July

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Good afternoon from our spot in these mountains, where it’s full summer–it’s dry, and although the creek is still running, it is a bit low. Our apple tree, durable green soul, is laden with fruit; perhaps this will be the year I make apple cider. The roses are blooming profusely, and the sage and the lupine are also flourishing.

Above is a detail of a much larger graphite drawing that will appear in an upcoming publication…it’s a bit gruesome–more so than a lot of my work–but the tale for which this drawing was created is raw, in-your-face, and bloody. Believe me, it could have been a much more graphic illustration (I did consider it). The full image is in a different format than most commissions I am given, as well, so it was an unusual job and great fun to do. I’ll post more about this when I can.

The past few months have been great in most ways. My companion and I have been enjoying visits with family and friends whenever we can; we have been hiking longer distances again, after a break. It’s the season for summer fruits and veggies, so we have been relishing those. I’m determined to get back into doing yoga. Last year I enrolled in an excellent class as a beginner, and–for several reasons–haven’t gotten back to those sessions. I miss it, so must learn to keep up the discipline on my own. I’ve been wanting to get things in general settled: sorting and organizing materials in my studio so all the projects in progress–all in different media, both personal and commissioned–can be done in an orderly way, and culling stuff from the house that I no longer want or need. I’ve been going through my own head, with a similar approach…it’s all house-cleaning of a sort. Some articles suggest that a messy work space indicates particularly high intelligence–so I’m reluctant to admit that I prefer things to be aligned, dust-free, sorted like-with-like, allowing lots of empty table and desk space, so things have room to happen…but there it is.

There are several private commissions in progress right now, and one wonderful book project has just been set in motion, which will be announced/published in the first quarter of 2017. I hope by this Fall that a project which has been in the works for quite a while will finally be announced…it’s exciting news for our studio, and I look forward to sharing that with you. I’m also working on oil paintings; there are currently eight of them in progress, in various stages of completion and with decidedly various levels of success. I am falling in love with the process and the medium, and hope to spiff up my portfolio and get some nice jobs in the coming years…maybe find some gallery representation and/or an agent along the way.

Here is one oil sketch I’ve been working on as part of my study:

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Rusty water tank – Mt. Diablo Hike

I’d best get back to the work at hand, but one last bit of news: a cat has shown up at our place–so friendly, it seems that he’s been abandoned. We’ve looked at bulletin boards, missing pet posters, etc. and we’ve found no one so far who is claiming or looking for him. He’s getting taken care of now, and it seems he will stay with us–my husband’s rather fond of him, too. Kitty has had most of his shots, and will have the last of his vaccinations when he’s neutered later this month. He loves to hang out with me in the studio, and follows us when we’re out in the yard…he has a huge purr, and is talkative; he is happy to sleep (usually upside-down) on the rug here while I work. He joins a neighborhood cat, Purrsephone, a beautiful, feisty tortoiseshell kitty who spends a lot of her time here at our place, and with a kind neighbor lady who also feeds, shelters, and grooms her. This is Mr. Purrsival, Morale Officer and Spider-Catcher for Rowan Studio, shown on the job:

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Until next time, please be careful out there; be kind to yourselves, and each other; and don’t forget to slow down and enjoy things…savor life.


April

Spring is here: the calla lilies are blooming, as are the hawthorne trees, and the lilacs; the roses are ready to pop, too. The grass is growing faster than I can believe, as are the weeds. I’ll get to those–working in the garden is one of my favorite activities–but this week I have to concentrate on finishing some commissions.

In the midst of a very busy time for my companion and me, it was very nice to see this post from Brian Freeman of Cemetery Dance Publications: http://www.brianjamesfreeman.com/2016/04/08/erin-wells-artwork-for-cemetery-dance-7475/#comments  Many thanks to Brian and Mindy at CD. I love my job, and it’s always good to know that clients are happy with my drawings. Hopefully a lot of readers like them too, although no one can please everyone all the time. So here’s the drawing for the upcoming issue of Cemetery Dance Magazine: a small, fuzzy, innocent (?) kitten.

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This week I hope to finish an anthology project (still unannounced by the publisher, so I won’t reveal any details yet), and I’m working on an 18″ x 24″ oil painting–a personal work–and a smaller oil commission, which is great fun. I’m quite happy here in the woods, listening to music and drinking tea and painting and living here with Michael and all our crazy animals.

Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other, and read a lot of good books!


February

Greetings from the mountains, where it’s Spring for sure: our first daffodil of the season popped out a couple days ago; the snowdrops and the hyacinths are blooming like crazy. The grass, which was dry and brown for much of last Spring and Summer, is back with gusto: I will actually have to mow and rake this week.

Meanwhile, I’m working on a series of fifteen illustrations for an upcoming anthology; an oil painting for a private collector; a couple remarque projects are in the works, and I’m doing some art for our friends’ wedding in March. I have many paintings and other projects sketched, notes made, etc. and–after the current commissions are complete–I’ll be diving into those full-time. I’ll be doing as much art as I can without neglecting my partner (he’s at least as busy as I), letting the cats starve, or letting the house and yard go to Hell. I cannot fathom how people with bipedal children get much at all other than childcare accomplished, if they don’t have a nanny or a helper…it’s busy enough with what we have on our plate. I’m happy doing what we are doing: it’s really all right!

The Dark Tower group is offering another of my paintings in their annual fundraiser–along with the watercolor for the Stephen King Limited chapbook that was shown in a previous post, we’re donating this oil study of Pennywise, as a benefit to The Haven Foundation:

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The auction is active–as of this writing–for another week, and you can find the link here if you’d like to bid: http://www.ebay.com/itm/-/201527207419 All of the proceeds from the sale of this oil study will benefit The Haven Foundation.

Heading back to work now: there are lots of good things happening this year, so far, and I hope it may continue. We’ll have some very exciting news to share soon: probably next month. In the meantime, be careful out there, everyone, and try to be kind to one another…’til next time. Cheers! (raising coffee cup…whoops, time for more coffee)


Haven Foundation

Greetings from very soggy northern California. My goodness, it’s been raining! After a few years of drought, our place has finally stopped soaking up the rain; the creeks and rivers are rushing again, and there are sheets of water (and–here and there–rocks and mud and trees) flowing across our local highways. Our yard is more swampy than yardy. We’re happy for the rain, but also quite thankful for our sump pump.

So–in the middle of rainstorms, I’m working on a few projects, including a couple auctions of artwork for charity. Please check out the Haven Foundation, an organization founded by author Stephen King, to assist freelance creative people who have found themselves unable to work due to accident or disease. Here’s the link: http://www.thehavenfdn.org/   A community of Stephen King fans and collectors at The Dark Tower (http://www.thedarktower.org) works hard every year to generate funds for the Haven Foundation, and this year I’ll be donating at least two pieces of artwork for their auction. The first, which will be soon be offered on eBay, is this cover artwork for Cemetery Dance Publications’ chapbook by Kevin Quigley, Stephen King Limited #1. For more information, see http://www.thedarktower.org — this organization gives the Haven Foundation a good deal of help, and I’m honored to be part of the effort.

 

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While the wind is picking up outside, and the next band of rain starts to come through, I’m going to do a bit more drawing, and make something hearty and comforting for supper; we’ll get the fireplace going, and hunker down for the night with a good book and several cats. I hope you’re all warm and cozy.


Happy New Year!

It’s frosty here in the mornings–40s or 50s at the warmest point of the day. It’s “winter,” and yet it feels like spring to me, as I have not forgotten–nor am I likely ever to forget–the true winters of the Midwest where I grew up. Frost, some flurries? Rain and cold mud? That’s more like March, not January. That said, I’ve become one of those winter wimps: now acclimated to Northern California, I’m not sure I could stand below-zero commutes over icy roads anymore.

So here I sit in the cozy studio, with the last of today’s coffee in a Kliban cat mug (the tabby sits on a little wooden stool and plays his six-string and sings, “Love to eat them mousies; mousies what I love to eat! Bite they little heads off, nibble on they tiny feet!”) and look at what’s going on as we head into 2016. Three book projects are in the works: an anthology with fifteen stories, a likely Lovecraft-inspired book in the next month or two, and one more project that will be announced in March. I will be re-enrolling at the local art co-op the first week of January, and have vowed to work on my figure drawing, which needs work!

Last evening I attended one of the life drawing sessions–here are two quick studies, done in 10 minutes or less:

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I’ve let myself get way too far out of practice drawing figures from life…working last night, I noted that I must remind myself to work over the entire figure–the underlying gesture and weight, the foundation of basic solid forms and shadow shapes–before addressing finer shifts in value or overlapping forms. It was great fun getting back to drawing this way, though, and sticking with a regular life drawing practice will improve my work in general.

Working on painting is also exciting. I’ve experimented with oil paint before, but haven’t been confident with the medium. I’d like to be able to take different approaches, depending on the project at hand: both the traditional grisaille underpainting-to-color technique, as well as a more spontaneous alla prima method, appeal to me. Here’s a detail of an oil study of an evil clown, and one of a work in progress using a sepia underpainting:

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Man, that’s ugly…he ain’t right!

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Memories, dreams, and time all mixed up in my head…

That’s what’s going on here at the moment…I’m hibernating and working, and very happy with that cycle for now. Raising my coffee mug: here’s hoping that this year brings the world more peace, happiness, and good health; more understanding and grace. So may it be. Take care, fellow travelers, and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 


Fall Shifting to Winter

It’s been quite a while since I last posted…please pardon the long absence. We’ve been working hard, my buddy and I. We fixed up our studio space, moved stuff around so I can paint here without stinking up the house (and making the cats sneeze) with paint and pastel dust. In general this will be a very busy year: we’re wrapping up several projects, and starting quite a few new ones.

In the studio, I’m working to learn new techniques, and attempting to develop a better portfolio. In the meantime, I’m joining (or rejoining, as the case may be) local arts groups and cooperative galleries, and generally expanding the scope of my work. Eventually I hope to add writing to the mix, but that’s for later, if it happens at all.

Too often, I find myself making task lists that are bound to make me feel like a failure at the end of the day: a dozen or more items, go-go-go and maybe half of them done by the time I have to head to sleep; maybe less than that. I’m trying to train myself to keep working hard, but to keep personal expectations realistic from day to day, so I am productive, yet sane and positive. A good friend, who’s also an excellent certified yoga instructor, is teaching me beginning yoga: that does help me stay focused and balanced in the midst of everything thrown our way by current events and personal life. Nothing makes me happier than making art, writing,  reading, and spending time with family and friends, so I hope to do more of those things this year and less of other things (worrying, letting myself read too much online news, etc.)

So, with new endeavors in mind, below are a few images from current and recent projects. We’ll have exciting news, most likely around March 2016. I’ll post more soon; until then, be well, take it easy, and please be kind to one another.

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Detail from a recent oil painting, a personal work

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“House Fire,” for a story by Robert McCammon

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“Great Costume!” — for an upcoming book

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“Halloween Tree,” for an upcoming book


A Week of Lovecraftian Art, an Evil Drooling Clown, and Killer Trucks–What’s Next?

Well! It’s been an interesting, colorful, tiring couple of weeks. I think work is finished, at this point, for the eerie and beautiful new book from David Barker and W.H. Pugmire, The Revenant of Rebecca Pascal. These authors were excellent collaborators, and had helpful and constructive comments to steer the art in a direction that would complement their story. It’s a privilege to work with these fellows, and with Joe Morey, the publisher at Dark Renaissance Books. The design work will be done by F.J. Bergmann. I felt like I was a bit slow with the artwork, but every job seems to have some ‘push’ to it, and we have met our deadline to have the book in production by the end of the month, so I think all is well. I can’t wait to see this book in person, it’s going to be a keeper. Here are a couple of the finished interior illustrations:

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A teacher of mine, who does truly wonderful, unique artwork for Terry Pratchett’s books, recently finished a project for which (if I remember correctly) he had almost an entire month to work on each image! What a dream that would be…for most of my projects it’s a week or less, per image, from initial sketch to finish; usually less. I tend to be a slow, deliberate worker, so sometimes I think I’m ill-suited for publishing in this way; there’s always someone new and hungry who’s faster, more skilled, or someone who’s all that and has a new “look,” or a new approach, or is a whiz at marketing, or whatever. However, for as long as I can keep exploring, learning, and expanding my artwork, I will continue to draw and paint: for publishing, and — as time goes on — for galleries. This article from the Muddy Colors website hits it right on the head: http://muddycolors.blogspot.com/2014/03/unsolicited-advice-4-of-4-great-kid.html  “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.” Au contraire: every day that my studio’s busy, I wonder that there is another book offered, or a private commission, or whatever it happens to be…I am so thankful for the work. I love books, and working with other artists, writers, and good publishers. It’s a dream come true. So if you are a client, or colleague, reading this–or someone who’s enjoyed a project I’ve illustrated, or purchased any of my artwork–thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This week my heart’s a bit more bedraggled than usual. Working through two large projects the past couple weeks was fine, but involved some pretty long hours, and (apologies to my patient husband) my having to pass on a couple social events. There was also the matter of someone backing their vehicle into our poor old Honda as I was driving down the road a few days ago, which required more time for paperwork, phone calls (which I loathe), e-mails, and a trip to a local body shop, and quite a bit less for the studio in the meantime, so I had to try to play one of my least-favorite games, “Catch-Up!” Whether or not the trusty Honda will live is yet to be seen; it is resting under a tarp on the driveway right now, so the uncommon, very-much-welcome March rain does not leak into the bent door and wreck the interior, as well.

On a more positive note, a recent collaboration with Dick Olson, a maker of fine wooden book-cases, yielded a very nice item for a happy collector: ol’ Pennywise–ol’ Barrens Breath, the Canal Creeper–makes an appearance in an engraving on the front of the box, and in this painting displayed inside the lid:

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The rest of this week I’ll be continuing to draw the remaining remarques for Cemetery Dance, which will be a nice change…I like to go from drawing to painting and back again. I better get to it. Be well, and be careful out there, y’all.


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