After spending the majority of the holidays either sick and feeling utterly unmotivated to create, I was thrilled when the temps soared last Friday and I was able to get down to The Plaza to sketch! If you haven't yet been down to see one of Kansas City's favorite holiday attractions, you better hurry! Tonight is the last night. Below is my favorite painting of the the bunch. Check out my tumblr page for all my sketches!
Last year, my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas back in Kansas City with cards illustrating one of our favorite KC spots. This year, we celebrate year #2 in Union Station. Merry Christmas everyone. Hope it's magical!
Did you hear? Have you heard the news? THE Kansas City Royals are in the World Series!! I am so excited, I took a moment today to letter this little homage. I have a very big deadline looming and definitely did not have time for such matters, so I hope that speaks to how FREAKIN' EXCITED I am! Let's go boys, our work is not done yet!
During the Brush Creek Art Walk I had an epiphany. I've always been of the mindset that watercolor is somewhat of a quick medium. It's not like oil or colored pencils where you can spend hours and hours building up an image. If you paint over a watercolor too much, you just get mud. While the act of watercolor is relatively fast, the thought process behind it can be excruciatingly slow. It's a lot of testing out colors to make sure you get just the right one (there's no going back, no command-Z!) and reverse thinking on how to get the highlights and shadows just right.
After being disappointed in how far I could get during the first two-hour quick paint competition at the Art Walk, I decided to keep it small for the second. This image measures 5'x5' and took about an hour and a half.
It was a blast. So. I did some more. I think I would like to make this a regular thing. After all, I can always spare an hour and a half in the name of watercolor.
And speaking of thought process, I took some photos of my plaza painting along the way to make this litter gif. I like gifs.
Back-to-school season has officially come and gone in these parts, so you know what that means. Halloween? No. Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Gross. Thanksgiving? Don't be silly. IT'S TIME TO BUY CHRISTMAS CARDS! Really? Yes, really! The cards I designed this season for Petite Alma are up and available to purchase on TinyPrints. Here is a small sampling, but be sure to check out the whole collection. There are all kinds of different configurations, color schemes and even envelope liners if you want to be all fancy pants.
all designs © Petite Alma, 2014
I might have spent the better part of my Thursday making animated donut gifs...
My painting of the J.C. Nichols fountain at night is part of an online auction whose proceeds will help to maintain and some cases save our city's fountains. Also, half goes to me, so support the fountains or an artist. It's a win/win situation. This watercolor painting measures 15"x11" and comes matted and framed. It's also one of the lower starting bids on the site, so you may get it for a steal! Paintings are also on display at the Buttonwood Art Space at 3013 Main Street (definitely go check them out as they ALL look better in person). Bidding begins Sept. 5th so be forewarned I will probably bug you again on Friday.
I've recently returned from a fantastic, desperately needed trip to California! I'm so back logged though that I haven't even scanned half of my sketches done on my travels. Key words for the week would be: IDOLS, SUNSETS, SEAFOOD, DISNEY, DISASTER, DISNEY, MIRACLES, FAMILY, FUN. Not bad for a week's vacay, huh? I hope to post much more soon, but for now, some wise words from a childhood hero, Tomie DePaola as he delivered a closing keynote at the LA SCBWI conference:
The folks over at Storybird wanted to do something special to honor the life of Robin Williams. Since they know I dabble in the letter arts from time to time, they asked me to letter a line of his from Dead Poets Society.
Rest in peace Mr. Williams. You will be dearly missed.
Finally had a chance to put together all the hand lettered section intros I did for A Woman in the House. My editor had the idea to do each section in a style that reflected the era covered in that section. I thought it was a great, albeit challenging, idea and ran with it. Still can't believe they let me put Back to the Future-style 1980's lettering over Supreme Court Justices!
My summer sketch club has been seeing the sights this summer! While we typically frequent iconic locations in Kansas City, this past week we hit the road and traveled west to Lawrence, Kansas ( aka Larryville, L-Town, LFK and the Home of the Jayhawks). If you know very little about me, you probably know that Lawrence holds a very special place in my heart.
If you know a little more about me, you know that I used to play the clarinet. I played throughout college on a scholarship and even a little while after with various groups including the Lawrence City Band.
The band plays every Summer Wednesday in South Park located in downtown Lawrence. Having been a former musician with the band I knew that they also rehearse two hours before every concert at KU's Murphy Hall. I shot off a quick email to the director and got the ok to come draw the musicians during their rehearsal.
It wasn't until I was in that room drawing and listening to the music that I realized how much I missed playing myself. I did the math and figured that I spent approximately 1080 hours playing in that rehearsal room in Murphy Hall during my college days! That doesn't include the time spent in my professor's office or the creepy old practice rooms on the top floor (that I'm now kicking myself that I didn't draw as well!). It's no wonder old memories surfaced.
This post goes out to my old band buds, especially those who are still making music. In whatever capacity! It takes effort and you rock (or toot or blow :)
It's officially summer in these parts. And you know what, it hasn't been terrible! I've been keeping very busy these days teaching drawing at KCAI, working for Petite Alma, Storybird, and a very new exciting book project! I've also started up a drawing on location group here in Kansas City (just like the one in NYC last summer). It's been a lot of fun exploring my hometown, meeting new people and seeing everything through new eyes.
Last week we met at the Plaza (and outdoor shopping area in midtown KC). I live near by, so I actually come down to draw at the Plaza quite a bit. I've been enamored with the J.C. Nichols fountain and the sculptures of the horses that represent four major rivers of the world (The Mississippi, Volga, Seine and Rhine). After Sketch Club was over, I passed by the fountain on my way home and was just stunned by how pretty it looked all lit up. It was a have-to-draw moment.
Of course, this isn't what I sat down and painted on location! I've been wanting to experiment with taking my sketchbook drawings and paintings and turning them into more refined larger paintings and practice my watercolor skills in the process. This piece is 12x16" and done completely in watercolor with a bit of white gouache (look ma, no photoshop!).
Keep in mind, this was not my first shot at the fountain. I've been drawing it regularly all spring and have finally captured all four horses. Here are a few of my other Fountain pieces:
Obsessions are fun, aren't they? While I sometimes post my location drawings on this blog, I always post them on my tumblr, so make sure to follow me there as well!
Hey everyone! I have some work up with some of the uber talented folks of Hufft Projects this First Friday (June 6) at MWE Inc. (1720 Wyandotte St.). No, I haven’t completely switched gears and become an architect. My husband works there and they were kind enough to let me join in on the fun. Since summer is upon us, I thought it would be fun to show some of my Swimmer Girls! I will have prints of illustrations from the book as well as some original paintings. Some never before shown! Click here for more info about the show AND the other talented artists that will be there. It's going to be a great show of very diverse work. Hope to see you there!
Many thanks to MWE Inc. and Hufft Projects, especially Gavin Snider for organizing this and letting some extended family (me) join in!
If I see you in the next couple of weeks and I don’t remember my name or only have one shoe on, it’s because things are a little cray cray over here. This is a personal piece (and part of something larger) I did back when I had free time. Sigh…free time.
As each chapter of Alone in a Crowded Place is revealed over on Storybird, a new spot illustration is revealed as well. Here are some recents. Stay tuned for more of these. With nearly 40 spots, we are only at the beginning!
Early this year I began working with Storybird to help launch their new longform books. If you are unfamiliar with Storybird, you should head on over to their web site and snoop around. People use the self publishing site for a variety of reasons, so it's a little difficult for me to summarize. Basically, one can log onto story bird to write and publish their own stories and poems. They can then receive comments and feedback so it becomes kind of a collaborative process. In addition, there is a library of art for them to choose from to enhance their stories. According to the editor, Molly O'Neil (AKA Wonder Editor), the creators weren't exactly sure who was going to get the most out of the site when it was first launched, but one pleasant surprise is that it has become really popular with tween-aged girls. I personally think that's awesome. Kids are gonna spend a ton of time on the internet. There's no way around it. But with a site like Storybird they are actively creating and putting their work out there for others to see. Sharing your writing is something that can take decades to feel comfortable about and here are these young girls putting themselves out there like it's no big deal. Pretty sweet if you ask me.
Storybird is still new and evolving. The creators began to notice that writers were trying to "hack" the picture book format set up on the site. They wanted to write longer, more complex stories. And so the new longform book template was set up. They asked several writers and illustrators to help create examples of this new format. Molly and writer, Bruce Wishart, came to me to see if I would like to help bring Bruce's story to life over the next several months. The first chapter of "Alone in a Crowded Place" is officially up and ready to read!
Over the next several months, Bruce will release the story chapter by chapter. I will also be creating a spot illustration for each chapter. Here is the first, a shot of where our story takes place, in a haunted library. Now you know why I've been drawing so many books this year!
New chapters (and illustrations) will be added weekly, so check back often!
Also, do check out their recent blogpost that goes into more detail about the new longform template. And check out all the other stories as well!
This is a little game I like to play with myself. I'm always snapping pics of the scenes I go out and draw, so from time to time, I'll take a sketchbook "selfie" (to use the buzz word). Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. Here are some of my favorites.