Monday, February 19, 2007

I continue to work up layers in the sky, as I begin to block in the first color washes to the foreground.

I usually keep a sketch book near me when I paint. I find it a great tool for playing with possible color combinations before I apply them to the canvas.

I like to apply my paint in thin layers building the color up slowly. I seldom use water to thin my paints, preferring instead to use a satin, or flat medium.

These are the first washes for the sky, again building layers of color over each other. There are many ways to paint and apply color, this is just the way I usually work with acrylics.

Next, I apply a coating of Clear Gesso to my canvas, so that the graphite does not smear while I paint. As you can see, I keep my original sketch next to me as I paint, as a point of reference.

By the way, this is my basic set up.

When I want to transfer a sketch to the canvas, I use graphite paper and a color pencil to go over my sketch. The color pencil helps me to see where I have traced my illustration onto the canvas, and where I still have to trace. Its a good idea to use masking tape to hold your paper in place to the graphite paper, and the graphite paper to the canvas.
Here's the progress thus far on my Shu-lin's Dream. Although this panel is from one of the pages in The Virtutus Key, I wanted to dedicated it to my little Mountain Horn Dragon.
Shu-lin has been very sick, actually she came that way from the pet store. Not much is known about these little guys, apparently they should not have been housed together.
Anyway, Shu-lin has been fighting off a major infection from a bite she received and has been keeping us quite busy with every third day visits to the vet for shots, twice a day hot compresses, Epsom Salt leg soaks, forced feedings, watering's and lots of TLC. I take her outside daily for an hour, or two of morning sun, sketches and meditations. It seems to me that if Shu-lin had wings she would surely fly.
I've photographed some of the steps I'm taking in this painting for the benefit of all my homeschool students that were in both my Elements of Writing and Illustrating Graphic Novels and my Life Painting classes. If you all have any questions let me know.
This afternoon while strolling through Borders, I found a Tolkien calendar by Alan Lee. I already have a calendar for this year, but I just couldn't pass this one up. Its feels like a sort of visual diary filled with color illustrations surrounded by mystical sepia sketches.
I'm a long time fan of Mr. Lee. Back in the late seventies my older brother introduced me to his illustrations one Christmas, with a book on Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee. Since then I've acquired a few others including his wonderful book Castles, published by McGraw-Hill.
One of my favorite Lee illustrations is called Galadriel's Mirror, from the book entitled Tolkien's World: Paintings of Middle-earth. This book is a collection of paintings by various illustrators. There is something otherworldly about Alan Lee's paintings, to view them is to be held captive by some long, lost magical realm.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Here's what I've been working on today. Its one of the panels for my Virtutus Key story. I want to transform this into a full size acrylic painting. I started playing around with this particular scene last night after dinner and dishes. Thursdays are always a very full day for me homeschool and errand wise, since my daughter takes ice skating lessons the next town over. Anyway, by the time we get home, take care of all our animals and assorted chores...Well, there's little time left for art. But, I figured I'd try to get an hour, or so in before bed time.

This is my first sketch. I was sleepy, so I left the rest of it to this morning.

Mornings here with Six parrots, two dogs, a cat, four lizards, a turtle, a mouse and teens require a bit of juggling. I generally start with our cat Zip, then the dogs, birds and so on. I suppose I could get the kids up at the same time, but honestly, I need that first hour, or two to take care of the animals, sip some tea, study, read and play.

This morning I pulled out some old canvas and prepped them with gesso. I wanted to make sure they'd be dry when I was done sketching. I need to transfer the illustration onto the canvas without making a mess.

Then it was back to work on my pencil sketch. Here's where I am so far. At this point I'm not sure if I'm happy with it. Before I transfer it over to my canvas, I'm going to go for a walk and get some perspective. Its always helpful to get away from a piece for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Later, if I'm happy with it, I'll start the painting process. But, first my walk, then back to town with Shu-Lin to the Vets. She needs seven more shots of antibiotics every three days for her knee infection. Then back home, dinner, dishes, chores and finally, sometime tonight, back to my studio to paint.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

OK, here's what I've really been spending the majority of my time on, when not taking my daughter to her homeschool skating lessons and other events, or the housework that always seems so unending. Guess that's another reason why I'd rather be creating and I seldom dust! But, I do bake and cook good old fashioned meals and clean the pots and pans and dishes and....yeah, I'd rather be sketching.

Storyboards of The Virtutus Key. These are larger and double spreads. There will be about 80 to a 100 of these double spread pages, totaling about 160 -200 pages in the finished final draft of my first graphic novel. Thus far I have about a quarter of the novel storyboarded in these double spread panels.

Two side projects I am working on. The mermaid is a mixed media using watercolors, acrylics, gesso and pastels.

This is one of the concept sketches I drew for a scene in The Virtutus Key. Its a rough sketch with a rough wash just to get a feel on paper for mood and colors.

My loom and my current project..learning various weaving techniques from Kirsten Glabrook's fabulous book Tapestry Weaving.

Here are some of the other dragons in my collection guarding my drums. They spend their time moving back and forth between my drums and my desk every morning when I play to my little lizards. Its a great way to entice the kids to get up!

Our little dragons...

Shu-Lin, a Mountain Horn Dragon. He lost his horns in a fight at the pet store between his cage mate.

Shu-lin suffered a nasty scratch to his left knee and lost his two horns, but he did bit his buddy fiercely in the right wrist. Thank goodness they were separated before they killed each other.

Apparently thess little guys are extremely territorial.

Link and Lizzy...two green Anoles. A gift from my dear friend Tammy.

Last, but not least, my youngest daughter's Collared Lizard Kuai.

I'm taking a mini break to post and show a bit of what I've been up to lately. Life's been a bit of a whirl wind, but in a good way.

Let's see, where to start? I've read two of Lisa Tuttle's books, The Silver Bough and The Mysteries, which sent me on the hunt for Alexei Kondratiev'sThe Apple Branch and Jane Yolen's Dragon's Blood. All of these are excellent in my humble opinion.

I'm in the midst of reading The Pillow Friend (another wonderful book by Lisa Tuttle), The Kingdom & The Elves of The Reaches by Robert Stanek, The Way of the Storyteller by Ruth Sawyer,
Wendy Tumminello's Exploring Storyboarding and re-reading Gaiman's Marvel 1602.

I've been working on my Virtutus Key :Book One of the Flame everyday and intend to submit it in May for the SmartWriters 2007 Its continues to be a labor of love and a blessing as I get closer to the completion of book one.

In other areas of my life I'm still homeschooling my two teens and visiting my oldest daughter and her new baby girl every chance I get. I've rearranged my studio to accommodate my huge tapestry loom, and several reptiles. Its my hope to one day weave some of my stories with rich colored yarns, even as I now do so with pencil and paint. I pulled out my old easel last month and began playing with mixed media again, but in a much larger format. I love writing and illustrating graphic novels, but I miss that whole arm movement I get when I paint large. But, as they say a picture tells a thousand words, so here you go.

Oh, I almost forgot, my dear sweet friend Amy ( tagged me and my other great friend Sherry ( is working on her fourth book. More on the tag thing later. ;D