Monday, January 19, 2015

Color Series: Green Frog

Green Frog                  2015                j. c. phillipps

I have a show coming up in March in the Children's Department of our town library.  I booked the show before I had a single piece of art I wanted to display.  Sure, I could have popped up some stuff that I have lying around, but it's one wall and it's all mine.  I wanted a brand spankin' new collection that was fun for the environment and cohesive.

After some brainstorming, I decided to do another color series.  Only this time they are BIGGER and they will all feature animals.  (This is the previous color series.)

If nothing else, I just love how these things look on a wall.  So bold and colorful.  But that's me thinking about the collection as a group.  Each, of course, has to be a stand-along singular piece of art.

I was most inspired by a green frog, so I started there.  Actually, I started with a completely different idea for a green frog, but then I did some frog research on Pinterest and came across this...

Untitled portrait (frog man), 2007, by Japanese artist & illustrator Akitaka Ito (b 1979). via the artist's site

... painting by Akitaka Ito.  I thought it was so great and I got so excited about it, I changed my original sketches and reworked the collage to what it became.

So, in addition to all the pieces featuring animals, I think all the animals will be anthropomorphic as well.  Fun, fun!

Thanks so much for stopping in!  I hope you're having a good Martin Luther King Day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Writing Workshop at Webster Hill

Today I had the lovely pleasure of starting my 3-day Artist-in-Residence Program at Webster Hill School.  My main focus was to help the students learn some techniques to build teeny crumbs of ideas into big meaty ideas with good structure and potential.

I started the day with a whole-school presentation and was thrilled to get to wear one of those pop-star microphone headsets.  (You have to love the little pleasures.)  After that, I did two writers' workshops with the fourth grades.  The kids had A LOT of really great, creative ideas.

I also worked in a drawing class with the First Grade.  They wowed me with their fabulous Monkey Ono portraits.

And I squeezed in a reading time with the Pre-K's.  So, so cute.

One of the fourth graders was working on a story idea about a monster, and I spied this fabulous drawing she had done.  Isn't it great?

I had a wonderful time today and I learned a lot about the workshops from my unknowing guinea pigs.  Now I must make a couple adjusts and go once more unto the breach!

BIG THANKS to all the parents at Webster Hill who helped raise money for my visit!  You rock!  Your kids rock!  And BIG THANKS to all the teachers and staff at Webster Hill who are so gracious and supportive and awesome!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Adventures in Printmaking: Winter Tree

Because I liked how Magoo's collagraph armadillo turned out, I thought I would try one too.  One thing I didn't dig on his was the background color.  It came out kinda sparse. I figured if I printed the color separately, then I could just ink the collagraph in black and print it on top.  Win-win.

I made a tree design - with glue - on mat board (If you want to learn more about making glue collagraphs, go here) and I cut a piece of foam the same size.  I then applied water-base printing ink with a paintbrush to the foam and pulled some prints.

I did 7 or 8 of them.

Then I inked my tree and made a print.
Pretty freakin' awful.

I'm not sure why this one was so much worse than Magoo's.  I used a different glue.  (He used Elmer's) And I have a slightly lighter touch.  But I think that was part of the problem.  The lines were too think.  Anyway - what a disappointment.

So I got to thinking, Hmmmmm, what can I do now?

I had more foam, so I redid the design in with a flat sheet of foam.

I cut all the negative space out with an X-acto knife and made some wood patterns with a little wooden pointy stylus.

Here it is inked.

This worked out much better.

I'm not saying this is a brilliant print or anything, but I think it's a good enough beginning.

I ordered a book on carving wood block prints and that arrived and didn't really inspire me.  I'm currently on the fence.  I constantly see prints that I love on Pinterest and I want so badly to be able to make my own, but I also know that printmaking is a whole other ball of wax from what I'm used to.  One part of me is always saying, Why don't you just focus on what you're good at, while the other says, It's good to learn new things, while a third me chimes in, Let's eat pretzels and watch TV.  I try not to listen to that third voice too often, but when something is new and challenging, Inner Voice #3 gets pretty loud.

But that's it.  That's my start. 
Will I continue?  
Who knows!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Adventures in Printmaking: Armadillo Collagraph

It started with a Pin. 

I usually have Magoo make some art for his aunts for Christmas and I had just seen this Pin (below) on Pinterest.  I have always loved Printmaking, although I have very little experience in it.  So I thought this would be a good project to start with Magoo.  If it worked out, I would try one of my own.

You see, they made the design with glue.  I have glue!

Magoo settled on an image of an armadillo and drew it on a piece of spare matboard.  Then he "traced" the pencil with Elmer's glue.

We let that dry completely - 2 days.  Then I coated it with varnish and let that dry.
Then he painted the background and armadillo body with water-based printmaking inks and we rolled black ink over the top glue design.

Here's a shot of Magoo pulling the print off the "plate."  He wasn't able to pick up most of the color within the body of the armadillo, but he got some nice texture in the background.

The directions from the site where we got the Pin stated that the artists filled in the collagraph with colored pencil after it had dried, so that's what Magoo did too.

This is the end result.  (He did three prints in total.  The other good one is at the top of the post.) I think they turned out pretty nice.

NEXT TIME on ADVENTURES IN PRINTMAKING.  I try this technique with a simple tree design.  Spoiler: It does not go well.

Happy 2015!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Brief Year in Review

When I decided to post a year in review (like an hour ago) I knew I would need to be brief.  Each year packs so much fun with friends, family, food, swimming, art projects, and so on that sharing it all would be an epic post.  Personally, I don't like to read epic posts; I really don't want to write an epic post.  So I have chosen some highlights.

My fourth book, The Simples Love a Picnic, came out in April 2014.  It got some good press and was even mentioned in the New York Times.  I did a few book events and Curious George was at one of them.

Magoo graduated from elementary school.  He continues to be awesome and my husband and I are kind of blown away - daily - by how sweet, funny, and kind-hearted he is. 

This past summer was Magoo's first trip to the ER.   His face caught a hard frisbee.  Now he has a bad-ass scar.

Our family vacation was to the cabin in Michigan.  I had been to the Sleeping Bear sand dunes as a little girl and hadn't returned until this year.  It is truly amazing how large they are.  Magoo had a blast running down them.

When I moved to Connecticut thirteen years ago, I was given a clipping from my grandmother's night blooming plant.  It's actually kinda a weird looking plant - but it's hearty - and I need a hearty plant.  This was the FIRST TIME I ever saw it bloom and it was gorgeous.  Now, it may have bloomed before - it's sneaky - but I never noticed it.  I was pretty excited to be able to catch this event.

In September, Magoo started middle school and I joined (and helped form) the WeHa Artists Emporium.  We marched in the Park Road Parade and painted while we walked - which is really much harder than any of us anticipated.

My boy and I enjoyed another Halloween: Malificent and the Grimm Reaper were out scaring little children in the neighborhood.  Mwah-ha-ha!

In early November, I spoke at my first book festival.  Yay!  They flew me out, put me up, and everything.  There were major delays on the way home, but it allowed me another first: flying in FIRST CLASS.  I got bumped up.  That had never happened before and unless Hollywood makes one of my books into a major motion picture that blows up the nation (Like Frozen - not like a bomb.  Hi NSA.), I will probably never fly First Class again.  It was nice.  It was.  But as long as the plane takes off and lands safely, I'm cool in coach. 

In December, painted rocks took over my life.  The WeHa Artists Emporium did a town-wide event called FINDERS KEEPERS.  We hid painted rocks all over town and left clues on our Facebook page.  It was an idea to raise awareness of our new group.  Well, it worked!  We now have over 700 members and it was a lot of fun.  I think we started a new tradition, as we plan to do it again next year.  (But only for half the month.  31 days is A LOT.)

I decorated over 100 rocks.  Here's some of them.

We had a lovely holiday season with family and friends.  (Yes, I have a husband too, but he hates to be pictured on the blog.  He exists though.)

And the best part of every year is celebrating my boy's birthday.  Yesterday he turned twelve.  We celebrated with friends at a rope park and with Mama's homemade honey cake.

As I continue to work on book and art projects and learn about promotion and marketing, I sometimes get pulled in all sorts of crazy directions (Twitter, Instagram, etc.) but here I can show a little more of myself and my life, and I appreciate all of you who take the time to "stop in" and visit me.  THANK YOU!  WISHING YOU ALL THE BEST IN 2015!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2014 (Xmas with The Punisher)

Oh, it was a wonderful morning for the little Punisher - lots of goodies under the tree!  Actually, it's just Magoo.  One of the first things he opened was this Punisher hat/mask that I bought him last minute when I was at Party City picking up fancy toothpicks.  I figured it would be good for the bus stop.  If it's warm, wear the flap up.  If it's cold, put the flap down.  He LOVES it.  I have lots of recent pictures with the Punisher. (Below)

Back to Christmas.
But he had to put the flap up to eat breakfast.  This year I made donuts.  Mmmmmm donuts.

The astronaut T-shirt was a gift.  He'd seen something similar on The Flash and said, "That's a cool shirt."  I think that was the first time I'd ever heard him comment on fashion he liked, so I went on the internet to find one STAT.  Santa brought a nice Lego set from The Lego Movie and he got a bunch of other gadgets like a hovermax, some nice headphones, DS games, and a bunch of graphic novels.  Christmas is good to you when you're the only kid.

It was a lovely mild day so the whole family went on a nice walk (to hide rocks for Finders Keepers.)  This is how Mike and Magoo walk these days, constantly trying to shove the other off the sidewalk.  Magoo's getting bigger and bigger each day - it won't be long before Mike doesn't stand a chance.

My sister-in-law Pat got me some lovely earrings and a scarf, but she couldn't make it due to illness, so I took a selfie to send to her.   I love that shade of green!  Poppy was kind enough to model Java's Santa hat for me. (Although she clearly didn't want to.)

Gramma and Auntie Pam came to have Christmas dinner with us and play Wii games.  And at the end of the evening, Magoo got a giant Auntie smooch!

It was a great Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Whole Lot of Cooking Goin' On

I don't love to cook.  I don't.  I prefer baking because I like to eat the treats, but still, I'm not someone who enjoys the process of food preparation.  Still, the holidays aren't the holidays to me without some serious time in the kitchen.  So far, in the past two weeks I have made cookies and brownies for the  neighbor gift boxes, Magoo-safe cookies (above), Jewish meatballs for a Hanukkah party (below), Nana Pam's ice cream pie...

... Magoo put together a gingerbread house, which he can't eat, but it's a tradition he enjoys ...

... and a chocolate avacado cake.

I don't know if most cats like avacado, but Java goes nuts for it.  If we don't watch her, she'll steal it out of our salads.  She also is fond of baked goods, so this is a double temptation for her.  I only let her stay on the table long enough for me to get a shot of the longing in her eyes, then she got the boot.

I've finally finished painting rocks.  Now I've finished the pre-baking.  I still have to figure out what special treat we'll have for Christmas morning breakfast.  Otherwise, I'm in good shape!

THANK YOU so much for stopping in.  I truly appreciate it!
Wishing you happy holidays!