Thamalkane Lodge

riverlodge

While the rest of the crew was south of us and experiencing some brief technical difficulties, Kevin and I were hanging out at Thamalkane River Lodge admiring this view. (This is in Maun, Botswana.)

There were a lot of birds. Most of them were egrets.

The artist Yoshida Hiroshi and his son Yoshida Toshi traveled the world and did lots of shin-hanga prints of the various sites, which is why there are gorgeous Japanese wood-block prints of things like Uluru and Mt. Kilamanjaro. That would not be a bad way to spend one’s life, if you ask me. This is something of a homage (and something of a “Man, I should go find all my old vacation photos and use them for reference for stuff in this style, because I will actually LOOK at this painting in a few years and maybe remember it, instead of having it moulder on a memory card somewhere.”)

I am really only able to do this because I am procrastinating about drawing hamsters, though.

Rabbitform after Kawase Hasui

So I spent most of yesterday ogling the work of the master artist Kawase Hasui, who was declared a national treasure for reasons that are really freakin’ obvious if you look at his work.

(Seriously, go google him. I’ll wait.)

He did beautiful portraits of an urbanizing Japan. I am in awe. Each one looks like the background for a Miyazaki movie.

Awe in me tends to lead to homage, and I have nothing more suited to put into such a piece than the odd little spirits that occasionally show up in my work. I still don’t quite know where they belong.

This is a view the field in front of the house, which is currently overrun with Queen Anne’s Lace, and the spirit is a little more akin to the Chatham Rabbit, which was once famous, than to the desert jackrabbits I usually paint. My local spirits are small and I do not always know what they want, but sometimes I feel them there nonetheless.

queenannslace

I do not usually use gradients with quite such reckless abandon, but if you’re trying to mimic printmaking, it’s the only way. And also this took 37 layers and was nearly half a gig at one point, as I layered and layered and layered and the computer just…handled it. Technology is amazing. If I’d tried that on one of my old machines, I could have gone and made a sandwich in the time it took to turn a layer on and off, and if I’d tried to move a layer around, I could have grown the wheat for the sandwich from scratch.

Blue Dragon Coffee

I have been woefully lax about updating here–as opposed to Livejournal–for which I apologize. Have some art!

bluedragonsml

I am waiting on word back on edits on the next Hamster book before I can start drawing it, so I have a brief window to work on my own stuff. I can do anything! ANYTHING!

…and apparently I want to do advertising posters for fake products. Because reasons.

We have prints!

Land Narwhal

landnarwhal1

When the unicorns went into the sea, untold millennia ago* they shed their hooves and took on blubber to become narwhals, and for the most part, they were happy.

But ages passed and ice melted and the seas were no longer as hospitable as they had been. The narwhals heaved themselves up on the beaches and began the long, slow process of reclaiming the land. If you travel to the most remote islands in the long-lost sea, you can find the land-narwhals frolicking in the surf, gallumphing over the dunes, using their horns to heal (and occasionally skewer) passing seabirds. They are still more agile in water than on land, but given enough time, they may reverse the steps that led them to the sea.

And then we’ll have hippocorns, and I just hope everyone will be happy.

*Red bulls may have been involved. The fossil record is silent on this point.

(Someone told me I was a unicorn today, and I replied that I preferred to be called a land-narwhal, and…well…you know how it is.)

Out of the Hat

rabbithat

I keep pulling rabbits out of this hat.

It was fine at first. People were grateful. Nothing wrong with that.

But I kept pulling them out. And now they’ve gone strange and there’s something wrong with their faces. I don’t like the way they look at me.

But what can I do? People still expect rabbits…

 

Prints available! I was feeling sort of Arthur Rackham and then it got a bit weird on me.

My Favorite Teacher

So Scholastic approached me awhile back to do an illustration for their “My Favorite Teacher” campaign, and this is what I came up with.

scholasticdragoncolor

 

Even though I am basically as busy as a human can possibly be without dying, I forewent sleep for this one. Partly because of Ms. Faunce, my high school freshman English teacher, who told me I could be a wordsmith, and partly because it was so cool that a big publisher wanted my art. (I mean, obviously Penguin and Random House have both wanted my art in the past, but they’ve always wanted it with my words attached. I love writing, but the illustrator in me was very flattered that somebody in New York thought I could do art that stood on its own in august company without having my words along to do the heavy lifting, if that makes any sense at all.) (Also, they paid quite well.)

Since it’s not out in the wild yet, they asked me to put this paragraph with it when I post it:

Created as part of Scholastic Reading Club’s year-long celebration of teachers. Teachers change the lives of their students every day. Sometimes a small moment has a huge impact on a child’s future. Other times it’s the year-long influence in a classroom that can change the course of a student’s entire life. Scholastic Reading Club is celebrating favorite teachers this year and will be interviewing students, parents, authors, illustrators, and celebrities about teachers who impacted their lives. If you’d like to share your own memories, you can email them to: judy.newman (at) scholastic.com

(E-mail altered so as to save the poor person on the other end from spambots)

Anyway, I thought that was pretty neat. And now, back to drawing ALL THE HAMSTERS FOREVER…

Writing Poems For Wolves (NSFW)

 

wolfpoems

I have been wandering around feeling itchy, like I need to do something to prove that I can still move pixels around a page into a shape more complicated than hamsters. (This is probably the single worst frame of mind to create good art, but the only way to get through it is to make SOMETHING.)

Of the dozen sketches I started, this one was the least preternaturally awful. It seems to mean something very sincerely–whatever that may be, I’ll leave as an exercise to the reader.