Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Book Project: It Begins!

This summer I have been commissioned to work on a picture book based on a beautiful story written by two retired teachers, Kathy Tarentino and Sandy Leahy. I took a few fabulous summer days for a little vacation once school ended and now the work begins!

The main character of this charming book is actually someone a bit unusual: it's a house!  The title is "The Hibernating House" and it is the perfect book to illustrate during the summer time. I'm really looking forward to it!

Before I even start on the spreads (double page illustrations common in picture book layouts) I'm doing some concept drawings for what the house will look like.  Illustrators will do this type of drawing for all sorts of idea developing. Later I will scan my sketches and send them to Kathy and Sandy to see if I am on track with what they have imagined for their story.

Now is an important stage for an artist to do research. This may involve taking photos, finding photos online, direct observation (perhaps I should hop the ferry to MV!), or finding images and/or photos in reference books. I never use other artists' drawings or paintings unless I am drawing an object that I can't actually look at in real life, like a dinosaur or period clothing.

When I am using other people's photos, its usually for a small detail or used in combination with my own ideas and photos such that the original photo is in no way identifiable in the final work.

For this house, a summer cottage, I have several photographs given to me by the authors as a starting point for the idea, and I will be combining those with some images I have researched. I will work in pencil and create several different versions/view points to get my idea solid.

Those drawings will stay under wraps for a while, but here are some samples of the types of images I am using to help me create a unique house character. I'm not sure exactly what details in these photos will be used in the design I create if any, so if you want to know what I come up with, check back in for an update on my progress!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Super Summer Art Ideas

Happy happy summer to everyone! As most of you know, I am a teacher by day. Even when I’m on vacation, I’m thinking about art activities for the young and young-at-heart.

When I was a kid, we spent a lot of time just left to our own devices to entertain ourselves, especially on those endless summer vacation days. Parents, now is a great time to rediscover all of those fun things we did back in the day! How about some summer art fun? So, store the laptops, ipods, DS games and other techy toys. Save them for a rainy day, or better yet, winter...
Action painting is free, frantic and fun!
Here is my list of Super Summer Art Ideas!

• Action Painting: Let your inner Pollock out and go crazy! Washable paint, big pieces of paper, and brushes, sticks, soup ladles, Q-tips, whatever you can think of to paint with. Wear bathing suits or cut a hole in the top and sides of a big garbage bag for a kid-sized cover-up and start slinging paint! I suggest to find a locale away from your house siding and deck furniture. A big grassy area is perfect. Bonus: the grass will look psychedelic until you cut it!

Sidewalk Chalk Art: I know this is SHOCKING!! It’s a classic fun summer day staple: so simple, inexpensive and a blast. But don’t just keep it to yourself! Go to a local park and draw on the paths, etc. No one will mind. I walk a track at my local park everyday, and its so fun to find surprise chalk drawings on my usual route. And after it rains, go back and decorate again!

• Giant Cardboard Sculptures: Do you save your cardboard boxes for recycling? Well, you SHOULD. Plus if you do, before you send them off to Cardboard Heaven, you can create ginormous sculptures out of them. Get your boxes along with duct tape or masking tape for attaching boxes together. Newspaper can be rolled up in thick layers and taped to make cylinders for towers or legs. Buildings, animals, magical worlds-- use your imagination and create anything, as big as you want to, because there are no walls and ceilings to stop it! You can paint them or just enjoy all the shapes and colors created by the different materials.
Box by artist Pablo Curutchet is a 27 foot tall cardboard box sculpture.

• Sandcastles and Sand-sculptures: No need to buy sand castle kits, just head to the beach with every kind of plastic container you can get your hands on for lots of tower shapes (a good way to recycle and re-purpose, too!). Jello and cake molds come in lots of shapes--why use them just for cooking? No ocean nearby? A good-sized plastic kiddie pool, some bags of cheap sand, a garden hose, and you’ve got your own beach (Note: cover the top at night if you have neighborhood cats around). Shells make great accessories. You can get cool shells at the craft store or ask at your local fish market for discarded shells--they’ll often part with them for free.

• Shell Art: Speaking of shells, time to collect and create! If you live a long drive away from the ocean, collect your shells on your next day trip and hang onto them for a boring day. Have handy some string/yarn/ribbon, paper, cardboard, paint, markers, air-dry clay (I suggest Crayola Model Magic), white glue, and all those random supplies hanging around the craft bin. Just start creating whatever comes to mind.
Aluminum craft wire (about 12mm gauge) even comes in cool colors!

• Color Experiments: Collect flowers, berries, leaves, anything you can find in nature. See what happens when you rub them on paper, crush them into juice or mix them with water.

Bubble Wands: Lightweight aluminum craft wire and utility scissors are all you need to make your own wands in cool shapes. Cut the wire for the little ones. If you want to get fancy, a pair of pliers helps to hold and twist the wire. Then get a cheap disposable aluminum baking tray and fill with bubble stuff. This makes it easy for everyone to dip in and even big wand shapes will work.

Okay, kids, get out there and have some super summer art fun!