“Kids Draw” at the Library

2014-07-08 10.22.30

 

One of the coolest and most unexpectedly popular programs I run at our public library is Kids Draw. Every Wednesday, from 3:30-4:30, I set up tables and chairs in the downstairs meeting room. Some paper, pencils, and crayons are laid out, along with a few cool New Books packed with fun illustrations, and I pump up some Chip Tunes music from Pandora. Kids and their folks show up, grab their gear and a seat, and doodle away.

That’s it. Instant art event.

As a librarian, this is a hit on a multitude of levels. It’s incredibly cheap, weekly cost consisting of just a few dozen sheets of computer paper and a some simple art supplies used repeatedly throughout the year. As far as planning and prep goes, there is practically none. I keep all of the gear in a basket, snag a handful of good picture books on my way over, and the whole thing takes barely ten minutes to set up, most of that just lining up chairs. And since the focus is on social drawing over artistic instruction, there is no need for a lesson plan, or for the facilitator to even consider themselves an artist.

On a sappier note, it’s wonderful to see the interactions between parents and children. While some of the older kids get dropped off, at our library anyone under 10 must be with an adult. This has resulted in several parents that might not usually think to draw spending a solid hour sketching and doodling. Kids are so much more tuned in to something when they see their parents participating, and you can just watch a bond forming over shared art. As a bonus, the children have a tendency to talk and ramble as they work, and I’ve heard many parents getting a little extra insight into their young one’s day.

Beyond all of that, the educational value, the social value, the parenting value, I must admit that the thing that keeps me so invested in the program is the outright fun of sitting and drawing with these kids each week. We have a core group of regulars who show up for every session (even linger after and help pack up!), and as we sketch away on our monsters and robots and trolls we discuss current movies, favorite books, and general thoughts on life. I get instant Art Direction on what colors look best for certain space ships, and many is the time I’ve been prompted out of my comfort zone by a request for specific cartoon characters or someone’s favorite dinosaur.

If you’re a librarian, I highly recommend trying this out as an easy addition to your regular programs. If you are a parent, perhaps ask your local library to try something like this, or just set aside an hour at home for Art Time. If you’re an artist, grab some pencils and paper and go find some wee cousins, nieces, and nephews to draw with.

It’s worth it for everyone.

Clinch River Sturgeon

Our local PBS station, WCTE, hosts the Great TV Auction ever year, with proceeds benefiting the station. Along with many of the other talented Art Prowl artists, I donated a piece that will be auctioned off on the evening of Sunday, June 9th. Anyone in the area should tune in for a great opportunity to get some cool art and support your local public television.

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My piece is titled “Clinch River Sturgeon,” and depicts a vibrant green lake sturgeon. Much like my Cryptid Americana series, it is acrylic paint on a stained pine plank, with india ink penwork for all of the details. Below is a step-by-step photo progress gallery.

And as an exclusive tip to my blog readers, I’ll clue you in to the fact that the fins and underbelly of this particular fish have a phosphorescent tendency, all thanks to a little experimenting with glow-in-the-dark paint:]

 

Show and Con Catchup

I’m way behind on show report posts! In the interest of completeness and simultaneous brevity, I’m going to upload a couple galleries of photos from Art Prowl 2012 and Omnicon 2013, and do my best to avoid my usual long-winded explanations.

Art Prowl: My dad and I were lucky enough to display at the Putnam County Library, which was pretty great, considering it’s where I spend all my weekday work days. He brought a slew of his awesome abstracts, which you can peruse in much greater detail over at his blog. I brought an assortment of my digital prints, as well as four new pieces I created in my Cryptid Americana series. These are a combination of acrylic and ink on stained pine planks. (previous post with more detail) The show was a blast, it’s always great getting to show your work to your community, and even better getting to do that alongside your dad!

This March was my fourth time displaying at Omnicon, Cookeville’s local Sci-fi/Comics convention, held at TTU. (posts from last year) I brought several new prints, as well as a collection of newspaper comics I produced a few years ago for TTU’s own “The Oracle.” But I was most proud of how I re-envisioned the Die of Destiny monster prints. This year emerging as the Tower of Tribulation, it is now a full-fledged micro RPG. I came up with four hero archetypes, each one with an accompanying character sheet complete with stats and special abilities. The player would choose an avatar, and then challenge one of the 8 available monsters (4 from last year and 4 brand new ones) to a duel, involving the Die of Destiny. As they advanced, they could win more prints, and eventually were either vanquished or victorious. It. Was. A. Blast. The wheels are already turning for ways to improve it next year!

Pen Reviews pt 1

If you are tired of hearing me swoon about my wonderful library job and babble on about different types of pens, you might want to just skip this post.

Fair warning.

As part of our summer programming at the public library, I have been allowed to run a four part drawing seminar in conjunction with the Teen Program. Each week (with the exception of the one my Dad guest-lectured on) I am covering different core drawing concepts, such as Structures Being Composed of Shapes or the ever thrilling One and Two Point Perspective. It’s a great opportunity to encourage young artists, and it’s a good way for them to network and meet other teens enthusiatic about drawing.

To add a little incentive I have been offering door prizes, and a good deal of these are coming from my favorite pen site, Jetpens. The good folks at Jetpens were kind enough to send me a pack of products to review on the blog, and then give out to the kids each week. So, without further rambling, here is the first installment of my pen reviews.

 

Staedtler Pigment Liner Marker Pen 0.1 mm

This is a great fine-line sketching pen. It lays a very even line, with no noticable bleed or smudging on heavy paper. It’s the type of pen that makes me want to do a massive hatching and cross hatching piece, and draw in every little rivet and rivulet as I go. The ink is just a shade lighter than absolute black, but this is good for allowing you to stack lines for depth. The pen body itself is a little slender, so if you’re someone with a really fierce pen grip style, you might get some finger cramps, but I had no real issues. I also enjoyed the sleek look of the pen, and the matte gray body prevents any slickness in the hand.

All around, I highly recommend this pen, and would love to play around with using different widths of this.

Pilot V-Pen Disposable Fountain Pen

I was excited to get this one to review, as I’ve been on a big fountain pen kick lately (even though I might not know as much as I should). I’ve not yet gotten my “problem” upgraded to the $50 pens, instead sticking with many along the line of disposables. This Pilot V-Pen is a pretty standard example of such. It has a nice feel in the hand, not too bulky or too skinny. The solid plastic body and cap does give it a slightly cheap appearance, but that’s sort of the point, so no complaints. Speaking of points (ba-dun-chhh) the nib seems to be of nice quality. When I got done spinning the thing in my hands and finally started dropping lines, it let out a very consistent one, if a little heavy for my tastes. The ink is a good darkness, unless I was just racing the pen across the page it left a pretty heavily opaque black line. I did have a little fuzzy bleeding when using this on thick drawing paper, which is not a problem I normally have with my pens. This leads me to believe it must have a pretty heavy ink flow, which could be good or bad, depending on your intentions.

Overall, while I feel this is a perfectly serviceable writing instrument, I don’t think I would recommend the V-Pen for drawing purposes. The Platinum Preppy’s do the job much better, with more variety in pen size, and the option to refill with cartridges.

Zebra Disposable Brush Pen -Super Fine-

This pen is an old friend of mine, and one I am excited to extol the virtues of. Several years ago I went on an Art Quest to find the best brush pen or pens for my needs, and this is one of the few that I brought back from the pen-filled wilds. I have a romantic vision of my interaction with such pens, where I would use a splendidly long-brushed delicate pen to whorl and swirl my way across the page, leaving delightfully smooth ever-changing curves in my wake. The reality is that when I cram such an instrument into my ham-fisted paws all I can accomplish is a jagged and hideous ink mess.

Not so with this Zebra Pen! The firmer tip helps prevent my indelicate lines from smushing and shrinking as I work across the page. It lets me keep a consistent width for the bulk of the stroke, but it is still easy to put a light taper on the tips. And if I really want to bulk up a curve, a little intentional pressure will do just that. The pens come in a few different sizes, but I find the Super Fine to be good for my purposes, mainly comics and such at a fairly small scale. The ink has a nice rich darkness, looks great on it’s own and holds up well to light erasing. The body is a simple plastic one, as expected on a disposable pen, but the nice color and gold flecking help to keep it from looking cheap. The pen is just single use, with no intended refill mechanism. I have seen them disassembled with pliers to add ink, and this seemed to work well, but I don’t know how many times you would want to do so, since the nibs are only intended for a certain amount of use.

I heartily recommend the Zebra Brush Pen. Since finding it, whenever it comes time to replace, I usually just order 3, and make sure there is always one in my art box.

 

 

Photo Smorgasbord

I’ve had these bits and pieces from assorted projects  bouncing around my hard drive, thought I would post a bunch of them together. Enjoy!

A set of owl plaques drawn as a gift. Ink and watercolor on stained pine.

I promised my sister a trio of drawings for Christmas, entirely her pick. What did she go with? A list of six animals, to be combined however I saw fit into three new creatures. Slothkey, Hippoplatypus, and Sea Giraffe. She knows my strengths! Ink and watercolor on paper.Mass Effect commissions. Had a lot of fun playing with some colors. Marker on Bristol.

Kitty Ballerina for a friend. Cute x10. Ink and watercolor on paper.

Pinocchio plaque commission. Ink on stained pine.

Wicket E. Warwick commission, to accompany a Boba Fett and Vader I made earlier. Ink and colored pencil on brown paper.

A Christmas present for my gaming group, The Nerdhouse. I caricatured us all as some of our favorite characters, doing single watercolor paintings to give to each of them. Then I scanned them all in and collected them for a digital print.

Omnicon Aftermath: Con Report

Recent blog silence has been due to the frantic workload leading up to my hometown con, Omnicon!
In preparation, I produced a run of Dungeon Monster prints, a brand new sketchbook collection, and a massive wooden story mural entitled “A Hero’s Journey” for the art contest (that one gets its own post later:). After a several week haze of sleepless nights and coffee-addled days, the con was upon me!

 I had a variety of wares on display at my table, including many of the prints I showcased at the Art Prowl, as well as a new one featuring my art from the official Omnicon 2012 poster, entitled “Cockroaches and Nerds” (also soon to receive a dedicated post). There was a selection of larger sketchcards I had produced, with themes including Marvel Heroes, Disney Pixar, and Hogwart’s Faculty. Also, a series of small watercolor paintings, inspired by my Tiny Link drawings. To further the videogame theme, I offered some brownpaper drawings of Mario, Mega-Man, and Zelda characters.

My favorite item, however, was the Dungeon Monsters print series, available exclusively to those willing to brave the DIE OF DESTINY! Although only a handful had the guts required, we saw both a Critical Hit and a Critical Failure, both accompanied by the appropriate whoops and lamentations.

By far my most popular items were the mini-sketchcards, both pre-drawn and custom made. I had a sampling of characters from Adventure Time, Star Wars, Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon, as well as many original doodles. And I was also asked to draw several unique characters (including a couple Derpy’s:) but easily my favorite commission of the day was a pairing of Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla, complete with Electric Pigeon Soulmate (fascinating backstory here).

All in all, it was a delightful weekend. I can hardly wait for next year! And if any of these pieces catch your fancy, let me know, they might still be available, even if they haven’t shown up in The Shop.