Art On The Way

9 03 2010

Life has been as full as usual. I spend quite a few hours this week taking pictures of my 3 models. I’m going to Photoshop these down to basic black outlines then silkscreen them over collage materials to create the characters. To the right you can see a picture and then how it’s been altered. I added colors behind it to give you a rough idea of how it will appear in the book, but you have to imagine the colors are colored papers and fabrics.

I’m getting ready to make some ceramic tiles, which I’m going to glaze with patterns and a landscape for when the characters go through Portugal. Portugal is known for their bright ceramic tiles which decorate both the exterior and interior of buildings.

Also in my news, the week after next I’m going to Philadelphia!  There is this cool print conference that I’m going to with my professor and some students from my college. (Go see what it’s about here: The characters pass through Philadelphia Pennsylvania, so I’m excited to see the city and take some pictures and whatnot.

Here’s a question for you: what is the coolest city you’ve ever been? Post your response in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear from you!


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.

Be Moved

23 02 2010

I want to start this blog post by encouraging you to allow yourself to be moved by the things that excite you.

I spent the past week swimming through a flood of creativity and exciting ideas. Some are for future blog and novel ideas. For example, I emailed Chris M and am currently brainstorming with him co-wring a kids’ chapter book. Then, there was the YouTube story game idea, which you can watch and join over at Marvelo’s Marvelous Adventures.

You’ll note that I didn’t just have the ideas, but I acted on them: reaching out to another writer to collaborate, which will keep both of us accountable and productive, and making and posting the video. This comes back to what I said earlier let your ideas and dreams move you. Don’t just say, ‘someday I’ll do such and such,’ make plans now. Set aside time now. Find an accountability partner, do some research, whatever first steps you need to take: take them. If you wait until you have more time, you’ll probably find that you never do.

Alright, so enough of the pep talking, time to update you on my picture book project. I mentioned last week that I’ve been thinking about the purpose of the project. You see, from the start, I’ve really not wanted this project to be about me. I want it to be about the kids I’m writing it for, and about building relationships with people across the barriers of place and culture. I want this project to be a blessing to others, and not something that feeds my ego.

In light of this, it occurred to me, that, if I am able to find a publisher for the book at the end, I would like to give any monetary gains away to a good cause. I’ve been sort of secretly planning to do this, and wanting to make a public dedication of the project, but being held back for a couple reasons. First, I don’t know if the book will be a success, if there will be any monetary gains to be given at all. And second, I didn’t want to appear showy, or as though I’m looking for people to help me, just because it’s for a good cause.

But I’ve been inspired by Chris Guillebeau’s message of the only worthwhile things in life being things done for others. I’ve also talked with my advisor, and been pondering the issue in light of my relationship with Jesus Christ, and his clear self-giving message.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I should go ahead with dedicating my project to a charity organization, despite my uncertainties. So now, I’m in search of some sort of charity, or school program for children. My hope is to find something that is along the fortieth parallel, so that it could make an appearance in the book itself. What better way for my characters to engage with the people around them?

Do you know of any orphanages, schools, or other ministries to children that are near the 40th parallel?

Jack Rubashevskiy's Picture (Japan)

As for general progress updates: I’m working on sketching an actual size story-board for the project, and am beginning a draft of the text for the story.

I’ve also been developing my ideas regarding the themes I should focus on. I think an overarching theme that will draw all the pieces together and also be beneficial for my audience is the theme of being a good traveler and really engaging with people and caring for them.

So often we have a shallow, consumerist, tourist perception of travel, and I want to help kids see that traveling can be so much more rewarding and edifying for them, and for others.  I also would like to encourage kids to live life not just as a tourist, but really engage the world.

I’ll close off with a few cool finds:

I discovered the Author/Illustrator Meghan Mccarthy’s excellent website. She writes fun educational picture book and has all sorts of tips and advice for writers and illustrators and I’m still reading through the many valuable articles posted on her site.

As I’ve been writing this blog post, I’ve been in contact with Jack, and he’s inspired me to include a Haiku in the picture book, when the characters visit Japan. He also sent me some great pictures, including the one featured in this post.

New Eyes for the World

15 02 2010

Having wandered her way through Spain, and foraged new friendships with co-travelers, this weary world traveler stands up to stretch her legs.

Ahh, if only virtual travel and research and the creating of this book were the only bags I have to carry right now. But I suppose most journeys are far more complicated than that. Mine includes classes with homework and tests, some relational and scheduling issues, and, well, yeah, the usual.

I’ll fess up right at the start: I’m not as far along as I had hoped. On the bright side, I keep learning more about how I should be doing the project, and I’m beginning to be convinced that a few contacts with lots of good input are better than a whole lot with very little response.

Also on the bright side (it’s a very nice big shiny side), I sent out a campus wide email to my college earlier this week and got 9 great responses! Folks who have been to some and all the states my characters travel through emailed me back, and also people with experiences in Turkey, Spain, Italy, China, Japan, and even North Korea!

I’ve also bumped into two people who live right near the 40th parallel. How cool is that? One is a friend from my college named Angela who lives Indiana, and the other is a girl I know as “Archi_Teuthis” who lives about half an hour from the 40th parallel in Utah. (You can find Archi and her writing here, on protagonize.)

Plans for this week: Research, research, research. And try and invite some more cool people to join the project. Also, I need to do some more follow-up on some of those cool people who have already joined the team.

And now, for my weekly cool finds:

A Brief Guide to World Domination – Now this is a very cool and very inspiring document. It encourages you to reject conformity and live life fully—giving to others and doing what you love.  It really inspired me to push on with this project, and it’s also deepened my thoughts about who this project is for.  You’ll probably be hearing more about this soon. Oh, and I’m also considering asking Chris (the guy who wrote the above document,) if he’d want to meet my characters. He’s trying to travel to every country in the world in the next four years.

Google Maps: aerial and road view. Alright, so this is not exactly a new discovery, but I’ve never really toured across a country before this way. I spent some time on Saturday following the 40th parallel across Spain. Enjoying artistic aerial views, and really getting a feel for the place via the road view. Try this: go to google maps, and type in “40,-1.1” in the search. Then take hold of the little orange guy that sits on top of the navigation tool on the left of the page, and plop him down on a road.

The final exciting thing to report is about the above image. tsushima, who I found on panoramio, the place that hosts all the pictures you see on google maps, has given me permission to use their pictures for my book!  tsushima is from Japan and has taken many wonderful pictures there.  That picture above was taken very near the 40th parallel in Japan. So a big thank-you to him!

Up and Away We Go

8 02 2010

Wow! It’s been an emotional roller coaster the last couple weeks getting this project off the ground. One moment I’m so terrified I’m afraid my shaking is going to knock my socks off, the next I’m as giddy as a woman about to meet her first grandchild.

The most time-consuming thing has definitely been the visuals. Creating a suitable banner, an outline, and an intro video all add up to some serious time-gobbling business. It was my first time making a video, so I had to struggle through finding an appropriate video editor, figuring out how to make the quality of the video adequate, and, of course, the ‘filming’ itself takes a while. Then, the sketch-up of an example two page spread took quite a while too, between trying to decide what it should look like, creating the art, and writing the text.

Other progress includes reading up on Portugal, China and Japan in the library and getting some ideas about what I need to research and look for in those places. I also started a draft document for the first few pages of the book. Experimenting with tone and characterization is tricky business. Along with that, I did some very rough sketches for the first 4 page spreads and brainstormed the format for the book.

early format sketch: 4 pgs.

And now it’s time to start my weekly blogs, kicking it off with this one! The plan is to post blogs updating you on my progress and sharing some of the cool stuff I’ve discovered and people I’ve met. You can expect to see them on Saturday or Sunday.

What are my goals for the project this week?

It’s time to get the word out there. My goal is to contact no less than 100 people and invite them to join the project in some way. I’ll tweet through the week to let you know how I’m doing. I also plan to do further research on some of the countries.

Now, for a few of my fun finds of the last couple weeks: – Paint Map: a very cool community site based of google maps where you can upload paintings/art you’ve done by location. I’m hoping to find some fantastic artists and also get inspiration for my own paintings for the book. – The Universal Packing List: definitely going to be helpful as my characters figure out what to pack for their very very long journey. – this is a bit crazy, but people post if they are willing to carry people in their cars, and the locations they are traveling from and to. They can charge if they want. It’s a cool idea, but it just doesn’t seem very safe to me. But what do I know? – Last, but not least, we have Matt, dancing badly around the world. Great project. Very funny.

How it Started

19 12 2009

It had been an ordinary sort of day until the doorbell rang and a short dark-haired young woman asked me if I minded if she and her friends climbed over my house. I’m sure you can sympathize with my surprise, and hopefully also my curiosity at the strange request. I said,

“Well, I suppose that would be alright, but may I ask why you want to climb up on my roof?”

“You see, my friend is stuck going only east. He would go around your house, but he is unable.”

Of course, I was not right away able to believe her, and had to go out and meet this friend of hers.

He turned out to be a tall, and very skinny fellow with messy hair poking out of his sun-faded hat and a grin that took up most of his face. There was a third friend too, a broader, more serious man. They all gave me a partially convincing demonstration of the fact that the skinny man could only walk one direction. It seemed as if he hit an invisible wall in every way he turned except East.

So I let them climb my house. They were well equipped with a strong rope ladder and clearly had done this many times before. I did make one condition, though. And that was that they sit down and tell me their whole story. And since I’ve always enjoyed heights, and my roof is nearly flat in sections, I made a pot of tea, passed up my plastic lawn chairs, and we all sat on the roof. From this odd vantage, they told me, with much enthusiasm and arguing, the strange story of their adventures. You see, they had traveled clear around the globe, going only directly East.

When they had finally finished, and the sun was low on the horizon, an idea occurred to me.

“Have you considered writing down your story, for others to enjoy?”

“Wouldn’t work,” said the girl. “No one would believe it, unless they had met us, and even then, most people think it’s a joke.”

I could see how that could be a problem, but my mind is one that automatically seeks solutions to problems, so with little hesitation I said, “But perhaps you could make the book for children. Children are much more willing to accept the strange and mysterious things in the world.”

“Maybe,” said the skinny man thoughtfully.

And, being both a writer and an artist, I then and there determined to work on the project of making their unusual and humorous tale into a picture book. The skinny man gave me his tattered journal the girl produced from her bag a manila envelope full of pictures, which she lent to me. And that’s how it all began.

I’ll be making use of this blog to tell you about my progress as I do farther research about the places they went. I will also show you sneak previews of the multi-medium illustrations I am creating for the book.

It turns out that the trio traveled East around the world along the 40th parallel. So, if you live on or near that latitude, please let me know. I’d love to hear your story, see your pictures, and find out about how you met this strange traveling group.