Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving leftovers

Sorry for the late posting this week. With the Thanksgiving holiday happening this week, it through my schedule out of wack. I hope everyone living in the States had a wonderful holiday. My wife and I had friends over and our son was in town. We had a wonderful time. Good friends, good food, and lots of laughter.

© 2010 Russ Cox/Smiling Otis Studio

I am continuing working on new pieces for the conference while working on paying projects. This sketch is something I quickly scribbled out while waiting for a file to print. I felt I needed a couple of animal related pieces to breakup the all of the human illustrations that are in the works. I hope to find enough time to complete all of the new ideas that are sketched out. Two months is not a lot of time with Christmas and New Years squeezed in there.

I am hoping to have my portfolio printed in a book form. Does anyone know of a good digital printer that does small quantities in book form?

This week is a short posting but I leave you with this quote:
"Practise what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know." ~ Rembrandt van Rijn

Saturday, November 20, 2010


© 2010 Russ Cox/Smiling Otis Studio

This week was spent experimenting a bit using some of Adobe Illustrator CS5 new brushes. I previewed the sketch in last week's posting. I am trying to give my work a fresh look while maintaining my "style". While playing around with the very cool "bristle brush" feature, I discovered how it could give my work a more painterly look and feel. It is the softness of the new brushes that also help give the characters some dimension. The overall look of the final illustration seemed to be lacking something. I then had the idea to add some texture to various components with a final texture laid over the completed illustration to pull it all together. I am not sure if I will continue to work in this style. I think it has a cool retro look overall. I am not sure if I will add this to my portfolio to show in January. The composition may have to be simplified in order to get all of the textures to work together. Another thought is to actually paint it traditionally or in Painter. Experimentation is always fun and refreshing. You discover so many new things which could open doors in other areas. It plants the seeds of growth as an artist.

Last evening my wife and I went to Bangor with a group of friends for an art walk. Saw lots of nice work and even cooler work spaces. My goal for next year is show a couple of fine art pieces in a show. Even though I did not like some of the artwork, I admired all of the artist for letting people see their inner working and thoughts. No matter who you are, some will love it and others will not.

Well, I need to get ready for a party so I will leave you the following. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
"When I work, I work very fast, but preparing to work can take any length of time." ~Cy Twombly

Friday, November 12, 2010

Short and Sweet

© Russ Cox/2010 Smiling Otis Studio

As this week progressed, I continued to work on some new promo pieces. The above image is something that I have played around with the last few weeks and finally got it where I am ready to start the final art. I like the idea of kids playing outside and using their imaginations. It is something that I feel is slowly fading away with all of the various media outlets and toys that are out now. It brings back memories of my childhood where we would be outside playing, building things, and not coming home until dinner time. It was a different world back then. Not that I am against the new technical toys we now have at our finger tips. I guess there needs to be a balance.

I got an offer to work on a series of books but we could not agree on a price. That happens and I was flattered to be asked to do them. I also had an e-publisher ask me if I had any stories that were illustrated ready for publishing. That really lit a fire under me to get them at least written and sketched out. I would like to have one ready for January but that might be a bit ambitious.

If you haven't done so, please head over to Pixel Shavings and follow our "Glog". It is a wonderful group of illustrators. I also have moved my "20 Minute Sketch Fridays" to its own blog. I have included a few other artist to post with me and hope to add more.

Well, I have some looming deadlines today so I will leave you with this quote:
"All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness."-Eckhart Tolle

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Lead Continues To Fly

This week has been a mix of paying projects and working on some new pieces for myself. I just picked up a new project from AAA which will involve some spot illustrations and a game design with illustrations. They will be programming the game but it will be fun to help them put together the elements. The game will be used in-house for training purposes.

© 2010 Smiling Otis Studio

I started sketching out some new illustrations so put into my portfolio for the SCWBI conference. The above sketch is a play on monsters under the bed with the kids being the little monsters. I am going to put a title on the book with something like Brats Go Bump In The Night. I like putting a twist to things and adding little detail elements to help with the concept.

© 2010 Smiling Otis Studio

After reviewing the girl and robot sketch, I thought it was a little flat and needed more dynamics. I changed the viewpoint so the robot looks larger and pulls the eye towards the girl. The outer edge will be organic with the flowers crating the border. I may enlarge the robot a tad more. It has been a while but I may attempt to do this one with dyes and gouache. I am feeling daring this week!
© 2010 Smiling Otis Studio

© 2010 Smiling Otis Studio

Another thing I want to work on is to make my digital work more illustrative and less commercial. Illustrator has a ton of new features that I began testing. I want to retain the looseness and energy of my sketches. The "Paint Inside" feature is wonderful and saves a ton of time. Plus the new brushes allow you to apply color in a painterly way. I may try a second sample this weekend by taking the sketch into Painter and applying color. I will post the results.

If you haven't done so, I am now on Twitter. You can find me as @smilingotis. Also sign up for the other two blogs where I am posting samples: Pixel Shavings and 20 Minute Sketch Friday.

I got a new banjo so I am outta here to drive my wife crazy!

"Where the spirit does not work with the hand thee is not art" Leonardo da Vinci

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