Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Drawing Children: Sketchbook

Here's the start of my sketchbook. Huh, did it sooner than I thought I would! Feeling pretty grateful that Facebook has an endless supply of baby photos. These are all of my two nieces, when they were a tad bit younger.

All images are Copyright Melanie Linden Chan, 2011.

Drawing Children: Adult & Child

For homework we were asked to draw some images of a child with an adult. It must be the same adult and child in different poses and situations, so we get a handle of how the two interact.

I did my best (after perusing my sister-in-law's Picasa site), considering I don't draw people. But if I'm going to illustrate children's books, I should definitely be drawing people!

ALL images are Copyright Melanie Linden Chan, 2011.

I'm also starting a sketchbook. I think I've mentioned before that sketchbooks and I are not really on the same page (hehe), because I like to draw on scrappy paper and such. However, it is indeed time for me to give it a serious effort, and so I shall. I'll post my drawings as they come along!

Doodle Fun: Pugging Around

With all the homework and housework and general stuff I've got to do this week, naturally I'm feeling a bit mischievous. So instead of doing said homework, housework and general stuff, I chose to sneak away and draw something I didn't have particular time for. Muah ha haa haaa!

But this little doodle might just give me a chance at illustrating a children's book- which therefore gives it the number one rank of importance in my book! Can I convince the author that this little pug is the one she wants in her book? We shall find out! (Did you notice three sentences in a row ended in book?? Weirddd...)

Some sketches, getting to know the puggy little thing:

ps. I figured out that my camera is doing this wacky turning my pics
thingie all on its own. Sorry Blogger, it totally isn't you!

Copyright Melanie Linden Chan 2011

Annnnnnd, the final image:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Creating Worlds, Week 1: Kryptonite

So I'm taking this course called "Creating Worlds," and it teaches just that- how to make your worlds and spaces more real, as imaginery as they might be. And when I say real, it means not only visually, but emotionally speaking as well. You can feel the space, be in that space, and really believe that space exists.

We started with a basic perspective overview, because if your picture isn't making spatial sense, then it is harder for the viewer to believe in it. This is up to a certain point, however. Not every piece of art is perspectively perfect. But one must know the rules by heart, and truly understand them, in order to break them effectively. (You can brush up on yours with these books: "Basic Perspective Drawing" by John Montegue, "Perspective Made Easy" by Ernest Norling, and there is a section in "Creative Illustration" by Andrew Loomis too.)

So our first week's homework was to make two drawings of spaces that exist in our inner world, one in One Point perspective, and one in Two (or three) Point perspective. Over the years, I've had quite a bit of experience doing perspective drawings. I've never particularly enjoyed doing them, but have found them easy enough, and so did them without complaint. So I thought our homework would be a piece of cake! Haha! Ha! Ha. Heh...

Audience, it is now time for you to meet my new friend, my Artistic Kryptonite: Perspective in a Made Up World.

Don't get me wrong now- I can still draw perspective in a real world situation, with real things that actually exist. But when it comes to having a particular composition in my head, and putting that down on paper, then asking me where my vanishing points are, and if this table would look better at that angle...

It was hard! I drew, re-drew, traced, cut and pasted. And I got super frustrated with myself. After all these years, (well I'm still young, but I thought the years I spent in college must have accounted for something at least...) how could I still be struggling with silly perspective?!?!

But then I realized that it doesn't matter if I can pull the information I needed out from my brain. I can use that brain to construct something to use as a reference! Drawing from life is never cheating, it is a very useful (and lifesaving) tool.

Things got a lot easier after that! I wasn't able to come up with fully complete drawings because I ran out of time. But I know I will finish them, if not by the end of this course, but definitely in the future, because each composition is one I will be using in three of my stories! Sneaky, huh?

The original composition in my mind's eye.

This is how it would REALLY look. Yes, the sheep lost both his ears.
(We don't like to talk about it.)
Ahh, a nice messy graphite drawing!

Except I can't stand smudgey graphite, so onto the blue pencil.
I'm going to clean this up and then go over it in pencil.

Bungee Bunny's house.

This scene will happen in the story.
There goes my pics going sideways again. *sigh*

Our instructor helps me get a better idea what I'm doing by drawing some ovals.

I'm trying to get a better idea of the space my characters are in.

This is where I start getting super frustrated. It isn't the view I want to see!

but THIS is!

SO much better! Should have done that first...

The actual composition I was looking for, with correct perspective!
Copyright Melanie Linden Chan, 2011.
I'm not posting the third image because it is nothing but a scrubby little thumbnail, times three. But you'll get to see it eventually.

The most encouraging thing we learned was that our instructor had struggled in just the same way each of us did for this project, and he promised us the more we practice, the easier it gets. So there is hope for me yet!

Next Week: Emotional Design, and shape psychology! Read "Picture This" by Molly Bang.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Drawing Children: More Gestures and Poses

We drew a very tall first-grader in class last night! He was such a cute little gentleman, and the BEST model (he stood quite still) we've ever had. Our instructor reminded us to stay loose and free, and to capture the body's movement and overall proportions before getting into details; "structure before likeness." Then we moved onto longer poses so we could have the chance at putting down some solid lines. It was a great lesson!

I have NO idea why these pictures keep loading sideways like this. Blogger can be a little weird at times... (I swear it isn't me! I'm not a wizard but I know what I'm doing!) Our next assignment is to draw three pictures of a child with an adult. I guess we'll see what I come up with. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happy Blogoversary to Me!

It's official: I have been blogging for a whole year now! Woo hoo, gooo me!

I wanted to do something special for my blog, so I started this little drawing but I haven't finished it yet. I want to before the week is over, but I've got classes and homework to do too!

Copyright Melanie Linden Chan 2011

But I have to say, I'm quite glad I started this blog. I can look back a year ago and see how much I have learned, and how I've grown as an artist and even as a writer. I have exposed my art to lots of people, (and I've got 2,800something hits!) family and friends included, and it helps to keep me accountable and busy. I can keep track of my goals better and achieve them knowing I might have an audience to yell at me if I don't!

Dearest Blog, Thank You for all you've done for me! And thanks to my followers for your support and, er, following! One day I will be a published artist/author, and I hope you stick around until then. It truly has been a great journey so far- in fact, it's been a real Hoot!

Happy First Birthday, It's a Hoot!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Drawing Children: Baby Faces

For homework we were asked to draw twelve baby faces and six baby bodies. Some are made up, based upon the proportions found in Andrew Loomis' books, and some are drawn from reference photos.

The faces I made up on my own are much too cartoony, and I might try to draw some more because I really need practice! But I've got other homework to do first, so these will have to do for now:

ALL images are Copyright Melanie Linden Chan, 2011

ALL images are Copyright Melanie Linden Chan, 2011

ALL images are Copyright Melanie Linden Chan, 2011

ALL images are Copyright Melanie Linden Chan, 2011

ALL images are Copyright Melanie Linden Chan, 2011

That's all for now! :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Library Run: Potential 2011 Caldecott Winners

This month I was supposed to meet with the judges for the RI Mock Caldecott award, but I wasn't able to attend. (I was off in Fantasyland...) However, I had indeed checked out all but three of the books that made the Finals, and wrote notes and such to send to the committee.

All the books I read so far this Winter!

After reading through all the books, I began to feel a bit downhearted. Here is what I wrote in my "Journal," (the Notes app on my phone):

So I'm on the committee for the RI Mock Caldecott award, (which will be meeting early January) and I've just read all the books on the potential nominee list, and I'm finding myself asking...

What makes a Caldecott Medal winner? What distinguishes the art of the winning books from the other books?

Yes, I know each winning artist is talented, and each in their own way. And I know some of their creations were a breakthrough in the childrens' book world- no other artist had done it that way before. Some excelled at pen and ink, some at the brush, and others at graphic elements or use of color. And even some had lacked in story, which was made up for in art.

But what makes the art in a children's book better than all its brothers of that year?

I'm staring at this stack of books in front of me and I'm astounded. It's like comparing apples to oranges! I may like the color of the orange best, but I might just prefer the taste and texture of the apple instead. Of children's books, There are the realistic, the comic, the dramatic, the subtle, the serious...collage, Sculpey, paint and ink...pencil, sketchy, tightly rendered and plain old fun. (And I'm having the same problem deciding on which style to "stick to" in my own work!)

How could I possibly say that this art was better than that one? That the past two years this artist spent picking himself apart did not indeed deserve a gold medal?

I can only sort them into piles: the ones I could see a medal on without having a complaint about it, the ones that if they had a medal I would understand why but perhaps it could have been another book, and the ones that if I saw a medal on them I would indeed have something to say.

And the things I would say would be things like this:

"A Caldecott winner would know better than to place that character's face in the gutter like that," or

"That color palette is nice, but it isn't apropriate for the story at all," or

"I've seen this particular artist do much better work, and I'm a tad disappointed,"

or even

"My two-and-a-half year old niece could do a better job than that."

So I guess a Caldecott winner would have to indeed be the best of the best. It isn't about whether I like it best from all the others, or that no one else can paint like he or she can, or that it was the funniest darned thing I've read in a while. It's about how they used their creativity within the rules and the parameters of creating a children's book, and if they thought outside the box while still technically conforming to the inside of the box. Its about the marriage of the words to the art- their relationship and bond. The little things that matter and small details, the surprises along the way, and how they handled the hard nitty gritty stuff.

So did the artist just get down on one knee and pop the question, or did he send off a million red balloons into the sky that spelled out "You make my heart soar"?

I guess that's how they decide who wins a Caldecott medal? That's how I would, anyway.

So with that in mind, I'm going to go back through these books and do what we do in class: pick it apart, ask questions, and could it have been done in a better more clever way?

Cleverness AND talent? Yes, I believe that DOES deserve a gold medal!

After that pep talk from myself, I decided that these are some of my favorites:
Baker, Keith. LMNO Peas.
Birdsall, Jeanne; illustrated by Matt Phelan. Flora’s Very Windy Day
Fleming, Candace; illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Clever Jack Takes the Cake.
Howe, James; illustrated by Randy Cecil. Brontorina
Nyeu, Tao. Bunny Days
Perl, Erica; illustrated by Julie Denos. Dotty

And that these are my favorites to WIN the Caldecott Medal:
Barnett, Mac. Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World).
Hill, Laban Carrick; illustrated by Bryan Collier. Dave the Potter
Nelson, Maryilyn; illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering. Snook Alone
Stead, Philip; illustrated by Erin Stead. A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Thomson, Bill. Chalk
Winter, Jonah. Here Comes the Garbage Barge

But no matter what our results were for the Mock Caldecott, the REAL award winners are what really matter! Congrats to all the talented artists! And if you haven't heard the buzz already, here's what happened in the news.

Crazy world we live in, ain't it? Good thing we've got some books to read. :)

Drawing Children

This week I started the six-week Drawing Children class!

The class focuses on drawing from a live model each night, and working on proportions and some good 'ol homework for more practice. Which is great, because I'm quite terrible at drawing the little ones. They tend to look robotic and generally weird if I don't have a reference photo in front of me.

We did a lot of guesture drawings and sketches the first night. This one was a wiggler, so it was hard to get her poses down fast enough. But it was good practice! Here's what I did:

ps. ALL images are copyright Melanie Linden Chan! but you knew that already...

As you can see from the last image, our homework is to sketch out 12 baby heads, and also 6 whole babies. I'll post those when I'm finished with them as well.

I've also just realized my blog will be 1 year old (!) in four days. What should I do for my blogoversary?? How do you give your blog a present?


I'm moving around some stuff on my blog, so these images here are being re-posted for that reason. Plus, it will fit in nicely with my new Drawing Children class. :)

In all my years of drawing, I've never had the opportunity to draw children from life, at least not in a classroom environment. So it has been a great challenge for me, and a good learning experience, when children come into our classes and pose for us. If you haven't done it before, then you should give it a try. It is a LOT harder than it would seem! Kids don't like to keep still...