24 April 2016

Makerspace: Are You Game?

That's the name of our craft this summer, which will be tables full of stuff from which people can make other stuff. Some of it will be specific and guided, and some of it will be freeform and surprising. We have learned that not everybody likes the box, and not everybody likes to work outside of it, so we're providing a little of both.

I have messed with both this illustration and the ingredients for it all day (first spending more than an hour at the 99 Cents store picking up random stuff that might be craftable), and I can't say I'm completely happy with it. I drew it from a sort of overhead, foreshortened view, with the result that the toilet paper roll, glue bottle, and tape look absurdly small to my eye compared with the socket cover and sharpies Although it's correct, it doesn't LOOK correct to me. Also, the pipe cleaners are funky looking, and I'm not crazy about the final layout OR the stuff that I ended up including in the drawing.

But once again, as with the books, I am running out of time. So unless Anarda looks at it and says "Yech!" we will probably go with it. And the idea of the illustration is to intrigue the teens--"What could we possibly make with all those things that don't go together?" so from that standpoint...okay.

Micron pen and watercolors.

17 April 2016

Books, Take Two

Well, if you know me at all, you know that I just couldn't let it go. I kept looking at those two side-by-side blue books, and at the covers that were so covered up that you couldn't quite tell what they were, and the upshot is that instead of doing other illustrations this weekend, I revisited the Reading Log books.

I made one change--I substituted Marie Lu's The Rose Society for Michael Grant's Front Lines, for two--no, three reasons. One, I wanted more color variation between all the covers; two, I think Marie's book is probably more well known than Grant's, given that it's part of a popular series while his is a stand-alone historical fiction; and three, Michael Grant was curt to the point of rudeness with me one time when I wrote and asked him if he'd like to make an appearance at my library, so why should I give his book free publicity? (That last is petty, but really--when you write to an author and politely ask if he'd like to do a book signing at your library and his complete and total response is "I'm too busy writing," no "thanks for the invite" or even a salutation or signature, phooey on him! Who does he think buys bunches of his books? Librarians, that's who.)

Anyway, I am much more satisfied as a whole with this illustration. I think I actually did a better job on certain covers the last time, but the color array is good, the covers show to much better advantage and are therefore identifiable, and the shadows came out better. This will be my illustration for the Reading Log.

I have to say that books are the hardest thing to illustrate, in some ways. First of all, you want to achieve the same effect that the cover artist intended by getting the look as close as possible; and second, there's all that lettering! Both to do, and to paint around, because it is inevitably a different color, or white. So this one took me most of Sunday afternoon, although it was broken up into intervals by reading Illuminae.

You almost have to take frequent pauses when you're doing a composite picture like this, because you paint, for instance, the book cover on the far left, and then while that dries, you paint the one on the fair right. Then you move up to the middle, maybe, but if you can't move far enough, you are in danger of sticking your hand or arm or finger into wet paint, so you have to let things dry before you move along. And then there are the different sections of color on each cover to let dry before you move on to the rest. But--in addition to being hard, I think they're fun. So that's okay.

13 April 2016

Game On!

We have decided that instead of a generic board games night (yawn), we are going to have a Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit tournament. We played it at our last board games night, and it seemed to be the one game that brought everybody together in a fun competitive way. So I painted some props--the game elements, plus Harry Potter specs--for the flyer. These feel a little boring--I tried to think of a way to snazz them up a bit, but I'm drawing a blank (so to speak). They'll do the trick for the flyer, I guess.

I thought I'd put the game pieces in one corner of the flyer and Harry's specs in the opposite corner. We'll see if it works.

12 April 2016


I realized last week that I needed a new illustration to go on the cover of the Reading Logs for this year's Teen Summer Reading Program, since all the books I did last year are beginning to age (their sequels are out, or everyone has already read them). So 20 minutes before closing on Friday, I frantically searched the New Books shelves in the teen section for books that might be familiar or recognizable to some but were fresh enough to be intriguing to most. (They're so new that I have only had time to read two of the five myself.) I laid them out on a table and took a couple of shots with my cell phone camera. I did the drawing over the weekend, but didn't get to painting it until today.

Here's the drawing, which shows what was defined and what got drawn/painted in with watercolor. (Also, what parts of the drawing were unintentionally obscured!):

I realized a couple of things as I moved through the painting--there was some bad planning with putting the two blue books right next to/on top of each other; and I picked some challenging covers to illustrate! Also, I could have arranged them better in terms of seeing more of the covers on the underneath ones.

But...despite not being satisfied with several key elements, I'm so far behind that I'm not going to rearrange or reselect and start over--as it is, this painting took me more than two hours! I realized, from this one, too, that I really need to start painting these things on actual watercolor paper instead of continuing to do them in my sketchbook--while that paper is pretty forgiving, fixing things like transparent shadows is impossible without overworking the paper, and these really needed some fixing! Oh well...

Here is last year's. It was a little better color-balanced, and the layout was more compact.

Stay tuned for the final few TSRP illustrations...

06 April 2016

Cinema Sign

Even though movies are one of our least popular events with teens at the library (for some reason we haven't quite fathomed), we usually show a few for summer reading club, just because they're easy--stick in the DVD, put out some snacks, and you have a program. This year, however, we have decided to show only one (and are having the dickens of a time deciding WHICH one), but that still means I need a "cinema" sign for the event publicity.

I had the same problem this year that I had last--the inherent drama of a movie theater sign is that the neon and white lights appear to best advantage in the DARK, but I don't want to do a big dark cloud behind the sign, because it overwhelms everything else on the page. I tried painting one without the drama of the dark, but still tried to convey neon. It's a bit overworked, and I also don't know how successful it is--I suspect not very. It's a little bland, to my eye. I'll show it to a few people and see what they think. Maybe I will give up on the fancy sign and just use type.

Micron pen, watercolor.

Here is last year's, when I did everything in primary colors plus green. I have to confess that that one felt awkward to me as well.

04 April 2016

Book Café Reborn

Book Café was such a huge success last summer that Anarda and I have decided to make it a regular feature of the Teen Summer Reading Program. So once again we will hold four sessions of Book Café, and everyone who comes to three of the four gets to choose a free book from our stash.

They also get to book-talk to each other, and they get to meet some authors. So far I have lined up Mary McCoy, a Los Angeles Public Library librarian who wrote a wonderful noir teen mystery set in the 1940s called Dead to Me. We have high hopes for a couple of local authors whose books some of our teens have read in book club, but I won't mention names until they're booked.

And, not the least, they get Book Café refreshments! Coffee didn't go over real well--American teens don't seem to start drinking it as early as they do in some other countries--but cocoa and cappuccino are immensely popular to go with their cookies.

Even though we are doing the same program again this year, I didn't want to use the same illustration from last year to advertise it, so I worked up a new look and feel for the Book Café "logo" for this year. A little more sophisticated, with more muted colors, but fun, I think, mostly because of the name done in "syrup" on the surface of the café latte!

Micron pen (but in sepia tone instead of black), and watercolor. This is the second time I have used this cup and saucer for an illustration--I was initially terrified by the level of detail, but if you just suggest what's there without being slavish, it works.

Here's last year's:

I can see a few places I need to touch up and re-scan on this year's, but as usual, I couldn't resist putting it up the minute the paint dried!

02 April 2016

Breakfast out

This morning I woke up just in time to make it to the chiropractor's for a tune-up during his one-hour Saturday morning session. After, I decided I'd treat myself to breakfast out. I was trying to think where to go, when I remembered the picture I drew in my sketchbook for Valentine's Day of my neighborhood coffee shop that had never merited a return trip, so I decided I'd give it another try.

Nothing has changed at Heart's Coffee Shop. And I mean nothing! Still looks exactly the same as it did 30 years ago when I moved into this house; still run by two cranky Chinese ladies and a cook; still features mediocre service and dishwater coffee; and still as busy as if it were a much better eatery!

When I got there, no one was sitting at the long counter, but all the tables but two were full. Since I wanted to draw the counter I asked for a table; the waitress directed me to one, but because of the view, I stated a preference for the other. We had to argue about it--she kept waving me to the table with no view in the corner, and I kept waving at the table with a good shot down the counter, in the other corner. Finally she threw up her hands in exasperation and seated me where I wanted to be.

The entire breakfast experience was surreal; seated in front of me was a middle-aged couple who giggled so much throughout their meal that I assume there was some marijuana involved at some point shortly before this breakfast. Seated next to me at four tables shoved together were two families--two couples and their five children--who were devout Christian gun dealers. No, I'm not kidding. I listened to their conversation while I was drawing and waiting for my order to come, and it ranged from how much ammunition they sell during hunting season, what to do to make money in the off season, and how, when they had a disagreement with a vendor, they asked the vendor to "pray on it and get back to us."

I kept my mouth shut and concentrated on my sketch. The food turned out to be okay--the scrambled eggs were dry, the hash browns were well done just as I had ordered them, and the toast was hot with plentiful butter. The waitress glared at me when she saw I was including her in my sketch! By the time I was done with it, a party of 12 had come in and filled up almost every seat at the counter, and an old man and his dog had taken the table where the waitress tried to send me, and were sharing his bacon. I would have loved to stay and make another drawing with the seats populated by heads and shoulders, but people were waiting for my table, so this one will have to suffice.

Micron pen, watercolor.

Here is the picture of the exterior: