Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fancy Animal. attempt 1

So, this is my first try at this assignment in particular, however, I think I need to go back and work on the atmospheric lighting - which was the point at the outset, but I got carried away with the character instead.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sketchbook Assignment #2 - My Art history

I am taking an online course about art history for animation - and it is proving to be exciting and engaging - I only wish I had more time in amidst the deadlines, teaching and family responsibilities I have right at this moment. I have, however, been thinking deeply about my journey, and how I came to be a professional artist and educator.

For me, it begins with family. My mom is the first artist I ever knew, and she filled our house with stories, art and whimsy. We searched for gnomes in the snow and fairies in the summer. She wrote books. She tried briefly to get published and still makes art today. My Opa, aunts, uncles are ALL creative (now my cousins too). They make art, tell stories, sew, craft etc. This was the old world dutch side I grew up with.

On the other side, my dad's - I had a Grandma Monkey, and Grandpa Butch (who looked a bit like Winston Churchill), and my uncle - and I can distinctly remember the sounds and smells of that basement where we slept when we visited. The house was always busy, it was a typical Windsor, ON house, with an alleyway behind that had an entire life all it's own. My grandmother had a scratchy voice and the softest skin on her back, and earlobes that hung LOW because of the heavy earrings she wore in her youth (the very reason I wear none). There is a Halfway house named after these two, because they were constantly looking after people that were hard-done by in many ways. My dad and uncle both grew up to play professional football.

I was always good at art.
I guess that is where it started - a recognition, a first award at school, pictures hanging in the hallway (back in the day when you had to be selected and not everyone got a spot), art enrichment. My son currently has a piece in a juried art show - and I can see in him, the same pride I felt my first time too.

I KNEW I wanted to be a children's illustrator and writer.

Then, I started summer classes at the local gallery. Every week, I descended the stairs to a dark, a bit dank and paint-splattered basement. Wheels whirring, the smell of tempera in the air and I was completely, and utterly hooked. I spent hours and hours in this place, creating, learning, sharing. We had shows and galas, and I won plaques and had pieces in the paper.

Art was also the thing that set me apart, and made some of my most awkward and painful years managable. I was hated at times, mocked, and dismissed. But through this gained empathy. Art was my light.

High school was amazing, incredible teachers and the opportunity for more exploration. A small-town school, with teachers who thought outside the box.

Sheridan College, Interpretice Illustration was my next stop - 3 years of BLISSFUL, HARD-ASS, WORK, CRITIQUE, FRIENDS and GROWTH. I cannot say enough about this.

During school and after, I tree planted, met hundreds of people and had an amazing time. I connected deeply with the environment, and spent hours and hours with myself. I also met my husband and traveled all over Canada and tree planted some more.

I got my first job on the ground floor of a magazine (then a newspaper) doing layout and illustration. It was interesting, due to the fact that I had SKIPPED almost all my college computers classes because i was an 'artist' who didn't need technology. I had done enough to get by, so I made up a portfolio at the library and got the job doing both. It's a good thing I was a good problem solver.

However, the lure of the big$$ treeplanting offered (and the fact that it is COMPLETELY opposite to sitting at a desk all day - which was killing me), we left again... for another season. My husband and I would buy a van after planting, drive it till we got somewhere, and get jobs till the next season rolled around.

In 2001, my mom sent me a link to a job at Loyalist College - a REAL graphic design job - we were pretty nomadic and I was working in a bakery in Calgary and doing some freelance work. I applied to appease her, knowing full well there was NO WAY I would get it. Well, they flew me back for an interview and I put together another portfolio on my own computer for the college - and I got it. I did that for 12 years and have recently started teaching drawing, sculpting and character design in the Animation Program at Loyalist College and I LOVE IT.

We regularly got visits from paper reps, and one day a rep from Fraser Papers (which is now Smart Papers) walked into my office and noticed a print of one of my paintings. He asked for a card, and a month later I had a GIANT gig illustrating a 3D paper zoo. I almost broke my hand on the ceiling when they told me what it was worth. This job won awards and started me on my next path - because I could afford to advertise, and felt like I COULD advertise something.

Starting with Scholastic (I had always said I wanted to have a book illustrated before my first child), I have illustrated over 20 books and 90+covers in the education market, and almost (10) trade picture books - two of which I wrote as well.

My kids, my family, my history seemingly point in one straight direction - but it took a lot of luck and hard work, and I am always working on that next journey of discovery and exploration - and the next thing I can be super proud of.

Oh, and my computer teacher can have the last laugh, because I am all digital these days - and teaching the stuff he taught us.

Not sure if I met the requirements here, it turned into a ramble...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

New York, New York.

I am on my way home from the SCBWI New York conference. 

I am so very tired, and so very inspired. 

This whole weekend has been a whirlwind of information and networking, but if I had one word I could use to describe the entire thing, it would be relationships. 

It was the highlight of the illustrators intensive, working on empathy in our stories and pictures, making that deep emotional connection. But it did not end there.

I used to live in the city, but I am a small town gal now, and I was soooo nervous about going to New York, even though I was among friends. I thought it would be cold, fast, impersonal... But I could not have been more wrong.

I LOVE New York. People look at you and make eye contact. Strangers always willing to help. Weddings in grand central station. People greeting, hugging, kissing, saying hello and goodbye, smiling... So much smiling. Grand central was amazing. I walked around by myself a few times and just watched... So many people sharing a small small space and it works.

Something else I noticed... New Yorkers are REALLY good at their jobs. All the service was wonderful, engaging, prompt and professional. There seems to be a real pride in doing a good job that permeates all, from the porters, hot dog vendors, servers... Everyone seems to enjoy what they do, even if they don't really. This is not something you see in Canada everywhere... When people don't like their jobs, most want you to know it.

Another thing, walking downtown, I hardly saw ANYONE texting or talking on their phones. When people were sitting together, they were not sitting around on phones, they were sitting and talking together... Maybe it is risky to text and walk in NY, no doubt it is, but it was so refreshing. I have been assured that it is not always like that, but as far as my take of it. This meant something to me. I loved it.

SCBWI is an incredible organization, they put on a awesome conference, with lots of chances to network, party and most of all, learn, hone and celebrate the craft of children's books. 

Spending the weekend meeting people I have known online for years, meeting new people and travelling with my friends has been amazing. The energy that exists in a room with over a thousand people that love kids books is... Incredible.

I met Tomie Depaola, Gordon Korman, Kelly light, E.B. Lewis, Roxie Monroe, I SAW Oliver Jeffers, Jon s. And so many other people on a start studded Friday night... 

If you haven't joined yet, you should.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Postcards for New York!

So, I splurged, I am off to New York for the SCBWI conference, and I am so excited and nervous. My good friends at JB Printing printed these postcards for me, I wanted something a little different, hoping to stand out a bit, it's a pretty big crowd of super talented people at this conference and I'd like to meet an art director or two that digs my work... So here's hoping for an excellent time and opportunity for all!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The BEST thing about teaching is...

That I get to give out assignments that I would have LOVED to do... and I get to do them. I love it so much, it is inspiring and fun - the assignment I gave this week was to create a character from How to Train Your Dragon - but not just ANY character, Themselves. Who would they be, where would they fit? Here is my rough go at it...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy holidays!

So, I am taking a break from Facebook for the holidays. There are lots of reasons for this, not the least of which is, I think I am addicted! I love it. I love looking in on everyone's successes, beautiful children, new works of art, commiserating with other mommas... but there is also a sad side... And to be truthful, I enjoy trying to help with that too... But I was doing it too much.
It hit me when my daughter told me I should post something on Facebook. It hit me when my husband said I was spending more time with that screen than I was with him. It hit me when i was putting off playing a game with my kids while i updated my status to what we were doing...
I have so much wonderful work to do, friends to keep up with, pins to share, pictures to share, comments to make..and the list goes on. But you know what? I have a family to do stuff with, a husband to spend time with, books to write and illustrate, apps to design and so much more. I need those hours back, I need to learn to control them. A moment, looking before I started working in the evenings turned into hours, and the constant chatter going on in the background made it really, really hard to concentrate fully. Last night I stayed off, mostly... And I got SOOO much done. Today I have stayed off... And I feel less anxious. Less busy. Less... Less... Because the downside to too much Facebook is that everyone else's life seems charmed and wonderful. That people had perfect houses and children, take wonderful trips to Disneyland and Mexico... And in those moments, I feel a teensy bit of envy, and I don't want that. I love Facebook... But we have to stop going steady. I am taking the holidays off to enjoy my kids, my family, my messy, teeny, fixer upper of a house that will be packed full of friends and their kids (who mostly, curiously enough, DON'T FB). Then, I hope, Facebook and I can have the odd coffee and talk like old friends, and it can be a little less of a teenage love affair.

Happy holidays my friends.
PS, because of this development, there is a good chance I will actually blog again...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Drawing at the Ballet Studio...

So, what seems like forever ago, but was really only last year, I started talking to the lovely folks at the Quinte Ballet School about possible models for my classes. An option to actually come to the studio seemed to be the best one, and today I brought the 3rd year animation students. I think it was successful, the students did quite a bit of drawing. Here are some sketches of mine - looking forward to seeing more of theirs!
Ballerinas are incredible to watch - they go from average teenager, to art - beautiful lines, movement and power - so much power! Can't wait to take the next group in a couple of weeks.