fantasy illustration, fonts, people, simple photoshop, step by step, how to, thoughts behind the work

Farmers: An American Experience

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This started out as a pencil doodle.  When I brought it into photoshop, I adjusted the levels to make the greys of the pencil as dark as I could, and the lights as white as I could. This gave me a little template to build the digital painting on.

There is a lot of painting involved here and a lot of colors and brushwork too.  It took a long time.  I am learning to navigate through my Wacom tablet which saves a lot of time. Learning shortcuts is amazing. I wanted the wife to have pears on her dress but they are not joyous colors.  Because of the situation farmers find themselves in, nothing here is joyous.  I hope their expressions reveal what is going on in their lives.

I usually don’t do political drawings but I thought I would have a little fun with this.  It was pretty easy choosing an appropriate font for a title.  I called it An American Experience because there was a PBS series with this name for a long time.  It was a documentary series about cultural phenomena. This font is Goudy Stout.  I love the name and think it’s sounds exactly what it looks like.

My favorite part of this piece are the two types of bodies.  She is a plump pear and he is a skinny dude.  They make a perfect couple that we see in real life just about every day.  Regarding the coloring; my favorite part is his blue jeans.  When jeans get old and worn, they look kind of yellowish/grey sometimes.  There are many layers and tones of the colors on everything here, and I sing the praise of “multiply” brush effects.  It adds so much depth and dimension, as it picks up the colors underneath with every stroke.

An additional treat is that it was saved for web as a png file and therefore it can be printed transparently on to different fabrics.  This piece ended up looking great on lots of textile products and it really surprised me.

Here is what it looks like on a grey sweatshirt product

alphabet, fantasy illustration, fonts, Holidays, Illustrations, kids, Odd Little Stories, scratchboard drawing, simple photoshop, thoughts behind the work

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary with text

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From the nursery rhyme the 1st paragraph of Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary is illustrated here. This painting is a digital drawing and painting of my own idea. I have tried to use colors and text that engage a nostalgic mood. Mary, Mary was quite the contrary miss, I think.

What started out as a cool idea and something nice to do on a quiet Sunday ended up being a 6 hour project….from the idea to the photoshop drawing and painting to the addition of text.  I made 2 versions, one with text and one without.  I ended up only listing the one version with text online.

What can I say except I love drawing like this and playing with text.  When I moved from the U.S. I left all my fabulous books and films behind.  For 40+ years, I had collected “primers” which in my collection, dated back to the 1880’s.

They were old beautiful books that I treasured and cherished. Primers were children’s elementary readers.  Heads up on this one.  The vocabulary, language in general was very sophisticated and advanced.  I had a 5th grade reader which was equivalent to what would now be 1st year high school.  There was no photography and dot printing had not been invented yet.  So all the art was line art only.  That is where I learned the fundamentals of drawing in grey scale by not using grey scale but using line art and the idea that drawing was an optical illusion.  The width of the lines conveyed the tonal values.  That led to my 30 years of drawing in scratchboard. I drew for over 25 years only in black and white and I am not ashamed to say it.  I also learned about scale from primers.  Think about this:  Convey a mountain with a few people on top of it…don’t forget to include the clouds, the weather, the country, etc etc .then ask yourself if it conveys a mood as well as giving all that info?  The  storyboard was alive at the turn of the century for sure.  All the rules and success of animation are in the old primers.

All of these principles have basically never changed.  You become a better artist when you learn digital media because basically art is science.  Photoshop and Illustrator are basically science and math is your friend.  After one month of working hard and trying to remember my old skills, they are coming back.  Now that I have the desire to use typography, this is just another icing on the cake.

Here is a product with this 100% digital art.

 

alphabet, fantasy illustration, fonts, Illustrations, kids, Pen and Ink Drawing, simple photoshop

A Hammock rests here

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She was reading but my bet is she won’t finish this book and very soon it will gently fall to the ground.  She is looking pretty relaxed with her pet rabbit on her shoulder.  I had a pet rabbit once in Pittsburgh, PA.   This little pen and ink sketch done with black ink on white watercolor paper dates back a few years when I was contemplating writing an alphabet book.  I am sure I had slated it to be H for Hammock but, since I’ve been putting images on kids t-shirts I’m opting for the word “Rest”.  I have a feeling moms would like to rest so I did this for them.  They could think about a little rest when they dress the baby or child.

The font is Lieb Doni and I hope people find it appropriate.  When it comes to fonts, there are so many ways to go and so many choices, it can get confusing. I colored this digitally with my Wacom Intuos Pro tablet and pen in photoshop CS6.  I need to practice using brushes again…it’s been a really long time.   I love using the big brushes and keeping the opacity always somewhere from 30 to 50%.  I’d rather build up layers of transparent color.  I love painting this way.  It is very relaxing.  I think all the black strokes around the hammock are making the whole image a little dark.

I would appreciate comments and critiques.  That’s what I am using the blog for.

Here is the link to purchase.

ice cream, people, Places

Selling ice cream (helado) by the Lake

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This wonderful happy man can be seen in the villlage of Chapala Mexico in the state of Jalisco.  On weekends you can pretty much always find him pushing his tomato red cart.  He sells ice cream, called helado in Spanish.   He has lots of flavors to make you happy.  The atmosphere is pleasant and the malecon (tiled walkway along the water’s edge) and the plaza are just lovely.  The lake is beautiful and cools the air. Right now there has been so much rain that the lake is the highest its been in 50 years.

You can stroll and eat and take in all the sights and sounds.  Very often you can find people dancing in the plaza to the music of local musicians.  Some of the bands will be a collection of guitars, drums, and various brasses including tubas.  Chapala is a great town.  Some may call it a city.  If it sounds like I am selling the place, I’m not really.  I just enjoy it.

In Mexico they churn the ice cream by hand, in huge metal canisters called garrafas. The canisters are filled with the ice cream base and placed inside of wooden barrels full of ice and salt, and then it’s someone’s job to stir the ice cream with a large wooden paddle as it slowly freezes.

This technique gives the ice cream a unique texture. “Mexican ice cream is closer to gelato, as it has less fat and air than American style,”

When I saw this guy, I was immediately attracted to the cart and his infectious smile.  I just had to paint him.  happy   happy   happy.

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If you are interested, click the picture to purchase a print or a textile of this watercolor.

Read more about making Ice Cream in Mexico here:
http://www.tastecooking.com/mexicanicecream

Holidays, people

Day of the Dead watercolor

This is my newest watercolor of the most exciting days to come here in Mexico. It will be happening soon and I can’t wait.
click the picture to purchase prints on paper and textilesDay-of-Dead-family-th

For a painter, I can’t think of a more colorful subject matter than dia de los muertos. Creativity abounds when everyday people take pleasure in the celebration of this most wonderful holiday.  I think their body language shows the love and care they have for each other and the joy of these special days.

Day of the Dead (known as Día de Muertos in Spanish) is celebrated in Mexico between October 31st and November 2nd. On this holiday, Mexicans remember and honor their deceased loved ones. It’s not a gloomy or morbid occasion, rather it is a festive and colorful holiday celebrating the lives of those who have passed on. Mexicans visit cemeteries, decorate the graves and spend time there, in the presence of their deceased friends and family members. They also make elaborately decorated altars  (called ofrendas) in their homes to welcome the spirits.
The belief behind Day of the Dead practices is that spirits return to the world of the living for one day of the year to be with their families. It is said that the spirits of babies and children who have died (called angelitos, “little angels”) arrive on October 31st at midnight, spend an entire day with their families and then leave. Adults come the following day.

Thanks Vikki Rennick for your photo that was the inspiration for this artwork.

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people

Guitar Player

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I painted this in July and forgot to include it in the blog  Better late than never.

Meeting friends in downtown Chapala and  walking the malacon after dinner, I spotted this young man in a crowd, meandering his way through the restaurant umbrellas.  I did not see his face but he had a quick step of happiness in his stride.

Of course, I had to paint him. I loved the way he casually slung the guitar over his back and he was definitely walking with a purpose.  I wondered, “was this before or after a gig?”

It’s a treat to see he wore a pink shirt and straw hat.  Of course!  Thank you kind sir for your happy stride.

prints available here