Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Birth of an Illustration

Happy Almost New Year!
I just finished a piece yesterday for the SCAD Society of Illustrators Humane Society show, and documented the making of it to give you guys an inside peek into how I work. Let's dive right in, shall we?
First off, I always like to look up some inspiration, whether it be reference photos of my subject, or other artists' work. For this piece, I knew I wanted to illustrate a cat, which can be much trickier than it seems. Often, "cat art" can seem too childish, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, old-woman-ish. I wanted to try and put a new spin on my feline subject, so I researched a bit. I came across this work by Johanna Ost that has some lovely line work in it.

"Moon" ©Johanna Ost 2007, pen.
I also looked at different quirky styles. I love MarmeeCraft's work, and found this adorable illustration that gave me some ideas.

"Precarious Uniwig" ©Marjorie Liucci. (not sure of date or medium)
Almost done with inspiration- now I top it all off with some wonderful music! (Please excuse the poor quality of some of these photos- they were taken with my phone- the only handy thing available!)

Time to sketch. I usually sketch in pen- just a personal preference. Pencil smears too much for my taste! Pen makes me much more of a brave sketcher. I started with a more naturalistic approach, and quickly realized that wasn't going to work for me, so I drew from MarmeeCraft's "thick-necked" look and sketched several possible backgrounds, choosing the yarn pattern.

My piece needed to be 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, so I then taped my paper according to size, with a nice one inch border. The paper I used here is some from an Arches Watercolor Block.

Then I mapped out my composition with a mechanical pencil. I tried to not use too many lines, because often those will show through. I just need enough to get the idea.

Next, I started with the watercolors. The paints I used were a variety of brands- Cotman, Windsor and Newton, and Grumbacher, but it's always nice to squeeze a little of each onto a seal-able tray for easy mixing and re-usage. I always like to test my color a bit on the extra space on the paper, just to be sure. Then I began to paint! I just wanted a nice coffee stain look for a backdrop, and mixed a variety of yellows and browns. I first added a layer of clean water, and then added paint, letting it do as it pleased. The messier the better! I wanted some "mess-up" spots on purpose to give it some character, and splatted water here and there.

After that layer dried, I went in again with some darker hues, using a little blue mixed with darker browns. This change is subtle, and hard to see in this picture.

I realized my cat wasn't standing out enough from the background, and since I wasn't planning on adding any more color to her, I needed to lift up some of the color using a clean brush, water, and a tissue to dab it with. The paper's natural selection of what color to keep made a really lovely stain.

I then began to work on the more specific colors for the yarn. I still wanted to keep it loose, since I knew I was doing ink line work over it. I chose subtle purples, blues and browns for a nice complimentary contrast to the yellow hue underneath. Here again, I used a tissue to dab off some of the wet paint for an aged look.

One final touch with paint- the eyes and nose!

I needed to let the paint dry completely (not even having the paper cold to the touch) before I did my line work, so there would be no bleeding. I took a dinner break and came back to paper that was ready to go! Then I began the tedious task of patterning. It's very relaxing- until your hand starts to cramp!

And then I'm finished!

Here is the final work, sans tape and cut to size. If you have fallen in love with my kitty and live in the Savannah area, you are in luck! The piece will be up for sale within the next couple months. I'll have updates on the show in the future.

"Cat" watercolor and ink, 2009.
Another bit of good news- my book came in today! It looks fantastic. The colors are a bit more saturated than I thought, but it really works nicely with some of the images.

That's all for now. Have a wonderful New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post-Christmas Lazies

Good afternoon! It's been a few days since Christmas (we just got back from a West Texas family gathering) and boy, am I feeling lethargic! I just barely mustered enough energy to take photos of these two prints I made (gifts to my cousins) and post them here. And now I need to start packing for my trip back to Savannah! I'll really enjoy being back at school, but it was so very nice to relax with my family for a little while. I love them so much.
When I return to SCAD, it'll be a busy but exciting quarter. I'm going to be taking a children's book class, which I can barely contain myself for because I am so thrilled, my second printmaking class-- relief (which is also a love of mine, in case it wasn't apparent!) and a survey of illustration class. The survey will be a toughie, because I hear that although it is a lecture class, there are projects assigned as well. I'm pretty much going to be in an extra class this quarter. I can't wait though; all three are so important now that I'm getting more specifically into my interests. There will be plenty of updates on those subjects! But enough of the blabbing- here are the two prints I made this break:

"Dillo" Relief Print, 2009

"Weather Bird" Relief Print, 2009

Sorry the photos aren't the best. I don't have a good scanner here at home.
I did both prints on linoleum, and used my old high school's ink and press. My beloved art teacher of four years, Mr. Bates, helped me out a bit. I've been so spoiled by SCAD's excellent printmaking studio, that using a little press and cheaper ink was pretty difficult! After switching from water-based ink to oil-based, the prints became a lot better, and I came out with quite a few good ones. Thank you, Mr. Bates! I have even more respect for the prints you create, knowing that's what you work with every time.
That's all for now! Have a happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a warm and cozy Christmas eve. I still haven't receieved my book in the mail (my fault for ordering it too late) so no update there yet. But I have two new lino prints that I will post photos of next week. They are gifts, so I can't show them just yet! So, to tide you over, here's some more work that didn't quite make it to my portfolio.

"Biff the Hat Man" Mixed Media, 2009

"Birthday Alligators" Ink 2009

"Cinco de Mayo" Collage with bought, hand-painted and hand-printed patterns, 2009

"Crawled to the Bath" Ink and Watercolor, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My book is available!

Hey everybody! I finally got my book "Only With You" up on, and it's available for you to purchase too! I just ordered my two copies, so I don't know how they look yet. Blurb is a great company, so I trust them, but if you want to wait for me to check out my printed version, I'll update once I get them (probably after Christmas). Here's a link to check out the book:
By Caitlin Alexander

And the cover!


Also, Spoiler Alert if you receive a card from the Alexander family! I got my family's Christmas Card finished about a week and a half ago. They wanted something classic, and similar in theme to last year's.
Last Year- 2008, Ink and Watercolor

This year- 2009, Ink and Watercolor

Happy Holidays and New Year everyone!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Been working on my book

Hello all!
During the summer I wrote and illustrated a children's book (for my own pleasure) and have finally found the time to edit it! I'll update more as I keep chugging along on this project, but here's just an overview of the story. It's called "Only With You," and I actually got the idea from a class project (featured on the front page of my site, titled "Bunny"). The plot is that a little girl named Bernadette has just moved and gathers the courage to explore with her stuffed rabbit Mr. Wiggles, who is "larger than life." Thanks to my lovely mother for working out the plot kinks and thanks to my lovely boyfriend Kellan for editing and helping me with page layouts (which I'm still working on).

Here's one of the spreads:

"Spread 6" Ink, Watercolor, Varnish and Digital, 2009

Let me know if you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book when I'm finished putting it together!

I'll be updating a bunch soon with winter projects, so keep an eye out!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! (tomorrow)

Wanted to wish an (early) happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This is my first year to actually participate in the major cooking frenzy in my home, and I have to say, so far, it's pretty fun! I made some rolls from scratch this afternoon-- not easy stuff, this "baking." So, consequently, I am very thankful this year for all the people on this planet who can cook well and enjoy doing it. (Of course I am also thankful for my family, friends, boyfriend, cats, home, school, possessions, health, opportunities, life, love, all art forms, nature.. etc as well!) Here's a man feasting on rabbits to tide you over till the next meal.

"Old Man Eating Rabbits" Ink, 2008

until next time,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wrapping up the quarter

Only a few more days until our very long Winter Break. I'm pretty relieved to have some time to relax with my family, and hopefully work on some art as well. With this close to the quarter, I'll be revamping my website (yet again-- hopefully for the last time... for a while) with all new artwork and layout! Here's some work that didn't quite make it into my portfolio this quarter.

"Octopus' Garden" Digital, 2009

"Birds of a Feather, E.V.- 3/3" Relief Print with Chine Colle, 2009
A piece very similar to this will be on my site. With printmaking, you make multiple "copies" of the work, (when they are all identical, they are called editions) and label each piece individually. With "Birds of a Feather," I used Chine Colle (to put it simply- gluing the papers together as you run it through the press) as a collage element, making identical copies nearly impossible. This is one of my good prints, but not the best, and because slightly different, it won't be in my portfolio. So sad.

More exciting stuff to come.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My very first officially grown-up blog

Hello! I'm Caitlin, as you may have noticed, and I like to create art. Hopefully you are a fan of art as well, seeing as how you are reading about it right now. If you aren't really intrigued by creative stuff, just a heads up-- you are in the wrong place.

So, currently I am a student (junior) at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. I am originally from Texas (Austin area) and actually spend almost as much time there as I do in Georgia because our quarter system... but that's rather irrelevant. I am an illustration major, wanting to focus on children's books, but open to just about anything. And just yesterday I declared a minor in printmaking! I was inspired by the Introduction to Printmaking class here at school (thank you Curtis Bartone, you are an amazing professor) and decided, why not? It's something I love to do.

Speaking of printmaking, I have two works for sale in the Open Studio show this weekend-- Saturday from 5 to 8 pm at Alexander Hall. Not sure if anyone will be looking to purchase prints of rabbits and other anthropomorphic characters, but who knows! Stop by if you want to check out some amazing SCAD art.

Well that's about all for now.