Still Stuck Going East, and Just Passed Through Italy

4 08 2010

I can definitely relate to my character right now. He’s stuck going east, and I’m stuck going with him. Despite the challenges, he discovers that his curse can also be a blessing, he makes new friend and explores the world as a result. It’s just the same for me. So, though I’ve been able to take a long vacation and refresh myself (while he gets no such thing), I’m back now, and glad of it.

My goal is to get as much done by the end of August as possible. Once school starts up again, I’m going to be swept off to the zany world of classes, senior seminars, art-portfolio work, grad school applications and all the other joys and stresses that fill an ambitious senior undergrad’s existence.

Our Room With A View: Florence

But last time I wrote, I was off on a three week long art tour of Italy, so I ought to tell you a bit about that, especially as it has to do with travel, a main theme on this blog. The first thing I want to say is that I had low expectations for the trip. I’ve had som

e not-so-fun experiences traveling with a large group of students before, so I was wary. But, as it turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

Italy was more fantastic than I could have hoped for. I enjoyed every moment of it. I

savored delicious Gelato ice cream, quiet moments painting, hours gazing at spectacular art and those quirky observations of people and places. I found myself wanting to make watercolors all the time, and created 30 of them, despite the relatively fast pace of the

Church Di San Marco: Florence

trip. The trip was well organized by a gang of fantastic art professors from my college, and w

e went to Rome, Sorrento, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Florence, Milan, Assisi and Venice, among other places.

I’m putting a couple paintings in this blog post, but you can see more of my paintings over on this awesomely cool site called Paintmap: http://meganlittle.paintmap.com/

The other important update in my life that relates to this blog, is that I found another really cool site called Storybird. On storybird, some fantastic illustrators have up loaded artwork which members can select and arrange into a picture book, adding text to the mix. You can then read and share them. I’ve made five stories on my own, and one in collaboration with someone else on the site. Two of my stories have actually been

featured on the homepage of the site, which is a big honor.  I hope you’ll take a moment to visit the site and read some storybirds!

Alright, well, it’s back to everything else for me. I’ll be working on editing my current draft the text of Stuck this week, as well as focusing on Turkey and North Korea. I’ll post again as soon as I have something new to report.  Thank you all for your continued interest in this project.

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Progress, Pictures, and More to be Done

4 05 2010

Exams and general insanity somehow managed to dry up my weekly blog posts, and for that, I apologize. But here I am again with lots of news.

First, I’ve made quite a bit of progress on the illustrations. Below is a picture of my Portugal/Spain spread, where it is at right now. I still need to add the characters. This is the one that I’ve been working extra hard to make happen, as I made the tiles from scratch; shaping, drying, firing, and glazing them.  It was tricky to find a way to transition into the oil painting of Spain.  When I add the characters, you’ll see Jeremy crossing that river on a rope, and Maria holding up a pair of bright-colored silk pantaloons (ballooning trousers) which she bought in Madrid. (Thanks to Megan S. for the story about the pantaloons.) The characters will also be depicted on the left, making their clumsy way across their first foreign country: Portugal.

Portugal/Spain

I’ve also finally got some of the spreads of the book all finished in Photoshop, with the characters added and everything. I’ve included an example of this below, in the spread where Jeremy meets his new friends and they shop for supplies for their trip in NYC. I’ve included my current draft of the text below the illustration.

with characters and draft of text

This week I’ll be focusing on editing and refining the text for the story. I had thought I’d decided that I was going to stick with 3rd person narrative and place the text in the gaps I left in the illustrations. The problem is that I’m not sure there is enough room for the text. So I’m back to square one, and doing some serious thinking about how to tell the story. Should I have most of the text in a bar along the bottom of the illustrations with only brief ‘facts’ text on top of the images?  Should I turn the bottom bar into a journal from the perspective of one (or more) of the characters and write the simple narrative on the images? Lots to think about. (My poor little exam-fried head!)

Laura Lee in Cappadocia, Turkey

One very exciting thing that happened over the last week or so was finding someone else for my characters to meet! Laura Lee is a fantastic artist living in NYC who has done lots of traveling, including a trip through Turkey. She left some great pictures and artwork from her trip up on her Turkey blog (http://lauraleeinturkey.blogspot.com/). The plan is for my characters to meet up with her and explore the amazing rock city of Cappadocia. They’ll share some travel insight and experience the culture and place together.

Alright, to wrap this post up (before it gets too long) I’m going to give you an honest evaluation of where I’m at and what’s happening next.

I’ve finished (or almost) the artwork for these 8 spreads:

intro

first day of the curse

shopping in NYC and making friends

traveling across the Atlantic

Portugal/Spain

Italy

Albania/Greece

the final concluding spread

I’ve researched and will be finished designing/writing these spreads in the next week:

Turkey

Central Asia

Rural China

Beijing

North Korea

Japan

I will also have a solid draft of the text for all of the above places. And that’s as far as I’m going to get on the project this semester. On May 11th I’m leaving on a 3 week trip to Italy with the art department at my college. When I get back, I’ll be moving house, working full-time, and enjoying focusing on a couple of art/writing projects, including spending more time on Stuck Going East. This means you’ll be hearing from me sporadically over the summer.

What’s left to do on the book is illustrate the above 6 spreads that didn’t get finished this semester, and research, write and illustrate the 3 spreads that will take the characters across the USA to that concluding spread. I also need to design a cover for the book, and illustrate the end pages.  There is much left to do, but I’m quite proud of the amount of work I’ve been able to get done this semester, along with a full course load, 2 part-time jobs, and a lot of other things going on.

Thank you very much to everyone who has supported me along the way this semester and shared your time and resources. I can’t tell you how much I’ve needed appreciated the encouraging and enthusiastic words and the ready information.

Now, to conclude, I’ve been worrying over how the characters are going to get through North Korea, and what it is going to be like for them there. The plan is that they will make friends with a government official who is friends with everyone, and he will travel with them through the country. Ray Cunningham traveled in North Korea and has agreed to let me use his pictures of Murals and Propaganda art for reference. They are very very interesting, and you can see them on his flickr stream here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zaruka/sets/72157622382860423/

part of Greece page using photos and narrative from Vikki as inspiration. (plexi-glass etching colored with watercolors with main characters added)

detail from Greece page using Jack's photo as reference





Wet-Foot Endurance

1 03 2010

Sadly, I have very little to report on the project due to the fact that I had a break at college and went with a group of artists to NY city. We went to the MET, the Frick and the MOMA. Very cool!

I’d never been to the city before, and can now proudly say; “I’ve been to the City of Slush.” It was all slush and snow, and required some acrobatic puddle-jumping and serious wet-foot endurance.

Oh, and we made friends with some snow-people in Central Park.

On the project: well, I looked at lots of Japanese and Chinese art at the MET to get inspiration for the parts of my book where the characters travel through those places. I’m planning on doing a watercolor landscape painting for rural china and something with woodblock prints in Japan. I even started a watercolor sketch of a Japanese painting, but had to resort to my watercolor pencils when the security guard told me I wasn’t allowed to paint without a permit.  I’ve heard of parking without a permit, but painting? Thankfully, watercolor pencils are a good disguise.

I also went to New Jersey, which is one of the states the characters go through, (actually, it’s where they will be starting their journey). Sadly, visibly was poor, as the place was buried in at least 2 feet of snow. Small pleasures, though, as I got to enjoy the irony of a shop in New Jersey still advertising ice-cream during the massive ‘snow hurricane’ that passed through the area.