It was a joy (and probably therapeutic) to create some new character art for my Vree Erickson books. Below are the characters in the Green Crystal stories and the Luminary Magic ones.
The art is mostly graphite drawings that I ran through some computer programs to enhance the images. I did this because the gray-scale scans from my scanner often ended up dark and “muddy” looking. Brightening them via the scanner destroyed a lot of high-value detail, so I experimented with some art/photo enhancement programs until my copies passed muster and weren’t storage hogs.
First up is Vree.
Next is her friend Nick from the Green Crystal series of books.
If you follow this blog, Lenny needs no introduction.
His twin sister Gaylene is Vree’s best friend. I think Devil’s Advocate is the best 2-word description of her.
Gwynessa is a Fae who becomes trapped in a green crystal pendant in the Green Crystal series of books.
Last but not least is Vree’s cousin Whitney. She plays a major role in the Luminary Magic series of books.
Today’s post is an update of my art, writing, and life. It’s an echo of my Art-Writing-Life blog, of a time when my art and writing took equal priority. But when I semi-retired from making art, I had more time to write, so my posts reflected the change.
Today’s update reflects another change.
Since my stomach surgery in 2020, I haven’t been able to sit for long. This has decreased the time I can spend writing or creating art. Pre-surgery, I allotted myself six to eight hours to complete a project. I’d sit for three hours before needing to take a break to refuel on food and drink and to exercise. Now I can sit for a half-hour at most before I must break. That’s a lot of breaks. And I think any artist or writer will understand me when I say, “That’s too many interruptions.” Making art and writing takes intense concentration. Interruptions often kill my concentration and take my mind away from the creative process. So, when I return to my work in a state of “out of the zone,” I find ten to fifteen minutes of meditation helps to bring me back to that zone.
Also, this new way of working has altered my creative style. I no longer concentrate on finishing a drawing or painting in one sitting. I simply let ideas form and see what develops while I follow along. I’m sure there’s a label for this way of creating art, but I’ve never been a stickler for labeling things. It’s simply a new and fun way of drawing and painting for me.
Below is a photo of a recent “drawing” of an abandoned country-style building. I was in a “Let’s draw an old, haunted house type building” mood when I started, so I thought of nighttime, stormy sky, European architecture, and isolation while I quickly and loosely sketched with charcoal and graphite. I added black watercolor paint to it during another quick sitting, then some splashes of white paint during another. Finally, I added washes of gray to add depth.
It’s far from finished, but it’s reminiscent of other artwork I’ve done during longer sittings, specifically the barn painting below. The unfinished piece gives me ideas for future endeavors in art AND writing.
Being unable to sit for long has affected my reading schedule, influencing me to choose short stories over novels. I even dug out my old books of cartoons, including Peanuts, (pre-political) Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes, and Matt Groening’s Life In Hell series. I spent December and January reading again my four volumes of Mad, delighting in the magazine’s best of the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. February found me with my collection of cartoons history that had me laughing at plenty of comic strip humor over the ages—some of those old jokes are timeless and relevant today.
This post also marks a well-deserved break from writing Book 3 in the Green Crystal series. The book needs several more tweaks to get the kinks out, but I need to step away from it for a week or two to clear my head. Also, this old house needs some spring cleaning, so I’m preparing for that endeavor when the warmer weather of April and May settles on this neck of the woods. That means less writing and art, and shorter and fewer blogs during those months, but that’s life.
And speaking of life, I’m aiming at getting more physically active when Mother Nature decides to stop dumping snow outside my abode. Two outdoor exercises I’m looking forward to are biking and swimming. And just the idea of sunny days ahead has me smiling a lot.
Life is more than keeping the body fit, so I’m looking forward to browsing bookstores for the kind of literature that will exercise the brain when summer is over and Mother Nature reduces my outdoor activities to ridding snow from my walkways, driveway, and car. When I’m stuck indoors keeping warm and fed, I enjoy reading intelligent literature, which stimulates my creative muscle, which further aids me with developing sound ideas for my art and writing.
So, there you have it: Parts of my 2022 agenda and my pre-celebration of the summer to come.
Thanks for joining me. Peace and love, everybody, especially in these chaotic times.
While going through more boxes in storage, I found this Louie & Bruce comic strip among my papers from teaching cartooning to kids years ago … I think it was 1988.
I know … I thought I had finished writing about my old strip, but chance and fate had other plans.
With Christmas five days away, this strip fits with the season.
This comic strip is unique because I’m not the sole author. While teaching, I had my students help write the strip by first calling out ideas and then dialogue. This way, they saw the strip grow from beginning to end.
I’m not sure why we chose Christmas and Santa for a theme during a summer class, but the theme was fun to work with and caused a lot of laughter and excitement in the classroom … especially the idea of Louie sitting on Santa’s lap as if he were still a little boy.
Not long after I stopped drawing my Louie and Bruce comic strip, I began teaching art courses to adults and children. One of the youth courses was Drawing Cartoons, so I used my strips as teaching aids during the 6-class course. About halfway through the course, we discussed anthropomorphism—giving human characteristics to animals or inanimate objects. From that, we created the character, Frank The Dog.
From Frank The Dog came Fred The Dancing Dog and his all-girl entourage. This lesson introduced drawing action and showing movement in the cartoon.
I enjoy teaching children because their ideas are fresh and inventive. This in turn sparks new ideas in my mind. Teaching art to children is an adventure to an end I never envision when I create my lesson plans. And bottom line: children are funny. They make drawing cartoons, which is already fun to do, a delight to do.
When I teach my classes, I have subjects on slips of paper that students choose from a hat. The subjects range from short and tall, narrow and wide, round and square, to various emotions and animals. A random drawing of “short, wide, round, silly, pig” resulted in the pig illustration above. The subject of crazy resulted in the cat illustration next to it. And from a random suggestion, the cat became a slob as I taught them how to refine their drawings.
Teaching at school may be what teachers do for work, but artists teaching children (and adults) at workshops can be a wonderful experience for those of us who can draw it (or paint it) as well as teach it to others. And with a classroom full of different personalities, there’s never a dull moment. Every day is a new adventure. You never know how the adventure is going to end, but it’s fun to find out.