April 27, 2006 · shades of gray

A sneak peek and little update of the industrial scene I posted a couple of days ago featuring my fave character from the comic book, Lily Modern. This is just a rough, an experiment so to speak seeing how the background and the character interact. Right now as I’m looking at it, it’s really bothering me the way the smoke from one of the small stacks seems to be billowing from her left ear. So I’ll fix that in the final image when I merge the actual character drawing (this one is a low res image and is missing some details like her communication headset and the patch on her arm idenitifying her as an “Agent of Change”).

What I’m discovering more and more is that working exclusively in black and white (grayscale) (the interior of the comic will be printed in B&W) is actually alot tougher than working in colour. I’ve always felt that way about design and the same is really true in illustration. You really have to think about contrast and line weight, negative space and shadows and how to balance it all so that the images pop rather than becoming a big block of blah, you know? It’s tough.

As my in-laws will be here for the weekend, I won’t get the chance to work much on the comic book. Which is both bad and good… bad because the deadline is fast approaching and I’m really feeling a bit anxious about how much I want to do with it yet and good because I find myself obsessing to much over little teeny details that will get blown out or lost when it goes to print anyway and striving for perfection in every mark. I’m overthinking it and I need to step back and simplify and taking a tiny break from it will help me clear my head so I can refocus and re-energize. But overall, I am pleased with how it’s looking and I think it will be something I’m proud of in the end. I hope.

Have a terrific weekend all!

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April 26, 2006 · breathtaking birch

In my (currently much diminished) downtime, I’ve been persusing many a most spectacular craft blog. Wow! Suddenly there is a tremendous explosion of them out there, ripe with the most wonderfully creative, whimsical imagery. I find them both inspirational and distressing… o, the pangs of knitterly envy I suffer! The inferiority complex these things can generate in me. Argh! I can draw, yes, I am reasonably good with my hands… but the whole artisan crafter thang eludes me completely. I can barely stitch on a button and I’ve been known to tape and even staple jean hems (and at 5 foot nothing, there are ALWAYS hems to be taken up, even with petite sizes) out of sheer desperation and a powerful desire to avoid reliving any of my 7th grade Home Economics debacles of which there were many. In fact, Home Economics was the closest I ever came to failing a class that wasn’t math-related. If it weren’t for numerous extra credit projects (with much, much help from my genius mother) that boosted my grade to a middling C, I would have indubitably failed the semester which involved sewing and such.

Last night I stumbled upon Ullabenulla which led me to Kari von Wening and her most spectacular metal sculptures. The moths are fabulous, yes, but it’s her birch bark sculptures that have my jaw scraping the ground. I have a major thing for birch trees and these sculptures evoke the incredible texture and ghostly magic of birch trees like nothing else I’ve ever seen before. I’m spellbound. My kingdom for one of those magical structures.

But birch trees are a rather wintery species, I think, and I am wearing my spring fever like an extreme caffeine buzz, circling my little landscape and busily mapping in my head what I should plant this year. My plans are grand (and my backyard really kinda sad) and involve passionflower vines, larkspur, delphininium, magnolias trees and peonies. Lupins, lavender, lilies and lilacs. Russian sage and clematis. Complete renovation. Finny J. is also experiencing a rather rampant bout of spring fever and has decided that every step she takes should involve a dramatic pounce or bounce. This is causing Johnny Wincealot no end of nervous rigours as the broken leggedness severely restricts pouncing and bouncing, particularly front end pouncing and bouncing. I think all three of us are missing our long rambles in the park. Hopefully, we only have two more weeks of this completely restricted activity left. We’ll see….

sigh. Okay… Finnister is whinging away at the bottom of the stairs, demanding I feed her lunch and come hang out in a generally companiable way, plus my in-laws are arriving on Friday and I have much, much work to get done on the comic before that (not to mention grocery shopping, laundry, and frenzied cleaning), so I’d best jet. Til next time….

Because who knows when I’m going to get back here again, updated to add a bit of Ontario Spring for the irrepressible Breana who specifically blogged about it… a snap of the maple tree blossoming brightly in my front yard right now:

And to prove I’m not completely without crafting skill and because I’m all lame like that with the people pleasing and stuff, but mostly because I am convinced you are all about to abandon me in favour of tantalizing craft blogs… a snap of my most recent adventure in crafting, a paper blossom project I tackled from Martha Stewart’s Living (April 2006 issue) that of course is not nearly as resplendid as hers, but pleases me nonetheless. Now gracing my living room:

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April 21, 2006 · Comical lessons

There is other stuff going on around here besides broken leggedness. Yes! There is also comix. I’m deep into my comic on global warming for Scouts Canada now and wow… I’m learning more with this project than any other in recent memory, maybe more than any other project I’ve tackled in my career thus far. Mainly I’m learning that however kick-arse i thought my drawing skills were before, they are nothing compared to the really great comic artists working out there now.

Holy challenging, Batman! It’s one of those things I don’t think you really appreciate until you tackle it yourself… how complex and diverse a comic book is. How efficent you must be with the storyline, how proficient your drawing skills must be, your understanding of movement and character and anatomy and perspective. It’s making my brain sweat, I tell ya. Especially trying to draw the mechanical stuff. I come at art from a fairly organic place… I’m pretty adept at drawing people, drawing from my imagination. But not so hot on drawing mechanical things and gadgets and spaces… and this comic book is chock-a-block with mechanical gear and gadgets and spaces and stuff.

I’ve been doing so much in the sweet and fluffy vein that I didn’t realize how much I missed the grittiness a pencil can achieve until I tackled an industrial scene yesterday (see detail above.) Wow! What a kick! I’m not 100 percent happy with the result and I may go in and tune up the line work again today, but it’s hard to explain how much FUN it was just to get in and get dirty. And trust me, I got dirty. I was completely covered with graphite, especially after I accidentally knocked over and spilled my pencil sharpner. I looked like I’d just spent the last week toiling in a coal mine.

So here’s but three lessons I’ve learned so far: I let myself get a little lazy with my drawing in recent years, sticking to safe subjects, safe POVs, not working hard enough to stretch myself or my skills. I resolve now to Draw, draw, draw, DRAW!!! even after this comic is done. And two: go for the grit. Go for some drama and don’t be afraid to tackle heavier subjects. You can do it!!! and finally: Comic books ROCK!

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April 14, 2006 · Broken Leg Chronicles: Week Four Begins

So… a quickity story as we enter Week Four of Dog With Broken Leg. To keep the Finnister entertained, we have been giving the wolf one frozen Kong a day (plain yogurt with a teaspoon of peanut butter mixed in for flavour-flavour and a few bits of her regular doggie kibble) and plus one meaty beef bone a day.

The bones are a lifesaver, even though they occupy an inordinate amount of space in our freezer (we’ve taken to buying a week’s worth at a time). They keep her occupied and happily snacking for at least an hour, sometimes two. But after that? She’s so OVER that particular bone. DONE. So into her wicker toy basket by the front door it goes with all the abandoned tennis balls which are one-chew deals as well.

This morning, I was laying on the floor fluffing Finny’s ears when Johnny Quipsalot walked by with three weeks of discarded cow femurs stacked up like firewood in his arms .

“Getting rid of the bones, huh?” I cannily observed as Finny and I followed his progress into the kitchen to the garbage bag.

“Yeah, they were starting to wig me out, all stacked up like that,” he said. “I was starting to feel like Pol Pot.”


Okay, not exactly an Easter story…. In other news: we have leaves! little tiny leaves, but leaves nonetheless. In my yard! On my trees! And six sunny daffodils all open and beaming. And an influx of very large, very fearless robins. And some wicked cabin fever to boot. And Finny J’s bandaging is no longer teal… as of yesterday it is Prince-ly purple. I’m thinking of decorating it for Easter Sunday. Polkadots. Festive, festive polkadots. (wow, I forgot how fun it was to say polkadots. I’ve got to try to incorporate that into my daily vocabulary. Polkadots aplenty!!)

Also, I am having a VERY GOOD hair day if I do say so myself. The excitment is practically overwhelming.

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April 5, 2006 · The Broken Leg Chronicles: Week Two comes to a close

oh. my. gawd. Having a dog with a broken leg is HARD. Tomorrow marks two weeks of Dog With Broken Leg. Only four more to go.

I really suck at this tough love thing. I know it’s for her own good… the lack of walks, the lack of stick throwing, the withholding of nibblies, the reduced portion sizes (so she doesn’t gain weight due to her inactivity, weight that would put stress on her bones), the constant hissing at her to stop licking her the top of her leg where the cast is rubbing and irritating her little shaved pit. I know this, I know it has to be done… but still I feel like the worst furry baby mommy in the world. I have actually written on my drawing table “Am So A Good Mommy!!!” and I look at it like twelve times a day to remind myself that lots of furry baby mommies would not voluntarily confine their entire existence to one floor of their homes just so the broken fur baby would not have to be alone or have to wear the cone of humiliation for hours upon hours (the cone is to prevent her from licking her irritated arm pit and also to keep her from chewing off her cast). Lots of fur parents would just toss the broken baby in a crate until they were all healed and continue on with their merry lives full of shopping and e-mailing and bathing and freedom and stuff. Lots of fur parents would completely ignore the accusatory sighs and the eyes of liquid gloom and not spend hours filling and freezing Kongs for the enjoyment of those making the accusatory sighs and the eyes of liquid gloom. lots of fur parents wouldn’t let real human fur-less babies enslave them this way.

And man, if she were a dog in the wild? Why, they’d just eat her, that’s what. Without a second thought. Grr, grrr, pounce and gulp. No remorse. No guilt. Just yum, yum, yum.

Dear God, the guilt! THE GUILT! My bad mommy guilt has actually taken on human form. We are now a family of four… Me, Johnny Gone-Most-The-Day, Finny J., and my Quasimodo shaped clump of guilt.

Argh. Save me!!!

Seriously. I don’t know if I’m gonna make it thru another four more weeks of this.

But fear not, Finny J. will be just fine.

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