Thursday, September 28, 2006

These are the illos I did today, just character sketches. I think these might be a little better than the Lady in front of the mirror I posted the other day. I still want to do quite a few more and then I want to continue with this dummy.

I've been sick for the last few days. I must have caught my brother's flu, when we drove down to see Mom in the hospital.

Its been hard, not the flu, although in truth my body aches all over, my head feels like its going to split apart and I can't seem to get this fever to go away. But, what's been hard is the realization that our parents are mortal. Yes, I know, we all are, but somehow I never really thought they could be so frail.

This is the sixth time Mommy is in the hospital since mid June. The second time for my Dad. We still don't know what is wrong with Mom, after what seems like every conceivable test. We've almost lost her each time, and yet somehow ...Although she is left weaker and her body more ravished by whatever is ailing her, she manages to hang on.

If, I stop and think about it I will start to sob, and I can't, because if I do, I may not stop. Even now my eyes begin to tear, so I open them real wide and swallow hard. This seems to force the pain back.

What do you do when someone isn't ready to die, but has been afraid of living most of her divorced life? For Mom, that's been thirty some years.
How deeply love can wound us. I know, I've been there too, the wounded part that is. We all have, or will be at some point in our lives. Thank God for our gifts and our talents however small and humble. They give us hope in ourselves, a glimmer of worth and a forum with which to reach out, touch the world and be touched in return.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Four more roughs for my Spell On Mother Bear dummy.

This is my first dummy, and already I have plans to redo some of these pages.

I love the way new ideas for illustrating the story just keep coming.

It will be interesting to see how this book turns out when I'm done with it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

These are the first two pages of my dummy. Page one is actually divided into three panels with a space for the text to the left, above Misha.

You can see how I've revised my script, reworking and editing as I go along even after another two days of revisions. The blue text on my MS are actually illustration notes to myself.

I decided to do one panel for page two, reserving the top quarter for the text.

Three treasures I've held thus far today. The first was renewed persistence, as I revised my Mother Bear manuscript once again. This time I followed the major part of the storyboard I completed last week. I spent most of last night and this morning in revisions, till five new drafts laid before me crisp and unwrinkled.
The second gem I beheld was Broken Saints, the animated comic epic by Brooke Burgess, Scott McNeil, Ryan Crocker, and Greg Anderson. I have only seen the first DVD out of five that came in my boxed set, but thus far I find it refreshing, inspiring, profound, mature, illuminating and poetic. By the way, mature as in consciousness.
The third treasure was held in reflection, reading random pages of Bonni Goldberg's Daily Instructions in the Writer's Life. Ah, the perfect transition between continual enlightenment and creation, where the intake of breath represents the work of my peers and exhaling represents my soul's longing.
I go now to seek my forth gem, as I explore the birth of Mother Bear's first dummy. I will no doubt tweak and modify this part of my story at least once more. But, only after I've allowed enough distance between us for the story to breathe in its own life. I do not mind though, illustrating is a cherished passion, a spiritual dance between the characters and their creator.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Its finished, the storyboard I mean. After a long week of rewrites and revisions, I finally have my storyboard down.

This is what I refer to as the illustrative foundation to my story, the bare bones. Its the open window with a clear view through the woods and to the hills beyond the horizon. Life is good.

Yes, I'll still revise here and there a bit (minor adjustments) right up till the end, but the big questions have all been answered. The timing, flow and assorted visual perspectives feel right.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I finally got some more illos (character sketches) done today, scroll down to see them.

Yesterday, we went all over town looking for the last Full Metal Alchemist DVD. We have been following this series and could hardly wait for volume 13 : Brotherhood, which consists of episodes 49-51.

The movie, The Conqueror Of Shamballa also came out earlier this week. It takes place 2 years after the end of episode 51.
I've become a huge anime fan over the summer. What better way than to observe animation, sequencing, character development, or lack there of and continue to bond with your teens. We have acquired quite a collection of series, some are fabulous, and others....well, I should have saved my money.

Full Metal Alchemist is among my favorites, which also include Evangellen, Wolf's Rain, and all anime directed by Hayao Miyazaki, such as My Neighbor Totoro, Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and Kiki's Delivery Service.

But, back to Full Metal Alchemist, if you're one of those persons that loves to be swept away by the drama and growth of characters, then this series is for you. The other one I'm quite hooked on is the Avatar The Last Airbender series. Then again I still love cartoons.

If, wishes came true I would have been born Walt Disney's daughter studied and learned animation in one of his studios. I love all his old classical movies, like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Fantasia, Bambi, The Fox and the Hound, The Aristocats.....

OK, enough chit-chat, here are a few more character sketches for my Spell on Mother Bear story. I quickly played around with graphite first and then went over them in pen. I've posted both so you can see how I developed them and later lightly inked them. Remember, these are rough gesture like character sketches. The main purpose of these is to help me play with and develop my characters visually, before I commit to drawing a storyboard, or final dummy sketches.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Check out the wonderful pen and inks the very talented Amy Moren, a children's writer and illustrator recently posted. For a wealth of information on children's books visit Amy's blog Cachibashis.

I did these concept illos today. I wanted to explore several views of the cave entrance from close up to farther away, and from the inside looking out, as opposed to the earlier sketches of the child with Mother Bear.

The first illo on the page is sketched without snow, just to get a feel for the kind of cave entrance I wanted to do.

In the next two sketches I wanted to explore possible winter scenes. The story begins in the winter, and continues on through spring, summer and fall.

I decided to loosely ink the winter scenes and then realized what I really wanted to explore were shadows. I used ink washes over a Pilot Precise extra fine tipped pen. It bled/fuzzed just the slightest bit in areas, when drenched over with my ink washes.

I used liquid frisket to keep some areas white. The Paper is Canson Universal Recycled Sketch at 65 lb. Its meant for dry media, not wet. I use it because these are just rough concept sketches, not finals, not even storyboards. For my finals I'll use a heavier paper.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

After working on several character sketches, I was finally able to do two characters that I like...the page on the bottom .

Stress and fear of messing up are the biggest paralyzers, the biggest challenges in my life. The first two (top page) were a bullet sweating nightmare, and the funny thing is, all that changed between doing the top page and the bottom was my attitude.

Attitude...what a fickle little word. It can either make, or break you.

I've discovered a new mantra today flowing from my heart... "Not perfection, but emotion." That's what I need to strive for. That's what sets me free and transports me into the soul of my subjects. This is where dreams rule and I am free to play, dance and explore. Anything else at this point is not soul productive.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hey, check out If You Where A Parrot children's picture book illustrator Sherry Rogers radio interview. Here's the link.
Way to go Sherry!
This preliminary rough took me about an hour, or so to do this evening. I'd hope to begin this weekend, but family and homeschooling duties called. They're my first concept sketches for a children's story I wrote called, A Spell on Mother Bear.

At this stage I'm just playing around with some loose sketches. These enable me to get a feel for some of the characters, timing, settings and possible perspectives. They help me to capture and manipulate all those visions running around in my mind and decide what I like, or dislike, before I begin my dummy.

I will endeavor to post my progress daily, showing the steps I take and my thoughts there of when creating a picture book dummy...a mockup, or model if you will of a 32 page children's story.

Note to self: I must do some separate sketches of the little girl tomorrow to get a better feel for her, she appears much too doll like

Thursday, September 07, 2006

playing with color pencils.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

And, the finished illos.

Here's a look at my two page Dream skit and some of the steps I took to color them from my line inks. The inks can be viewed near the end on this blog.

One note of value is paper choice. I did these on 60 lb. sketch paper. Its not bad for inking, but murder when trying to apply watercolor washes. However, since this particular skit became an experimental piece after inking, I jumped in with one of my favorite quotes..."In for a penny, in for a pound." Next time I shall take time to run into town and invest in some 140 lb watercolor paper.

These were done in a hurry, one week and two days from concept to script, character sketches to storyboard, finished pencils and then inks to full color washes. Why? Because I had come across a request for submissions to an exhibit. It was mentioned Neil Gaiman might attend. The theme was DREAMS and of course it was love at first thought. Dream after all is my middle name. Well, not really, but it ought to be. I had hoped I'd be able to enter in time, but alas a week's notice wasn't quite enough. School just started and since I home school...
In any event, the real challenge was keeping this story (that had stepped into my heart) to a mere two pages. There's more to this tale (there always is when these characters are born), but time and space constraints forced me to trim it down to its bare bones.
One learns a great deal under pressure, which is the second reason I challenged myself to this task (the first reason of course was Dreams and Neil Gaiman). Nothing is ever really lost and effort is never wasted. Here in these two pages of my little skit I have the making of a short story, or even a novel. These two pages are already set up. I think of them as a sort of visual outline to a story. All I have to do now is fill in between the chapters of her life. Yes, I know seems rather strange, but when I conceive a character their whole life, possibilities and potentials play through my mind. Now if only I could write and illustrate as fast as the visions...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Today got off to a rocky start and I found myself once again both haunted and affected by my past. So much of what I write and illustrate of late appears to seep out of the most desperate places.... Phantoms loosen from my soul, trickles of water crawling down a ragged cliff, or waves roaring with such ferocity they threaten to consume me. Its at these times even my brightest hopes seem out of reach and bathed in darkness.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

These are some of the finished pages for my Fairy Called skit. Thus far I've completed 18 pages and penciled another three. This particular skit will eventually be forty two or so pages in length. Its one of the many short skits I work on between my graphic sagas. Call it practice if you will, I'd rather fall down and mess up here than in my longer scripts.

These are photos of part of my inking process. In this particular skit (Fairy Called) I used Higgins Calligraphy Waterproof Black and a bamboo skewer stick as my pen. For the washes I used a number 4 round brush and mixed up several values of gray by diluting the Higgins Calligraphy ink with water.

Here is a view of some of the pencils for my Fairy Called skit. These are the final pencils which I shall ink in later. The paper size is 8 by 10, unlike the Dream skit which was 12 by 16. The small journal is the storyboard I created for this skit. You can see I keep the script next to me as I work.