Monday, October 25, 2010

Contests Motivate Me

Contests have a way of motivating me to clean up my one-line pitch, query, and first page of my novel. Here is a contest from the Guide to Literary Agent blog:

The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of young adult fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with your entry.

One of my writing partners just signed with an agent due to this kind of contest. Read an interview with a very talented, very deserving, Nancy Herman

Good Luck on the GLA contest!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Inspiring Animals in Acrylic Dots

I am a part of a wonderful exhibit in Danville, California. The exhibit is called "Once Upon a Book," and is featuring the art of children's book illustrators. The coordinator asked if I would explain my inspiration and method, so I thought it would make a nice posting.

I began acrylic dot painting in 1992, after spending time in Australia. I found the Australian Aboriginal Acrylic Dot Paintings in museums and galleries inspirational. I was also inspired by mosaics during my Art History studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Over the past 18 years, my style has matured and become more focused on creating animals out of dots. My book, “Through Endangered Eyes – a poetic journey into the wild,” really got me out of my comfort zone and I found myself painting animals I would have never thought to paint.

I start off painting the background of my pieces. The most important element of my background color is that it must contrast from the lightest and darkest dots placed on top. In my latest paintings, I am painting landscapes around my animals. I intentionally make the landscape soft and usually paint it with a sponge. The dots pop out that much more when sitting on a soft background. I do a soft outline with a wax pencil of my animals. I like to start painting the face first and build out in proportion from there.

Chinese Alligator
 I use the handle or the butt of the paintbrush, not the bristled side. I dip it into the acrylic paint and then onto the canvas. Each dip gives me 3-5 dots. I leave space between my dots and rarely overlap them. My process takes a long time, but it is also very meditative. The Chinese Alligator is one of my favorite pieces. It was the first time I had painted a reptile and I fell in love with the textures the dots created on the beautiful alligator portrait. I can almost feel the folds of his skin around his neck.

The California Condor was inspired by the poem of my book. These birds, with a wingspan of 9 feet, are masterful flyers. I was at the Grand Canyon when I saw one, its shadow passed over my head. The shadow was so enormous it felt as if an airplane had passed over me, it was magnificent.

Lastly, the Snow Leopard, I started with a head portrait for my book, but it didn’t portray what the poem was focused on; its freezing environment and the leopard’s coat. So, I painted the piece you see now. I think big cats are my favorite animals to paint in dots, although my interest in other species is certainly changing how I feel about the challenge of painting other animals.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Desert Eyes Progress

Background to the Mexican Wolf painting for next book
Starting a painting is so intimidating, especially when it involves landscape. In order to achieve the quality of illustration I want, adding soft landscape is a must. I've learned over the years that the dotted animals pop out even more when siting on a more impressionistic background.
Just like any skill, I have to reacquaint myself with my paints and how I look at things. I laugh at myself because I started the sky backwards with the dark point at the horizon getting lighter as you go higher in the sky. Can I say, rookie? I fixed it, of course.

It's great to be back in the painting saddle again. I'm very excited about the next 16 paintings. Now the challenge will be balancing my time. Once I get started on something I get obsessive until its completion. I will remind myself that I created my last book while working full-time and having two babies.