Illustrating your Own Story! Becoming an AuthorArtist - Part 4 with Maya Gonzalez
OK, back to scooching ever closer toward the AuthorArtist position. Last month we took a break from the art and explored why Quantum Physics and being a children's book authorartist have everything to do with each other....so, how did it go? Did you become as clear as possible about what it is that you want to create in your career? Did you imagine it as if it's already happened? I encourage you to keep playing with those concepts from last month as we now turn back again toward some art making.
This month I’m going to encourage you to cheatcheatcheat…now, I don’t really believe in cheating because of that whole second art rule of mine, “there’s never a right or wrong way to make art.” But technically, the kids always think of today’s project as cheating at first, until I educate them of course.
To blow a big hole in the idea of cheating, I did a whole book using this photo technique - Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems by Francisco Alarcon. I also used this technique for my contribution to Just Like Me, one of my all time favorite books.
All you do is take a photograph, you can even use one of yourself or your kids to practice on, or someone you want to honor, like Nelson Mandela or Frida Kahlo and make art directly onto it. Enlarge the photo in black and white on heavy cardstock. I like to use oil pastels, color pencils or acrylics. With acrylics you can actually paint it to the point that you no longer see the original printed image. With oil pastels and color pencils part of what makes it interesting is that you can still see the photo print showing through.
Go slowly and let your colors build up. This is a great opportunity to get a sense of the shape of the face, how shadows work, facial expressions. You don’t have to be tied to making it look realistic. If you like you could be blue. Your kids could have polka dots. You could accentuate the most simple lines of the image and take out the smaller details and create a more stylized or graphic image.
I’ve shared a few samples I did of two AMAZING authors I painted years ago for Children's Book Press promotional materials and recently found in my studio, Toyomi Igus and Juan Felipe Herrera. Can you see the image underneath? Does it feel like I’m cheating? What do you imagine I learned by doing this? Personally, I love this technique. I think of it as pure play and revel in the fact that I can relax and know that the image is basically going to look like the person.
If your goal is to become an artist that can create realistic imagery, this is a great chance to practice, play and imagine doing this without an image underneath too.
What or who would you love to paint using this technique? Your dog, your kid, your mum, your favorite artist…just promise me you’ll have fun.
Maya Gonzalez is largely self-taught. She has illustrated over 20 award-winning multicultural children’s books and written 3 with, not an end in sight! Her latest book, Call Me Tree, set to come out this year with Lee&Low Books, is her most recent labor of love! Her fine art has shown internationally and appears in numerous books about the contemporary Chicano Art Movement including on the cover of Living Chicana Theory and Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Art: Artists, Works, Culture and Education considered to be "the Bible of Chicano/a art." Ridiculously creative, she’s probably making art as you read this or thinking about making art if she’s driving a car or using the stove. And one of her ultimate passions is inspiring others to create books, because she believes that creating children's books has the potential to be one of the most radical things you can do!
1/6/2014 04:01:26 am
Thank you, Maya, for this great way to practice face coloring and shadows. I don't look at it as cheating at all :) I'm going to try it and I will feel no guilt! I took to heart the idea of telling myself that I am an author and an artist. Sometimes, I slip into loss of self-confidence, but I boot me out of it. You are an inspiration-thank you.
1/7/2014 05:54:02 am
so glad to hear charlotte! art and creativity are so precious, it's important to me to give it room to feel free and playfull! rock on darling!
1/6/2014 09:13:56 am
Thank you Maya for a wonderful and informative series. I like the idea of using the photos to build up a sense of face planes. I once went to a van gogh exhibition and discovered that the great masters all start out copying someone else's work until their own style develops. It isn't cheating if they did it too. :)
1/7/2014 05:56:11 am
my polka dot theory taught me there's no such thing as cheating...but i do like the idea of the masters being the same as us! i fantasized myself michaelangelo as a child! are you our van gogh?!
1/7/2014 04:42:07 am
1/7/2014 04:43:43 am
...need to spell check:0
1/7/2014 05:57:02 am
you really took it to a beautiful place laura. i remember. xo
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