Friday, July 3, 2015

The Tate Britain

This week I am in London attending MineCon with my husband. It's been extremely hot here, like 95 degrees, and apparently the Brits are not accustomed to using air conditioning, so between the heat and the jetlag I'm pretty tired.

Still, I've been taking every opportunity to visit museums and galleries while I'm here. The Tate Britain was particularly awe-inspiring. I skipped right past the rooms full of modern art and went straight for the good stuff.

When I entered this room I was so excited I almost cried.

Oh man oh man oh man

"Ophelia" by Sir John Everett Millais, 1852

What's this??? Waterhouse and Sargent on the same wall????

"The Lady of Shalott" by John William Waterhouse, 1888

I've seen this painting many, many times - it's possibly Waterhouse's most famous piece. However, seeing it in person made me "see" it for the first time. The delicate quality of the evening light, just the last hint of sunlight coming from behind the distant hill, especially impressed me.

"Mrs Carl Meyer and Her Children"by John Singer Sargent, 1896

This is my very favorite Sargent painting, and I was thrilled to see it in person. Some gallery visitors just glanced at it and walked on by and I was like WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??

If you're ever in London, do not miss the Tate Britain!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Event Schedule

This year I plan to be at artist alley tables all up and down the west coast of the US! If you're going to be at any of these events I hope you'll stop by my table and say hi.

Rose City Comic Con, Portland OR - Sept 19-20

APE (Alternative Press Expo) San Jose CA - Oct 3-4

GeekGirl Con, Seattle WA - Oct 10-11 

NewCon PDX, Portland OR - Jan 15-17 2016

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ranger in Time: Danger in Ancient Rome interiors

Ranger in Time: Danger in Ancient Rome is the second book in the Ranger in Time series, and it contains 15 interior illustrations by yours truly. I'm going to show you the process behind a few of them.

This blog post is going to contain both pride and embarrassment for me.

Pride, because I consider these illustrations to be some of my best work. Seriously, I put so much time and love into this book. I wish I could show you all the illustrations, but I'm probably not supposed to post them all online. Just go and buy the book!

Embarrassment because I'm about to show you some very silly photos of me posing.

The main character of Danger in Ancient Rome is Marcus, an orphan who is enslaved at the gladiator school. Naturally, he's a pretty serious kid. For the first image in the book, I showed a closeup of Marcus so we could see his serious and determined nature. To get the foreshortening of the arm and the twisting of the body, I took a reference photo.

I once again transformed myself into Marcus as I defended myself from a lion underneath the Colosseum.

And again, when the other character, Quintus, is facing off against a gladiator for the very first time. (I'm really getting my money's worth out of this toy sword.)

It feels kind of like a superpower, being able to transform myself into anyone, anywhere, anytime.

But in one illustration, my superpowers met their match.

The chapter called for a scene of slaves turning a contraption underneath the Colosseum floor. I wanted to show some big guys with beefy arms pushing this thing around. So I took this reference photo.

I tried drawing myself as a guy with broad shoulders and muscles, real muscles, not these weak little things that barely keep my arms from falling off the sides of my body. But it was just too much of a stretch. The drawing looked very weird.

I remembered that my friend and fellow artist Young Kim said that he had been working out lately. Young looks exactly like this:

I asked him if he could please take a photo reference for me, showing him the pose. And boy did he deliver!

Finally I could draw my slave guys:

You know someone is a true friend when they allow you to turn them into a slave. Thanks a bunch, Young!

While working on these drawings I had the Gladiator movie or soundtrack running in the background almost continuously. When I sent these finished drawings to the Scholastic art director, I wrote in the email "Are you not entertained???" She wrote back, "Not only am I entertained, I am impressed!" So....I'm not sure she got the reference.

Ranger in Time: Danger in Ancient Rome is available on June 30th!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ranger in Time: Danger in Ancient Rome!

The second book in the Ranger in Time series is available on June 30th! Last time Ranger walked the Oregon Trail - this time he is facing the dangers of the Roman coliseum!

The book centers around a slave boy, Marcus, who works at the gladiator school. When a teenage gladiator-in-training finds himself in over his head, Marcus takes it upon himself to prepare him for his first fight. Meanwhile Ranger helps the two boys navigate various dangers, such as the wild animals of the coliseum.  Like all of the Ranger in Time books, this early middle-grade book packs quite an emotional wallop and an abundance of historical details for its size.

For the cover, the editors at Scholastic asked me to depict Ranger inside the Coliseum, with gladiators and a lion, but no actual violence taking place. Like the previous cover in the series, Ranger would be running directly towards the viewer, a look of determination (one might say, dogged determination) on his face.

The editors liked Ranger's second pose, however they changed their mind about the presence of the lion, saying it was too great of a threat to a golden retriever. They asked me to put in a chariot instead. I drew a few different angles for the background, and moved the action a little further back so Ranger wouldn't appear to be in immediate danger.

Still the editors weren't quite seeing what they needed. They asked for a few more roughs. Running out of ideas, I did a quick sketch of an exterior coliseum scene.

I didn't think the editors were going to go for that one, because the book is called "Danger in Ancient Rome" and this scene had no danger. But guess which one they picked?

This is the color rough I sent in. The editors asked me to add in some grass, to bring more color to the scene. They also asked me to move the child's arm, because "it looks like it's going up Ranger's butt."

I'm glad they caught that, because you know little kids definitely would.

Here he is on the cover, designed by Ellen Duda.

Ranger in Time: Danger in Ancient Rome is available on June 30th! The book also contains 15 interior illustrations by me, which I will blog about on Thursday.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Helpful Links for Illustrators

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Book cover: The Emerald Dragon

This is a book cover I did for Annie's Publishing - the second in a series called Creative Girls Enchanted Adventures. The books are about a group of pre-teen girls who do crafts and discover a portal to a magical kingdom where their crafts have magical powers.

This project started out with a bit of dilemma: the book was called the Emerald Dragon, however, the previous cover in the series also happened to have a large green dragon on it. 

So the first requirement was to depict or suggest a dragon without repeating the first cover. Also, the illustration needed to feature a girl who does needlepoint as her craft. The book also contains creatures called "little people," who are kind of like little green-skinned elves with feathers. "Just do the best you can with that," the art director laughed.

The first two roughs I tried depicting the dragon as a shadow looming over the characters. In the third rough, I depicted a scene from the story where the dragon comes to life out of the girl's needlepoint.

The AD liked the third rough, but said that the dragon needed to be much, much bigger and more menacing. Not TOO menacing, of course, but he is the bad guy of the book.
In the color rough I grounded the characters by adding in some grass details.

Next was the fun part: finishing up the painting!

I was super excited to receive printed copies of both books!

If you're interested in reading Creative Girls Enchanted Adventures, you can find them on Annie's website, or on Amazon.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Studio Tour

After six months of traveling and setting up my laptop on people's dining tables and coffee tables, I'm absurdly excited to have my own art station once again. Even though my "studio" is just a corner of my bedroom, (my husband took this photo while kneeling on our bed) I'm still going to go over every inch of it with you BECAUSE I FINALLY HAVE A STUDIO AGAIN YOU GUYS! *happy dance*

Behold the glory of my standing desk!

This standing desk is just a cheap desk from IKEA with extra-long legs. The monitor is propped up on a stand and some books. When my legs get tired, I use the bar stool. (If you're interested in setting up your own standing desk, buying a tall chair is much cheaper than buying an adjustable-height desk.)

This print is kind of a long story. I post my illustrations on the website Storybird so that children and teens can use them to write books. (For more info about Storybird, see this 2014 blog post.) The staff at Storybird particularly liked this illustration because it expresses imagination and creativity, so last year they licensed it for a print and sent it out to people as a Christmas gift.

The painting on the wall is an original oil by my friend Inkyung Lee. It depicts a corner of San Francisco, one of the best cities in the world. This is one of my most prized possessions.

On the dresser I have some of my recent books.

In the shelf are some of my favorite reference books. Color and Light and Imaginative Realism by James Gurney are really, really good.

More of my favorite books. Yes, I own a book written by William Shatner. And yes, that does make me awesome.

This deer was a gift from the chief of a Maori tribe in New Zealand. Not really. I got it on a post-holiday sale at Kohl's. I just really like deer things.

The walls are a little sparse at the moment, but I'll probably start taping things to them soon. I have a tendency to do that.

Thanks for indulging me on what was surely an underwhelming studio tour!
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