So I was just going to do another illustration in progress post when I realized that I also have a few cool work in progress photos from my other two jobs. The week before last was the release of the March Fearless Flyer at Trader Joe’s. I usually have very little emotional attachment for the artwork I create at T.J.’s because it’s often so strictly regulated, overdone, and such a long shot from any of the subjects that I would willingly choose to illustrate. Also, due to the frequent impossible time restraints I sometimes either have to crank out something of substandard quality that I would never bother to post here or anywhere else, cut out lots of artwork and original ideas entirely, or just finish the Flyer artwork a week after the Flyer has already landed. This past week was the latter but at least it afforded me enough extra time to actually make some things that I could be proud of.
March is the Spring Flyer so I wanted to make some kind of visual reference to blooming flowers. St. Patrick’s Day and Easter are both this month so I also wanted to sneak in some clover and pastel, Spring-y colors. The boss wanted us to include this Victorian clip art dude from the front page of the Flyer.
I don’t know why he is a goose-stepping scuba diver with riding pants or what that has to do with springtime…maybe a reference to a certain song from The Producers? Whatever this dude’s problem is, I did my very best to incorporate him into the seasonal theme on the template I made for all of the Flyer shelf signs.
I redrew him in that same black and white woodcut style and colored in the rest of the template in an attempt to create that whole colorizing effect they used in Wizard of Oz and Pleasantville…like he’s bringing back color and life to the landscape with his scuba diving riding wizard staff. For some reason, something about this seems very post-apocalyptic to me.
Later I also designed a big sign of the same weird dude to hang in the entrance of the store. Here’s my thumbnail sketch:
Here’s what the final sign ended up looking like. You probably can’t tell from the photo but the guy is somewhat 3-D and pops out from the background.
Then, as if I hadn’t drawn that stupid guy enough, I also made a chalkboard sign for the entrance of the store. This time I only drew his helmet to mix it up a bit and suggest that maybe he eventually perished in said post-apocalyptic world and was returned to nature.
Today I was working on a thumbnail sketch for my next big sign project. It was requested that I just make a giant garlic clove to point to the often overlooked crushed garlic in the frozen section. This will be interesting. So far I’ve drawn a Victorian garlic clove hot air balloon since this company really loves its nonsensical Victorian clip art. I might even donate one of the plastic garlic cloves that I have at home in my craft supplies to use as part of the anchor. Yes, I do have a bag full of plastic garlic cloves at home. You really can find anything at SCRAP PDX.
After my last shift of the week at Trader Joe’s on Friday I went over to the Vine Gogh painting studio in Sellwood so that Paul could teach me the painting I would be teaching on Sunday. In case you didn’t realize, my second job is teaching part-time as an art instructor.
A little backstory: After six years of working five days/forty hours a week at Trader Joe’s while I struggled to complete my own artwork and serious portfolio stuff on the side, I had a major mental and psychical burnout. I came to the realization that I no longer saw T.J.’s as my desired long-term career, but as just a job to pay the bills and keep me afloat as I work hard on becoming who I actually wanted to be when I grow up. To this day I am still struggling to work all of that out, but my decision to cut back at T.J.’s from five days a week to four days a week at the end of last year has so far proven to be one of the best that I have ever made. At first I was terrified of the pay cut and of the possibility of losing our health insurance, so I made sure that I still worked the minimum 30 hours required to qualify for insurance each week and I found a second job to use as my financial safety net. I had never really thought of teaching art before I started teaching at Vine Gogh–but as it turns out, not only am I really good at it, but I also really love doing it. It’s a pretty fulfilling feeling when someone over the age of 60 tells you that they have never painted before in their entire life and that you have just taught them something that they wish they had known all along…and given them enough confidence in themselves to finally give it a try. After my class on Sunday a woman slipped me an extra twenty buck tip and personally thanked me for being such a big help. I’m pretty sure that I have never gotten that kind of appreciation at my day job before!
I teach these painting classes at art studios in Sellwood and in Tigard. Each class is only about three hours long, so whenever I teach on the weekend I usually still have the rest of that day to work on my own artwork. Both studios have a bar, so people will attend the classes as a social outing, order drinks, and then create a painting as I break it down for them step by step, Bob Ross style. Right now they’re building a second studio right next door to the one in Tigard called Vincent’s Loft. It’s going to have turn of the century, steampunk kinda decor and offer classes other than the usual acrylic paintings on canvas. We’ve been throwing around ideas of me teaching illustration classes, cartooning and caricature, other mediums like watercolor, colored pencil, and pen and ink, and even polymer clay sculpture. I can’t wait to see how it’s all going to turn out…it’s just really nice to have something to look forward to again!
The work in progress pictures I have from the painting classes actually aren’t of me or my painting. I just took these photos of Paul in action when he was teaching me one of his own paintings on a small canvas so that I could teach it on Sunday. I guess you could say that they’re more like my notes than anything, but it’s cool to see how he busted this quickie version of it out in like ten minutes.
This is the painting that he was teaching me, Mountain Lake:
Here’s him working in the same sequence that I later used to teach this painting.
Note: This is the point where, when I was teaching this painting, everyone took a drink break and let the background dry.
Additional Note: That highlight on the mountains is a total Bob Ross palette knife technique that we modified for an acrylic paint brush. This is probably the most Bob Ross painting I’ve taught so far.
That’s it! Seriously, this whole thing only took him about ten minutes. It took me just under three hours to teach it (on bigger canvases than this, though.)
So Vine Gogh has been a very good thing for me so far. Although a second job generally means more work, I feel that it has actually allowed me more time to work on my third, last, and most important “job” that I have–making my children’s book. I really have been treating this more like a job than ever lately because that is what I want this to eventually become. I no longer want to be stuck in this place where I have to rely on doing something that I find boring for the majority of my time in order to make a living, and as a result am forced to treat my own artwork and true passions as just a cute hobby whenever I can get to them. I’ve devoted most of my life up to this point to becoming a serious working artist with my art as my main profession, so I’m still just doing whatever I can to shift things around until I can finally feel like I have achieved that goal. It’s been a very interesting ride so far.
Here’s some few work in progress photos from my latest pages.
The pencil drawing. This photo is cropped oddly but you can see about where the center fold of the book would be (it’s going to be a double page spread.)
Inked over the pencil:
Pencil lines erased:
I hope to either finish the coloring on this tonight or come really dang close to it. I will then have pages 30-31 out of 32 completed! After that I will only have the cover, title page, and dedication page art left to go (and formatting all the text…but at least I will have some help with that part!) Yup. Takin’ names.