Birding and Leaf Painting

I have always collected leaves. Every year as the leaves turn I find myself picking up my favorites. In past years I did this without much plan; I would pick them up and shove them between book pages (books I clearly didn’t care about because leaf pressing in books wicks all the moisture from the leaf into the book, warping the pages). While this was fairly successful in pressing the leaves, they languished. I didn’t have a plan and the plans I thought I had wouldn’t work with the paper like dried leaf I ended up with.

This time I got a real plant press and prepared a set up to submerge the leaves in glycerin. I wanted to have two options, leaves dried like paper and leaves that were preserved maintaining their flexible state.

glycerinleaf

A lettuce leave after soaking in glycerin. It looks like kelp!

The glycerin leaves are still in my processing space. Sometimes I have to sit and look at something day after day before the idea fully forms and I know what I will do with it. The dried leaves I immediately started painting birds on them.

Two separate things brought this idea together. I have always liked painting on none white surfaces. When I went hiking in 2010 and picked up birch bark off the trail, it looked so much like paper, I decided to paint on it. I left these paintings on the trail knowing they were watercolor and would wash off if no one picked them up (I found out the hut kids found them and enjoyed them). Then in the summer of 2016 I got a button maker and realized you could easily put leaves in the press. The jump to painting on the leaf first was a short distance away.

I decided on birds because I look at birds all the time. I have feeders all around my yard. My mother and her sister, Karen & Teresa are birders and they constantly teach us what birds we are looking at. Also, many family vacations now have large swaths of time devoted to birding. We all enjoy it including my son. It’s very similar to collecting Pokemon but, real animals and instead of taking them home we make a list of what we saw and/or heard.

I took the close up photos with my phone using a scope and binoculars for zoom, technology can be ridiculous.

I wanted to paint birds that came from the same locations as the leaves. Representing native species on both fronts, flora and fauna. However, even though the leaves I have collected are living locally, they are native to other countries. The Ginkgo specifically which, is a favorite to paint on. However, the birch and sweet gum trees are fine, as well as the blackberry, strawberry, saltbush, holly cherry, and other natives I have purposefully replanted in our yard. This follows my overall goals of native flora for the paintings and a native garden for the yard.

The leaves all react differently to being pressed and dried, sorted and held until I paint on them, and after they have been enclosed in a button. If the leaf isn’t fully dried it tends to mold within the button. These possibilities cause me to charge not much more than a fancy cup of coffee which, is also a short lived life enjoyment. However, there is the possibility the properly pressed leaves will survive for quite sometime. This is the moment where we say, ‘only time will tell’.

Photos of the buttons finished or pre-pressed. The penny is for size. These end up being 1 inch buttons.

I hope that this project will bring happiness to anyone who buys a button or other final finishing choices I am exploring (pressed in glass making it wall art or made into a pendant). I also hope it brings awareness to the many amazing species of birds that continue to thrive or struggle to live on this planet. I believe our coexistence holds more importance than we are fully aware of.

Shadow Boxes

After years of building with clay and painting with watercolors I believe I have finally found the place where they meet, shadow boxes.

Our school community hosted a show for the women that make art. This ranged from a group of teachers, alumni, and moms. Everyone helped to build the event, it was a very special night. This was the first time it was hosted so, the event was just for community members. Perhaps in years to come we will be able to open the venue up to more folks.

When I was asked to be a part of the show, I had just created my Red Riding Hood piece. It wasn’t completed and it was my first attempt at building a wood panel painting with a sculpted figure. The creator of the Women of Art event loved it and asked that I put her in the show. I decided to then look at two other fairy tales and put my own twist on them.

Beauty and the Beast has been getting a lot of negative coverage in my mind of late. There is an outcry that it teaches girls to believe that whatever man they find they will need to fix him to be a good person. My main exposure to this story was from Disney and I never got that message. I saw it that only his appearance that made him beastly and he should not be judged based on that(maybe because I myself have a facial/neck birthmark?). True there was some needed growth for him to do as a person, he did that during the story, and yes Belle was an incentive for him to change. There I also did not see that as a problem, we all have to grow as couples. I think most couples feel their partner helps them to be a better person. Is that unhealthy, I don’t believe so.

I wanted my piece of Beauty and Beast to be her finding the kindness and beauty within him and loving him just as he is. I am much more a reptilian monster maker, especially since I think they are sweet misunderstood animals. It fit perfectly for me to make him a lizard man. For Beauty and Beast I looked into French fashions to build their clothing. Making lace out of sculpey was a blast, I want to do more.

Sleeping Beauty, sadly was not completed. I put everything together and showed it as a work in progress. The shadow box had to lay down for the show because the glue that kept Sleeping Beauty in place was not fully cured. (This is my third shadow box, I have a lot to learn. In the past month, I learned how to build the outer box frame and attach everything in a way that allows for the art to come back out of the frame so it can be cleaned in the future.) For some viewers this actually had an added element. Sleeping Beauty is known as the princess who is found laying down but, in this image I have her running through the woods. Sometimes failures are exactly what your piece needed.

I have a photo of the Sleeping Beauty on my instagram as it was setting but, upon further examination I want to remake the figure because her head didn’t cure in the correct position. It makes her body off per her movement through the piece. I look forward to finishing this image up. I loved making the background, adding all the leaves, painting the trees and adding the tiny animals!

My hope for my next step is that I will be able to make some smaller shadow boxes of amphibians and reptiles in woodsy habitats. Then, some open square boxes with a section of scales. This way they are a tactile art piece that you can walk by and touch whenever you want. I am very excited about getting to all of these pieces. I am continuing to balance my work time. I do actually get work time on a regular basis now which, is wonderful! Now to get all the things done within the still limited time I have. Trying to figure out what I can really get done.

Also is there any interest in purchase of these images as prints? Comment if you want one! The pieces are for sale too if you want the full shebang. Just email me.

A Hippo for Christmas

A new beginning. I love painting but, I also love building with sculpey or other clay. These two styles of mine have been at odds with each other for years. I feel like I had to take a long while away from finishing major illustrations to play with these mediums to find the way to bring them together. My family Holiday card, per delays it ended up being a Valentine’s Day card, was my first in depth exploration into a full image with sculpey and paint. I started out building a structure. A large sculpey project is best built with armature.

step-1CGirard

I had wanted to make holes in the back of this armature to attach the sculpey build to the wood. This insuring its full attachment to the piece. It did not work out on this attempt and I will be continuing to play with that to see if I can make that happen. I ended up using a strong epoxy which, worked just fine. The next step was to put down a base layer of sculpey on the armature.

firstlayer-CGirard

Once I had the hippo and ground completed I put together the children. I planned to paint everything but, really enjoy mixing and creating colors with sculpey. I also like having a colored base to paint on top of.

middle-Cgirard

Once all the sculpey was completed I painted the background, glued down the cooked sculpey and then painted the sculpey. I used some found objects, dried plant pods, to make the shrubbery on the ground. I liked the added depth. Sometimes the best solution in a dimensional piece is a found object.

Finished-CGirard

I am very happy with how this came out. I feel good about this direction for my illustration. My goal now is to complete a new portfolio with pieces like this. I am going to be in a Women of Peninsula art show in the fall. I am going to use that as a jumping off point for what themes I will apply to these pieces. I’m looking forward to the process.

Peek-a-boo

I have been drawing. My friends at Fanartica got me to commit to drawing a piece for Dungeons & Dragons. I was thinking I would draw a monster from the game and I did but, it wasn’t what I had expected to be inspired to do. This came to me by asking my husband for suggestions since, he is a bit more familiar with D&D than I am. He suggested I draw a Beholder. He explained it was a giant eyeball wrapped in skin covered with lots of eyeballs on tentacles. It’s extremely powerful and magical and kills you with its gaze.

I sat with that and then of course decided it should be playing peek-a-boo with a baby because, why not? I knew to do this it had to look as sweet as possible. As if it could easily be in a baby book. Given that is my way of drawing it all seemed to come together perfectly.

Behold, the Babysitter Beholder and baby.

Babysitter Beholder-Peekaboo-Girard

Doesn’t it kind of look like a grandma with curlers in her hair?

Us Fanarticans did this group of fan art for a show at fan*alley in LA.

The opening will be Saturday, June 13, 18:00-22:00. Hope you can make it!

Working on Frankenstein

In the background of my life I am drawing and scribbling and making puddles of watercolors and testing foggy washes and drawing messy ink lines on top.

As I can’t realistically work full time as an illustrator for more than minimal projects, I am playing. Discovering new elements to myself since I have changed with the addition of a daughter to my family. In some ways I finally feel my full self. It’s hard coming to a career when you know you also want to be a mother. I knew I wanted to have kids when I was a teen but, that didn’t mean I didn’t also want to follow my career dreams. In my life art and motherhood go hand in hand. I can’t have one without the other. Everyday is a matter of finding the balance between the two.

It can be done. Sometimes the art has to be put on hold but, that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about what I want to do the next time I sit down at my desk.

Currently at my desk is this:

Yes his head is cropped out but, I haven’t found the one I like. This is Frankenstein his head is interchangeable. I hope to finish it by next week in time for Halloween! However, giving how much I am testing out, I may only have more work in progress for you.

Everyone’s Choice

Where’s the X?

It’s HERE!

X is for Xenops

I am so happy to have these letters finally done! One full set of Alphabet is illustrated. I’m sure one day, if they take off, I will make seconds for the more popular letters. We will see.

There is no good reason I left the X for last. However, since I began to work on these letters the amount of reference images available from search has greatly improved. When I first looked up Xenops there were two terrible pictures floating around the internet. Now there are hundreds! With my new information I was able to update my original sketch which, for this bird would not do. It didn’t actually represent the bird’s abilities or characteristics. With each animal it was a pleasure to learn about their lives to best come up with a manipulation that would look natural. This has been a remarkably fun project.

Happy Valentine’s! Enjoy this coloring page!

click on the image to open it in a new window then drag it to your desktop to print.

 

New Portfolio Piece

I am very excited about my new book project. This is my own story that I am putting into dummy form for submission. I am going to make three or four finished images for the book to put into my portfolio. Here is one of them. This is a cropped section of the image.

Quote Quiz: “Dad did you see size of those big honky teeth!?”

Currently Reading: Robot Zot by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by David Shannon
Currently Watching: Friends Season 8