Friday, July 20, 2012

Illustration Friday: Carry

The inspiration for this is a bit silly. Wil Wheaton tweeted yesterday that for the next seven days, whenever he wants to tweet something snarky or annoyed, he'd tweet about unicorns and rainbows instead. Which has also expanded to kittens and shiny golden stars. Today he posted this: 'Kittens frolicking beneath a rainbow. Unicorns prance across the background.' Of course this happened right after I saw the Illustration Friday theme of carry, so I ended up drawing this:
Yes, I am a dork.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Illustration Friday: refresh

I suppose that it shows my generation/life style in that the first thing I think of for the prompt 'refresh' is the vicious cycle of hitting refresh on a webpage/email/social media in hopes that something new has been posted.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Illustration Friday: Space

I actually had this finished on Friday, but I've only gotten around to posting it now. Space has so many different meanings, but the first thing that popped into my head was a future that a friend had written for her character at the end of a game.
In the year 2072, Ernie finally got to see space. In the year 2190, Ernie returned to Earth as completion of the first Kinetic Portkey was completed, thereby linking the planets of Earth and Tharen together. Shortly afterwards, Ernie became the leader of a team of Ambassadors that travelled through the universe, looking for points of contact. In the year 2356, Ernie returned to Earth for the last time. He took pictures of EVERYTHING.
The image of Ernie on the ship working at magic was so solid and sudden that I drew it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Illustration Friday - Suspense

Again, for Illustration Friday, I pushed myself to work fast and loose and not to depend too much on photo references.

It may be the upcoming weekend, but this was the first image that popped into my head in regards to the theme 'suspense'.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Horse Book Recs Part 1: Series

I'm writing this in response to this list. When I had found it, I hoped to see a long list of new books that I didn't know of. Instead, I found only seven books and it horribly lacking in some of the classics I grew up with as a child. I had recommended horse books to a friend already and she suggested that I make up a list, so here you go! Most of this is based off of my own reading habits and opinions, some of which are many years old. I will also warn that I am horrible at judging what age people should be reading each book, so I'll try and warn as best as I can about anything that might be triggery.

I'll say sorry right now for how long it is. We'll start off with the series of my 'childhood'. Please note that the dates I'm putting with these are the original publication dates. Most of them have been reprinted, so don't use those dates for searches.

The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley (1941-1989)
21 books (25 if you count the 4 that Steven Farley wrote) in total that follow the adventures of Alec Ramsay and the black stallion who he was shipwrecked on an island with, the stories of the Black's offspring, the adventures of Steve Duncan and the fiery red stallion he finds on a secret island, and two stand alone stories (one about Henry's horse tamer brother and a fictionalized biography of Man O' War). I devoured these during elementary school. I loved the movies and loved the books even more.

While the stories focus on horse racing, there are many different types of books within the series, including a bit of the supernatural, mysteries, and even aliens. While the world has changed a great deal since Walter Farley wrote these books, I had no problem loving them. I also haven't read them in a long time or as an adult, so I'm not sure if there are any snafus I might have missed while I was a kid. There are sad parts (character deaths, etc) as well as plenty of action, violence, and horrible people, but from my memories, nothing so bad that it would be traumatizing. This could also just be the nature of the Black Stallion. It does deal with stallions as most of the main horse characters after all and, being based off the Bucephalus myth, none of them are really the odd sweet, docile stallions that pop up every now and then.

Also, depending on what versions of the books you can get, you might also be met by wonderful ink illustrations within the pages.

A continuation of these is the four Steven Farley books (2000-201) that I mentioned above. While it has the same characters, there is something missing between his interpretation and his father's.

For another alternative, there is the Young Black Stallion series (6 books - 1998-1999) by Steven Farley. It follows the story of Danielle who must deal with her family selling their farm to Alec Ramsay and her beloved horse. Luckily, she has Raven, the Black's new colt, to keep her busy, even if he proves to be quite the handful. I've only read the first of this series and while it was enjoyable, it wasn't the same as the original series to me.

For younger reader books, Walter Farley also put out three easy readers: Little Black, a Pony, Little Black Goes to the Circus and The Little Black Pony Races as well as a picture book version of The Black Stallion called Big Black Horse. I'm not sure how available any of these are though.

If anyone wants specifics on any of the books, feel free to ask.

Marguerite Henry's Books (1945-1996)
She's written a good deal of books and I haven't read all of them, but what I have is wonderful. She is the woman who made Chincoteague famous. Most of her books are fictional historical in one way or another and beautifully illustrated by Wesley Dennis. I have fond memories of these books as through elementary school, my mom and I would sit down every night and would read them together. Because these vary more than the Walter Farley books, I'll run down the list. Like with the Black Stallion books, I haven't read these in a long time, so there may be things that I've missed.

Misty of Chincoteague (1947) - Most likely her most famous book following the story of Paul and Maureen and the Pony Penning festivities on Chincoteague. Wonderful family atmosphere. Plenty of problems both action based and more mundane to solve.

Stormy, Misty's Foal (1963) - A sequel to Misty. While it is about the horses, it is mainly about the Ash Wednesday Storm that devasted the islands in 1962 and the aftermath of trying to rebuild after it. I'll admit, I had to look up the plot as I couldn't remember it very well from the last time we read it.

Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague (1949) - Another sequel to Misty. When the Beebe family sells Misty to cover bills, Paul and Maureen are left with a hole in their life. When they find an orphaned foal, they focus on helping the foal survive. Again, I had to look up the plot to this one as even though I was sure I had read it, I couldn't fully remember the plot.

Justin Morgan Had a Horse (1945) - a fictional biography of the foundation stallion of the Morgan horse breed. Very fun and very much a 'the little horse that could' story.

King of the Wind (1948) - The fictional biography of one of the foundation stallions for the Thoroughbred breed. Much in the same vein as Justin Morgan Had a Horse, but it is laden with more depressing problems as Sham, a Godolphin Arabian, is born not only with a sign that he'll be bad luck, but a sign too that he'll be fast. The book follows the horse and his groom's unlucky journey from Morocco to England and eventually a happy ending.

Born to Trot (1950) - I had to look up the plot to make sure I had actually read this. It is a book focused on harness racing and Gibson and Rosalind's journey to the Hambletonian (one of the biggest horse races in harness racing). I want to say that there is some racing violence (sulkies overturning/being dragged), but I can't remember if that's this book or The Black Stallion's Blood Bay Colt.

Album of Horses (1951) - This is a BEAUTIFUL book. It is filled with wonderful, full page color illustrations as well as ink doodles in the sides of the pages. It is more of a reference book than a story, going into a few horse breeds and their histories/uses.

Brighty of the Grand Canyon (1953) - I have this book, but I think I've only really looked through the illustrations and never read it. It follows the story of a little burro that lives in the Grand Canyon. I know there's a bit of violence (there's a cougar attack somewhere in there and recuperating from that), but I don't think it's anything too horrible.

Black Gold (1957) - I will warn you right up front that this book has a sad ending. I remember BAWLING over the last few chapters. It's the fictional biography of an American Thoroughbred racehorse named Black Gold, so if you want an idea of what the book will be about, you can read his wiki page. It was a good book, but the end is heartbreaking.

Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West (1966) - This is another one that might be better for older kids. I read it in middle school and it deals with the treatment of the mustangs and Annie Johnston's campaign to get them protection. The main graphic part is the description of how the mustangs are rounded up. I remember reading it and being horrified by it and then getting angry when everyone patronized Annie's quest to stop that from happening. Another part of the book is Annie dealing with having polio (which I didn't remember) and that the characters get a bit religious (another thing I didn't remember).

San Domingo, the Medicine Hat Stallion (1972) - If I remember correctly, this deals with the pony express as well as Native American rights. I remember there being a few sad parts, but nothing too bad.

Here are the rest of the horse books she wrote that I haven't read:
Gaudenzia, Pride of the Palio
White Stallion of Lipizza
One Man's Horse
Our First Pony
Misty's Twilight
Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley

The Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant (1986-2001)
101 books as well as super editions and inside stories following the adventures of best friends Lisa, Carole, and Stevie at Pine Hollow Stable. I had these books for awhile, but I don't think I started reading them until middle school/high school as just fun 'quick' reads. It's a good series, much in the way of the Babysitter's Club and such. It deals with horses and a child can learn a great deal about a lot of different disciplines (jumping, dressage, western, racing, etc) from the book. It also deals with many pre-teen/teen issues from boys to jealousy to anorexia to loss of a loved one. There are hard moments in the series (in the second book there is a character death), but it deals with it realistically. When I read them, I have to say I was jealous of all the cool things that happened at their stable and the friendships the three girls had. I can't remember what the last book I read was, but I know that I haven't read all 101.

For alternative to this, there are also the spin-offs: Pony Tails (16 books) for younger readers and Pine Hollow (17 books) for older readers. From what I know Pony Tails follows the adventures of younger students at Pine Hollow. Pine Hollow is a continuation of Saddle Club in that it's Lisa, Carole, and Stevie in high school. I haven't read any of the Pony Tails books, but I read the first of Pine Hollow. I didn't read more as its focus is much more on the teen drama/people than on the stable and the horses, but it is definitely more of a teen book as it deals mainly with a car crash and the repercussions of the crash.

Thoroughbred series by Joanna Campbell (1991-2005)
This was a series that I was reading at the same time I was reading the Saddle Club. Started by Joanna Campbell, there are 72 books in this series (plus 4 super editions). I've only read to around the 20s, so I can't say much about the later plot lines and the quality of writing. The series starts out with Ashleigh moving to Townsend Acres and saving the life of a small filly named Wonder. For a time, the series follows Ashleigh and Wonder's journey through the racing world before it branches off to focus on other characters and Wonder's children. Part way through the series, there's a time jump and it focuses more on eventing, but eventually makes it back to horse racing. I enjoyed the start of the series, especially with it focusing on women in the racing world. It has its sad moments like the Saddle Club, but it generally handles them well. I think the sad parts are also just a given in a way because of how dangerous horse riding and especially horse racing can be.

There's a 'continuation' of the series in the Ashleigh series (15 books) that follows Ashleigh's life before he moved to Townsend Acres. I haven't read this one, but considering the circumstances that lead Ashleigh to move (a deadly virus wipes out her family's farm), I can't imagine the series ends on a happy note.

The Silver Stallion series by Elyne Mitchell (1958-2003)
I had gotten interest in this series from the movie, the Silver Stallion (with a young Russell Crowe), early on, but didn't get to read them until I was in college and was actually able to purchase a good deal of her books when I visited Australia. I'm not sure how available they are due to that.

There are 16 'brumby' books in the series. The main storyline follows the story of Thowra, a rare creamie brumby, in the Snowy Mountains of Australia. It follows his life of trying to survive and form his own herd without being killed by rival stallions or captured by the man on the black horse. The later books follow his offspring and their own trials, travels, and tribulations. In the same vein, she also has a series of books about brumbies that don't feature Thowra or his children. I've read most of the Silver Stallion books and her writing is beautiful. I however have no idea what age level these books are for. There is some horse violence and some character death, but it isn't anything particularly gruesome.

Edit: Another added:

The Serendipity books
For a younger readership and I know there are mixed feelings about these books in regards to their messages/story telling. The pictures are gorgeous though and I remember them better than the actual words. I suppose it shows how much of an artist I am in that as a child I would constantly pick these up and look at them, but I don't think I ever read them more than one time through. It was always about the pictures to me.

As far as I know, here are the horse/unicorn/pegasus specific ones:
Pegasus: Flutterby
Flutterby Fly
Glitterby Baby

Unicorn: Misty Morgan
Morgan and Me
Morgan and Yew
Morgan Mine
Morgan Morning

Horse: Mumkin - a personal favorite with the cute little pudgy ponies!
Nitter Pitter

I'll leave this entry's listing to that! I'll post something later about more individual horse books that are out there. Of course, I know there are plenty other series out there, these are just the ones that I know the best. Also, if anyone wants individual book listings on any of these, feel free to ask and I'll add them into the comments.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Illustration Friday - Sink

It's a few weeks late, but luckily the inspiration for the 'sink' prompt stuck in my head long enough to get to it when I had the time.

I was reading The Scorpio Races at the time, so I had (and still have in a way) kelpies/water horses on my mind. The prompt sink seemed very appropriate for that subject matter. Just like with the previous Illustration Friday piece, I was trying to push myself to not look at photo references and just, well, dive in and push through quickly and loosely.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Illustration Friday - Grounded

A bit late and attempting a new style a bit. It took awhile for this prompt to fully percolate in my head. It wasn't until Sunday that the idea hit me of how my character Luag would always feel grounded whenever his legs were touching Nate's under the table, even before they got together. So, I decided to go for that image and challenged myself by not looking at any photo references and just pushing through the drawing and going with the sepia coloring in photoshop to try and get the gritty feeling of the pub.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

First line meme

Because of this list about first lines and the emphasis put in class about opening lines making or breaking a book, I got curious (again), but thought to make a game out of it. So, I'm just going to list a bunch of first lines from books (for everyone's sake, I'm limiting myself to children's aka middlegrade/YA books) and everyone can make a guess of what's what. Granted, some of these are 'classic children's books', so bear with me with the 'but that's not a kid's book!' thing. Also, I seem to be at a loss of a bunch of first books in series, so bear with me there too..

1. When the doorbell rings at three in the morning, it's never good news.
2. Night hung black and heavy about the old barn.
3. The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was blow up another school.
4. It was a dark and stormy night.
5. Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.
6. Unearthly humps of land curved into the darkening sky like the backs of browsing pigs, like the rumps of elephants.
7. George never spent any time wondering why he wanted to belong.
8. High up on the long hill they called the Saddle Back, behind the ranch and the country road, the boy sat his horse, facing east, his eyes dazzled by the rising sun.
9. The stretch of road that leads out of the city, past Hazy Harbor and into the town of Tedia, is perhaps the most unpleasant in the world.
10. The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone.
11. Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.
12. Once there was a dark, stormy night in spring, when, deep down in their holes, the wombats knew not to come out, when the possums stayed quiet in their hollow limbs, when the great black flying phallangers that live in the mountain forests never stirred.
13. It was little more than three miles from the Wall into the Old Kingdom, but that was enough.
14. A wild, ringing neigh shrilled up from the hold of the Spanish galleon.
15. Twilight was gathering, and Orpheus still wasn't here.
16. Not for the first time, an argument had broken out over breakfast at number four, Privet Drive.
17. "Too many!" James shouted, and slammed the door behind him.
18. If someone had asked Jared Grace what jobs his brother and sister would have when they grew up, he would have had no trouble replying.
19. From his perch behind the clock, Hugo could see everything.
20. It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Illustration Friday - Stripes

It's a rather silly drawing for illustration Friday, but when I think of stripes I think of zebras which makes me think of this sketch I've had lying around waiting to be colored. I have a tendency to do My Little Pony versions of TV/cartoon/RPG characters when I get bored and I doodled Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones ponies from Torchwood and then worked on a My Little Pony version of the tenth Doctor from Doctor Who. So, here it is, finally finished and colored.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 'Accountability' post one

So, I'm attempting NaNoWriMo with a young adult novel idea that I had tried to write last year, but failed.

Along with this, I'm setting myself a personal art goal. The idea for Andrzej and Bastian's adventures has been around for 4 years. It started out as a picture book, but very quickly let us know when we started writing it that it wasn't a picture book. So, it's been upgraded to a chapter book/middle grade novel and a good amount is getting written thanks to the chapter book writing class we're doing at RISD. A lot of writing, but not a lot of artwork. Even though it's been bumped up in age, I still want a good amount of artwork in it. So, I set myself the goal of doing one picture, doesn't matter what it is, for Andrzej and Bastian every day in November.

The main piece of artwork for yesterday and today is the revamp of Andrzej.

He needed one. In his original design (seen on the left), he was older and also a generic Polish boy.

Picking Andrzej's hometown in the story meant that his original 'costume' didn't really fit the area. Not to mention the braid had to go.

Which all led to the new Andrzej:

He doesn't fully feel like Andrzej yet to me, but the costume is at least set, even if I know the pants are going to be interesting to draw later down the road. I also need to work on getting him as geometric as his older version as that's something I stylistically want to keep, but I know that the general shape of the Gorale costume also doesn't lend itself to it as well. At least in the legs.

And as silly artwork from yesterday, a very quick sketch in pen done in class of one of the scenes in the book: