What is the first thing that comes to your mind when December 1st arrives? Snow? Winter? The holidays?
This is the time of year where I begin spending some of my daily effort on developing new ideas for stories and illustrations. Some times I use trigger words, grabbing them from Websites like IllustrationFriday.com or CreativeWritingPrompts.com . Other times, I just sit back in my chair and search my mind for something that inspires an idea. From there, I start sketching or typing and I follow it wherever it takes me.
One morning, a trigger word led me to this…
I love comic strips! So, I often find myself (when doing my daily warm-up drawing) creating a story, creating characters, grabbing one small idea from that story and turning it in to my daily warm-up. In fact, as I type this, I am sitting on another idea for a comic strip.
Whether I’m just warming up or I’m working on a full-fledged concept, I find that trigger words (and the Websites that provide them) are very valuable. They help me avoid ruts and they keep my mind loose and prepared for anything that might come my way.
I hope all of you enjoy the holidays
and avoid the ruts too!
As the boat sits in storage and the frosty days of winter thrust a chill in to a rapidly graying sky, I sit in my cozy studio and take a few minutes between jobs to be thankful for the Minnesota art community. I am very proud to be part of a population that embraces art the way Minnesota does. I am also very honored to receive awards for the work I am doing as an artist.
In early November, I was awarded “Best Digital Illustration” by the Banfill Locke Center for the Arts, in Fridley, Minnesota. The image, “The Magnificent Seven” is my “comic-style” take on the story of seven shelties which make a “career” as herding dogs. The owner of these amazing dogs is Jean Beuning. Jean is also the owner of the Top Dog Country Club; a dog “resort” in New Germany, Minnesota. I created the illustration as a commission for her. With a color comic-strip type flair, I built off of the real personalities of each of the dogs and placed them in to a story. I’m thrilled to hear so many people have considered this illustration a success.
Later in the month of November, I visited the Maple Grove Art Center (Maple Grove, MN) where I would be teaching a cartooning class to a group of Girl Scouts and Brownies. As I entered the art center, I saw my illustration, “The First Time I Met Swampfoot” hanging on the gallery wall. Affixed to the corner of the 18” x 24” image was a ribbon that read “Award of Excellence”. I had entered this piece in the 2013 Monster Show at the art center and almost forgotten about it. So, I must admit I was a bit surprised to see it. More so, I was honored when I saw the award.
It means so much to me to know that people in and out of the art community appreciate my art. I pour hours of energy, miles of passion and years of life experience in to every illustration I create. And it always feels great when somebody takes time to say “Hey, nice job!” I want to take a second to thank Banfill Locke Center for the Arts and Maple Grove Art Center for including me in their exhibits. And if you live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, I recommend you visit each of these art centers from time to time. Both do a great job reaching out to the public, offering classes to children and adults and providing their respective towns with a wonderful flavor (and variety) of art.
HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!!!
It was a wonderful summer in west-central Minnesota! Between comic books, comic strips, clips of animation and two picture books, I somehow found time to float on the lake, make it to some ballgames and hike through San Diego, CA, Red Wing, MN and Denver. CO. What very well might go down as the greatest summer of my life was so jam packed with work and fun, I almost forgot to change my socks. It’s a good thing I rarely wear them.
So, here’s to a great summer and what looks to be an even more amazing fall! I recently finished a book cover for a book called “Babes in Gangland”, written by Bix Skahill. I also put the finishing touches on two new posters for Horrorizons: Iconic Art. They are available beginning to day at Crypticon, Minneapolis and at the Horrorizons Website. Finally, my teaching schedule has become very busy too. I am currently giving Beginning Illustration classes in Bloomington, Minnesota which will last through the winter and I am teaching the basics of art to a great group of kids at Fridley High School.
As the leaves turn colors and the grass goes to sleep for a few months, my stylus will also float across the unfinished pages of another picture book, a comic strip series and the on-going process for my graphic novel. I hope everybody has a great fall! Though I love fall, I will miss baseball just a bit.
Wondering where I have been since March? Well here is a quick rundown before I get back to work.
I am currently working on two separate book projects, both which have deadlines in June. One is a picture book and the other is a comic book. Both very exciting and a lot fun to work on. I am really enjoying them.
Beyond the two book projects, I am also putting my teaching curriculum together. This summer I am teaching about 13 new courses for children and adults. For more information about the classes I am teaching and classes being offered by other instructors, visit the websites for Banfill Locke Center for the Arts, Maple Grove Art Center and the Bloomington Theatre and Art Center. You can get more information about all kinds of great classes there.
Additionally, I am serving on a grant review panel for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. This is sure to be a fun experience.
And finally, I have been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Banfill Locke Center for the Arts. I am very honored to join this group of amazing people and I look forward to bringing some of my ideas to the art center.
Well, there is a quick wrap up of what I am doing and where I have been. I will share a more detailed update as soon as these pressing deadlines are met and the teach time of year has begun. Enjoy the season!!!
March is the month of inspiration. More hours of sun, chirping birds and the promise of green grass coming soon (hopefully). Every once in a while, I stumble across a few lines from the guys who I call “the Awesomes”; Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. This almost always spirals me in to a misguided exploration of “quick writing”.
With these short writings I use very little form. I try to slap ideas down as quickly as they come and then sometimes I use them for inspiration on a future project. Over the past couple weeks, I have been using this type of writing as a morning warm-up before I dive in to my regular work load. I thought I’d share a few of these “poems” for all of you to enjoy or analyze or laugh at or whatever makes you happy. I hope you have a wonderful month!
March? (a haiku)
And so the snow flies.
I’m glad it doesn’t snow flies,
Spiders would get fat.
My feet are on the floor
And now they’re on the door.
They’re on the wall. They’re in the hall.
They’re in the air. They’re over there.
My feet are nearly everywhere.
Except the ceiling;
I’m not tall enough to plant my feet up there.
Single kernels of popcorn, splintering sounds of ash.
Balls fly outward, bound for the bleachers.
Visitors toast their heroes as each of them crosses the plate.
The manager’s walk to the mound projects the dreadful fate
Of the rookie who’ll be lucky if he pitches here next season.
Rain stopper, sun blocker;
Outside, you make life good.
But inside you’re a bad-luck maker,
Which is why you stand silent in the corner.
One of the best kept secrets of the Twin Cities is a little art center on East River Road in Fridley; Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts. Every year this wonderful little art center hosts what I consider the coolest art exhibit around.
For starters, admission to the show is FREE!
Besides a great admission price, this art exhibit is perfect for art-lovers of all ages. The exhibit is called Kids Do Art.
All of the art work (hundreds of pieces) was created by elementary school children from the nearby schools. The show features beautiful artwork from five year-olds and equally amazing art from kids who are knocking on the door of teen-dom.
It is a phenomenal show which should not be missed. I have seen many art exhibits and even participated in a handful myself. But the feeling you get when you walk in to BLCA for the Kids Do Art exhibit is unforgettable. From the moment you step in to the gallery space, you are entranced by amazing splashes of color and unbelievable talent, covering the walls from ceiling to floor. It’s inspiring on so many levels.
The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10am to 4pm.
On Saturday, February 23rd, I will be hosting a free “make your own picture book” art workshop during the show. The “open door” workshop begins at 1pm and goes until 3pm.
For more information, visit www.banfill-locke.org
This organization, commonly known as CBIG, is a group of Minnesota-based children’s illustrators. I have been a member for a little over two years and the organization has proven to be an amazing source for inspiration, motivation and friendship.
In 2012, CBIG engaged with the community in a number of ways. We exhibited our art at a number of libraries throughout Hennepin County. We participated in the 2012 Art-a-Whirl in North Minneapolis. We held gallery shows in Fridley and in Fergus Falls. We joined two+ days of fun at the Minnesota River Arts Festival, in Shakopee. And we capped the whole year off by doing something many of us will not soon forget. We held the “Smiles for Sandy Hook” event at the Bloomington Theatre & Arts Center.
Though it was an awful moment in America that brought us together, the event was filled will smiles and sunshine. With help from children and parents from all over the Twin Cities, we created nearly 500 pieces of artwork for the children of Sandy Hook Elementary. Here is just one of the many news videos documenting the event: Smiles for Sandy Hook
In coming weeks, the artwork will be delivered to Newtown and displayed for the children of Sandy Hook Elementary.
I was very proud to be one of the 25 volunteers (many CBIG members) who made this event a success. And I am thankful that Minnesota has an organization like CBIG to recognize when the children (wherever they are) need a little pick-me-up. CBIG has reminded me what children’s illustration and literature is all about. I look forward to bringing more smiles to children everywhere in 2013.