Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

The cards are mailed out, the shopping is done and Mother Nature has provided a beautiful winter wonderland in my back yard. Dan and I went for a quick walk when I got home from work on the 22nd to see all the ice on the trees. I love living up in the hills. It was raining on my way home, but I knew when I hit a certain elevation (about 2 miles from home) it would be snowing. Now on the 24th a light dusting of snow has covered all the ice on the trees.

Most of the presents are wrapped too, but we had a little problem this year. We did some rearranging of the livingroom furniture which meant the tree had to go in a place where we cannot barricade it from the animals. This is a problem because the cats like to eat the ribbons and the dog likes to unwrap and eat the presents. So I bought a little tree at Michaels and put it on a table in the studio. We've been able, so far, to keep everything safe in there. The cats can still get in there if they try hard enough, but they've been more interested in all the empty boxes lying around the house from Amazon deliveries.

I've done a few paintings, but I have to wait till after Christmas to post them!
I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2010 Christmas Card

For the past several years I've been making the Christmas card that we send out to friends and family. Every year I do it a bit differently and every year, I get the a few people that ask "how did you do this?". So, here you go. The making of the 2010 Christmas Card....
Step one is coming up with an idea. This is the worst- absolute WORST- part of the process for me. Every year I say I'm going to do this in August and every year I'm starting to panic around Thanksgiving. It usually only takes me a few days to a week to decide what I want to do, but it's painful. Since 2001 I have been featuring the pets in the card so I've tried to stick with that tradition which makes it harder to keep things new. There are only so many different ways to depict the naughtiness of these critters at Christmas time. This year, I decided to base the design on the Demotivational posters from LOVE these. I wasn't sure how many people were familiar with these posters, but once I sketched out this idea, I had to run with it.
The next step is sketching. I do several rough sketches of my idea and then decide on one or two for reference shots. My models are very cooperative when there is food involved, so Dan and I had a pretty good time with this photo shoot.

After gathering photo reference, I start refining the sketch. In this case, I actually pieced together a sketch in Photoshop using the actual images I'd collected. Then I draw it out in the size I will be using for the final piece.

Here, Engine has ventured into the room and peace in the studio will be short lived. He's pretending he's more interested in the birds, but I know I have a matter of minutes, (seconds, maybe) before the drawing process becomes severely impeded.

Here I have created a sketch I am happy with and I'm transferring it to a piece of illustration board. I don't want to draw it again, so I just color the back with graphite and trace it onto the board. I hope it doesn't move at this stage. As you can see, this is not easy. Still not as hard as coming up with the idea in the first place, though.

The beginning of the final piece. It's hard to see the lines after the transfer so I go over everything one more time with pencil before starting the painting process.

After the pencil lines are drawn in, I paint an outline around everything.

Then we do a little color check...

and start painting. This is my favorite part.

When I'm happy with the finished painting, I scan it and bring it into Photoshop for some final touch-ups. The lights are airbrushed to create a glow and other details are adjusted.

I add the background and the text and save it as a JPEG file on a thumb drive. I bring it over to the local drugstore, print out 4x6 satin finish photos that are then glued onto blank cards, and there you have it! And I'm finished early this year! I'm REALLY happy with this year's design and I'm looking forward to having a little extra time before Christmas to do some more painting that doesn't revolve around a deadline. I will have prints available on my Etsy shop if you are interested!