My (creative) goals for next year: get at least one story published for pay, and get one of the books picked up. Here’s to another year of learning and advancing!
The plate mentioned that Walter Crane did children’s books.
So I went home and ordered a couple of his books. A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden anthropomorphizes the flowers of the gardens in beautiful art nouveau fashion. Below is a photo of one of the pages. This page depicts bachelor’s buttons. All the little details, down to their boots, are done to match the characteristics of the plant. Another panel shows a battle between a thistle knight and a snapdragon. Walter Crane has several children’s books besides this one. Since Walter Crane died in 1915, his works have entered the creative commons, and they can be had very cheap, especially digitally.
Walter Crane also did more adult works. Neptune’s Horses reminds me of the scene in Lord of the Rings where the elf summons up the waters to fend off the nazgul, but it was painted over a century before.
Boingboing had a cool post yesterday about Soviet “Christmas” cards. Actually most of the cards say “s novum godom”– “to the new year”. I love all the science and rocketry themes. I also find it interesting how many things we associate with Christmas have been co-opted for a holiday the soviets found safer: New Year’s. You can find the original website for the cards here. Below are a few of my favorites, which can all be found at www.mazaika.com/postcard01.htm.
Every year, I trek south to Florida for the holidays. The sun and warmth are great, but I especially like the feeling of going to a different world. The land is flat and riddled with little inlets and brackish creeks. Here in southwest Florida, there is a feeling that man does not control the wilderness. Things grow at an insane rate and they fight for space. The landscape takes on that wild, violent look. I like the greenery and the beaches and the boats and the sunsets all. And I like to drag my camera along for documentation.
This week I am spending most of my time painting the line-art from The Galactic Adventures of Zish and Argo. One of the things I really like about watercolors is that they travel well. I’m on the road for the next couple of weeks, but it is just as easy to paint here as it is at home. A major reason for the portability is the type of materials I use. I bought a Windsor-Newton field box set several years ago, pictured below. At $50, you might experience a bit of sticker shock. I’ve only recently had to start replacing pans; it lasts and lasts.
I have used the liquid watercolors as well. I find I enjoy the quick set up of the solid colors. There is no need to dole out paint as you go, and you only use what you need. Plus it’s easier to travel with. The solid paints can still deliver good intensity and brightness. I roll all my brushes up in a bamboo case like this one, and then I’m ready to go anywhere and paint anything. If you have a pigment-ink printer, you can economize on your watercolor paper by selectively choosing what you print. I discuss that more in an old entry, here.
I read a watercolor book a few years ago that I found helpful as well: Watercolor Tricks and Techniques, by Johnson. If you are curious, it is worth a look.
Everybody love a pop-up book. The well-executed ones are a thing of joy. I got a pop-up book as a kid about dinosaurs, which I didn’t care that much about, in French, which I didn’t read. I read that thing to its grave.
Recently, I see more pop-up books in stores, aimed at more than just children. These books are made by not artists, but paper engineers. As an engineer, I approve of this shift in language. Perhaps I should strive to be a word and paint engineer, rather than writer and illustrator. A few years ago, I bought Moby Dick, as done by paper engineer Sam Ita. Amazon lists a few of his books here. He even has a pop-up Xmas tree, if you’re still looking. His Moby Dick is wonderful, with whirling whirlpools and ships complete with rigging and a looking-glass.
I have started my own attempts at pop-up (shown below). A fun project, but one on hold for now because I’m not sure how to put them together with any kind of efficiency. If you’re interested in learning about pop-ups, I have used a few books to guide my exploration:
I mentioned some time ago on this blog that I had submitted a short story to a couple of different publications via Duotrope. Duotrope is a website that aggregates markets for different kinds of writing. The site tracks how often a market accepts submissions, as well as how long they take to tell you yes or no, and how often the feedback is personal. They track a number of other useful stats as well. I am still waiting to hear back about my story. It has been 46 days. This is a long time! I now realize that I thought submission would be a mechanism to edit my stories. I thought I could use the feedback from the editors to then improve the story. But there are better places to seek quicker and more detailed editing.
Recently, my writing group told about peer-reviewed critique websites. They recommended critters.org and youwriteon.com. At these websites, you critique other people’s work in order to gain credits to get your own work critiqued. This way, you can learn about both writing and critiquing. I joined critters a few days ago, and submitted my first critique last night. After another, I will be eligible to submit a manuscript. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and progress on this.
Previously I have talked about depression era posters and Soviet propaganda posters. Thomas Hart Benton was a depression era painter and muralist from southwest Missouri. Growing up in St. Louis, I was exposed to his art from a young age. His shading brings the people in his paintings to life. He often depicts scenes of work, as suits the depression. (Both of the images in this entry can be found on Wikipedia.)
If you for some reason find yourself in Jefferson City, Missouri (unlikely), the capitol building has many of his murals. Then stop by Central Dairy, where you can get a pile of amazing ice cream for very little $. Then you have seen all there is to see in the illustrious capitol.