Words to Live By

Putting crayons in the dryer is an ineffective way of dying fabrics.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Preview of Things to Come

I'm contributing to a free colouring book with some other artists. This colouring book will be absolutely free and I will share the link as soon as it's put together. I still haven't figured out all the details to my new scanner. for some reason it likes to scan several areas of a drawing. Lucky for you that means a preview of my colouring page!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fairy with Ribbons

Here is one of my favorite paintings from my current art show. I have been working on this for some time, but until recently I haven't had a successful final painting. I don't know if I really have any process drawings to show for this, because it's been so long since I did them!

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Couple Finished Illustrations

Sorry, no interview this week! I will start lighting more fires so people know I'm doing interviews on Fridays. I hope to get a lot of people on here soon. I will also be doing other promotional/fun things for writers and illustrators out there. If you have a book you want me to promote, then let me know! I am not doing book reviews, and am not asking for pay (ever!)

You may recognize these paintings from last year. I thought I was finished with these then. I pulled them out to put them in my VCON art display and wasn't happy with how they looked. I went back into both these illustrations to try to bring them closer to the quality of the other illustrations I had in my show. I hope you like the results!
Mermaid Holiday

Goddess of the Ice and Snow



Monday, October 13, 2014

"The Gift" - Process to Final


Figure 1`- I wasn't happy with the inks on this
 drawing, so I used it to make changes
I've been meaning to post my current artwork here. If you haven't read my previous posts, I'll give you a quick background. I participated in VCON this year and had to do a bunch of artwork for this. VCON is basically a Sci Fi and Fantasy Convention. I had about five pieces of fantasy art when I started out and about a month and a half - two months to come up with enough fantasy art to fill up two 4' x 4' gallery boards. I was able to have 18 pieces in all in my gallery. If you want to know more about what happened. See my post about VCON here.

Many of the paintings I did were not from scratch. Most of them I had some sketches for already, but for one reason or another I hadn't finished said paintings. "The Gift" was a drawing I had started a year ago (see Figure 1). I had almost finished this illustration, but wasn't happy with the way it was turning out. I threw it in a drawer and forgot about it for a year.

Figure 2 - Transfer on Tracing Paper
For me the pencil drawing is the most important. It takes me longer I felt that I had to give this drawing more of a Fantasy feel so I decided to move from a flower to a Phoenix. I mean who wouldn't want to receive a Phoenix as a gift? Also I wanted to make the male a bit more awkward than he had been previously. The main reason I scratched this piece to begin with was it didn't feel like a believable moment to me. 

Process

I start my drawings on inexpensive paper. I look up reference for poses. Even when doing animal characters I try to take the the poses from real life people. For the Phoenix I used pictures of both real photos and fantasy drawings.

I feel it's important to say that I never use a single photo (that I haven't taken myself) as my sole means of creating a drawing. If you are using a photo for reference then be sure to use 3 or more photos so you can understand your subject rather than drawing from the piece directly. If you take something directly from someone else's photo (even if it's just a small part of their photo) you run the risk of copyright infringement. Professional photographers are very protective of their work and are likely to sue or charge you for use of their work.

Figure 3 - Inked Drawing
I tend to transfer my drawings one of two ways. The first is using a light board and tracing over my taped down sketch. This can be difficult because my final images are on thick watercolour paper and sometimes it's hard to see the drawings. This way allows for more changes to be made in the drawing as I work. If you don't have a light board a window can be used as an alternative. It's not easy, but it's definitely cost effective!

The second way is to trace the drawing directly onto tracing paper (see Figure 2). I try to get my drawing as finalized as possible before I trace it onto tracing paper. After the drawing is traced I use a paintbrush to put Burnt Umber pigment on the back of the sketch (being sure to put the loose bits of pigments back in the jar). Another way to do this is to use a piece of pastel or graphite on the back of the tracing paper instead. Graphite is cheap, but be careful with this. It's easy to make the back so dark that you can't see your lines well when transferring. 

My favorite brush pen. Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.
I like using my new brush pen for my drawings at this point so I'm almost always using this. The fun thing about this pen is it has actual bristles and is refillable with cartridges. I've had too much trouble with brush and ink so this is the perfect alternative for me. The only problem is that there is only one size and type of pen like this available in Canadian stores (that I've seen). There are also watercolour pens that are similar to this, but they aren't quite the same (plus I haven't tried them). Also I have to say I'm sorry the inked drawing is a colouring page (which you are free to download and colour). It's to deter people from using it on their colouring webpages without permission. 

Figure 4 - Final Illustration for "The Gift"
Here is the final painting (Figure 4). I used a limited amount of colours for this. I believe the pallet was Alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, Prussian blue, and Cadmium yellow. I may have also used some Mauve in this painting. If you are using paints of any kind I would suggest limiting your palate as much as possible. Choose a brown, yellow, red and blue. Other secondary colours can be added to this, but start with those base colours and build on that. There are a wide range of colours that can be made with those four simple colours. In Watercolor painting white paint isn't used to make lighter colours. It's the paper itself that is used for this. Chinese white can be used for accents on top of the painting, but is generally not mixed. Zinc white is a popular choice for both Acrylics and Oils.

For this drawing I started by mixing brown and blue to make a black. I then used that to do some shading in the picture. It helped a lot for making the painting to go faster overall. 

Well there it is, my process from beginning to end. I will be showing more process fantasy illustrations in the coming weeks, but will not need to go into as much detail as I do here. I hope you enjoyed hearing about my process!




Sunday, October 12, 2014

VCON Fun

My display at a craft show last year.
Last October I had never heard of VCON. I had done a ton of artwork and some stuffies and tried to do some craft shows and swap meets. I sold almost nothing at any of these events. I was pretty discouraged when Rose Wilson came across my table (I believe I was set up at Herbert Spencer). It sounded like a good idea. I mean I pay for set up, set up my stuff and just leave everything for someone else to manage throughout the show. What's not to love? I quickly wrote down the web address and thanked her for her time. Unfortunately, I didn't write it down correctly and had a hard time finding it later. This lead to a mad rush to get my artwork done when I found the information in August.


My son had my phone and took a photo
 as I was rushing to hang my work!
I am so glad I did participate in this event. It was hard getting a large amount of artwork done in a month in a half. Of course I had a lot of the work done. A lot of the paper was laid out already and a lot of my work for this show was from old drawings. This is not to say that I didn't do a lot of work for the show, but I was glad I didn't have to do everything from scratch!

It wasn't enough that I set up my things at VCON, but I also wanted to enjoy the show. I was able to earn ticket for Saturday by doing some volunteer work. I also got a book as a reward for helping out!

Display at the front of the art gallery.
Unfortunately Peter worked the weekend and didn't get to come and have fun with David and I at VCON (other than to view the Art Show). As a family we did look around Friday night. There was a lot to look at that didn't require a membership. We got cookies in the gallery and some appetizers upstairs where they were doing the Book Launch Party. All the displays along the way were a lot of fun to look at. David got Hulk mask at one of the tables. He was more than pleased with this! 


Unexpectedly my Mother In Law took David Saturday (after a trip to the gallery) so I could have fun at VCON on my own. Of course I went right to the Writing Sessions here. I attended Perspectives on Self-Publishing and Hybrid PublishingBennett Coles • Linda Demeulemeester • Jane Ann McLachlan • Katrina Archer • Kristene Perron Afterward I went to get my badge printed. I didn't think there was another session at the time. I looked back through my phone and decided on: Doctor Your Story with Randy McCharles. I admit, I had a headache all day and it took me 15 minutes into the event to realize that this was about editing stories. I'm so glad I attended because I learned so much! 

I started feeling ill after attending just the two writing events so I missed a lot of events. I stayed home a couple of hours, and returned around 7 to see the art show and the costume contest.



Saturday evening we took pictures at the Police Box. David and I weren't quite coordinated enough to pull it off. The ones with Grandma were better, but I forgot to ask her permission to post them here!


My In-Laws met David and I at the show on Saturday night. My Father-In-Law missed the Gallery Friday, so we had fun going back through the art show. I discovered right away that one of my prints had sold. I think the lady that talked to me while setting up bought this print. So thank you so much for buying my work! I also found out that day that none of my work won any awards. Don't cry for me, though! The judges didn't think I fit into any of the categories, but wanted to give me something for all my work. Rose presented me with a lovely sketch book from them! I was so touched.

After this my In-Laws went home and I went with David to see the Costume Contest. We had a lot of fun watching everyone. David got a picture with the Transformer Ratchet, but I forgot to ask permission to post the photos here! We didn't get to stay to see the winners, but we did get to see most of the great costumes. Head over to their facebook page here to see the winners.



I took pictures of individual pictures of my artwork early in the event, but it wasn't until the end (Sunday) that I photoed the whole display. This was a mistake, because I had David with me and had to rush too much taking these photos. Don't worry though. I will be posting all of these on my blog in the coming weeks. I just haven't had time to get everything in order yet. I am really glad I attended this event.

Next year I will do a few things differently. I will try to get a lot of my hours in for the show in before hand. I'm also tempted to work on some sci-fi artwork for next year (and no I wont wait until the last couple of months). Next year's theme is Time Travel, so I'm stoked. I can't wait to attend.


I'm going to leave you with this image. This piece went at auction, so I no longer have the original. I hope the person who bought it loves it as much as I do. I still have prints so if you are interested please let me know. My etsy shop is down, but I hope to get it working again soon!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Alinka Rutkowska Interviewed

Alinka Rutkowska is very well traveled. She uses the experiences she's gained in these travels to create engaging picture books and colouring books. (These books are also educational, but don't tell the kids that!) Alinka's books have won many awards including the Readers' Favorite Award and the Mom's choice Award. She also has a great community of authors that you may want to join! BUT WAIT, you may want to read this interview first.

Dani: Why picture books?

Alinka: Picture books are fun and writing for children is such an honor! As children’s authors we have the privilege of influencing the little ones’ minds. You know how sometimes people ask you which book had the biggest impact on your life? Twenty years from now one of our readers might be asked the same question and point to our books. Even the idea of this happening gives me an incredible rush and desire to publish the best books for the young minds.

Dani: Finish these thoughts:

Fish is to swimming as You are to... dark chocolate. Oh yeah! I could swim in chocolate too. And if you know me just a little bit you’ll see how much of myself is reflected in my books. My Maya & Filippo characters often indulge in a chocolate dessert. Now you know why!

I always wanted... to be an author and a business woman and a wife and a mom and a traveler. And you know what? I am all of those things. Dreams do come true and this is the main message in my books.

My hero or heroine is... oh gosh! I never know what to say to this question. I don’t really have a hero but I do have a favorite quote:

“We are what we think.

All that we are arises with our thoughts.

With our thoughts, we make the world.”

-Buddha

This is my motto in life and I am very picky about the thoughts I think. I often play a mental game, in which I keep reaching for a better feeling thought, and a better feeling one, and an even better feeling one and soon I feel really great and good things seem to happen to me naturally.

Kids should learn... whatever they are inspired to. And parents should enable them to do that. Children have a natural curiosity, which we should cherish. Kids are explorers, inventors, artists, engineers and if we don’t get in their way, they’ll know that they can accomplish great things.

Dani: What’s special about Maya & Filippo (both as individuals and the books)?

Alinka: The series is the only series I’m aware of that features children traveling around the world on a cruise ship. One of my reviewers said that my books are “a blend of fun and education” and I like this statement very much. Maya & Filippo delight readers but also have kids learning about different ports without them realizing that they are getting a geography lesson.

But there’s more. I often say that to know the author you must read her books. And indeed in all of my books you will notice a deep message of positivity. There are no villains or monsters or evil creatures in my book series. The conflict that the kids need to solve is usually an internal one. They learn for example that the more positive they think, the better things happen to them. So the books and the characters are really a blend of education and positivity and that’s what makes them so unique.

Dani: What is your ultimate goal in life?

Alinka: To make a difference. To make the world a better place. Wow! This sounds a little exaggerated... but it’s true. I want to know that I made an impression on the young minds, that I inspired children to travel around the world or to really know that dreams do come true. So if you have little children, do pass by my virtual home at www.alinkarutkowska.com - I’m currently giving away free review copies of one of my latest books. I’d love it if you could read it with your child and get them inspired to dream big.

And if you're an author, I have something for you too - my other goal is to help authors reach their readers and I've been in this business long enough to develop several sure fire ways to do just that. If you come over to www.alinkarutkowska.com/authors-course I’ll show you how to reach the people who want to read your books.

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Follow Alinka:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlinkaRutkowskaOfficial
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlinkaRutkowska

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Rivals Blog Tour: My Interview With Doug Solter

This week I'm doing a bit of an early interview (though there will likely be another interview Friday). I was invited by Kate Tilton to be a part of Doug Solter's "Rivals" blog tour. I, of course, jumped at the chance to join in on the fun. I love helping other writers get the word out on their books, and it's like throwing my own little party for them on my blog. If you've missed the rest of the tour you can catch up here. Be sure to read to the end, because there is a giveaway to enter!

Doug Solter
Doug began writing screenplays in 1998 and became a 2001 semi-finalist in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. His script Father Figure was one of 129 scripts left from 5,489 entries. Doug made the switch to writing young adult novels in 2008. Skid, a young adult novel set in the world of Formula One, is his first. Doug is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Doug respects cats, loves the mountains, and one time walked the streets of Barcelona with a smile on his face.

1. Why YA?

I sometimes ask myself this question. Why do I like writing stories about teenagers? Shouldn't I be writing about issues that adults face? Isn’t that a more “serious” subject? Well, I’m not so much interested in such teen problems as...who do I take to the prom? Or why is that girl staring at me in biology? What I do enjoy is looking at human issues through a teen’s point of view. How they see the world. Their hopes and dreams. Their fears and concerns. Their view of the world. I know what adults think about and quite frankly, it’s not that interesting because I'm already living through that. But I enjoy writing stories about extra-ordinary teen characters who lead fascinating lives. Living through their eyes is like a fountain of youth. You get to see the old world in a new way.

2. The best part about being a writer is... 

Receiving an email from a reader saying that they love what you wrote.


3. If you weren't a writer what dream job would you want to do?

I would be a film director. If my college had a film school, I would have gone that route. Maybe a movie producer as a second choice. I so love movies!

4. How does your experience writing screenplays help you now?

Screenwriting helped me refine my dialogue, to make it sharp and to the point with subtext built in. It's taught me to write visually, to show what's happening and not to rely solely on narration to tell the story. It's also helped me economize my writing by saying more with less words, which to me is ideal for the young adult genre. Good story structure that makes me think of my novels in terms of three acts and a strong midpoint in the second act. Screenwriting also gave me the courage to tackle writing full novels, something I thought I could never do when I started writing.

5. What is the inspiration for “Rivals” and of course “Skid”?

A big inspiration was the 1966 movie Grand Prix starring James Garner. I've always loved Formula 1 racing and wanted to write my own story set in that glamorous world. But almost every racing story made involved a young man in the driver's seat. I thought it would be more interesting to put a woman there. That's where the screenplay Season of Speed came from. When I decided to adapt that screenplay into the novel Skid, I changed the young woman to a teenage girl because I wanted it to be a young adult novel. Rivals was born out of wanting to continue Samantha's story because I loved that world and wanted to jump back into it. And readers told me they wanted to read more about Samantha's racing adventures.

6. What's special about your work?

In terms of young adult literature, I think my approach to writing YA is a little different. I tend to write larger-than-life stories. They're filled with more escapism than realism. I'm not so much about featuring contemporary issues that teens face, although some of those issues do rise to the surface during the course of my novels sometimes. But there's not a conscious effort to write a novel about those issues. I see my job as providing a teen reader with entertainment, not to preach to them.

7. What is your ultimate goal in life?

My ultimate goal is to earn enough money to make a living as a professional fiction writer. Thanks to the birth of eBooks that now can be a reality. Quitting the day job and do nothing but write would be heaven on earth to me. I would be quite a happy camper.

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Excerpt from Rivals by Doug Solter. Copyright 2014
All rights reserved.


Samantha
Melbourne, Australia
Six days later

It’s Sunday. First race day of the season. The one day of the racing week where everything I've done before means absolutely nothing if I don’t perform. The one day I’m alone. No more appearances. No more team press conferences. No more race events that I have to pretend to enjoy. No more fans wanting this perfect version of Samantha Sutton that I could never be but inside their heads. It’s now my day to be selfish. To do what I want to do.
In my hotel room, I munch on some cheese curls and a banana for breakfast. Nothing heavy, only enough to get me to lunch. But I drink a ton of water because staying hydrated is so important for the race, and it’s smart to start early.
Next I take out the framed picture of me and my dad, the one I always carry when I’m on the road. It was taken years ago when I first started racing karts. I was so shy then. Seriously. Look at that twelve-year-old girl. The way her smile and shoulders droop. The way she sticks her skinny arms close to her body. Even in a tough-looking racing suit she was so unsure of herself and needed a great dad to boost her confidence. Dad has his arm around me, and the pride on his face is priceless. I miss those bushy eyebrows and that large chin.
I like looking at this picture before every race. I want to remind myself who I owe this incredible gift to. And it is a gift. I’m not talking about racing cars. I’m talking about Dad’s gift of confidence in myself. I would never, ever be doing this if Dad didn't believe in his shy daughter.
The next thing I do as part of my race-day ritual is paint my nails. I grab the silver nail polish and start on my toes first. I know. I’m weird. But ever since I started racing, I would always paint my nails the same color as my race car. So far it’s been a good luck charm.
An hour later, I drive to the Albert Park racing circuit with Paige. I step into the garage and talk with Scott and Maurice about the car.
Manny joins us. He smiles and I melt.
He assures me that his new transmission checks out fine. But all I can think about is that garden in Jerez. I just realized I haven’t talked to Manny at all this week. It’s not like I avoided him. But I needed one of those I’m-pissed-off-now-so-leave-me-alone moments after he told me about Hanna.
I’m still not cool with him talking to his ex-girlfriend, but am I too paranoid? Manny would never do anything to hurt me. Not knowingly, anyway. When Hanna came to see him that night, Manny was kind to her because he’s a kind and gentle person who’s more compassionate than me.
couldn't see that at first. Hanna was his first girlfriend, so of course I felt threatened. Manny probably sees Hanna as someone he can help. That’s what so different about the boy. Being around Manny will make me a better person. And I want to be better. I want to be kinder and more compassionate. I would love those great things about Manny to rub off.
I hope he’s not mad at me for basically ignoring him this week.
Manny knows you’re a driver, Samantha. He knows what kind of schedule you have.
I know. I should stop worrying about it. Manny will always be there for me.
Do you want to be left alone now?” he asks.
Scott and Maurice talk about something else. Our little pre race conference is done. A part of me doesn't want Manny to leave. But I still need to do my warm-up exercises. And all the drivers will be gathering soon to take a lap around the circuit to see the fans. Then I have to eat lunch and begin to focus on the race.

Reluctantly, I nod.
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Book Links:

Skid (eBook Free to Download)

Rivals: Skid 2
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rivals-Skid-Young-Adult-Racing-ebook/dp/B00NJ1R5S2/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rivals-Skid-Young-Adult-Racing-ebook/dp/B00NJ1R5S2/

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/rivals-skid-2


Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/476387





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