This time of year - Wishes and More

It is just a little less than a week before Christmas and well, a little over two weeks before 2013 ends and a new year starts with new adventures and things to tackle.

This has been a wonderful year for me, business and most of all family-vise. I am grateful for what I have and where I am in my life. I've met many wonderful people that inspired me and also helped shape ideas of new ventures to dive into, if on purpose or mere accident.
I wish many things for the next year, but just wishing for them won't make them true. So I am ready and motivated to go after those dreams of mine and make them come true. Maybe not right tomorrow or the day after. I will take one step at a time and make it a steady journey. Because a journey it is and an exciting one each and everyday too. But what is a journey without a map? I wouldn't know where I am going if I didn't take the time to at least dream up where I want to be. And wouldn't it maybe even be better to have a teeny tiny plan? Not saying you can plan life in all it's details, but surely the milestones you want to reach.

So my homework over the festive days will be to sit down and make a plan or map of that journey. Where do I want to be in a month, five months, a years time from now? What are the things I can go after easily and which are the long term goals, which require more time and maybe even learning new skills? How do I want to grow and support others around me making their dreams come true too?
I am the captain of this ship called "my life" and I'd like to at least know where I am headed, a little bit, if you don't mind. And I will look forward to all the surprises and obstacles that might come into my way. It will be exciting and fun to master them and see what else life holds ready to experience, learn and enjoy.

I wish you all a wonderful festive season and a wonderful start to the new year! Maybe you are ready to plan out your journey too! Ahoi, fellow "life-traveler"! See you next year!





A new Promotional Postcard

The year is almost over and before finalizing all the projects I am currently working on, I wanted to get out a last promotional postcard. The lovely Dana Carey just happened to interview me about this very postcard that will hit desks of Editors and Art Directors over the next couple of days (or weeks, depending on how quick they arrive ;-)!). However, my card will not arrive on it's own, but be mailed as a group mailer along with some of my very talented SCBWI gals here in our tiny SCBWI Germany +  Austria region.

If you would like to learn more about this card or promotional postcards in general, make sure to read not only my interview, but also those of the other illustrators, who have to share some good insights and information!

Sketch and original art

printed postcard :-)

A Fairytale Illustrator's Retreat with Lisbeth Zwerger ...

Last weekend we had our very first SCBWI illustrator's retreat here in the Germany + Austria region. Many of you will know SCBWI, if not check it out!
Our region here is really small so we never had as big an event for illustrators solely as this retreat. It took place at Lake Constance, which was so lovely, although we did not see too much of the surroundings due to being just too busy painting :-).
On Friday I drove down to lake Constance and as soon as the other participants had all arrived we took our one and only real stroll at the lake together with Lisbeth. It was lovely to chat and get to know each other and I think it made everyone feel more at ease. I was so nervous as not being good enough and looking like a don't know how to paint right before the workshop. So meeting everyone and talking to all other attendees and Lisbeth helped getting over my initial fears.

After breakfast on Saturday Lisbeth started the workshop with a discussion about our favourite picture books. She had already send us a handout with questions on how to analyze the books in advance. You can see us here with Elisa Vavouri just talking about the book she had to analyze with her group.


After that we went to fetch our art supplies and get cracking. Lisbeth took time to talk to everyone and give feedback and tips on how to improve the sketch and painting and also technical tips on how to achieve certain effects. She discussed colour palettes and composition with us and warned us of things we might run into, but also encouraged us to simply try and not be afraid to have to start all over again. Believe it or not she confessed that this still happens to her too!

Before I started painting Lisbeth talked about my sketch and colour choices with me. This was kind of an eye opener to me. The fairy tale I chose to illustrate was "The Nightingale" and the scene I chose to go with for my illustration was the emperor's garden. Initially I planned to go for a blue sky and greens in the garden. Well, Lisbeth helped me to come up with something far more interesting that also resulted in a tighter palette and a very lovely mood in the final piece.


I was again so nervous to lay the first layer of paint. I did a quick test in my watercolour sketchbook and then just went with it. I had certain areas masked out to keep them white. I lay a first layer as an overall wash of sienna and light yellow ocher and mixed some olive green in on the bottom. After that first layer had dried I quickly watered the paper again, to not mess with the parts I was already happy with, and darkened the bottom slightly more with a mix of sienna and olive green. I kept the parts in the distance very soft and worked with lots of water. (process pics follow a bit further down the post ;-))



In the tiny breaks I had to take when waiting for the colours to dry I so much enjoyed seeing what all the other artists were up to. It was also nice to sit in on the feedback they received from Lisbeth and learn with them.



On Sunday morning Lisbeth took a look at our portfolios or any other art we had brought to share and discuss with her.




Unfortunately the weekend past by far too quickly and I did not finish my illustration in time. But with the last tips and feedback from Lisbeth in mind I finalized it at home. I did not take any process pictures during the workshop but happened to remember doing so at home :-). So here is a little recap in pictures on how this painting evolved and the final illustration. I really enjoyed working on this piece and trying out new things, materials and technique!



A huge thank you to Lisbeth, it was an amazing experience meeting and learning from you! And thank you to everyone who took part in this lovely retreat with Lisbeth Zwerger! It has been fantastic getting to know you and growing with you as artists!


A Thank You To You All ... let's paint

You cannot always win in life, but even though this is the case, a "defeat" in whatever way it crosses your way should never make you feel bad or discourage you. This is a lesson I learned ages ago and to tell you the truth I dearly heart it and embrace it. And it really works for me. Even better, a rejection or losing something like a competition fuels me to try even harder, to give even more.

Yesterday I learned that I did not make it to the final round of GTS and I am really fine with it. Some of the finalists are people I have got to know a little through the internet and I am so happy they made it! What I did, when I learned the news was start a painting :-). Yes, I really did and I even pushed myself to work in a way I would never do for my book commissions, but which might turn out great to have for my Art Licensing portfolio. Because one thing I know for sure, I want to build my Art Licensing portfolio until I feel confident to submit it to an agent. So off to the brushes I am happily painting away and exploring new creative ventures!

But before I rush off to my drawing table I want to say thank you to all of you who voted for me and even spread the word for me! Thank you, this means a lot to me and I hope to be able to return that support one day!

So here is the painting I did along with some process pics. Just not too many, sorry I forgot taking pictures when I was having fun with it :-) ...





A Shout Out for my Tote Bag Design for GTS 2013

As you already know from my previous post I am participating in the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search, short GTS. Today marks an exciting day in this competition as from the 50 semi-finalists one will be chosen by public voting (voting is open from 3rd - 9th September 2013) into the final round. The other five finalists will be chosen by a jury.

I really really want to make it to the next round! Of course I do! This is a dream opportunity for me and I cannot even imagine where winning this competition could take me. Even if I don't make it, which surely is something I have to really embrace too, this whole experience has taught me so much about art making and served as a wonderful momentum to create art and not just for the competition itself.

For the second round of GTS we were assigned a brief to create artwork for an Autumn themed tote bag with topics to touch themes such as apple picking, autumn flowers, pumpkins and so on. We were encouraged to also include characters and some hand-lettering. I brewed days and days over my design until I came up with an idea and sketch that felt right pursuing. So here is my entry to the second round of GTS for you!



My stomach feels like a thousand butterflies going crazy right now. I need all your support!!!! So please, if you have a spare minute pop over to the public voting gallery and if you put in your vote for me you would make me so very happy!!! And maybe even help spread the word ;-)!!!!
THANK YOU!

What a day! - Lilla Rogers' Global Talent Search 2013

Today is an amazing day. Not that any other day wouldn't be, but for the artist within me that always struggles and thinks "you could do better, you know!", today has been a magnificent day, indeed. But why is this you wonder? Well, this very morning, while still sleepily browsing the internet and checking Lilla's blog I learned I am one of 50 semi-finalists of Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search.


This might not seem so special, but when I read that those fifty artists had been chosen from over 1500 participants, this really makes you feel giddy and happy. Many of the people who have made it into the semi finals are classmates from the e-course I took earlier this year with Lilla Rogers. And let me tell you, I have seen tons of amazing work from other classmates as we shared our work with the deadline for GTS approaching. I think it must have been a very hard job to select only 50 from all these fabulous pieces created all over the globe.
The assignment was to create a cover for a journal and treat it as we would design it for PaperChase. The theme we had to incorporate was playground and playground items. We could do a pattern a scene, draw animals or people in any medium and style we chose. At first I thought I'd do kids but then I thought this a bit boring and not so challenging as I draw children most of the time for my commissions. So in order to challenge myself and also do something a bit "new" and different to most of my picture book work I did animals. I wanted to do a busy piece so I started sketching all the animals you see below and then scanned it in to arrange them in a nice design. When I was pleased with the layout I printed my sketches out, transferred them on watercolour paper and started painting them with acrylics, watercolour, coloured pencil and ink. The finished animals I scanned back in along with a wood plate and arrange it all in photoshop according to my sketch.
So this is what I submitted. Now I am very nervous about the next assignment. I wish everyone participating in this contest all the best. I cannot wait to see the amazing pieces that will be brought to life!



And a tiny shout out to all the MATS classmates, it is a pleasure to know you all and I so much appreciate the spirit of support we have developed during this short period of time. Keep up all this wonderful work you do!!!



The Final Week of "Make Art That Sells"

This past five weeks with Lilla Rogers class "Make Art That Sells" literally flew by. Theme of the final week was to create a piece for a sipper pouch that is lush and we were also allowed to use  photographed pieces of things we collect. I am not much of a collector and went for a completely digital piece of art.

I played around and went really beyond with the colors, which is not what I usually would do, but I liked it. It gives my design a bit of an 80's feel, at least in my opinion. The one I did and submitted is the bottom right piece on the collection of all the pieces I created during the course. The one on top of that I created past deadline as I felt I wanted to play a little more and create a second design to go with the other. Also the second one has a slightly more girly touch to it, which I like.

It is really amazing to see what you can achieve in 5 weeks if you stay focused and organized. I will keep this momentum and create as many pieces as possible within the next weeks, as I hope to put together a nice and strong art licensing portfolio. And I look forward to part B of Lilla's class in October to help me push and grow even more!
Hope you enjoy my five weeks accomplishment! :-)



Week 4 of Lilla Rogers Course - Wall Art

We are already way into week 5 of Lilla Rogers e-course "Make Art That Sells" but I had no time to write up a little something about week 4 yet. I cannot believe how fast this course is going by and how many things I am learning. I really discover so many new things while seeing to the assignments every week. It helped me push myself as an artist I did not think about or expect to happen when signing up for it.

Week four was all about Wall Art. What I loved most about this market and the assignment that went with this week was the freedom and painterly approach. The market leaves room for so many things, as Wall-Art is needed not only for adults but also for kids not to mention the different rooms and occasions one might go crazy about. But the fun part was really to paint and collage, which was what we were to do. We had to create one or two pieces and use colours according to our star sign, which made me end up with blue and red, which are in fact some of my favourite colours I happen to use quite a frequently in my art. The pieces we were to create should be painterly to abstract using collage, real paint and type with some kind of quote or maybe just a word and also some kind of plants. Of course we could go loose and explore.

So what happened with my piece? After some pondering I went to the shop, got myself some wood plates and drew on them. A first time for me and also the collage was new to me in that way, as I hardly ever use that technique. I also did some linoprint for the background to create a bit of an abstract pattern to go with my pods. The flowers I drew with acrylics and collaged them on the wood plate. The type I added digitally as I was too afraid to screw up and ruin my piece. The text I used is inspired by one of my favourite poems and poets J.v. Eichendorff. Can you guess which poem it might be?



Week 3 in "Make Art That Sells" - Picture Books

This weeks topic for Lilla's course was picture books. One would guess an easy one for me maybe, as I have illustrated a few books. But you are wrong! To be honest it has been the toughest assignment so far, maybe just because I already did picture books and vowed to push myself in this class. It took me almost all the week to figure out how to approach this weeks assignment.

One reason was the story, which is not a typical picture book story in my opinion, but perfect to stretch the brains in new ways. Lilla gave us "The Snail and the Rose Tree" by Hans Christian Andersen. We could choose to either do a spread or the cover but also do hand lettering. As the story is a bit morbid and kind of has a sad touch to it the thing I struggled with the most was deciding on the style of the illustration. We were to develop a snail character, that is engaging and would carry through a whole picture book. I new I did not want to do a simple snail so I pondered what my snail could be like and how to show that best. In order to not just make it the grumpy old fellow I kind of heard at first when reading the story for the first time, I came up with a hopeless artist snail, a musician that is a bit depressed by nature. Maybe not too original either but I somehow liked it and more importantly liked him. Another thing that needed to be figured out was the character of the rose tree. The story has a lot of dialogue between the snail and rose tree so I wanted to really personify the rose tree. Just one blossom with a face did not seem right though, so I gave my rose tree a rose tree fairy that sums up it's rather idle personality.

I also kept to my vow to work more traditionally so the piece you see below was created in watercolor, colored pencil and ink. The only thing I added in Photoshop is some highlights and I changed the hue of the hand lettered title, as this was done in black ink only originally.
I feel very good about this piece, as I think I pushed further but also stayed true to my voice. Hope you guys enjoy it too!!!



Home Decor Design - Learning new Things

Week two in Lilla's class was dedicated to home decor. A market, I have never worked for before and so many new things landed on my plate. Again we had an assignment, which was to design four plates that would go together as a collection.

As I mentioned in last weeks post, this course is not only about learning new markets but also to push yourself as an artist. So yes, there is a lot of experimenting involved, which is really just fun! I would love to work more traditionally and also explore ink and watercolor, but in a more loose style, than I do at the moment when it comes to picture books. Who knows, maybe it will transfer into my picture book work, but that is still something I have to see for myself.

What I do find hard though and really learned about me as an artist this week, is that working on "expensive" or fine art paper makes me kind of freeze. I just loose the looseness and get worried too much about my lines. So what I did is this:  I got a sketch book with really good paper and drew all my inky stuff into it to scan in later. Yes, I fooled myself, but believe it or not, it did work and I am happy about the results too. After a lot of inking I then did the watercolor bits on watercolor paper but just scribbled away without freezing. I also think keeping the watercolor bits kind of simple helped in not freezing up too. I'm loving those assignments and here you get a peek at my collection of floral plates!
Let's see where the next week in this course will take me!




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