Second in Command

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“T” is the second most used letter in the English language (E is first, in case you were curious.) I have long loved illuminated manuscripts. Such tales often draw you in with the first beautiful letter. Grand and lush. I will work out how I want to pen the rest of the phrase quote or story. But the test run was pretty fun.

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Print Your Veggies

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I’m working on an idea for a nutritional guide (hate that term). Vitality Guide? Then it occurred to me, why not mix two passions and illustrate it? 

They may just be vegetables, but to me they have distinct personalities. Peas in a pod are, of course, sweet, fun and innocent. Artichokes on the other hand, are the perfect architecture of a vegetable. They are regal and noble.

Eggplants? Carrots? Cauliflower?

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Seeing in Reverse

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In grappling with making a stamped white cat there was the obvious option of carving the image in reverse so that the lines remain and the rest is carved away. It is not how I usually carve, so thinking this way is a challenge. Lines tend to become wider because extremely fine lines become unstable. That’s not entirely true. They have to be carved at an angle leaving a wider base for stability, which can be done more easily for straight lines and open areas. And some of it comes down to comfort and skill. I’ve seen plenty of negative carving, much of it Japanese, that is exquisitely done in miniature. It tends to be done with an X-acto blade. It baffles me.

I think she loses some of the delicacy and subtlety. Regardless, this was an interesting exercise. I feel a little more confident now using this technique. Practice, practice, practice. Especially those things that we fear.

Up on a Hill (Sketching it Out)

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My friend’s story has a cat and a dog who are both white as the central characters. If I were illustrating them using line drawings this would be no problem, but when stamping, it is more of a challenge. I tried roughing it out on butcher paper instead of white paper and think that may be (at least part of) the solution. The other thing I experimented with is using watercolor over the stamped image. This helps give more dimension to them as well as integrating the watercolor used in the background. The cat has black markings in the story and that is another challenge I tried to address using paint detail.

There are two dogs because I was trying to see if I could solve the problem of scale between the cat and the dog without carving a new one of either of them. They are supposed to be sitting together on a hill, but as we all know a cat’s idea of “together” is a little more distant than most.

Straddling Two Worlds

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I want to deepen my illustrations by adding water color and collage. I want that in my mind, but when it comes to actually doing it I freeze up a bit and fall back on old habits. I am more comfortable sticking with the familiar if I can be more sure of the results, which goes without saying if you choose a technique you have done dozens of times before. New materials represent the unknown and that is awkward and the outcome is usually amateur at first. So, here I go. Making some stilted art in hopes of getting to a more layered and interesting place.

Little Pink Houses (and green and red and purple and…)

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I can’t stop carving houses! It seems to be a problem – maybe a crutch to keep me from doing anything else. They are fun and satisfying and I keep finding *just* one more that want to add to the line up.

Of course, to the outsider’s eye it looks like a gaggle of kids where you loose track of their ages and mix them up on the annual Christmas card. But to me they are all individuals with different qualities. For instance, tonight’s addition isn’t even Victorian architecture and would never be found on the same row as the rest. I enjoy geeky anachronistic inside references only a nerd would catch.

I have one or two more houses in the queue that are calling my name. After that I vow to mix and match them with some of my animals to create a neighborhood. That should be fun!

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