Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Works-In-Progress: Studio Update July 27, 2016

Since my last blog post, I've been working nonstop on one of the most challenging projects I have ever done: writing and illustrating a children's book. It is called “The Adventures of Nostril Woman (The Worst Super Hero EVER).” Here's one of my favorite excerpts:

Sometimes it's cool to have a super power.

Sometimes it'SNOT.

The project started out as a gift for my son’s birthday. I wanted to make an original book for him out of a very silly story we made up together.

I thought it would be a fairly simple project, but my perfectionist streak soon took over, especially after I decided to publish it. Simple line drawings and cartoons are anything but simple, especially when one must create about 2 dozen of them. 

This has always been the most difficult type of artwork for me, and I soon found I was quite out of practice when it came to producing finished line drawings - especially characters and ideas from imagination.

It's funny how an artist’s specialty determines the way we see the world and the inspiration we get from it: an artist who draws sees lines and shapes, or tones and shadows, while a painter may focus on the play of light or the way colors interact. 

I have worked almost exclusively in EarthPaint for the past several years. It is completely unlike any other medium I’ve used, especially drawing, and I have trained myself to see in terms of its particular effects and practice. 

Any drawings I did were primarily rough sketches to hash out ideas or plan future works, rather than finished drawings. Even these simple sketches can be very trying, as it is impossible even to approximate the visual effects of EarthPaint with drawing materials or regular paint. 

One of the things I really loved when I first started EarthPainting was that it forced me to hold my ideas very loosely, and relax my expectations. 

In the beginning stages I had very little artistic control over this strange, unpredictable medium. I learned to allow a painting to develop on its own terms rather than forcing it to adhere to a rigid vision. 

It it was very freeing for me as an artist, and taught me how to get out of the way of inspiration. but it also had a downside: as my artistic vision became more painterly (specifically “EarthPainterly”), I also became more abstract in the way I worked and how I saw. 

It was impossible to sketch out a firm plan for an EarthPainting - all I could do was dive right in and start painting. Along the way, my drawing skills sort of languished.

Illustrating Nostril Woman has been a great process - it forced me to reconnect with this semi-dormant part of my Art Brain, though it was a much larger undertaking than I expected. 

Layout puzzles, story writing, and producing the corresponding illustrations takes a LOT of work, and I was filled with doubts at the beginning. 

Could I still draw well? Had I lost that ability? Does anyone really want to read about a snotty superhero? 

But as the book began to take shape, my once-deft drawing skills started to come back, and before long I was surprising myself with amusing facial expressions and humorous little scenes. 

It's not a great work of art or a staggering literary achievement: one sets the bar fairly low for a picture book filled with silly and gross characters, and the illustrations are likewise crude and childish.

 Still, I am so glad this project has given me a chance to rediscover my drawing skills, and I'm confident that the book will appeal to a broad audience. It has already passed the Giggle Test with several children and even a few adults. 

After all, who really outgrows BOOGER and FART jokes? (Nobody, that’s who).

I still have plenty of work to do before Nostril Woman is ready for official publication, and I will post updates as well as ordering information when it becomes available in print and digital formats.

I am very pleased with the handmade original draft copy I finished yesterday - it has turned out better than I expected. I bound it by hand using waterproof, tear-resistant paper, so it is a keepsake that will last a long time. 

The story and illustrations came together quite well - “Nostril Woman” is really quite HILARIOUS, if I may say so, and I am quite proud of it!

I know one at least one little boy who's going to LOVE it.

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