Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Portrait for Your Thoughts

Portraits are always a challenging endeavor. And, regardless of how much experience an artist might have, they continue to teach us new things.  Although there are general anatomical rules to follow, it's always interesting to observe, and render, the unique differences that distinguish us from each other. Whether it's a slightly larger ear lobe or a thinner upper lip, it's these variations that make portraiture, and character design, so fun! Indeed, it's easy to get lost, as an illustrator, in one's own style, neglecting the critical role naturalistic work, such as portraits and still lifes, play in our development as artists. To continue drawing and painting the world around us only helps to further our growth and creativity as artists. In crafting a style, these studies are an invaluable tool in learning the rules of nature and anatomy.  That knowledge set makes it far easier to successfully stylize one's artwork. As the saying goes, "To break the rules you must first learn them."
In the coming months, I'll be working on several more portraits while continuing my illustration projects. My sister, Marie, happily posed for this sketch.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2011

This week, the New York Times released their annual Best Illustrated Children's Books list for 2011.  These are some beautifully illustrated books with excellent stories to boot! The list includes some personal favorites, Kadir Nelson and Lane Smith.  Both consistently put out work that is well rendered, creatively composed, and fun to both view and read.  Kadir Nelson's We Are the Ship (2008) is a gorgeous book about Negro League baseball and the many challenges they had to overcome during a period of deep racism and inequality.  On the other end of the spectrum,  Lane Smith's John, Paul, George, and Ben (2006), is a hilarious, educational, well illustrated, read about America's founding fathers.  Although these are "older" books, they are worth mentioning.
Though I only mentioned a few illustrators, the list shows the varying styles and uniquely creative abilities that each illustrator displays in their respective books. From Frank Viva's highly stylized, effective artwork in Along a Long Road to the warm, inviting style of Patrick McDonell's Me...Jane, all of these artists display an adept ability to beautifully illuminate their stories.  There is so much talent out there, it is quite an accomplishment to be mentioned on this list! So, check these books out, sit down with your kids, and jump into the wonderful world of picture books!