The Eyebrow Lift in Art

What was that?

How did this happen?

What are you doing?

Why am I doing this?

What’s going on?

Where do I go?

What now?

The more I create artwork intended for kids the more I notice certain trends in my work. Among these trends is the slight eyebrow lift (well, the unbalance of eyebrow) my characters wear on their faces.

Why do I do this?

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Self portrait, why do I do this?

Well first of all children’s book characters NEED life, personality, exaggeration and, to put it simply, CHARACTER. For me this means to immediately draw an eyebrow lift as the eyebrow lift is an indication of question, wonder, skepticism, humor. It can mean a lot of different things depending on the situation of the story…

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The eyebrow lift can be a conversation with another character, a communication tool with just a look.

1.jpg                 Or the eyebrow lift can be a silent, personal contemplation of the next step in the story. “What should I do now” or “Where do I go from here?”

Even a grim realization that has no questioning can be made clear with a subtle lift of the eyebrow.

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Here  “It” comes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or BOTH characters can communicate with eyebrow lift to show silent humor  conversation.

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Some might ask, “Why just focus on the eyebrow lift? There are other facial expressions that can speak without words too you know…”

Of course! And that’s another reason why I love children’s book illustrations is because of the facial expressions. The reason why I focus on the eyebrow lift is because of it’s unbalanced structure and it’s questioning. Kids at their core are curious and representing that curiosity with the slightest mark is beautiful.

In a way the eyebrow lift is a peek into my illustrator personality. Some artists are known for their color or light or maybe excellent drawing skills. Others might be known for their chosen topics. Character facial features is another indicator of style and I would love to gather all the illustrators that I know and love and research which illustrators use facial features as a unique indication of style as well.

For now, I’m simply pointing out trends in my artwork that I can latch onto and understand how I can make my work my own.

So… see you later? I guess?

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Portfolio Prep 2, Multiple Styles

Having multiple styles in a portfolio is a blessing and a curse.

Sure this can indicate that you are versatile with medium/material and yeah this also means that you can illustrate different genres too and that’s fun.

However most publishers/agents/whoever you are showing your portfolio to doesn’t want to see too many styles. They want to know what they’re paying for. Consistency and an organized portfolio is the key to multiple styles.

Consistency in multiple styles? What I mean is make sure you can pop out that particular style anytime. Eliza Wheeler had a similar problem but she ended up owning those styles with a beautiful, prize winning portfolio awhile back.

Here are a few styles that I’ll have in my portfolio:

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They are each pretty different huh?  The first piece is digital and I tend to work obsessively over details when I work digitally. The middle is watercolor with photo reference, with some composition and color changes, of my cat. The next one is in watercolor as well however it’s more from imagination. I tend to want LESS with watercolor.

 

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Even with my black and white I can still see that I apply a similar “paint” texture. And my shapes and drawing stays the same.

 

 

 

Ultimately I think it’s how you place each style next to each other that will make all the difference. Tell a story with your pieces. Use one piece to progress to another. Or if you are working to illustrate multiple genres split the styles completely in a creative way, that’s what one of my critique members did.

Just for laughs, here is one of my “older” styles…

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Yeah, I’ll be having that in a separate portfolio haha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commission Mission

I’ve had four commissions this month! Yippee!

However not all of them were children’s book related, actually most of them were NOT so I won’t post them on here. I will however post the ones that I do think might relate to children’s books.

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This one unfortunately didn’t work out, but I did like working on the image.

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This is a WIP and wasn’t intended for a PB, however it looks very middle grade I believe. Who knows! I could illustrate a middle grade one day.

Last month AND this month were both pretty busy! I should start writing reviews again, I did read just about fifty picture books last month haha. Plenty to write about!

The Push Pull

I’ve had several different painting professors in the past, all very different people with incredibly different styles and techniques. The one thing that they did have in common was the “push/pull” concept within a painting.

What the “push/pull” concept is is the use of color or texture, or perhaps how much paint painted in an area on the image’s surface, to “push” certain shapes of the composition to the back and “pull” the most important shapes to the front.

This idea is pretty darn basic, but it is this push/pull of abstract artists that I’m most inspired by and believe I’m beginning to think by this rule as I work on the creative surface.

Hans Hofmann is the first artist I think of that uses this technique very well and in fact does a trick on the eyes of constant push/pull movement throughout all his pieces. Marc Chagall is another artist, though different and not necessarily abstract, who used color and shape to move the eye and depended on these two elements to tell his strange, dreamlike stories.

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The illustrator of Firefly Mountain, Peter Sylvada, also does this with colors and shapes. This one in particular reminds me of Eyvind Earle.

 

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And this little gem, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach, also has a great push/pull abstraction with color, light, and shape that I’m inspired by. That bear is behind the bench, and the bench is clearly in front of the bear, however the two fight back and forth to see who can draw the eye the most and be priority of the composition. It’s wonderful.

Mike Mignola  is another favorite artist of mine who does this.

 

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Now I definitely do NOT have the skills of these artists, but I can’t help but notice and enjoy the push/pull the acrylic and digital paint provide. Sure I use color to push some shapes back and pull some shapes forward, but it’s the texture that I’m using with the push/pull in mind.

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Another push/pull I’m finding in my work is the almost sfumato style of making certain pieces of the image more focused, usually what is in the foreground for the viewer, and blurring the background. No, I don’t think I took this from Leonardo da Vinci, I simply can see better up close than far away. My daily vision is this kind of push/pull and I would not have noticed that without going back to the Stitching Butterflies pieces.

Looking Back at Stitching Butterflies

Stitching Butterflies was the third manuscript that I had made into a book dummy, illustrated “finalized” images, and intended to send it out to…someone… in hopes that it would eventually become published.

The “finalized” illustrations for this dummy happened to get critiqued on Take a Look Sunday on Kathy Temean’s blog that I’ve been intending to post on here.

Well, it wasn’t the best critique to have to go through but…I’ve had so much worse! It was actually encouraging because I knew what I needed to work on.

I had found a focus that I could spend my time and energy on, which was to make things more clear, work on my drawing for this and future projects, and to study how to make an illustration look more “professional”…I still don’t know what exactly “professional” really entails haha.

In the end I just need to pay attention to making my work look actually good! uhhbrighter copy 2.jpgalittleoutline copy.jpgstellaoutlined1 copy.jpg

These are STILL not finished the way that had I envisioned and I don’t even know if this is how one is supposed learn about themselves and their art,  but I did realize what I wanted out of a acrylic and digital mixed media style which I’ll post about tomorrow along with a review. 🙂