Monthly Archives: March 2013

Llama Angle Two

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This is Marie, the llama, from the side/back. In the story I’m illustrating she has lunch with the narrator and I picture it being from a bit of a distance. 

You can also see what a difference the color choice makes in these two stamps. They are essentially reverse line drawings and with such large solid areas color creates a mood. Marie will ultimately be white – though I have to say, I love her in brown.

Still Auditioning

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I’m still holding auditions for my Old Man main character for my story. This guy comes closer to the genial old cook I have in mind. Of course, when you test stamp them in black they all end up looking like chimney sweeps. I have to try them out in less severely contrasting colors and see how that changes the mood.

Meanwhile, still learning from each stamp about depth of line, which lines are vital for translating expression, how many crowd the face, etc. The rules and tools of any game are the crux of manipulation and success.

Soulful or sad?

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This is a test stamp for the train worker in my story. Of course, he won’t be printed in black, but it is the easiest color to see where things need to be cleaned up.

Faces are always a challenge because we connect with them on an emotional level. You change the angle of a handlebar and the bike still reads as a bike, but if the slope of the mouth or the slant of an eyebrow is off a person can go from looking peaceful to looking angry. Working on a small scale with only a few lines to capture the expression adds a further challenge.

I’m searching for the main character, who is a train worker. He’s old, a little rough around the edges and is a man of few words. He narrates in first person and we don’t know his name from the story. I’m hoping that the visual will lend him the further character he needs.

Biking Uphill

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Finally, I carved the tricycle stamp I have been imagining in my head for ages. It is part of a project I am working on to illustrate a story I have written. I have been procrastinating for an embarrassing amount of time, trying to figure out ways of getting around my fear of drawing.

Collage and stamping come more naturally to me as mediums. However, I’m finding them challenging when it comes to creating specific images I have in my head for the story. Stamps by their very nature are static and repetitive. They operate more as wood cuts. Their repetition is too recognizable to be used often. Therefore, spending the time to carve something with the intention of using it once or twice makes me wonder about the investment (even though I have a pile of stamps I felt compelled to do that have been used precisely that number of times.)

Determined to wrestle with my fears – not necessarily confront them, but perhaps work around them – I continue to grapple with this self-created illustration project.

Stream of Consciousness

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This is an ongoing piece that I add to intermittently when I’m more moved by words than images. It is part of my larger dictionary project which has a life of it’s own and I will discuss further in future posts.

What I find intriguing is that the words themselves become a tapestry-like image and take on an odd importance in their ramblings. The only “rule” I impose on myself is that the lines come out of sequence from their source. In other words, I can’t use two lines in a row from any given article. The hunting for plausible grammatical links becomes a sort of worm hole I fall into. Certain phrasing can turn a noun into a verb, or vice versa.

It has an OCD quality that some of my favorite art exhibits. If you’ve ever been to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, a treasure trove of self-taught artists, it is this common thread that I most admire.

A shrink-friend told me, not at all unkindly, it reminded her of the rants of a schizophrenic. Here’s a sampling: 

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Island Dog

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This crazy beach dog started when I turned a jungle flower upside down to create a flouncy skirt. I was then dissatisfied with the mundane model who had now changed outfits into something way cooler (if I do say so myself!)

After MANY tryout heads I landed on this goofy frizz-head. I obscured the rest of her blonde tresses with some flowers along the neck line. She’s got a certain attitude I like.