Thursday, January 10, 2013


Mother Goose-Interview with the Artists Part I I
as part of the exhibit:
Mother Goose Re-Imagined
Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Public Library 
101 West Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830
on view through January. 16, 2013
exhibiting ARTISTS: Angelique Anderson, Deborah Cuneo, Diana Ting Delosh, Laura Goetz, Leeza Hernandez, Mike Herrod, Sara Kahn, H. R. Karpes, Anna Kim, Ann Koffsky, Sarah Lisa Lavoie, Kitty Leech, Donna Miskend, Sawaka Norii, Marilyn Papas, Clare Pernice, Barbara Mason Rast, Roberta M. Rivera, Vicky Rubin, Tatyanna Starikova, Cheryl Taborsky, T.T. Tyler, Wallace West, Brian Yanish
For most artists it is a long process from beginning to end when creating an illustration. From conception to research, to drafts and the final artwork. These artists use a range of medium: graphite, digital, watercolor, gouache, pastel, pen and ink and cut paper collage. What are the similarities in how they work and what are the differences? Read on to find out… Donna Miskend

DM: Tell me about your illustration process.

When I’m working from a text, I read through it a few times and make quick sketches of things that catch my interest. For the promising ideas, I seek out photo reference. Although my illustrations are stylized, starting with photo reference helps guide the stylization process. I start with small thumbnail sketches of several concepts and compositions and eventually choose three or four to refine into more detailed drawings. I scan these, clean up the line work, and then do a grayscale study to work out the lighting. Next I do a color study, either digitally or in paint, and use this as a guide for the final illustration.
                                    - Lisa Lavoie

For these pieces, I combine two very distinct techniques: paper-cutting and painting. My paper-cuts are very clean, graphic, and intricate, while my paintings are more whimsical, textured and inviting. Combining those techniques creates juxtapositions and contrasts that I think are really interesting.
                                    - Ann Koffsky

I do all my sketching by hand working out the character shapes and layout on paper. Then I scan the sketches and save them digitally, letting the original raw look of the sketch lines show through. Then I add color digitally to create a graphic style to my illustrations.
                                    - Brian Yanish

When I use watercolor for my illustrations, I work in layers, that is why it takes a long, long time to paint them. I let each layer dry, then carefully put on the next layer, it is important to put the second or third color on with just one wash of color, otherwise it will dissolve the previous layers and it will be a big muddy puddle of color.
                                    - Sara Kahn

When I read the words are translated to images in my head like a movie. The style of the piece comes to me at this point as well. I sketch out the visions; these are very rough – only another artist could read the sketch! Then I start to refine the ideas with thumbnail sketches to work out the composition. I may look for reference for the elements that will be in the illustration such as a pose, or an animal. Sometimes I need to research costumes or something else from a particular era. I keep a clip file for reference and I have tons of my own reference photos. I use Photoshop and Illustrator mainly to lay out my compositions and to resize sketches.  I’ll clean up the drawings on tracing paper or make further adjustments and then transfer it to watercolor paper. I may decide on a color palette in advance, but I rarely do full color sketches. If I use watercolor, I lay an under-painting color to add depth and build it up from there. If I use gouache, which is an opaque medium, then I’m thinking of layering to add texture or pattern. Sometimes I use Photoshop to play with lettering if I want to add text. I love to work in different styles and try new things.
                                    - Donna Miskend

The technique I use most often is a fusion of traditional media collaged digitally into a final image. Acrylics, watercolor, pencil, ink, rubbing, block prints and paper all play a role when I create textures and line-art. My impatience is satisfied during the collage stages, by using Adobe Photoshop to layer everything together. It gives me more control and gives my art more versatility. I also work with Serigraphy and graphite pencil on Arches paper.
                                     - Leeza Hernandez

My process is three-fold. First, I design the scene and make the costumes or have them made. I then pose the dolls, and finally photograph them. These illustrations are digital copies of photographs. 
                                    - Kitty Leech

My illustration process varies upon the project. I generally start out with a few ideas in my head. Then draw two, maybe three rough sketches. If it is a freelance job, an art director will approve one, and then I work it up on tracing paper.  Drawing on tracing paper allows me to easily make changes to the composition. At this point I know if I need to do any additional research, to draw the finishing details accurately. Then, when I'm happy with the finished drawing, I transfer it to a good quality paper for painting. (I don't skimp on art supplies, and buy the best I can afford.)
The medium I used for Little Miss Muffit was Rembrandt soft pastel.  I am able to work more quickly with pastels, because they are more forgiving then watercolor paints. After I have planned the composition, I sketch a loose drawing on Canson paper. Then I apply and blend the colors with my fingers. It’s fun and messy, so I spray a workable fixative to help prevent smudging.
                                    - Laura Goetz

I scan my basic thumbnail sketch to use as a template. and then use Photoshop to manipulate and collage them. I research images and manipulate them in Photoshop to collage into the image. To create the 3D model of Humpty, I used a modeling program called MAYA. To finish off I use various other 3D effect techniques in Photoshop along with lighting.
                                    - Angelique Anderson

My illustration process is different for different kinds of work.  For some, I'll use graphite and shade the entire piece in light to dark gray gradations.  Other times, I will use ink and watercolor.  Sometimes, I'll combine pencil, Illustrator and Photoshop.

The drawing process, however, stays same no matter what.  I spend hours getting the drawings right.  I put an enormous emphasis on character expressions, personality - face and body - until I feel that the drawing conveys the feeling, I think what the character must be going through for that moment in the scene.

The next thing I spend a great deal of time on is composition.  Coming from a comics background, I realize how important perspective and composition are to a drawing or conveying a visual story.  Composition - where I put the camera is crucial in how I'm going to convey that emotion of the character.

To me, I try to capture the crucial moment in a scene, a snap shot.  It's a visual story I'm trying to tell. Drawing and illustrating is just one way of storytelling.
                                               - Anna Kim

My process starts with sketches. I love to draw characters and I usually have a pretty clear idea of how I want them to look. Once the sketches are to my liking I transfer to board or paper and color.

These illustrations are purposely half colored to give the feel of a school black board and I used color pencils. For other illustrations I might use inks and watercolors. Gouache is really nice for lettering as it is smooth and opaque. There are so many art materials to enjoy and try. The art shop is like a sweet shop to me, I want everything!
                                            - Clare Pernice

I usually rough out an idea on a scrap paper,  napkin, the back of a bag, a post-it note… whatever I have on hand to get the idea down before I forget it, then I get serious! I research and sketch out the different elements of my illustrations separately, scan them into my computer so I can manipulate the sizes and placement  of the characters or objects. Once I’m happy with my composition, I print out the final “sketch” onto the appropriate size sheet of Bristol and a couple of smaller ones onto copy paper. I do a quick shadow and color study (or two or three….) on the smaller ones and when I am happy with what I’ve come up with, I paint the final piece.
                                         - Deborah Cuneo

If there is text, I’ll read the text first to conjure up images in my head.  Then I’ll draw thumbnail sketches. Sometimes, if a piece requires research, such as a building or a costume, I’ll go take photos and write notes. I love going on mini-field trips for my projects. Then I’ll do a color sketch. I’ll play around with color, tone and shadows, working up quick little color sketches.

Then I’ll start working on my final illustration(s). I love working in inks, watercolors, gouache and acrylics. Lately, I’ve been inking in quills and various nibs sizes. The nib hitting the paper is such a wonderful texture to feel. I love other forms of media, but right now these materials give me the desired effects I want.
                                    - Roberta Rivera

I illustrate using pen, ink and watercolor. After making a sketch in pencil, I use a light box to transfer the drawing in ink to watercolor paper. I then watercolor over that drawing, sometimes adding colored pencil or collage.
                                    - Mike Herrod

It all begins with a doodle, a very rough sketch, sometimes thumbnail size, usually done in pen or marker. I may make several rough doodles before I go to a more formal full size sketch in pencil on tracing paper. Once the sketch looks right, it's  transferred via light-box to 140 lb watercolor paper. I may continue to tweak the sketch before inking with a Rapidiograph pen and then watercolor right on top of the ink lines. I actually use water soluable colored ink as I prefer the intensity of the pigments. Sometimes there are touches of gouache. As it is  water soluable it may also be referred to as watercolors. While I have experimented with a few other mediums this is my default style. 
                                    - Diana Ting Delosh

I get an idea for an illustration, in a variety of ways, for example, when I walk down the street. “The Real Mother Goose” and “Baba Blacksheep” were done in rough sketches to get the idea down on paper, then they were sketched with a soft lead pencil and a kneaded eraser on Strathmore series 500 Bristol paper with a vellum finish.  I used watercolors, and Winsor Newton gouache, adding lines with fine markers for accentuation, and colored pencils to add to the details where needed.  I used sable and sable-like watercolor brushes to paint with.  For “Pease Porridge Hot” I did the rough sketch, then I sketched out the illustration carefully for the final art and painted it in gouache in several coats, where needed.
                                    - Marilyn Papas

I like to make a sketch, ink it out and then paint in watercolor. For the "Sing a song of sixpence" illustration, I used matte photo paper. The water color sticks to it real well making for vibrant colors, but it is not very forgiving and doesn't have the same mixing and beading effect as on watercolor paper, just the same it's different and fun to experiment.

In acrylics, I enjoy the vibrant colors and opaque/translucent nature of the various colors. I like the mushiness of the acrylic paint and the way it smears and mixes on the canvas as well as the pallete.
                                    - Cheryl Taborsky

I draw a bunch of small sketches called thumbnails, to try out different compositions.  Then I pick one and enlarge it on the computer. Using a digital tablet, I make another layer and redraw it with more detail. If I don't have the tablet handy, I go through the same process using tracing paper. After I have a more detailed sketch I print it out. If it's larger than a regular piece of paper, I print it onto several pages.

Then I put the printout onto a light-box, place my watercolor paper over it, and draw lightly onto the watercolor paper using a pencil with hard lead, so it won't smudge. I don't make an exact copy or try to get every detail. If I'm using old-fashioned pen and ink, I draw the ink drawing at this stage. I then paint light washes of color, building up layers. I sometimes use a hair dryer to speed drying. I then erase the pencil lines using a kneaded eraser, which doesn't leave eraser crumbs. At the end I put in fine details, maybe some water-soluble crayon, and in some cases the lines of the drawing at the end.
                                    - Vicky Rubin

I imagine an illustration in my mind first. At this step, I decide what the subject of the future illustration will be, what is the most important message I want to bring to the viewer, the mood, the color scheme, and how my character might look.

Then I search for visual reference. It could be photographs or models that help me illustrate accurately.

The next step is to create several thumbnails (very small loose sketches) to find the best composition, perspective, and point of view. After that, I make bigger sketches for value study (in black and white), and color study sketches.

After all the preparation, I move to working on an actual size illustration by developing a strong, detailed drawing before I apply color.

I use the same principles when I work with either traditional or digital media.
                                    - Tatyana Starikova