Monday, July 20, 2009

CONS-- San Diego Comic Con is almost here

Cripes!!! How did this sneak up on me so quickly??? ARRRRGGHH! I'm once again, totally unprepared!!!

This year, sharing a booth with Diana Stein: #4821, in the Fantasy Illustrators section. "Lee and Stein" (thanks for changing that, Diana!). I will be there looking frantically unprepared with nothing to sell... so stop by and feel free laugh and point, or whatever. *sigh* O______o

Oh, what the heck, it's only money spent that I don't have and money unmade that I need... nothing new! At least it'll be a crazy, crowded, wild time! I'll have fun once I stop worrying about stuff that is too late to fix... *double-sigh*

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Illustration Master Class-- Day 6 & 7--Sat. & Sun. June 20-21

Saturday was our last painting day, but it was also full of lectures. Argh!

One of Rebecca Guay's originals sitting around in Studio A--

At 11am was a lecture by Shelly Bond, an Editor at Vertigo Comics. Ever since its inception, I've been a huge Vertigo fan. Even though my comic buying is way down, I still like some Vertigo lines, such as FABLES. So this was quite exciting for me.

Shelly talked about what went into the production of FABLES--script, pencils, etc. and about what she did as an editor, coordinating it all, making a guide for where the word balloons would go, overlooking the pencils and panels and general look of the pages. She showed examples of pages, talked about balance of positive and negative space, numbers of closeups per page, two-shots (2 characters in a frame, speaking to each other--and the need to vary the angles). Lettering. Inking (looking at page balance). Color ("color will not save black and white"). Covers (likes it graphically pleasing, tells a story, sense of motion).

Talked about where she found artists (web, published things, conventions). Tips for Portfolio (presentation neat and orderly, less than 10 images). Prefers getting postcards 4x a year rather than .jpgs via email (which I thought was interesting). Advice: Know your potential client (do your research), make yourself available (may be needed to fill in for someone in an emergency), go to conventions and know how to submit your work for reviews.

She was just FULL of interesting and specific information and advice about comics work.

Piece Rebecca Guay was working on--

After lunch, there was a lecture by David Saylor from Scholastic (publisher for US Harry Potter books, largest children's/YA publisher in the world). Talked about picture books (32pp, 16 spreads, typically), the graphics book line (doing a BONE novel by Jeff Smith). Talked about advances against royalties(usu. 1/2 up front), schedules, how children's tends to be a bit more stable in this sort of economy, about other rights (foreign--as in, they will try and sell them). Agents (depends on the agent). Showed samples of various projects/books he was involved with. Recommended: Society of Children's Book Illustrators. Portfolio: likes to see a strong portfolio, maybe a full book MS with illustrations or illustrations from a classic tale. Talked a bit about narrowing market for books--mostly Barnes and Nobles and Borders (maybe Target and Walmart) these days. Covers need to work for THEM--like maybe one guys working for B&N who calls all the shots.

Both Shelly and David were roaming about the Studios in the afternoon, looking and talking with students.

I'm pretty sure this was Donato's... it was being worked on in Studio B, upstairs, so I never saw him actually painting on it--

But a day or so later...!!!--

Sadly, I had a very slow painting day on Saturday. I guess all the lectures didn't help, either. There was more lectures to come, too. But I felt like I was slogging through molasses compared to the day before. Luckily, Donato came by to suggest using some purples in the shadows of the shield... I really had no clue about what reflective light colors to use! And I painted in some golds in her hair and on her dress... and a wee little boat in the distance (Arthur coming for Excalibur???). Her dress and feet and part of the sword and the shield are supposed to be under water, but I hadn't managed to work on that yet...

To my left was Mark, working on a Princess of Mars image--

Karen's Lady of the Lake painting (she was on Ruth's other side). Karen's only been painting for a few years, so I think she did a fantastic job during the class--

Diana's Princess of Mars cover painting--

Jennifer Oliver's lovely Lady of the Lake and Arthur--

Irene Gallo's lecture was after dinner at 7pm. She, of course, is the very well-known, award-winning Art Director for Tor Books (also Forge and Starscape). And she'd been involved with the IMC all week, taking pictures, talking, wearing L.A. William's suit of plate armor, etc. She says she finds artists through annuals such as Spectrum and Expose and Soc. of Illustrators, Mailers (postcards with links to websites), Networking and Conventions, Bookstores (seeing published work), online communities(conceptart, cga, gorilla), recs from other artists.

Portfolios: 8-12 pieces (you are hired on your WORST work), consistency important, show work that answers your client's problems, show work you want to do/get, show great figure work (figures in motion, multi-figures).

Websites: should update regularly, no pop-ups, no indecipherable thumbnails, keep it fast and easy and sharable. Watch over-doing water-marks. Interviews: Impress, don't embarass; don't apologize, don't argue critiques, thank you notes are excellent excuses for a reminder/sample. She likes art blogs, for ease of access.

Irene has an excellent blog on blogger. Lots of photos and posts on the IMC and other things. Google her to find it. (And scarily enough, she had one or two photos of me/my painting, identified by name, which totally freaks me out. Nah, not really. She was actually very fun and nice! ... still... wish I had finished killer piece to show, but ah, well--my competitive days are over... I just don't care as much now! I even sketched in her book, which is something I avoid like the plague... told her the story of how everyone sees those sketches, such as other artists and ADs and some sketches can just be horrible--and that I'd actually done one of those horrible sketches that you just want to tear out of a book, but can't--and it turned out the guy became an AD later!!! Nightmare!!! although he hired me, but still!!!)

Again, this was upstairs in the other studio... but I think Greg Manchess was starting another painting since he finished his group of Steampunk Oz piece. Definitely a Princess of Mars, this one--

Student--Steampunk Wizard of Oz--


A Lady of the Lake--

Charles Vess ran an unscheduled lecture/slidshow after midnight on Fantastic/Fairy Art--lots of illustrators who are not commonly seen, many from the golden age, a few modern. He just happened to have some images with him and was just running through what he had. Said he often gives similar shows, but swaps the images out, so it's different every time. Surprisingly, even though most of us were frantically trying to get as much painting done, since it was our last opportunity, the lecture room was pretty full! It was a nice break, actually. And we all loved seeing more images! (I took audio notes--still haven't transcribed any of those yet, so no details, sorry!)

I think pizza was ordered again, but I can't really remember! I know it was getting light whe I finally walked back to the dorm rooms!!! ...and there were still people in the studios painting...

Our dorm hall--

10-12 we had to clean up the studios, leaving only our paintings on the easels.

1-5PM Open Studios with public invited to view. Also Yolanda LeRoy, Editorial Director of CharlesBridge Publishing and Susan Sherman, Art Director of Children's Books at CharlesBridge Publishing were going around looking and talking with students.

Hall with our studios and lecture hall--

Also... we all had these lovely red-bound gold-embossed IMC-logo sketchbooks to take notes in. And to collect sketches in, apparently. It started that morning... I grabbed Charles Vess early! (a fairy on a wood/demon) I love his work so much! Casual-seeming lines started to form. And piles of sketchbooks. I tried not to go crazy, since I knew none of the instructors would want to do 80 or so sketches. I just tried to get a few. Also got one from Dan DosSantos (elf girl head) and Greg Manchess (dragon head). And I got a few random sketches from the other students.

There was a closing ceremony where students had organized to give gift packages to the instructors. And we'd all contributed sketches for Rebecca Guay, and signed cards to all of them, and for Sarah, Rebecca's assistant. I tried to write about how much some of these artists had influenced me in the past and how they continued to inspire me, but I doubt it came off half as well as I wish it did. They really are so amazing, there really aren't words!

Rebecca's work from the intro-video. She didn't give a lecture this year since there were just too many people speaking already--

Dinner was quiet. We were all exhausted! People were hanging out in the studios, still, afterwards, doing a bit of final clean-up, putting all the easels and chairs away, etc. And still sketching!!!

I was doing very scribbley dragon head sketches... they kept getting looser the later it got! I was SO tired... but in a good way... Also sad, and didn't want it to end, even though we were all cleaned up and just needed to sleep and pack up for flying out the next morning.

One of the students fell and badly sprained her ankle while running around trying to show her samples to the publishers on Sunday. Students accompanied her to the Emergency Room and made sure the CharlesBridge people saw her work and samples and got her painting and items back to the dorms, and grabbed dinner and breakfast the next day for her.

Otherwise, things slowly wound down. I took a shared ride to the airport on Monday (organized through the class forum, beforehand). Had flight delays and changes along the way, but made it home at midnight (three hours more if you don't count the time change), and slept all day on Tuesday.

And that was it!

I hope there is an IMC next year, and if there is, I'll certainly try to be there.

In the meantime, it's not quite over. They've told us we need to finish our paintings by Sept. 1. I still haven't worked on it, but am thinking about what I need to do on it...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Illustration Master Class-- Day Five--Fri. June 19

Sorry for the being slow with posting on this (Dad went into hospital briefly for an angioplasty--all is well, no worries). Anyway... back to the IMC! On Thurday, I'd finally got my image on board (Clayboard 18x24), so I tore through the underpainting... I had to pretty much be careful to keep the image since the non-pigment ink had floated off during the wet-mount method and was VERY faint (and green!--used to be black!). I used burnt sienna acrylics, I think. I'm usually a burnt umber type of person, but was thinking of Boris's and Julie Bell's lighter-toned underpainting...

Here I am looking a bit manically at Diana Harlan Stein who was taking the photo over my shoulder...

Finally, finally, finally... Friday, I actually squeezed out some oils... all brand-spanking-new W&N tubes. We had a list of basic colors to buy, and that's what I had. I was a bit confused about which mediums to use and tried linseed and turp with a smidgen of cobalt dryer... although I decided I didn't like the dryer since it totally seized up the paint way too quickly (I probably had used too much! --also, the stuff is horribly toxic). I was told that Boris and Julie didn't like using any mediums at all... and I was discovering that if I painted thinly enough, the oils would dry pretty well as it was. I still continued to use the linseed oil/turp mix, though.

Rebecca Guay was down in our Studio and she came by to paint a bit on the dress, saying that it was possible to glaze with white... she put a bit into the water and smudged it around, saying it could be misty-looking... That helped a LOT, since I totally suck at drapery (even with my photo-ref) and I didn't have a clear idea of how I wanted the painting to look. I usually don't work at all so high-key... it was weird (I was still totally at sea!), but cool (love trying new stuff!).

Basically, the underpainting, with some blue in the sky/distance (cobalt and ultramarine), some green in the leaves and some light flesh tones on her face and the thin layer of white on her dress... the white glaze over the underpainting created a sort of violet cast to the shadows. So yes, I caught up quite a bit in one day.

Greg Manchess and Scott Fischer did some duel-painting on Ruth's piece. It was amusing to watch and attracted a crowd of on-lookers--

There were putting in some color on the banners--

The after-lunch lecture was by Special Guest Jon Foster. We couldn't take photos or record. But in the general presentation that was shown the first day, and run again the last day, I snapped a few quick pictures of his (very recognizable) work, here's one--

He gave an amusing/interesting run-down of his past (community college, jobs, Parson's in NY, being OCD-ish, going to RISD, working in art store while looking for work... for years, finally getting stuff in Aboriginal SF mag., meeting other artists at cons, Spectrum 3--a big break for him, TSR, Wizards, Tor books, Dark Horse, Vertigo, National Geo., etc.)

He did the cover for Brandon Sanderson's MISTBORN, (which is where I first noticed his art, several years ago)--

And this book (which I also read, but can't remember who it's by... GREAT cover, though!--

And the sequel--

Dunno where this lovely piece is from--

He stayed to do a Digital Demo--a sketch of a head from ref., using Painter and Photoshop.

Boris and Julie presented the after-dinner lecture. No photos allowed, either. And wow, I was SO sleepy!!! but had to stay awake, of course! They do their underpainting in acrylic. Block in dark areas in oil, use turp as medium, pick off paint with turp. Use #1 W&N Ser.7 Round Sables for faces.

They've been together over 20 years, over 100 pieces done together. Found their body-building background very helpful.

by Julie (from the same instructor's art presentation)--

by Boris--

Late night in the Studio... Charles Vess inked his Lady of the Lake piece--

And started painting--

Student work, Studio A, Princess of Mars piece--

And another--

Student work, Digital--

Tired, but everyone was still painting until the wee hours of the morning. Money was collected and pizza was ordered again. This time I ordered a bottle of diet coke--which I totally needed (caffeine-wise!). Only one more painting day to go on Saturday before the showing of the work on Sunday, and the clean-up... Everyone was pretty frantic...


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Illustration Master Class-- Day Four--Thurs. June 18

During the class, I hadn't managed to get to sleep before 2 or 3am, so I started to skip breakfasts in order to sleep in to at least 8:30. I ran into town (well, across the street and down a block or two) to hit Starbuck's and the drug store to pick up some paper toweling since the studio had run out the day before, so I didn't want to count on it.

I had slapped another coat or two of matte medium on my board... too much in a hurry to sand the texture away. And all too soon it was Lunch. And after lunch--two special guests gave a presentation on Fantasy in Picture Books, children's book illustrators Dennis Nolan and Gary Lippincott.

From "Dinosaur Dream" (I think!), by Dennis Nolan--

Dennis Nolan presented his work first. Influences (from childhood onward): '50s Golden Books, Dr. Seuss, Rackham, Parrish, Little Nemo, Mad Magazine, Frazetta, Sendak, Jason and the Argonauts. He did a variety of jobs (magazine covers, album covers, book covers, etc.) before becoming more well-known for his picture book work.

From one of his earlier books, "Castle Builder," which was done all in pen and ink, stippling it all (he said he estimated the number of little dots he'd made at about 2 million).

Example of his making a model for reference--

Painting in progress... watercolors, I think--

Then there was Gary Lippincott--

Uses watercolors, liquid frisket (an art of its own, he said), works typically light to dark, back to front, wet washes to dry brush.

Example of in-progress (actually, unfinished) painting--

The after dinner presentation was by the wonderful Charles Vess, who did the art for the original graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman's "Stardust." I think he said he did this image before the book/story was finished--

Influences--Prince Valiant (comic strip), Beardsley, Pyle, Wyeth, Rackham, Dulac, Kay Nielsen, etc.
Example of painting progression--

In Studio B, Dan Dos Santos did a Life Portrait Demo, working on several quick monochromatic sketches first--

Then mixing colors--

Boris and Julie had moved up to Studio B to continue their paintings--

Greg Manchess had original art tacked to the walls of Studio A--

Charles Vess started working on his own version of the Lady of the Lake, penciled then inked within a day or so, and he also had originals on the walls of Studio A--

Students painting in Studio B, another Lady of the Lake--

... and one of the SF covers--

Working furiously, students in Studio A... Pizza was ordered around 10 or 11pm... work continued way into the morning hours (with all the presentations and demos, there was little other time to work, aside from all night, but the energy was high, although there were early-birds who slept and came in early in the morning. Most people were working traditionally whether they were digital artists or not, taking advantage of all the instructors who worked in oils, but there were also stations along the sides with tables for those working digitally--

To be continued... SEVERAL MORE DAYS TO COME!!!

I hope all the Americans had a fab 4th! Fireworks, music, picnics, barbeques... what's not to like???