Back to Work with a Baby: Part 4 – Alone Time

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It has been quite a while since my last “Back to Work with a Baby” post. I suppose that’s what happens when you try to continue working from home – with a baby – and then try to add some extra blog posts on top of that. So now our little one is almost 7 months old and things are starting to normalize – at least until she’s mobile.

As I’ve mentioned previously, finding the time for both my husband and I to get our work done has been one of our biggest challenges. We’ve both had very busy first halves of 2015 and hopefully the rest of the year continues that way. But for me, that has meant a real lack of alone time to do anything other than client work or promotion. And when I do find myself with a bit of time, I can’t use that time very well when I’m home and the baby is home. Even if my husband is taking care of her for a few hours I find it difficult to let my mind ignore what they are doing and just have some fun with my sketchbook.

Yesterday I had the chance to get out of the house with just my sketchbook (and John Hendrix‘s Drawing is Magic). I took a long walk (despite the threat of 90 degree weather) to a coffee shop and just sat and sketched some people around me. And when they all got up and left, I played around with Drawing is Magic. It felt SO GOOD to be out by myself and to be doing whatever I wanted for a couple of hours. It would seem like I should have been able to do that before now, but between my work and my husband’s work, the free time I have had usually went to chores or simply lying on the sofa, exhausted.

Even though I was only gone for about two hours yesterday, I found it incredibly rejuvenating. It’s something so simple, but something that I think will help with my creative energy despite being so tired all the time. And again, it seems so obvious, but making my free time away from the apartment more of a priority will allow me to be happier in the face of a very stressful time in our lives.

Did I mention we’re moving to Providence? So there’s that as well.

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Residency Work in Progress

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My residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts is half over and I’ve been getting a lot of really great work done. It took me a few days to find my working groove, but once I did I felt really good about what I was doing. When all of your daily responsibilities and errands (minus grocery shopping and laundry) are removed, there are suddenly so many more hours in a day! So much so that I had to work to increase my drawing stamina. There’s something very satisfying about going to bed with a tired hand/arm because you spent all day drawing and I haven’t had that feeling in a long time.

Above you can see my work area. You can see photos of the whole studio and the rest of the facilities on the center’s website. Working on comics obviously doesn’t need the kind of space that someone working on large oil paintings or sculpture installations does, so I didn’t take a photo of the entire studio which is basically a converted garage with lighting and temperature control (it’s very comfortable!). The table I’m working at is almost the perfect height to stand and work which made me happy, since I’m used to working while standing at home.

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Here is a closer view of what I’m working on. You can see almost every phase of the page except the thumbnail version and a painted version. I draw my pencils on bristol and then use my light box to ink onto watercolor paper. Since I intend to paint each page with watercolor, I don’t want pencils on the same page and I don’t want to have to do any erasing. Plus, if I make any mistakes, I can always retrace. No matter what happens, I’ll still have the original pencils to go back to.

 

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Here is a close-up of a page. I am working on the graphic novel that I submitted a proposal for a few months ago. Whether or not the publisher decides to pick it up, I still intend to shop it around or finish it myself (possibly a Kickstarter?). I should be able to start inking pages, maybe even today, and it’s one of my favorite parts!

More Watercolor Painting – The Squid

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More watercolor painting experiments for me over the weekend. After getting a recommendation, I bought this carbon ink to replace my India ink. I sketched up this little squid (or big squid, since there’s nothing to compare it to) to try out the ink and to keep practicing with the watercolors. I’m still using some cheap watercolor paper, but I have some nicer paper that I will use when I start creating full illustrations this way.

The ink is great, by the way. It dried much faster than my India ink and didn’t bleed when I added the watercolors – regardless of how much water I used. It also flowed smoothly from my nib without clogging it up.

It’s been a long time since I’ve physically painted on paper and I forgot how much fun it is. It’s also nice to have something physical to show for the work. I always thought watercolors would be far too difficult for me – in reality it looks like I may be going in this direction in a more permanent way. The slightly unpredictable textures and effects I get with the paints are so much more interesting and natural for me than those I used in Photoshop.

I am not formally listing any of these paintings for sale, but if you’ve seen something that you are interested in purchasing, get in touch. Naturally, I am also available for commission if you’d like me to create something just for you!

On an unrelated note my husband, Christopher Kondrich, is a poet and writer whose first book will be published by Parlor Press in the fall. He has started a website/blog where you can read some of his work and get updates on the book and his readings. If you like poetry, I hope you’ll check it out!

Eddie Izzard Inspired Watercolor Experiment

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This weekend’s watercolor experiment was inspired by the wonderful and hilarious Eddie Izzard. As part of his Glorious show he did a bit where he mentions that the only people who skip rope are little girls and huge f*&k-off boxers. If you haven’t seen his stand-up, have a look at the video below. He is one of my favorite comedians.

 

I had intended to do the background on this piece with just grey ink washes, but I decided to leave this as an experiment with a limited palette, color and value. I love the way the background girl’s clothing came out. Working with highlights and shadows in watercolor on faces is extremely challenging and will take a lot of practice. Also, I think I need better paper, but for now this is good for experimentation.

Watercolor Painting Test – The Stoop

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My new Winsor & Newton watercolor set arrived yesterday and I couldn’t wait to start playing around with it. Keep in mind, I’ve never really worked with watercolors before.

I learned a lot just from this quick little drawing. I laid the paint down prior to doing the inking due to my complete lack of confidence in the waterproof qualities of my ink and next time I will be shooting for a much more dynamic line. I think fewer colors and less saturation will be the way to go. It’s easy to give everything the same value at first so I want to keep the heavy saturation to the more important parts of the image.

I would also like to try combining black ink washes with color – maybe a mostly black and white image with a few hints of color.

Anyone have any tips for me based on this?

The House Fire, New Ink Wash Painting

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More ink wash painting this week. This time I decided to avoid linework and shoot for something more sketchy and loose. It’s a difficult for me to do because I tend to overwork things. This was really fun to see come to life in slow layers of grey and I think it was quite effective for the flames of the house fire.

My watercolors should be here Monday and then some color should start popping up.

Drawing Experiments

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Over the last 6 months or so I’ve been struggling to find an illustration technique that feels more natural for me. Drawing has always been my favorite part but the process of coloring with Photoshop is something I have to work very hard to get right.

I’ve been a fan of dip pens for a long time, but lately I’ve had some trouble with them on Bristol. Maybe I have cheap ink and maybe I need better paper, but I just wasn’t getting the results I was looking for. After looking at Dan Berry’s work, I decided to try my dip pen on some watercolor paper and above are the results. Clearly my ink is either not as waterproof as it claims to be or I didn’t wait long enough for it to be fully dry, but I was so excited about the results. It was so much more fun!

I need to practice a lot more with ink wash and I need to use some higher quality brushes, but I really feel like I’m on to something. I’ve also ordered a small Winsor & Newton watercolor pocket set so I can slowly start incorporating light color washes into the work.

I’m pumped to try bigger and more involved illustrations this way!

Cheers!

New Sketching Rules

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Most of us feel like we don’t sketch or draw enough, but making a goal to “draw more” is completely unachievable. When do you know you have reached “more?” It puts too much pressure on you without giving you a solid goal to work towards.

I often feel like I need to “draw more.” I’ve never been a big doodler and often my own self-consciousness gets in the way of my sketching.

So, I’ve made a new rule for myself to assist in “drawing more” and to force myself to get past this strange self-consciousness about drawings that I don’t have to show anyone, ever. This is the rule:

If you are feeling bored, you must grab some paper and draw until you’re not bored anymore.

I want to be the kind of person who draws at every free moment. I’m not right now so, at the very least, I can get rid of any excuse to be bored and get more drawing time in.

I’ve made one other drawing rule:

You will NOT purchase fancy, expensive sketchbooks ever again.

With the exception of the Moleskine that I happen to have with me today, this rule is designed to help me get over any hesitance in my sketching. Buying an expensive Moleskine or other fancy sketchbook with thick paper and a nice hard cover only serves to make your sketching seem more precious. Sketching should never be precious!

Your sketchbook should be something that you carry everywhere with you. Something that gets beat up and abused from being carried around everywhere. The pages should be a mess. This is the goal for me, at least.

I’ve always had a passion for drawing but not really a passion for sketching and doodling. It’s time that fire was ignited for my own enjoyment and for the improvement of my illustration.

What does your sketchbook look like?

Sneak Peek of a Panicking Chicken

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Since early December life has been extra crazy and it appears it might continue that way for a while. I’ve had a good amount of client work is is great and I’ve also been working on a lot of personal stuff.

This year I am developing a new, more cohesive style and trying to fill my portfolio up with this new work. My last blog post featured some of the new work. Above is a little peek at one I’m working on now.

Just before Christmas I signed up with Hire an Illustrator. You can see my portfolio here. It’s only been a couple of weeks but I have seen traffic to my site increase and I am very hopeful about the work it might bring in. I’ll post a comprehensive review of it in a few months.

This weekend I’m driving home to my parents’ house to pick up my new STANDING WORKSTATION! I’m so excited to see it and get it set up in the apartment – especially since I already sold my drawing desk. I’ll be posting photos and a review of it next week.