Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Goals – Updated

As I prepare for the upcoming 12 Week Challenge, I have developed a short list of goals in an effort to further account myself to completing this journey I started, along with a few even more personal ones.

They are, in no particular order:

Short term –
  • Start a comic strip: I know this is a bit out of the realm of children's illustration, but I have wanted to do this longer than I have illustration itself. I have what I consider a good idea, the characters pretty much fleshed out, an a blog address reserved for the big release. This is nothing I am considering taking to a syndicate, just a personal project I want to see come to fruition.

  • Do at least one colored illo each week, perhaps with a different medium (I just bought some oil pastels I want to try!)

  • Do at least 3 quick sketches each week

  • Get healthier: As I sit at a computer all day at work, and then sit at a drawing table quite a bit as well, in addition to sitting watching TV at night. I am quite sedentary. I do get out and play with the kids in the evenings when the weather permits, and occasionally walk, it is not enough. If I try and run with the kids, I am easily winded. I also drink too much soda (my caffeine), and stay up too late... basically doing nothing to warrant the late nights. So I resolve to eat better, drink better, exercise more, and sleep more, for myself and my family.

  • Learn at least one song on the piano: I don't plan to take lessons, mind you, but get the sheet music and go from there. I have one in mind!

Long term –
  • My portfolio and web site done in the next six months

  • A published illustration in the next year

  • A published book within the next 5 years

I am going to copy this list and put it near my computer in another effort to stay the course.

Jonathan Woodward, the man behind the 12 Week Challenge, just posted all of the participants on the Zero2Illo website. So far up to 60. There is some amazing talent.

Best of luck to us all!

A quick addition...

I would like to thank Susan Mordigal for awarding me the Renee Award recently. The Renee Award is in honor of Renée Khan, who, for 4 years, journaled about her battle with Stage 4 Inflammatory Breast Cancer on her blog Circling My Head. Renee passed away in early March this year, however, family is continuing to update her blog. I am flattered that Susan thought of me for the small tidbits of encouragement and advice given to her since we "met," since this is what the Renee award is all about. You can learn more about the origins of this award here.

Secondly, I would like to thank Shirley Benitez for awarding me the Creative Writer Blogger Award. I try to make my posts as interesting as possible, so thanks, Shirley, for noticing. However, there is great room for improvement, and I will be working on that in the future.

I know these 2 awards have been floated around the blog-o-sphere quite a bit, but I personally would like to pass the Renee Award back to both Shirley and Susan for their kind words, as well as to Alicia Padrón. She has been a constant source of advice, encouragement, and support since I started.

And I could honestly pass the Creative Writer award to all my blog friends, as I get so much from each blog I visit, be it encouragement, inspiration, or a good laugh!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting serious!

I know what you're thinking... "He's been blogging about illustration for over 2 years, and he's just now decided to get serious!?"

Well, sort of...

During these 2 year's, I have developed a love/hate relationship with my "day job". I love the freedom I have working at home, and the freedom my boss allows me as far as time off "as long as the work gets done." I hate the monotony of the work month to month. I design a magazine which is somewhat of a template that I refill each month with new text and photos. As a result, I developed this "get out quickly" attitude to getting a new job, basically coming up with "quick fix" ideas to move on to what I thought would make me happy in my career. I went from wanting to open a bookstore, to starting a kids website, a kids magazine, a restaurant, and most recently, to becoming an art teacher. Needless to say there are no quick fixes to career bliss. There is a lot of work involved in any choice you make. Luckily for me, I have a wonderful wife who, to my initial chagrin, knows me better that I do, and has saved me from myself many, many times.

After going through the research and development phases of each idea, I finally come to the realization that, deep down, if I am honest with myself, I love art and I love to draw, and I really don't have the desire to do anything else. I really do like graphic design (which is an art form), and am working on my attitude with my job to keep me going until I am able to support my family with an illustration career, if it takes off.

My main problem is lack of confidence in my current art, and my ability to get better with practice. I look at all the great artists out there, and begin to doubt my chances of making it in this field.

That being said, I have decided to join up with Jonathan Woodward and his 12 Week Challenge that will begin on April 5. Jonathan, like me, is an aspiring illustrator who, for various reasons, has put off illustration as a career. Hopefully this will be the kick-in-the-seat I need to get off my pencils and brushes, and really get serious about this journey I started 2 yeas ago.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


One of my favorite places to visit is the library, as it has become an unending source of inspiration and education in my art endeavors. On my most recent trip, I found 2 good books that I thought I would share.

I have always been a fan of dragons (as if my header wasn't a give away!), and am constantly on the lookout for a good book on how to draw them. I have managed to find a few, but have never been impressed. However, Draw Dragons and Other Fantasy Beasts by Gary Spencer Millidge and James McKay has proved to be a keeper. Very easy to follow along and they start you at the beginning with some basic art concepts. They then go into how to draw the creatures using basic shapes. This is not like one of the "Learn to Draw" books though. They show how to use contour lines on the shapes to give them form , and using those same contour lines to suggest the direction the animal will be facing. They also break the animals body parts down into sections to discuss the possible variety and ways of drawing each.

Other points they hit upon are action lines, posing, environments, and coloring the finished drawings. Lastly they give examples on how to draw many of the well-known mythical creatures like the centaur and the griffon.

I could go on, but it really is a great book for both beginner and professional.

Another book I picked up was Color Theory by José Maria Parramón. I haven't gotten too deep into this book yet, but I have already learned quite a bit that I didn't know before, like how mixing black and white with your colors to make them darker or lighter isn't the best idea sometimes (makes'em muddy or washed out). And how it is possible to get most if not all of your colors from the three basic colors (blue, red and yellow), but that the chemical make up of of the three basics, cannot give you the exact shade of the chemical composition of, say, yellow ochre. May be a bit too much info for some, but interesting none-the-less.

I have found many other great books that have been a valuable asset, too many to list, along with many wonderful kids books that I draw inspiration from as I flip thru the illustrations. Never underestimate the value of your local library. Visit as often as you can.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

IF - Brave 2

While perusing IF, I came across this entry over at xhen's blog. Upon seeing that neat little illustration, I was inspired to draw what you see above. Kind of reminds me of the old Warner Bros cartoon dog. I once again braved the acrylic beast, and I must say that this painting is quite the step up from the one in my previous post. This was painted on paper for acrylics which didn't seem to help the drying time like I'd hoped. Below is the sketch.

I will admit that I was discouraged at first as it wasn't working like a I wanted it to (again the paints were drying too fast). However, with patience I managed to find a workable solution. I basically painted on more base color and then immediately added tints, working back and forth between the two to create a smooth transition. I think it came out pretty good considering my experience with the medium. Below is the palette after I was finished.

I do want to experiment more with acrylics, I just want to do it correctly. I will be hitting the web to see what I can find for reference. Any suggestions are always welcome.

Wow, 2 IF posts in one week. That's a record!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

IF - Brave

Well, I braved a new medium with this illustration: acrylics. I have had my acrylics for a long time—the Liquitex BASIC colors—and have been putting off trying them for fear of messing up. Anyway, got over that fear about 2 weeks ago when I started this illo, and I was just today able to finish it. It was quite difficult as the paint kept drying on me, both on the painting and the pallette. I am pretty sure the illustration board I was using was sucking the moisture out of the paint, but not sure. I have some acrylic paper that I will try next time. I am pretty happy with this first attempt. Hopefully the other paper will allow me more working time.