Monday, December 27, 2010

Interview on Karin Cameron's Blog

Back in November I had my first ever Facebook giveaway!  The lucky winner, drawn at random, received a print of one of my pieces, and a surprise custom piece of art as well.  Unknowingly, participants in the giveaway were asked to list their favorite animal and food.  The winner received a small painting depicting their favorite animal eating their favorite food. 

The winner of my first giveaway was Karin Cameron, and above is the custom piece she received, of a dog eating peaches!  Karin is a children's writer and fellow SCBWI member who has a blog called Karin Won't Stop Talking.  As a result of the giveaway, Karin kindly interviewed me for her blog.  You can read it here:

I'll be having more giveaways in the future, so check back here on the blog and on my Facebook fan page!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Foxes on Illustration Rally

It's been a busy Christmas week!  Lots going on and I'm technically on vacation, so this post is originating from across the country from where I usually am.

This past Monday, my Christmas foxes was featured on the Illustration Rally blog! 

Illustration Rally is a blog run by UK-based illustrator Natsuki Otani, where illustrators can send in artwork that relates to a seasonal theme.  A few months back was a Halloween rally, and currently submissions are being accepted for a Christmas theme.

My illo was posted on December 20th, and you can see it here:

Check out all the other cool Christmas illustrations!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Illustration Friday: Mail

Mrs. Fox and Little Fox went into town to check their mail and do some holiday shopping!

Happy holidays to all!  This is the image for my Christmas cards this year.  Painted in acrylic, acrylic gouache, and colored pencil.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

LA Weekend Part 2: Mizna Wada at Gallery Nucleus

One of my favorite galleries in the Los Angeles area is Gallery Nucleus in downtown Alhambra.  Alhambra is a town about four miles south of Pasadena in the San Gabriel Valley and just a short drive from where I grew up.  I try to stop by there whenever I'm in town to see a show, or just to browse their gift shop/bookstore.  Gallery Nucleus exhibits art by contemporary artists, illustrators, animators, and graphic artists from here and abroad. 

Over Thanksgiving weekend was a show featuring two Japanese artists, Junko Mizuno and Mizna Wada.  This is the second show for the pair at Nucleus.  I like both artists' work, but Mizna has a more whimsical style that is more of my preference.  I first saw Mizna's work on a stationary set at the Wacko/Soap Plant in LA.  She has a distinctive creepy/cute style.  She's done a lot of prints using Print Gocco as in the example below, which I just love!  Nice color palette too!
The Nucleus show didn't include any Gocco prints, mostly paintings and plushes.  I took some photos of the pieces I liked.

Donut girl!
The show ended on November 29th, but if you're ever in the area, be sure to stop by.  Definitely worth the trip!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

LA Weekend Part 1: Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Great view of the Hollywood sign from the main street of the cemetery.
Over Thanksgiving weekend I visited Los Angeles to see my family and get away from the desert for a few days.  It was unusually cold but I had a great time nonetheless. Although I lived there for 30+ years, I had never visited the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  It's always been on my list of things to see, but I never got around to it, so I figured better late than never.

Some of you may wonder, why would you want to walk around a place filled with dead people?  Well ... I have a macabre fascination with that kind of thing, and I like to pay my respects to those who I admire or liked who have passed on from this world.

Hollywood Forever has been in existence since the late 1800's and is the final resting place of many ordinary Angelenos.  But it's the famous and infamous who are buried there that many come to see.  The office has a free photocopied map of where it's most famous denizens are buried, and the on-site flower/gift shop has a more extensive booklet and map that you can purchase.  More bizarre is the fact that the cemetery hosts cultural events there.  Back in October, Belle and Sebastian held a concert there, and right before the concert there had been a screening of "Trainspotting."  The things I miss when I move away from LA...

Most of the famous buried there are from the early days of Hollywood, many that I don't even recognize.  But there were plenty that I did know and I'll share some of the more memorable ones here.

Mel Blanc, the man who was the voice of countless Warner Bros. cartoon characters, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig.

Bugsy Siegel, the gangster who was instrumental in the creation of Las Vegas.

Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone.  Interestingly enough, both deceased Ramones are buried here.  I thought they would have been buried in New York.  Their graves are on opposite ends of the cemetery.

Edward Bunker -- writer, screenwriter and actor.  The man who played Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs.

The final photo here is of John Huston's grave.  We had the most difficult time finding this one.  For those planning to visit, beware -- the maps are not quite as accurate as they should be.  For such a world famous film director, he has the most unremarkable gravestone.  I was expecting something larger and fancier, but he had this very simple marker.  It's very easy to overlook.

Walking around the peaceful grounds and seeing his grave, you're reminded that in the end, we all wind up in the same place whether we're famous or not.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sketchbook Project Pages 6-7

It's been a while since I posted any Sketchbook Project pages.  My book is starting to look a little schizophrenic, as I haven't been real consistent so far in using the same medium on all pages.  Acrylic washes on one page, colored pencil on another...  This spread was done with Faber-Castell Pitt artists pens and colored pencils.  I have a 12 color set of the brush-tip Pitt pens and some fine and medium point Pitt pens in black and brown.  They're fun to sketch with and don't bleed through this thin sketchbook paper.  I'll probably do some more pages with them. 

I have quite a ways to go before I finish the book, but I like using it as a way to experiment in different drawing styles and subjects than what I normally do.  It's a good learning and growing process.

The subject of this spread are koinobori -- Japanese carp streamers.  Koinobori are flown on a pole on Children's Day (May 5th) by families who have sons, to honor them.  The largest carp is black and represents the father, the second largest is red and represents the mother, the remaining carp are for the sons in the family.  I grew up in a family of girls, so we never flew any koinobori, but celebrated Hinamatsuri (girls' day in Japan) instead.  That will be a subject for another spread.  Now back to sketching...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bag Designer Shoko Kawasumi

Received the November issue of MOE magazine recently, and it's chock full of great articles!  One of them is about Japanese bag designer Shoko Kawasumi.  She does these great bag designs with silhouettes.  She's been selling bags since 2000, under the name kabott.  Check out her website at  Unfortunately, there's very little English on the site, but take a look around at her work.  Bags as art, lovely!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Illustration Friday: Spent

For this week's Illustration Friday -- she spent the day decorating for Halloween, and I spent the day painting this in time to post it while it still is Halloween!  I just made it!  Painted in acrylic with colored pencil accents.  Hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sketchbook Project Page 2 and Illustration Friday

Second page for the Sketchbook Project.  I'm also putting this up for this week's Illustration Friday topic: old fashioned.  The foxes had a traditional, old fashioned Japanese wedding!  Done in colored pencil.

Foxes are a large part of Japanese folklore and traditions.  In the native Shinto religion, the fox god is the god of rice and food.  Some Shinto shrines will have a statue of a fox, and I've even seen a little shrine with a fox in front of a traditional Japanese inn with a small dish of rice.  I love seeing things like that when I visit there.  Hope to go back and visit again some day...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sketchbook Project First Page

First page for the Sketchbook Project.  I chose the theme "If you lived here..."  I'm starting out with some sketches of the first place I've ever lived, Japan.  I'll then move on to other places I've lived and visited.  At least that's the plan, but things might change as I progress ... you never know!

When I lived in Japan, in the summers we would go to the festival/carnival at Hiratsuka, a coastal town about 35 miles west of Tokyo.  My mother would dress my sister and I in yukatas (lightweight cotton summer kimonos) and we would play games, eat cotton candy and watch fireworks.

The above sketch was done pretty quickly in acrylic gouache and colored pencil on thin watercolor paper, then pasted onto some decorative paper, then pasted onto the sketchbook itself.  I don't want to think too hard about the sketches or spend too much time on them, or I'll never finish.  So some of the sketches may not be of the highest quality, but it's an experiment and learning process.  Will be posting more soon.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Sketchbook Project 2011

Last week I received my Sketchbook Project sketchbook in the mail.  The Sketchbook Project is one of the many projects organized by the Art House Co-op and Gallery.  Check out their website and take a look around.  There's a wealth of information there.  For the Sketchbook Project, each participant is mailed a Moleskine sketchbook roughly 8" X 5" in size.  There are 40 pages of relatively thin paper, so you can make 80 sketches.  You can choose from a list of themes to base your sketches on, and once complete, you mail back your sketchbook by January and it goes on a tour of several cities.  At the time of this writing, over 14,000 people have signed up already. In each city of the tour, people can check out the sketchbooks like library books and go through them.  Once the tour is complete, all the sketchbooks will become part of the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Art Library.

I chose the theme "If you lived here..." and pictured above is the cover page of my sketchbook.  My plan is to sketch scenes from various places in the world that I have been to and love, and some places that are imagined as well.  Should be fun!  The cover is a collage that started with an old map of Paris.  On it I pasted some patterns, an old French postage stamp, and a mock postcard with my name and theme with a stamp of one of my illustrations.  I then laminated the cover and added some teal duct tape (from Target!) on the spine.

Below is a close-up pic of the postcard section before it got laminated.

One of my inspirations for my sketchbook theme is a book I found recently, called Transit Maps of the World which has some incredible maps of subway and train systems from numerous cities around the globe.

I may use some of the maps as background for my sketches.  It's great to look at, and makes me want to travel somewhere far away.  Hopefully, I'll be able to do that through my sketches.  I'll be posting random sketches as I complete them, so be sure to check the blog periodically!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Acrylic Gouache Love

Over the weekend I went to the local art supply store to get a few tubes of acrylic gouache paints to round out my growing collection.  I started painting with the acrylic gouache last year when I became curious about them after seeing them in Japanese illustration magazines.  I've done several illustrations with them now, and my preferred method of working with them is to start with an acrylic paint base and then work up layers with the acrylic gouache.  Acrylic gouache dries to a nice matte finish, thanks to the fine pigments in them.  It's less gummy than acrylic tube paints, and comes in a mind-boggling range of colors.  You can water them down and paint thinly with them, but I think the colors look most brilliant when diluted minimally with water. 

There are several brands out there, but the two I use are the Japanese brands Holbein and Turner.  The two tubes on the left in the photo above are by Holbein, the ones on the right by Turner.  I use both brands interchangeably, though Holbein seems to be of a slightly higher quality.  However, Turner has a larger color range.  I love the names like Cosmos Pink and Peacock Blue.  Locally here in Phoenix, Holbein is carried by Utrecht and Turner by Jerry's Artarama.  But you can order them online from different art suppliers. Turner also has a line of what they call "Japanesque" colors, which are muted tones very commonly seen in traditional Japanese textiles and papers.  The tube on the very right above is one such color, Japanesque Deep Purple.  The Japanese name for it is "Edo Murasaki" or Edo purple.  On this trip to the art store, I was drawn to one particular tube by it's name ... Chocolate!

I'm a chocoholic, so I just had to open the tube and look at the color.  It turned out to be a nice, rich, yummy reddish brown.  You can see what it looks like, and compare it to other common brown tones in the swatch sample below.

I'll have to try it out soon on a painting. Turner also has a line of pearl and metallic colors as well, which I haven't tried yet.  At this point, I pretty much have the same colors in acrylic and acrylic gouache.

Incidentally, all my tube paints are stored in this box on my drafting table.  The box comes from Ikea, which I decorated with some stencils.  The colors on each drawer represent the tube colors inside as seen below.

A peek into my work area!  I'll be posting more about that another time...

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Illustration Friday: Artificial

There were no artificial ingredients in Chef Kitty's chocolate cake!  It's been a while since I last posted on IF.

A mixed media piece with collage and acrylic gouache and colored pencils, 5 X 7 in size.  I've been experimenting with clear gesso for texture.  I like that it's much grittier than white gesso.  Will be doing more small pieces like this with it in the future ...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Artistic Reflections on Deepwater Horizon

A little over a month ago, I was contacted by some graduate students at Emporia University in Kansas who were putting together a website of artwork related to the gulf oil spill as part of their graduate level class in Library and Information Science.  They described the project in this way:

This digital collection aims to capture America’s response to the Gulf Oil Spill through art.  By showcasing works of diverse artists in various mediums, this collection will present creative manifestations of the emotions, thoughts, and reactions inspired by the disaster.

They had seen my whale piece on the Ripple blog and wanted to include it on this educational website.  Yesterday I received an email that the site was now up and running, and sure enough, my whale is there!  You can see the page HERE.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Ripple Sketch #3

It's time again for another Ripple sketch.  I've grown rather fond of doing these very small paintings.  I like the challenge of creating something so much smaller than what I normally do.  This time, I wanted to do a sea animal who is actually smiling and happy, as opposed to the others I've done so far which have been somewhat downbeat.  A little change of pace...

As before, the piece is on paper and is 3 x 4.  Painted with acrylic, acrylic gouache, collage and colored pencil.  A happy Thursday to all!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Favorite Books from my Childhood

It's that time of the year here in Arizona when the temperature rises to the 110's.  On the weekends I become vampire-like and try to go out only after the sun has gone down when the temps are hovering in the high 90's!  And since this is a very loooong weekend, thanks to the Fourth of July, I'll be hunkered down at home painting, drawing and blogging...
I was browsing through the children's book section of a local bookstore the other day when I began thinking about the books that I remember fondly from my childhood and have subconsciously contributed to my desire to be a children's book illustrator.  Some are still in print, others I remember have definitely gone out of print, as I've discovered online.  As a child I was a voracious reader and my friends and I would have contests to see who could read the most number of books in a month.  I don't recall ever winning these contests, but I enjoyed the challenge.  Somewhere in my parents' home is a big stash of paperback books published by Dell and Camelot in the 70's, and books by Scholastic that we use to order from school.  The most memorable ones I've held onto before it disappeared into the big black hole of storage.  I'll introduce a few here.

The Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear book is the first English-language book I've ever owned.  My mother bought this board book for me shortly after we first moved to this country from Japan when I was 5 years old.  The three-dimensional illustrations are just adorable, and were done by Tadasu Izawa.  I didn't realize until I was much older, that the illustrator was Japanese as well!  Obviously, when it was purchased neither my mother nor I could read English.  We just liked the way it looked. I've held onto it dearly ever since.

The second book is that all-time classic, Winnie-the-Pooh.  Another book about a bear ....hmmmmm....  Yes, I did have quite a large teddy bear collection at the time, and did until maybe about a decade ago.  As you can see from the cover, this was back when you could still buy a paperback book for under a dollar!  The Pooh books inspired me to write and illustrate my own stories as a child, an activity that I apparently have not outgrown!

About the same time, I read Stuart Little, by E.B. White.  The tale of the mouse-boy was most memorable to me for its illustrations by Garth Williams.  I've written about Garth Williams in other posts on this blog, mainly in this post.  Stuart Little has been made into a movie, but I haven't seen it.  I'm afraid that it will ruin my nice, warm, fuzzy memories of the book.

The last book is The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban.  This is one of those books that stays with you for a long time after reading.  It's not your typical children's book -- it contains many adult themes and some violence.  But I think that's what I liked about it, that life isn't always happy or tidy, and sometimes you have to endure a lot of hardship to get where you want to be.  I'm going to reread it soon.  At one time it went out of print, but in 2001 it was re-released by Arthur A. Levine Books.  This is what the current version of it looks like.

There are way too many other books that I love, and not enough space here to write about them.  But there are 2 others I want to mention, and wish that I had my old copies of them with me.  They are both similar in tone to The Mouse and His Child.  They are A Wrinkle in Time and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  All three of these have been made into films, but I haven't seen any of them, for the same reason I don't want to see Stuart Little.  Besides, I already have the movie versions in my head. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ripple #2 and Illustration Friday: Satellite

This is my second illustration for the Ripple Project and also for this week's Illustration Friday topic.  The sad birds looked up at the satellite in the sky ...  Painted in acrylic, acrylic gouache and colored pencils.  As in the previous Ripple piece, it is 3 x 4 inches.

If you haven't already, please take a look at the Ripple blog.  A $10 donation to either The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies or The International Bird Rescue Research Center and a small art treasure is yours!!  Every penny is donated to help the animal victims of this disaster.  My last piece is in transit to its new home in Canada, and a piece I purchased is on its way from Japan.  A small contribution to help the animals and make new friends around the world in the process ... what a deal!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ripple Project and Illustration Friday: Paisley

Today I worked on a collage/painting that will serve two purposes.  It is for this week's Illustration Friday -- paisley, as well as my contribution for the Ripple Project.

The Ripple Project is the brainchild of illustrator Kelly Light, who decided to take action against her frustration with the Gulf oil spill by making small sketch paintings and selling them for $10 each to benefit two wildlife non-profits, The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies and The International Bird Rescue Research Center.  Every penny is donated to help the animal victims of this disaster.  Since the time she began this project on June 3rd, it has grown across the globe, with over 500 artists participating and raising over $3,000 so far.  I'm very happy to do my part, however small, to make a difference in this horrible crisis.

Please take a minute to look at her Ripple blog HERE.  There's still plenty of unsold art available for a $10 donation!  I'm hoping that mine will find a happy home!

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Friends at the Phoenix Comicon 2010

Over Memorial Day weekend I went over to the Phoenix Comicon.  It was the first time I'd ever attended one of these events -- haven't ever made it over to the San Diego Comic-Con either.  It was interesting to say the least!  The people watching alone was entertaining enough.  But the real reason I went was to check out a few of my friends who had set up shop there to sell their wares -- plush toys, prints, original art, and to look at what other artists I didn't know were up to as well.  I'll introduce 3 of my friends here and one booth that caught my eye.

First up is Sydney Edmunds of Squidnoodle Plush Toys. That's Sydney on the left.  She's an awesome painter, but she also makes some amazing original plush creatures.  Most of her toys are on the dark, edgy side, but she can do cute too.  Below is a custom piece she did for me.

Of course it's pink -- I'm just that kinda girl. 

Next up is Maritza Robles of Ramona Art.  Maritza does anime-inspired drawings and paintings, traditional and digital.  At the con, she also did sketches on request.  Cats seemed to be a popular theme.

Here's a sampling of her work.

Finally, we have Jason Jarava.  Previously, I was mostly familiar with his lush, detailed landscapes, but his real passion is in fantasy/sci-fi illustration.  Jason was selling prints and originals of his work.

Some pages from his portfolio.

Aside from my friends, there was one other booth that caught my eye at the con, and this probably says more about my personal taste than anything.  There were some amazing comic book artists there, but I gravitated to this booth because it was colorful and whimsical. 

Giddy Girlie is run by Mia (sorry I don't know her last name!).  She paints wooden peg people and does dot paintings and hand embroidery.  I bought one of her peg people, one painted like Kermit the Frog! (Okay, so I kinda have a frog fetish...)

This year's con was bigger than in previous years, and I'm sure it'll just keep growing.  Check it out next year if you have the chance!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Three Bears Final and Process

Finally finished my first piece for the Zero to Illo12 Week Challenge!  I painted for a few hours each night (after I come home from my day job) to finish this. 

I always find that the most difficult part of working on any piece is creating the "final drawing" that comes after the thumbnails and before the final painting.  It always seems to take me forever to get this part done.  The actual painting portion goes much faster.  I plan to continue working on the remaining portfolio pieces through the next weeks and beyond. 

Below are some shots I took as I worked on the piece:

I always start with a warm wash in acrylic -- quinacridone gold or raw or burnt sienna on primed canvas.  Then I lay in washes of the base colors for each section/character.

Then layers of paint are built up in acrylic and acrylic gouache.  In this piece I added some warm highlights with Caran d'ache crayons.

The final finished piece.  Suggestions and comments are welcome!

I'll now be off to start my next piece ...