Thursday, September 5, 2013

Book Review: The Three Pigs by David Wiesner

It is about time for another book review.  And what better time then when I'm avoiding finishing my book!?

Can I just say that I love the humor in David Wiesner's pictures in general, but especially in this book.  He does absolutely gorgeous illustrations, but they also happen to have a fantastic sense of humor.  (Found also his book: Art and Max, which is also phenomenal)  He stretches the ideas of what can be portrayed on a printed page, and finds humor in the two-dimensional vs. three dimensional elements on a page.  This is no standard retelling of a classic story.  Stories can ONLY improve when you add a dragon (filched from his own story of course).  Liam absolutely loves it, and we're definitely going to have to purchase him his own copy when the library won't let us renew this anymore.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book as both a great read aloud to the kids book, as well as one that even little kids are going to want to peruse on their own for the beautiful storytelling found in the pictures alone.  It is also big kid accessible as the bigger kids enjoy the silliness of the animals jumping out of their pages.   Page layouts have wonderful variation that isn't afraid to vary greatly in both minimizing and maximizing negative space.  If you haven't read it (or aren't familiar with any of David Wiesner's books) you truly need to do yourself and your children a favor and go buy it. 

See, this is how much he loves this book!

*(none of this is solicited or paid or asked for reviews, it is taken on solely by me, and I get nothing whatsoever for my review except the warm fuzzies of knowing I'm passing on great children's literature to others)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

#365 Drawings: Squirrel 19/365

So.. here is the little bird replacement...

I am trying to whip my dummy book into presentable shape for the writing/illustrating conference I'm going to next month...  I'll share some of them here.  Probably.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My origami display solution

I have loved folding origami ever since my second grade teacher Mrs. Maetani at Waterford School (Provo, back when it existed) taught my class how.  And then my big sister went on a mission there and brought me back a huge oragami book in Japanese (which didn't matter, because it is based on pictures anyway).  I was an origami fool as a kid.  Bored at church; origami, bored in school; origami, bored ANYWHERE; origami.  I still love to do it.  My perfectionist tendencies get a huge kick with all the crisp exact folding...  The only problem I ever had with folding origami is that I never had a very good place to put it/store it/display it.  And therefore was reluctant to do it as much as I might have otherwise.  I didn't want them to go to waste (especially if it was with real origami paper, which I rarely had).  Because I'm crazy like that too.  But having recently succumbed to the temptation to buy a fat stack of darling little origami papers and so I now have loads AND THEN I saw these tiny clothespins and voila!  A brilliant solution was procured.  I don't know if others have done this before me and I have just been clueless.  It is certainly simple enough I wouldn't be surprised.  But either way, I figured I'd share it with you.

None of my doorways are safe now.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

#365 drawings: 18/365 little bird

I guess I am sort of still doing this... It just started being too stressful instead of fun, and I had to back off.  I really do need to draw just for fun more though.  This bird I actually did a while ago for my Perfect Pet book, and I just cut it out... (to be replaced by as un-yet drawn squirrel or chipmunk)  But I like him (simplistic as he is) so I thought I'd put him up here as a farewell gesture.

...and you know, to also indicate I am not dead.  Despite my recent hiatus from blogging.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

#365 Drawings: just a bit of silliness 17/365

I mostly just dislike Politics
Please don't take this offensively.  I am just being silly and making fun of how BOTH sides are being silly, and aren't even arguing about the same things.  It is also EXAGGERATED for humor.  That is called hyperbole people.  It is meant to be funny.  Not offensive.  :)  I almost didn't post it because of the high political tension.. but I think I am hilarious, and haven't posted a drawing (even though this is VERY rough and unpolished) for a long time, so you lucked out.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

#365 drawings: Penguin 16/365

I have a soft spot for monochromatic animals
Aaaah, it feels good to draw unrelated and less stress drawings!  I hunkered down lately and did some illustrations I've been avoiding because of their difficulty.  Which was much needed and good, but I haven't done play drawings in much too long.  (especially since I committed to it)  Also it is nice to use reference pictures that I took for once.  Who knows how many years ago at the zoo it was, but it was I who initially captured the image.  And also reminds me of my oldest sister...  She had (has?) a big stuffed penguin I loved when she was a teenager and I a little girl who hero worshiped her.  So penguins have always reminded me of my big sister who loves them (and who I don't see nearly enough at all).  #warmfuzzies  #loveyouSar

Sunday, February 24, 2013

#365 drawings: hand study 15/365

sloppy hand sketch
So it is somewhat embarrassing to have such a public commitment that I am not being very consistent with.  I am feeling rather exposed with all of the posting, especially when I am not particularly proud of the finished sketch.  But I'm still going to do it, but try to be more accepting of my imperfection.  I also just might not post the ones I think are juvenile.  (or realize if I just do a drawing to get it over with and am in a hurry, of course I will hate it)  I also feel really protective of the illustrations for my book... and will still draw them (they are after all more important than this "fun" goal to stretch myself and break down the mental blocks to my drawing) but probably won't post them.  So.. bear with me, and be forgiving if I'm very publicly not upholding my end of the bargain.

This very messy sketch was done on awful scratch paper (remind self to cut nice papers to fit into my Sunday traveling sketching case) and whilst trying to wrangle four kids solo in church.  I am frankly amazed I was able to draw at all.  (helps that all of my kids also have drawing cases like mine to similarly occupy themselves)  Honestly it helped me transition to a place of peaceful focus for just a brief time, and helped change my negative mood into a positive one.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

#365 drawings: Fish 12/365

Boar Fish.  Not to be confused with Board or Bored Fish.
It turns out fish are fun to draw.  I love that they are practically two dimensional.  I will probably do more.  (Also because they are easy..)  I have a watercolor somewhere I did in high school that features a fish.. that was fun and as I recall the only other time I've drawn a fish.  The crazier the fish, the cooler.  I can't not think of James Christiansen when I think of fish and art though.  I love how so many paintings of his have fish juxtaposed in unnatural places.

I need to quit skipping days...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

#365 drawings: Valentines and Orca 10&11/365

these count for at least a drawing.
I did heaps of valentine's the other day (though I used previous drawings for said valentine's) I did watercolor the frog and so since I make the rules anyway..  totally counts.

Didn't draw the next day.  Sat there and contemplated it, picked one from my book I was going to work on.  Surfed the internet instead, then it got too late and I went to bed.  Drawing fail day.  Oh well..
But who wants to have two drawing fail days in a row?  Not cool.  And thus it was decided by committee that an Orca in a wading pool was to be the drawing du jour.  So, there you go.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

#365 drawings: boy and guinea pig 9/365

Yeah... I didn't get a drawing posted yesterday.  This drawing counts for both days.. because I worked on it both days.  Even if I only really started it last night, I was trying and psyching myself up for it before then.  It is going in the book.. and I'm close enough to finishing the dummy book that the last few drawings to go in it are the most intimidating ones (for one reason or another).  There is a reason I put them off.  Like not having good reference pictures... or a tricky composition/layout.  Anyway.. I gotta go make valentine's for my kids to hand out tomorrow.  I'm trying to decide if I just print out the same ones as last year, or get fancy and make up a new one.  Which actually was throwing me off yesterday, I was going to draw a new one and get my daily drawing in and kill two birds with one stone, but never decided on what to go on the valentines.  Hrmph.  But at least I got the drawing done today a lot earlier in the day, so I don't have it hanging over my head!

Monday, February 11, 2013

#365 drawings: 8/365 Lucy

I fiercely love my darling Lucy-goose.
One of the things I hope to get more practice with, is to get straight to drawing.. instead of thinking too much about it.  And stalling.  I'm not there yet.  But I am getting better at just doing it.  Lots of practice is good.  And lots of practice is what I'm getting.  Its like a second language, the more you use it, the easier it comes.  And when you don't use it, it gets rusty, but comes back with practice.  (Which is why I can't speak french worth beans right now, despite having taken some cumulative six years or more of it.)

And I think Lucy has the whole world wrapped around her darling be-dimpled little finger. Seriously.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

#365 drawings: Bunny 7/365

This is for my friend Sharaya, who has lost too many bunnies recently.  I hate it when my pets die..  It breaks my heart.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

#365 drawings: Frog 6/365

Some days are easier to come up with something to draw.  Today was not that sort of day.  I messed around with a bunch of ideas.. (lots of ideas for illustrations for my book) but couldn't settle on anything concrete.  Either serious or otherwise.  In boredom I threw out a query on FB and my friend Janelle suggested a frog.  So that is what I did.  He would be fun to watercolor...  later.  Would that count for a different day?  hmmm....  Who makes the rules anyway? 

Friday, February 8, 2013

#365 drawings: Max 5/365

This is my poika Max. 

I'm thinking I might stop posting (not drawing) everyday.  I think it is too much.  What do you think?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

#365 drawings: Sloth 4/365

Once upon a time, there was going to be a sloth in my Perfect Pet book, and he was going to be hanging out in a closet.  Because that is where a tree sloth would go, of course!  But alas, it didn't quite work out for the story, and he was replaced.  But I still had this image in my head...   And this whole 365 drawing thing gave me the perfect opportunity to finally put him on paper.  Just for fun.  And also for my little sister Eve, who likes sloths.  There you go babe!

The end.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

#365 drawings: girl and dog 3/365

I don't like "faking" it with figure drawing.  It goes against years of figure drawing classes from high school through college.  Because I have a degree in visual art and not illustration, I wasn't ever taught how to fake it, or draw a person without a model.  So as I've illustrated my book, I've used pictures of actual people as models.  That is how I draw, from life preferably (though not at all feasibly) and from pictures otherwise.  The main character is my daughter, so that is pretty easy, but her older siblings are modeled after some older cousins who live two states away.  That has been tricky.  But I am changing the layout of the first page with all of the siblings together.  And I have no new reference pictures of my niece (just of the dog).  So today I faked it.

very rough sketch!
I've got to get better at drawing people from my head if I want to get any faster with illustration.  I'm a little better than I give myself credit for, but a long way off from where I want to be.  I still think reference pictures are the best for complicated poses (and always for faces for me).  But they can also be a crutch and slow me down.  I'm still learning how to transition from fine artist to illustrator.  (While maintaining quality and being consistent with my style...  Not an easy task.)  It takes a lot of practice.

I don't think I'll use my illustrations for my book for my daily drawings much...  (not knowing the "rules" is a bad thing) but I might throw some in sometimes.  (especially when I get no other drawings in that day, because of all the work I did on an "official" illustration). 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

#365 drawings: 2 (flower bead jewelry tutorial)


Hah, I did it a second day!

(even though it is sort of a cop out drawing.. it is still technically a drawing!)

I was going to draw one of my favorite photos of Max from when he was 3 or so.. and/or an animal suggestion of the long list my kids gave me.  But... well, it didn't happen.  What did happen was this very sloppy instruction sheet for Activity Days (I help out with the 8-11 year old girls at church) tomorrow.  It is not a pretty, cleaned up fancy tutorial like I would like show on my blog.  It is a rather ugly (though hopefully informative) info sheet.  But I am going to post it anyway, because day 2 is not one to chicken out on showing my work.  And if I wait until it is perfect, well it probably won't happen.  And if it does it will take up lots of time and stress.  So I am letting it go!

lots of different beading variations..
I learned how to make these flower beads from Cheiko (I think her name was.. it was a super long time ago) a Japanese girl my family hosted for a little while when I was a kid.  I went on a huge kick back then and had a million flower bead jewelry bracelets and rings and such.  But they are mostly lost and/or broken.  But it is a fun, cute skill (even if the instructions aren't) in my eclectic repertoire, and I was going to share it with the girls tomorrow anyway.  I hope it makes any sort of sense... if it doesn't ask me a question and I will do my best to clear it up.

Monday, February 4, 2013

#365 drawings: Owl 1/365

1/365  Just for fun.. that and my kids love owls.

Day one. 

I debated about lots of this.  Actually committing to do one drawing a day for a year.  (gulp)  If I was really going to do it, where I would showcase some (or not) and other stuffs (that I can't think of now, but it seems there should of necessity be more to list).  Mostly my fear of public commitment, and my knowledge of my flaky self.  I know it will be good for me, I need to be more productive with art.  I've never been prolific at drawing, I am too critical and perfectionistic to churn out loads just for the numerical quality.  So I knew it would be good for me to break out of that box.  And it would be a chance to draw just for fun, and not for illustrative book purposes.  To remember that I love to do it.  Not that I don't love it when a drawing/illustration is going well.  I wouldn't do it (or have gotten this far, which isn't very, but for me, it is) if I didn't like it.  But there is a lot less pressure when the drawing is just for drawing, and nothing else.  And if I don't like it, I (probably) won't show it.  And I don't want to be consumed by it (I am already bad at general house upkeep anyway, and have a half a trillion partially completed sewing projects not done) but it really will be good for me.  And my billionth new attempt at a new schedule/self discipline.  Because my grown-up-ness is broken.  (Which I recently surmised from various sources I can't be bothered to remember now may actually be RELATED to my being a creative person, which is an interesting idea, and helps me be less guilt ridden)

And I may actually have incentive to post these and not half finish them to sit and rot in my unpublished post box.  Like so many others...  (there are lots currently about apathy, and such which, shockingly... are so pathetic I can't and don't even want to finish them.)

I've sort of been in a dark place.  A self discovering place.  But not a very nice to myself, want to share how pathetic I've been feeling sort of place.  Even though that can be helpful to others and healing and such.  I'm not always that brave.

Enough of that.  I am getting super off topic.  And I am determined to NOT go back and meticulously edit the crazy out of my posts (or not, and therefore not publish them).  So I had better stick to my reason for posting.  I am very scared of doing this.  And I don't like to be a follower... (I'm a self proclaimed antiestablishmentarian)  So it really isn't like me to jump on the bandwagon.  Even someone who I admire.  BUT that is a stupid excuse to not do it.  I realize I actually don't use my blog much to showcase my art (I am really actually pretty shy about my art, I know it probably doesn't seem like it, but it freaks me out to share it) at least as much as I could.  Partly because I haven't bothered to learn the "rules" about what I'm expected to know about unpublished disclosure and blah, blah, blah.  So I don't know if I'm shooting myself in the foot by showing off art that may later want to be copyrighted by a publisher...  ANYWAY.. going off topic again.  The other reason I'm reluctant to share more art on my blog is I get compulsive about checking the comments (or usually lack thereof) and care way too much about other people's feedback then I have any right to.  Basically I am way more insecure than I should be.  Especially when it has to do with my art.  There you go.  Full nekid disclosure.

But in the vein of not going for perfection and not having this take over my life, neither the drawing or the writing in these posts will be cleaned up and/or picked over incessantly.  I'm not even going to scan the drawings (unless they are illustrations which I'll use later) just take pictures of them.  (Blast that crummy instagram is too snotty to let those of us "losers" without smart phones play their exclusive game.)

Which is WHY then I should fight my fears and do it anyway.  So I am.  Wish me freakish luck.  I desperately need it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My schpeil on Parenting

(I found this complete yet unpublished post kicking around in my drafts.. it still applies, and even though it is filled with summer pictures.. whatever.  I'm posting it anyway..)

good thing that kids are so cute

Parenting is super hard.  And we're all at different places, and we all have different natural strengths (and weaknesses) as parents that we are usually pretty self-aware of.  And its a touchy button because it is such an important job.  But parents aren't SUPPOSED to be perfect.  Kids have been raised by imperfect mistake making parents since the dawn of time.  And that is okay.  We're all just trying to do our best, and give our kids less therapy fodder.  Kids don't need perfection in parents, they just need love.  Love is a great band-aid.   That is at least what I tell myself when I am feeling overwhelmed by my parental mistakes and inadequacies.    It will all work out, because as much as we are responsible for teaching them, we cannot and do not control them.  They are their own little beings of choice and personality and strengths and weaknesses of their own.   And there is no one exact right way to do it.  Because every individual is different, so they need different things.  That is why it is so hard.  It takes insane amounts of inspiration, mistakes, learning the hard way, and trying a million trillion different things to solve all of the million different things that come up.   

See, who needs water parks?

 I guess I've been thinking about it a lot lately.  That I feel inadequate because I tend to fall on the non-hovering side of the parental spectrum, in that I DON'T do enough activities and run around business that I see other people doing.  My kids don't have swimming lessons (though they want and need them) (but I have taught them some on my own..) or ballet, or soccer or guitar lessons, or go to theme parks or have lots of play dates or any other fancy schmancy and or busy thing.   I am a homebody, I like to be at home.  It exhausts me to run around in the car everywhere.  (It doesn't help that I don't have extra unspoken for money laying around and I'm kind of a tightwad anyway..)  And at home I don't hover and play and constantly read to and play with my kids and always involve them in educational and creative activities.  And while I think that too much of anything can be harmful (independent play, and imagination are important thing for them to learn too).  I also know that they could use a little more one on one time.  I spend too much time escaping to surf the internet, sometimes for legitimate reasons, sometimes just mindless escapism.  sigh.   Yeah.  Parenting is a massive guilt button.  Wherever on the spectrum you fall.  It is really hard not to judge others OR yourself too harshly. 
good thing kids are pretty quick to forgive