Monday, February 28, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday: One way to get what you want

Is it me or has there been a whole lot of protesting going on around here lately? Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Madison. I'm waiting to find out that I'm going to have to take an alternate route to the corner gas station because some group of commuters is squawking about the lack of decent public transportation in the face of $5 gallons of gas (wait a minute, that might actually happen.) Like a few other fabulous folks, I, too, drew similarities between people protesting for better living conditions in Libya and people protesting to keep the better living conditions they already protested to get in Wisconsin. Here is my take on both:

I have just one last question on the public employee debacle in Wisconsin: Any chance you folks need a director of interactive marketing? 'Cause I have a hubby who would love to work in a public job where the benefits are SO FREAKING AWESOME they actually bankrupt the state.

In all the international dialogue about waiting to get what you want, Jim Dear and I got to discussing our own goals in life. Far from being in any danger of being imprisoned for thinking (I mean shouting) that our leader is an oligarch elected yes man, we fall somewhere on the Wisconsin side of the scale. Though maybe it doesn't matter if what you want is clean drinking water, a safe neighborhood, a fair market, a decent job, or a dream project.... the seeds of revolution take root in years of planning that never yield a goal:

Finally to lighten up a little bit, one night I drew this while listening to the doves outside the window. It had been pouring rain but they were ever the optimists - cooing away - hoping to get what they wanted: a little romance on an early Tennessee spring night.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday: Post Valentine's Week

This sketchbook week started with Valentine's Day. The Fabulous Illustrator cooked Red Raspberry Banana Dream pancakes for the family, which resulted in Small Fry actually being excited about dinner and a riotous diaper for Baby Sprout the following day. After bedtime, Jim Dear and I relaxed with a glass of wine, exchanged cards and felt relieved that we weren't battling the Valentine's crowds:

While V-day was relatively laid back for us, such was not the case for our children. At some point the holiday based on a 17th century martyr became the spring edition of Halloween for the Sponge Bob set. Both Fry and Sprout came home Monday with bags overflowing with Valentine's loot. Now we have been blessed with Sprout, who will truly eat anything that doesn't eat her first. And she was beside herself with joy at not one but three cream cheese cupcakes. Behold the carnage:

and the aftermath:

All this sugared love came to an end Wednesday night however as the terrible-evil-no-good-horrible mommy declared that there would be baths instead of uninterrupted playtime. Behold the meltdown:

Finally for the rest of this week I've been working on a sketch for my portfolio facelift. As I sketched in a previous Sketchbook Sunday I had an idea for an illustration based on the Little Mermaid. This sketch has changed quite a bit from my original idea but I think the overhead view of the boat is more dramatic, plus we'll actually get to see the mermaid's expression and see the body language of the prince. This is still in a rough version, I'll post again as I fill in details. Next week I also plan to post the sketches I have done for the facelift. Until then. . .

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday: Snow-pocolypse

As an introduction, I think this headline says it all:

It was as if God had accidently dropped a thousand gallon Walmart brand garbage bag full of snow, and it broke all over our fair city. My commute home with kids was transformed from 15 minutes into 3 hours. Three hours of creeping along in zero visibility with cars panicking, braking, and sliding off the road in every direction. What could possibly make this trek home more of a pleasure cruise? How about a 5 year old and 2 year old singing Jingle Bells and yelling the chorus of "HEY" at the top of their lungs.

For. Three. Hours.

I almost ran the car off the road on purpose:

Not to be outdone, Jim Dear decided to carry the record for the longest drive home of anyone we know. After leaving work at 4pm he arrived home the following day, at 5 minutes after midnight. Lucky for him, he left his cell phone at work, so he was unable to receive my increasingly frantic calls to friends and finally to the police in an effort to find out where the wrecks were. Finally at 11pm he called from a pay phone to say that he had decided to go to the grocery store because he couldn't get into our neighborhood. He was planning to ditch the truck and just walk. An hour later he stumbled through the door looking like this:

On a less frigid note, one of the reasons Sketchbook Sunday is a little light this week is I have been spending some time working on the story for a new picture book. It's the story of a boy who wants to go build a rocket terribly bad (anyone who knows the Small Fry will wonder where I got my inspiration.) Undeterred by his lack of materials or knowledge he sets off to build his rocket, prove his big sister wrong and keep his little brother out of his hair. I'm experimenting with the idea of having the characters actually be aliens instead of people, I really like the idea of creating a completely fantastic world. However I'm not sure if that would detract from the idea, so I'll be running it by my critique group. But, please Dear Reader, feel free to weight-in. In the meantime here's some character sketches of the little engineer.... at the moment his name is Milo:

Finally some housekeeping stuff: I've noticed I've got a few readers on Facebook.... welcome! and thanks for the comments;) But I've noticed that FB sometimes doesn't translate the formatting, so I'm inviting you to click through and follow the blog for an enhanced experience:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sketchbook Sunday - Music City edition

This Sketchbook Sunday is coming late because we just got back from a weekend trip to the mountains. It was a lot of fun, but a 4 hour return trip with squirmy kids in the car pretty much guaranteed that last night I was flopped in a chair halfway watching the Superbowl instead of in front of my computer.

The City of New Orleans

While scanning in all my sketches I realized that this week had a bit of a musical theme to it. This week I downloaded the song The Stranger by O.A.R. and I absolutely LOVE it, I've worn a metaphorical groove into my itunes playing it so much. But really cool music always inspires me, one of the things I would love to do is illustrate songs. A great song always tells a good story and there are many that I think would make great picture books. The City of New Orleans is one of them. It's just filled with fabulous images of the train traveling, the people riding on it, and then the larger future they are all riding into. There was a book version released in 2003 which was beautiful but a classic can always use an update. I've illustrated it in my head many times but never had the guts to sit down with pencil and paper and make a go of it because, frankly, the drawing trains part is intimidating. But this week I sketched out something that could be a title page:

Where Are They Now? (some of them are at your child's preschool)
Of course there are many unusual and disconcerting things about being a mom.

And of course there many unusual and disconcerting things about being a working mom

But I think there are a few unusual and disconcerting things that can only happen when you are a working mom in Nashville:

Like when you see the object of your twenty-something indie rock club-hopping crush pulling his Toyota Sienna (complete with Parents Choice endorsed car seat) into the parking space next to yours during morning drop-off. For a moment, that night of drinking and dancing rakishly close to the stage flashes through your mind. Surely he doesn't remember that night, or you, or your brazen glances as he crooned into the microphone . . .

. . . apparently not, since he just removes his ultra hip-dressed self and child from the minivan, smiles sympathetically at your toddler's screaming fit, and strolls into the building - while you can't even squeak out "good morning."

I don't know which is weirder - being tongue tied in the face of a crush I outgrew years ago, or having my school-girl fantasies of meeting said crush arrive in such a ho-hum way. Back then I imagined it a little differently: him in a leather jacket and sunglasses, leaning against a red Porsche (bought with the advance from his newly minted record contract); me accessorized with a cocktail and a smashingly witty opening line. Neither one of us was carrying a diaper bag in this fantasy. Alas, years later, far from swapping thinly veiled innuendo, we are aggressively angling for the same parking spot and using the same fake-bright voice to wheedle our children into their classrooms. Of course I'm sure he leaves to go lay down some smokin' hot tracks in a sultry-lit plush sound studio somewhere in the neighborhood, whereas I go home to my drawing table and coffee cup in suburbia. Nowadays I can stutter out "hey" as we pass at the schoolhouse door. And watching anyone struggle with the same craft projects and mat covers in the pick-up time rush would reduce even Mick Jaggar to just another dad. But I'm still glad that our kids are not in the same class nor have the same friends. . . I'll never have to come up with that smashing opening line at a princess birthday party. . . and maybe, if I squint just right in the rearview mirror, the red taillights of that Sienna will look like a Porsche.

It's got sliding doors, built in parking sensors AND a gramophone
When we bought our new van last week, it came down to a choice between one that had the power sliding doors and one that had the MP3 outlet. Clearly we chose appropriately, but what to do about playing my itunes in the car? Apparently in 2007 Chrysler wasn't convinced that digital music had outpaced cassette players so they still made their T&C touring edition with both a CD player and a tape deck. I am endlessly amused by the presence of this tape deck, but obviously am plotting to replace it with an auxillary option. However on a recent trip to Target I found out that, although no one has listened to a cassette tape in a vehicle since 1993, they STILL make devices to play advanced media through your car stereo using a tape player! Everyone of a certain age remembers doing this with CDs - you got the little tape with a cord thing to attach to your Sony Walkman. So for $14.99 I am now set to play music downloaded from the cloud on my 2007 car stereo via 1979 technology. Struck by the irony that as long there are cassette players there's no end to what we can blast in our cars, I drew this:

On mountain time
I took my sketchbook to the mountains fully intending to capture the majestic beauty of the Smokies. however the weather had other plans and between the rain and fog and cold I pretty much ignored what I saw off the deck. But I did do these few little pieces. We were there with 4 other couples and kids, ranging in age from 5 years to 5 months. Here's the youngest as he was watching me draw him instead of the mountains:

Then I started doodling around with some more moon ideas. Here's an industrious cow whose had a slight malfunction in her attempt to get over the moon:

Finally I have to show this sketch that the Small Fry did while mommy was drawing. I beleive the inspiration for this may have come from the night we arrived at the cabin. At 10pm it was raining and the roads were completely covered with fog. Anyone who has ever done in driving in the Great Smokey Mountains knows we're not talking about wide, straight, well-lit roads either. So as we poked along at 15 miles an hour plotting every turn on the GPS, the Fry must have decided we needed a map out:

Friday, February 4, 2011

illustration Friday - Reverse

Decided to squeak in this new illo as an entry for Illustration Friday. This was done for a German language magazine, Somersaults, that helps kids learn to speak English. It's a reverse of the hidden picture concept in this country, here the kids have to easily find the images in the picture because they are reading in another language. It was kind of nice painting this sunny beach scene in the middle of dreary Nashville winter.