Sunday, January 26, 2014

Goals for 2014

 Important Stuff
  1. Have Quiet Time every morning. Even if its 10 minutes. 
  2. Memorize Colossians and Isaiah 40-46
  3. Read Genesis in Hebrew. And Read a Psalm to the kids in Hebrew at breakfast. Work through my old Hebrew book.
Art & Stories
  1. Write up Even-Katom and illustrate it.
  2. Write up Where the Lilies Truly Grow (as a child's book? Or a Novella?) and illustrate it
  3. Write up The Woodcutter's Wife and the Wolf-King and illustrate it (think of as 1.0)
  4. Finish my Jesus and Adam and Eve (Eden, Fall, Expulsion, Annunciation, Nativity, Crucifixion, Harrowing of Hell w/ Adam and Eve) icon-poster set, make also the abbreviated version (Temptation, Fall, Expulsion, Annunciation, Crucifixion, Harrowing all inscribed on a Tympanum style hanging). Maybe even a doors of bishop Bernward...
  5. Start and Finish my Hebrew Jesus set (Nativity, Circumcision/Aqeda, Jesus Healing/Isaiah 53/Purification stuff?, Crucifixion/Sacrifice, Harrowing of Hell[non-traditional]. Need to plan this one out a bit more.
  6. "Work on" The Morning People

Friday, January 24, 2014

Illustrating Children's Books: Some Analysis of the Greats

So I have been thinking about my woefully inadequate attempts at illustrating my children's books, and how I am going to learn how to paint. I decided I have to get an idea of what I am aiming for, and thus rounded up some of my favorite illustrators.

1. Beatrix Potter, whose pictures are somehow so full of wonder....
Evidently I am not alone, C.S. Lewis mentioned experiencing wonder from Beatrix Potter's illustrations as a child. There's so much beauty in them. Especially the misty backgrounds, you can feel the morning sun and mist. OK---So practical notes here. It appears to be line (ink?) drawings, on watercolor backgrounds, filled in with watercolor (and maybe gouache?).

2. Brian Wildsmith.
I love his use of color and gold illumination, it also filled me with wonder as a child, how everything in the picture meant something, how there were meaningful secrets tucked into the details of the pictures.

pix from this blog These are from "A Christmas Story" Isaiah's favorite

Note the gold illumiated window, with the cross-beams highlighted...and the position of Baby Jesus' arms as he learns how to walk....
He seems to be using pencil outlines, with watercolor and gouache to fill it out....

3. Ivan Bilibin
He's THE fairy tale illustrator.
Love his use of borders, of dark and light, and his superb line drawings.

Again, he seems to use line drawing (ink?) and fill it in with watercolor (or gouache??). His colors cut off more at the lines than Potter or Wildsmith.

4. Jenny Dolfen
And then there's this absolutely amazing artist my siblings found on the internet, "Gold-Seven" on deviantart, Jenny Dolfen. She draws the most amazing and heart-wrenching pictures of Hannibal's struggle against Rome. Her website is here. Her Tolkien illustrations are pretty amazing too, she is the only artist I have ever seen who really captures Gandalf. Check out her galleries, they are amazing.
She really  makes you care about Hannibal. From her website
She has a lot of helpful tutorials on her blog. She does line art, and then paints it in with watercolors. If I could be one third as good as her, I would be very happy indeed.

5. Trina Schart Hyman
I stumbled across her art as an adult.

Hyman seems to use extensive pencil line drawing (with shading and cross-hatching and all) that is then painted over. There's a lot more pencil than the other 4 illustrators we've looked at so far.
It's very fairy-tale-ish. For me, it has a little less wonder in it than Bilibin, Potter, and Dolfen....but I don't know if that's style or my mental associations with having people fleshed out with pencil so much. Watercolor seems to leave more up to the imagination somehow...

So in conclusion, the kind of illustration style that I really like is some form of line art (ink or pencil, but not too heavy) with watercolor and gouache.
Since the best way to learn from them is to copy them, like the apprentices of yore, one of my goals this year is to mimic them.
This year, I'm going to go over and analyze and try to copy in some small way each of these illustrators in turn. First I need to get one of those "Watercolor 101" type of books from the library.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What They Wore Sunday, and Captain America playing in leaves and fighting over buckets.

I dressed them up. They were too cute not to show off.

Jenny inspects the headlights

Jenny inspects the other headlight, Isaiah inspects the windshield...

But most of the time they wear this
He is obsessed with wearing it every day.

And then there's them playing in leaves and fighting over learning to share with buckets.

Just checking if there was anything to drink in the bucket....

And then I leave you the Saga of the Fallen Pretzel....

Friday, January 17, 2014

Letters to my Daughter: Love and Marriage and all that

picture credit here

Dearest Snooglepops,
You are little enough that I can call you that. I'm writing you these letters, as I think about things. I don't know what the future holds. This is for you one day, when you are thinking about things.

There's so much angst in life, people trying to find love. My age bracket. So much loneliness and pain and longing to be loved and to love. And crazy messed up relationships. And people breaking eachother's hearts. And people using eachothers' hopes and hearts for their own gain. And people just suffering, suffering, just wanting to be happy.

It hurts. I watch from the place of someone, who for no reason of deserving or being x y z, was given Daddy. And you guys. Your little faces that are enough to die on a hill for.
But that does not mean it doesn't touch me. It has, from so many sources. It hurts to watch people you love hurt.

It seems the field is littered with dead principles, shards of hearts, broken promises, even aborted marriages, and so so much loneliness. Even some that get married, still lonely, still hurting. And so many, just longing for a shoulder to cry on, just longing for little people and the purpose and joy that they bring.

Marriage isn't about being happy. Marriage isn't about being fulfilled. Marriage isn't about giving you purpose (or kids).
Marriage is about dying, every day, a little more, to yourself. Your husband's greatest job is not to be your comfort, your rock, your provider, your protector, your emotional support, etc (although those are all good things).

Your husband's greatest job is to get you ready for heaven. And your greatest job is to get him ready for heaven. Whatever it takes. Sandpaper or oil. However it turns out. For better or for worse as far as your happiness or emotional fulfillment is concerned. But those are both tools in God's hands, the oil and the sandpaper, all for refining.

There are many many lonely people in marriage. There are many childless people in marriage. There many are disillusioned suffering people in marriage.
But this does not mean that the marriage has failed, that they should go and look to make new marriages, or even new emotional relationships to fill the empty place. It is the sandpaper. It is the fire. It is unhappiness in the bonds of an oath made to God, whose guiding beacon remains the same. Whose purpose remains the same.

But the purpose is the same, in singleness and marriage.

Life is the crucible, the Refiners fire, the preparation for heaven. Its a steep high road, with lots of rocks and pitfalls. Your husband is there, alongside of you, to help you in that climb. You are there, to help him.
Singleness (and note that most of the saints we still talk about were) is climbing that mountain alone, though in both marriage and singleness there are often others that help along the way.

The purpose is to climb that mountain. To suffer, to be tried, refined, and purified. To be made more and more into the image of Jesus, until the day we breath our last, and are able to see Him face to face.

Life is about God. All the other stuff, is just secondary, are just tools, preparing us for Him. Marriage is God's tool. Singleness is God's tool. Joy is God's tool. Suffering is God's tool. Loneliness is one of God's tools.
The loneliness in the single life is very painful. I speak as one who has not suffered this, being a twin and then a wife. But I have witnessed it in many others. It is one of the greatest sufferings.
And I see people who suffer that in marriage. And silently, for to complain or seek emotional closeness somewhere else would be wrong.
But loneliness is God's tool. The old desert fathers recognized this. They embraced it.
"It is not good for the man to be alone"
Its not good. But God can make good come out of it.

And you will never actually be alone. For God is always with you. Closer than your breath.
We were made for God. Not for happiness on this earth, not for a beautiful home and a loving husband, or even a jerky husband and adorable kids, or whatever else we set as the "bare minimum" for what we want in life.

But its not about this life.

We were made for God. To see his face. To get over that mountain, and be remade, for we will see Him as He truly is.

Everything on this earth is tools or interesting rock-formations along the way.

You were made for God. For his face rising over the edge of the mountain and sky. Keep your word. Hold fast to what you know is right.Never take your eyes off him.

                 Love, (your very imperfect and selfish, and needs to read this 10x) Mom

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Elven Interior Decorating Continued : How to make Elven Lanterns (inspired by "Moroccan Lamps") out of Posterboard, tissue paper, and an electric candle

So here is my tutorial on DIY Elven lamps from posterboard, tissue paper, and an electric (Christmas Decor) candle.


"Moroccan Lamp" inspired Elven lanterns, from poster board and tissue paper. For really cheap.

So I had posted how much I loved Moroccan lanterns, how Elven they looked. I want to hang up a bunch throughout my house, the way the elves strung lanterns between the trees.
I alas, neither had the budget for that (cheapest lanterns, 15 bucks x 10....yeah..), nor the skill to make my own out of metal (and while I still hope to do that one day, adding up the cost of sheet metal and jeweler's saws and all, it still not be cheap)

I brainstormed a bit before, especially after seeing Helen Hiebert's Shadow Lantern, and then last night all the pieces came together.

And I made this. For cheap. Really really cheap. So now I can make 10 for under 10 bucks (not counting the electric candles. Check Christmas Clearance for those).

You will need:
  • White tissue paper (the kind you stuff gift bags with)
  • Scotch tape 
  • Double sided tape (optional)
  • Posterboard
  • Spray Paint
  • An electric candle, the kind that uses a 4 watt night light bulb. (Usually a Christmas Decoration)
The tools you will need are
  • Utility Knife
  • Cutting mat (can use a few layers of posterboard, or a large piece of scrapwood)
  • Pencil with eraser

  1. Posterboards usually come 22"x28", I used half a posterboard, cutting a piece about 11.5 x 22" and folding it into fourths (make sure they are nice and crisp folds as you can manage).
  2. Then I drew (or stencil) with the pencil the design onto each panel, leaving a 3/4-1" border on each panel for the edges.
  3. Here's the long part, cut out the cutouts with the utility knife. I've found cutting from non-shiny side to shiny side made for the cleanest cut. Not exactly sure why. Plug away, its worth it.
  4. Now spray paint the thing your color of choice. I did gold metallic spray paint. I'm going to try not spray painting it at all and trying a white-on-white look like lace. You could do black, and use colored tissue paper for a stained glass look.
  5. Tape tissue paper panels to the inside, using the scotch tape and the double sided tape.
  6. Tape it together, put the candle (no more than 4 watts! That's all I can vouch for. And you know fire risk and all that, make sure the electric candle is smack in the middle and not pushed up against any of the sides. If you want to use more wattage, then brainstorm for more fire resistant materials or something)
  7. Glory in your success....
See, make sure the bulb isn't pressed against an edge...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Some Unfinished Paintings & the Woodcutter's Wife and the Wolf King

Here are a couple paintings I did months ago.
I want to write a children's book "The Woodcutter's Wife and the Wolf-King". I got depressed about finding the right illustrator, as pictures really make or break a children's book. And I haven't got any money or credibility etc. So I decided I'll just have to learn how to paint.
So the first scene, I could see in my head, of the woodcutter after a long day's work, coming into a clearing where he finds the girl and the wolves.

Something about it didn't look right. I had tried to have her on a rock, and it didn't really work. I tried again, with a plain old clearing.

 I think this worked better. Right now, I'm really at the color-scheme, composition stage. The actual trees and wolves and people leave much to be desired.

My weakest point is the faces. First I need to learn how to make them look human. And then to actually show emotions and expressions on them.
I don't know where to start.

Here are are a couple things I've been working on naptimes and snatched in 10 minute segments of the kids happily playing...

Add caption
 I was trying to go for a kinda tree-root-looking thing with the blood. Like the fruit of the new Tree...or something.

 Then this is what I worked on in the last few days.

 I think Mary looks a little too cartoonish. I liked how the angel turned out, at least.

Sunday, January 12, 2014