Cats In Hats

20 of them.

I had done a sketch for fun of cats in hats, but quickly realized that not only did I want to do them justice, but I also most certainly had the time to do so.

I spent the past week house-sitting, and took the opportunity to glue myself to Turner Classic Movies. I watched: The Harvey Girls, Ace In The Hole, The Andromeda Strain, Them!, East Of Eden, A Star Is Born, Arabian Nights, Topkapi, The Shanghai Gesture, Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, Flying Tigers, 55 Days At Peking, The Hawaiians, and The Right Stuff. I also fell asleep during The Man Who Would Be King and woke up halfway through Lawrence Of Arabia. So that’s…. 14 movies in 8 days, not counting the ones I slept through? Not bad! I still don’t quite get the appeal of Judy Garland (or James Dean, to be honest), but I am now most certainly a Charlton Heston fan.

Of course, I didn’t watch all these movies (or paint all these cats) alone. I had some assistance.

Rama
Finn

I sound like a crazy cat lady, don’t I?

Robot Dance Party!

So, I was at work while the Oscars were on. But I watched them after the fact (yay DVRs!), and then watched A Star Is Born, which seemed appropriate. I can’t decide if I really like Judy Garland or not. It’s difficult to separate her from The Wizard of Oz, and I didn’t particularly enjoy Meet Me In St. Louis. Maybe because she clearly was clearly playing a teenager while not a teenager herself. But I watched The Harvey Girls a few days ago and loved it! So I decided to take a chance on A Star Is Born. I liked it, but again, maybe not because of Garland. I can’t quite put my finger on it… Maybe I prefer her in campier movies? Or maybe I’m enamored with Garland’s costars (like Angela Lansbury, John Hodiak, James Mason) and my affection for them rubs off on her.

But seriously, John Hodiak looks like how I always pictured Almanzo Wilder.

Anyway, while watching the Oscars and A Star Is Born, I drew some musical robots. Dare I call them… Polka-Bots?

I just played with a few crummy cellphone pics of them, so expect the robots (all 5 of them) to pop up again when I’m near a scanner.

It Has Been Too Long!

When was the last time I posted anything? It’s been nearly 4 weeks, by my estimate (please, no one count and tell me, I’m too ashamed).

So first of all, can anyone tell me what’s up with this?

467 Followers?? Wha..?

Hello new followers I’ve been gaining over the past 6 weeks or so! Where are you from? What are you doing here? How did you find me? Tell me about yourselves.

Anyway, I did not return empty handed! I have two new paintings to share.

Is anyone else utterly consumed by Game of Thrones lately? I mean, I’m not consumed consumed, I still manage to dress myself and go to work and keep the cat fed, but that’s about it. So what is there to do but channel that energy into fanart?

First, Jon Snow and his direwolf Ghost. Where are they? North of The Wall, perhaps? Who knows! I sincerely hope that the makers of the show figure out how to make the direwolves look BIG as they get older.

Fun fact, while searching for reference for Jon, I came across a photo of an actor who happened to be the nephew of John Wilkes Booth. I wonder if his castmates ever mistrusted him?

Both of the paintings were done with black sumi ink, with little details in white gouache. I have to say, after working with very opaque paint for the past few months, where any mistakes can be easily covered up, made working with just ink very difficult. So much care and precision is required, but don’t go too slowly or things will dry before you finish painting them! But it was all so very enjoyable (I apologize for any weird wordings I may use, I’ve been bouncing between Jane Austen audiobooks and BBC miniseries lately). It was great to tap back into my watercolor roots and play with layering washes again.

I used quite a bit of ink about a month ago in order to cover areas quickly while under time constraints. It felt really good to slow down and to do the painting piece by piece over the course of a few days.

I want to quickly apologize for the quality of these images- these paintings look so lovely in real life, but I’ve noticed that my scanner likes to pick up the texture of my paper, which, combined with the fact that the paintings are black and white ink washes, makes the scans look a bit like photocopies.

See? Looks like a photocopy to me. Anyway, the second painting is of Daenerys (who came out looking a bit Lana del Rey-ish) and Drogon. Looking at it now, I think both Drogon and the rock Dany is sitting on could be a shade or two darker. I wanted the images to be opposites, with Jon in his blacks framed against Ghost and the snow, and light, ethereal Dany set starkly against Drogon and the harsh landscape. So I may go back and correct this. Just not right this second. Also, I know, horrible dragon anatomy. Animal anatomy confuses me on a good day, so to draw an animal I can’t possibly get reference of? Not a good idea.

I’m enjoying painting with ink though. The washy quality, and the depth you can get by layering is very appealing, as is the texture you get with nice watercolor paper (these babies are both 9×12, painted next to each other on a sheet of 14×20 Arches cold press paper, 140 lbs., if anyone wants the specs).

I’ve been looking at the work of Saul Tepper for the past few days, and wondering how well his style of working one color into a black and white piece would work in ink.

The Lady Who Promised (?), by Saul Tepper
Illustration for The Tall Ladder, by Saul Tepper

As far as I can tell, he worked in oil. And it seems that the use of only one color was probably due to printing constraints. But I still like the look of it.

Illustration for The Tall Ladder, by Saul Tepper
A beautiful paunting housed in the archives of The Society of Illustrators in New York.

Time to get some colored inks and try it out, I suppose! Now is definitely the time to experiment before another deadline sneaks up on me.

LOVE IN THE JUNGLE

Ah, the inevitable Valentine’s Day-related painting.

As a snarky lady with a highly… unsatisfying love life, I’m not a fan of making earnest, heartfelt, touching paintings. Paintings of people in love with no dark humor or clues that it won’t turn out well. Which is why whenever I get the urge to portray love, it turns out like this.

They’re brachiosauruses (brachiosauri?)! In love! They’re like the Jack and Rose of the dinosaur world.

I had so much fun making up their markings (loosely based on this guy) and coming up with letter designs. This was actually my second attempt at this painting; there’s a 1/4th finished version hanging around my workspace, still waiting to be thrown out. I’m glad the letters came out so well- it was very stressful, freehanding them without a sketch underneath to guide me.

Anyway, these lovely creatures will be in the “Hard Love” show at The Hive Gallery in downtown LA next month; I normally hate doing anything around/relating to Valentine’s Day, but I’m secretly excited to go to a show of all cynical paintings and to meet the people who made them. Unless everyone else interpreted “hard love” as the genuine difficulty that comes with sticking by someone you love. If that’s the case… awkward!

And if you’re a horrible person like me and think your loved one really needs this painting, it will be available at The Hive Gallery on Feb. 4th, and there are prints available here.

COMPETITIVE SPIRIT

Last night, I submitted my entry to the House of Illustration’s and Folio Society’s book illustration competition. After mistakenly assuming the deadline was a later date (as there are two other competitions with deadlines towards the end of the month), I rushed to paint all four of my entries in four days. Even though I am now a bit tired, I’m glad I pushed through and finished.

The competition was to illustrate Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber. I happened to have picked up the book a few months ago on a whim. I was quite taken with Jen Munford’s cover illustrations, and decided to give the book a chance, even though highly prosaic short fiction really isn’t my cup of tea.

Jen Munford's cover; image from designrelated.com

The stories turned out to be wonderfully dark and full of beautiful imagery. So I was excited when I heard about the competition back in October.

But I stalled. I was stalked by doubt. The winner of this competition gets their work published by the Folio Society. What chance did I have of winning? People like Sam Weber and Robert Hunt get chosen by the Folio Society, not unknowns like me. Some hotshot like Chris Buzelli or Tomer Hanuka is probably going to sweep in and clean up anyway. Perhaps that’s why I forgot the deadline- maybe it was an act of subconscious self-sabotage.

And then I remembered- I’ve entered competitions before and come away empty handed. Hell, that’s the way most competitions go. And even if I don’t win anything, I’ll have a few nice paintings and a few more hours of experience under my belt.

I have only three images to share; the fourth, a mock-up of a cover for the book, I would like to keep to myself for now.

First, an illustration for the title story, The Bloody Chamber.

“The bride, who had become that multitude of girls I saw in the mirrors, identical.”

Second, Puss-in-Boots. This is the only one I would do again, if given the chance. But that’s what happens when you don’t give yourself enough time to do things over; you turn in things you aren’t very proud of.

“A white hand fragrant as Arabia descends from the black cloak and reciprocally rubs behind his ears at just the ecstatic spot.”

Lastly, In the Company of Wolves. This one is maybe my favorite.

“Their eyes reflected the light from the kitchen and shone like a hundred candles.”

So that’s that. I have a week or so to rest until I need to get started on my next piece. I’ll hopefully forget about my doubts, be pleased with my work, and when the time comes, not be too displeased with the eventual “we thank you for your entry, but,” letter. It won’t matter by then; I’ll have already started pieces for another competition.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE

Well, now that that’s out of the way.

The last three paintings I did in 2011 were gifts for my family, which I would like to share here. It was fun to take into account their likes and dislikes, to consider what I knew of their taste in art, and to come up with something they wouldn’t absolutely hate to have on display out of obligation whenever I visit.

So, for my sister, a corgi (the family has two) dressed in her school colors and cheering the team on.

For my mom, some koi swimming by.

And for my dad, my interpretation of Ren & Stimpy, which, if you haven’t seen that show, go find it. Now. Here’s a small taste.

 

So happy holidays, and have a fantastic new year you guys.