28 September 2013

You would think I like a challenge or something....

So here we are, I handed it my homework to Will for the Critique's class.  Now can I be frank... This whole thing is a big challenge and I will tell you why.  First of all, I am a traditional artist, you know oil paint, watercolor, acrylics.  So a while back I wanted to illustrate children's books because you know I've been writing children's books for a while.  (no... didn't send any in to get published yet).  So at this time in my life, I decide..."hey let's go for it."  My supportive significant other, Desmond is extremely supportive and we decided to be a team and go for it together.  By the way, the fun we have coming up and writing the stories is AMAZING!
So then we decided I would illustrate... so I started sending stuff off to agents and publishing houses and did not get to much of a great feedback apart from we really like your stuff, but no commitment. So I wondered why. Did my research and discovered Will Terry.  Which throughout the web, I found his classes were reasonably priced and that I would learn most from him at this point and time.  So I started taking his classes this summer.  In one of his classes he discusses your portfolio.  Well, well, well, that is why I wasn't so successful.  There is a way to present, the material that needs to be shown, the quality, the environment, your skills need to be displayed properly, etc.  So the question was then was I ready to invest.
Yes invest in time, classes and time and time and time, because to get better it takes time and practice and time to give to your passion, to your dream to your goal.
So we've invested in classes, equipement and software and time. Every spare moment or just about is spent on drawing and learning.  Which means after my full day at work... yup I get to work.  That time is split in two between the other job and learning.  So needless to say I am literally and physically glued to my chair.  My body has trouble getting out of the chair!!!! I feel I am morphine into becoming a new species.

So, here is the next step in the process.  I am not satisfied... did I say... I am not happy with the result.  But time is up.. I have to hand it in.....
So here it is.
Oh yah, I forgot to mention we had a second assignment for those that were interested.  So I started drawing my scenario for the second one and wanted to work on that today... but Autumn is here and we have to close down this place for the winter.... and finally spend a couple of hours cleaning the house.... where's the maid?  Oh yah, we don't have one....Shoot!

25 September 2013

Raccoon workout

Yesterdays Carrots todays Raccoon!  Doesn't make too much sense, but in the world of illustrating, well in my world this is where I am at.  So yesterday, I had worked on the famous carrots for my Critique's class.  First time I did anything on a Cintiq tablet and a color drawing at that.  So I continued the drawing and it went a little further.  It is not to my satisfaction, I lack crispness to the whole thing, I am just not sure how to attain it, but with trial and error I will master this!  So here is the next step of the famous insane homework illustratin we had to do... It is a small sample of the whole drawing in a previous post.  Oh did I mention I am at ten hours of work in this... learning new stuff, who would have thought it would take sooo long to achieve something... and I say something because as I stated it is a work in progress. As you can see Mr. Squirrel has not been dealt with yet!
 Will keep you posted.

24 September 2013

The Benefits are starting to show

Benefits not profits!  The benefits of taking a class, the benefits of having a Cintiq tablet.  Those benefits.  You see this was the process before.
Find a piece of paper, preferably a 8.5 x 11
Sketch an idea
Refine the idea by making a tighter sketch
Erase, pencil, erase, pencil
Wipe with you hand,
Clean your hands from all the lead that is on the side of your hand and sort of smudging your brand new pencil drawing.
Take your pencil drawing and put it on the scanner window.
Open you computer
Open your scanning software
Scan the document
Make sure it is the right size
Save the document
Transfer it to you other computer
Open your photoshop software
Find your scan
Rename your scan for better finding purpose and hopefully you will remember what you called it.
Then, can you commence and start really working on your drawing.

I can either do the same thing or
Open the computer
Open photoshop or illustrator
Pick up my cintiq brush
Bend my screen to be more like a book
and start drawing
no more dirty hands
no more smudgy drawings
no more scanning

But the really neat thing is that I am learning a new way to do things.  It will be much better when I submit the work to my editors.  It will make life easier, changes easier, everything easier and the key word here is faster.

It is a big learning curve, but I have a really awesome teacher, Will Terry... if you are looking for a great place to learn all this, he is the guy.  I will develop my technique at a later date.  So do you want to see the results of my first real experience on a wacom tablet and learning how to paint on screen instead of on a canvas.... here it is!  This is part of my homework.  This type of drawing is aimed for children's books. As you see around the carrots is the original sketch.  It is long at this point... but I am learning.  I am pretty happy with the results.  Ciao for now, Anne-Marie

22 September 2013

Oh this ain't working with MS Paint and a mouse!!

A few days ago, Anne-Marie took possession of a new tool for her Illustration and design work. For myself the non-visual artist, this is mind blowing. To understand what it is, you must check out their website.


Seeing her work with this piece of technology really makes you realize how fundamentally it is possible to create and manipulate visual images. yeah yeah to the graphic artists out there this is part of your world, but for the rest of us.... this is unbelievable .... until you see it.

Paint Draw Create as if it was on canvas or paper Never having to throw out a piece of work bacause of some mistake. Create in layers, without using a mouse. To have that creative freedom. Magic.

She is just scratching the surface of her possibilites.

17 September 2013

You draw with a mouse... no more....

Yup, so second class of my critique class with Will Terry.  I am becoming obsessed.  I redrew the whole thing and handed it in.  Then in the middle of the night I had feelings of remorse.  Yup, you see I showed my daughter and son in law and they are really good soundboards.  I mean no holds barred.  They tell it as they see it.  Well that's the way I raised her up to be and he must like that way of being because he does it too.  Anyhow, all to say that they noticed some things that were just a bit off and from another person's point of view that was a good thing.  I couldn't say no to what they were saying but what was I to do... it was Thursday night, I had handed in my homework... but the night wouldn't let me sleep this one through.  The next morning, I erased the balloons, redrew the fox's face, detached the squirrel from the raccoon, changed the shadows and moved things around... then handed it in again.
So critique night class :  Will saw how enthusiastic I was about the whole process... and was almost shocked to know that once the drawing was in, I was putting in my values with a mouse in photoshop!
Yes I was.  That was Saturday night.  Today we are Tuesday and I have received my Wacom tablet!!!!!!
Wooooo hooooooooo!!!! I made the investment... it is for my career as an illustrator and I would like to win some awards here so I need to work hard and extremely well.  Is that too ostentatious... that I would like to win some awards... The Caldecott is what I am aiming for.... hey you have to aim high if you want something worthwhile.
So know I have to learn how to draw on a wacom. Next step in this huge learning process.... but boy do I love this!
Ciao for now

oh yah, this is the last drawing I did that was my second presentation in my critique's class.  The first one is somewhere down below in another blog. Just look at the difference!  It took over five hours with research and drawing to do it.  Thumbnail, placement, values.... this is not the last one...however... after this I made extra changes.... here the squirrel is to close to the raccoon eating cakes, Mrs. Pepper is looking up instead of down... the balloons in the window... well it's confusing... yes, yes the owl is gone.... I will post later the modified version which will be number 3... and I have to confess... I still have some changes to do.  Will said the cake was a little too close to the leaves and the rabbit and the tree too straight on the left... so will modify.... then we get into photoshop.....I will keep you posted...
Signing off,

5 September 2013

Muliple Streams of Income...

I disinctly remember a time, (high school) where my art teacher told me not to go into art that there was no way to make a living... I remember being not accepted in the nineth grade art class because I wasn't good enough...

What my teacher didn't know was that the day before I presented my portfolio, I was going into administration.  But last minute I opted for... my dream to go into the arts like the rest of my family had done.
Yes my father, Alberto Buscio had worked in art related jobs all his life.  He would always be learning new things and really was very good at everything he did.  He was truly an amazing artist.  From stain glass windows, to hand drawn signs, to paintings, to model making, to sculpting, drawing airplane pieces for Canadair to becoming a full time artist... anything he did as a living in the arts was truly fantastic!
Then my great uncle Umberto Bruni who is still alive today at 99... and still painting!

As I was saying I had decided to go into the arts... that afternoon I had seen a girl's portfolio which simply blew me away!  Then I learnt that to get into the arts program I needed to present a portfolio...and I had exactly 18 hours to build one up.  Well the odds were against me...and as I presented my portfolio the next day, knowing full well, that there was no way I could get in and I didn't, my teacher told me that it was better that way, there was no money to be made in the arts.

That only 2% of artists really make it...while they are living.

As an illustrator, author or author and illustrator and graphic designer... you depend on contracts unless you are employed.  I once was employed by an import-export company where I was creating products that they would get manufactured in Taiwan and other places.  Full time job, drawing and sketching and conceptualizing products and packaging.  Through them I've had the opportunity of working with licenses such as Disney Babies, Disney, Muppet Babies, Children's Television Workshop and so on, designing children's tabletop products that were sold internationally.  I've also learnt later on that we had won awards for our products.  Their products.  

So then I was employed, nothing belonged to me.  No art! Everything I did was theirs and that's fine.  But I was not happy doing that!  I wanted to be my own boss.  So I opened up a graphic studio.  A few years later I added on a print shop.  A few years after that my daughter and I started another company and then I noticed that I still was not doing what I wanted to do... I was now running a company with employees and all the joys and aggravation an incorporation hands you on a daily basis.  Working early and working late and it seemed working all the time. Waking up in the middle of the night, not for incredibly stimulating projects, but for things I would forget to get done during the day.

I yearned for creating, drawing and writing my own books.  I had been wanting to write for sooo long. Just jotting down ideas here and there, starting spurts of books, I had managed to produce alot of products with my designs as well as Sarah's... but we weren't really doing what we really wanted to do.

So after two years of trying to get my author illustrator career in gear, I managed to have the print shop run itself by rightsizing it!  I've also moved my studio in a beautiful tuscan inspired place adjacent to my home.  Now I can say I spend at least half my week on things I prefer to do than have to do.

Here is a glimpse of the studio...yes that's a fireplace in the left corner and yes an awesome ceiling piece holding the chandelier and those old doors... yup I love it!

Now comes the multiple streams of income...so as an artist, I naturally want to live off my art.  So with the web now you can... You see I am on etsy... a marketplace where I sell cliparts.  I am a designer on Mygrafico - a few selected designers of cliparts, where I sell cliparts there too.  Desmond and I are now on Teachers Pay Teachers... he is a teacher and we are developping educational material and selling on there as well.  I will be adding a few more marketplaces for my art... that's were multiple streams of income come in.  I still have contracts in graphic design and still have my clients and that I cannot give up yet.  I would love to write and illustrate all day but, till the day comes where we get a call from a publisher, I will not give up my day job.  

But multiple streams of income need multiple streams of marketing... 
That will be next...
Have a great evening

3 September 2013

I am a social media Luddite!!

Before I write anything further, let me state for the record, I am very computer literate. Unfortunately, where I have been bowled over, is with the concept of putting us and our projects 'out there" on social media and what that entails.

I am a classically trained musician (read no mikes or digital instrumentation here). I have embraced technology in a big way in my teaching career. But, this is a whole new level internet existence.  Till now, I have used the big I, to communicate and do research to enrich my teaching. Now I, with Anne-Marie, am also on the other side of that experience as well, making, monetizing and marketing content.

Presently, building our web presence requires that we "Jiggle the Jello" to coin a phrase my late father used to describe how neurotic traders are on reacting, and acting on the stock market.

This means....

We are on now 3 sites as vendors. (Uh as a check out in the side bar here on our blog.) Yup, I say that almost like I am sneezing, can't help myself. Part of the biz!

Anyways the purpose of all of this, is to let people know what A-M has produced and in the case of educational materials we are co-developing. To get all that content, on our proverbial lemon-aid stand in the desert and our product, into peoples online consciousness, takes an enormous amount of time and tweaking through, what are now about and additional half dozen sites like Pinterest, Tumlr, Wanelo, FaceBook, ...... etc...

By necessity, this digital multi-headed hydra, requires that we, sadly, build a requisite blizzard of usernames, passwords and settings for; email accounts, PayPal accounts, this blog of course,web sites, web hosting services, along all with all of these and the ever growing list of web presence sites, and so on and so on and so on ...  Keeping all these virtual plates on sticks spinning, wow!

Can almost see my Dad slapping his forehead in amazement!

I have this almost overriding need to scribble on paper notes to the universe and fold them into airplanes, chucking them out the window, instead of all this tagging and tweaking, blogging, liking, pinning, hearting, favoriting, and ... and what ever.

... yet ...

Building something; like our children's books projects; sharing our creative journey; developing new graphical materials for schools that are truly useful and engaging; all that without the drudgery and frustration of banging on doors old school, to be seen and marketed, is simply amazing.

But keeping it all in play and attended to ... and also pursue in my case teaching full-time, again I say, wow.

Oh and by the way, I will one day soon, write of the steps A-M and I go through to produce and place stuff on-line. That is an epic story in itself.

Stay tuned, and of course, check out the new stuff we have posted on our sites. :-)



1 September 2013

Investing in my career!

So a little while back I decided I wanted to illustrate my children's books... and illustrate other people's children's books.  I then proceeded in sending out my online portfolio with a nice introduction to what I was presenting.  I did get responses... saying my work was good but nothing in the form of contracts... then I went online and discovered a whole other world of illustrators out there!  They all wanted the same thing I did... to illustrate for themselves and for others.
In need of advice, I then travelled around youtube to find out about professional illustrators.  A couple caught my eye and I went and learnt about them and their style.  I then invested in some online courses or books they were selling.  The ones I got were Will Terry's photoshop 1 and 2... after that I contacted Will on Facebook which he accepted.  That's when I found out that he was giving online classes for twenty five people... a small investment to make... $300.00... for a full class with critiques...
I decided to think about it... bad move.  It was filled up before you know it... I wasn't fast enough and I couldn,t get in.  Big disappointment.
There was however the lite version which was exactly the same except you got the taped version the next day and could not participate.  That one I jumped on without thinking.  Wouldn't make the same mistake twice. This class was $150.00.  What a gold mine.
I know what I did wrong by sending out my stuff the way I did.
my website was hmmm not my best stuff and I still have to do alot before putting up things.
I quickly saw what I had to do.
I had no real online presence.
My drawings were good technically... but for me I needed much more
I learnt a lot about how to illustrate children's books.
By doing the exercises, even though I didn't hand them in and watching the other's drawings but most importantly the positive critiques they got from Will and Jake made me re-evaluate all my stuff...
and did I ever have many a -aha moments.

Needless to say alot of lite students were disappointed in not being in the full on course, so Will decided due to demand to give  a Critiques class - for $150.00!  Needless to say, I was waiting for the exact date and I think I was the first to sign up.  So excited...
I am expecting to be another gold mine.  I can't wait for him to critique my drawing.

The assignment :

When I first got the assignment (and I must tell you having never illustrated a children's book, well not considering the Bud and Ally's Christmas and Halloween coloring activity book) I threw my head back with loud boistrous laughter... I thought this guy is nuts!  OMG! How in the heck will I draw that...
My better half's response :  Well if you want to be in the big leagues...

Here was what the assignement was :

Assignment #1

Setting: Exterior of tree-home, woods, evening

Characters: Woodland creatures - squirrels, birds, mice, chipmunks, raccoons, badger, hedgehog, owl, lizard, skunk, etc. You may choose to clothe them or leave them partially or unclothed.

Theme: Complex human emotions

Please illustrate the following:

Mrs. Pepper was so excited to see all of her friends arriving to her dinner party! They brought garden delights and roasted entrees, cider and milk and sweet smelling treats by the dozen. Everyone was happy and excited to enjoy a hearty meal except for Simon, who never received his invitation.

Notes: This piece can seem overwhelming at first. Lots of potential characters, objects, emotions, etc. Don’t get too caught up in trying to illustrate every aspect of this scene - a sure way to fail. Start with the most important part and work your way out. Make lists of things you think are important to show and then narrow down to three main elements. For instance: I would probably illustrate Simon, the tree-home, and a few people walking towards the home. Indications of more animals inside can be done in a subtle way. you may also want to show Mrs. Pepper greeting her guests. Think of the best possible perspective to highlight the important things. You may want to start with a few environment studies to get ideas. Character sketches are also a good idea before diving into the thumbnails but remember - no drawing in the thumbnail stage!

You know it's one thing to draw a nice little picture - static of a nice litte girl like Mattie.  Yup.... then you get something like this assignment and I asked myself..what have I gotten myself into.  So after looking at reference material and sketching and drawing... I never took so long to do a drawing in my life! I came up with this... This is what I think Will calls a black and white comp.  I did a couple of thumbnails before hand which landed in a basket behind me.  But this one stood the test of well acceptable comp, in my view.

I am assuming he will trample this baby and tell me all the things to make this a better image... Already I see the tangents...that he talked about in his class... Ah well.  Will resend without tangents.  Then will post the corrections that will need to be done so you can see the before and after.

So here is my first assignment :