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!

 

 

 

 

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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.


“Green Man of Punta Cabre”

Pencil drawing for Daniel Braum’s short story of the same name


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!