Friday, October 29, 2010

All Hallow's Eve

There is so much to chat about this week that I do not know where to begin. I think the first thing to do is make a few announcements. I FINALLY broke down and created a Twitter account. You can follow me @smilingotis. I hope to link up the blog and Facebook pages with it so things work together. You may get a bunch of repeat postings until the bugs are worked out so I apologize in advance should that happen. I also joined up with a talented group of children's illustrators to create a new blog called Pixel Shavings ( Please take a moment to follow us there as we are just getting this off the ground. The artwork on the site will be based in the children's market but it will give you a chance to see some other creatives in the field.
© 2010 Smiling Otis Studio

Like last week, I began sketching up some ideas for new promo pieces. This sketch I call "The Tea Party" with a glutton monster eating all of the cupcakes while the others are not thrilled with his manners. I need to workout the background elements to give it more depth and frame the action. Last night, I showed this sketch, along with several others, to a critique group, The Revisioners, that I joined. They had some interesting feedback. Many of them loved how I sketch and thought I should try to develop a second style based on looseness of the sketches. I am torn between attempting to work traditionally or doing a better sketch (but still loose) and working on it in Painter. Clients love the ease of a digital file but the group got me to thinking, "am I missing a golden opportunity to show another side of my illustrations?". This is not the first time I was told this. My buddy Hazel ( suggested this to me months ago. Any thoughts from you?

The Roscoe Holcomb sketch I posted months ago has apparently been seen by his family. I just had his great niece contact me about it. She and the family love the sketch and were very honored that someone would do a drawing of Roscoe. Now I am inspired to find the time to do the final artwork. If you do not know of Roscoe's music, check out this YouTube clip:

Projects are continuing to come in. I am blown away on how busy I have been this year. My gratitude goes out to the folks that hire me to work on their projects. I think we have a great time working together. Oh, the History Channel project did not happen but I was thrilled they called. Hopefully the project will happen down the road.

My current reading list is mostly art related even though I am in the midst of Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw. I am almost finished with the book on Alla Prima painting and learned a ton. A must read for anyone wanting to paint. This week I purchased a book on drawing the figure so I can improve that part of my artwork as well. Also a book on Adobe's Flash Catalyst so I can rework my website for the first of the year.

Speaking of figure drawings, I will be moving my 20 minute sketches that I do on Friday's to a separate blog with a few other artist. I need to get that setup this weekend.

Well, I am typed out, so I will leave you with this:
"Drawing never dies, it holds on by the skin of its teeth, because the hunger it satisfies.. the desire for an active, investigative, manually vivid relation with the things we see and yearn to know about.. is apparently immortal."
Robert Hughes

Friday, October 22, 2010

Where did the week go?

Is it Friday already? Where did the week go? Wow! I must have had my head to the grindstone all week. It really has been pretty crazy here in the land of Otis.

I mentioned last week about me going to a conference for children's book writers and illustrators in January. And that I need to begin work on some new pieces to show at the conference. During the evenings, I have begun sketching out ideas. This is the first one I came up with during this time. It is a tad different from my usually concepts in that it is less wacky or wild. I like the idea of this little girl handing a flower to some big robot. Not sure where it came from but I do like it. It might because everyone is different but can still be civil to one another. I am struggle whether the robot should be less friendly looking or keep his facial expression warm and friendly. There are more ideas flowing for other pieces that I need to get sketched out so I can edit and figure out which of them are solid enough to do finalized illustrations.

© 2010 Smiling Otis Studio

I am still in the midst of several large projects but I got a call from the History Channel about the possibility of working on some illustrations for a logo they are putting together. Nothing is set in stone and everything needs to be approved before any work is begun but I am excited about the possibilities and doors it may open for me.

On a different topic, has anyone read any of Mary Roach's books? If not, you must do so. They are funny but still educational at the same time. They read like you are talking with her at a bar after a few drinks. Great writing! I just finished Packing For Mars and laughed throughout the book. It is about the space program and has some interesting facts that you may or may not know about. Also checkout Bonk, Stiff, and Spook.

My wife and I are heading to Portland tomorrow for their annual Harvest On The Harbor event. A day filled with food and drink from restaurants, vineyards, food providers, etc. from the state of Maine. We went last year and had a great time.

I think it is time to call it a day so I will leave you with this quote:
"Painting is just another way of keeping a diary." Pablo Picasso

Friday, October 15, 2010

A rainy Friday

Hello everyone,

Sorry for not posting last week but I was sick for a majority of the time. My wife brought a bug back with her after being in Pennsylvania. Hopefully that was our illness for the season.

This week was spent in catch up mode. With me being sick, I got behind on some projects. Many late nights this week but I am back on track. Still working on a couple of large website designs, characters, and animations. While developing a character, I had a client comment on my sketches and how they really like the look and feel of them. Which got me to thinking about how I do my final art. I want to start experimenting with getting that same look when I complete my illustrations. Get away from perfect shapes and clean lines. This would involve developing another style. I do not want to dump my current one because it has served me well and I am identified with that look but to offer an alternative would open more doors, especially in the book market (hopefully). What I plan on doing is to take this sketch of the girl and try some different methods on rendering her. I will post the pieces for comments. Now I must make some time to do so.
© 2010 Smiling Otis Studio

Speaking of sketches, I think I need to go back to working on tracing paper instead of the cheap copier paper that I use now. The lines and tones are richer looking. The leprechaun was done on tracing paper. You can see the difference between the two sketches that are posted.

In some other news, I registered for the SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators) New York conference in January. I am looking forward not only going to New York again but to be around other creatives in the field. I hope to make some contacts and new friends while there. Plus visit some old friends while in town. This will inspire me to create some new pieces, get a new website and promo piece, and maybe get my book written. I plan on some Russ time before then to get things ready. If anyone is going, please let me know so we can meet up somewhere.

Also a group of us started a new blog for children's illustrations. We are still setting it up but I will make an announcement when it is up and running. Everyone involved works in the children's market and is very talented. Stay tune.

I am also going to start another blog for my "20 Minute Sketch Fridays" for my quick studies that are different from what I normally do. I may ask a few others to contribute once I get things up and running. Below is todays sketch. I toned the paper with graphite and drew on top of it. Afterwards I pulled out the highlights with a kneaded eraser. There are some issues with the drawing like her face but it was fun to work this way. Doing a larger drawing would have allowed me to get those midtones in there. Maybe I will do a larger version. I know, I know, I need to get ready for the conference!

That is it for this week so I will leave you with this:

"I have learned that what I have not drawn I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle. " Frederick Franck, The Zen of Seeing.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Peaks and Valleys

© 2010 Smiling Otis Studio

This has been an up and down week here in the merry land of Otis. I was selected to do some style samples for a card game that is going to be in stores nationally. I cannot indulge too much info at this time because the game is in development. I must say that they are a very friendly and professional group. They understand that samples takes time and paid for them. Many people/companies today think they should get the work for free so they can decide which they like better. I do not mind working on paid samples but I will not do "art contest". Anyway, enough of that rant, so it was narrowed down to another illustrator and myself. Well, I did not get the project. BUT, they liked what I did so much that as soon as they develop a kids game, it will be mine. As disappointing as it was, there is definitely a bright spot. The above image is what I submitted. I tried to tone down the my cartoon style a bit and go for a more graphic look. To give the illustrations a texture, I placed a paper image over top and played with the transparency controls to give them a more organic look. The smaller icons needed more work but it helped convey the approach I was after.

The sketch above is for my "20 Minute Sketch Friday" thing I started doing last week. My aim is to do something different from my usual style. I wanted to do a quick portrait study with quick line work and few details. I enjoy the looseness of the sketch and how incomplete it looks. Putting a time limit on the drawing kept me from adding more detail which I tend to do with a lot of my artwork. Less is more. Doing these sketches really have me wanting to attend some workshops or drawing sessions here in the area. I may head over to Belfast for a Monday night drawing session in the next few weeks. Being around other artist will help improve my drawings and paintings plus meet new people.

On the project front, it seems to be hospital or medical illustration work coming in at the moment. Working a serious of spots for some information sheets. And I am doing a large campus map for a hospital in PA. Doing this type of work is a wonderful break from the cartoon stuff I usual do and re-energizes me. We should always try new and different challenges. It is what makes us grow, not only as artist, but as people.

Well, I need to get back to some projects before the storm hits. The winds are picking up so we might loose power today. I leave you with this quote:

"To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood visions and dreams." Giorgio de Chirico

Follow my blog with bloglovin