Friday, March 23, 2012

Hitting A Stride

©2012 Russ Cox | Smiling Otis Studio

After a few weeks of battling a nasty bug, which my wife now has, I have finally gotten back to feeling somewhat normal. I thought I would quickly post a new piece that I completed this morning for a poster contest in April. Plus I needed to post something since it has been a few weeks so I thought why not share this. The theme is "A Whole New World." I liked the idea of Mother Goose using an iPad and built the concept around her. After many doodles, the idea of adding Humpty Dumpty and Hickory Dickory Dock helped in adding to the concept. The entire piece was rendered in Photoshop. Once it was completed, I felt that I finally hit my stride with working in Photoshop. It is starting to feel natural to paint with it and I'm finally getting the look that I am after with the software.

©2012 Russ Cox 

I am continuing getting together with a group of area fine artist to do figurative drawings. We recently hired a model for 4 three hour sessions so we could do a long pose. This is the result from that effort. I was happy with the final drawing even thought I could have spent additional hours fine on it. When one works mostly digitally, it is a welcome break to do some traditional pieces. The feeling of graphite and charcoal on my hands is equally as thrilling as seeing it on paper. Tomorrow, we are gathering again for some additional drawings.

My book is coming along. As of today, I have 8 pages tightly drawn. As I work on the tight line drawings, I can see that I need to do some additional text editing. I was told by other writers/illustrators that it will eventually start writing itself and now I understand what they mean.

The weather here in Maine has been unseasonably warm. It was in the low 80's earlier this week. My wife and I enjoyed being outside but soon realized how much cleanup we have to do once the weather stays warm. I foresee lots of raking in my near future.
©2012 Russ Cox 

Our two kids were up earlier this month for a few days. It was so much fun to have us all together. Who knows when it will happen again. Our son is getting ready to hike the Appalachian Trail starting in April so he will gone for 6 months. Our daughter and her boyfriend are thinking about moving again so who knows where the wind will take them. We enjoy those moments of being together when it present itself. As you can see from the photo, we are a very serious family.

Until next time, I will leave you with this: 
"The first task of an illustrator is to be in full sympathy with the writer. No matter how splendid and exciting the drawings may be, if they work against the story, the picture book is a failure." ~ Errol Le Cain

Friday, March 2, 2012

Recharging the Batteries

 I woke up this morning and realized that it has been almost a month since I posted on my blog. This after promising to post once a week after returning from New York. Since my return, I must admit that I felt worn out and needed time to step back from working on my own projects to recharge and refocus. I put so much extra energy and time in getting a portfolio together and into getting a postcard printed that it completely wiped me out when I returned. So the past month I have found myself looking at other artist and reading about their techniques and inspirations. The funny thing is, that they all have been fine artist. As artist, I think we need look outside our niche in order to keep learning and growing. I have a respect and admiration for fine artist and what they do. Especially those who work figurative, alla prima, and/or portraiture. I have become friends with many of the area's fine artist and find their energy and knowledge intoxicating. 

One of my new friends, Olena Babek, who just moved to the area, does beautiful portraits and figure drawings. She can capture not only the look of the person, but their soul as well. Her enthusiasm just beams from her when you talk about art and the process of creating art. A few of us are trying to talk her into doing a portraiture class. Here are a few other artist that I have been admiring:

Jeremy Lipking-Works all prima and does landscapes and figurative work. The expressive brushstrokes create movement. I like how the canvas shows through in many of his paintings. I hope to one day be a tenth as good as he is and I would be happy.

Louis Treserras-Stunning paintings that are very photo realistic. His color palette has inspired me to warm up my color choices.

Casey Baugh-Atmospheric paintings that combine figurative and landscapes. the above painting looks like a blurred photo but when you look closely you can see the loose brush strokes that make up the painting.

Joseph Todorovitch-Works in oils and charcoal. I really love his drawings and the controlled looseness to them. The details of the face and the quick line work of the figure, create an energy and movement within the drawing.

Mark Tennant-Alla prima paintings and works in graphite. Mark's loose style and color use, captures the richness of her subjects.

Isaac Pelepko-A good friend of mine who works in oils and pencil. I am always in awe when I see his work. If you get close to his drawings, you can see how he forms the figure with each pencil stroke.

Alyssa Monks-Has a realistic look to her work and paints with thick brush strokes. She works large in order to capture the finite details of her models and compositions.

Joining the Bangor Art Society has been a godsend and much needed boost. By joining the Society, I just hung my first gallery show at Mass Mutual (21 Main Street, Bangor, ME) which showcases my illustration work and a few sketches. It was very surreal to have your artwork hanging in another building. I had to use the existing hooks as much as possible so that is why they may look uneven in the photos. It will be up for the month of March. I can understand why artist and photographers stress over getting everything looking perfect but adrenalin rush of putting your work on public display.

The gallery show and ingesting of the work of other artists, has started to incubate ideas and get me back to my own pieces. I guess I had a vacation without having a vacation. I still had to do work for my clients but did not do much in the evenings except work on my story manuscript. 

The other thing I did was pick up my banjo again. It was like seeing a long lost friend. We picked up where we left off the last time together. Not that I had completely ignored it, but my focus was elsewhere for a month or soul. After a few tunes, I realized how much I missed holding it. An instrument can become such an integral part of your soul. Just a few strums can lift your spirit.

A quick update on my story. The bulk of it is written and I have received excellent critiques. The feedback has me rethinking parts and strengthening the story. I am now working on the storyboards at the moment so progress is being made.

I will leave you with this until next time. Hopefully it will not be a month away.
"A picturebook is text, illustrations, total design; an item of manufacture and a commercial product; a social, cultural, historic document; and foremost, an experience for a child. As an art form it hinges on the interdependence of pictures and words, on the simultaneous display of two facing pages, and on the drama of the turning of the page. On its own terms its possibilities are limitless." ~ Barbara Bader, children's literature critic

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