February 22, 2015

Waiting for my name

January 2015

This painting led to my latest lesson in art photography. I finally figured out how to squeeze a distorted photo back into a rectangle! Making no sense, am I?  (I use the lens correction tool instead of the liquify tool, although I think they're the same thing, different label.)

This painting will soon wend its way along with Parc Omega (right, top) to join their brother from 2013 (right, bottom).

Interestingly for me, the snow was not too tough to do. I did have to go over it a few times, because every time something changes colour in one spot, every other bit of snow needs a redo. I tinkered around getting the right shade of blue, and the trees, well, they were a bit maddening. I struggle to come up with so many grey-browns, and learned quite a bit about my palette in the process.

One of the ever-tantalizing sirens of art-making is the colour chart. Remembering how I made a colour is a non-starter, so either I have to keep a picture-by-picture record of the colour mixes I did, or I add to my colour chart as my mixes grow.

Making these charts up is something I really enjoy. Some big holes in my paint collection include the basic flesh tone paints, which is why my flesh tones are so flat looking and pink. I could do very few skin tones with what I have.

Which means that I'm going to fill that hole with the money I made on those two paintings!

The paintings' owner's daughter plans to name the forest in winter painting. I am keen to hear her decision. I'll let you know what she decides.

February 16, 2015

Bingo dobber

January 2015

My last post talked about an illustration for a story about a woman struggling to have a child. I wrote it long before I met my husband and had children of my own. Anxiety about bearing kids dogged me throughout my early adulthood. I knew I wanted kids, but I had several indicators of infertility - highly irregular menstrual cycle, cysts on my ovaries, thyroid problems, low iron - and, you know, no man until the eve of my thirties. 

As it happened, my fate took a wildly different turn than the one I feared (that's basically how it always works for me: overworry about Bad Thing A. Bad Thing B happens instead.). Conception was a trifle. 

Lest week I started the outline for Engineeress'  next illustration. Tonight I hope to get a first draft of it down. I hope I will have enough time this winter to try another illustration style or two for the book. I have my marker style, my painting style, and an ink and paint style. As an inexperienced artist, I come very slowly to deciding how best to portray something - everything from composition to media and style come slowly. 

I thought that starting with the central image of the story, and then working outward, would lead to a series of images that flowed well one to the next. I'm just thinking about simple things. For example, if one picture has a viewpoint from above, the next shouldn't. And so on.

Summer 2014, Highway 401 westbound

Here are a couple of doodles done in marker. I love using markers, and I think it would be fun to try a bingo dobber one of these days. Especially because of how much fun it is to go bingo dobber buh buh dub dub rubber ducky duh dobber.

February 11, 2015

The Engineeress

February 2015
Lying in bed, in the falling asleep time that is lost now to my middle-aged, perpetually exhausted self, came to me all at once an entire story. I don't get a lot of creative ideas, and I certainly don't normally get them fully formed. The story was about a woman trying to have a baby, and it's probably the one original thing I've ever come up with. It has stayed with me ever since, over 16 years.

I decided a few days ago to illustrate some parts of the story, and this drawing is my first one. I'll type out the story in here soon, but in short, it's about a woman, the Engineeress, who wants to have a child so badly she imagines she's pregnant. Late at the office one night, she goes into labour and gives birth to a rose.

The story originally ended poignantly with the Engineeress holding her baby out to the paramedic. "Go on. Take her. Hold her in your arms." But I rewrote it last week to give it the kind of ending that only my middle-aged, perpetually exhausted self can imagine. A life-goes-on sort of ending.

I also changed it because of something that happened many years ago when I was studying creative writing under Di Brandt. We were workshopping a painfully embarrasing piece of creative non-fiction I had written about learning to orgasm. It was a bit of a manifesto. She responded to the story by telling me, "You've got all this energy in this story." She raised a clenched fist in the air. "Now where is it all going?"

I had no idea. I thought that the outpouring of emotion, the confession itself, was the point. For years I felt that my inability to answer her meant there was something missing in me. I'd had a similar comment from a previous writing teacher (P. Scott Lawrence). "There's no doubt you write very well, but..." A sort of, what's your point question.

Well, now that I'm middle-aged (and perpetually exhausted), I know that I just didn't have much of a point back then. Things make more sense now, a bit. Now I  can imagine what comes after everything has fallen off the cliff.

The landing, I guess. In this drawing I tried to show the tenderness with which we mothers hold our newborns, how our world encircles and turns on this new life.

February 7, 2015

I love Mondays

December 2014

It's time to wake up the little boy, and for the girl to get home blurry and spent from skating. I drew for the two hour break instead of doing work or hunkering down on the couch. There's not much left for blogging. That's the story nowadays. No time for blogging. No time. No time in sight. When I decided to have a career instead of a job, and a family to boot, I knew there wouldn't be much left over. February in the Canadian grey might not be the most clear-sighted time to mull over my difficulties. So mostly, things are grim.

Except for Monday! Jealously, possessively, I protect Monday evening from everything. From guilt (I brush baby teeth and ferret out pyjamas, pack up tomorrow's snack bags, before abandoning my man to the rest of it). From fatigue ("art night chocolate"). From futility (I'm going to do it, even if it will never get me anywhere).

The other reason I don't blog much anymore is that my dad disowned me a few years ago. It's a story with parts I wouldn't share out of respect for his privacy, but funnily enough we're estranged because he feels I didn't respect his privacy enough. Ever since then blogging has seemed more and more threatening. On one hand, I have the most respect for people who put themselves out there, warts and all. On the other hand, it's awful when people are upset about what you say, and punish you for it.

I painted the purse painting in December and I finished another version of it last week (more on the latter). These two paintings are a year in the making.