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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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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A Luminèan a Week: Mer-angel and Barnaby

A Luminèan a Week: Mer-angel and Barnaby

Angels are awesome. I think real people can be angels too. An angel is a force for good. Sometimes it takes a human form, sometimes not. I think that’s just fine with me.
Barnaby is my beta fish. He hangs out in the studio with me.

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A Luminèan a Week: The Chariot

A Luminèan a Week: The Chariot

I have been studying the tarot for about a year or so, give or take. I do daily one or three card readings for myself.
Tarot is great. It is a wonderful way to interpret and solidify your thoughts. You don’t need to be a uber-Spiritual or occult person to get into it. You don’t need to be ‘psychic’ or ‘intuitive’.
Everyone has the capability to Know Themselves.
If you are going to start, I suggest at least reading a book or two on the subject. I would go into detail, but it is really meant for self-study. I may speak more on the subject if there is interest in a future post.

This image is a result of a card that has been coming up many times. Drawing this image helped me to understand what this card meant, to itself and in my life.
Onward and Upward!

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A Luminèan a Week: Meditational Distraction Fairy

A Luminèan a Week: Meditational Distraction Fairy

Just for fun. I went for a walk and this image popped into my head.

Breathe away those distracting thoughts….

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