Children's Book Week

 Week three of Lilla's Class was all about the children's book market.  I was an artsy kid and a huge reader growing up.  (Quentin Blake, who illustrated many of Roald Dahl's books was one of my favorite illustrators and Roald Dahl is still probably one of my favorite authors)  Once I got to college I had no interest in pursuing children's book work.  It just seemed like there were so many other exciting options... why stick to children's book.

 Anyways, I was sort of dreading this assignment.  Here's a link to the Snail and the Rose Tree, it's a pretty dark story.  I decided that since I wasn't worried about creating an actual portfolio piece it would be a good opportunity to experiment with my technique.

I work so much on the computer now, that I rarely get to use watercolors, pencils and collage anymore. (and I really miss that!) I've been trying to find a way to incorporate these materials and textures into my digital work, but only tentatively.  I made it my personal goal to do that this week and I'm feeling pretty excited about the results.  No, its not perfect, but it's a first step in the right direction!  I also had a BLAST with all the hand lettering!!  I'd definitely like to do more hand lettered work.

Is it Spring yet?

It feels like Spring today, so I've opened all the windows in the studio!  Yay!  I thought I would share this succulent  inspired ditsy pattern I made a few months ago!  I wanted to experiment and see how watercolor drawings would look printed on fabric.  Here's the color sketches in my sketchbook.
 I scanned these and played with the colors, repeat and scale in the computer for awhile.  I couldn't wait to see what it looked like so I ordered a swatch test from Spoonflower.  The texture of the watercolor didn't print as well in spots were it was painted very lightly so I decided to darken some of those spots so they would read a little better.
 I had it printed again and this time I was much happier with the results!
 I made a little pencil case and it's for sale in my Etsy shop today!

I've got some exciting projects on the horizon including the launch of a brand new website!  More about that next time.

February Sketchbook peek

I love seeing other artists work in progress, so here's a few shots of a new recipe I'm working on. I've been itching to incorporate more hand lettered text into my work.

And more pattern... always more pattern.

These colors make me very happy.

By now you've probably guessed what this is a recipe for... I'll have the final posted sometime next week!

Bamboo Cat

I know a lot of artists don't enjoy keeping a sketchbook. But for me it's the easiest way to jot down my thoughts and have a visual record of my process. If I'm stuck I'll look through old sketchbooks and pick up an idea. Here is a quick sketch I did back in September of a cat with bamboo coming out its mouth and ears. Also a ticket from the William Kentridge show I saw in Kyoto, they are showing some of his work at the MOMA right now. If you appreciate charcoal drawings or animation you should check it out!

The idea for this visual was based off of a cat that lived near my apaato. (It gave me the creeps!). The second root of inspiration (hee hee) was bamboo, I feel in love with its tentacle like roots. I can definitely imagine them attacking someone. For some reason my brain mushed these two things together and so I started sketching this character.
I did some sketches of real cats and also of the cat in different positions and shaped slightly differently.
I had an extra copper plate for the printmaking class and wanted to create a print of the cat. Here's a more finished sketch of how I planned to print it. Things got busy and I ran out of time. Last month I started looking through my sketchbook and decided to work on Bamboo Cat some more.
After the sketch I did a final sketch on a nice piece of paper and scanned it. Then I printed out a few copies of it on crappy printer paper and did some color studies.
I've found this is a great way to work things out before starting on the final. It seems time consuming, but actually the color studies are quick and loose. By the time I start the final I'm feeling pretty confident because I've already worked out the value and color relationships. I also love being able to change a color or add an extra pattern on the color study while I'm working on the final. Here I messed around with adding stripes to the stripes of the tiger and the outlining him in brown.
Here's the final! I was pretty happy with how it turned out so I think I'm going to approach the other Japanese monster drawings in a similar way.
Well that's it for now! As of this week I'm also starting on a website... finally! Yay!

Swimming, swimming, keep on swimming....

I just wanted to share some of the sketches and images from the Fish Market. I had a fun time looking through my photos and trying to identify some of the fish. From my sketchbook:

The more I drew the more I felt compelled to create images with paint, paper and pen that captured the textures and colors of Tsukiji.
Next, I thought about how I would explain the market to someone who had never seen it. Images that show the true juxtaposition of the market: intense concentration of the men working on a single fish to someone hacking at whole frozen tunas!
I was mostly struck by the organized chaos; the close quarters of the stalls and narrow alleys filled with booths and tables of fish carefully separated and labeled according to size and type.

The men working at the market seemed incredibly focused. Amidst all the confusion they knew where to go. Running from stall to stall, others carving fish and older men taking copious notes while overseeing the stall.

I loved watching customers interacting with the vendors. People talking about crabs, tasting fish roe and navigating the crowded alleys of Tsukiji at a rapid pace. (trying carefully not to be run over by people driving small vehicles).
How could I make a series of images of Tsukiji and neglect to mention sushi? On the left is what I had for breakfast one morning at the market; ikura, unagi and maguro (salmon roe, sea urchin and tuna over a bowl of rice with some cucumbers and a little wasabi) yumm... I know you might think its gross, but don't knock it till you've tried it! On the right are some other options of nigiri (fish on rice). I left space in the images or around them and i'll add some text but I'm still having a hard time with the writing.
Last image is of the overall market. I struggled with this piece and then I redid it completely. It falls flat for me.... I didn't feel like this captured the true chaos of the market and sheer volume of people and fish. But that's okay there are parts of it I still like.

 

So that's all for now! Happy Easter, Passover, Spring and April! The weekend was beautiful and the week is shaping up to be just as nice. I'm trying to get some time outside while staying productive before I return to DC next week for the Cherry Blossom race!

Little Red Research Project

One of the classes I'm taking is a book class and for our assignment we were instructed to do a 12 page accordion book without words. I decided to use that as my guidelines for a reinterpretation of Little Red Riding Hood. In Japan she is known as Akazukin or Red Hood. The Japanese have lots of bento boxes, candy, hair combs and really cute post-its with Akazukin on them.
I had a lot of ideas about things I wanted to change in the story to make it feel fresh and more Japanese. I wanted the story to be contemporary but include traditional elements. Here's some of the first sketches of the characters. I looked through some Japanese fashion magazines and clipped out clothing I liked for the characters. I really had this strong image in my head of Lil Red in a bamboo forest, mostly because I think bamboo is so otherworldly and beautiful. From there I thought about other things I could change; have her riding a bike instead of walking with a basket.

Next I started thinking about the bamboo forest and the color palette I wanted to go with it.

Here's some bamboo reference I took.

I love yellows, greens and blues of the bamboo.

More bamboo

I painted a few photocopied versions of this before settling on colors for this one. I wanted to work with a limited range of colors for the bamboo but still make it feel inviting and lush.

Finally, I knew I needed to do a character study to get a handle on some of her movements and expressions. I figured it wouldn't hurt to include some background too. I love incorporating pattern into my work and I hate painting landscapes. So... I decided the best way to deal with this is to think of the background as small shapes and patterns. I think it works pretty well with my characters too.

So there you have it, the beginning of my Little Red Riding Hood or Akazukin. Next I'll post some sketches of my wolf, which is not a wolf but a Tanuki.

Mountain Girl

I actually have been doing lots of work here, despite the fact that I haven't posted it yet. For my printmaking class we are allowed to make prints of any subject matter we choose.Like most of the foreigners here I am in awe of Kyoto's gorgeous mountains. The mountains surround the city on all sides and seem to go back forever. The first time it rained it looked as if the mountains were steaming, like smoke from an angry dragon or something.

I thought about this a little more and had a great image in my head of a creature living in the mountains. It would be a giant, cloud breathing, angry, naked girl.

Anyways I did some quick sketches and color studies to figure out how I wanted her pose. I didn't go with this pose below because I thought the other one was more interesting.

Then, I painstakingly transferred the sketch onto my copper plate with some transfer paper. Next, I used my etching tools to carve the image into the plate. I printed it a few times and worked back into the plate until I was more or less happy with it. I can always work on it a little more later.

Of course after making this image I reflected on why I had made it. Was it because I feel like a giant freak being "the foreigner" here? Or maybe I was inspired by all of the Japanese myths I've been reading. Or could it be that I was subconsciously inspired by RoaldDahl'sBFG, one of my favorite children's books of all time? It's probably a mixture of all of these things.

I colored this one with gouache just to see what it would look like in full color.

Here's a close up where you can see the lines a little better. Anyways I'd love to get some feedback! That's one of the things that are hard to come by when you don't speak the language. Let me know what you think! Hopefully this week I can also put up some images of my trip to Kobe or the Fushimi Inari shrine we visited over the weekend.