school activities for my kids, and my classes have picked up speed as well. I finished out the rest of my Drawing class last semester, just in time to prepare for family and friends visiting over Christmas. Then, my Winter and Spring session courses added to my already frenzied days! Currently I am enrolled in three courses: Writing for Children, Designing and Illustrating Children’s Books and Graphic Design! And I am LOVIN’ it! From the outset, it seems highly unlikely that I could ever keep up this pace. Yet in the midst of each project, I find this new reserve of energy and passion that drives me to finish line. This is definitely what I was born to do!
A self portrait appropriation based on the amazing original artwork of Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuna (Marvel Comics, July 2010).
Last week, I put together the mock up of a Picture Book dummy which I am hoping to get critiqued by an editor at an upcoming conference in May. I initially thought that I would have 3 months to work on this, however I learned during registration that a sample had to be postmarked within 3 days. Needless to say, I was launched into high gear! And just to keep things interesting, my first Graphic Design project due date was around the corner. The assignment required that we submit an appropriation of a favorite character out of a graphic novel. I chose the Black Widow character from Marvel Comics after recently watching Scarlett Johansson’s awesome portrayal of Natasha Romanoff in “Iron Man 2” and “The Avengers” – now THAT’s what I’m talking about ~ Excellent choreography in her fight scenes! This style of illustration is not what I typically generate, and we were expected to re-invent ourselves as this character. After multiple searches for an action packed illustration, I finally found the cover, “The Name of the Rose” (Issue #2) created by Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuna for Marvel Comics. By using their fantastic work as a template, I was able to explore this style with my own pen and ink self portrait and ultimately render the finished product through Adobe Illustrator – it was a ton of fun! I added my own facial features and hair, and my holster carries paintbrushes and pencils, ready to produce extreme graphics at a moment’s notice. Now I have something to hang in my studio to keep me motivated… Speaking of which, it’s time to get back to work! Glad to be back in the blogosphere!
Summertime blues and boredom have gotten me surfing the web for ideas on how in the world we can get out of this house and explore something new and exciting. We live in this vibrant area – in one direction you have Washington, DC, then drive north and you run into Baltimore, Maryland! I grew up in Virginia, and there are still places I haven’t seen in this metropolitan mecca. So with a Saturday of rest under our belts, we decided to head to the museums in the city after church. It was a late start, but it was a tad spontaneous — I mean, we did go home and change out of our ‘Sunday’s best’ after all — yet it still qualified as an adventure!
A classmate had mentioned that the Smithsonian Museum of American Art was showing “The Art of Video Games” exhibit through September. It wasn’t a mind-numbing electronic device — no, no… it was a trip to the museum disguised as a video game! This was perfect! So the, “What? We have to go walk around in the heat to boring museums?” morphed into, “Cool!!! Are we there yet?” It was magical… I was even a little excited about it myself. One area of graphic art that I have been intrigued by is 3D gaming animation. I was able to get some introduction to creating a 3-dimensional space in my last summer course, but I would like to delve deeper into that virtual arena… especially with its dynamic rate of innovation! I feel like Marty McFly hanging onto the bumper of technology with sparks shooting out from under my skateboard! Well, if you think that last reference dates me, take a look at where the genesis of video gaming began with me… That’s right, “Era 1″… bring on your “Pac Man”, the “Space Invaders” and “Break Out!” Those were the days, alright… when the characters were subtle and the audio was muddled. Fast forward thirty years, and I am watching my children flailing their arms about while bringing their Miis to life in a virtual game space. I wonder what the next 30 years will bring… Will we be installing a Holodeck in our basement for our grandchildren? Fortunately, we’re not there yet, so I have time to savvy myself up to speed with the young-un’s and to jump into this genre of illustration.
While the exhibit was a fun stride down memory lane, it was much smaller than we anticipated. Three virtual stations were available to people who wanted to showcase their gaming skills in public, with a loOong line of hopeful players watching on. There were probably three small rooms with video interviews sporadically mounted throughout the exhibit — none of which I was able to hear well with the crowds. So the obvious lesson learned here was, don’t visit on the weekend unless absolutely necessary… and if it IS the only time you can go, try to get there when it first opens. For the homeschoolers & parents of younger children: WARNING… I will advise you to move along quickly past the huge hypnotic wall of multiple screens. As I was standing there trying to snap a visually interesting photograph, I was dismayed by the images of a topless women at the hub of this digital display that appeared rather suddenly (and then lingered) in the looped video sequence. I felt that was inappropriately projected considering the target audience for video games, but I will stay off my soapbox for the moment. At the end of the day, I would not recommend heading into DC specifically to see this exhibit, which we found to be somewhat underwhelming. We felt that the potential to show 40 years of technological gaming evolution was underachieved. On the upside, the kids enjoyed seeing all the different displays of games and listening to narratives through the phone tours. Additionally, there are other engaging exhibits in the museum, and blocks of attractions to enjoy all over the city.