Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Whooping Crane Christmas

IMG_3900 This year my mother had an inspired idea to deal with the slow time between the morning gift exchange and Christmas dinner: a whooping crane tour. We bundled up and drove out to Rockport, Texas, and despite some initial hesitation when we learned we'd be on the boat for 3+ hours (the wind made it nose-freezingly-brisk, and my 14-month old nephew was with us), we boarded the Skimmer and headed out into the gray day. It was amazing. Our guide, Captain Jay, was genuinely excited about pointing out birds and sharing information, not just for the cranes, but for a peregrine falcon, a 37-year-old kite (a regular), and so many others. As for the whooping cranes, they're beautiful. And endangered. It's so strange to think that only 400 or so exist in the wild, and the majority of those winter half an hour from where I grew up. We saw two family groups (mother, father, juvenile), and a couple of adult groups. The shot above was one of the last of the day, when the sun finally broke through the clouds. IMG_3832 IMG_3837 Above: group of three adults, who did everything in sync IMG_3888 Above: this couple was the closest the boat got to observe, and one is banded and wearing some sort of transmitter. I also love that the other has an orange eye, instead of the normal golden. IMG_3730 IMG_3775 The mother and juvenile are part of the same family unit as the bird on the left in the photo above; he's the male, chasing off some interlopers. IMG_3749 IMG_3724 More of the same family group. Apparently the drought raised the salinity of the water, which in turn affected the cranes' main food source: blue crabs. Instead, the birds are having to spend much more time foraging for food with less protein. I have many photos of birds with their heads in the grass. And there are lots of other non-crane bird shots, but I'll save that for the next post.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My cat's nemesis

IMG_3553 nemesiscat You may think my cat looks like the tough one, all pirate-eyed in the morning light; but, in fact, this black and white, ink-lipped kitty has got several pounds on her and a lot more territorial prowess. In the past month, I've had to break up several fights/chases, always with B&W chasing my Lena. The 'bad kitty's markings are great, though, and more fun to paint than all-black. Don't tell Lena! IMG_3546 My cat is the bossy one inside the house, regardless of size. Poor 80-lb Lloyd!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winter fruit

sketch11.26.11_persimmon P1020677 sketch11.26.11_lemonetrog The jewel tones of winter citrus and persimmons and pomegranates always make me want to break out my paints. I've been going back in my watercolor sketches with pencil to add some darks; still working that out. I actually like the photograph of the persimmon better than the scan because it shows those different textures. The etrog is something I've never seen or bought before, but the description at the grocery mentioned that it was used in a Jewish holiday and could perfume a room for weeks...very intriguing. It smells like citrus meets rose.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A cloudy landscape

landscape IMG_3448 A watercolor sketch from this afternoon and another "painting" project this week, one of the furniture sealant variety (two more coats to go!). Funny how they've both got the same colors.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Heirloom beans

heirloom beans Okay, another watercolor sketch for my goal this month (painting a day for the rest of November). Soaked heirloom beans (these were for veggie chili) just lend themselves to watercolor, so many beautiful shades...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Back in the studio with watercolor

rose sketch dill and radish
Just getting the feel for painting again after a hiatus. The dill and radish were leftover from today's lunch. Quinacridone Rose, which I almost never use, went into both the rose and radish sketches.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A morning of sketching at Barton Springs

Met up with some fellow illustrators to sketch today at the amazing Barton Springs pool (so cold and refreshing!). Threw together the above scrappy-looking sketchbook this morning. Below is a close-up of some pool folks.


This couple had semi-matching tattoos, but left before I was able to catch the design on paper.

A friend's daughter sketching away (she drew an awesome red peacock)

This guy had the best madras shorts and red hair, but I'd already packed up my watercolors.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How to avoid a mind melt: Q&A with Audrey Lopata

Audrey and the chicken_crop

It's with great excitement that I return to this blog after a summer hiatus to share a recent interview with illustrator Audrey Lopata. I met Audrey a year and a half ago at a local SCBWI conference and was immediately impressed by her personal style (she was sporting an uber-cool layering of woven garments and illustrated galoshes!). And this interest in textiles and layering is woven right into her art, along with some amazing linework and sense of fairy tale. Not to mention that she's equally comfortable creating her characters on paper or with fabric. You can check out her work on her site and blog. So, without further rambling on my part, here is Audrey in her own words (and images):

birthday fairy_2

1. How would you describe your illustration style in one sentence?

Whimsical children’s book style art…I think that’s a fragment….

2. Where did you go to art school and what was the most important thing you learned there with respect to your illustration career?

I got my Illustration degree from Northern Illinois University. And I’m sure this isn’t what you meant, but I feel like pointing out that it wasn’t an “art school” per say, just a plain ol’ state school. It was an important distinction for me when I was picking out where to attend college. I wanted to go somewhere that had a good illustration program, but also somewhere that I could take some other subjects as well. I loved studying anthropology, linguistics, film, astronomy, and racket ball. I also learned how to be less antisocial, which was actually good for my art as well. I love to draw people, and it seems much easier to be inspired by people and their stories when I could actually talk to them. As far as my illustration career, I probably learned something but it didn’t seem so much about “career” in those days as just a crazy passion for drawing and trying to do my best and actually get good grades.

3. What do you feel is the most important thing you've learned actually working as an artist/illustrator?

As you might have guessed from my last answer and the “not really thinking about my career in those days” the transition from college to the real world was a bit of a doozy. I had to learn, and am still learning all sorts of things about business and scheduling and actually making money.
Then at the end of the day I’m learning to still love the art and the craft of it all in spite of how annoying and time consuming the technicalities can be. Always remember why you loved art in the first place, and why you still care now. I may have learned that from the movie “Kiki’s delivery service,” but it feels extra true today so I’ll claim it as my post college lessonJ.

4. What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?

I normally start off with some business investigation on the computer: reading my e-mail, checking my etsy account, filling out a form for an art festival etc. Then I get organized with whatever my current project is, gather my supplies and get started. If I'm working on something a bit more "mindless" like inking in pencil drawings, I'll listen to an audio book. This helps my mind not melt from boredom, and keeps me in touch with children's literature. I actually gone through a crazy amount of books this way, so I'm always scouring the libraries for a new one :)
Just in case you're looking for a recommendation some of my recent favorites have been:
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckley
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

5. Who would you most love to work with (publisher/AD/artist)?

I feel like this answer may be cheating, but I'd say Pixar! I'm a storyteller at heart, and that tends to lend itself to book illustration, but I think I'd also enjoy concept art or storyboarding for a company as absolutely brilliant as Pixar.

6. What children's book character would you most want to have over for tea (or other beverage of choice)?

Tough choice! I think this may be cheating again, but I’m going to have to say one of the Harry Potter characters, though *SPOILER ALERT* I’d want to meet them when they’re older, in the epilogue of book 7. I love the idea that they went through the whole adventure and then went on to have happy, vaguely normal, lives where they all stayed friends. I’d probably choose to meet with Hermione since she seems like she’s actually enjoy a tea time, and I get the idea that even when she was living out her “normal life” she was doing epic things and learning a lot about her world and how to change it for the best. She just seems like that type of character.

7. If you had to choose a theme song to accompany your work, what would it be?

Only one? I really love musicals, and so I like to imagine my work and life with all kinds of different songs. Though recently, since I'm in the middle of a move, and I've got a couple new projects going, ”The start of something new" from High School Musical might be my song. I know, it's so cheesy, but I can't help but love it!

love cats 173_2

Okay, now I am totally adding some audiobooks to my library list. And for the rest of the round robin interviews, check out Audrey's Q&A with illustrator Dallion McGregor here.
And Dallion's interview with Ellen Murray. Ellen's interview with Marsha Riti. And Marsha's chat with Tiffanny Varga.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A quick sketch

Trying to get back in the swing of painting again, and here's a warm-up based on a photo above my desk (Butchart Gardens in Victoria). Ah, to be walking through an autumnal garden...but I'd just be just as happy weather-wise to be here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I may like the color orange

I have been such a neglectful blogger these past couple of months as my life has been taken over by house stuff, but now things have slowed down to a manageable level. Which means I have time to take photos and blog and draw and read my rss feed. I'm easing back into it with some photos of orange items in my house and yard, inspired by a grapefruit-scented candle I bought for the house (currently on the market). Next up: back to my studio and paintbrushes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Apes and Monkeys

white-faced sakis
More SA Zoo stuff. Top: fast-moving white cheeked gibbons don't keep still for sketches; Lower: White-faced sakis (only males have white sideburns). The zoo greeter stopped by while we were sketching to tell us the difference between apes and monkeys: tails.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A sketch day at the zoo

dwarf caiman
Had a lovely little illustrator field trip to the San Antonio Zoo on Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A different painting medium

So, this is what I would love to be painting, with watercolors.
But in getting the house ready to sell, I'm working in latex housepaint instead, with an eggshell sheen. It's definitely satisfying to see the end result, but my illustration and blogging life are on hold for the next couple of weeks.

Before (the only dark color in the house):
The scary middle bit: