Tuesday, May 14, 2013

he best laid schemes of mice and men:
Today's blogpost was scheduled to be the process of making a new and oversized print for my appearance at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live 2 this weekend...unfortunately due to illness, I was never able to start on the art for the piece, so it left me with no file to send to the printer and no blogpost to share. Instead I'm going to share the false start on the print as well as this post.

The plan was do do something larger than our standard 11x17 prints. Ever since seeing my Brave print in person, I wanted to offer Mouse Guard fans a piece with that impact. We settled on 18x24 and had quotes from the printer for that scale. The next trick was to figure out what proportions to draw the art. If I was going to ever re-use the image in a Mouse Guard book, the art had to be twice as wide as tall (the tan area in the diagram) but that left a lot of unused area (red area) on the 18 x 24 paper. I was going to solve this by centering the artwork and using some of the space above and below the print for hand inked lettering, perhaps to look like it was debossed into tilework or carved into stone.

For the main imagery I knew I wanted to flood the background with detail, the mice to be non-violent, and the moment to feel ceremonial:

I looked to the Shorestone Archive Room panels from Black Axe issue #6 for the type of background I wanted to draw, something where the architecture is secondary to the overflowing amount of books and bottles and papers and scrolls and boxes that clutters it.

For the mice, I decided to go with a knighting ceremony vibe...but instead of the kneeling mouse being tapped about the head and neck with a scepter or sword, it would be with an overly large writing quill (a feather), and the mouse would perhaps even be surrendering the weapon. I sketched the two characters and scanned & tinted them to get ready for the final laoyout.

The last step before drawing the piece was to figure out the background. Uninspired by drawing something up, I wanted a framework that was already interesting I could cram full of books and scrolls and artifacts. I built a model using bristol board, basswood, and cardboard. It was while finishing up the model that my already annoying sinus infection and fever got the better of me.

So that is where this piece and blogpost are left. As I type this late Monday night, I am on the mend, but certainly not back to 100%. The deadline to have anything at the printer that could be turned around for Spectrum is long past. I hope to resurrect this piece soon...though I may not do it as a print, but rather as a cover...or perhaps draw it and use it for both. I apologize for not having this ready for Spectrum, I apologize for not having a more insightful blogpost for this week...but I'm glad I was able to share the honest information about plans going awry. 

Watercolor Wednesday: 
The watercolor pieces from last week were a fun family portrait idea. It started with the simple joy of wanting to paint animals in clothes...which I always enjoy. But after I painted the 'father' figure, I didn't want to paint a Rhino for the 'mother'. And in reaction to the editorial info I got when doing my Snowy Valentine children's book, I decided to make an animal family that made no sense. I was told when doing that book that I couldn't have different species in love because it brought up too many questions for kids...the editorial staff seemed very concerned about what the offspring would be like and how a kid's brain could/would process that idea.

So the alligator mum seemed both a bad match for the rhino, and also a counter-intuitive choice for a motherly figure. Once I had the two adults in the relationship painted...it was time to give them a son.

The snake seems a little too close in species to the mother figure for me to have made the best example I was trying to make (This is all fun-time pretend stories, animals don't wear clothes, so we can pretend that any species loves another and somehow has a very different species they call 'son') but it was fun to paint a snake as a little boy (if he had a back pocket, I'd have given him a slingshot)

2013 Appearances: 
Spectrum Live: May 17-19
Heroes Con: June 7-9
San Diego Comic Con: July 17-21
*more 2013 dates coming*

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