A sneak peek at the office

A sneak peek at the office

The challenge with working outdoors is no internet connectivity and barely a mobile device signal. It makes checking emails and updating social media status and blog posts nearly impossible. But, really, the technological detox is quite rewarding. The contract job orders are … Continue reading

Another day at the office

Another day at the office

The office. Outdoors. Clear skies. For the last couple weeks I’ve been contracted to paint… well, I cannot disclose what I paint at this point. Not where. But it is a beautiful day to paint some art.

Paint until the light fades

20150609-075742.jpg

Last Friday night. Using natural light, I worked on an illustration until sunset. Without a formal art studio, the best place to draw with pen and ink and to paint with watercolor is at the east window. As the time grows close to the longest day of the year, this allowed for more time spent doing art work. But when the light fades it is time to switch tasks and clean brushes and pens.

Box of Poetry

A challenge motivates me to think of solutions. In this case, the challenge was inspired by a reader of this blog who commented: “It would be lovely to cover a little box with beautiful words…” Great idea!

After a couple concepts and a couple drafts of what I hope are “beautiful words” here is a custom origami box of poetry. The reward is to watch the user/reader pick up the box and decipher the order of the poem.

DSCN3314_HD_IG

[Front] “Box of poetry”

DSCN3315_HD_IG

[Left flap] “In a land where/the blind lead the/blind/the poets are the seers/the judges/the priests/the relics of a religious/age… It amuses the/people to hear their words/but few convert/and see the word/written/or

DSCN3316_HD_IG

[Right flap] “spoken/on the wings of/pages/on the winds of the east/or across the western/prairie… Spoken to the/scribes and bound into/the souls of the faithful/the few illuminated by a package/of poetry/written on a scrap/of grocery bag/folded into/a cipher and/left on a/window/sill”

DSCN3319_HD_IG

[Back] “this is your box of poetry to light your way in the land of the blind/after reading these lines eat the words and burn the box”

Afternoon work, windows open, listening to Joseph Arthur

20150410-150554.jpg
Listening to “It takes a lot of time to live in the moment” by Joseph Arthur while working on an illustration comp for a book cover.

Twenty bucks does not go as far as it used to

Twenty bucks does not go as far as it used to

The return of Strange Familiar Place to print

Comic Stroll 2013

After a long sabbatical, Hudson and Heather Stillwater return to print in the comic strip “Strange Familiar Place,” a slice-of-life drama. Previously unpublished comic strips of “Strange Familiar Place” are now available in limited distribution in the fall issue of Comic Stroll, a publication of the Southeast Chapter of the National Cartoonist Society (SECNCS).

One of the SECNCS members provided me copies of Comic Stroll on Monday. Later this week, copies will be distributed at the annual SECNCS meeting as well as VA and childrens hospitals in the region.

Strange Familiar Place returns

Stange Familiar Place - Comic Strip

After a very long hiatus, “Strange Familiar Place” will be back in print. Or at least it will be in a very limited capacity. More details on that later.

The creative non-fiction comic “Strange Familiar Place” first appeared in The Indie. Inspired by the works of Harvey Pekar, Jessica Abel, and Eddie Campbell, I wrote and illustrated “Strange Familiar Place.” Eventually I collaborated with illustrator and comic book artist James E. Lyle on six comic strips.

Comic Stroll, a publication of the local chapter of the National Cartoonist Society, will feature that collection of previously unpublished comic strips. Read the evolution of what started as a couple drawings and became a creative non-fiction comic:

  1. Comics and Narrative Non-Fiction
  2. Comics and Narrative Non-Fiction Continued
  3. Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: part 3
  4. Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: part 4
  5. Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: part 5
  6. Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: UPDATE
  7. Narrative Non-Fiction Comics: UPDATE
  8. Strange Familiar Place comic series

More details about Comic Stroll distribution will be made available later.

Hidden in the closet

Hidden in an old portfolio

Something hides in the closet. Below the button down shirts and dress slacks for work, behind the winter wardrobe of sweaters, vests and jackets, and against the back wall is an old black leather portfolio with handles. Years ago it was a mandatory item for any and every graphic design student or young professional with goals of becoming an art director, illustrator or creative director. I pulled out the old portfolio and the oversized heavyweight document envelopes behind it and entered a gateway to another time and place.

Like time travel, I am back in the 1990s. There were three main portfolios I presented. One presentation was corporate, ad agency design samples. The kind of material that ranged from logo design, brand campaigns and the like. The second presentation was print design. That portfolio exhibited all manners of print designs from brochures, books, direct marketing collateral, magazine spreads, cover designs, etc. For presentations, I would rotate the design samples in the black leather portfolio based on the interview. Sometimes I presented a hybrid of both that included work that featured my copyrighting and marketing pieces. But the third portfolio was my favorite–the illustration portfolio.

Professors, peers and even my first art director advised it was the weakest of the three. The general critique was that technique needed improvement. So I kept working on improving technique and execution. A black cloth case bound sketch book always accompanied me almost everywhere I traveled. I’d sketch landscapes, still lifes, portraits and tried various techniques using pencils, Sharpie markers, charcoal, ink and watercolor. But soon I learned that I could earn more financially and find more consistent work with digital designs.

It is not that I abandoned illustration. A few years ago, a national news magazine featured one of my illustrations on the cover of its annual books issue. Earlier this year, another illustration was featured as a book cover design. Also this year, a few spot illustrations were published in a book.

As I look at these old illustrations and sketches, I see a younger, self-doubting me at a time before home computer, internet, or smartphone entered my life. Back in those days, the only entertainment devices I had was a stereo set with a five-CD player, a stack of maybe 30 audio CDs and a shelf full of books. Through the portal of this time capsule, I see the mistakes and accomplishments with a new perspective. Hidden away in that closet is a portfolio of dreams, aspirations and ideas that was slowly replaced with a portfolio of duty and responsibility. A thought occurs to me as I examine an unfinished sketch of a female portrait, did I focus on pursuing a career path rather than a vocation? Maybe that is a thought I should hide in the closet while I bring some of these illustrations into the daylight.

What is your creative space?

An open window to creative space

The window is open on a warm late May day and a cool mountain breeze  moves the curtains like papery fingers. Occasionally, I glance at the Japanese maple outside or the grape vine wildly clinging to a handmade, crude trellis of found pine limbs….

[read more]

UPDATE: This blog post is available as part of an audio podcast.

Listen now:

Or listen on:
PodOmatic: coffeehousejunkie.podomatic.com
SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/coffeehousejunkie

E-book: This blog post will be featured in a forthcoming e-book. More details coming soon.