Friday, May 30, 2014

First Quarter Exam?

Today I spent several hours drawing different versions of a couple of sample illustrations to submit to a potential client.  I had read several websites and looked at a lot of images to research the topic (women and babies in Sub-Saharan Africa), and I was asked to do two different styles of drawing, one in watercolor and one in pen with watercolor wash.  I started early this morning mapping out this first drawing in pencil.  My plan was to map out the two drawings, which seemed like a full morning's work.

One happy effect of the 2500 drawings I've done this past year is that I seem to have gotten much faster.  Another is that I don't have to think so much because the drawings draw themselves after a point.  For example, after I mapped this drawing, I didn't want to stop;  so I began spotting in the colors.  Before I knew it the thing was finished, and I went on to the next one.

The second drawing was more complex, but it flowed along easily, too.  I was working from swipes-- photographs of people in approximately the right positions.  I changed the clothing in many cases, and in this second drawing I made up a different head for each of the two adults.  When I finished the second drawing, I tried to decide which one I should draw over with pen, and I decided that neither one should be changed.  To draw over the watercolor would have been to impose a different visual system. I was worried that the outlines would have created a coloring book effect.

Instead I made a quick pen sketch of my painting of the nursing mother and baby.  I liked it for its free feeling and I really liked the way the hands came together in the heart of the piece.  But I wanted to try it again to see if I could make it a good piece on its own that wouldn't depend on the color for form.

The second line drawing has more interesting textures and more confident forms, I feel.  I scanned both of these drawings before adding color to them.  The second drawing especially seemed to hold up on its own so that the colors would add emotional content without distracting from the forms and nuances of line and texture.

Here's the first line drawing with watercolor washes added.  I actually prefer it in black and white, but I'm not the potential client or the graphic designer.  The lines seem to be swallowed up by the color, and the color is so strong (especially the yellow and blue shirt) that it sucks attention from the interaction of the mother and baby, in my opinion.

Here's the second line drawing with color added.  I like the color better in this one,  but it may be that the drawing is actually better in this one.  In the one above, the shirt seems too large when it's blue and yellow.  This one feels more settled, peaceful, intimate.  I really like the arrangement of the hands.  The color does not seem gratuitous here as it does in the one above.

So I ended up sending all 6 files to the graphic designer.  Even if I don't get this job, it was a fantastic process to do all these drawings today!  (The originals are around 5 inches high, quite a bit larger than my current sketchbook drawings, which are all done within a 3 5/8 inch high  x 5 inch wide page format)


  1. Wow! This brought back lots of memories!!! Back in my illustration days I would have to do this for clients. ARG! I always had problems defining what another person wants. How does one define "cute", for example? What do they really want? Do they know how to express that to you in words? I eventually decided I needed to leave illustration & just make art for myself! That said, I hope you get the job! LOL! I can tell you put work into this! Did they pay you for these concept sketches? ACK! Here I go again! I was also amazed that the sketches you've been posting are only 3 5/8 X 5!!! Somehow they seemed larger! I'm always impressed by your work! Keep on keepin' on! ♥

    1. I've done graphic design off and on for a number of years, mostly off! And you're so right about the extremely difficult business of having to define what someone else wants. I have enormous respect for designers of all stripes, because so much of the work is a guessing game in which the designer tries to supply a visual (or color, or layout or architectural design, etc.) for someone who has difficulty imagining visually. I remember the old axion from graphic design classes: give the client three options, one to reject and one to like better than the other of the two that are left. But even then, there always seem to be many changes after the client actually sees what s/he has asked for. I've most often illustrated my own books, and that's easy!

  2. You're brave! I remember one teacher telling me "the IDEA is KING"! Well, that's great if you can figure out what THEIR idea looks like! LOL! I agree that illustrating your own books is so much easier! I did a childrens' book that was a nightmare! Never again! Now I have 5 of my own waiting on the shelf for me to illustrate! Gotta get well first! Bless the designers everywhere! ♥

  3. CC- I just found your blog and tried to leave a comment on your Sketch Crawl entry, but I'm having trouble with the heavy screen cover on my otterbox and could hardly type the message, kept getting booted into some editing program that refused to let me resume typing. ANyway, it MIGHT show up, might not. Tomorrow I am going to get a different phone case! Loved it that you were at the sketch crawl on APril 19 and so was I, only I was in Barcelona with a truly international group who met up at the edge of the sea. My friend Pat who was there told us about it, so we went together. I sketched things around the port and in the little area called Barcelonetta, where ultimately my sketchbook was stolen! So my sketches are probably in a dumpster nearby. But it was fun to sketch in that group. I really liked your red red red mug drawing!

  4. Hee hee! Sorry about your phone problem! I only have a "stupid" phone as I never go anywhere! ;) Now I have to go check your blog to see your sketch on that day!!! Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Except for the nasty thief! Thanks for checking my blog. It's been so long since I've updated. ME is a nasty illness, but I have been doing art. Just don't have the energy to post to my blog. But you inspire me, so maybe I'll take a day off sketching & just blog! Ciao, bella!