Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Limited Edition Print: 'SHARON'

The 2020 Mouse Guard 11" x 11" limited ed. print is titled 'Sharon' in honor of my mother who passed away in January. The prints are signed and numbered (to an edition of 300) and are meant to depict something 'pretty' from the world of Mouse Guard (an edict Julia gave me in 2012 that I've listened to ever since.) I tend to name the print not after the mouse depicted, but of the flora that makes up the background, but this year I made an exception for my Mother.

I'll be releasing this print at Emerald City Comic Con and and in my online store soon-after (I'll have it at my other convention appearances throughout the year too). Below are the steps I took to create the piece.

I came up with the idea for the piece the day she died. We were still at the hospital and knew in my heart that the print would have to be about her, and I just saw in my head a mouse looking through stacks of intricately detailed fabrics. I sketched a version a few weeks later (seen in the lower left of this image), and then digitally colored it to block in the forms (upper left) before printing that out larger and doing a proper penciled version on a clean sheet of paper using a lightpad to reference the printout.

My mom was a very accomplished sewer and aspiring quilter. She'd made clothes for every member of our family, paraments and stoles for our church, and handmade Halloween costumes for me in school. She also was a hoarder of fabric. She had more than she ever could have used––even if the Parkinson's hadn't taken away her ability to sew. It took 6 SUV loads to get her collection donated to a local community theater last summer.

I wanted to find some beauty in that idea, and was inspired by Edmund Dulac's Princess and the Pea illustration for the various patterns, quiltings, and embroidery to embellish the material and also make each layer of it different than the surrounding cloth.

With Edmund Dulac's imagery as a guiding point (and color palette), I digitally blocked in the colors for the piece, adding hints about the patterns on the fabrics

Also something I didn't mention earlier is her broach. It's a rose of Sharon done in a Charles Rene Mackintosh stylization. Julia and I have two stained glass windows in our home that have this same design.

I didn't feel like my quick digital color blocking was enough reference for the embroidery for the cloth though––so I did some google image searching to find examples of fabrics I wanted to emulate. The lower center pattern I designed using some shapes from a medieval tile I photographed in Ireland, which I wanted for the piece she was holding.

With the layout printed out (and some of the textures digitally dropped in and warped to match the drape or perspective of the drawing) I taped that printout to the back of a sheet of Strathmore Bristol 300 series 12" x 12" board. On my Huion lightpad I was able to see through the surface of the bristol to the printout to use as a guide while I inked the piece with Copic Multiliner SP pens (the 0.7 nib mainly).

I scanned the inked piece once it was finished and started the color flats. This is when, in Photoshop, I add flat colors to the piece to establish what areas are what colors: her fur is brown, her clothes are a grey-blue, the trim is a darker blue, her exposed skin are peachy, the fabric she's holding is muted red and gold, etc. At this stage, I also established all the color holds. These are areas where I want the lineart to be a color other than black like the markings on the feather in her hat, the lenses of her glasses, and the pattern on almost every piece of fabric.

The last step was to render all the color using the dodge and burn tools (tools in Photoshop for lightening or darkening areas). I use a stock textured brush when I do this process so that my finished piece has some texture to it.

2020 Appearances
FACTS-Ghent Belgium: April 4-5
Heroes Con: June 19-21
San Diego Comic Con: July 22-26
New York Comic Con: October 8-11
Baltimore Comic Con: Oct 23-25

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