Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - planning

Here's a quick glimpse into my sketchbook for the Tell-Tale Heart project. After figuring out the basic imagery and deciding what size my watercolour paper would neatly fold into, I started drawing out the book itself.

A page for fonts. Art Nouveau on the left, Gothic variations on the right. And then my scribbles as I try to figure out how to combine the two.

This is my first draft, so to speak, of what a finished page will look like. The background scribbles, drips, and colours I like, but the font was still very Art Nouveau and much too pretty to be appropriate.

So I tried it again in the font that I ended up deciding on. Imagine this, but with the red opening letter, and muted background. I've penciled in the cut out bottom corner as well.

I planned out the entire book on tracing paper. The page layout is the same on all of them, so it's on one sheet (so I don't have to draw and erase pencil lines on each sheet), and the text itself is all planned out on these sheets (because the spacing and layout is all odd and different) ahead of time. I'm going to be using a light table, and basically just trace all of this onto the proper sheets.

This is where it's advantageous that I work in a boring store no one ever come into. There's no way I would have this all done, or possibly ever finish, if I'd started it at home only a week ago.

Here's the layout so I know how many pages, signatures etc there will be total, and what pages go together. The paper will be 90lb cold press, so decently thick enough that there will only be 2 pages per signature. This is to help me keep track of everything, since the folding pages mean the consecutive pages will actually be on different sheets, and it's easy to get it all mixed up.

Not that I really needed anything, but I popped in The Paper Umbrella because it's fabulous, and ended up finding some paper I had to have. Surprise! But sarcasm aside, this is a terrific find. The dark red colour is close to that of blood and it has raised ridges that look like veins. It also has woven threads visible on the back side. So I can't use this two-sided but I may take advantage and 'unravel' or 'fray' the edges. It could look cool, not to mention work well with the entire 'narrator loses his sanity' theme.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - a brand new giant project

I am starting a big new project! I want to do another book, something like John, only not quite so symbolic or research intense. I've decided on The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe because it satisfies my three requirements:
  1. It's in the public domain. (read it here)
  2. It's full of vivid imagery.
  3. It's short
I anticipate that it will take me about a month to finish it all off. To start an explanation of what I'm doing, here are some of the images and inspirations going into it:

This is a calligraphy piece I did a few years ago. I think I was going for a vintage poster/label sort of look. The way the words are all misshaped and oddly layed out is how the entire book will be.This is a sketch I did of Sir Philip Sidney's Sonnet 39 (Astrophel and Stella). This is the font I'll be using for the majority of the text. The capital letter will be a mixture of Art Nouveau and Gothic fonts.

I like the black and white look of Frank Miller's Sin City, especially having the illustration in negative. There may be a whole lot of masking fluid going into this.

Vintage scientific instruments. I'll see if I can work any of this in, especially because of the imagery of the eye.

This story actually uses the image of a watch. Well, sound, to be more precise. Either way, it's an excuse to justify my steampunky tendencies.

These sketches are by an artist named Eric Freitas. I think they're incredible and the spikey, gothic feel with be prefect! I wish I could afford one of his clocks.

Death watch beetles. Only mentioned once, I think, but there will be plenty of these creepy crawlies all over the pages.

Possibly in machine form! At very least in spikey, scary versions.

This is an illustration by Vladimir Gvozdariki. It makes my drool just a little bit. I really like the handwriting in the background, and will likely use some of that. And the rest is just awesome.

I'm really into paper cutting lately. I haven't tried it yet, but there will be some around the edges of the pages, and possibly on some black paper in between the pages. This one if from etsy seller Artomanut.

M.C. Escher's drawings and optical illusions.
Vintage anatomical diagrams.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Cover for John

My gospel of John needs a new cover. Or rather, a different way of binding the cover. When I did the project I really didn't have much experience doing any binding, and really wanted it to look 'open' and 'rough,' but this is going a bit far and just looks sloppy and unfinished. Plus the Spanish cedar I used for the covers is extremely porous, and as you can see the glue is not sticking to it. I smells pretty amazing though. The red lines were supposed to echo the ones used in the illustrations.

So, this is my plea for ideas. The wood has to stay. It has four sets of 3 holes in it about an inch from the edge. I'm not sure if anything will stick to it, but let me know if you know of anything that will work. I'm not married to the idea of an open binding. At very least I'm going to do something the cover the back of the signatures. It doesn't have any end pages at the moment.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Creative Confusion

Thanks to three epic fails in the art department, today's post is all about my studio. It's the largest room in my (admittedly very small) house and yet it is always always the most cluttered. God knows why, I arrange everything before I start working and have to have all my supplies in their place and colours all arranged in order before I start working, and yet, here it is. At least I have a fan now! That hasn't been attached to anything, but there it is. I love having things all over the walls, though. Experiments, old sketches, photos I'm going to paint someday, my postcards, random quotes, post-it notes. I love post-it notes. I'm terrible at throwing things away just in case I need it for inspiration someday. The rest of my house is practically spartan, but here... There's an accordion folder in there somewhere with my stash of little bits of paper. I got it once it a fevered rush to get organized. I don't think I labeled the different sections. I now prefer my computer folder called 'Things to Paint" full of photos I've taken off my friends on facebook.
Once upon a time, when it was new, it looked like this. You can see where I just broke my coffee mug. A taste of things to come, I suppose.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Easter Bread!

Welcome to the most delicious time of the year. Every Easter Mennonites (and Ukrainians, I think that's where we got it from) make the most wonderful bread in the entire world, a sweet lemon bread called 'paska.' And we may not drink, dance, or have a sense of humour, but we do know how to cook. Really well. Most recipes actually say things like 'make a good bread' like the rest of the world knows what we're talking about. Here's my Nana's recipe. It does assume you know how to make bread, but ask me if you need clarification of anything.

Scald 1 3/4 cup milk, put in freezer so that it's cool enough by the time you're ready to mix it in with the rest of the ingredients that it doesn't kill the yeast.

Mix 2 tbsp yeast with 1/2 cup warm water and 2 tsp sugar.

Once you know the yeast is active add milk and:
3/4 cup oil
1 1/4 cup sugar
Rind of 1-2 lemons (use a microplaner if you have one, they're awesome. Thanks Aunt Ellen!)
5 eggs (take these out before you begin so they have time to warm up a bit)

Mix with approximately 7 cups of white flour to make a very soft dough.

Knead until dough leaves fingers (it'll still be fairly sticky because it's so soft). Let rise until doubled. I don't like when the dough gets kind of hard at the top during this, so I spray it with a bit of cooking spray before loosely covering with wrap and a towel. If you are impatient and want to force it to rise very quickly take a bath towel, dampen it, and put it in the microwave for 5 minutes. Wrap it around the bowl. The hot steam will have the dough ready in 10 minutes. In summer you can put it in a big ice cream tub and set it in a hot window for the same thing. I always but the dough on the vent element for the stove when I preheat the oven.

Punch down. Roll out on floured surface, pressing out the air bubbles. Divide, shape, and place in loaf pans. Let rise. One of my loaf pans had something in it from last year and rusted (!) so I made my last loaf on a pizza stone. It was fantastic.

Bake at 275 F about one hour.

When cool ice with a fairly thick mixture of icing sugar and lemon juice (use the real stuff) and top with sprinkles. Some people use chopped up jelly beans for this.

Normal people peel off the icing and eat it separately. The rest if terrific toasted, and you can try this topping if you want something besides butter.

1 cup dry curd cottage cheese
4 hard-boiled egg yolks (my mom's notes say to use the the whites to make deviled eggs. Mennonites use everything twice and she'd be very upset to find out you'd wasted them)

Push through a fine sieve, then add

1/4 cup whipped cream (NOT whipped)
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste, this may be kind of sweet)
rind of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon (may need more to taste, or to get the right consistency)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Last Day in My Studio (Caryn's Kite)

I have to go back to work tomorrow after a very enjoyable and productive five days off. Ugh. But at least I spent the last day enjoying the afternoon in my studio! I had a photo I've been meaning to paint for years and years. I've even tried a couple times but always hated what I came up with. But today I managed something at last! Here it is step-by-step.

The finished product! If only it photographed a little better. There are actually hundreds of colours in that big white field, but it all sort of washed out. All the colours that were there a few steps back are still there, just layered and blended. This closeup has a few more of them, try to imagine that anywhere it looks like it's white, because it's actually anything but.


Guitars & Drums, Take 2 (JunoFest 2009) by redpumpkinstudio

I made another treasury on etsy today (which I'm trying to post in a slightly more organized manner than the last one) featuring city views, music, and graffiti in some combination or other. I had a very clever name for it, too, but I'd forgotten it by the time I had to actually type it in. Oh well! It's called Cityscapes instead. I based it around my drawing here. of JunoFest 2009 I was originally putting together one around the Rhapsody in Blue painting I did and posted a couple of days ago, but I started to realize that just wasn't anywhere as cool as the ones I found, and started again hoping this one would stand up better.

But all of this got me thinking, because I found many awesome pieces of art I would now desperately like to own but can't afford. And what I'm thinking is there should be a way to trade on etsy. I've got a couple nice pieces of art from my student days I traded with my classmates for, and it's a great way for broke people to get stuff. Cash poor, art rich. So to speak. It could be kind of like a dating site, you know. If you both favourite something the site automatically links you up, and you swap the item. Anyone up?

Urban Flight by brianelston

Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles by zuppaartista

No Parking 51 by eyeshoot

RecordCity by Zone4

City Skyline by therawart

John, con't (14)

So here we are. The end of John at last. This page is the confrontation of Doubting Thomas, with his response in nice big letters because it was a fitting ending. The drawings and colours are continued from the previous page.

John has an 'Appendix,' chapter 21, that was likely added after the rest of the book. It closes very nicely and I didn't really want to have this directly afterward because it doesn't quite fit, and would mess up the nice ending. So I did what the book does, and just added it on after. This is the very last page layout. It goes back to the plain font and columns from the very beginning of the book, and I didn't add an illustration at all because I didn't want it to take away at all from the ending of the proper ending of the previous page.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

John, con't (13)

Time to get back to John. We had just finished with the crucifixion and death. This part is known in paintings as 'The Deposition,' and since I feel most familiar with that type of thing that's what I always call this page, even though there's not illustration. What it means is the removal of Jesus' body form the cross. That's followed quickly by The Entombment.

Closeup of the writing. It's supposed to look like cracks.

But let's get past that to the good stuff! The following layout is the resurrection. It's actually only two pages, but with a translucent page in between, which is why there are double the amount of photos. But it's not actually two separate layouts, just the different views of the page as it is moved. The page in between is made of frosted mylar, a really terrific substance that does look a bit like heavy baking parchment paper and feels a tad plasticky. It looks amazing with pencil crayon.

First view, when you turn to this page. The writing on the left is about the women going to the tomb to anoint the body. The font is back to the nice smooth text, and the lines are nice and straight again. The right page is the reverse side of the frosted mylar, so it's a little foggier, sort of unsaturated and has no texture. It covers the largest illustrated areas of the page under it. But it does give you a hint of what's to come.

Then flip the mylar and you get this! There's veins of gold leaf on the mylar with heavy saturated, celebratory colours in between. Now that it's on the front side you get the full impact. Photo's don't quite capture it, but it's pretty intense and has the most amazing feel. Seriously, if you ever see frosted mylar pick some up and scribble on it with pencil crayon.

On the right side now is the resurrection. There are dancers in there in gold leaf (from old sketches of my friends and roommate. I've done several of those and love putting them in), and surrounding them is that blue/purple 'royal' colour I used on the crucifixion page, in a pattern made by the gold leaf. It's supposed to look like stained glass windows. This layout has the most colour and gold leaf of the entire book.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rhapsody in Blue (after Hirschfeld)

It's about time I painted something. I've had canvases prepared for months. And I finally took a day, brewed some coffee, and holed up in my studio. I really like this subject. I've done something along these lines a few times now, and just used an old sketch for the layout. It's based on the brilliant Fantasia 2000 sequence 'Rhapsody in Blue' designed by one of my favourite artist, Al Hirschfeld.

Take a look:

I continued on with this style I've been working on lately. This one's a little different because it's got more colours, but I wanted to see what I could do.

So here's a breakdown of the painting came to be.

1. Basic sketch. I took the photo a little late so there's some background in there, but you get the idea.

2. Underpainting. The sketch was a little busy, especially since it's not a very big painting, but the large blocks of colour tone it down a bit.

3. Filling things in a little. It's darker near the lines.

4. Loads of white paint and texture with the palette knife.

5. Putting the lines back in in blue. I decided on all blue since I was originally wanting a more monochromatic scheme than it had become.

6. Watch hockey. Bloody Leafs.

7. More lines, but this time in Payne's Gray. I love gray. Make everything seem finished with the really dark colour in there. After that, finish up with a bit of smoothing and adding white and colours or whatnot, and you get the finished product at the top of this post!