On the Creation of Images and the Illumination of Ideas

divinemother

To me, the process of making art has always been a ritual. Throughout the maturation of my style and technique, I have sought to create works for others that illuminate their individual passions and ideas. I desire to do this through a visual narrative in order to prove that one can incorporate what gives them joy while also living their own truth in reality. Yes, it is possible to do what you love without being held back. This I truly believe.

It is because of this vision for my work that I take great care in even the more mechanical aspects of the process. When soaking watercolor paper to stretch for the next piece, I often anoint the water with a sage spray. Mantras are often played, (and in most cases sung along to) as I work. For instance, a client who desires community as a part of their mission statement would be a good candidate for the Buddhist Heart Sutra being played as I create their logo.

Music is an incredibly important part of my process, as it is for many artists. All the steps in preparing artwork are done to the beat of whatever soundtrack the day brings. Music allows images to bubble to the surface during my walks outside and in nature, another place I go to be inspired. Often, flowers, rocks and other items from nature are taken from these walks and displayed with care and reverence.

I see music as image; it is a crucial part of conceiving a piece of art, but I also value the music that is hidden within daily life experiences and seek it often.

Movement is incorporated into the ritual of creation as I transition my sketches up the stairs to the loft to the only computer that will work with my faithful old scanner. There, the work is cleaned up; the lines are transformed into a sepia pigment via Photoshop and printed on my large format printer unto watercolor paper. If I choose to color digitally, the scanned image is extracted via thumb dive and brought back down the stairs to my newer computer that can run Photoshop more efficiently for this part of the process.

If I choose to work traditionally in the sense of color with acrylic inks, I have the further joy of working with crow-quill pen to enhance my lines after the color is added, outlining the characters with more sepia within the background. In this sense, it is not as much an outline as it is a balance between choosing which lines are most important within the image and sometimes adding additional value. It is here where I really strive to create balance between the intent of my original line, while allowing myself to be open and loose with my additions.
Endeavoring to create this balance is an eternal process, both in art and in life. How do we work mindfully towards creating the life we intend to create and how often do we step back and allow for new ideas and external influences to move us?

In my studio, I tackle these questions as well as my vision with the purpose of creating a piece of art. Outside my studio, when I feel pressured by the immediacies of daily tasks and challenges, I have been trying more and more to recall my memories of the energy and flow within my personal space. In this space, I create mindfully a vision of the now that is most important. In the same sense, I look for the light within myself that is the spark of that positive, creative energy. This is the same light that I wish to recall and illuminate within the minds and hearts of everyone who encounters both my work and myself.

With the action of creating mindfully, I am able to meet the needs of my clients in the realms of children’s book publishing and design as well as my own. When your vision is in sync with the successes of others, there is a certain light that needs to be shared, and can only grow as it is shared more and more. This is the concept that gives my studio its name; I create from within with sincerity and love. Everyone needs an advocate, and I seek to be just that, as long as the spark of creativity is alive.

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The Importance of Viewing the World Outside the Studio: Story Gathering, Tea and Hattitude!

Today, I needed more watercolor paper to complete a current book project for an author who is self-publishing (The Elves of Shady Elm book two) so I set out to my local art store in White Plains to get some.

It happened to be one of those gorgeous spring days that I have been craving. The desire to leave the studio behind for a while was one I just couldn’t ignore, so I pushed those thoughts of ‘hey, you got TONS of stuff to do, you can’t just take off,’ aside.

After returning some library books and taking out the following:

-The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland (about an actress and spy from the Paris in the year 1660, it looked interesting!)
-Peony in Love by Lisa See (I love all of her books, especially Snow Flower and the Secret Fan)
-French Milk (an autobiographical comic by Lucy Knisky about her month’s stay in France)

For curious locals, the graphic novel selection in the White Plains Library is massive. I have been working my way through it, but I am careful not to take out too many, as I will spend way too much time reading comics and not getting work done! I am the type of lady who will read a comic in one sitting, it’s really difficult to set one down once I start. D:

On the way, I took advantage of my proximity to ArtsWestchester and checked out their Hattitude exhibit of hats both historical and modern. In a serendipitous moment, I happened to walk in just in time for a tour.

The young woman who lead the tour was clearly pleased to be doing so. I could immediately tell that hats were one of her passions. To my delight and envy, she had gotten to try on every hat on the floor at one point; everything from the ancient first birthday hat from China to the Downton Abbey-style ladies hat with creamy silk roses.

The types of hats that were displayed encompassed everything from couture to ceremonial, even religious church hats and an thoughtful display about Arabic Hijabs. What was particularly interesting about the display was that it included paintings of various wrap styles accompanied with quotes by the women who wore them. The confidence that exuded from each woman’s words attempted to educate the viewer that they were proud to wear the hijab and felt it not to be a symbol of repression, but a symbol of modesty and femininity. This viewpoint surprised me, and gave me much to ponder about how my own physical location in the world impacts my feelings about something as simple as women’s fashion. Who ever knew a hat show could raise such provocative ideas?

In addition to the hats on display, the ‘vault’ section of the art space contained a milliner’s workshop where the docent briefly explained hat forms (a base that helps to create the shape of a hat, often made of wood) felting techniques and various materials used. It was really neat seeing the old-fashioned small milliner sewing machines that were still used to this day.

As I took a moment to grab an earl grey soy latte and vanilla bean scone at the nearby Hastings Tea, I thought about how much the creation of characters could be enhanced simply by giving them an interesting hat. A hat could say a lot about a person’s station or role in the world. I realized that so many of my characters were bareheaded, and resolved to apply what I had seen and learned in my future work.

Unfortunately, yet understandably so, commissioning a hat from a milliner can be a pricy experience. However, someday, I will obtain a custom Purple Lantern Studio hat and I will wear it proudly! Perhaps I will even make one. I’d like to try my hand at wet felting, fancy feathers and hat forms, but I expect it could also be expensive to learn and obtain materials. Maybe not?

The show is going on until Saturday, so if you are local, try and catch it. More info about the show can be found here. Sadly, I wasn’t allowed to take any photos of the hats, but the image below is of my sister and FIT grad knitting guru sporting the first hat I ever knitted. I plan to knit more in the future for sure!

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Since I am self-employed, I tend to take the occasional decision to take a break during the day very seriously. You have to when you work for yourself, but in retrospect, I am so glad I did. Sometimes, being in the studio, relying on one’s own imagination can cause the artist to fall back on patterns and relying only on what they know.

I’m so glad I went outside today. I’m thankful to live in an area where the arts are so important and appreciated. It sure makes me proud of what I do, and grateful that I can continue to create.

~Rayna

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For the Greater Good: Tithing My Time as a Metaphysical Teacher

For the Greater Good: Tithing My Time as a Metaphysical Teacher

For those who aren’t aware: this summer, I am going to be involved in a start-up two week metaphysical children’s program in June and July.

I recently found out, as in the case of most start-ups, that there is no guarantee of payment.

As I have loans to pay and an independent lifestyle to save up for. I had thought of backing out, but it seems the universe has other plans for me.

Naturally, I had hoped for a salary, but what I got instead was a sign.

Last Sunday, something happened at Unity Church for Practical Spirituality, where every other Sunday, I teach meditation, affirmations, object-lessons and crafts to whoever shows up.

Last Sunday, I was unable to do my job, due to not having a way to get to church. My Mom hurt her back, my Dad had stuff to do and my ride fell through. (I don’t have my license, but working towards it!) I am extremely dedicated to my job and I can count on one hand how many times I have missed a day. I am one of only two teachers.

I resigned myself to the idea that I wasn’t supposed to be there that day, and in all honesty, I was pre-occupied with deliberating whether I was going to do the children’s program or not.

A few hours later, after church had ended, we received a call from the church. One of the members of the conjuration told us that two children had shown up.

“It was amazing!” she said, “(the older child) taught (the younger child) and they made a craft together. They meditated on their own and wrote a poem about the seasons. Everyone had tears in their eyes..”

Suddenly, I knew I was just where I needed to be. If I could create that at Unity, clearly, there is something that I am meant to spread in my local community. My mind was made up.

Therefore, in the spirit of practicing what I preach, I acknowledge that God is the source of my supply. I will tithe my time at the Center for Aligned Healing, for the greater good, whatever that may be.

And so it is!

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Author/illustrators and Shades of Grey: making a ‘book dummy’ for your big project

Author/illustrators and Shades of Grey: making a 'book dummy' for your big project

So after planning and conceptualizing and researching what I actually have to do to submit Luminè as an author/illustrator, I finally have discovered what I actually have to do to get this thing off the ground: I have to do what picture book illustrators do when trying to get their work published; make a ‘book dummy’.

What the heck is that? Basically, it’s a rough layout of the book, with text and images together. Sounds like a no-brainer? Not really. Read on.

In the case of a picture book for wee ones, it would be necessary to do the whole book. However: this is where I diverge. Luminè is a Middle-Grade reader, or MG for short. It has many many pictures and lots of text. Therefore, it would be unreasonable to expect a whole book, since the agent or art director wouldn’t really need or have time to look at the whole thing.

Therefore, in the case of my book, my submissions package would contain a polished ‘chapter 1’ with text images and appropriate typesetting to show those who see my work that my work looks good in print and alongside text. That is important too.

Since I wouldn’t be illustrating the whole book (yet, of course, but I won’t stop working while shopping the book around!) I would also include character concepts and studies. This way, the agent or art director could see that I could draw a variety of characters and had a consistent style. For my book, it would be necessary to showcase some of the more stylish and bizarre heroes and villains. These I have been working on and have already.

The sketch above is officially a teaser WIP of the wrap illustration for chapter 1. It’s really happening guys.

Throughout this process, I may only be able to show you glimpses of what I am working on, but I will still update the Tumblr lots to keep me sketching and keep my social presence active!

When working on big projects, it is important to keep sketching, so you keep the ideas flowing and your work improving. It can be really easy to fall into a pattern of only ‘drawing for final’. Not all of my sketches are spot-on in terms of anatomy or proportion. That’s fine! Some days, I feel more inclined to create a mood, while other days I seek to nail a pose.

I really forced myself to press on today. I was having one of those troublesome wacky days full of other non-art related conflicts and didn’t feel like drawing.

So I told myself: ‘If I start the book today and get this picture right, I’ll feel really good because I would have made today a great one instead of a bad one.’
I cracked open the anatomy books, got some reference and got started.
I’m pleased so far, and excited to draw the rest of Lena’s messy room.

I hope this helps clear up confusion for those people who really want to draw and write as well.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a world to make…

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‘Zines! Anyone can make ’em!

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You are sitting on a couch at a gathering of some sort. A stranger comes up to you and a conversation is had. Suddenly, the stranger is leaning over and whispering in your ear, divulging details that are intimate for a first conversation.
This is how I feel whenever I read a ‘zine.

‘Zines are handmade or small-print run publications that can be made by anyone. Some are just zeroxed and stapled. For those who can do it, some are screen-printed, but I must stress, you don’t even have to be an artist to make a ‘zine.

For example, there is one ‘zine called ‘I love bad movies’ that is about just that: reviews of bad movies, or ‘so bad it’s good’ movies. There are ‘zines about herbal remedies, activism, and cool bands. ‘Zines can be about anything!

Isn’t this exciting?

The ‘zines pictured here are from a small comic shop in Williamsburg Brooklyn called Desert Island, but don’t let that scare you. I really feel that zines are not just for hipsters. Anyone can make one.

You’ll laugh when I tell you, but one of the best resources I have seen lately that describes how to make a ‘zine is the Adventure Time comic, volume 12. This is a comic that is from a show that was originally made for kids, but it has a pretty big adult following. For good reason, I could go on about that, but suffice it to say, I’m a big fan!

What tickles me is that a kid can pick up this comic and learn through a step-by-step visual process, how to put a little book together. That’s really cool! I wish I could put the comic up here, but I will give you a link to a site that has great information from one of most notable people in the ‘zine world:

http://www.houseoffun.com/action/zines/index.html

As a final note, it can be really fun when you find ‘zine treasures. The one to the left in the image above was really exciting to find. Aaron Reiner is one of my favorite artists and writers and I never knew he did ‘zines before he was published! The owner at the shop told me it was really rare and somebody came in recently and sold him his collection because he was moving away.

I recommend his graphic novel called Spiralbound. It’s such a cute and endearing story with humanized animals. Its a story about being original and standing up for yourself. Good stuff!

So finally, one of the hardest things about zines is timing. Because of the nature of the publications, if you are collecting a series, it can be hard to find old issues. So, if there is something you really like: get on that person’s blog, tumblr, or whatever social media they have. That way you’ll know when you can get the next one.

Stuff I’m looking forward to:

Alabaster’s Mimi and the Wolves vol2

Coin op Box set re-release

I’ll update more on my ‘zine adventures as they come, including the process of making my own, a little art-book called ‘IllumiMates’. For more information, check out the Purple Lantern Studio Facebook page.

 

Stand by: sketch updates moved to my new Tumblr!

Hey all. I still love the blog. It’s a great place to update all the fun stuff that will be happening in the future, such as upcoming book-signings and other happenings.

That stuff will still be here. 

At the urging of many people that Tumblr is the places for artists to post their sketches, I got one! Follow the link, and if you have one, give me a follow! [PLS tumblr]

A Luminèan a Week: Daèdair man

A Luminèan a Week: Daèdair man

With the arrival of spring, I feel the compulsion to start drawing the deer-people in my story.

I might do a larger scale drawing of some more of these guys in the future…

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