Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Watercolor Lessons from Rene Bull - Part 2

I have finished my second painting, copied from one of René Bull's (1872 –1942) illustrations from “The Arabian Nights” (1912). (The first one can be seen here.)

Here is Bull’s original painting from "The Story of Ali Baba and the Forty Robbers."
“And poured enough into every jar.”  by Rene Bull.

Here is my copy:
After Bull. “And poured enough into every jar,” by Sara Light-Waller.
Schmincke Horadam watercolors on 9” x 12” canvas board
prepared with Daniel Smith watercolor ground.

I’m quite pleased with my painting. Painting it made me realize that Bull’s watercolor style is innately similar to mine. Fun!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lots going on at Flying Pony Studios!

My new drafting table

It has been a massively busy weekend here at the studio. To begin with, my illustrations for Tetong in the Land of the Unknown by Ludvimin Reyna got a nice mention in a Kirkus review. *yeah* It’s always nice to get good reviews, especially with the new book coming out soon.

Following this bit of good news I bought a new (actually, quite venerable) drafting table on Craigslist last Friday. Wow! It's fabulous. There is such a huge difference between professional and amateur drawing tables. This fine table is at least as old as I am, made of heavy wood, has foot rests(!!!), and a built-in light box.

As we were setting it up, I asked Matt to raise the tilt of the table until it literally matched my drawing hand for best comfort. What a joy! Of course, my old drafting chair was way too short for this tall table but I magically inherited a wonderful drafting stool from a dear friend who lives nearby. He owns a barn filled with all sorts of mysterious things. I swear that place is magical. The same friend also loaned me a lovely cutlass to use as drawing reference for my hero’s sword. Fantastic!

The other thing that happened last weekend was that our old Privateer Princess webcomic site was hacked. This precipitated taking down the old site content making way for the new novel website to come. I have put up a temporary "coming soon" page for the new novel. It’s pretty exciting actually! The first real evidence of the books to come. Here’s the link for the new page:

So that was my weekend. If it sounds like a was! But there was even more. In my next post I'll describe my newest painting and what I've learned (or more properly...unlearned) about watercolor painting from Golden Age illustrator, Rene Bull.

Cheers all!

Monday, July 22, 2013

New watercolor set!

A little while ago I treated myself to a small Schmincke watercolor set. I finally got around to using it and I’m LOVING the richness of the colors. Although it’s a small set, I’m enjoying mixing colors from the basic assortment of warm and cool colors that came in the set. I've added some white gouache and still have space for a few more colors. Now, having tried the Schmincke watercolors, I’m convinced that I must buy a small set of Schmincke gouache also. Perhaps tomorrow? *lol*

My new Schmincke travel watercolor set.

Watercolor Lessons from Rene Bull

Who is Rene Bull?

René Bull (1872 –1942) was Golden Age illustrator from Ireland. He is best known for his illustrations for “The Arabian Nights” (1912) and the “Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám” (1913). (from Wikipedia)

I’ve only recently discovered Rene Bull’s works. His work is delightful, sometimes comedic, sometimes romantic, but always very engaging. One of the most delightful things about Bull’s illustrations is his use of color, which is, to me, the very definition of “storybook fantasy.”

I’ve decided to learn a thing or two from him by making copies of some of his illustrations. Copying an artist's paintings is a great way to get to know the artist. You, quite literally, take a stroll through their brushstrokes.

Here is the illustration that I have decided to copy.

Illustration from "The Arabian Nights" (1912)
by Rene Bull.
Here is the part of the illustration that I decided to copy.
Detail from the above illustration.
Here is my copy. It was painted on canvas-wrapped board prepared with Daniel Smith watercolor ground. 

After Bull, "The Caliph Attended..." by Sara Light-Waller.
Watercolor highlighted with gouache.
I have already learned quite a bit from making this painting. I can’t wait to begin the next one. :-)

By the way, if case you’re wondering what’s been going on with my book illustrations, here’s the scoop: in order to keep myself fresh I sometimes need to switch mediums for a little while. Hence the change-over to watercolor for a few days. When I return to the book illustrations later this week, my eye, and my hand, will be freshened and ready to go.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Considering The Kiss

"Under the trees he pressed her to his heart,"
by Marice Lalau.

I have been out of touch here for a little while but here’s the rundown of what’s been happening lately. I have just finished the latest book illustration featuring the main villain. I’m quite happy with it. And with it's completion we draw ever closer to the end of the illustrations!

For the next piece, I’ll be doing the most romantic of all the illustrations - the kiss. Today, I’m looking at classical ways of showing a kiss. Although, nowadays, we have plenty of photo reference for people kissing, an illustration needs to have just the right feeling and the pose needs to be chosen with great care.

To honor this, I present one of my favorite Golden Age illustrators, Maurice Lalau, showing a kiss. This is an illustration from “Tristram and Iseult” that makes me swoon, every single time I see it. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sketching in the field today

Today was such a lovely day that I took a break from my book illustrations and did some sketching in the field. I haven’t been doing too much field sketching this summer. This is partly because of the weather, which has been dreary and wet much of the time. But also because I’ve been doing so much work in my studio on the book illustrations. So, this was a nice change of pace.

This is Chez Jacroux, where my horse, Percy, lives. The Jacroux family have a lovely farm and I'm most grateful to be able to keep Percy there.

This is the barn at Chez Jacroux.

Here’s my sketch of the barn. 

Pen & ink and watercolor in a
Stillman & Birn sketchbook (I think it’s a Delta.)

My audience. Two very curious ponies watching me draw.

Percy is in the background and Rudy is in the foreground.