Gourds and Kings

I am on vacation and am relaxing a little. But to prepare for a new season of art and studying, I am also taking some online drawing classes. You can always learn something new.

I also found a gourd that we had in our guest room. My parents grew it last summer and dried it, I got to paint it. I went with an African-inspired pattern, though I am aware that there are many different “African” art styles from different cultures. Not trying to copy a particular look, just having fun with patterns here :)

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And I also am getting further along in designing the characters for my book “Somehow Something is Missing!”.  I did some work on the king character, trying to figure out his colors, shapes and facial expressions. I have a clearer idea what he will look like, but it’s not 100% set yet. They say that you should draw at least 100 versions of your character before settling for a design. I think that’s pretty accurate. I did about that much, maybe not quite. But I’m getting close. :)

And for good measure, here are some pictures of the finished palette shelf and of a hawk mask that I made. (Because, hawks are awsome ;) )

The Illustrations are done!

I will start school on Monday again. I had several open projects to finish and am glad that they are coming together. One of the major projects was an illustration commission which consists of 10 images. And it’s done! :)

It took a lot of planning and work, but I am glad for the results. This was an experience in following through and in challenging yourself further than before. One of those hard but good experiences. :)

Where do you challenge yourself in your life? Where are you being pushed further than before? I hope those hard experiences end up being good experiences. Have a great day!

A Train, a Letter, and a Strange Building

The illustrations are coming along and these are the updates. Three more illustrations to go for this project!

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A strange but friendly Place
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A Letter and a Train Ride

Meeting other Artists!

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Today I went to a critique group for children’s book authors/illustrators in Stuttgart for the first time. I had connected to them via facebook and was excited for the day ahead. I had bought the train ticket, made sure I was at the station early and that I had everything ready.

But things don’t go as we plan them.

I knew that it would take a while to get from my house to the Stuttgart central station, but there were some unexpected train delays, so that it took me 2,5h instead of 1,5h to get there. The delays and circumstances were so confusing, in fact, that half-way through the journey, I found myself waiting on a cold bench in a small station for the next connecting train, all together questioning the sanity of my endeavor.

But when I finally did arrive at the Stuttgart Library, the “endeavor’s” sanity was restored and I could immediately see that it was worth the trouble. The meeting was inside the children’s book section on the 2nd floor, where we were a total of 10 authors. Some wrote for younger children, others for older children, some were also illustrators. We had people from all sorts of backrounds, ages and ranges. All of them creative.

We split up into 2 groups and looked over each other’s manuscripts and illustations and gave each other feedback. I found it very inspiring and fun!
Afterwards we had lunch at an Asian restaurant across the way from the library. And a few interesting conversations and encouragements later, I made my way back home.

Feedback and other artists are encouragement, and encouragement is encouraging :)
I hope you have people to inspire you where ever you’re at, it really helps. It can often feel easier to “do your own thing” and ignore feedback, but in the end I think it is better to have an honest critique, even if you don’t agree with all that was said. You learn to not only take feedback, but also give feedback, in a considerate but honest way.
So thanks to all the “critics” out there! And thanks to people who dare to be creative. And to everyone else: thanks for reading and for being “you”.

In that sense, be inspired, and have a great day!

Illustration Progress!

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Family Photos
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For my story “When you get Yourself a Dinosaur”

I am working on a project about a girl in Vietnam. She’s the girl in the green shirt, and the current illustration shows her family pictures.

I am simultaneously trying to finish up the illustrations for my story “When you get Yourself a Dinosaur”. My goal is to finish them by April 10th, because there is an illustration contest coming up for that deadline. It might work, it might not, but one can try  :)

Back Home: Work, and a Lesson in Gratitude

It’s Spring Break, so I’m visiting my parents for 3 weeks. I’m staying in the new guest room (which used to be my room) and I have my own little desk to work at. Since I need to do some illustration work, the desk is fully occupied by my graphic tablet and the laptop.

My parents have a big garden and I love to help take care of it when I’m there. So yesterday I spent the morning by cutting back plants and burning the dead stuff in the fire. There’s more to do, but I think I cleared about 300m² (about 3200ft²) of surface :)

The illustrations for my current project are progressing well. I have 3 done, 7 to go. I’m really enjoying all the colors :)

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My mom and I will be going to Albania on thursday, for 4 days. She is a leader in a local MOPS-group (mothers of pre-schoolers) here in Heidelberg and there is a MOPS-conference in Tirana (the capitol of Albania). I’m just along for the ride. We might see the art museum and the history museum, as well as the coast. It will be fun!

All of this stuff is really cool, but I am also humbled by it, because I am reminded that none of it can be taken for granted:
As a leader in MOPS, my mom is in contact with other group leaders, including one leader in Uganda. The lady in Uganda leads a group of single teen moms in Kampala, as well as a group in a small village. They are among the poorest of the country. Most of their houses don’t have electricity or running water, and many women have never learned to read or to speak English. The lack of hygiene leads to many diseases, and people die of things like diharrea or malaria. By German or American standards, they have nothing.
But their leader is coming here in June, and my mom is going to train her how to garden and make mosquito repellent soap. The leader will then teach her group these skills, so they can have acess to soap, sell some of it, and supplement their diet with vegetables.
What we consider “nothing special” can make all the difference for someone else!
And another thing is amazing: The group is making beeds and an African shirt for my mom, out of gratitude, and you can’t stop them from doing so. The poor are the most generous, they give even when they have nothing.
They are poor, but in their generosity and faith and love, they are rich.
I have high respect for these women and they are teaching me a lot, even if I have never met them before.

Where do you feel like life is tough? Where can you feel grateful? Where can you recognize a need in other people and support them? Those are the thoughts for now. Have a great day!

 

First Illustration on the new Cintiq!

I got a comission for 10 illustrations and have the priviledge of using my new graphic tablet for the job. I am getting used to the cintiq and can say that I really enjoy it so far.

Here’s the first illustration, showing the main character’s family in Hanoi, Vietnam. I’m really excited about this project and about the rest of the work! I have so much to learn, but I have also learned a lot just by painting this piece. Practice makes perfect!

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Where have you felt good about achieving something? What kind of things did you get excited about recently? Leave a comment if you like, and have a great day!

A New Graphic Tablet: Tool or Toy…

I got a new Grapfic Tablet as a late Christmas present, and just set it up yesterday! It’s a Wacom Cintiq 22 HD, huge, and amazing! Even if these tablets are quite pricy (My parents graciously paid half of the price, I pay the rest), I can say it’s worth the money. Before this tablet I had a Wacom Bamboo Fun, which is a much smaller tablet. It has served me well for the last 10 years, but I’m loving the upgrade :)

I will have to resist the urge to spend too much time on this tablet, though, because I have 2 more exams to study for. Then, in Februrary, it’s about finishing a couple illustration projects. Should be fun!

A little bit of Art in Church…

I started my studies in theology a couple of weeks ago. The classes are really interesting and I already have some great new friends. But I also am keeping up the art side of things, even if I’d like to do more. Here are some updates:

  • The Kasperle mask turned out very well, so now I’m making a few copies to sell. Right now I’m painting mask #2 and doing some sculpting on mask #3
  • Yesterday we had a guest speaker talk about the role of architecture in spirituality/church life. It was a very interesting presentation. And afterwards I got to talk to the speaker. He is the head of Christian Architecture and Art in Germany, so he knows a lot about art. And he’s also written a few children’s books, so we had a lot to talk about. The connection is there now, who knows what will come of that. Either way it was really cool! :)
  • There’s going to be a worship night at our school tomorrow (like a church service). During the service there will be a part where we sing songs and pray. And while that is going on I will also be praying and express that through painting. I am looking forward to that :)

 

Some Sketches for “Chasing Chickens”

I started sketching for my story “Chasing Chickens”, getting some ideas in for the main characters.

The chickens are loose! But why, what do they want, and how do you get them back to the farm? After chasing the chickens all over town, it turns out they’re on strike! When the farmer promises better treats, they come to reason. Thank goodness! All is well now, but whether mom will believe what happened, is another story…

These are the main characters:

  • “the mayor” is a big guy, fat and has cheery eyes
  • “the farmer” is modeled after the painter Van Gogh, but softened up a little. A bit nervous, awkward, well-meaning
  • “Dan” (the narrator’s best friend), about 6-7 years old. A white kid, slightly self-important, curious
  • “Gabe” (the narrator), about 5-6 years old. A black kid, fit, curious, looks up to Dan
  • “the Chickens”. mischievous, smart, demanding

 

 

 

Possibly my last “real life”-Illustration!

This is a picture of an illustration I got done yesterday. I had it hanging on my drawing board for almost 2 months, but yesterday I decided to force myself to finish it. It’s part of my book “When you get Yourself a Dinosaur” and is done as a paper collage with acrylics, markers and chalk. I will be taking good-quality photos of all my art soon, but for now this is the image that I’ve got.

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“And don’t even think about using a ladder to get your kite out of the tree. When my kite gets stuck, I have Zeep get it for me.”

This will probably be the last illustration that I actually do with “real” materials: I want to get a big graphic tablet (a “Wacom Cinitq 24HD Touch” to be exact) and start doing illustrations digitally. The reason is that real collages take too much time and effort to do on a commercial scale, even if you are making big images. By contrast, you can make digital images “look real”,  and this is much easier to work with: Faster, more flexible (you can make changes) and easy to distribute (printing, publishers, social media…).

So apart from occasional postcards or stuff like that, this is it. I will be putting my paper and the art supplies in storage. My room will be slighty less cluttered and I won’t need as much space for paper in the trash can. But learning to copy this look in Photoshop will be a challenge and there’s just something about holding the paper in your hand that I will miss. I’m not longing for the “good old days” or anything, I am grateful for the advancement in technology. I just appreciate the qualities of “real” materials. There is good and bad things about both working methods, I guess I’m just going from one good thing to the next. So good-bye “reality”, hello “digital world”.

Ready to go!

I got my manuscript ready to send to 10 different publishers by mail and another 3 online.  Each of the envelopes includes a query letter (a formal way to ask them to take a look), a short biography, the manuscript, in some cases a German translation and several copies of the illustrations and sketches.

The manuscripts will be sent all over Germany, one to the UK and another to the US (Michigan). You have to send out a lot of submissions, since only 5-10% of manuscripts get accepted. Dr Seuss even had to send 28 submissions before he got accepted with his first children’s book. Having endurance and determination pays off in this business!

I am confident and not in a big hurry. Seeing the stuff looking so nice is amazing!

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Making a Mess to get to a Result

When I work on art (or anything, really), I find myself messing up my surroundings quite a bit. But you can’t get a result if you won’t get your hands dirty, so I’m ok with that. Right now my room looks like a battle field, but that’s because I’m working on some children’s book illustrations (collage and paint). I want to submit my book “When you get yourself a Dinosaur” to publishers, including some example illustrations. You need 3 full color images and some sketches, I’ve got 2 out of 3 images done, the third is “in the works”.

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my room as a battle field

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dinosaur-title(web)

 

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sketch for illustration 3

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The Missing Pictures

Yesterday I shared a bit of what I’ve been up to. The camera was lost, now it’s found, so here are the missing pictures!

 

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back yard mural, a work in progress!

 

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ark of the covenant, 1st coat of papermaché
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when you get yourself a dinosaur, concept art: book cover

New Paintings!

For this spring break I challenged myself to complete 5 oil paintings and enter an illustration contest.

As far as oil paintings go I finished one and am working on the second picture. The finished one is called “Mountain Town Café” and is about 3’x4′ in size. Number two is not titled yet.

I ran out of time for the contest, but I did manage to complete an illustration in the style and tone of the project. The contest is every 2 years, so that gives me plenty of time to come up with detailed concept sketches, characters and of course the final illustrations.

So I guess you don’t always end up doing what you set out for, but it’s still good to try to touch the sky isn’t it? You get more done than if you hadn’t tried.

What kind of goals do you set up for yourselves? Leave a comment if you like, I’d be interested to hear about them!

 

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Mountain Town Cafe (2015) -$1200-

 

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Illustration “Somehow something is missing!” (2015) -$200-