I made a comic!
I love making comics, but I only ever make them when I have a flash-of-inspiration style idea, one that comes all at once. That’s pretty rare for me. I haven’t figured out a process that lets me get through “working out” an idea that’s not fully formed with comics, like I have with other kinds of art. I have so much respect for those who can do that!
Anyway. Take a look.
I’ve also revamped & reposted my Comics page with other comics work!
Art is the best job.
I mean, it’s always great. But sometimes, you get an opportunity that’s just so ridiculously cool, it’s hard to believe it’s part of your actual job! That’s what this project felt like.
The Furrow, a very cool animation studio in Kentucky, invited me to be part of their collaborative animation demo reel. They got a whole bunch of amazing illustrators to contribute pieces that were then animated by the team at The Furrow, and combined into this awesome video. How cool is that?
They took my piece and completely brought it to life- along with a host of other awesome art from other artists! Definitely go check it out.
Behind my parents’ house in Wisconsin is a huge empty grassy space we just called “the field.” My siblings and I spent a ton of our childhood wandering around in “the fields,” full of tall grass and shrubs and locusts and moths and turtles and one time, an abandoned washing machine. Later, the city added (beautiful!) drainage ponds to the fields, which brought geese, ducks, and a great blue heron. It was really a sacred, special place to me.
Now I live in Virginia, and I’m learning to feel like it’s home. It’s different and sometimes weird – especially in winter. I’m not used to winter that’s not blanketed in snow, and for a while I found it hard to see the beauty in a whole lot of drab, brown, naked trees.
However. I now live near this incredible, wonderful, breathtaking park along the Potomac. And in that park, there’s a pond – an achingly familiar pond with geese and ducks and yes, a great blue heron. And it has tall tall grass, and little shrubs, and all kinds of little miracle plants that have taken on such lovely shapes.
So, this drawing turned into a tribute to those two spaces, and to finding beauty even in winter. The colors are still beautiful, really – it’s just a different palette. The dead & dormant plants have a really different, delicate quality.
This piece is 18″x24″, colored pencil on paper – and not (yet) photographed very well, because photographing art is hard! I’m learning.
Below is an in-progress shot & some of the photos I took in the park when I was gathering reference.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I wanted to switch it up and go with some new tropes, so this year I did Silly Sci-Fi Valentines. Truth be told I’m more into science fiction than I am into fantasy, yet these were so much harder to come up with! I think it’s in part because sci fi spans such a huge range of settings and subgenres, plus I didn’t want to reference specific characters or settings. Ultimately, it was a great challenge- and it was a lot of fun to draw characters again.
Feel free to print ’em out and give ’em to your nerdy Valentines!
Puttering around with more plants and landscapes! Although there’s still fall inspiration all around me, I thought it would be good to try something different. I thought back to an afternoon I spent wandering around Caroll Creek in Frederick, Maryland – they’ve filled the waterway with all these beautiful and alien-looking aquatic plants.
I found that without a specific photo as reference, I went in a more stylized/whimsical direction. It was fun, but very different from my last piece, which was really about capturing a specific scene and moment.
Another in my landscape vignette series. This one is inspired by a particularly foggy morning on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was so foggy, when we stopped at overlooks we couldn’t see the ground at all! It was like a dream.
Here’s a photo I took that morning and used as reference/inspiration:
It’s been a very busy few months (spent 5 months on a colossal illustration gig, got married, you know) but things have finally settled down for a bit. I’m so happy to be turning my head back towards personal work for a little while- I’ve been itching to get back to those little landscape vignettes I’d been doing!
Part of the recent busy-ness was heading off on a honeymoon with my new husband. We drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains, on Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was beyond beautiful and incredibly inspiring! The above illustration is just the first of what I’m sure will be many drawings that come from that experience.
I put a few photos from our travels on my instagram, but the one below in particular shows what I was drawing from for this little vignette. I believe that pop of red is coming from a shrub called sumac (like the spice!), which we saw blazing fiery red all along Skyline Drive.
A little drawing of the Space Weaver / Bossa Nostra crew as a tribute to one of my favorite-ever games in terms of art direction, Broken Age! The whole game is one giant “oh man I wish I was this genius” fest for me.
I made this as a submission to the Gallery Nucleus Broken Age Tribute Show, which I found out about 3 days before the deadline! I didn’t get in, but I’m still glad I went for it- the Doublefine game studio has been a core influence on my art since I encountered Psychonauts back in high school, so it was really fun to spend some time paying homage to the great art in their games. I look forward to seeing all the great art in the show!
I have remained very much in Nature Mode the past few weeks. I’m finding so much joy in being outside that I’m spending all my personal art time paying tribute to it. It helped that I took a road trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains right at the peak of spring – absolutely stunning!
Here is a collection of the art I’ve been making lately, both digital and from my sketchbook:
We’ve all had it- you’re knee deep in an illustration, deadline’s coming up, and it is just not working. It’s too late to scrap the whole thing, but you dread going into the studio. The piece just doesn’t feel right.
What do you do?
At this point, I’ve hit this wall enough times that I’ve developed a bit of a routine to deal with it. I’d like to share my steps for troubleshooting an illustration that just isn’t quite right. They’re presented roughly in the order that I use them, but that’s definitely dictated by my working method and artistic priorities. It could be completely different for you!
Tip 1: Check Colors
I’m a nut for color- working with color to find interesting combinations is my favorite part of any illustration. If I don’t like a piece, odds are I’m not into the colors. If I feel stuck, I’ll grab the hue slider and pull it around until something clicks. I might do it on one or two elements, or (temporarily!!) flatten the image and play with the whole thing. Eventually something will spark and give me a new thing to try.
Tip 2: Check Values
Because I really love color, I often neglect the importance of value – that is, light/dark – in my illustrations. If the space feels confusing or the hierarchy of elements isn’t right, values are often the culprit. I check this by adding a black layer to the top of my document and setting its blending mode to “color,” effectively making my image black and white. Then I can see where I need more value contrast and go in to lighten or darken certain elements. I do this with the filter still on, then turn that layer off and adjust anything that might have gotten blown out or turned a weird color.