Monday, June 27, 2011

Illustration Friday: Midsummer Night

When I think of "midsummer night", I may have fleeting thoughts of Shakespeare, magic and fairies, but they are quickly replaced by the image of the "night lights" we used to keep beside our beds on those warm summer evenings. Midsummer meant staying up late to catch our jarful of lightning bugs (we Hoosiers never called them fireflies), and making our mother promise she'd set them free to fly home after we were asleep.

There was always a book or two on the nightstand with them; it was likely to have been Charlotte's Web, which  holds its own against Shakepeare just fine, in my mind. Keep your fairies and magical forests—I'll take lightning bugs and the Zuckerman barnyard any old midsummer's day.

Note: Obviously, this isn't my usual detailed drawing, and it's less than three inches in size. It started as a little thumbnail sketch for a bigger piece, but I kind of got attached to it. Somehow, a tiny, quiet drawing seemed to best capture the image in my memory.

For more about fireflies, or "lightning bugs", visit this site.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Illustration Friday: Launch

An alien spacecraft preparing to launch?

Nope, it's a passion flower, easily the most exotic plant in my yard, and certainly one of my favorites. And "launch" it does, believe me—I'm constantly hacking back the vines and ripping out new shoots that spring up all over my garden. I have two slightly different varieties in my yard, and both grow like weeds. Better than weeds. It's indestructible. You can't kill it. Hmmm, maybe it is an alien life form after all...

As one might expect from a bloom this intriguing, the passion flower, or passiflora, has quite a bit of lore and legend attached to it. Its name comes from the Passion of Christ, as Spanish missionaries saw all kinds of symbolism in it, which you can read about here . In cultures where Catholicism isn't as widespread, it is sometimes called the clock flower (although there are 10 not 12 petals) or the Maypop—its hollow fruit pops open when you squeeze it.

While fascinating to look at, it's a bit of a challenge to draw. The flower doesn't last long, and closes when the light fades. I intend to try this one again, and hope to show the beautiful vines and leaves, the different stages of the bloom, and the fruit. In the meantime, check out some of these amazing photos...rather bizarre, but so beautiful!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Illustration Friday: Shadows

Prismacolor on black paper

My entry for Illustration Friday this week is a companion piece to one that I did last February for "Reverse". These two drawings are my humble attempt at a bit of trompe-l'oeil, which often relies on the use of shadows to "fool the eye".

Drawing a paper bag, or a crumpled piece of paper, is the kind of exercise one always does in Drawing 101, but I find it fascinating—and it's great for practicing shadows and shades. And taking it a step further, drawing with white pencil on black paper forces you to think "backwards". We're so programmed to drawing on light paper and letting it showing through where the object is the lightest. (Unfortunately, the bit of black pencil that I used to deepen the paper's shadow didn't scan well against the black paper...I must fiddle around with the settings a bit more.)

School's out for the summer (does everyone my age hear Alice Cooper when we utter that phrase?), and there's something so exhilarating about the start of the season. When I was a kid, the beginning of summer meant two things: the opening of the outdoor swimming pools, and the Summer Reading Club at my neighborhood library—once a book geek, always a book geek. This year, summer means more time to draw (I'm determined to participate in every week of IF, and I'm excited to start my sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project, too) but I still plan on lots of reading. I keep my latest reading list on that little widget in my sidebar, if you're interested. And if you have a good book recommendation, add it to your comment.  

Happy Summer!