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February 21, 2010

Preparing To Eat An Elephant

As I learned long ago, there is but one way to eat an Elephant. One bite at a time. 
In my quest to learn to draw and paint on the computer, my friend Bea suggested that I invest in The Adobe Illustrator WOW! book (appropriate to my version of Illustrator - CS3) Inside are beautiful computer generated pieces, each done by an experienced artist who has broken it all down into each step taken in the work's creation. I imagined a more simple cook book sort of thing (with lots of pictures and/or maybe simple diagrams). 
What came, inside this attractive cover, at first glance looks closer to a manual for learning to fly a 747. I am trying to be only slightly daunted as I go where many friends and colleagues, like dear Bea, have gone before!  I hope to share the more interesting results. The accompanying tears, blood and sweat might work as a sort of sauce .  Wish me luck! 

February 18, 2010

Paintin' And Drawin' on My Mac

This time just painting directly on the computer, without lines, not even guidelines.
Fun, faster than by hand and NO MESS! Now I'm inspired to try something a bit
more complicated with more figures and a background. Betcha can't wait.  ;-)

February 16, 2010

Buon Compleanno, Maestro Innocenti

The Master Italian Illustrator Roberto Innocenti celebrates his 70th birthday today. 
Things with wheels never attracted me until I came 
upon SAILS, RAILS and WINGS that Golden Books 
published in 1978. Roberto Innocenti's fine detailed 
drawings, watercolor technique, color and humor 
captured my artist's heart. 
Took me until his ROSE BLANCHE to discover 
Roberto Innocenti is Italian, self taught and living 
and working in Florence. I wrote him an unabashed 
fan letter, in English. (apologizing for not knowing 
Italian and having only a remnant of high school 
French) To my delight, he answered in French and 
included a delightful drawing of a guy driving a 
pickup truck with a plumbing fixture and ladders in back!
©Roberto Innocenti
Next time I was in Florence, he invited me to his studio. I was greeted by a tall bearded man with a kindly bemused smile. We talked shop in French (he fluent, me pathetic) and the language we both understand, working book illustrator.

 in his studio, photo Grafis Edizioni 1991
He showed me exquisite original work, including pieces 
from SAILS RAILS and WINGS. It was my birthday 
and he insisted I accept his original of the Pilgrims 
landing at Plymouth. A beloved treasure, now framed 
and hung in a place of honor where it reminds me 
daily of its generous brilliant creator. The next day we 
drove to the town of Citta di Castello in Umbria to see a 
breathtaking retrospective of his work.

Then back to Florence for a delightful dinner with his charming wife and daughter.

All so kind and patient to put up with their linguistically challenged guest who only began Italian lessons upon returning home. My idea of a splendid time.
Grazie tante alla famiglia di Roberto Innocenti. 
(Spero che abbiate recuperato ormai.)    ;-)
Roberto Innocenti self-portrait eating pasta from THE LAST RESORT, by J. Patrick Lewis,
        Creative Editions

BUON COMPLEANNO , Maestro Roberto! 
Con i miei auguri!

(click on images to enlarge)


February 10, 2010

A Purrfect Valentine

Baby steps. Here is a valentine I just created using only draw and paint software.
Learning more each day. Whew!!

After I did THIS and moved it to Photoshop for more fooling around.....

Pretty cool, huh! If I ever get the hang of this, some day I may find
out what I clicked on to get this, the complimentary color version.

Love & XXX, CC

February 9, 2010

Remembrance Of Past Soup

Twenty eight inches of snow in Philadelphia reminds me of making soup which reminds me of TOO MANY BABAS, the first book I both wrote and illustrated. I had been working on illustrating a play about a fire breathing dragon for a textbook assignment. The children and teachers were supposed to get ideas for making the dragon's and other character's costumes from my pictures. Obviously, the Dragon could not use real fire so here is a rough sketch of my dragon costume. To "breathe fire" the "Dragon wiggled his firey fingers (fire painted white gloves) in front of his face under the brim of his green cap (dragon's upper jaw). Brilliant, yes?
The criticism came back. When he wasn't "breathing fire" the Dragon should take off his gloves (the fire) and put them in his pants pockets!! So now there would be fire coming out of his pockets. I still don't know why. But it reminded me of the sayings, "A camel is a horse. designed by a committee!" and "Too many cooks spoil the broth!" My Aha moment! I had also just seen an incredible exhibition of historic Russian costumes at the Metropolitan Museum in NY. With my head full of fabulous peasant costumes and decor, my Babas were soon "helping" Baba Edis make soup in her cozy little dacha.

In my first version the story ended with the ruined soup.

I showed it to my friend Barbara T. , who asked me the important question, "What are you trying to say to children?  YOU may think that too many cooks spoil things, but is that what you want to tell kids about working with others?" (actually, at the time, I wouldn't have minded) But of course she was right, so back I went to clean up my act, or at least my story. 

(click on art to enlarge)

TOO MANY BABAS, HarperCollins (I Can Read)
A good warm read on a cold day!!  ;-)

February 5, 2010

Little Progress

Far from one of my best samples and far from finished. 
I post this image only to report a soupçon of progress 
as I learn the ins and outs of vectors and paths that are
Adobe Illustrator. It may look like coloring book art, but 
it was done through glazed eyes, gritted teeth and trying 
to watch tutorial videos through one or the other of  two 
16 lb. cats lounging in front of the screen. By next week 
I 'm hoping to be up to adding rosy cheeks and shading.
Gotta go now. The cats are back. ;-o

my pathetic attempt/ unfinished computer art exercise