Just Another Evening Bike Ride

Thanks for your patience as I've been lacking in my posts. Here is an image that was bouncing around in my head for the last little while. And when I say "image" what I really mean is the idea of an image that somehow had telephone poles and wires. I didn't know how it was going to turn out.

The Next Step

When I was a child, I wanted to be an artist. As I grew older, I let life steer me away from that dream and I even forgot about it for a while. But I think I've been given another shot.

I am now represented by Lori Kilkelly of Rodeen Literary Management. I'm humbled and grateful for the opportunity to work with her and the rest of the RLM team. And intimidated, if I'm being completely honest. The publishing world has an insane amount of talent and I have so much to learn. I don't plan on abandoning Helmet And Hound, but much of my focus now will go into becoming a published children's book author and illustrator (most likely illustrator first). I'm excited to see what lies ahead in the next step of my journey.

[And if you're wondering, the SCBWI Illustrator's conference I attended last month was extremely beneficial. I believe it was the first time that I was in a room with 30+ individuals who all spend much of their time drawing. I didn't realize how much of a boost that would be for me mentally and emotionally. Illustration tends to be a lonely occupation and I think because of that I've learned how important it is to step outside from time to time and connect with others. I was originally planning on going over the conference in more detail, but I'll wrap up that topic by just saying that I plan on attending next year.]

Also...sorry for the lack of an illustration. I'll be sure to include one with the next blog post.

I Met You At Mable's

The Utah/Idaho SCBWI Illustrator's Conference is just a little over two weeks away (Feb. 27th). I've been busy trying to finish two more pieces to include in my portfolio before then. I'm pretty excited to attend and hope that it takes me to the next step in my illustration journey.

Here is the first of the two pieces I wanted to finish.

Progress pics:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I subscribe to SVS. I created this image for their 3rd Thursday (but will also use it for my portfolio...which is pretty much the purpose of 3rd Thursday).. This month's theme was "Love". After thinking about it for a day or two, an image popped into my head of a little girl in a raincoat pulling a teddy bear in a red wagon. Initially I thought they would be in the woods or the countryside. But as I started sketching out the idea, a little story started forming around this little girl and her bear. I tried to get that story out visually, so hopefully it translates to some degree. I'll leave it up to you to interpret for yourself.

Also, I've decided to give away three of these prints (8x10). All you have to do to be considered is to leave a comment on this blog post about something that you love. It can be a person, a thing, a memory...really anything. The only requirement is that it has to be something that can sincerely be considered something you love. Next Tuesday, Feb. 16th, I'll announce the three randomly selected recipients on my Facebook page.

#7 The Drawing Table

I mentioned in one of my first posts that I drew a lot during my childhood. It was always something that I enjoyed doing, even if at times I found myself frustrated at what would show up on the paper. I still get frustrated from time to time, but the difference now is that I believe even the bad drawings, especially the bad drawings, are some of the best learning experiences.

As his friend naps, the boy begins to create another adventure for the both of them.

When I start a piece, I already have a message that I want the piece to convey. And I come up with an interim title for the piece. The message stays the same, but I often change the title for the final. This one was originally called Write Your Own Script. I wanted to convey this idea that we all have the ability to create our own world. It'll certainly take time and effort and more than a few tries. But that's part of what makes the end result so satisfying.

In other news, I signed up for an SCBWI illustrator's conference that takes place at the end of February. I've never attended anything like this, so I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm hoping that it'll open up some doors for me to explore. Or at the very least, point me in a few promising directions. I need to create a few more pieces to put together a portfolio that I can show there, so that will be my focus for the next few weeks. Helmet And Hound will be postponed until after the conference, but I'll be updating the blog with my portfolio pieces as I complete them.

#6 The Place We Met

Last month was five years since I got Rain. When I first met her, I remember thinking that she was a  curious little puppy. While all the other puppies were snuggling around my feet, she was exploring the far reaches of the yard.

I'm glad we met.

Look, that's where we met!
I don't quite remember...
Oh, well that's okay. It's all the stuff that happened after that made it so special anyway.

The two friends take their hot air balloon high above the earth to see what they can see.

I'll be submitting this piece for an online critique session with Marco Bucci via SVS, so while I am done with it for now, there is a good chance that I'll be making changes to it after the session.

Also, I've compiled some photos of Rain over the years. Enjoy!

#5 Everything Has a Season

This is actually my second time drawing this image. I first drew this about a year ago during one of those points in my life where everything seemed gray even on sunny days.  I was asked if I drew it for any particular reason, and I said no...because sometimes, when you feel that way, you don't really want to talk about it.

In the image, the dog is offering the boy an umbrella. She wasn't there to help him understand why it was raining. Nor was she there to stop the rain or convince him to find shelter. She was just there to sit out in the rain with him whether he decided to use the umbrella or not. I guess that's what I wanted at the time. Just someone to sit out in the rain with me.

Can I sit here?
Sure. You'll get wet though.
It's okay. I don't mind.

Everything Has a Season progress Blog.jpg

Everything Has a Season

I've thought about that image quite often over the past year. And it has taken on a different layer of meaning, which is why I decided to redo it. As the title of the piece explains, I've come to realize that there are seasons, or a rhythm, to everything. They moon is followed by the sun, winter followed by spring, there are rainy seasons and dry seasons.

We, too, have seasons. Perhaps not as defined as winter with its snow and spring with its flowers, but we've all experienced the highs and lows and in-betweens that come as an unavoidable result of being alive. How high the highs and how low the lows and the duration of these peaks and valleys differ from person to person. What remains a constant is that life is ever-changing, and it would do us some good to remind ourselves to not get lost on one point, and thus inadvertently allowing life to pass us by.

A Thought On Depression

For those of us that suffer from any form of depression, it may seem like the days are constantly rainy and gray. I don't know how to fix that. But here is something to think about (and this is applicable to everyone, not just those with depression). I like to think that we are kind of like different lands in different regions of the world. Some of us experience more rain fall. Some have colder climates, while others can be warm and sunny all year round. But regardless of what type of weather accompanies the land, there are always people that will love it and call it home.

And, here is the one I drew December of 2014:


The Little Dragon

In the last several weeks, I've had this budding idea that maybe I should try to venture out into the world of picture book illustrations. I still plan to continue Helmet & Hound as it's own project (and I promise that I have one in the works right now despite my lack of updates on it for the last two months), but at the moment, I don't really have plans of turning that into a book. Helmet & Hound is more of a way for me to approach topics and themes in a case by case scenario and really just share my own thoughts without having to worry too much about tying it into a story that makes sense. That may change in the future, but for now I'm having fun just doing standalone images for that series.

As far as ideas for children's books go, I have a couple. This image is based off of one of those ideas:

I'm not sure what the name of this dragon is, but he doesn't know how to breathe fire. He is determined to figure out how, because he believes that great power lies within him. I'm hoping I'll get to know him a little better over the next few weeks.

And for those interested, here are progress pictures:

School of Visual Storytelling 3rd Thursday

For the last month or so, I've been viewing courses from the School of Visual Storytelling. It's sort of an online video library that covers different aspects of illustration and are taught by Will Terry and Jake Parker, along with guest artists that they bring on for certain lessons.

They have this thing each month called 3rd Thursday where they give out a prompt, and whoever wants to can come up with their own illustration based on that prompt. This month's prompt was:

"None of the animals could believe their eyes. The aircraft worked! For the first time Ostrich was actually flying!"

So I decided to come up with an illustration based on that and submit it. Which is partly why I haven't done a new Helmet & Hound piece in a while. The other reasons are Inktober and a freelance project. But I'm working on a new one, so stay tuned!

Anyway, here is the piece I did for 3rd Thursday.

And some progress pics.

SVS Ostrich Progress.jpg

#4 The Rain Cloud and the Sun

I'm an introvert. I prefer small groups over a large gathering. I'm better at expressing myself through writing and drawing than speaking on the spot. I'd rather have a meaningful conversation than idle chit chat. I like spending quality time with others, but I need a good amount of time for myself. My social skills are more akin to a mini-van than a sports car; it's functional and I seem to be more comfortable with kids and married folk. From the outside looking in, it may look like a perpetual rain cloud floating above me. But as any introvert will claim, the inside is actually a pretty nice place to be.

It really doesn't matter where we go, huh.
What do you mean?
Things just happen. Good things.
 

The Rain Cloud and the Sun

The boy and the dog cross dry, seemingly barren land. And yet life still follows right behind them.

When I first thought of drawing this piece, I wanted to express what it was like to be an introvert. And that even though introverts tend to be more comfortable behind the scenes in their own little world, they too can have a noticeable, positive impact on their environment for those around them, hence the rain cloud and the resulting foliage. But since plants can't really grow without sunlight, I felt that the image needed both the rain cloud and the sun to be complete.

Find Your Own Rain Cloud

I don't think there is anyone that doesn't know what being an introvert is like. Everyone needs some alone time, even if they don't think they need it. I strongly believe that some time to think, to be, separate from the voices and opinions of others, is a crucial aspect to our emotional and psychological development.

Even if it's only for a few minutes, find a rain cloud and make some time for yourself.

The Importance of Uniqueness and Unity

We are naturally drawn to people with similar beliefs and backgrounds. This allows us to unite into something much greater than ourselves as individuals. But let's not forget that our differences allow us to accomplish great things as well. The  rain cloud and the sun have different purposes...but to a flower, it doesn't really matter, does it?

So if you're more comfortable under a rain cloud, just make sure that you let the sun shine in once in a while. And if you prefer the sun, don't be afraid to let a few clouds rain on your parade from time to time.

What I'm Really Trying To Say

Regardless of who you are, there is a positive impact that you can make in this world. It doesn't matter whether it's large or small. The important thing is that you have that ability to make a change. Even the smallest act of good will nudge this world into a better place.

#3 The Kite String

I like the analogy of the kite because it illustrates a beautiful concept in a simple manner. It teaches us that the string, rather than keeping the kite grounded, is the very thing that helps the kite to fly.

How high can it go?
As long as we hold on, then as high as we want it to go.

The Kite String

The two friends find an open field. And with a light breeze, they launch their handmade kite into the air...

I believe that one of our greatest responsibilities is helping the next generation, our children, to fly higher and farther than we've ever been able to fly. Help them to be more successful and more knowledgeable; but more importantly, to be more kind and understanding, more patient, more loving.

So give them a string to hold on to. Long enough to where they can explore skies that we've never been able to reach. And strong enough to withstand things in life they may not have the strength for yet. And if they fall, rest assured that they'll still have that string to get them back on their feet and into the sky once again.

#2 Morning Light

I originally intended this piece to highlight the significance of the helmet (as you can see in the early sketches), but things changed and I decided I wanted to instead focus on the bond between the boy and the dog.

Looks like it's going to be another beautiful day.
Like yesterday? And the day before?
Except better.
 

Morning Light

Though they are still quite young, the boy and his dog have experienced enough together to know that they can rely completely on each other. Enveloped in the light of an open window, they get ready for another day, excited to see what sort of adventures await them.

The light in this picture represents the bond between the boy and his dog. I love the quality of light in the morning. It's very bright and promising, like the way life feels when you have someone that you can truly call 'friend'.

About Friendship

Many years ago, I had a conversation with my mom about the definition of friendship. I was unsatisfied with the number of people in my life that I felt really connected to...almost as if something must be wrong with my social and relationship skills.

(That may not be too far from the truth).

During the conversation, she taught me something that has stayed with me over the years.

She said that if you're able to find even just one friend in your lifetime that you can completely trust and truly connect with, that would be more than one could ask for. 

Here's to hoping that we all have someone like that in our lives. And that we strive to be that someone ourselves.

Original Artwork That I Copied

The picture on the left side of the wall was not something that I came up with. Here's the original:

The artist that painted this is 5 and a half years old. In her words, "I like creating art because I can make statues...or art...and a tree and...don't cut them down because their leaves give you air". She also said that her family makes her happy and she wants to be a designer because she likes designing dresses. And she describes herself as Baymax from Big Hero 6 because "he's cute and nice and saves people". And yes, I did get her permission to use this.

I hope that "Morning Light" resonated with you in some way...perhaps reminded you of someone in your life that has changed it for the better. Leave a comment below if it has. I'd love to hear from you!

 

 

Packing/Shipping and a Preview

First of all, thank you to everyone that has expressed words of encouragement for Helmet & Hound. It is very rewarding when something that you believe in resonates with others. Since it is in the beginning stages, there is a lot of unproven terrain that I will have to cross.  

This past week has been mainly focused on figuring out how to ship prints. This involved several runs to a local print shop to do test prints, stopping by Fedex for envelopes, and shopping at a few craft stores to try out different packing materials. While not related to art, I found myself enjoying bustling about constantly thinking about the best way to protect the prints during shipping. I didn't think it would be fun, but perhaps because I am so attached to these images, everything surrounding them has become something I care about. Not a bad thing I guess. Except I know it'll be a tough learning curve once I have to deal with criticism. Anyway, here are a few photos documenting the process, as well as a rough sketch/sneak peek of the piece I am currently working on.

Thick mounting board to prevent bending during shipping.

Thick mounting board to prevent bending during shipping.

Cut to size.

Cut to size.

Custom lettering for Helmet & Hound!

Custom lettering for Helmet & Hound!

Saw Rain sleeping while I snapped photos of the packing process.

Saw Rain sleeping while I snapped photos of the packing process.

Finished.

Finished.

Rain likes being under this table when it's set up.

Rain likes being under this table when it's set up.

Ready for the post office.

Ready for the post office.

First "Official" Helmet & Hound Piece

Here is the first of many pieces in the Helmet & Hound series. I worked on it a little each evening after work and on the weekends, and I think it's done.

I wonder what lies ahead...
We won't know unless we go in.
Ready?
Ready.

Progression to the final image.

HELMET & HOUND
As mentioned in an earlier post, I have decided to delve into the world of illustration and see where it goes. Over the last few months, I feel like the direction I should go has become more clear. What I want to do is create art that you will want to frame and hang on your wall, not because of use of color or clever composition, but because it connects with you emotionally. I'd like the piece of art to be more than just decoration; I'd like it to remind you of something that you value and cherish. Perhaps a memory...a dream or goal...someone special. I realized that I couldn't do that unless I, myself, was deeply invested in the subject matter.

This Helmet & Hound series features a little boy, in a peculiar looking helmet, and his dog. To me, he represents the part of us that still knows how to dream. The part of us that thrives on imagination and lives with a wide-eyed wonderment at the world around us. I decided to give the boy a dog companion because, Rain, my dog, has been a huge factor in me deciding to start drawing again. Even though she may not know it, I credit her for igniting the creative spark in me that had diminished over the years. To me, the dog represents the loyalty and support that we sometimes find we need while navigating this ocean of life. Together, the boy and dog set out to chase dreams and experience the world around them. And I get to illustrate those adventures.

There is no linear story to Helmet & Hound. I just want to create stand-alone pieces that show the boy and dog in different situations that illustrate values and ideals that are important to me...and I hope, important to you as well.

TWINKLE
The name of this piece comes, not surprisingly, from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It represents the beginning of a journey. Not just any journey, but specifically a journey to chase after a very important dream.

I wanted to do this piece because I have an important dream. And while it may not be logical, I know that just by beginning to go after it, there has been a part of me that feels like it's been awakened. I'm a bit nervous, but mostly I look forward to seeing what lies behind those clouds.

YOUR DREAM
Do you have a dream that you have decided to go after? I'd love to hear about it! As added encouragement, I'm giving away five prints of Twinkle. To be considered, all you have to do is:

  1. Read, not skim, this blog post. Helmet & Hound is important to me, and I want whoever gets the prints to appreciate the meaning behind it.
  2. Post a comment describing your dream in as much, or as little, detail as you want.
  3. If you are selected to receive a print, you'll silently promise me that you'll frame it and hang it up where it can remind you to chase after that dream of yours.

I'd also appreciate it if you subscribed to my email list (it will either be on the top right or the bottom of this page), but that's not required to be considered for this print. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Building a Drawing

Here is an update to my current piece, currently titled "Bon Voyage" (this is likely to change).

Enlarged the initial thumbnail.

Initial sketch indicating important information.

Going over the initial sketch with the purpose of laying in enough details to move on to the next step. Things are still not set in stone at this point, but I don't think I'll be doing any drastic changes.

I have a tendency to think that art is created right on the spot. An artist puts pencil and brush to paper and the image quickly emerges, details being drawn before an outline is even laid down.

But like with any craft, there is a process.

Take a house for example: a foundation needs to be laid, a frame needs to made, walls constructed, and only then can you go in and apply paint and start decorating. Applying this thinking to my illustrations has helped me considerably. Now I don't fret about small details when starting a piece. I start with a foundation, put in a framework, and build off of that.

I imagine it's not a bad approach to life either.

Beginning to Draw. Again.

I grew up loving to draw.

As a child, my idea of a well-spent afternoon involved sheets of blank unlined paper (A4 of course) and a pencil with an eraser that did not smudge. However, as I grew older the time I spent drawing decreased dramatically, to the point where I went for years without picking up a pencil unless it was to write a paper or take a test.

I've decided I want that part of me back in my life. I don't think the love of drawing ever left; it just takes a little more effort now to act on it.

And so here I am, curious to see where this will lead. But even more so, just wanting to reconnect with that child that needed nothing more than a pencil and an A4 sized paper to fill his afternoon.

I wanted the next piece I work on to be in line with the theme of embarking on a journey where the destination is not quite known. Here are a few thumbnails I sketched up to get started. Although I really like (3), I'll probably go with (4) because I feel like it tells a better story.

I'll be posting updates on the progress of this piece, so be sure to subscribe to my mailing list to be notified of future blog posts!

Welcome!

Hi there, welcome to my blog! It's a bit sparse at the moment, but I plan to post pictures of works in progress here and write about my processes and thoughts behind my pieces. The type of content will most likely evolve as I journey into the world of illustration. I invite you to follow along and see where this leads. (Subscribe via e-mail to make sure you don't miss a post!)

This little character here was created almost three years ago. I haven't done much since then, but for the last two years I've thought about doing an ongoing series that incorporates him and his dog. I'll also explain the story behind him in a future post.