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Oh, my dears. I apologize for the absence.
So much has changed for me in the past four months. In fact, in many ways, I’m kindof starting life over.
Essentially I broke up with my boyfriend of nearly four years, moved out, and began a new relationship with another man, a good friend whom I met at my last game studio job. It’s been a huge shift, in every possible arena.
Emotionally, I’ve been all over the place during this period, and I still have a lot of heart mending to do – so being a functional creative has been very challenging. I’m poring over treatises and techniques on how to stay creative, how to live. The Artist’s Way, The Perfect Bait, How to be an Illustrator, and many more, are fueling me.
Bear with me, as I bear with myself.
Things are better, I think, though. Already since the change, I feel more awake and in charge of myself, and it seems the universe is responding.
I’m starting work with Playdom Interactive next week as a full-time game artist, thank the lawdy for health insurance.
I have some exciting new projects lined up – some are secret at the moment – but they include further work with the author of the Journey of the Noble Gnarble, Daniel Errico.
I have outlined the new and improved Clevenger Kids book layout and am beginning to block in some of the standout pieces.
I’m remembering more of my dreams, and drawing them.
Some of my friends still want to be my friend.
In any case, stay tuned for more – I’m going to be a locomotive in the next few months, and hopefully I’ll have time between drawing to post them all!
And as always, I invite you to check in on my nonsense on Facebook and Twitter because I’m a gushing stream of internet there.
Stay well, my lovelies.
A Rest With Dimetrodon
The Gnarble project took a long time, and overall the project was outside of my realm of mostly gamey experience, so it took me a while to ramp up – but Daniel (and everyone else!) never stopped supporting me. It’s so wonderful to see how the final product turned out! Here she is in all her glory – well, kinda.
The videogame I worked on with Backbone Entertainment last year is also soon to be released! After 6 years working in games, I’ll finally have a shipped title: Zombie Apocalypse 2: Never Die Alone! The bad news – NONE of my concepts made it into the game! Well, none except for a stupid auto-turret. BUT I’LL BE DAMNED IF IT WASN’T THE BEST AUTO-TURRET. T_T
Oh well – that’s how it goes in the wicky wicky wild wild west.
The publisher is currently working on a fancy theatrical-ish trailer, but in lieu of that, I can show you the gameplay preview from this year’s E3. (Fun fact: That’s my boyfriend Mike doing the playing and narration, he’s the producer on the project, and basically saved it from utter obliteration, lol)
Another project I helped with has also wrapped up. I spent four months working with Other Ocean Interactive’s latest, War of the Worlds! The team was fantastic, and we got a LOT done in an amazingly short amount of time. I might do more work with them in the near future!
I’ll be putting a lot of stuff together soon, including returning to Dinosaurs Before Bedtime, putting together a portfolio for Pixar (because they’re right here and it’s HIGH TIME, I SAY!), and several collaborations with fellow Other Oceanite, game designer, and good fwend, Paul. :3
Work-in-progress of Polycotylus, a late Cretaceous plesiosaur. This year a specimen was described with viviparous fetae inside her – which could be potential evidence of mothering!
…So here she is with her beebees. :3
Oh, I used a variation on Wilhelm’s fluke reconstruction, too – just for lulz. Not horribly accurate, I just wanted to draw some baby plesiosaurs.
I’ve been wanting to do a rendition of Livyatan melvillei ever since I saw the sad reconstruction painting that was stuck to every article about her. I used Nemo-Ramjet’s rendition as reference, and gave her a Cetotherium to eat!
Here, a Livyatan female has just pulverized a straggler with her initial bone-breaking ambush from below, and is moving in to finish her meal off – while the rest of the Cetotherium pod gets the fuck out! >:]
Not too accurate, especially with the sizing, but eh.
Stay tuned, suckas.
The children’s book I illustrated, The Journey of the Noble Gnarble by Daniel Errico, has a publication date – October 1st, 2011! It’ll be available from Barnes and Noble Booksellers, and on Amazon.com.
The Corgi Gryphon is getting so much love, I’ve added a print for it on my Etsy shop! You can find it here.
I’ve also been getting crazy suggestions from friends on what other pairings of dog breeds + mythological creatures would be fun.
Beagle + chimaera?
Pug + chinese dragon?
What do you guys think?
In other news, I got a day job working with a bunch of friends at Other Ocean Interactive, and we’re working on a game adaptation of War of the Worlds, with none other than Patrick Stewart’s dulcet tones to inspire us! I keep finding myself bellowing “THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS” and “THE LINE MUST BE DRAWN HEEEEYA!”
The project has a hell of a schedule, but the cool thing is that it’s a 2d game, so I get to paint my stuff and then IMMEDIATELY plug ’em in to see how it looks in-game – a first for me!
And later, I get to design the aliens! :3
I’ve got some more Kylie Meadows work, and a little branding design underway as well. Blerg, so much to do!
Oh, and if you’re on Google+, I’m there too! It’s already turning out to be a wonderful sharing platform for art and connecting creatives.
Anyhow. You know where to leave them comments!
Goodness! So much has been going on! I feel ashamed of myself for not updating here.
It’s always so helpful to put myself into a writing sort of mood, but honestly I haven’t had the time! And normally when I say I’m busy it’s a half-excuse, but for the past 2 months, at least, it’s been completely true. 😛
So late last year I was approached by an independent children’s book writer who runs a site supplying free children’s stories on the web, one of which has been picked up by an independent publisher. He effectively opened a call for entries, and I won the bid! My first published work as a professional artist! Excitement!
The book is called the Journey of the Noble Gnarble, and it’s about a little made-up sort of fish who lives on the bottom of the sea, who dreams of seeing the sunshine. Can you say right up my alley? If all goes as planned, it’ll be printed and on bookshelves by Fall 2011. So, here’s a few sneak peeks of some of the double spreads:
So over the past 6 months I’ve been working closely with the author and the publisher’s designer to nudge the illustrations into a good spot. I designed all the characters and helped a little with the title typeface design – that was super challenging! There were a few stops and starts, technical malfunctions, miscommunications, and some emotional rough patches, but I had good friends and colleagues to keep me on track and encouraged! I like to think I gained a good chunk of experience – being a freelancer doesn’t seem nearly as scary. 😀
In addition to this, I’ve been working with another author, this time a guy who’s intending to self-publish a series of young adult Fantasy novels, called the Winterlark Series. More work to come soon on that, though!
I also participated in a local art show for a gallery in San Francisco, the theme was meant to bring art by game developers into a fine art setting. It was definitely an interesting experience dealing with a gallery, but I don’t think I’ll be dealing with one again until my name actually means something. 😄
For the show, I was convinced that everyone needed to know what whales and dolphins looked like 30 million years ago. Unfortunately, they put my piece all the way in the back of the gallery under the stairs, so no one cared. And yes, it’s still for sale!
I joined a blog that is an exploration of mythological and folkloric critters – some of which are quite awesomely poorly known! Some of my submissions to the Alphabestiary:
My lady creature-making compatriots Brynn Metheney and Allison Theus, and I began a creature design project together – it might become a book, who knows! Right now the project is still in its infancy since we’re all three so busy, but hopefully more will come about soon! We were also interviewed about the project, and our very similar, yet distinctive work, by Mike Corriero for an artists’ spotlight via the Art Academy Character and Creature Design Notes Blog.
You can read the interviews HERE. Some of the work I’ve done for the project:
And lastly, THE OTHER BOOK. The prehistoric one where kinda-myself travels back in time with kinda- my little brothers. Well it’s still underway, but having worked so long on the Gnarble, I can’t help but notice that my drawing skills have substantially improved (by force) over the past 6 months. I’ve done some good work on the Dinosaurs Before Bedtime paintings, but I’m tempted to redo them. I wasn’t organizing the book properly, I had no layouts, and I had no text to work with. I’d often start paintings on a whim and flub in the illustratey details as I went along. With what I’ve learned from working with someone else’s text, that’s not very smart, and doesn’t make for a sellable product.
I did, however, get a few more of the paintings up:
That last painting actually made it onto ImagineFX’s front page! I’m internet famous!
So, I’m not entirely sure what’s next. Aside from taking a few small sketch and quick-paint commissions on DeviantArt, I’m definitely warming to the freedom and the diversity of work that comes with being a freelance illustrator, and so far I do enjoy working on small publishing projects. Even when it’s been hard, it hasn’t had the same soul-sucking feeling that my prior game industry experiences have had. So we’ll see if I give that industry another chance for the sake of job security and the ever-elusive perfect art team, or if I wind up sticking it out alone. I’m open to being convinced by either, or, and both!
Well, as with all things, my latest job has come to an end. I had the opportunity to work on some frustrating projects, but I feel like I was able to channel it into some decent work. I’ve learned so much about my craft in the past 6 months – most of it, I know, I won’t fully appreciate until a few more months have passed. The peeps at Backbone Entertainment were a great bunch, and I hope the best for them all as they continue to try and get great projects off the ground and out the door. And who knows, maybe when the time is right, I can work with some of ’em again. 😀
My children’s book is calling me! Oh Clevengers! I’ve missed my prehistoric friends and kiddie adventurers.
In some ways, I’m actually quite excited about what’s next. A good deal of that is “I DUNNO” but hey, now I can actually hang out with all the friends I’ve said I needed to catch up with. Wonderful lady creature designers two, Brynn Metheney and Allison Theus and I are also embarking on a collaboration effort on the side – I’m thrilled to actually have time for it now.
LADIES OF BEASTS mwahaha.
So in honor of moving off to different places, and at the encouragement of internet pal David Brown Eyes, I’ve started a shiny new WordPress!
Suck it, Google!
The Spring is here, (in this area, it has been for a long while) inciting long walks, lots of photos of flowers, and moments admiring light.
The past few months, for me, have been a heap of mixed-baggery. The new year came in, up and down: perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop.
When I last wrote, to be honest, I was in a pretty dire spot, and was considering abandoning art-making all together.
I’ve been feeling lately that the methods I have relied upon in the past no longer serve me – and thus feel forced and outmoded. They’re cast in this mold of final product, quick changeover, and imitation. I’m just beginning to realize now how it puts me in this position of resenting the creation process, hurrying to some end-day when I’ll finally have the time to do as I wish.
But the day I will be perfect and “finished,” will be the day I die.
So what then? Change is scary. The conflict I’m wrestling with now, with my art, and my expression, is like some somatic symptom of my feet dragging – resistance at finding a new method.
Perpetually in transition, I am still filling up my mind with ideas and images like some decanter of experience. After maybe a few more years of decanting, maybe I’ll have some great work, my gift – perfectly aerated. It will be true, and come perfectly from me. Fountained.
Since then, and despite my challenges, I have seen New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Kentucky, a glorious wedding, and (large amounts of) snow. Thankfully, I came back around to my senses. Travel will do that.
Mike has taken up a new hobby – our oven is filled with bricks. Every weekend he experiments in baking, and his holy grail is the perfect New York style pizza. I’m convinced he’s already nailed it, but he isn’t satisfied. In myriad ways, he’s the foundation for my ability to not give up.
My family has been predictably incompetent and infuriating – and predictably just in time for Mother’s Day… I think I’ve finally given up having any manner of dialogue with mine.
The detractors, distractors, the nay-sayers…. I can’t waste energy on them any longer.
It takes away too much from my work.
Employment-wise, I’ve been doing brief gasps of work for game companies, web non-profits, and authors whom I inexplicably befriended at coffee shops.
A good friend has loaned me a copy of this; it and various design blogs have been a very grounding place to make me feel less crazy, despite the rabble’s prattling opinion.
And about and between this, I’m developing my own children’s book, a fantasy bedtime adventure that is somewhat autobiographical. This project has allowed me to somewhat keep my head during my days (and away from Facebook), and warm me to the idea of being a freelancer.
My home studio fits like a pair of favorite shoes, by now.
It’s usually covered in Moleskines and paint.
Two of my dearest loves have always been watercolor and natural history, and diving back into that world has taken me into heights of nerdery these past months, all which I refuse to apologize for. 😛
I recently completed a terrifying double page spread of a Dunkleosteus menacing my characters, I’ll try to get it up soon.
I am also letting a few new stories simmer a bit more in the pot, they might cross and connect in cute little ways. They’re fittingly children’s literature-esque, hopefully one or more will show promise, and be a follow-up book to the Bedtime Adventure.
In the meantime, here are a few quick previews of my children’s book, Dinosaurs Before Bedtime: (my good cousin Chad visited from Dallas, and snuck photos while I was out, the little sneak)
Happy May, cuties.
No more holidays or new year dawdling! Time to get to work! You heard me! Drop and give me 50! Paintings!
Yes, it’s true. After a month of piddling around and hemming and hawing over what to do, and my general dissatisfaction with the state of the games industry in America (although I’m sure Japan and Europe are just as screwy), I’ve decided to switch gears and develop a children’s book.
And damn if it isn’t daunting. All the worst-case scenarios and fire and brimstone lectures from illustration curmudgeons have been coming back, and hitting hard. It’s so easy to get discouraged, and I haven’t even done anything yet! Just reading about the state of the overly saturated publishing industry sets my teeth on edge. Yeeee.
I’m enthusiastic mostly because of two things: I’ve rediscovered how much I missed drawing and reconstructing prehistoric creatures (I’ve been so out of the loop with paleontological discoveries in the past few years: I’m a bad nerd!); and two, I’ve rediscovered how much I missed watercolor. Coming from years of battling digital programs, it alarmed me how easy it was! Just slosh and slop and a painting is done. It’s hard to keep the images from getting to heavy.
I’m going to be sneaky about the details of my book for now, but I will leave you with some preliminary practice work I’ve been toying with to get me back in the groove. Here comes fun!
unfortunately, these things do happen. a few months ago, i was laid off from my job as a concept artist at a start-up video game studio here in the Bay Area, ending three years of work with no product to show for it, and nothing substantial to add to my resume. many friends of mine have been unemployed for a very long time now, and now i’ve joined them. it’s actually quite depressing, the layoff went down just in time for seasonal affective disorder to take hold.
the upside is that work that was being put off can be realized. so far this has limited itself to quick paint sketches, but i have plenty of bigger, more refined pieces coming down the pipeline, which i intend to print and send in for various art competitions. i am also making an endeavor to get back into traditional art, as was inspired by a trip to a sketch-night at a local gallery, where my work was very well received by enthusiastic art scenesters.
but until then, here is what i have so far.
Haibane Renmei is a short (13 episodes) anime series from the creator of Lain, and centers on a few girls living in an isolated village, who have awakened as angel-like creatures with no memory of their past lives. the plot is very slow and meandering, but the emotions that are kindled as the series progresses are searing. i found myself crying while watching the later episodes. i was especially struck by the character of Reki, the selfless caretaker of the group, and her emotional struggles – which of course resemble my own.
Greer Gilman’s Cloud and Ashes: Three Winter’s Tales is the best novel i have read in many years. the craft, the images, the themes, the sheer poetry of the three stories (two shorter ones to set the scene, and a long novella) has filled my mind with beautiful images for months now, but no real complete pieces have come out of it so far. the abstraction and ethereal tone is sometimes difficult to pin down in a precise image or character design, the prose is told as if through a haze of all the words that came before it. the experience of reading Cloud and Ashes is to be fully immersed in the present moment, being overwhelmed with the english language. sounds pretentious, but it’s true. of course it helps that the authoress is a lexicologist.
the plot circles in on the unassuming and reticent girl, Margaret, who was born and raised in the celestial plane of Law by her sinister grandmother, the goddess of the moon, Annis – but escapes. Margaret is the product of an incarnation of Annis’ daughter, Ashes, who came was stolen away to the earthly land of Cloud with a simple fiddler. her journey through Cloud to find her mother and escape the prying eyes and spies of her grandmother is a myth as rich and multilayered as any hero journey from the european tradition.
so far i am on my third reading of the book.
and finally, this piece is purely a personal work, inspired by a particularly distressing session at therapy. the emotional struggle that i have been going through lately, in attempting to reconcile and grieve for my past self, has been harrowing. this piece was done in the weeks leading up to a trip back home to stay with my family, and the anxiety and guilt that i felt was almost enough to make me back out of the whole thing. so this character, whom i named Turmoil, is the representation i have chosen of myself, when i am overwhelmed. i’m using a bit of overt symbolism, but the emotions elicited are what i am after. constriction, suspension, and the feeling of gasping in brackish water.
until next time,
well things have certainly been interesting, but i wanted to share with you all some commissioned work i did for some of the good folks at DeviantArt. it was pretty successful, and some of the pieces were fun to work on. maybe i’ll do another set soon!
overall the commission experience was kindof interesting, i’ve never coordinated something like this online before, and it was actually relatively quick and painless. all the people i worked for were quick to respond, inquisitive, honest, reasonable, and they liked the pieces that came out of it.
this is mostly, i figure, a product of doing art for people who are themselves artists. they know what to look for, know what to provide, and know where to let the person hired for the job go ahead and do their thing. i had all kinds of delays and crises throughout the process, but the clients who were delayed just sent me smilies and love. i wish “real” freelance jobs could be this fun!
until next time,