Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lady Oscar Book

I'm so excited to be able to talk about what I previously referred to as "the Italian Project" (blog post March 10, 2015).  Call me superstitious, but I've had an exciting fantasy book project by major publisher go down the drain after all images had been submitted by all contributing artists, and ever since that happened, I've kind of developed the cynical, "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude (You know, for someone who tries to be a subscriber of the Law of Abundance/Attraction, this is really not what it's all about. lol).  So I'm extra psyched that this once came into being.

This Italian-language publication by award-winning journalist, Valeria Arnaldi, is called "Lady Oscar".  For those of you who are not familiar with the Japanese manga, and its anime adaptation that came later, it was originally called Berusaiyu no Bara (ベルサイユのばら) in Japanese, or The Rose of Versailles in English, by a famous mangaka Riyoko Ikeda, and the manga started in1972 with anime adaptation starting in 1979.  *Read the Wiki for more info right here for plot and other info.  It really was ahead of its time in so many ways, and was enormously popular in Japan and beyond.  Her book is an analytical look at this manga/anime - the main character of Oscar in particular - from history to social impact, and includes some artwork from various artists from around the world.

The fans of the anime series will recognize the cover art immediately as the vignette from the beginning of the opening theme.

I was fortunate to receive an e-mail from Valeria ealier this year about using my Marie Antoinette illustrations.  Imagine my delight as I read her e-mail.  After all, both the manga series and the anime series were one of my favorites from childhood.  I definitely had a doodle phase where every hair looked like Oscar's and every rose looked like Ikeda-sensei's. lol  It's amazing for me to see my childhood joy of drawing come full circle after so many years and to let me come across a fantastic tribute opportunity such as this one!  It's all the more amazing that art is my living now despite years of discouragement and derailment from friends and relatives about becoming a 'starving artist' (Somehow in their minds, these two words were inseparable and can only co-exist within this phrase.  Just horrible...  ^^;  )

One of my Marie illustrations.  This one obviously pokes fun at the "Let them eat cake" quote that historians say was wrongly attributed to her.  But oh, how fun to play with it anyway!

I can't wait to see the book in the mail.  Valeria is kindly mailing all included artists a copy of her book, and I'm so excited! :D  I don't speak or read Italian, but I'm sure I'll enjoy looking through the book.  So cool!

On another front, one of my favorite local shops downtown contacted me about carrying my coloring books yesterday.  We'll be figuring out the details in coming weeks, and I'm so happy about this, too.  There are lots of book stores and gift shops, but this one is really special.  I've been shopping there since before I got married to my husband even!  The place is stuffed full of all the cool, beautiful, awesome, wonderful things in gifts, music, art, books, etc.  Our most recent purchase from there was a beautiful Medicine Buddha statuette.  I feel I'm getting to work with people and companies that I love and enjoy working with more and more these days.  I think we all have the tendency of making mistakes when we first start out in art, or in any field for that matter, by jumping onto the first offers that come along.  I've had my share of regrettably bad decisions over the years, but learned from these to better sniff out what I really like from those I don't care much about.  One thing that has become much easier to do is the act of saying 'no' to things I don't like or wish to be a part of, and it's great.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Peony Pyrography Project Finished


I was finally able to take some pictures of this wood burn project (7.5 x 9.5 inches) this afternoon when we had a nice break from the rain.  The sky cleared up, the sun came out, and I was able to make use of nice indirect sunlight.  ^_^

Since the humidity was high all day due to rain showers since last night, I haven't had a chance to put clear matte acrylic coats on this wood yet, but the burning and tinting are done.  It's a nice little feng shui decoration for the wall as peony signifies beauty and love.  And this is an image of a "pair" of blooms.


Here's a close-up of the shading and coloring.  I mix my own colors out of paint that come out of tubes.  The paint was thinned a lot with water, very much like how I normally paint with watercolor on paper.  But I liked the way the basswood just drinks it all up very quickly.  It's probably a good idea for me to let the wood dry out completely by leaving this alone for a few days.  Western Colorado is usually very arid with less than 10% humidity for average, but because of the showers, the humidity is much higher at the moment.


This wood piece had pretty routed edges, and I just couldn't resist expanding the image past the surface area onto the edge - but only on the right side of the image.  ^_^

I had so much fun with this project.  I like working with wood, and I most definitely like the smell of burning wood.  I also love drawing, so I feel it's only natural that I enjoy wood burning so much. :D  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Peony Pyrography Project Part 2

WIP 4 - burning complete
This project went faster than I expected.  :D  I'm finished with the wood burning of this 7.5 x 9.5 inch panel.  Between going to the store and running other errands after writing today's earlier post, I was able to finish shading the petals of the flower #2 (on the right) and shade the leaves as well.

WIP 3 - flower #2 (on the right) finished
I mulled over different options for the shading of the leaves, and finally decided to do crosshatching.   I will be giving the flowers transparent tint tomorrow, so hopefully, the leaves will be dark enough for now.


The leaves kind of 'wrap' over the edge to the right.  It was tricky to burn these lines since the surface is curved. ^^;  Something different and fun.

I'm done for the day.  I'll get my watercolor out tomorrow and give transparent color - hoping for red and pink - to the blooms.  ^_^  And once that's done, I'll take better pics during daylight hours in a brighter room.

UPDATE (April 24, 2015) - Finished giving the two blooms tints of watercolor.  I like the way it came out.  This is just a quick snapshot in poor light as it is past 6:30 pm and sun is way low in the western sky.  I'll take a better pic during the mid day in indirect sunlight (That is... if we don't get hit by a storm tomorrow. ^^;   *fingers crossed* )  This is only my second wood burn project and the first one that I colored.  I think it's fun to add color, although I love the look of burned lines on wood the way it is very much.  I've worked some more on the colors after I took this photo, so the final image is  going to be a little different.  ^_^   As an Asian, I grew up looking at drawings of peonies and chrysanthemums.  So this piece feels a little nostalgic - strangely enough, considering I just finished it.

WIP 5 - with watercolor tint on the blooms

Peony Wood Burn Project

When I went supply shopping the other day after finishing the rooster project, I needed to get me a can of clear matte acrylic finish to put on my first project.  I also went looking for additional points for my Versa Tool since I really wanted the flow point in a smaller size.  The one that came with my Versa Tool is nice, but a little too thick for my drawing style.  ^^;  The local shop had an assorted pack of 5 additional points, and luckily for me, one of which was the 'mini flow point'.  *score*  Even though I ended up with four extra points that I didn't have immediate need for (or duplicates), it was still a good deal.   I was able to finish the rooster project and wood burn my signature and year on the back with the new mini flow point.  *happy*


Now I'm working on the second wood burn project.  This time, it's a nice rectangle piece of basswood with beveled edges.  Main burning surface measuring 7.5 x 9.5 inches (I'm guessing that the back side measurement would be 8 x 10.).  I originally sketched out a design on a piece of scrap paper.  Realized it was a tad too big for the project piece, so I scanned the image and reduced the size by 10%.  Then really needed a carbon paper - the good old-fashioned carbon paper that used to be used copies of receipts and whatnot.  I had to do a shopping search online and found out they sold it at nearby Office Max.  Off I went.  I was looking in the regular office supply zone where they sell different kinds of paper.  Finally I had to ask for help of a store associate.  ^^;  He took me to the far wall past computers and printers where they actually had typewriters in stock! I couldn't help but blurt out, "Oh, wow!  Didn't know you guys still sold these things.  Now it makes perfect sense that you'd carry carbon paper right here.".  The guy told me they sell almost one a day!  Who knew?

With the carbon paper in place, I was able to trace my sketch onto the piece of wood without making a huge mess with graphite.  No smudging, and it didn't require excessive pencil pressure, either.  *nice*


It was getting kind of late, but I went ahead and used my new 'mini flow point' to do the outline.  This baby is so smooth.  It was fun to burn the outline. :D  The tiny details in the center of the flowers were burned with a 'mini universal tip'.


Replaced the tip to the regular universal tip to do the shading of the petals with stippling technique.  ^_^  I'm liking the way this is turning out so far. :D  After I write up this post (thus have a break), I'll get back to the flower to the right, and off to do the leaves.  Haven't decided how I'll shade the leaves yet, but I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to think about it as I work on the second flower's shading.  Will be back with more WIP shots either later today or tomorrow.

Oh, and while I was shopping for the can of clear acrylic and a set of burner points, I did pick up a wooden trinket box. :D  It was ridiculously inexpensive, but I saw potential in the shape.  Yes, lots of potential! :D

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rooster Pyrography Project

I'm so glad that I was able to get back to this project that I started back in January and finish it.  Always hate having unfinished projects laying around.  I tend to like getting things done in one sitting straight.  I also tend to lose track of time and get so into what I'm doing that I forget to eat and the only break I take is for nature calls. LOL  But larger projects, and some techniques like stippling, require more time, and I will have to spread these projects over days or weeks, and it is when things have to be spread over a longer span of time when I risk failing to complete them.  Everybody knows how life has a way of getting in the way of things we want to accomplish.  Cats make a mess, house needs cleaning, meals need cooking, etc.  Sometimes I miss being single and carefree.  Stay up all night long to finish up something in the heat of the moment, enjoying the flow.  Art process is way more fun when you don't have to be disturbed with stuff like family member's needs and tedious everyday routine of being human. XD


So I took a day off from the art stuff I do for money and did something that was more fun for me.  It's the all important 'me' time!  Basically, this project sat with just the background left.  I wanted to darken the negative space with a little more gradation, but alas, my skill as a pyrography newbie was not up to the task. ^^;  I was using the 'shading tool', which I wasn't too crazy about, even after hours of using it.  I need to go shopping at the arts & crafts supply store and see if they have some more tips that I can add to my set.

Although I'm not 100% happy with the way the dark part turned out, I'm happy with my first effort at wood burning.  It was FUN!  And I got to make a little chicken art! :D  I'm a crazy chicken lady, and I needed something to put on my wall that shows my love for these birds.  Now I got one.

I think I'll put a clear matte finish on this piece of basswood, and then put a hanging hardware on the back and call it finished. ^_^  Ahhh, what a good feeling to see a project through.


I still have three more pieces of wood that I can burn from my Christmas present stash.  Next, I'd like to do something with spot color.  Thinking maybe an image of peony blooms with watercolor shading... or something with fantasy theme.

I have so many projects that I want to get into this year.  More pyrography for sure.  Also doll making.  And I definitely want to make time to work on the book illustrations that I've been sitting on for a few years.  I hope that the family life settles down enough to allow me to really get into all these things.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Early Birthday Surprise

Although I'm getting up there in my age, I still like birthday celebrations.  It's the child-like parts (those who know me very well might argue it's 'childish' rather than 'child-like' in this case...) of me who still feel excited about a birthday approaching and feel delighted if someone remembers it.  And I'd say that in any creative line of work, staying child-like is a vital character of a creative mind.  You have to be able to feel the wonder in the ordinary and appreciate things with fresh perspective.  This is how I'll always justify my 'childish'... ahem, 'child-like' qualities.

I LOVE getting cards from designers and crafters from all over the world.  I LOVE stuff coming through the snail mail - well, maybe except for the bills.  I like shopping online.  I like seeing the mail man/woman come up the walkway to my mailbox.  I like seeing the dark brown UPS truck pull up in front of my house.  You get the picture.

The other day, I received a spectacular gift from my dear friend, Lorraine, in England.  And yes, the packages and envelopes with the Queen's stamps on, which travel across the pond, just seem extra special.  It's not every day that I get international mail (especially with postage being so prohibitively expensive).  She kindly let me know that a package was on the way without divulging the content.  Unfortunately, contrary to the estimated date of delivery as predicted by the Royal Mail employee, the package was taking its dear time once it was in the hands of the US Postal Service.  ^^;  I usually have lots of nice things to say about USPS, believe it or not, and I'm always nice to USPS people.  But this package was taking so long that we were both starting to worry. LOL

I'm glad to tell you that it eventually found its way safely to my mailbox.  The contents were so carefully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly wrapped in multiple layers of bubble wrap with a note reminding me to be careful while opening it.  I sat down on the floor so I won't drop it while unwrapping the bubble wrap. :D  And I saw this amazing beauty appear!!!  It took my breath away.


I recognized the image immediately as my "Winter Lullaby", and couldn't believe how unique and beautiful this wood sculpture was.  Lorraine had asked her husband to make this for me for my birthday. :D
It requires quite an artistic eye and planning (if not an outright extraordinary prescience) to transform a 2-dimensional illustration (a very loose one at that) into a 3-D wood sculpture, cut from a single piece of wood!  I sat there and admired it in my hands for who knows how long, admiring, trying to figure out how each elements were kept intact while allowing for lines and definition with cuts.  Amazing! :D

And since I'm always the one cleaning after the cats, and I have declared in the past, "This is why we can't have nice things - we have cats!", I had but one place of honor to put this beauty - in my curio, which was a birthday present many years ago from my hubby.  Protection from dust and elements, definitely, but also from curious and mischievous cats! :D  


Here's a quick snap shot I took while taking a break to open the package when it first arrived. :D  Gives you a rough idea of the size, standing next to a 6x6 handmade card by Lorraine, which also came in the package. ^_^

So this happy girl is starting the birthday celebration early (and I milk it all the way through to Mother's Day, which, in the US, is the second Sunday of May).  Teehee~!  With my child soon graduating from high school, the ridiculously early morning (5:45 am Mon through Fri) will be over.  Weather is steadily warming up.  Things are blooming (and Flonase is now available without prescription lol).  Yep, there's a lot to be thankful and happy for.





Thursday, April 2, 2015

Another Celebration at Stamps by AuroraWings FB Group

I'll be hosting another celebration tomorrow! :D  This time, we are celebrating the 2,250 members milestone.  We just had a party when we hit 2,000 back in February, but I enjoy these events.  And members always seem to have fun. :D


Since Sunday is Easter, this celebration will be just Friday and Saturday, with the color contest running through next week to give everyone some time to play.  Other than that, it's pretty much the same format as all the parties I've hosted online in the past.  Fun and games with prizes and a freebie.  Speaking of a freebie, I just finished it about an hour ago.  ^^;  Talk about cutting it close!  Not my idea.  It's just that spring is a busy time with cleaning, garden tending, etc.  At least, Jr. is still off from school for spring break, so I can sleep a tiny bit longer than usual in the morning, and the household gets to experience a little less stress.  I'll be glad when school gets out for summer.

Back to the topic of the celebration tomorrow.  We'll be kicking off the weekend event with a new release showcase over at the AW Showcase Blog.  I've got a really well-organized ladies over at the Showcase, so it's always a pleasure.  Everything is all set and ready to go as I write. :D *awesome*

Then I'll be posting games/contests where different prizes will be offered.  I'll probably have more long-duration contests than short-duration ones this time to keep it easier for me.  It's crazy to have to scroll down so many comments, counting the total entries and then locating the random winner(s).  ^^;

I'll be finishing a brand new digi here tonight as a special 'free gift with purchase' offer during the weekend.  This is separate from the freebie digi I'll be giving out regardless of whether or not the members want to participate in the coloring contest.  As I mentioned earlier, this one is finished and ready. :D

There are lots of things I'll have to keep track of - like activating the new release at the shops and making sure the blog is live and links actually work. I've done this many times since last year, but it's always a little hurried and slightly stressful, unfortunately. LOL

I hope to see lots people there popping in and out at the FB group this weekend (April 3 & 4, 2015).  If you're not a member yet, be sure to request to join and either I or a member of the admins will approve your request in a timely manner.  The freebie will be only available at the group, so this is crucial. ;)

I'm off to finish the new Sprite!