On the Creation of Images and the Illumination of Ideas

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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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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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A Luminèan a Week: Lena Vesper and Primrose

A Luminèan a Week: Lena Vesper and Primrose

The same day I sketched this, the first book for Luminè has made it into the hands of an agent and is being reviewed. Exciting times!

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An Exchange Between Strangers

An Exchange Between Strangers

I was trying to catch a train yesterday to Chappaqua, where I would be meeting with my employers at the Center for Aligned Healing. It was a nice day to travel, but I had to really move to get there in time, since I don’t drive.
I’m normally cautious when crossing the street, but in White Plains, the lights are long and somewhat unpredictable depending on where you cross.
While hesitating at a crosswalk (with a light that was going to turn green any second) an older woman with a brilliantly red coat came up beside me.
“I’m going to go for it,” she said, “are you with me?”
I laughed, and we ran together, two total strangers, making it to the other side unscathed.

Instead of leaving me to go her separate way, the two of us fell into conversation, a bond forged by a dangerous reaction. I discovered that she loved living here. Her husband wanted to move to Florida. We both agreed that a place with seasons was the best.
“Even upstate, like Warwick has its seasons,” she said, which brought a lump to my throat.
That is how I ended up telling a total stranger about a recent unhappy event in my life. I will not elaborate on it here, but a person I cared about has decided to part ways with me, hoping to be friends in the future. We started as friends.
Life goes on, and it will get easier with time. Even now, I feel that it will serve for my growth and ultimate good.
“I’m headed to church down there.” the older woman said.
“The one near the train station?” I asked.
“That’s the one.” She said, “I’ll say a prayer for you.”
I thanked her.

“I can tell you are a beautiful, nice young woman,” she said, “You should be fortunate for all the opportunities that women get these days. When I was younger, you could either be a teacher, a secretary, or a bookkeeper. Now women can do so much more.”

I gave her my card. She told me she had ten grandchildren and would order my book for them.
(The Boy Who Wore Many Hats- Margaret Merigliano, available on Amazon)

I sincerely believe that this woman was put in my path to remind me that with every void created, that there will always be something new to take its place. Even four days ago, when it really hurt to realize that my relationship with this person had ended, I knew it. He knew that I knew it too.

Meeting this woman reminded me how much I loved being connected to others. I like talking to strangers. I am a friendly person.

I will continue to forge bonds with others, because it makes me happy, even now.
However, maybe next time, I’ll tell us to hang back and wait for the red.

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On being creative and ‘Work From Home jobs’: a personal reflection

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So far this year, I have had my hands on many different projects lately. As an illustrator, I have learned that as long as you open your mouth enough, you can get jobs that work with a creative lifestyle.

Working from home, that is!

Now, I don’t mean those sketchy ads that show up on webpages from time to time as you surf the web.
I mean helping people manage their social media and menial tasks so they can be freed to manage what is most important: their center, or their project.

It all started with the picture above.

The picture is from my story, Luminè. It’s a depiction of a coming-of-age ceremony, the details that for brevity, I will not discuss here. To continue:

My Mom works at a Homeopathic office in Hartsdale, NY. The doctor there (who is a family friend) is really nice and asked if I would like to put a print up in the office to drum up business for myself. Naturally, I said yes. I can hear my Dad saying “Networking!” in my ears most of the time. It’s good advice.

One day, Mom decided that the picture wasn’t in a prominent place and with the doctor’s permission, she moved it.

That same day, a woman who was friends with Bernadette Bloom and Maureen Jacobson of the Center for Aligned Healing in Chappaqua noticed the painting.

In my mom’s words, I was told that the woman had tears in her eyes.

“Whoever made this painting must be very spiritual.” she said.

Mom mentioned me, which lead to my first work-from-home job. In the future, once I settle into my new responsibilities sending emails and updating their websites and social outlets, I will also be teaching meditation and metaphysically themed craft classes at the center. I’m looking forward to it! If you are local or curious, visit them here.

The second work-from-home job came as a referral from this one. Today, while drinking many cups of delicious coffee in the Ritz hotel lobby, I discussed future prospects with Elizabeth Kemler for Think Build Live Success, or TBLS.

In short, TBLS is a wonderful learning program that helps teens and young adults to be empowered. Many of these children come from disadvantaged backgrounds and this program is designed to give them the tools to succeed through the books and lessons.

You can visit the site here. Our future plans are in its infantile stages. We have discussed crowd-funding, among other options. For the form of the project, I have suggested to her that a ‘visual-novel-style and ‘point and click’ video game hybrid could be a fresh new way to get the information out. She had never thought of it, but after I showed her some examples, she was thrilled.

“This is just what I was thinking of!” she said, “I just didn’t realize it was a video game, but it’s what it is meant to be!”

Both jobs are not high-paying affairs, but they are absolutely perfect for a person who wants lots of time to be creative. I am especially fortunate to have attracted two jobs working with creative and spiritually-minded individuals. I’ll keep everyone posted on their growth and future prospects.

So, mind this story and this advice. Your art can bring you all kinds of jobs. Be open, and don’t think that a retail job is the only option. Keep talking yourself up.

“Networking!”

A Luminèan a Week: Iiimare people

A Luminèan a Week: Iiimare people

From my sketchbook: a couple of head shots of some creatures from my story who live underwater, in a city called Uèèni.

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