Feb 09 2016

NY, Samurai, Dinosaurs

Published by under appearances,sketchbook

Just got back from a short but sweet trip to NYC, where I did Samurai Rising events at Bank Street Books and Book Court. Saw a lot of great friends and fans at those events, caught up with a few of my super-creative NY artist pals, and made a little time to stop by the American Museum of Natural History and see the new Titanosaur. I actually didn’t do a drawing of the Titanosaur because I was crunched for time, but I did a quick sketch of the lobby that came out reasonably well.

AMNH2016-2

No responses yet

Jan 19 2016

Samurai Rising is here! (Almost.) Plus, school visits!

Published by under appearances,travel

I just returned from a 2-week trip, part of which was attending ALA’s Midwinter conference, where, for the first time, I got my hands on a finished copy of Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner, illustrated by me. It doesn’t officially hit store shelves until Feb 2, but I wanted to give you a preview of how beautifully the finished book came out. I’m SO pleased with it. Note the wonderful design work by Art Director Susan Sherman, the embossed and red-stamped hardcover under the dust jacket, and the copious author notes that take up almost 1/3 of the page count (they’re really readable and interesting too — quality as well as quantity!). The two symbols are the mon or family crests of the warring Taira and Minamoto clans.

Samurai Rising 003 Samurai Rising 004 Samurai Rising 005 Samurai Rising 006 Samurai Rising 008 Samurai Rising 010 Samurai Rising 011 Samurai Rising 012 Samurai Rising 014 Samurai Rising 016 Samurai Rising 017

Here’s me signing it for the fans who dropped by the Charlesbridge booth. (I used a brush pen, and alternated between drawing a sword, helmet, tiny mounted archer, or bow and arrow.) In the background is my editor Alyssa.

ALA signing Boston 369

You can pre-order Samurai from most retailers now. I’ll start taking pre-orders for signed books about a week before the on-sale date.

Also on this trip I did a bunch of great school visits (two of which were beautifully documented as per the following links). The first three were in my home town: Montpelier High School, Main Street Middle School, and my own high school, U-32. Then I did three in the Boston area: Manchester Essex Middle High School, Worcester Academy, and Duxbury Middle High School. You can see more photos on my Twitter stream. Duxbury has a gorgeous beach, by the way, and I’ll leave you with that view.  😉

Duxbury beach

No responses yet

Dec 14 2015

My brief obsession with knifemaking

Published by under Uncategorized

Here’s something most of you don’t know about me. During high school and college I was quite interested in metalworking, especially as it applies to historical weapons. I read a lot about the subject and found some very nice folks who helped me pursue it, and for a while I had a fairly encyclopedic (entirely theoretical) knowledge of how Japanese swords are made, as well as various types of Damascus pattern forging. At one point a local blacksmith let me make one or two super-crude blades in his forge (one was just a leaf spring ground to an edge, the other looked like a pointy baguette gnawed by a dog). Later I met the amazing Jim Kelso, who I am happy to say is still a close friend. He brought me to a bladesmithing conference, which was an amazing experience that really opened my eyes to the true level of craftsmanship involved.

My sophomore year in college, I did an independent study with Leonard Urso in which I attempted to make two fully-finished knives. I was not very successful, but I recently found these knives in storage and thought I would post some photos for posterity.

The first knife was an experiment in “cable Damascus,” probably the easiest way to produce a pattern-welded blade. I was picturing this as a throwing knife, hence the weight is toward the tip, and it has a full tang which is threaded to attach a pommel (I was planning a ring-shaped pommel). I was pleased with the shape, and the pattern in the steel — but I never finished it, both because I ran out of time and because I was disappointed that the cable didn’t weld solidly all the way through, producing the cracks you see at the tip (and making the knife somewhat useless as a tool or weapon). The steel isn’t stainless, and has rusted a bit in storage.

GHknife1_full1200

GHknife1_det1200

The second knife came out better, though not nearly as well as I’d hoped. It was supposed to be a sort of East-meets-West knife, a double-edged stainless steel blade essentially European in style but married to a more Japanese style hilt and fittings. The shape got away from me a little in the forging, and I had to keep simplifying the fittings to accommodate the amount of skill and work time I had. Still, it is my first and only complete knife, and it is functional (solidly built and very sharp), and not quite the ugliest knife I’ve ever seen, so I’m a little bit proud of it.

GHknife2_1200

One response so far

Nov 19 2015

Pericles at the Folger

Published by under reviews,shakespeare,sketchbook

Last night I went to see Pericles, Prince of Tyre at the Folger. Pericles is an unusual play, and most scholars think it was only partly written by Shakespeare (Wikipedia link). The first half of the play is colorful but rather choppy, as the narrator tugs us along quickly through an epic series of journeys, not really getting into much depth in terms of character or drama. However, the events themselves are quite interesting, with cool mythological overtones, and eventually the narrative builds up a compelling reality. Working with this source material, the small company of actors/musicians paints a beautiful and vivid tapestry. It’s visually lush and musically ambitious, and I recommend it quite highly. Here are the sketches I did during the performance.

3 responses so far

Nov 09 2015

2015 Picture Book panel at Politics & Prose

Published by under Uncategorized

Last night Politics & Prose hosted a great panel about picture books for older readers. It included Jason Chin, Jacqueline Woodson, Christopher Myers, John Parra, and Chris Soentpiet, all fabulous picture book authors and/or illustrators. In the audience were dozens of the local educators and book-industry folks I’ve been getting to know, as well as many I hadn’t yet met. Lots of great questions from moderator Julie Danielson of 7 Impossible Things, and from the audience as well. Good times! They videotaped it, so that should be available to watch sometime soonish. Also Alison tweeted lots of quotes here. Here are the sketches I did during the discussion:

PnP2015Picture-Book-panel

 

One response so far

Sep 22 2015

Islesford Painting Workshops 2015

Published by under landscape,sketchbook,travel

For the last three years I’ve attended the Islesford Painting Workshop, led by my friends and amazing painters Henry Isaacs and Ashley Bryan, up in the gorgeous environs of Little Cranberry Island, off the coast of Mt. Desert Island, Maine. It’s a wonderful workshop, with first class food and accommodations and very non-formulaic instruction. This year they asked me to help them teach both 3-day sessions.

ALM Maine 641

It was an honor to be asked, a joy to work with them for a whole week, a sacrifice to spend less time painting, an intimidating challenge to try to contribute something meaningful to what these two great men are doing, and to continuously find useful things to say to painters who range from absolute beginner to highly experienced. I am happy to say that, based on lots of great feedback, I do feel I contributed significantly in a number of ways, and found the experience very rewarding and instructive (in relation to both teaching and painting).

Maine Day7 006

On one of the sketches I wrote “wrap the space around the viewer”, which was my biggest painting takeaway from the week — I think I understand more now about why that’s important and how to accomplish it.

I found a little time to paint each day, and here are the pieces I did, as well as sketches I snuck in when I only had a moment to jot something down. The paint is gouache (opaque watercolor). Some got a little additional work/color added when I got home.

It’s a pretty amazing workshop, and I highly recommend it. I’m already looking forward to next year!

3 responses so far

Sep 17 2015

Jonathan Stroud and Eoin Colfer

Published by under authors,sketchbook

On Tuesday I returned from a fantastic trip to Maine (where I attended and helped teach the Islesford Painting Workshop). I will post lots of art, photos and thoughts from that experience soon, but in the meantime, here’s the other thing I did Tuesday: went to a great author event at Politics and Prose with Jonathan Stroud (Bartimaeus, Lockwood & Co.) and Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl, WARP). Jonathan charmed and Eoin cracked up the large audience crowded into P&P’s kids department. Here’s a page of sketches of the scene.

Jonathan Stroud and Eoin Colfer full

No responses yet

Aug 11 2015

Published by under Macbeth,odyssey,Poe,process

Today TeachingBooks.net is featuring an article I wrote about my process (in general, with specific focus on Macbeth). They also have a short audio clip I recorded about my approach to The Odyssey.

Poe status update: 1 month to go! Also, listening to The Iliad again in preparation for jumping into that.

No responses yet

Jul 07 2015

Beth Cavener

Published by under sketchbook

Just before the long San Francisco trip detailed in my last post, I went to an artist talk at the Smithsonian American Art Museum by the amazing sculptor Beth Cavener. I posted a few drawings of her work a couple of years ago when I first discovered it in a Chelsea gallery. Her animals are virtuosic, disturbing, conceptual, and laborious. In the talk, she showed slides of (I think) pretty much all her work, and for fun I drew little quick gesture drawings of as many as I could capture.

Cavener01
Cavener02
Cavener03
Cavener04
Cavener05
Cavener06

No responses yet

Jul 06 2015

ALA 2015 recap

ALM San Francisco 444

At ALA with Ashley Bryan

Although I’ve been to the American Library Association‘s (smaller) Midwinter show, I’d never been to the main ALA Annual show until last week. It was a really wonderful experience. Alison and I flew out a week early to explore and visit friends in the area. Here are a few highlights of our travels and of the show (below the cut):

Continue Reading »

One response so far

Next »