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!

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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.

Autumn Dream
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.

Spring Cleaning, and Lots of New Art

This week I’m paring down my web presence to this blog, my art website (soon to be completely redesigned) and e-mail, with a sprinkling of Twitter. After years of using Facebook, its appeal suddenly and completely wore off: what I had previously enjoyed about that site, and found useful, was being lost in “Suggested Posts,” dropped messages, and increasingly obtuse user controls and filters. I feel better having left Facebook, although my partner may still see fit to maintain a page there for the studio. If he chooses to do that, it’s okay with me, but I will no longer be posting there.

New work is underway: a lot of it! I have all the commissions I can handle for the moment, although later in the spring, a couple more books are coming along (they’re not yet announced, so I think I cannot mention authors or titles), and I’m looking forward to those. Right now, for Dark Renaissance Books, I’m painting six interior illustrations for a wonderful Lovecraftian tale called The Revenant of Rebecca Pascal, by David Barker and W.H. Pugmire. The authors, as well as Joe Morey of Dark Renaissance, have been wonderful collaborators, and it’s a rich, dark, spooky tale! I think this will be a beautiful edition, and can’t wait to see the book released.

Meanwhile I’m working my way through one hundred remarques for Cemetery Dance Publications’ special edition of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep: a box of eight copies is here, and I hope to ship all those drawings out this week, or early next. Twenty-eight more copies are supposedly en route to my tiny studio as I write this, so I will soon be working behind a fortification of book-boxes. In some ways that’s one of the best types of cubicle to have, I suppose, but I’d be fibbing if I said I wasn’t anticipating putting the final touches on the 100th remarque.

Here are some sketches — these are the rough preliminaries — for the interiors for The Revenant of Rebecca Pascal, and the image I painted for the cover.

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Thanks for reading!

“In the Room”

This is my illustration for Bentley Little’s story, “In the Room,” which is included in Cemetery Dance Publications’ anthology, TURN DOWN THE LIGHTS, edited by Richard Chizmar. I’m honored to be included in this project, along with artists I greatly admire. Alan M. Clark did the great cover art; other interior illustrations were done by Mark Edward Geyer, Steven Gilberts, Keith Minnion, Jill Bauman, and Glenn Chadbourne. You can read about the book here: http://www.cemeterydance.com/page/CDP/PROD/chizmar17 At the moment, the trade editions are still available, and limited editions are in production.

It’s Friday: another remarque for The Dark Tower website’s Haven Foundation auction is in progress, and when it’s complete I will post that artwork. Until then, have a wonderful day, and please be kind to yourself and others. Thinking about what I read in the news lately, it seems the world needs more of that sort of thing.

New Project for 2014

New Project for 2014

This is an interior illustration for an upcoming project. All the images for this commission are painted with watercolor. I will post more news and art from this book soon, probably in February or early March.

Today I’m working on more remarques for collectors, and there are a couple books making the rounds among several illustrators for the current Haven Foundation auction at The Dark Tower website. If you haven’t checked out the Foundation yet, do so: founded by Stephen King, it helps those in creative occupations–freelancers–who face challenges with health care and finances.

Then: bookkeeping. In the past, I have too often procrastinated on that until it’s a looming, distasteful chore. This year I vowed to spend a little time on it regularly, before tax papers and BOE statements are due, until the account is in prime shape, all things accounted for and papers neatly filed in date order. So far, so good. It’s never quite as much torture as I imagine it will be, once I get started. It’s just that numbers start looking like hieroglyphs to me after I look at them for an hour or two; my brain goes to mush and the numerals mean nothing — at that point it might be just as effective to have a beagle at the keyboard. My patient companion taught me how to do simple multi-ledger accounts to keep track of business and personal things, which was new to me…it’s finally sinking in. I may be able to think analytically, but working with numbers has never been my strong suit.

More coffee! Then…drawing, and paperwork! Yes!

Happy Thursday!