Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday

Here's your warning: There's a heavy dose of political commentary in this Sketchbook Sunday. This week we watched the State of the Union the night before buying a new(ish) car amid surprised exclamations from the dealership that we were not financing it and that we were not upside down in our trade. Apparently they "see that a lot." All were inspiration, so read on at your own risk . . . but first some kid cuteness:

The Baby Ox
Baby Sprout has a very physical sense of humor. She is always falling into things, falling over things, bashing around and cracking herself up. And she's never happier doing this than when she is naked. She's like a cross between a 70's streaker and Mary Catherine Gallagher. When her performance reaches a fever pitch, Jim Dear and I call her the Baby Ox. This sketch shows her actually being rather demure..... really she's just sitting down to catch her breath.

Cheap at Any Cost
During Tuesday night's State of the Union President Obama (obviously) spoke about the economy and how to rebuild jobs in this country. Now really, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what the situation is here: all the stimuli and relief and tax break and tax hike and this-n-that-n-the-kitchen-sink packages have created a blue million jobs. . .

. . . in China.

Obama referenced this in his speech immediately after he spoke in glowing terms about our "innovation", our "colleges and universities that people travel to from the world over", and about the "hard work ethic" of our society. Indeed these terms glowed so brightly for a minute I thought I was watching the Oscars. We have the best, most innovative, most crazy risky-but-with-a-huge-payoff ideas and we work the hardest to make them a reality. And you know what? Obama is right. We did, after all, harness nuclear fission and land a man on the moon. But even for all this radiance, for some reason, businesses are just not creating jobs in this country.

So businesses must not be looking for the best. My guess is they are looking for the cheapest.

As Jim Dear says, "They'd rather have good enough, than the best at any cost." In the race to short term stock price gains we are un-diversifying our economy. We believe we can create a "knowledge-based economy" but we're not smart enough to do that. If we were smart enough we'd see that if we are all high-tech, healthcare, and green industry workers, we will all make less money. Because as the supply of those workers goes up, their wages will go down. Simple supply and demand economics. We are the smartest, best, and most innovative country out there, but the ace-in-the-hole of our economy was its diversity. Instead now we are in a race to the lowest common denominator. Hence, this sketch of the race - the best worker trips over the splinter of our trade agreements as the cheapest crosses the finish line:

Thursday I got my SCBWI Bulletin in the mail. Always on the cover there's an interesting illustration involving a kite, the Society's mascot of sorts. So that night I was mulling over what I would do for a cover when I sketched this. . . a take on the littlest mermaid with the kite as the ship's sails.

Money Guzzler (and my final word on policy.... for this post anyway)
As I mentioned from my last post, my old Saturn Vue had decided to convert itself from a car to a hole in the garage into which we poured money. So Wednesday we traded it in on a seriously fabulous Chrysler Town and Country. Yes, a minivan. I'll cut to the chase for all of you who haven't owned one but should: they are the epitome of convenience. I swear this car has actually given me back about 30 minutes of my day. There's no value you can place on that option. Anyway in the process of brushing up on our finances for this purchase I got to have a look at how much Congress' plan to have a one year tax break on Social Security will amount to in Jim Dear's paycheck.

Um, it's a whopping $21.06.

That will not even fill up the tank of either my former or current car. It won't even pay my babysitter for the afternoon while I run around doing errands and draining the tank. But again, it doesn't take a rocket science economist to figure out that what this latest version of stimulus spin will do is punch a giant unfillable hole in what's left of the SS trust fund. So inspired by my lack of an extra tank of gas, especially when I've helped the economy by buying a car, I sketched this:

Finally a disclaimer.... I don't consider myself a "political person." I don't watch the commentators or favor one party over the other, I think they are all nuts. What I pay attention to is which ideas make the most good old fashioned Southern common sense (read: the ones that will do the most good for the most carbon based citizens over the longest period of time.) Since listening for these ideas, I've made a few predictions over the years about which way our fortunes will turn in this country . . . and so far I haven't been wrong. So go ahead and expect a smattering of opinion mixed in with all the cute kid pics and cool children's book ideas on Sketchbook Sunday, I didn't promise to be polite, just interesting.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday

As promised from my last post here's my sketch book from my draw every day resolution... and some of the thoughts that accompanied these little tidbits:

I couldn't resist doing an illustration of my ordeal with the water heater. In this sketch I have the house phone in one hand, my iPhone in the other and I'm attempting to talk sense into the people on both ends. Notice the water heater gasping for life in the background.

The Stomach Bug: This was part 3 of the Week From Heck

And though it didn't happen in the Week From Heck, my car has started dripping oil.... which is not what cars are supposed to do. This could be overlooked except that we've already plowed a small fortune into this car, fixing it, in the last 3 months. So the night I did this sketch, Jim Dear and I had been at the kitchen table discussing cars and our budget..... made more bearable with a glass of red.

Every night before bed I tell the Small Fry to CLEAN UP HIS LEGOS!. And every night before bed the Small Fry tells mommy "I just have to fix this ooonnnneee space ship... just one!" Cleverly he doesn't mention that this one space ship is a scale replica of the space station NASA will be launching in 2103, so "fixing it" definitely takes longer than mommy is comfortable with. Here it is finally flxed and flying to bed.

Both kid's were on my mind this night.... especially the Sprout whose hair is finally growing below her ears.

One of the things I discovered nightly sketching is good for is trying out picture ideas I feel I never have time for during the work day. I would love to do a really cool illo of the moon..... but for some reason I never feel like my moons look as cool on paper as I want them to! Takes practice I guess.... so expect several moon sketches over the year.

Finally last night I did this sketch. I've been reading the new Robin McKinley book, Pegasus. So while trying to think of what to sketch I decided to try to illustrate the pegasus people from her book.... it morphed into an image of a little girl in footie pajamas riding the pegasus.... that's not in the book, but this might make a pretty cool image someday.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ring in the new: Should auld appliance be forgotten....

My new year's post is getting to be a tradition around this blog. And lookee here, I'm actually doing this one in January, unlike last year. 2011 so far as been... uh... eventful. Here's a tally: 3 days after returning from our holiday travels we experienced the second parting of the Red Sea as our hot water heater burst all over the garage, sluicing through the giant oil stain on the floor left from the last owners that Jim Dear and I have been meaning to deal with. The good news is 50 gallons of natural gas heated water does wonders for removing an oil stain...... the bad news is we discovered just how truly horrible the customer service with our American Home Shield warranty is. For a minute by minute replay of that debacle go visit my Facebook page. The short story is that Jim Dear spent the second weekend of the new year learning how to replace a water heater. This weekend was quickly followed by a snow Armageddon, Jim Dear having a wisdom tooth suddenly removed and Mommy having a stomach virus for 3 days. Whew! Maybe 2011 wants to slow down a bit and save up some of the hassles for after daylight savings time. At any rate I wanted to do a post about my resolutions for this year and revisit 2010's just for the heckuvit.

First 2010:
Resolution #1: Create another picture book.
I'm happy to report I did do this one. Myself and some other local SCBWI friends started a blog critique group and all through the summer each of us worked together to get a book ready for the fall Mid-South conference. I wrote about it here and here. I'm still brushing up my book, Nothing All Day, but plan to start submitting in a few months.

Resolution #2: Work on loosening up my work
This was much harder.... as I stated in my 2010 post a lot of my tightness is related to drawing hands and details on characters. Really late last year I had an epiphany about hands, that maybe I just didn't need to draw them anymore. That would be loose. So I've tried doing some characters with just gesture for hands..... its a step, but I think I'm still working on Resolution #2

Resolution #3 Work on licensing ideas.
yes and no on this one. I haven't created any new pieces but in the process of moving I had to sort through several stored pieces that I haven't seen in a few years. Some of these were for jobs, others were just pieces I did for fun, but a few of them could have a second life as a licensed piece. I've started placing them on calendars and cards to submit to some agents.

Resolution #4: finally we get to the one everyone was waiting for - Lose 10 pounds.
No. I didn't lose 10 pounds. I did gain 3 pounds, then lost that! Then I lost 3 more pounds with a stomach bug I caught in February. Then I gained back 1 pound. Then I lost 5 pounds while walking and eating a bunch of salads right before my 20 year high school reunion. Then I gained that back over Christmas. Then I lost 3 pounds again with the latest round of stomach flu. Let's see where does that leave me?
Oh, I see.....exactly where I was this time last year (sound of grinding teeth).

Well, I'm moving my career forward, I guess I don't have to win a swimsuit competition any time soon.... so there.

So that does it for 2010..... moving right along to 2011, at the moment I have only one resolution: Draw every day.

A few days ago I sat with the Fry and the Sprout who were in a hive of creativity at the kitchen table. The Fry was busy "making a book" which is what he likes to do these days since mommy has shown him how picture books are printed all on one big sheet of paper, then folded and cut to make 32 pages. He thinks it's a magic trick. The Sprout was busy grabbing crayons out of the plastic tub and squiggling all over her highchair tray. To keep her from heaving crayons on the floor (which is her favorite thing to do while Fry is book-making,) I was drawing random animals and holding them up for her to comment on: "Pig oink oink!", "duhhhn-keee hee haaawwwww!" It was fun to just draw with no real purpose. So I've decided to sketch something every night in the sketchbook by my bed. It may or may not be work related..... so far what I've done has really just related to what's happened that day. My goal is to do it at least 5 nights a week. It will be the artistic equivalent of the proper amount of exercise. Then, to keep myself honest, I plan to blog every week with the sketches. I'm starting small and committing to just this month, but to make it a proper resolution - and to make myself a better artist/person - I hope I can stick to the whole year.

So that'd your New Year's gift dear reader, 52 posts of what was on my mind right before lights out.

Happy 2011.