Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!


This year's Christmas card image, brought to you by a combination of pencil sketching, Corel Painter 12, and Photoshop.  Have wonderful holidays, everyone!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

More sketches ... and plans

As you can probably tell from the subject matter, I do most of my sketching these days during church.




 


One month ago, I went from working a part-time office day job for a tiny non-profit to a full-time administrative position at a mid-sized university.  The increase in income and benefits are a welcome relief, and I get to interact with a lot of interesting people, but I do miss all the extra hours I had for writing and drawing.  

As I've been learning the complex systems of a much larger organization, I've put my own creative projects completely on hold (unless you count sketching during the sermon).  I wanted to be sure my new employer reaped the full benefits of my mental energy.  But now that I'm more accustomed to how things are done, I feel free to pour some of that energy back into art.  Yesterday, I began sketching from imagination again with a vague idea of producing a Christmas card design.  The pencil sketches, above, of kids making a snowman are from my first stab at getting into that mindset.  I'll do some more this evening and hope to have a Christmas card image ready to submit to an online company for printing by the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.  

I also have a novel waiting for its writer.  It's one that I was deeply into writing this past summer, but had to set aside in mid-September when someone near and extremely dear to me had a stroke.  That special someone is now recovering nicely, and I will happily re-enter my fictional world during the university's generous Christmas vacation.  






Saturday, October 12, 2013

IF: Moustache

This week's Illustration Friday topic has me dipping back into the archives for a couple of pencil sketches I did many years (decades even) ago of a former sister-in-law's cat, who happened to be named "Moustache."  Said kitty had this name because of the distinctive white markings above his mouth.


About a year ago, I scanned the sketches, then fiddled around with them using my new Painter software.  What you see above are the results of my play with the grainy watercolor brush.  Moustache, who died many years ago, was not a ginger cat, as my doodling would seem to suggest, but a seal point Siamese.  The white fur moustache really stands out against the familiar black-to-tan coloring.  It's too bad Moustache isn't around anymore to model his proper colors for me. 

(Psst, Blogger, you need to add the word "moustache" to your spelling dictionary. It really is an acceptable alternative to "mustache.")

Life changes my plans

Sorry for taking so long to post again. In mid-September, someone extremely near and dear to me experienced a medical crisis that, while her condition has improved somewhat in recent days, has not fully cleared. Circumstances have demanded that I make more use of a different set of skills for a while.  I did get a bit of sketching in before the crisis hit, however, and managed a few quick sketches during Sunday morning sermons, but getting a sketch done each day of the week has suddenly become a low priority.

Here are the sketches I did manage to get down before life changed my focus:



You might get the idea, from a few of the sketches above, that I was having some headache issues during the week of September 9th.  You would be quite correct.  Don't worry; they were not serious.  They seem merely to have been related to a combination of tension (as I was engaged in a search for a new job--having determined I need the full-time-with-benefits kind at this point in my life) and ragweed allergies.  The headaches seem especially inconsequential given what happened at the end of the week.  At any rate, I was clear-headed enough to have fun trying to translate the pain into drawings.

Here are the Sunday morning sketches from my little Moleskine:




You may notice that the last sketchbook page above is dated 10/6/2013.  That's because I have decided to revamp my September challenge to make it an ongoing one in which I attempt to average a sketch a day from here on out.  Here's hoping life will allow ...





Monday, September 9, 2013

Big batch of September sketches


As you can see, I was in a rather pensive mode in the middle of last week.





On Sunday, I did a bunch of quick sketches of people in church in my little Moleskine again.  It's a lot easier to draw the folks sitting in the pews than it is to draw the musicians and the pastors, who keep moving on me.  






When I'm out of the house, I'm usually drawing with a ballpoint pen.  At home, I tend to use pencil, at least for preliminary sketching.  I think I'll try practicing more with using the pen at the outset.  See if I can develop a more confident ink line.

Now I need to go do my sketch for today.  I'll post it with my next batch.



Sunday, September 1, 2013

200th post(!!!) and Sketch-a-day September: Day 1

Hello all!  It's hard to believe -- especially considering I haven't posted since July -- that this is my 200th blog post.  Thanks for visiting and making it all seem worthwhile!  Raise your coffee mugs and toast yourselves!

Sorry it's been so long since I last posted.  I've just started the first draft of a brand new novel, and it is consuming a great deal of creative energy.  I came up for air a few days ago and saw that one of my fellow bloggers, Coreopsis, is doing an art challenge: 29 Faces in September.  (You should check out the blog; there are some great pieces up already!)  That got me thinking about how I have trouble drawing with regularity when I'm starting into a new novel.  A simple daily challenge for the month may be just the ticket for re-instilling a daily sketching habit.

So here is my first sketch for Sketch-a-day September:


As you can see (or I hope you can see), I drew this in church during the sermon.  I keep this small Moleskine in my purse at all times.  (I wish more folks would sit in the pews like the guy at the top.  His was a much more interesting pose to draw.)

The Sketch-a-day September Challenge:  I have decided that my Sketch-a-day sketch can be as simple or complex as I feel up to making it or have time for that day.  I can spend just three minutes on the piece or three hours.  Multi-tasking is fine (drawing while riding the subway or listening to a sermon or sitting in a meeting or watching TV or talking on the phone). And any subject matter will do (I'm not interested in limiting my challenge to faces).  From life or from imagination.  Realistic or abstract.  The sketch can even be a half-assed effort, but it can't be so bad that I won't share it here. But I must draw one (at least) sketch per day, and I must post it on the blog. No whipping out seven sketches on the weekend and then posting them spread out over the week.  (Although it may have to be acceptable to sketch each weekday and post all the efforts on the weekend.  This challenge is about instilling a habit of sketching each day -- not scanning and posting each day.)  I WILL sketch EVERY DAY, even if I'm under the weather.

Feel free to join me, or join Coreopsis in the 29 faces challenge.  Perhaps you have some other trick you use to keep motivated.  If so, please share it in the comments!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Illustration Friday: Jungle


For this week's quick pencil sketch on the Illustration Friday theme "Jungle," I thought, jungle means lots of trees. Then I thought, trees means treehouses.  And as anyone who has followed this blog for awhile knows, I love to draw treehouses.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Illustration Friday: Equality



Jeremy wishes Mom weren't always so keen on keeping things equal between him and Melody. But he's not as miffed as he would be if he knew that Melody is pulling Mom's arm to the left.

Meanwhile, Mom is thinking, If this cake were chocolate, I'd so be splitting it three ways!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Illustration Friday: Surveillance



The above image is a Painter 12 pen-and-ink redo of an illustration I have done two versions of before.  I think it fits this week's Illustration Friday topic well.

The previous incarnations were to be sample cover designs for the portfolio, however, neither is up to that standard.  The scene is based on image I have in my head for an early middle grade work in progress.  (This particular scene, which would occur near the end, has yet to be written.)  As you can see, I was exploring (somewhat clumsily) with different media:


I did this first, rather heavy-handed, job using pen-and-ink, watercolor, and colored pencil on Arches hot press paper.  I (inexpertly) touched up the image in Photoshop, then did the (very amateurish) layout also in Photoshop.  

I have gotten bit better with Photoshop since then.  I think that shows a little better in my next stab at the cover:


Here I was going for a scratchboard effect.  I did a pencil sketch, scanned it in, then inverted the black and white. I used the eraser tool to scrape away the black, then added the color to a background layer.  I like the boldness of this style, but the characters need more expressiveness.  The layout is still limited by my inexperience with certain features in Photoshop.  I am hard at work on my InDesign skills, however, so that should be moot point soon.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Our Dad's Watches and Father's Day Memories


A few months ago I received a request from a new business to do a very specific illustration: a boy seated on his dad's lap and hearing the ticking of a watch for the first time.  I suppose I might have turned down a commission to do something that had to match a client's mental image so exactly, but this challenge resonated well with the general direction of my illustration work.  I took the project on, and I'm very happy that I did.

Business owner August Monteleone wrote a very nice blog post about the illustration and the story behind the image he commissioned.  You can read it here: http://dadswatch.blogspot.com/2013/06/fantastic-new-logo-and-other-happenings.html. Augie was a pleasure to work for. I got a strong sense of this being a man who cares deeply about what he does. (I expect that if you have a classic watch in need of restoration, or are interested in purchasing a timepiece as a gift for someone special, Our Dads Watches would serve you extremely well.)

I knew I needed to take special care as I was illustrating a memory for a man with great love for his father. I was surprised at how meaningful the work became for me too. I  used a batch of photos from a Google image search for sketching practice and working out the posing of the figures.  But then I needed to better visual references to nail the details of the watch and the shoes at specific angles.  I used the actual 3-D objects: my own dad's watch and shoes.  I drew the preliminary sketches in pencil, emailing scans to the client for feedback. I then revised the pencil sketches and emailed scans for approval. I finished the inking and coloring of the approved composition in Corel Painter 12.  As I worked, I felt a rush of warm memories of early years with my father and the little life lessons that slipped out in relaxed moments in the living room after he returned from work. 

Last Sunday, Father's Day, months after completing the Our Dads Watches project, my mind drifted back to working on this illustration and the warm feelings it engendered.  



Thank you so much, Augie!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Illustration Friday: Sweet



For this week's Illustration Friday: a kid in a candy shop. (Click on the image to enlarge and to view with clearer definition.)

How I made this picture:

As usual, I started with a Dick Blick sketchbook and my trusty Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil:


I scanned the sketch at 300 dpi, partly to make it suitable for printing (you know, just in case I want to put the final in a hard copy portfolio) and partly to have better refinement options when I zoom in close.  The final at the top of this post is saved at t lower resolution for the sake of speedier loading.  

I inked the image in Painter 12 using the crowquil and real variable width pens in a variety of sizes.  I chose plain old "black" from the color palette.  I also do a lot of drawing--or undrawing--with the eraser tool.  My comfort with this combination of tools has increased a lot over the past couple of months.  I may try to stretch my skills with some new inking tools next Friday.

For a little something different this week, and to highlight the sweets (and the obnoxious food dyes that will probably give this kid attention deficit issues), I colored the candy in Photoshop.  I chose not to use Painter for this because their colors have behaved in a glitchy, unstable sort of way on my PC.  Photoshop (CS 5.5) has been quite reliable, although I miss Painter's realistic brushes.


Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go binge on chocolate.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Illustration Friday: Tension



This week's Illustration Friday sketch is a remake of a remake of a remake of a remake of an early portfolio piece I called "Helping Hand."

Here's the first one (in watercolor on Arches hot press paper):



With a couple of portfolio critiques by children's book publishing professionals, I learned that the characters in my original picture were generic and their expressions bland enough to undermine my quest for employment as an illustrator.  A year or two later I took a stab at making them more dynamic.


One redo effort (with Copic Multiliner SP pens on Dick Blick 80 lb. drawing paper) had the girl about to crash headfirst into the creek bank. 

The next was closer to the original but, like the remake above, with the girl's head twisted back as if looking at someone or something she's trying to get away from in a hurry:


For this week's IF topic, I decided to take the last remake sketch and use it as a template for an ink layer in Painter 12, altering lines and details to increase the TENSION.  To save your scrolling muscles, here is the most recent drawing again:


Perhaps I'll attempt another full color version if I have time later.


How about you?  Do you ever go back to work you did months or years earlier and recraft it using new tools and your increased knowledge?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Illustration Friday: Liquid



Maxwell had little experience with liquid media.  Needless to say, his new supervisor was unimpressed.

(In the interest of avoiding accidents of the kind depicted above, no actual liquid was used in the creation of this pen-and-ink drawing. The "ink" is courtesy of Corel Painter 12.)


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Illustration Friday: Wild


For this week's Illustration Friday, I toyed with a new working method in Corel Painter 12.

The black line you see is made with the crowquil brush tool, varying the size between 2 and about 5 pt.  I drew that first and made it the top layer in the file.  The color wash is made with a variety of gouache brushes.  This time I used only one wash color.  The different tonal gradations come from painting on separate layers and adjusting the opacity of each layer.  I like the simplicity of this method and the feel of the brushes involved. But as I add more layers, my old PC gets painfully slow.  Still, I think it's a process worth tinkering with for a while.  Maybe, one of these days, I'll get a new powerhouse machine.

The characters in this scene are loosely based on characters in a middle grade novel currently out on submission to agents.  I manufactured this scene purely for the IF challenge.  Nothing like it happens in the actual story, although I did find that knowing the characters ahead of time helped me to generate the scene more easily.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Illustration Friday: Eyeglasses



Eyeglasses!!

This one started as a pencil sketch.  Then I scanned it into Painter and drew it properly with the crowquil brush, varying the point size between 2 and 3.5.  I love the freedom Painter is giving me.  I get the feel of a real India ink dipped pen, but with the computer's completely forgiving eraser option. 

It's been ages since I've done a sketch for Illustration Friday.  There's a good reason for that.  I've been busily working on an illustration for a commercial client.  Most of that was done in Painter too.  I'm happy to report that the work was received enthusiastically by the client.  I'll blog about the creative process after the image is up on his website.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Checking in

Sorry for all the blog silence of late.  I have been hard at work on a commercial project and finishing up revisions on a novel, trying to get it all done before my daughter comes home for her last college spring break. (Oh, my God! I can't believe she's graduating in May!)

Since I don't really have time right now for a proper blog post, I'll share a link to one on the process of illustrating and designing a book cover by Irene Gallo at Tor books.  Tor commissions some of the best artwork in the publishing industry, definitely worth a look-see, and a good read for illustrators and authors interested in learning more about the kind of thinking going on behind cover design.

Monday, February 11, 2013

DRAWING Magazine Feature

A drawing from one of my sketchbooks is featured in an article on The Sketchbook Project in the Winter 2013 issue of Drawing magazine!


Here's the spread they chose to show:


It's from my 2012 sketchbook.  Here's how it looks in the magazine article:


The other two artists whose work is featured on this spread are Melissa Patton and Carl Licence.

The magazine article (which appears to do a better job of crediting visual artists than their own writers - I couldn't find a byline) has this to say about my sketchbook: "Jeanie Wogaman's sketchbook explores a very different sort of imagined world; her pen drawings depict tiny people living peacefully in the trees. She draws mostly in black but dots her pages with great red apples, and these generous splashes of color energize her complex compositions." Nice! Many thanks to the folks at Drawing magazine and The Sketchbook Project for presenting my work in such a favorable light!  Thanks also to The Sketchbook Project for sending me a complimentary issue.

A bit about Drawing magazine
It's a quarterly publication originally started by American Artist magazine (now defunct).  The issue in my hand has articles on the relationship between drawing and other visual art practices, the anatomy of the landscape, measuring the figure, and a number of features on colored pencil artists.  All the articles are richly illustrated with loads of eye candy.  I'm seeing a lot of both classical and photo-realistic art.  There are the requisite oodles of ads, but they are mostly for really cool art supplies, so they're fun to pore over too.  Drawing magazine would be great resource for a student artist or hobbyist working on a foundation in classical drawing technique (something I highly recommend, even if your final works are abstract or highly stylized).  The cover price is currently $8.99, but if you're interested in a year's worth, you can save with a subscription (see www.artistdaily.com for more info).