Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Illustrations: Drawing Upon the Words

This past week was spent working furiously away on black and white pen and ink illustrations for Llewellyns 2012 Magical Almanac. As you know, I finally got my glasses, so it's been a month of waiting and then catching up. I've been writing articles for the almanac since 2005, and in 2007 I started contributing illustrations as well. (These photos are all my illustrations from Magical Almanacs past.) I look forward to the almanac every year, I love the articles and it's also a great guide to have at your fingertips for daily energies.

This year I illustrated two articles that I wrote for the Magical Almanac, one on working with Green Man for prosperity and abundance magic, and the other was on dream magic. I think you'll enjoy them both. I was also pleased to do illustrations for articles by Raven Digitalis and Blake Octavian Blair, both are Facebook friends and very talented writers. I never know who I'm going to get besides myself to illustrate, so it's always fun to find out! It's actually a fun challenge to read the articles and see what images come into my mind, or figure out what the best way is to convey the ideas of the written word into images. I've always gotten great ideas from books, so it's really fun to have the opportunity to illustrate. I look for inspiration in the article and come up with images that will both pull the reader in, as well as wanting to please the writer and make them say, "Yeah! That's what I was thinking of." So next July when it comes out, we'll see how I did! I can't wait for you to see them!

I have one illustration left for Voice of the Trees, and then I'm shipping those off to my editor on Monday. I'm pleased with how those came out, lots of leaves and Celtic knots and stuff. I've recently noticed that some of the Llewellyn books are using black and white pencil illustrations instead of ink for their books, Lisa Hunt and Jennifer Meyer have recently created beautiful pencil illustrations for Llewellyn books, and I love the look. So for Voice of the Trees, I opted for pencil illustrations. I actually submitted a few with the finished manuscript and card illustrations so that they could see where I was going with them, and my editor liked them so much, she asked for more! I was delighted!

One more tidbit, I was recently asked to illustrate another book pretty soon for Llewellyn, I can't tell you what the book is yet, at least not until I sign the contract, but I will say I've seen the reference photos the author sent in, and wow! This is going to be a gorgeous book and I'm really excited to be a part of it! More on that in the future!
Well, back to the drawing board for me!

A Misty Magical Morning

On my way to work this morning, I was looking out on the snow covered fields. We have some open fields as well as some corn fields nearby that I pass every day. This morning, was especially amazing, the snow has been melting and was evaperating in the morning air, I noticed a low mist on the fields this morning, huging the snow covered ground. I thought, "I should stop and take a picture, it looks so cool." but sometimes what you see in real life doesn't register on the camera, and I suspected from experience that the low mist wouldn't show up. Plus the road has lots of turns and I was nervous that if I pulled off the road, someone might not see me and smack into me.

Then I turned onto the main road in front of my office building...

What I saw was amazing. The mist wasn't on the ground here, but was a separate layer, a ribbon of mist hovering probably 10 feet above the empty field. It was clearly visible silloueted against the dark trees in the distance. This is a busier road, but pretty straight and has a good shoulder. So I pulled off with my hazards on, and grabbed my ever present camera from my purse and snapped off a couple of photos.

The ribbon of mist tickled the trees beyond as it stretched into the distance where it met the rising land.

The sun warmed the land transforming the solid frozen snow into a vapor that clothed the distant trees in gossomer finery. The dormant flora stirred, then returned to dreams of the coming spring.

A hush was on the morning fields as the elves and faerie folk silently danced a slow dance across the land reminding the roots of the forest that they soon may wake, send lifeforce back into their limbs and come out to play.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beyond Fantasy Magazine Art Contest

The Rowan Fairy is receiving some attention this month!

The voting for Beyond Fantasy Magazine has begun, January 16-27th 2011 and I'm proud to be include amongst the other fine artists in the contest! Vote Here!

The contest is called "Faeries and Foes," art depicting either faeries or foes of faeries. I chose to enter my Rowan Fairy because she is one fairy who knows how to handle a foe! She is a stately and graceful warrior armed with a bronze sword and a rowan shield ready to take on any foe of the fae magical or mundane. The rowan tree offers protection from magical attacks, and safe guidance through life's trials.

So how do you vote? Easy! Click this link, and it will take you to the Beyond Fantasy Magazine poll. If you scroll down, you'll see lots of gorgeous images, art of many talented artists who entered the contest. You'll notice my Rowan Fairy among them, with the number 25 below her. Don't click on the image or that will take you to Beyond Fantasy Magazines Facebook page. To vote, you'll see a poll on the right side of the screen near the top, just click # 25 and then scroll down and click the "vote" button to enter your vote, that's all there is to it.

Thanks so much for taking the time to vote, the top 3 will be published in Beyond Fantasy Magazine.

Watch for Magical Movie Monday later this afternoon!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My New Specs!

Well, I got my new glasses yesterday! It's really going to take some getting used to, I never realized how much I used my peripheral vision before, but I also didn't realize how blurry everything was, so right now the glasses are something of a double edged sword, but I think I will get used to them and it will turn out to be a real benefit.

They're cute frames, they're designed by Tommy Hillfiger but still fit in my budget, the color kinda matches my hair, and the inside of the frame is blue for a little fun.

I had to get progressive lenses, which for those who don't know, have three different areas of clear focus, the top is for distance, middle is about the distance between my face and the computer screen, and the very bottom focuses close for reading, about one line at a time is clear. I've never worn glasses, so I'm going from no glasses to these, and I must say, it's a bit like walking in a really clear funhouse! If I stand about 4 feet in front of my refrigerator it looks like the top is waaay wider than the bottom, kinda Tim Burtonesque. Dan and my son were having a little fun with me last night waving their arms and leaning way back. It was pretty humorous.

Dan has worn glasses for a long time now and he told me you just have to learn how to look through them, and kind of train yourself to turn your head the right way and look through the right part of the glasses. So true. I think I've pretty much found the "sweet spots" but still getting used to being consistent.

Driving to work, I noticed a goose flying overhead, it was so clear that it looked almost 3D! I didn't realize that everything was blurry before. I haven't tried art yet, maybe tonight.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snowfall in The Enchanted Garden

Last night my 12 year old son heard that the snow was heading our way, watching outside as it began to fall he was desperately hoping for a snow day. So in keeping with the traditions of the students in our school district, he flushed an ice cube down the toilet, put a spoon under his pillow and went to bed with his pajamas on inside out. All these actions are believed among the student body to increase the odds of seeing his schools name scroll across the screen the next morning proclaiming a day of fun in the snow!

His plans worked, as he is home right now shoveling the walk and playing in the snow. I alas, still had to go to the office where I work, but not before snapping off a few pictures while my car warmed up this morning. I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I've officially caught the ACEO Bug!

I made two more ACEO's last night, these are really fun to make! It also makes me really happy to make use of these little sketches.

The sketch I found for the Crescent Crowned Goddess is really cool because I had played with eye color on that one and did a big drawing of her eye. I remember that I was watching Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor around that time and when I was working out her raven black hair, it occurred to me that violet eyes like Liz has would be really cool.

I included a little vervain on this ACEO, and I found a little silver tone metal flower that reminded me of vervain that I added also. I love the tissue I used for the background on this one, it has metalic gold on it, the background was white, but I did a sepia watercolor wash over it to add a little more depth.

The Mother card has always been one of my favorites, I posed for this one with my son, Tristan, he was really young then. He loved the idea of reading books and having a picnic under the tree out front, so we did so on several occasions after we took the pics for this piece.

We read the Lemony Snicket or Spiderwick books and had snacks! I included a moth wing that we found under that tree, and her bookmark is a little leaf from my thyme plant. You'll notice that in the sketch his shirt is green, but I changed it on the finished piece to yellow ocher because the green would have blended in with the background too much. Then I added dandelions to her hair, because it seems like kids are always giving their mothers dandelions which are also associated with one of my favorite Goddesses, Rhiannon.

That's why I did these little color sketches to begin with of course, to work out colors and ideas before continuing to the final piece. I often did these while I was waiting to hear back from Raven and Stephanie on the sketches so that once I got a response, I had worked it all out in my head and was ready to go.

I might make a couple more ACEO's this weekend, but I also have art to do for the 2012 Magical Almanac, so I might only get a few ACEO's done.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sketches from an Classic Project Become New ACEO's!

What's an ACEO you might ask? It stands for Art Cards Editions and Originals, and collecting them is becoming very popular all over the world. It's a great way for collectors to get a piece of original or low numbered mini prints of artwork that are affordable. The measure 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches and generally come in a plasic trading card sleeve. Some people display them on a small easel on a shelf or in a curio cabinet, some collect them in trading card books with sleeves. I've been tossing around the idea of offering some ACEOs for about 6 months now.

The other day I was sorting through my studio after it had been ravaged by our holiday production line for both Etsy orders and gift making, when I stumbled upon my old notes and sketches from my work on The Well Worn Path deck. I worked on that deck with authors Raven Grimassi and Stephanie Taylor beginning in 2004, and I did a lot more sketches than I normally do because I was working from their descriptions. When I finished a sketch, I would email them a scan of it, and then print out small copies of them and sometimes I would make notes and test colors on them before starting the finished piece. I called these "color tests." When I looked at these little gems it occured to me that they are just about the right size to make ACEOs! I thought there might be people out there who enjoy the deck and would love to own these little pieces of creative history.

I created a card back design from the deck art proclaiming that this is a handmade ACEO with a hand drawn original sketch from The Well Worn Path deck. Each one has the name of the card hand written on it and it's signed with the year.

The first one I created was from The Rede card. I printed out a thumbnail size of the full color finished art, tore and cut the edges of the sketch and thumbnail and created a pretty scrapbook like card including decorative paper, rose petals, a piece of black ribbon I used as reference, and I also hand copied some of the keywords from my original notes from our phone conversations discussing the image. It turned out looking like a miniature version of a page from the book of shadows from the film Practical Magic or something!

I've added it to my Etsy shop, and I'll be adding more to this collection as time allows, if you are quick, you might be able to own one of these little treasures for yourself, each one is unique and won't (and can't) be duplicated! Watch for more coming soon!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Working on Interior Art for Voice of the Trees

It's been a lovely looong weekend! Dan and I rang in the new year with a lovely dinner for two at home and a bottle of mead that he and my son-in-law P.J. handcrafted. I was off work from Friday through Monday, so it was a bit like a little mini-vacation!
I did spend some time at the old wooden art table, and also on the couch working on black and white pencil illustrations for the companion book for my upcoming Voice of the Trees ogham deck. I wanted very much to race the clock to get these illustrations finished, but I've recently found it more difficult to use these old 45 year old eyes for long periods of time. Headaches and blurry vision. I've decided that a trip to the eye doctor is in order and won't be suprised if I'm perscribed glasses at this point. I worked for only about 20 minutes at a time this weekend, wearing weak drugstore reading glasses to help, taking breaks in between to allow my eyes to rest. I'm really happy with my results. I'll be finishing up a second page of illustrations this week and sending them off the Llewellyn to be added to the book, but in the mean time, I thought it would be nice to share a sneek peek with you.

Of course, after I finish these up, I have more black and whites to do, pen and ink this time not pencil as these are, for the 2012 Llewellyn Magical Almanac. I look forward to illustrating articles for the Almanac every year for quite a few years now. With these two deadlines, I'll probably miss getting something done for this months installment of the Enchanted Visions Project, and I had a great idea too! But that's ok, I'll finished up these illustrations and maybe get to create something for one of the past themes and then pick up the new one next month once I get my eyeball issues ironed out.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy seeing these, you'll get to see how my wonderful editor choses to use them in the book this coming September! I can't wait!