I wasn't able to actually paint on the train (although that might be interesting to try some time), but I did the sketch for this one while riding on it. It was a perfect trifecta for drawing – she was asleep, listening to an ipod, and seated slightly in front of me. I had so much time to render the drawing that I thought it would be worth trying to do a painting from the rough, and this is the result.
I like it better than just the plain sketches, so if I can get good enough rough drawings I plan to do more of these.
The only one left is the letter I, which has even more going on in the illustration!
S for stairs was one of the first concepts I came up with, even though it's gone through a lot of revisions. I initially was going to do the classic straight but steep stairway up into a murky height. But when I began drawing it, a tall stairway didn't look as interesting as an endlessly meandering one. It seemed the sort of thing that an Evil Queen would build – if she must put a stairway in, she'll make it as inconvenient a way of access as possible.
Then I thought it would look even more daunting looking down.
The stairs won't daunt Arianna, but the shadows on the figures just might. She's incredibly intimidated by her own shadow. I think she doesn't like that it seems stuck to her feet. On sunny days, we have to pick her up, because she won't walk if she sees her shadow.
Maybe the figures are so far in the distance that she won't recognize that it's supposed to be her shadow. Or so I hope!
Sitting slightly behind someone is another way of getting to draw them without being beaten up, er, noticed. Along those lines, I was noticed drawing someone on the train today, but not by the person I was sketching. The subject was a couple seats forward, asleep with his head back. But when people got off the train, someone walked past me and said, "Hey, is that the guy up there sleeping?" When I said yes, she said she'd have to watch out if she saw me on the train. Or you could pose, was my answer.
Moving beyond faces to the whole figure. Although I can't help but feel there's something wrong here – Serena's the one sitting in front of the TV, drink in one hand and remote in the other. Perhaps if I watched more sports (i.e. didn't go to art school) I'd be the one on the couch.
Along those lines, the other day I had a dream that I was being stalked by a bear. When I told Serena she asked, "Was it polar, panda, or koala?" Koala?!? Sure, I'm an artist and all, but I hardly find koalas terrifying. At least she didn't add "teddy" to that list.
Arianna and her new friend safe at home. Obviously Z is for "Zzzz," but I also put "snoozing" in the text so all the Z's aren't in the snoring sound.
Two more after this one, both full-page illustrations. The next one I'm going to tackle is S. I had done an initial rough sketch for it, but it didn't seem dramatic enough. So I'm going to try it at a different angle, or, in other words, make it even more difficult. That means that after this I'll probably be putting up train sketches for a bit, unless I get into a total painting frenzy and knock the next one out quickly.
Remember how I said it would probably be a mistake to stare at someone while scribbling in a notebook? The significant exception to that rule is a person using a Blackberry. I was a couple seats away, but I could probably have sat right next to her and she wouldn't have paid me the least bit of attention.
Suddenly, I really like Blackberries. I encourage all public transportation users to get one.
This one was another one of those departures, one that would probably get sent back by an editor for not matching the other pictures in the book. But if I did it like the others, there would be an awful lot of gray in the background, so I decided to spruce it up with the yellow from the hanging lights. Also, the colors are a little less dark, but I liked it. As another artist I showed it to said, the rendering shows that the stairs recede, so I didn't need to go overboard in making the far background extra dark.
I had to show this one to someone else even though I considered it finished. It was one of those "Is this done? I think so. Or am I kidding myself, so I can move on to the next one?" So I was glad that someone else thought it looked complete too, and I could move onto the next drawing conscience-free.
V is for "Very soon, they saw a shovel."
I mentioned a couple posts back that the only time Serena is still long enough to sketch is when she's asleep.
I had originally meant to sketch her mouth – I was on "The Mouth and Chin" chapter in Vanderpoel. But I enjoyed gazing upon my Beloved so much I that just kept on drawing.
Normally, I need about 20 hours a day more sleep than she does, so I'm not sure why I was still awake to even do this drawing.
Another quick one while I'm working on the next page of alphabet book.
Feet fascinate me artistically. They seem to me to be just as expressive as hands are.
In contrast, my wife thinks feet are gross (or maybe it's just my feet). Although she does like pudgy baby feet. Especially ones that are so plump that they're like little balls with toes. If I can catch the kids while they're asleep, or try Gabriella's patience again, I'll try drawing some hopefully cuter feet to accompany this one.
Still working on the last four drawings for the alphabet book, but in the meantime I've been trying to continue with figure drawing as well. It all started with going to the museum and drawing the hand, and now I'm working my way through Vanderpoel's The Human Figure again.
The hard part, of course, is finding people to draw. Or at least, people that have the time to sit still long enough. Serena's modeled for me before, but with all that's been going on I don't think I've actually witnessed her sitting still recently (although I did do one quick sketch of her face when she was asleep).
I've tried drawing people on the train ride home, but you have to find the ones that are asleep. Otherwise, I imagine they'll get really angry if they find you staring at them intently while scribbling in a notebook.
So I was pleasantly surprised when my six-year-old asked if I would draw her. And even more surprised when, amazingly, she sat still. I mean, have you ever seen the energy a six-year old has? Once in a while she would move her head, but I'd ask her to move it back and she did. I just did the face quickly to start off with – I didn't want to push my luck. But she seemed to really enjoy it. She even asked if I would draw more portraits. So you may be seeing more drawings of my daughter up here, as well as the watercolor illustrations.
While it might not have the élan of battle penguins (but then again, what does?), here is the next drawing for the alphabet book. Getting ever nearer to the finish line, especially since I decided to keep the letter U picture as it's painted. Part of me wanted to revise it, or do the new version, but in reality I think that I just wanted to avoid the appearance of laziness. I realized that I actually like the first version. So I'll stick with that.
Only four more to go, then – as long as I'm in denial that I don't have to do a cover illustration.
Last night my wife had a nightmare about penguins, yes, penguins getting into the trash cans. They were aided and abetted by squirrels, and before long the whole mob had gotten into the house.
Being the loving husband that I am, I naturally visualized it for her. I will no doubt receive vast praise for bringing nightmares to life.
As soon as I'm finished with the alphabet book, you'll be seeing this one in color.