Bird sketches

>> Thursday, June 28, 2007

I just finished a new series of bird illustrations, this time done in pencil. At the risk of sounding odd, I was excited to rediscover the 3B pencil. I got into the habit of using a 2B because it doesn't smudge as much, but the softer pencils do shading beautifully, and you can get nice dark black tones as well. The image above is the layout I decided on for greeting cards that I'm planning to have printed today.

In case anyone is interested and doesn't know, the typical yellow pencil that everyone commonly uses is the HB. But artists generally prefer a softer lead, the larger the number in the B range, the softer the lead is. Ie, 6B is a very very soft drawing pencil, nice for shading and can create very dark black shadows. It also smudges very easily (can be good or bad depending on what you want) and the lead can also break more easily and need frequent sharpening. The H pencils get harder as the number goes up, so for example a 3H pencil may be good for drafting where you want light clean lines, no smudging and no need for dark shading.
This one is the Eastern kingbird.
This is the Tufted titmouse. He's my favourite. Not my all-time favourite bird, which is the robin, but my favourite in this series.
This one is the Yellow warbler.
And finally, a goldfinch.


Cutie Mary Blair coaster set project

>> Wednesday, June 20, 2007

This is a little project I just finished which is very easy - anyone can do this for sure. I started out with an old coaster set from Goodwill. It had a plain wooden box and all the coasters had the same Kate Greenaway illustration. I love Kate Greenaway, but this particular image was a little bland, and also they were all the same.
I found my new illustrations from an old Golden Book anthology. Before you are horrified, please note the very bad condition of this book! (Still hard to cut the pages though). The reason I used a book rather than illustrations of my own are because I needed something professionally printed that wouldn't get damaged if it got a little damp. I wanted to be able to actually use the coasters!The next step was to trace the coaster onto a piece of white paper, then cut out the rounded square shape. This gives you a little window so you can frame the exact part of the illustration you want to have on the top of your coaster. After you have determined the placement you can trace an outline in pencil then cut it out. I find that it's best if you make it slightly larger than the coaster, then trim the image once it's attached to the coaster.
I attached the images to each coaster with a little pva glue. I found this kind of glue at an art shop, but other glues would probably work. The tricky part is to brush on enough glue so that your picture adheres everywhere, but not so much that it ends up wrinkled. Try doing a small amount first, then if it's not enough gently lift the paper up and reapply a bit more glue. I found the best amount is the amount you would apply if you were painting the coaster. I didn't add glue to the top of the image - this isn't decoupage - you don't want damp glue on the bottom of your drink!

Finally I primed the wooden box and painted that white. If you already have the glue, an old book you can cut up and some paint, this project can be very cheaply done. I only spent $1.99 at Goodwill for the old coaster set. And look how cute the finished set is!
These illustrations are by the wonderful Mary Blair. Look to vintage Golden books if you'd like to see lots of lovely illustrators. I found some other stories in the book illustrated by Garth Williams, and some by Richard Scarry. It inspired me to see earlier work by these artists (and cheered me up). Just a reminder that most artists aren't overnight successes.


Updating the shop!

>> Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I thought I would try out this new Etsy Mini feature, here are some of the things in my shop!

Buy Handmade


Jewellery making weekend

>> Saturday, June 09, 2007

I had such a nice day today going for one of our loooong weekend walks. We went to look at some bike shops for Bradley, and I got to visit Arton Beads, Romni Wool, Fresh Collective and Red Pegasus. I found a notebook with a vintage bird illustration on the cover at Red Pegasus (and covetted some silver acorn earrings). I also bought a beautiful skirt at Fresh Collective and lots of beading supplies at Arton. Starting last night, I've been making jewellery once again and I've been putting new things in the shop.This time I also did the photography outside, which of course is much better light and the colours are truer. On the way home I collected stray leaves and twigs to use as backdrops.I go through weeks where I just don't feel like creating, then suddenly I'll get inspired and I can't stop! Lately it's been busy in a good way, because I've also been working on my Scholastic book and I really like how it's turning out. I wish I could share my pictures, but I have to wait until the book is published in the fall.


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