Sunday, November 10, 2013

Partying - Assignment 5

Make Art That Sells Assignment 5 Final - Party Goods.

It's all over now :*{ No more Make Art That Sells class work. I had a BLAST on this last project. I decided to work on bits which would be appropriate for a little girl's party. So I came up with these three Flower Girl characters and laced some of the little icons from their dresses into the ribbon-like patterns on the paper goods:

Flower Girl character designs. © Samantha Grenier

My favorite part of this assignment sketching out ideas. I became fascinated with folk art and florals. Below are a couple pages from my books:

Party Paper Sketches 1 Assorted Icons - © Samantha Grenier

Party Paper Sketches 2 Birds and Girls - © Samantha Grenier

I was tempted to render my final pieces in paint, (I have Folk Art brand paint sitting on my desk!) but I'm kind of a novice with the "finished" look in paint, so I shy'ed away from it. I can see this in my cut paper technique too.


Monday, November 04, 2013

Mapping - Assignment 4

Map of Amherst, NH - Editorial Illustration Assignment
I can hardly believe Lilla's course is nearly over. This session has been challenging but very rewarding. I'm THRILLED I took up a spot in Part B. I was nervous just before the class started up because I struggled with conceptualizing my finals for Part A, and I've got a big side project on my hands which I had to juggle into the mixture of drawing. Above everything else in the course, I really looked forward to this past week's assignment: Editorial.

I've been so focused the past couple years on Children's Book illustration, but I have a strong attraction to editorial work which I'm starting to re-investigate while I build up my Picture Book portfolio. This week's assignment was to design a map of our home town. So WELCOME to Amherst, New Hampshire:

Close-up of some of the colonial buildings from the historical district. And a Pine branch.

Amherst prides itself on it's rich colonial heritage, so I wanted to be sure that message was conveyed. When I think of my home, I think of the marshes/bogs/river/brooks, so I added those too. Though I live in this town (and have for some time,) I investigated a bit into the town history in search of inspiration. Architecture was main line through that rabbit hole, so I wanted a few sites noted on the page. Other inspirations include cross stitching/sampler patterns, apparel fabric designs of New England 1700's, and local vegetation.

Sketchbook - doodles of town buildings and colonial buildings.
So my final assessment of this specific assignment is: OH-MY-GAWD! OH-MY-GAWD!! I LOVE MAPS! I hope that feeling comes across :-)


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Scrapbooking - Assignment 3

Scrapbooking bits - final assignment
Who doesn't like scoping out the towers of loose papers at the craft shop? It's a pretty big area to avoid. Scrapbooking is usually my first stop: search for paper textures and eye the motifs.

What surprised me most about this week is that there are still scrapbooking companies licensing from freelancers for there collections. I thought this was an area where companies relied on in-house designers. Well... surprise! They also find artist inspiration to make accessories too. How about that?

This week's assignment was to design a sheet of icons which could be suitable for chipboard pieces or stickers, or inspiration bits and pieces. I started with a LOT of drawings... here's a snippet:

Sketchbook spread with scrapbooking inspirations.

Then I went nuts on PATTERNS to apply to my digital cuts:

Pink-pink-pink herringbone pattern

Assorted patterns which could be used for washi tape, paper, icon decorations, etc.
I went back and re-drew my favorite thumbnails in colored pencil and tried to get a nice mixture of frames, sticker-style vignettes, letters, and photo corners. HOURS were spent designing and re-designing the page layout. I wouldn't mind doing this everyday.

F-U-N! :-D


Monday, October 21, 2013

Baby Cuteness - Assignment 2

Assignment #2: Baby Apparel

Babies are fun. No doubt about that :-)

I had oodles of fun working on my camp-themed Baby Apparel Assignment for the Make Art That Sells eCourse. I struggled with this assignment... just a little bit. The struggle wasn't about coming up with ideas to complete the assignment, but that I couldn't stop drawing.

Below are some close-ups of the final artwork, since it's so hard to see in it's tiny-format.

Placement fabric design: Animal trailers and trees.

Baby Girl's dress mock-up.

Tree patterned onesie.

"Camp Cutie" onesie.

The color pallet was inspired by Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom.  I got a little carried away with the film inspiration and ideas kept flowing in about scouting. I had to take a day or two to re-collect my thoughts on the project, but kept drawing all the while. I eventually landed on my final animal campers, which may be a little abstract for baby apparel, but still cute nonetheless.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Back to MATS - Assignment 1

Holiday Card -- First Assignments
Yep! Back in class :-)

I'm back to taking Lilla Roger's eCourse Make Art The Sells (or MATS for short). The first assignment had me whittling away at Holiday cards. I LOVED making this card! I know I may have gotten a little too ambitious with this assignment, but I had a vision and I just had to go for it. I don't want to burn out after assignment #1... I've got four more weeks to tackle! This is definitely one of the market niches I've really taken to.

Though the assignment was to make 2 cards, my second composition never left the sketchbook because I became so consumed by this one. I did struggle with background quite a bit. Here are some of the samples:

Holiday card background samples. Right to left - flat navy, silver lacy,
and assorted darks (shown here with lace detail).

The navy is a little different for a Christmasy card. All the bits and pieces were originally pooled together against a white background, but somehow the card felt empty. I tried it out against the light blues, and silvers, and the lacing, then moved on to the darker tones. Against a dark backdrop, the colors really POP!

Since it's hard to read on the final illustration, above is the background closeup. 

Below are snippets of my sketches from earlier this week:
Holiday Doodles
Tah-tah for now. I'm turning in for the night so that I'm well rested to meet the next market and the mini assignment.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bon voyage! (to me)  -- website update!
Gone Conferencing! The website has been updated with a fresh coat of (digital) paint, and new pieces born since the New England SCBWI Conference. Now I'm setting off for the West Coast for the Biggie Conference in Los Angeles. Hope to see some of you there, and for those not attending, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators will be blogging and Tweeting the whole shebang here (blog) and here (twitter feed or follow #LA13SCBWI).

I'm ready for some learning!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Flourishing despite....

I flourished despite about 50 disputes with a container of Mod Podge:

"Flourish" decorative collage.
I'm going to be perfectly honest here: I nearly (and am still tempted to) tear up a huge wad of tissue/tracing/velum/watercolor papers and just spell out the word "SHIT!" I didn't think it would be appropriate for the class, it seemed resentful. It does sound snarky and negative, but I can see it... "Shit" would be fun. Who wouldn't want a big "S-H-I-T" on their wall?

Yes, I did swear at my materials about a dozen times before collaging won me over. I think it's the designing of the composition I like so much... that and transparency papers. Part of the construction of this piece consisted of a fight with a single paint brush, glue, humidity, bleeding inks, and my inability to get a zipper to zip the way I wanted it to. Also I was stabbed by a staple from the zipper package. My grudge against the zipper has passed and I'm at peace with my finished artwork.

I really did like this project and I how it turned out. I have some new bedroom art. "Flourish," is the fourth assignment I turned in for Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells eCourse. This project was both challenging but still freeing. I struggled with this assignment (less than I expected,) because I wasn't really drawing per-sey, but my designer instincts eventually kicked in for the finished pieces.

Would I keep up with collaging? Yes, but not regularly. I'm trying to integrate it into my illustrations (digitally) more an more. I've come to understand that I'm really more of a draftsman. I am ocationally attracted to abstract pieces, but I really prefer working with recognizable motifs and icons. It's hard to stare down at the raw elements and come up with an attractive way to assemble them. Things don't always tear or fold the way you want them to so plans were frequently changed during my collaging process.

"He Loves Me" decorative collage.
The assignment was for one collage... I ended up with two which I which will soon have new homes on my walls. What this project brought out in me was that vent I so desperately needed. Getting dirty and having a finished piece I can hold in reality awakened something in me. I've been in a creative rut since Mid-May and I'd been feeling out for some sort of relief or inspiration to help pick me up. Naturally, one week left in the class and I've broken through my brain fog... at least in my personal work. I am very happy with the quality of work I produced this past week. I polished off a couple pieces for the SCBWI conference which I will be thrilled to show off to Art Directors. I hope I can keep up the pace for a strong finish for the class.

Best of luck with everyone else. Keep cool people!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Slowly as a Snail

Meet my egotistical snail!
So week #3 from Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells eCourse was all about the Picture Book. "Yay!" I thought. I thought.... Almost there, but no lollipop! We were to either illustrate a book cover or interior spread to a Hans Christen Andersen fable. I chose the spread because I really liked the assortment of possibilities, but I feel like I tried to show too much:

"Finished" illustration spread for The Snail and the Rose Tree, by Hans Christen Andersen.
The bit I enjoyed the most about this assignment was that we needed to somehow integrate hand-lettering - whether it be the title of the book or text within the story.  I can't explain why I've been dragging my feet on about testing out hand lettering, but I really had fun with this, I just wish I tried illustrating type and hand lettering sooner:

Text "Bear Nuts" - Those are Hazelnuts.

Text "Give Milk".

Text "Grow Roses".
I really enjoyed making this piece, but I'm not happy with my overall finished results. I would have liked more time to work on it... and so I shall! I like the individual elements, but all put together it's just too overwhelming. I've already returned to the sketch-phase and I'm re-working my characters, and setting up a new spread. I'm hoping I can build a stronger piece by the end of this month so that I can tote it to the SCBWI Conference next month.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Quietly Busy

Plate Designs for Home Decor Assignment

Dinnerware screams "Paint ME!" so I took a shot at watercolors for my second assignment in the Make Art That Sells eCourse. When I couldn't get just the right colors I wanted, I took my designs to the computer. This turned into a week-long mini war with messy (paints) versus clean (digital).

At the moment I'm struggling with my assessment of the Home Decor Market because I know I'll be a good fit for it, but I need to follow my gut. As inspiring as flowers can be, I overwhelmed myself with too many concepts and ended up picking none of them. My first reaction to an idea (generally) is to get it down on paper. But my first reaction to this assignment was "Get flower buds!" I sketched a bit in marker, took to watercolors, (which I'm madly in love with by-the-way,) and then eventually sketched out my designs in pencil. A little backwards for me.

For the curious eyes, here are some of my watercolor doodles:

Bird/Milkweed and Coneflower Parts

Assorted Doodles and leaves

Falling in love with hand-lettering

I like my designs and I like the concept of the Milkweed and Coneflowers (also BIRDS!) dispersing their petals/seedlings. There's just something missing which I haven't been true to:

You LOVE Color! Sticky Note.
I'm satisfied, but I need to pump it up my color pallet! The piece I turned in for critique is the "Milkweed Flight". Thought it's quiet color-wise, it's an incredibly busy surface. I felt the Coneflower (seen at the top of this page) was just too much blue to eat around:
Final dish design - "Milkweed Flight".

It's a sorry thing to say that my pallet ended up so neutral since I ran out and BOUGHT some brilliantly vivid color inspirations. One can tell from some of my sketches alone that I had been very taken by the flowers. I want to know where my color mojo left me.

Peonies and Mums and little Button Flowers.
I'm promising myself to use PINK and Orange on the next assignment. We're heading into children's book illustration tomorrow, so I hope my color pallet will be fitting!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Fungi and sniffles

Submitted Bolt Fabric Assignment
My first week of Lilla Rogers' eCourse (Make Art That Sells) is winding down now. It was enlightening while challenging. I'm in LOVE with fabric designing and I'll most certainly begin exploring this area later this summer. For now I've got to get through weeks 2-5 and the LA SCBWI Conference - one focus at a time right now!

Probably the most challenging bit was suffering through another cold, while juggling the work-load. What is this? #3 or 4 this year? It was the type of distraction which could derail creativity.... Could, but didn't. I did drift off to sleep thinking of the assignments very often, so there are some things I failed to capture just due to the fatigue. Of course a giant head cold strikes as soon as I've got to busy myself with a looming deadline! 


Well I'm surviving. I'm pretty sure the cold is starting to taper. At least I got SOME rest this weekend. I've been sneaking extra "Zzz's" into all of my late afternoons and early evenings, whenever I can. I predict I'll have all 5 senses back in play and little to no fogginess wearing me down by Thursday. At least I hope clears.

Speaking of the "foggies," below are some of of my sketches and another version of the design I was trying out.
Mushroom and Casserole Dish Sketches.

Working Version of kitchen fabric design.

The rest of my evening will be filled with celebrating my Father's Birthday and the line work on my next postcard. I may be able to squeeze in another nap as well... we'll see!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Putting a little Lilla in my art

Lilla Rogers MAKE ART THAT SELLS Course

Back to school for me!

I've signed up for Lilla Rogers Make Art that Sells (MATS) eCourse. It all begins tomorrow! I'm nervous and excited. Nervous because it's a pretty big commitment. I'm fortunate to not have so much going on right now to participate - just a slow an steady spring clean mixed in with my regular evening sketch sessions. Excited because... come on - Lilla Rogers!

What I'm hoping to get most from this course is the pants kicking I need to pump up my portfolio.

Deep breaths!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Post Conference Giddiness

3/4 of Southern NH Illustration Critique Group: (left to right) Me, Natalie and Sheli.
It's been nearly 2 weeks since leaving the the New England SCBWI conference... Still giddy, but I'm recuperating from all the activity. I've been puttering around trying to clean up some non-picture book illustration works. Some "works" include writing out THANK YOU notes to those whom assisted me at the conference from critiquers, to workshop faculty.

Here's a mini digital dose:

Also I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't thank the ladies from our monthly illustration critique group: Sheli Petersen and Natalie Curtiss. (Go look at their websites!) Extra kudos to Natalie for driving! Also THANK YOU to the insightful Skia Lawrence who's the 4th member from our critique group; whom was unable to attend this year.

Thank you!

Friday, May 03, 2013

Pre Conference Giddiness

Post-it Notes to self: "Don't forget your toothbrush... or hair stuff!"

I will be leaving for the New England SCBWI conference in just a bit. I'm more than ready for an inspiring weekend! If you see me around, don't be shy and say "Hi!"
Say "HI!" :-D 
I will be toting my portfolio around with me all weekend, so if you'd like to take a peek, I'd be happy to show it off:

Portfolio cover.

See you in Springfield! ♥

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Infirm Pachyderm

Illustration contest submission for Jane Yolen's "Infirm Pachyderm".

As one can see, I have been heavily involved with elephants lately. Nothing wrong with that!

The New England SCBWI Conference (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) is only a couple weeks away. I had to pause portfolio preparations to submit to this year's poster illustration contest: Jane Yolen's poem "Infirm Pachyderm". My gut reaction to the first 30 or so reads were all somber. I wanted to gauge other illustrator's responses, so I preformed an image search... same reactions there. Since the poem is written for an audience that's Middle Grade age group at max, I wanted to illustrate a positive spin on the poem's outcome.

Construction the illustration was a little less positive. I'm going to admit I have a weakness with Black & White drawing, so naturally I wanted to cut TONS of grey-scale images! Since my technique dwells on paper texture it's tough to translate the volume for high contrast. To maximize contrasts I tried to deter away from the supremely wrinkled areas, and focused on stronger contrasting color values. Here's my process:
Step 1: Initial elephant sketch.

Step 2: Color blocking with high contrast tones and values.

Step 3: Grey-scale manipulation.
Easy-peasey! Nope. Not for me... It took a while to really get the hang of the HIGH CONTRAST and I'll admit I still need to work at it. Some elephants had to be worked over and over to really get the contrasts just right. Here's an example of that:

Example of an elephant low and high contrast.
I'm very fond of tissue paper for it's dips, tears, ripples, and color variations. It plays against me in Black and White; I kept finding myself feeling out for a flat plain of color, verses the randomized brush strokes I normally seek out when I'm working in full color. In the picture above, the elephant labeled "Low Contrast" was made 100% Green... various light and dark patches, but generally one tone so the green on green does not stand out. All the detail is either lost to the lack of value shifts or overwhelmed by the paper texture. I initially picked GREEN as my seed middle-gray value, then I adjusted each piece to reflect the differing plains by introducing blues and yellows.

I know I did not have to make a GREY elephant, but with the flurry of activity happening on the page, I didn't want it to compete. I started out making the green elephant (100% GREEN,) but I obviously ran into this issue by missing the high contrast values. So in the future, somewhere between my scribble sketch and final line work, I need to sneak in value blocking. I would appreciate any suggestions for value studies.

I've added more of the elephant sketches (and a random ostrich) to the Sketchbook area on my blog. Thanks for peaking at my work!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Sketching tortoise's shell.
The past couple weeks, I've been steadily working on my own picture book. Some questions which keep appearing in my head consist of:
  • Can a tortoise REALLY balance like that?
  • If a giraffe could move like that, how would his legs bend?
  • Should the tortoise have a top hat?
I want my characters to look playful, but have some realistic value, so the top hat is a no-go. As for movement questions, I cannot rely on image searches, nor do I have regular interactions with these animals, so I'm making my own models:

Giraffe skeleton doodle (left) and giraffe wire armature.
I'm still working on this little guy (above). So far, I've bulked up his torso to help me with scale. Ideally, the giraffe will serve as a resource for consistent spot placement... same with the tortoise, who's still in the works - currently just a paper shell form.

I am looking for some assistance with one of my animal studies. The giraffe has been VERY helpful, but now I am in need of a Wildebeest. The Harvard Museum of Natural History has a taxidermy wildebeest on display, but I haven't had any success finding a skeletal study. If anyone has a reference I can follow or can point out a good resource, you'll get a *gold star from me!

Thank you!

*Gold star not actually "gold" but faux gold glitter. Also, it's paper.