Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My aching bones

I'm no athlete or anything, but it seems to me that I should start warming up and stretching my arms, shoulders, hands and back before and after drawing and painting sessions.

I hit 29 years old and things that never hurt me before are bothering me now; like my lower back... what the heck? Sitting hunched over in a a chair for hours at my desk can't be taken lightly anymore! And I guess that the bitter cold we've had this winter affects the body too. Geez- who knew? I'm learning something new every day.

This reminds me of my very first day at RISD. My very first class at art school was a drawing class, where the teacher made us stand and stretch our arms; doing big circles in the air for what seemed like a good half hour (I'm probably exaggerating). We then sat in a big circle, each in front of our drawing pads with blindfolds on (yes, really), feeling the paper with our hands for what seemed like way too long once again, before we were even allowed to pick up a piece of charcoal to draw with. Needless to say, I was asking myself what in the world I had gotten myself into by choosing to go to an art school- But it all worked out in the end! I will forever be grateful to Professor Tom Mills for teaching us that we need to protect and be in tune with our bodies when drawing. It sounds dramatic, but it's really true!

Ah, now I'm missing those art school days...

OK- time to get up, stretch and get back to work! (should my shoulders be cracking every time I swing my arms around in a big circle? Somebody should make a jazzercize video for painters...)

P.S. Tom Mills is a genius- he woke up at 4 or 5 every morning to write in his dream journal... and I only ever saw him ingest Diet Dr. Pepper and cigarettes: all the fuel he needed.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Picture Book!

I am working on final illustrations for a new book to be out Spring 2015!
It takes place in western Africa, and I am so thrilled to be illustrating it. It has been a while since I've painted sequential images for a picture book, and I'm getting back into the swing of things and working methodically.

I loooove painting- but there is so much to do before putting paint to paper:
- transferring the drawings that I've done into the computer (by scanning)
- editing and printing out drawings (to scale of the final book- easy to do if not for various forms of technology sabotage! Don't get me started)
- preparing the paper (measure, cut, tape to drawing board)
- gesso-ing the paper (gesso is thick acrylic white paint)

squeezing a scribble of gesso onto the watercolor paper

spreading it out to cover the entire page with a thick brush

paint it smooth and leave to dry!

- painting a base coat of pinkish-orange acrylic onto the papers (it shows through in skin tones and makes them look warm)
- transferring the drawings onto the final paper to paint on (thank you, tracing paper and light box- you light up my life)
- making sure paintbrushes are clean and dry and happy (if I've been good, I've washed them the night before and they are dry a as a bone with soft bristles)

(these brushes are not happy)

- mixing oil paint colors! (dark, medium and light skin tones)

and FINALLY I jump in! 

Oh, and I cannot paint without music- right now it's "Tartit" and "Mamadou Kelly", whom I saw in concert this summer--- having good music makes all the difference when trying not to worry about deadlines and things, and every book ends up having kind of its own soundtrack!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year!

2014 is here!

Although we did not have a white Christmas, the new year has kicked off with loads of snow on the ground, and freeeeezing temperatures... So cold that my heat stopped working on Friday! What a cruel joke (especially for an African) to wake up in a freezing house on the coldest day of the year! The heat was fixed by the afternoon (thank God) and I got organized to get back to work on my projects this coming week, and that involves painting, painting, painting!

More on that tomorrow.

Happy New Year!