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Channeling R. Crumb

While in South Carolina my girlfriend’s uncle let me read several art books from his collection. I was working on creating a lesson plan for Maus at the time and he showed me a few comic artists for inspiration. The book I found the most interesting was The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book. I’d seen Crumb before in An Illustrated Life, but I really got to appreciate his style through the large colored pages. It’s gritty and visceral. He puts a lot of emotion into his mark making. So when I sat down to draw a self-portrait last night I wanted to study his style.

R. Crumb has drawn quite a few self-portraits and I pulled up several for inspiration. Here they are in chronological order:

crumb-1982

crumb-1983

crumb-1986

crumb-2005I mostly used the 1986 self-portrait as inspiration. I feel as though it shows a wide value range, which gave me a lot to reference and study. The 2005 portrait has a great range as well, but I was not doing a full body self-portrait.

As I worked, I flipped back through my browser tabs, constantly analyzing Crumb’s hatching technique.

Selfie 6

Since Crumb is a comics artist I tried to capture a comic book feel through an exaggerated expression. I had a lot of fun scrunching my face into different positions. And the squinted eyelids were much easier to draw than open eyes. The end result reminds me a little of Fight Club. My only complaint is that I made the mouth recede too much. I think this could be solved by darkening the shirt more and putting the majority of the drawing in shadow. Then the mouth would be on the same tone level as everything else.

While I spent a good part of the week looking at R. Crumb drawings, I also found inspiration in some other locations. I found this short painting tutorial which has made me think about how to deal with dark skin tones. And on deviantART I found the following two drawings:

playing_by_derekjones-d8newyh

I love how this drawing by Derek Jones is both sketchy and round. The fullness of the form makes it appear almost lifelike.

inflatable_parade_by_mattiasa-d8mxw0i

Then I found Mattias Adolfsson’s drawing among the Daily Deviations and it reminded me of Where’s Waldo. The level of detail keeps the viewer entertained for a long time. I also like the simple, muted colors. Though it’s a playful illustration, color theory is still very strong.

That’s it for today. If I can find the time to finish it, I’ll have a large drawing for next time.

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Facts About Pirates That May or May Not Be True

For the final project in my grammar class I worked with a classmate and constructed a children’s book that teaches modal verbs. The title of the book is Facts About Pirates That May or May Not Be True…if you couldn’t tell by the title of the blog post. The pages are meant to be side by side so that children can see the difference between the sentences with modal verbs and the sentences without them.

Grammar Book 1

Grammar Book 2

Grammar Book 3

Grammar Book 4

Grammar Book 5

Grammar Book 6

Grammar Book 7

Grammar Book 8

We chose to put the modals in red to make them noticeable. Hopefully this helps demonstrate the differences between the sentences.

The idea to teach modals through pirates came through a brainstorming session. My classmate and I looked up a list of things kids enjoy and debated each thing. We talked about everything from ice cream to bugs. For a little while I really wanted to do a book based on dinosaur princesses. Maybe I’ll someday get around to making that book idea a reality. We settled on pirates because we felt it was a flexible subject matter that appeals to both boys and girls.

Once we had that figured out, we went through our grammar notes and decided to work with modal verbs. We chose modals because there are only 9 of them: can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would, and must. Also, the concepts behind them are not often touched on in younger grades. That’s not to say we are hoping to completely teach modals with our book. No, we just want to introduce them to younger kids.

For the final piece, I drew and wrote 8 pages and my classmate drew and wrote the other 8.We also devised a workbook to use with the pictures to help parents teach their kids more about modal verbs.

I spent between an hour and two hours working on each page. I had done the thumbnail sketches a couple weeks before, so I just scanned them in and used them as base drawings. I used a 100% opaque pastel brush in Photoshop. Occasionally I adjusted the flow from 100% to 70%, but not often.

Since I worked very quickly on the pages, several of them are not as well done as I’d like them to be. There are perspectival and proportion issues in a couple of them. But it was a nice test run of a different art style.

Man would I love to just draw children books all day.

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Feeling Groovy

I’ve been spending a lot of time on my children’s book. I finished plotting all the sketches and I’m now working on the final illustrations. It’s time to make the push and get this book finished. Unfortunately, it takes me about 8-10 hours to illustrate each page. So if I’m able to finish 3-4 pages a week, then I should be able to have the book done before the end of summer. And while I want to get the book finished, I don’t want to neglect painting. I’m torn between dedicating time to my paints and dedicating time to my tablet and Photoshop. This week I was able to get a quick 9″x12″ still life painted as well as work on my book. Hopefully, all my weeks from here on out can be that balanced.

10dKM0n

 

Like most of my recent still life paintings, this one has been brewing in my mind for months. The groovtacular lava lamp is a lovely shape and I’ve tried to work it into previous setups. It just doesn’t seem to want to go. I’m not even satisfied with it in this painting. The lamp almost NEEDS some other object that echoes or accents its shape. The hacky sack doesn’t seem to exactly work. Oh well. I only spent 4 hours on this, so I consider it just a sketch. I’ll have to revisit the lamp in another manner.

And here’s my favorite book page I’ve illustrated so far:

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I think once I finish all the pages I will have to go back and make them more unified. My technique seems to evolve from page to page. That’s just the learning process.

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Dancing

 

 

Finished a painting this week, but I can’t put it on the blog yet. It’s a present for my girlfriend, and because she reads the blog I don’t want the surprise to be spoiled. So, I’m gonna have to save it for a few more weeks.

 

In the meantime, here are several sketches from my children’s book:

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I’ve finished all the preliminary sketches for the book, so now I just have to finish coloring them in and then, BAM, I’ll be done.

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A Week of Art

This has been a great week. With work being slow, I’ve been able to spend a good deal of time on making art. On Sunday I finished coloring a two-page spread for my children’s book.

picturebookpage

I spent a lot of time working on this spread, but I think there are still a few things to be tweaked. I’m gonna let it sit for a little bit and come back to it once I’ve finished other pages.

With the pages done, on Monday I got started on a tea-themed still life.

20140202-112353.jpgInstead of roughing out the shapes with pencil, I used burnt umber and some medium to get a wash of my still life.

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Because I wanted the focus of the painting to be on the teapot, that is where I started. I spent quite a while mixing different greens to see how they would work.

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I don’t usually paint things with patterns, but I decided to mix things up and throw in a plaid table cloth and a plaid backdrop.

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My initial plan with this still life was to overwhelm the green pot with complementary reds. As I got to painting, I realized it is hard to mix so many different reds.

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One of my last tasks was to develop the contrast in the painting and hopefully unify the objects.

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Because it was meant to be a quick painting, I did not spend too much time developing the intricacies and details. But in the end, I’m satisfied with what I was able to accomplish

20140202-112611.jpgAnd here’s a shot of my work station.

Though I only worked on my still life for a little bit each day, I was also working on some digital drawings. I continued using RedditGetsDrawn to find interesting people for subjects. I did a drawing every day. Sunday’s drawing was in last week’s post, so I’ll start with Monday’s.

reddit1

Monday I started with user mcgroo‘s photo of his father.
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Then on Tuesday I worked on user toastehmonstah‘s portrait. (Step 1)reddit3

(Step 2)
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(Step 3)

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On Wednesday, I was going to do my girlfriend’s submission, but I wound up frustrated with the colors. So I picked a different user and worked on that photo instead.

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User keiseroll‘s submission was the answer to my struggles.

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On Thursday, I did user planetaqua‘s portrait.

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On Friday, I found user Aniolla‘s portrait and I loved the lighting. So I did a quick drawing of Aniolla and then found a photo to work on for Saturday.

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The photo I found was scrambledramble‘s chihuahua.

reddit10By the time I started working on the chihuahua, I had a week’s worth of practice under my belt and I was able to get the best likeness. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue doing a reddit drawing a day.

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My First Children’s Book

A little over a year ago I was taking a fiction writing class at UNH. One of our assignments was to write a children’s book. When I sat down to work it out, I found the story came to me easily. There was something freeing and wonderful about creating a story for children. I did not have to worry about complicated prose or a convoluted plot. I was able to pare down my writing to its basic form.

My professor wound up loving my story and told me I should work on it further. Well the words sat in my computer for 10 or 11 months and then I decided I would edit them and add illustrations. So for the last three months I have been working on developing the book.

Though I have been working on coloring the illustrations, I don’t have any pages that are finished yet. So I will show off several of my preliminary sketches.

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I’m keeping the general story secret for now, but the characters are from a family that makes costumes for a living.

This coming week I’m hoping to get another tea themed painting done.