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Open Studio

It’s been busy here lately as I try to ramp up in my studio more and more, and get focused on my art and writing again.

Original study of Griffin. Mixed media, using candy foil and acrylic paint.

Original study of Griffin. Mixed media, using candy foil and acrylic paint.

Having missed the yearly Open Studio walk of Boulder again this year, I decided to have my own open studio after our return from the east coast, so the last weekend of October I pulled together my work and opened my doors.

I showed a variety of work, pulling out artwork from over the years that I’ve been developing for books, or other paintings and drawings, as well as a few flood damaged pieces that I didn’t have the heart to throw away. I displayed these too, because they are interwoven in my story now.

My sons hadn’t seen much of my art, and my smallest son kept asking, “Did you write this story?” or “Did you create this artwork?” to which I’d reply yes and show him a little more. My oldest son wants to know why I’m not published. He asks this question innocently, because the only world he knows is a world where children are encouraged to create. I can’t really explain adequately that it’s not as easy as all that.




The sampling above is representative of the hundreds of drawings and studies I did while developing Monkey Marbles. I tried mixed media like the foil study at the top, and then did hundreds of drawings before turning to color studies. This book of course is on the side lines as I develop new works right now, and I am already trying to decide what to rework when I come back to this book. That is not a worry for right now, though as I’m focusing on a couple other books for the Winter SCBWI gathering in NYC.

Part of what I wanted to share is my process. That when I develop a story this is some of the method that I work, and some of what I like to explore as an artist, to me there are countless ways to explore as an artist. Everyone works differently, this wasn’t a how you should, just how I work. I begin with thumbnails of my book that I pin to an art table or my wall. I then enlarge each thumbnail on the scanner and draw on top of it. In the old days I used to do this all on my light table. Each iteration was painfully redrawn if I found that I didn’t like some element of the composition or the characters etc. Now my process is to streamline what I’m doing. I still like to work traditionally, but my studio is a blend of digital and traditional. One of the things that I showed people is that instead of making physical models like someone like James Gurney (Dinotopia) creates, I make digital environmental models for my scenes now. Then I can be like a film maker framing my shots. This cuts my time down tremendously in deciding what I want a shot to look like in my book, as well as letting me work out details of the environment like furnishings and architecture in three dimensions first. Probably the best benefit is that it allows me to bypass working out perspective drawings from scratch with a ruler.



Besides the children’s books that I’m developing, I showed other artwork, too much to show here. In the last couple days before my show, I managed to repair some Indie video game work that I let people play including some prototyping work using the oculus which is always fun. What’s not fun about ghostly cats?




The show for me was about pulling together the stories, the artwork, much of which I had forgotten myself, and trying to jumpstart myself from being the artist in flood recovery mode, to getting my work together again, finished and out. Aside from connecting with people and showing them what I’m doing, the show for me was about trying to find focus again post flood, and get energized about what it is I’m trying to do.

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