Last Thursday I came home late to a husband insistent that I watch a news story that he had just recorded for me. “Bring tissues”, he said. What I was about to see would soon make a profound change in my life emotionally and creatively. Here’s the story. Tissues.:

http://www.king5.com/community/making-a-difference/Gifts-of-love-for-courageous-kids-186400951.html

So long story short, I’ve been in touch with this wonderful team of people and am working on a series of illustrations for a beautiful special someone halfway around the world. I’ll be posting little thumbnail bits of my process as I go along, but the finished product will be for her eyes only.

To learn more about this organization, send a donation or volunteer, check out their website: http://kourageouskids.wix.com  Also, there is a site where you can donate directly to their backlog of books for other little heroes: http://www.indiegogo.com/4kourageouskidsstorybooks

wip-1 tail hair

Wanted to give a shout out to some very helpful tools and resources that helped make this work possible:

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“Slumbering Moonlit Cedars” – prints available in my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/118834116/slumbering-moonlit-cedars-original

I decided this time to try my hand at simulating elements of a classic woodcut print for this week’s “glow” theme “.  I looked to M.C. Escher’s “Dragon” as inspiration and a guide to the look of shading that I was striving for. I’ll always be in awe of this man’s work. Truly ahead of his time.

EscherDragon

“Dragon” by M.C. Escher

This is really difficult to master digitally. Custom blends, clipping paths and incremental positioning of shading elements made it one of the most tedious projects I’ve done in a long time. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results. Here are a few variations of blends I used for each area. Most were customized for each area of snow.

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Some detail closeups and a couple tricks I used:

This past grey and rainy Sunday I spent some time getting acquainted with my Wacom tablet again. I stumbled upon a great little blog, “Illustration Friday“, and thought it would be fun to start participating in their weekly challenges. The challenge is merely to create an illustration using a single word as inspiration. This week the word is “stretch”. The site welcomes all ages and skill levels, promises nothing in return, and it is just plain fun to see what wonderful ideas people come up with. My first one is a little cartoon traced from a sketch. It took about 20 minutes to get the idea down, and I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to digitally render it!

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Starting out with a sketch

The Wacom tablet lasted about 10 minutes for me, then I promptly switched to the mouse. Having a hard time making the transition. A couple resources I ran across during the process that I’d like to share:

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The final result. A combination of vector art and Photoshop painting.

if-stretch-closeup

I kinda like this little dude’s attitude. You show that spider who’s boss!

Mother’s Day weekend I was busy soldering, cleaning and puttying mom’s Koi Pond window after making her wait 12 years.  There were challenges with soldering, as much of the lead was horribly dirty and oxidized.  Flux & solder not taking at all in certain areas.  Had to constantly stop, wire brush and try again. I was also working with a brand new soldering iron, tweaking temperature control, trial & error and lack of practice…  But I’m happy with how it turned out, flaws and all.  It’s the most difficult project I’ve ever completed and am happy to have the sunshine bring it to life now!

putty stage, koi pond stained glass

Applying the nasty stuff to fill in the gaps and keep it strong.

stained glass mess

Mmmm. Toxic, crude oil-esque nastyness. 2 hours to putty, countless hand washings.

Merry Christmas, mom!  Finished and ready to be framed.  Such a great feeling to finally have it off my table and in her hands.

koi pond stained glass complete

Woo!

My first project with painted glass will be a Medusa head.  Thought this would be an interesting subject and one that will require a few different techniques: flooding, stippling and shading.  First I’ll need to do a good study of her and render out a cartoon to do my tracing.  I prefer old-world references, so am digging up some examples to modify for the project.  -embarrassed to show this first rendering, as it has been WAY too long since I’ve practiced drawing.  I need to simplify it further, make her look a little prettier, and work out some problems with the hair.  Once it is rendered in ink I’ll move on to watercolor.  There will be a few more iterations until I get to that step.  Onward!

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Pardon the enthusiasm. After a long, gloomy Winter and Spring (I live in Seattle), I’ve decided to make a genuine effort to make time for extreme art and play. One precious evening if none at all, in the midst of working, training for a triathlon, and dancing in a performing troupe. My studio is waiting to be dusted off and put to some serious use. I’ve had fantasies of art parties with friends, flying paintbrushes and assorted libations, but for now it is a party of one. And that’s o.k.!

I’m obsessed with impossibly beautiful antique grisaille work and am drawn more than ever to really learn the craft.  Grisaille – pronounced “Grizz-Eye” is an ancient method of layering on glass paints (in between firings) to achieve a 3-dimensional look, usually in monochrome.  The problem with learning this is (1) there are no living mentors for this craft and style, at least not in the U.S.; (2) the techniques are really difficult to track down; and (3) the expense of kiln firing ($25/firing at the local glass shop) make it a little cost-prohibitive.  kiln, Santa?

Grisaille panel from Altenberger Abbey, Odenthal, Germany

I’ve found a couple good sources to start.  The informative but horribly-designed website of William & Byrne has been a great resource for techniques, troubleshooting, and just plain blather.  I’ve also come across some great DVD instructional videos by Hood River resident Peter McGrain, which is a lucky local find. He offers week-long intensive instruction on stained glass painting, so I’ve made the decision to take the course next Summer. Until then, I’ve gathered lots of educational materials (e-books, DVDs) and the supplies I need to start, but in true “Lisa” fashion, I have yet to begin.  Now’s the time. I really can’t wait!