Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A B C.....

In order to get better at painting in watercolor, I'm embarking on a series...the alphabet, boy's set and girl's set (with purples, pink, orange, red, green and blues). Don't worry, each will have a soccer ball-ha! Each one will get better....that's the plan, YES!. (And of course,  I've already planned on going back and re-doing some once I turn into a WC expert!) The thing is, no one has ever taught me how to paint in watercolor, ever. I've figured it all out but I'll admit, it's not easy. Well, sometimes. A few things I am learning......

1.Make it quick, don't over work, heavens it gets muddy FAST.
2. I think I'd like to take a class but can't find any in our area that work with my schedule. Like 7pm Sunday night would work. I'm actually thinking about contacting the instructor of one of the local classes and seeing if I could do like a two hour private lesson....it's that or BOOKS. I get too impatient with YouTube......too many bad videos.
3. Practice, practice, practice.
4. Invest in better paint (I'm using Winsor Newton Cotman series right now and sable brushes) and brushes. Paint is expensive but not bank breaking, but oh man, the brushes! I found a $600 brush today and almost choked on my breakfast.

I've been peeking at neighbor, Golly Bard's blog to get some tips from her. I love her art and her colors. I'm of course, doing something very different for these letters but ...actually maybe I should ask her for help (she lives a few towns away) but then I would feel like I was stalking her....but I'm not, really!

So you see, I'm not going in alphabet order. The "Q" is for my godson, Quinn. And the "P" is for my nephew.
I've set up a new Etsy shop called Carousel Court (yes, I grew up in Carousel Court here in Virginia). And when I have the first alphabet done, I'm going to put prints up.

I'm on to the "B".....then "S"......then hopefully, I can get back to ABC "order". I'm excited to take a whole alphabet picture. Whoopeeee!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review: Prisoners

I've often thought of posting "what I thought of" a movie review-y kind of thing.....I mean, I google movies after I see them, sometimes in frustration (a lot) and occasionally because it was just so amazing (rare these days), usually I am googling for the soundtrack, like the great music in Our Idiot Brother, not so good movie but this is a great song....listen, you'll love it.

Okay, back to the subject at hand. I can't tell you how many times I re-write movies in my head. I love to edit. I love to make them better. I wonder why Hollywood doesn't come to me. Because I can tell you RIGHT off, what's wrong with your movie, any genre. My husband has started to really believe me, because I can tear holes in things like nobodies business. I can HOWEVER, suspend my disbelief if the movie warrants it. Don't think watching movies with me is some type of torture. I wonder, DO they even have test audiences anymore or is it just push play. So let's talk about Prisoners.

Here's the quick Warner Brother's synopsis:
How far would you go to protect your family? Keller Dover is facing every parent's worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is missing, together with her young friend, Joy, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated RV that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki arrests its driver, Alex Jones, but a lack of evidence forces his release. As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, knowing his child's life is at stake the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family? 

1. Why does Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) constantly blink? Constantly. I found myself just watching his eyes, wondering when he would blink next...when.....when.....blink....blink.....

2. How is it that the father, Hugh Jackman's ready for ANYTHING, and I do mean EVERYTHING, EXCEPT a little ole' grandma (watch movie, you'll agree). For a survivalist tough guy, he lets a little old lady take him TO THE SECOND LOCATION, Hugh, every woman who has ever watched Oprah knows, this is a BIG NO NO. By no means, let the little old lady take you to a second location.

3. The red herring. Dumb and made the movie about 30 minutes longer than the average person's attention span. Also, when Detective Loki is chasing the red herring, he lets him jump on top of him from a tree (yes, you read that right) and get away. Maybe it was because he was blinking too much.

4. The ending. Yes, it's one of those. The credits come on and whatever you had in your hand at the time is soon found hurtling toward the TV (if you saw this in the theater, it was probably your empty Junior Mint box). You most likely know what happens, you know, but I think they must have run out of money and thought, hey, this looks like a good place to stop.

These type of movies are tough to swallow. Usually, I say no to kids in danger in movies or kids as ghosts. But I thought, this may be the kind of movie that makes you think. What would I do for my kids? I answered that question quickly, I would do what Hugh Jackman did and more. It was pretty bad but not so bad that you cringed. Well, a little. I'm Irish and although I am a very pleasant person, I've been known to push over the neighborhood bully on roller skates, yeah, that's right.
It is a good movie, it has good bones. But it's kind of like a kid wearing cashmere in an art class. Dressed up, messy and baffling.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Best Quote Ever

amazing painting at the Mandarin Hotel in DC

 OK. I know Ray Bradbury's stories. Fahrenheit 451 was one of my favorites and Something Wicked This Way Comes (I've been meaning to read Dandelion Wine). But I didn't know him, like him, him...I stumbled on this amazing (overused) quote the other day,

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Picture This

I've been absent.

Major change for me is like, trying to stir really thick cake batter. Yes, it's yummy, it's work, it's frustrating and you really shouldn't eat it uncooked and not expect your tummy won't hurt later. I admit. I was caught off guard. Going back to work full time put me in a flour covered kitchen with mitts for hands. The good part is, I love my job. I just don't like actually working (the schedule, the getting up, the "work" part). Does that make sense? I mean, I love teaching but doing it every day is like eating too much cake batter. Now, now, now, don't think that I don't put in 100% every day because, I, dear friends was the best student ever, and that just puts me in line to be a good teacher, direct lineage let's say. I take great pride in my job. But my mind is always wandering.....

 I've been putting in time. I've been practicing. I've been making mistakes and throwing things in the trash, lots of things in the trash. I've been reading and thinking and writing. I have been doing things on the GOOD paper and not caring if it comes out okay (having a full time job does help with my Dick Blick bills). Because, my end goal has always, and I do mean, always, to write and illustrate picture books. Always. Since I could hold a crayon.
So, why do you ask have I not been scooting down this road before? I have. But I was busy and tired and chasing little ones around. Oh my 30's-the lost decade as one 40 something mother told me (she had on a WHITE shirt, so I took her word for it that things would get better). I joined SCBWI, I went to a few conferences, I learned, observed and promptly went back to day dreaming. But that was then....

I'm just putting in the time.
We'll see what happens.

But first, before I get back to teaching myself how to really use watercolor.....here's one of those cool moments, I was driving to my really old school in October ( I teach one day out of the five at a 100 year old school, one of each grade, 120 kids, room the size of the janitor's closet, but it's so historical it makes my heart jump) and I was thinking about how to get better. I was remembering that about a decade ago, I saw that the Corcoran had a course on children's book illustration. I was a new mom and driving in to Georgetown on a Monday night was out of the question. So, I waited until the following semester when, of course, the class wasn't offered anymore. I emailed the illustrator/instructor, Henry Cole, alas he was moving out of the area, so sorry he said. His email was warm and kind. Perhaps, I should find another course, a class....
Later that day, I see in my work email that Henry Cole is doing a school visit at MY SCHOOL. Now, really, what are the odds? Slim to none. He was back in the area and he, in fact, grew up in the town I was teaching in. Slim to none.
The day, he came, I was ALL grins. I felt like Elvis was in building. He was amazing, charming, hilarious and INFECTIOUS. I started drawing my characters again, I started writing again. He sparked me. His story was the same as mine. The kid who could draw. The kid who won all the poster contests. The kid who wrote books about ANYTHING and everything they could think of.
I did introduce myself. He was just as kind as anything. I didn't tell him that I wanted to grow up and be just like him. My smile told it all.
I like teaching. I love working with kids. He told stories and made my students heads explode with possibility. Mine as well. It was great day. A pivotal day.
Thanks Henry.

Now back to work......the batter is turning out nicely.

frozen snow days=time in my studio

my studio, pretty neat eh (as in not messy, amazing)

letter roughs, in order to practice watercolor, I am making the alphabet, boys/girls. The "Q" is for my godson.

practice, experiment, practice-how to work in collage? yes, no, maybe so. experiment.

just for me...things buried under the sea series

title page from vintage book series