Inspired by Inktober 2019, I kept working on illustrations throughout November and December. For me, this was intentional art exercise. Keeping up the practice of crafting pencil compositions on illustration board. It was a private affair. No commercial application. Just me, a pencil, and board. But I hit a dry spell entering the new year. Actually, it was not a dry spell, but rather a lack of designated time to practice.
Commuting for two hours a day was part of the daily routine. By train and by street car. Or by automobile. Traveling sapped my energy. But now with state and government safe at home orders, I tried to ease back into evening illustration exercise.
Working from home had its own set of demands. Working from home with a family in an area of less than 1000 square feet presented additional challenges. But these are first world problems.
The first week was difficult. Routines and life patterns merged. A lot of discovery. Kidlingers and spouse realized what I did for work all day. Or at least attempted to do in spite of technological challenges with internet speed and video conferencing.
All evening activities outside the home had been cancelled until further notice. I had more time to catch up on reading and art projects. But resuming the exercise of illustration was difficult.
The first evening all I did was organize and clean the art tools and space. The next night all I did was ink one of the drawings. The plan for the illustrations were simple, clean drawings in the fashion of cartoons and comic books. Another night all I did was tone an illustration with shading and hatching. The direction shifted to a stylized portrait. The results surprised and pleased me.
This encouraged me to continue the practice. And it also encouraged the kidlingers to make art as well.
Inktober’s rules are simple: draw something in ink each day for the month of October, post it online, hashtag it, and repeat. So, if I draw three panels in a single day, does that make up for two missed days?
Ever watch those drawing challenges? Do a drawing or illustration in 10 minute, 1 minute, and 10 seconds. My self-imposed challenge for day 15 was two hours.
The prompt that day was “legend.” The inspiration: two-fold. One, I revived a cartoon character I created long, long ago. Two, an homage to Starchild, created by James A. Owen.
The big challenge for me is that a two-hour block of time is a lavish luxury for me. It means I can not begin until the work day is done, household chores completed, and kidlingers in bed. Mostly.
Before I finished the inking process, one of the kidlingers reminded me that within the two-hour window I stopped twice. Once to spend 15 minutes brewing a pot of tea for the night owls of the household. And once to re-tuck a younger kidlinger into bed.
Discovered these old sketch books in September. Looked at them. Placed them on a shelf. Lost them again.
Rediscovered the sketch books again this weekend. Marveled at how much time was invested. Considered how these books were populated with sketches of classmates, drawings of roommates and other ephemera in a place and time were smart phones, tablets and laptops were not ubiquitous.
What would you be able to create if you were not glued to your smart phone for more than four hours a day?
Fear motivates. The paralyzing fear that if I mess up the coloring of this book cover art, I will have to start the whole process over again. And the completion date is fast approaching. But the task needs to be done. So, onward.
Watercolor washes begin the color process for the book cover illustration.
Paint to the edges and then let the colors bleed. The basic color palette had already been determined weeks prior to the final execution of the cover art. But once the water and pigment are activated on the surface of the paper, the color palette organically builds to its own organized spontaneity.
Details. There are always small details that many casual observers may not detect at first glance. For example, the color for the shotgun shell includes multiple wash layers of different pigments — each layer pulling or pushing color from previous layer.
Once the final art is approved, I finished the design with title bar and a map overlay to texture the collage art.
The foundation of a great painting is a solid drawing. At least that was my goal when I worked on this book cover illustration for Orison Books. The collage features a firewheel — sometimes called Indian blanket — blossom, shotgun shell and expansive Texas landscape.
The purpose of thumbnail sketches is to advance the concept of artist, art director and editor to a final product. It seems like a lot of busy work, but three elements are essential: brainstorming, mind-mapping and closing the gap. The following images illustrate the process of thumbnail sketches as it relates to a book cover illustration. Three thumbnail cover comps presented to the publisher a couple months back. Full-size book cover sketch to gauge color temperature and composition of elements.