Time to begin laying color!

Today I begin the second phase of illustrating Ron, a picture book for Dutton. In the first phase, I worked completely monochromatic, using Payne’s Gray watercolor. The second phase will involve overlaying transparent oil colors, and then topping off with opaque highlights.

Actually, I began the second phase last week, but realized I wasn’t ready. My images were too heavy on the middle tones, with not enough contrast. So I sealed the watercolor base and worked out the contrast issues with Titanium White and Mars Black acrylic paint.

I spent the weekend adding subtle details, correcting some inconsistencies, and then, with a clothes iron, I ironed the paintings flat. Even with the heavier paper, my paintings were warped. I had planned to take a few more days to refine the underpaintings, honestly, I’d only be procrastinating. As I said before, this is a new technique for me, so I’m very nervous. At this point, there’s no turning back. There’s not enough time to start over and return to my more familiar technique, where I create a very loose Burnt Sienna underpainting (to use as a guide only), and then paint over it with opaque acrylics.

Today I take the plunge. I’ll try to post some in-progress shots as I work. I’ll be buried for the next month, or so. I’ll try to post some in-progress shots later.

Side note: The book, on my table, peeking in from the left, it’s Probuditi by Chris Van Allsburg. Inspiration. Chris is a master at creating monochromatic images.

Color me studied…

Lately, I’ve had color studies on the brain. In the long run, I know that doing them before setting to work on a piece is a necessary step to take, especially when working in traditional media. But I always worry that over-thinking a piece, (which includes over-thinking the color study) leeches life and energy from my work. As a safe compromise, what I usually end up doing is just one quick color study, before setting to work. This can often tell me just as much about where I don’t want to go with the color, as where I do want to go with it.

One quick scribble can inform a lot. In terms of the color study part of the process, I don’t generally over-think them, because they’re not my favorite part. Quick color studies are, for me, like ‘eating your vegetables’ (although in real life, I do like vegetables… but the equivalent as a figure of speech!) I enjoy the immediacy of choosing colors on-the-fly, the thrill of having to ‘make it work’ if I need to quickly switch gears and revise a color choice that may not be working with the rest of the piece. Fun stuff! That is part of what I love about being an artist — that immediacy, the unknown, the ‘make it work’ aspect (sometimes against all odds)! But that’s the “color-rebel thrill-seeker” in me talking, and these days, that ‘thrill-seeker color rebel” only comes out to play when I’m working on non-client work. So, I still like to walk the tightrope, but I don’t do it without a net!

At the end of the day, one 5-minute color study can save hours of illustration “first aid”!

Drawing Dana

Once a week, I do art with a few artist moms from my daughter’s old school. We all work on different projects most of the time, but recently we occasionally started hiring a model–Dana. She’s been great—she comes up with imaginative and interesting poses, doesn’t get restless or impatient. It’s been a valuable and humbling experience—I was surprised and chagrined to find out how much of a challenge it was (as were my friends)! If a gesture drawing is a sort of visual equivalent of a sit-up, boy was I in sorry shape. Yes, I could draw our model with relative accuracy, and knowledge and technique started to come back as I got into the swing of things, but it required discipline and concentration I wasn’t used to. Odd, since I draw people all the time for most of my illustration jobs, and can put in long days when I need to. I’ve heard any number of illustrators complain about no longer keeping a sketchbook–and I’ve been one of them. I’ve been getting illustration work, and my style isn’t particularly realistic, and I guess I’d been thinking I get more than enough drawing practice.

Nope. Drawing Dana has made me understand what got lost when I started letting the sketchbook gather dust.

I started doing art in the first place because I couldn’t stop doodling when I was a kid—paper, cardboard, schoolwork, the occasional dresser. In some of my art school classes, we had to keep a sketchbook, and my drawing and observation skills improved with all the life-drawing I did. There was discipline—and joy. But my sketchbook became more than a place to draw things I saw. It became a repository of words, pictures and ideas. I could be serious, playful, ridiculous. My sketchbook was a place to explore, create and develop my identity—my voice as an artist.

I make art when I do illustration, but that doesn’t make me an artist true to myself—I need the discipline—and joy of a sketchbook for that.

Hittin the streets… edited

Whoops! That first post of mine wasn’t really finished. Didn’t mean for it to get submitted, my bad.

Ok anyways, to continue the thoughts started there, I was thinking about packing up my trusty portfolio and brushing up on on my pronunciation of the mysterious silent “u” in words like colour and flavour and then seeing if impresses any of those euro folk. I mean, I even really like the original british “The Office” TV show, which is only eclipsed by Ricky Gervais’ follow up, “Extras”. So I already have a head start on the british humour.

I wondered if we could hear from some of our fellow illustrators who might have any sort of experience with publishers outside of the US. I’m specifically curious about the UK and finding out if it even seems like a good idea to visit their offices there. Have other artists tried it and how did it go? I’m a little rusty on my geography and wondered if there was any sort of NY city equivalent where a lot of publishing houses are gathered fairly close by and would be a good central point of attack? If anyone has some stories of experiences outside of the UK too though those would surely be nice to hear as well. I ain’t picky.

So yeah, any thoughts, stories, insights are welcome fodder for conversation

PS, I don’t know how the formatting of this post will come out. No matter what I try when composing it, when I hit preview it all runs together with no paragraph breaks. Ah well.

The recession hit my canvas

Recently, my wife and I were watching CNN. They were discussing the so-called recession. I turned to my wife and asked, “What recession? Other than the high price of gas, I haven’t noticed any downturn in our family economy.”

My wife cut her eyes at me and said, “You haven’t noticed a downturn because I handle the family finances. We are in a recession.”

I still wasn’t convinced. Long as I got a roof over my head, food on the table, and shoes on my feet, I don’t complain. But today I went to the art supply store to restock my supply of oil paint. Now I’m complaining!

A normal tube of oil paint costs in the neighborhood $8.99, depending upon the color and brand. And I buy the cheap stuff. The prices are now about $3.00 more. The old prices were scratched out and the new, more expensive, prices were scribbled in with a Sharpie. A sales associate saw the expression on my face and asked if I needed any help. I said, “Yes, you could help me to mark these prices back to where they should be. Why are they so expensive?”

“The cost of oil is $107.00 per barrel,” he said. “More expensive oil, more expensive oil paint.”

Ouch! I never considered that. I guess we are in a recession.

T2 Artists in the Blogosphere

Hello, everyone! The T2 artists have been great colleagues, and I’ve enjoyed being a part of this “team.”

This is set to be a great blog, and I can’t wait to see what you fellow artists have to say – check out some of the T2 artists that are already blogging:

Great stuff!

T2 artists: If I’ve missed your link, send it in and I’ll add you to the list!

Let’s Get Going

Hello T2 Artists and fellow creatives who are visiting this new T2 Blog for the first time.  Welcome.

My name is Nicole Tugeau, and I’m the agent behind the fantastic T2 Team. 

I’m a green blogger.  This is my first post….ever. 

But I’m not a luddite.  No way.  In fact, my husband, Jeremy, calls my Blackberry my “boyfriend.”  Yes, I’m one of those annoying people who is always working, compulsively checking emails, and typing away on that silly little pad or my roaming laptop.  But such is my life as a Mom of two young children and working agent.  Technology has afforded me a lot of headaches, but it has also provided me with a lot of flexibility.  I’m a huge fan.  

I guess blogging isn’t ‘technology,’ per se.  It’s more a byproduct of people + technology.  Or, better, the ART of people + technology.  Like I said, I’m a newbe, but the blogs I’ve been reading lately have been really, really funny, extremely smart, and very entertaining.  Others have been odd, boring, and uninformative.  But that’s the point!  We all gravitate to the blog (the art) of our liking.

My vision for the T2 Blog is….well, a community of sorts.  Up and to this point, I wasn’t convinced that I had the time to write and support a daily, weekly, or even monthly post.  It was the artist, Carol Koeller, who one day questioned whether or not we’d ‘all’ (as in the whole team of T2 Artists) have the opportunity to post on the T2 Blog.  There was an idea!  I would no longer have to conversate with myself.  I wouldn’t have to ask the artists to submit conversation ideas, news items, illustrations, etc.  I wouldn’t have ‘something else’ to mangae or remember to do.  We could all ‘blog on’ — the 30+ of us — and with any luck, we’d have a rich exchange of artistic ideas, experiences, thoughts, art, information, questions, and converstaions.

I fancy myself a bit of a writer, and I’m passionate about this industry.  So I hope to contribute to this blog my perspective and experience as an art agent working in children’s publishing.  Keeping in mind this is a very public forum, I obviously won’t be giving up my secret clients or revealing information about book deals and hot assignments (that would be one way to gain popularity!).  But I’m sure I’ll stumble upon many general experiences that are appropriate for sharing.  I’m also a mother, wife, and entrepreneur, and I run the T2 Agency from the 3rd floor suite of our 100-year-old Victorian home – there is enough meat in all of that to blog for eternity – so you’ll be hearing from me.  

T2 Artists: I encourage you to start blogging.  I’ve created three categories for posts and I belive they are self-explanatory:

Say Anything

Technical 411/ 911

Aritst Announcements

As acting Site Administrator, I will have to review your posts before they go live (please give me 1-3 days).  Mostly, this is a function to help distribute timing.  For instance, if an artist posts information about their big book singing, I woudn’t want that information to get buried by three new posts within the first 10 minutes of going live.  

Please let me know if you have any quesitons.

Three cheers for the T2 Blog. 

Let’s get going!