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Happy New Year! I want to share a book cover I did back in 2013… it’s called Impossible the Next by Paul Karp.
The novel takes place in Sydney, Australia and follows a travel writer who tells tall tales about Sydney’s historical landmarks. The origins of Camp Cove, the Sydney Opera House, the Queen Victoria Building and the Harbour Bridge, among others, are reworked into fanciful bits of fiction. Even Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife are scandalized by a revised history involving some awesome gender-bending.
I had my pick of Sydney landmarks to include on the cover. The author, Paul Karp, suggested that the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge would be most iconic. He wanted a surrealist bent to the art… such as the Opera House melting like a Dali clock or the Harbor Bridge unraveling in a gross denial of physics. The latter piqued my interest. It sounded like a real challenge…
I wished sorely that I could have taken a trip to Australia for this assignment. Someday I will and I’ll get to see the magnificent Harbor Bridge in person. In the meantime, I had to do a lot of research on the famous landmark and built a model for myself to take some reference photos from. My model was constructed from pipecleaners for the arch trusses, string for girders and chalk boxes for the two pylons, but when placed in the bright California sun, gave me a fairly good idea of what an unraveling bridge would be like… terrifying!
After agonizing over some perspective issues, I brought my final sketch into the computer and executed the final art digitally on my tablet. I worked layer upon layer, and brought in some painted papers as texture.
After some intense noodling, I achieved a fittingly surreal bridge. My finishing touches were the splashes as the arch trusses and girders entered the harbor waters. Someday, I’d love to do the BridgeClimb. Maybe when the bridge turns 100 in 2032.
These past couple weeks, I’ve led several summer camps for kids. There were two weeks of Cook n Art “Roadtrip Across America” edition, a camp about Monsters, and a dream class called Enchanted Forest. I want to share some projects from Enchanted, because I was so impressed by the eleven girls I worked with, aged 5-10. We made fairy jars, nature collages, and on Friday we had a fairy tea party. The girls got to dip their feet in the magical world of fairy gardens:
Giant hornets! Evil robots! Radioactive ducks! Such is just a sampling of the imagery I got to work with for a recent book cover assignment. Radium Baby is a YA adventure novel written by St John Karp. As I learned more about his book, I could not wait to paint something bathed in glowing green. Giant hornets alone were enough to entice me… but add in an autogyro and King Tut and my head just about exploded.
For the past month or so, I have had the pleasure of working on a mural project for my local water district in Alameda County. ACWD and Excelitas Technologies put together a Community Cleanup Partnership 2013 event, which put over 100 Excelitas volunteers to work with parks and ponds cleanup, not to mention painting ten murals. The murals would be enlarged versions of ACWD calendar art made by elementary-school children. ACWD’s annual calendars have been around for a while… I remember entering when I was in elementary school. I never won any place in the contest, but who would guess that years later I would be hired to turn them into murals?
The weekend of May 17-19, I exhibited at Spectrum Live, a convention for fantasy/sci-fi artists and art lovers. I had been anticipating the event since October when fellow illustrator Colin Nitta asked me to share a booth with him. Later on in our plans we decided to make it a road trip–driving from Oakland to Kansas City, Missouri! We planned it as 10-day trip, on which we would camp at national parks along the way. I had to record some of our adventures in a map:
I have been working on a series based on the Lais of Marie de France. Who was she? No one knows much about her, besides that she wrote down these charming Breton narrative poems, or “lais” as they are called. She wrote them in the 12th century, approximated between 1155-70. She was writing during the dawn of the courtly romance. Her twelve lais revolve around the love relationship. She writes about relationships that work, those that don’t, and loves that never even got off the ground.
For weeks I had been looking forward to “Figure in Costume,” a painting session at Arte Verissima. It was my first time visiting Oakland-based Arte Verissima, a studio space/gallery/school in conjunction with Golden Gate Atelier, all keeping with a realist way of painting. The rooms were full of sculpted skeletons in the process of being muscled and painstaking charcoal drawings made from plaster casts. Most exciting to me, though, is that I got to paint my esteemed colleague Colin Nitta as a cowboy!
Last Saturday I saw The Wild Bride at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The play had interested me because I knew it was a fairy tale retelling, and featured blue grass music, but probably the thing that convinced me most was the lettering of the title. Just from the looks of it, I could tell it would be a play I would enjoy. For the most part I did enjoy it. While the story and message left me wanting, I am still thinking about the imagery. It provided great fodder for some sketchbook experiments. The show ran January 26 to February 17 and was directed by Emma Rice.
I’m ashamed to say that I have not read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice yet. I have made several attempts and I’ve loved the first 40 pages, but something has always come up to put it on hold. Now that one of the most beloved novels of all time is turning 200 years old, it’s finally time. And I’m doing penance by participating in a year long challenge by Austenprose, to make up for the sequels, spin-offs and analytic essays I’ve missed. I’ll also be including film adaptations, which I’ve seen, but they’re too good to leave out.