Not long ago, my dear friend Jean sent me a picture of an unusual hibiscus…
Thirty six members of the Orange County Artists Guild were assigned quotes to illustrate for a sequel to the book TREE: a Community of Artists Explores the Meaning of Nature. This meandering blog is about Ruthananda’s experience creating her illustration for RIVER.
Planning ahead is a really important part of any project and many details are considered along the way. My license plate offers a little reminder about balancing creative improvisation with practical organization. Let’s see how well I did!
Starting with thumbnail sketches of rivers large and small, I selected two designs for consideration. One layout was the Himalayas of Bhutan, a beautiful country I visited a long time ago. The scenery is blocked in with an underpainting so the colors look kind of crazy!
Another layout was simply a horizon where water meets sky. A while back I made a group of fish studies and, at a meeting with other book artists, shared some examples. The project’s art director, Shelly Hehenberger, preferred my fishy work, maybe because several artists had already submitted nice mountain designs.
A requirement was to make each quote an integral part of the artwork, so I decided to hand paint the letters in acrylics beginning with some experiments on my current series of bird paintings. Then a problem occurred preventing me from further documenting this project or even managing my digital correspondence and files: I ran out of storage on my computer! So much for planning!
The tipping point was another project, footage for my first movie about Camp Ruthie Pet Sitting. Once edited, the video was only a minute and a half long, but that (and numerous graphic images) take up a lot of space. By the way my YouTube won first prize! Woot woot!
So how did I solve my storage problem? After gathering an overabundance of information from online tutorials, friends, and an old classmate who “enjoys reminding women that they alone hold their own power,” I bought a tool kit and an extra-large solid state drive, plus an antistatic-wrist strap; note my new bling bling is Tiffany blue! With instructions and materials in hand, I setup a clean workspace, exhaled deeply, then gave my MacBook Air a brain transplant. Was I cool as a cucumber? NO! I was quaking in my crocs! But everything went better than expected, so I hope to feel less afraid the next time I repair my laptop.
Once my computer was working again, I composed several versions of the quote in various typefaces. Using tracing paper, I played with different type sizes and placements of the text for the final art.
Back at the easel I selected an oversized sheet of canvas and prepped this support with texture for interest. Using masking tape to frame the exact bleed size I then gessoed over the surface with black for extra richness. By marking the crop, live, and fold areas, I indicated important boundaries restricting the placement of various elements to preserve them when the book is trimmed and bound. Within these guidelines I loosely painted the imagery in white acrylic ink.
Later, I added layers of colors and the text, scraping off many versions before satisfied. Since goldfish are not found in the wild I made mine silver and gave them some whiskers! So far I’ve gotten one positive review from Wilson, my eight year old nephew, and I hope you will like my art also!
You can see Ruthananda’s illustration, as well as the amazingly varied and creative work of many other fine artists, in the new book River, soon to be sold in local shops and online. Also, all original works of art for the book will be displayed and for sale at the Hillsborough Gallery of Art in January 2014, and at another venue that is to be announced later.
Ruthananda hopes to have some copies of RIVER available at her art studio when she participates in the Orange County Artist Guild’s Open Studio Tour during November.