To the many, many of you who kindly ordered copies of our Williams poster: we picked them up from the printer last week and are pleased as proverbial punch with how they came out. The colors are lush. The blacks are black. The paper is pleasing to touch.
The posters have been rolled and stuffed into tubes and will be heading your way first thing Wednesday morning.
We still have plenty left, but not nearly as many as we once did. Which is to say, if you’re interested in getting one, better not wait too long.
Here’s the link. Bring a smile to the face of a fellow Eph (or to your own).
It is a well-documented fact that those of us in the barn enjoy drawing. Robbi likes it so much that she chose it as a profession. I am so fond of drawing that I do it in spite of having no talent. And Tilly (another artist by training and vocation) loves drawing so much that she came up with the idea for our five-minute drawing sessions.
Over in Bobbledy land, we’ve been enjoying posting weekly prompts for kids and seeing the wonderful drawings they come up with.
As fun as it is to draw by oneself, it’s even more fun to draw with other people. And so we’re wondering if some of you in Idiots’World might have a hankering to put pen to drawing pad as well. Here’s what we propose: a mass group drawing effort in the year ahead.
To give us structure (and to keep us all on the same page), we’re going to use a book from our friends at Chronicle as a guide. Called 712 More Things to Draw (the book is a follow-up to an earlier book called 642 Things to Draw), it is a “guided sketchbook.”
In addition to featuring an incredibly appealing giraffe, the cover is printed on a sturdy stock with a pleasing texture. You will enjoy holding this book.
The interior is a grid of drawing prompts. Simple perhaps, but pretty helpful, I think, when it comes to actually sticking to a drawing regimen.
Speaking of which, here’s the plan:
1) Anyone who is interested, should order a copy of the book.
2) Starting January 1, Robbi, Tilly, and I are going to start filling out our books, one drawing a day, every day of the year.
3) We’ll post our favorite drawings on the blog (we promise we won’t make you suffer through each and every one of them).
4) Any of you who feels like it can send us scans or photos of your drawings to post as well.
5) And that’s that.
Let’s all spend a year drawing stuff together, shall we?
In fact, at a drawing a day, the book will last us almost two years. But something about two years of daily drawings sounds a bit more intimidating. Let’s take it one year at a time and see what happens.
We’ve got our books:
Now go get yours.
This week Robbi is working hard on the next Idiots’Book, which is due out to the subscribers in a week or so. The book in question is one I wrote a long time ago—seven years ago, in fact (it was part of my failed graduate school application portfolio of 2005). Back then it was called “Charlemagne and His Men” and was not meant to be illustrated.
At some point, Robbi realized that what it really needed was pictures and decided that she was the person to illustrate it. That sounded good to me, but we scratched our heads wondering what the style and format should be.
Our first idea was to imagine it as an illuminated manuscript. Given the subject matter (kings and soldiers and battles, etc.), this seemed like a great idea. Until we realized how long it was going to take. The blistering pace imposed by the subscription model makes it hard to take on time-consuming projects (not that we haven’t violated this rule of thumb from time to time). Here was the first sketch.
I do love that multi-colored vine that stretches up and down the left-hand side of the page. But this approach was not to be.
Our next idea was to tell the story of Charlemagne in sketchbook format, as if the narrative (and the accompanying illustrations) were the product of Charlemagne’s own pen, hand-scrawled observations from the seat of his horse, perhaps. But as we pondered that approach, we decided it would be better suited for a different book, The Vast Sahara.
I love how this book turned out. It is one of my very favorites of our collaborations, and I was happy to let Charlemagne wait a bit longer.
In fact, he disappeared for several years as we took on other projects, but lately (and I’m not sure exactly why), he came to mind again, and this time, Robbi had a clear idea of how he should be illustrated.
I should say that this entire book will be illustrated on Robbi’s Wacom drawing tablet. Everything. From the linework to the faux-watercolor painting (see below).
Here is Robbi at work. She is listening to The Daily Show while she works. I am jealous because I cannot listen to anything while I work.
Here’s the basic process for this book (told from the perspective of a Photoshop Luddite).
First, she does a black-and white line drawing.
Simple enough, right? I could imagine drawing the above with a paper and pencil. If I could draw, that is.
The reality is that Photoshop is incredibly complex.
The image below shows some of the various palettes Robbi uses to do her thing. She picks colors from the swatches palette (that little grid of colors). She does all the linework on one “layer” and all of her coloring on another “layer.” Think of layers as two pieces of glass with different elements on them. Looking at them together, they seem to form one image, but each only contains part of the information.
The image below is the same content as the black and white sketch from above, with the color blocks filled in (think back to the bucket tool from Mac Paint, if any of you played with that back in the day).
As much as I like how the image above looks, it’s just a step along the way. By creating solid color blocks, Robbi has a base on which to create a separate watercolor texture for each of the individual elements.
This is how the final looks.
The book is now called Sisyphus Rex, and it will be mailed to subscribers a few weeks from now.
I leave you with this detail. Soon it will be textured and will look very different. But I like the pink king and green horse and blue boy.
Sometimes it’s the undercoat of things that are even more interesting than what we deem fit to share with the world.
My job is awesome. I get to spend a lot of every day drawing. I feel lucky every single day, every time I pick up a pen, every time I’m hunched up over a piece of watercolor paper smooshing paint around. It’s the best.
And though I know Matthew loves his creative work, drawing has one huge advantage over writing: I get to listen to stuff while I draw. In this new age of streaming media, on-demand podcasts and web radio (is that even what it’s called?) I pretty much have my pick of what to listen to while I draw (sadly, Howard continues to keep his archive close to his chest).
One of my favorite recent podcasts is an NPR show called Strangers – it’s a storytelling podcast of where and how and why people and their stories intersect. I know about it because our dear friend Lea Thau left another one of my favorite storytelling series, The Moth, to start Strangers. The stories are fascinating, crazy, wonderful and heartbreaking (often all at the same time). Personal favorites include the story of a father and his schizophrenic son, the journalist who gets mugged and the story of Big Jim and Smokey Joe.
Strangers is only partially funded by the radio station that sponsors the show, KCRW. The rest of the money has to come from fundraising. Lea is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund season two, and if you value good storytelling and great content (that’s free!) please go to the Kickstarter page HERE and donate a dime or two (or more!).
If you’ve got more than two dimes and want a little something you can hold in your hands, we’ve got something really special for you – a limited edition print by yours truly (ME!).
This is a premium for donations of $75 or more, and will never be available to anyone ever again. I happen to love this painting. So, if you don’t like to invest in art without getting the thumbs up from someone in the arts, well, you’ve got my thumbs up. This painting is da bomb (as they say at Sotheby’s). (And seriously, I almost never say stuff like this about my own work, so take it from me, it’s not complete crap!)
If you want something a little less dark and spooky and a little more more fun and goofy, our Six Degrees of Francis Bacon poster is a premium at the $50 and up level. The poster showcases 50 of the greats in western literature all interconnected and eventually related to Francis (oh, and Kevin) Bacon by no more than six degrees. Connections include things like “John Steinbeck knew even more about wrath than Dante” and “Allen Ginsberg smoked some billy budds with Herman Melville” and “Steven King burns $100 bills and laughs gleefully with J.K. Rowling.” You know, that sort of thing.
If you love storytelling, if you love great online content, if you love being entertained and moved, or if you love giving away your money, please head over to the Strangers Kickstarter page and help keep this first-rate show going. Your support of the podcast will then support my life of drawing at my desk listening to Strangers and then retelling the stories to Matthew in a wholly unsatisfying way at the dinner table.
We love Strangers! Fundraising ends on Halloween, so PLEASE DONATE NOW!!
The first few weeks of drawing prompts on the Bobbledy Blog have been lots of fun. We’ve been nudging kids to draw, and they have been sending us what they’ve come up with to share on the blog. But, we realized that we have been making it hard on kids and parents by posting prompts on Monday and kids’ drawings on Thursday. Instead, moving forward, we will be posting prompts on Friday and drawings on Tuesday, giving kids the entire weekend to respond.
Along these lines, the third drawing prompt was posted yesterday, and here it is:
You’re walking along on the surface of Mars when suddenly, something jumps out from behind a crater. What is it?
Here’s what Robbi saw behind her crater.
Although I love her painting, I’m really glad that I was not on Mars with her that day.
If you are a kid, or have a kid, or feel like a kid and want to draw something, then draw something. Then scan it or take a picture of it, and send it to us.
Usually when I invoke Doug the Baker I’m hungry and in need of a sun bun or a blueberry muffin or a fresh-from-the-oven loaf of country french bread. Today, I have different motives.
Those of you who have been to Evergrain over the past few weeks may have seen a mural in progress. Those of you who stroll the corner of Queen and High late at night may have even seen the artist at work. The artist in question is none other than Tilghman (Tilly) Pelczar, our extraordinary intern (and artist in her own right).
I am pleased to tell you that, as of late last night, the mural is complete. When you walk through the door, here is what you’ll see.
A slightly closer look at the left-hand side:
And the right:
Yes, the mural is done, and I think it looks great.
“Wow, just in time for First Friday!” you say. “It must be a coincidence.”
Perhaps, but perhaps not. What I can tell you is that Tilly will be on hand at Evergrain this evening to stand proudly by her mural and answer any questions you might have about it. I plan on stopping by to ask the following question, “Wow, Tilly, how did you paint such a great mural?”
I can’t wait to hear what she says.
When I saw the subject line in my inbox this morning, I opened the email that accompanied this illustration looking forward to seeing what pirates looked like when filtered through the lens of Robbi.
I guess I should have known better.
Apparently, Robbi was full of vim at 4:23am. Not sure if the below sentiment was directed at me or the baby who would not sleep.
Not sure it matters.
Here’s the latest from the midnight mind of Robbi.
Thank you, August, for waking her up.
This week, Robbi has continued to claw away at the story of the little girl and the ogre. She has taken my manuscript and broken it into pieces. She has created a preliminary layout and placed the chunks of text that belong on each page. And now she is going through the book and doing sketches of each of the spreads.
Here is another midnight character study.
This is from a few days ago. The ogre now has a body that is big and round and looks like a meatball. He also has seven arms. I’ll give you a glimpse of him as soon as Robbi feels ready to share.