Better Late

Put up my 2022 wall collage today.

A collage on a mirror in Lucy's room. There's a veiled woman at the center, surrounded by other imagery. Two halves of a pomegranate. A boat. A seashell.

I’ve been taking these pieces out and shuffling them around my floor for months, stacking them this way and that way, leaving them awkwardly in the middle of the room for weeks before whisking them back to the box from whence they came. I kept chickening out about committing to a single composition to have up for the rest of the year. Something about the imagery I was choosing scared me.

I think it’s about cycles and mortality and isolation. Writing letters to the underworld. I still don’t know, but it’s up.

2021 came down earlier this week.

A collage on a mirror in Lucy's bedroom. There's photos of swarming swallows, kangaroos, a woman standing on the seashore, a lighthouse, dolphins. A crow. Groucho Marx.

That year ended up being about multiplicity and sexuality and ingenuity. A sense of the absurd. Family coming in threes. The ocean as home. Situating myself in a flock. Returning to a primitive sense of belonging.

2020 was my first. Jocelyn put us up to it during Hi-Fi. I’m a wall maximalist, so the idea of putting imagery up wasn’t really new, but she encouraged us to focus on images only. No words. This continues to appeal because I’m shifting my brain from thinking in words to thinking in pictures. Allowing the meaning of something to be layered and evolving over time.

A collage of postcards on a white wall. They features images of the Ojai valley, seascapes with rocky arches, an angel holding a trumpet, succulents with sharp leaves, a tiny hedgehog.

This first year felt very instinctual, since I had no idea how the exercise would unfold. I just went through my big shoe box of blank postcards (everyone has one of those, right?) and picked things that felt…something. Good. I don’t know. And lo and behold I ended up with something that was saying, even before it was something I’d acknowledged consciously, “Time to move back to Ojai, you numbskull.”

I mean, it was saying other stuff too. “It’s okay to feel prickly for a while” “You’re going through a tunnel” “Hey, there’s a lady trapped in here who’s great and you should probably set this other stuff aside so you can get to her,” not to mention “GET IN THE SEA.”

I was a really nice thing to have at my desk, because I could just space out and stare at it between bouts of answering emails or watching city council meetings or drawing or whatever else we were all doing on our laptops for so much of 2020. Like being in a gallery all the time.

The longer I looked at it, the more stuff seemed to come out.

Live Q&A Hangout at Sea this Friday

Greetings, friends! It’s me again, your friendly neighborhood Artist-at-Sea-on-a-Research-Ship-with-WiFi-in-the-Middle-of-the-Pacific.

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This week we’re doing something really fun: a live Q&A on Google Hangouts! I’ll be sharing illustration work from the voyage so far on R/V Falkor, talking about the joys and challenges of drawing comics at sea, and answering YOUR questions! If you want to ask something, fire away in the comments on this post, on the Facebook event page, or on Twitter. I’m collecting questions all week.

You can also hop in the chat box during the call to ask questions in the moment, but the more I know about ahead of time, the more I can prepare to show you, like my mobile drawing setup:

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It’s all happening this Friday, January 13th at 11am HST/1pm PST/4pm EST. You can RSVP on Facebook here, or just join the call directly by clicking this link when the time comes.

See you on Friday!

Light in the Eyes

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Something a little different today: a process GIF from a recent illustration commission! This cat portrait was done start-to-finish in Manga Studio with Frenden’s blue pencil and Hairpin Sable inker brushes.

You notice how the cat really comes alive in that last frame when the white highlights in the eyes come into play? Every time I add those to a piece I get this really vivid memory of going to art classes as a kid.

My teacher’s name was Sharon Butler. She was a realist painter from South Africa who painted waist-high stones to look like living cheetahs, crouching in the greenery outside the studio. The two rooms in her establishment were filled with the perpetual, chalky scent of pastels and Prismacolor pencils. We’d get pieces of illustration board handed out every time a new project began, cut down to the appropriate size. I completely lost track of time every session I spent there. My only job was drawing, as well as I could.

This was pre-internet, so Sharon kept a morgue file in the inner room. It was a metal filing cabinet—dull beige and taller than I was at the time—crammed full of photos and magazine clippings. There were folders for horses and dolphins and birds and architecture and chairs and people and costumes. Every manilla folder had a grouping by subject, and since Google simply wasn’t around yet we’d fight over who got the best picture of the dolphin to draw from.

I drew a lot of animals when I went to those classes with Sharon. She’d stop by while I was struggling to render a hummingbird as something other than a crude cartoon, giving suggestions on how I could better train my eye to see what was actually in front of me. The second-to-last touch, before the fixative stopped our pastel smudges from scattering off the page, was to add a dot of white in each eye. She taught us to use a Q-Tip or the back end of a paintbrush.

At the time it felt like wizardry—the amount of life that tiny dot of white could bring to an otherwise flat animal.

It still does, kind of.

The 100 Day Project

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Those of you following me on social media may’ve noticed a new series of drawings going up over the last couple weeks! I’m participating in The 100 Day Project, which comes to us via Elle Luna and The Great Discontent. The premise of this project is simple: make something every day for 100 days. That’s all. Could be anything; a written word, a cake, a joke, a drawing, a button. I’ve actually been pitching it as a do anything for 100 days project—so one could even eat an apple a day or something similarly arbitrary. I think it’s the regularity of the ritual that’s important. There’s also value in creating something small every day and using the exercise to break down our inhibitions around perfection, but regularity breeds ritual, and ritual can take many forms.

Anyway, I’ve opted to use up the many, many Scout Books and Field Notes sketchbooks I’ve been accumulating from various events by chronicling 100 objects in my possession with words and pictures.

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Notebooks from Linework NW (designed by Lisa Congdon), XOXO (designed by Brendan Monroe), Reid Psaltis, Scout Books, and Erika Moen.

The format involves a drawing, however crude, and as much context about the item as I can cram on the page. It started here:

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And has continued apace for the last couple weeks.

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I love projects like this that require relatively little commitment on the day-to-day, but add up to something vast over time. I’m really excited to see where this goes. If you’d like to follow along, take a peek at my Instagram page or follow along on Twitter.

New Merch: “Fair Winds” & “Blissful Indifference” Postcards

I’m releasing two new postcard designs this week!

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They’ll be coming in sets of 5 for $5—a mere buck-a-postcard—so hop over to my store to pre-order, or read on to learn more.

Many moons ago I drew this in a sketchbook to celebrate the passage of time and its marvelous effect on giving a shit about things.

GiveaShitWho among us has not encountered a previously fraught circumstance, only to find that the anxiety, stress, and strain surrounding it has completely dissipated? What a relief. So I’m printing up a batch of glossy, UV-coated 4×6″ postcards to celebrate the sensation. Preorder a set here to ensure you’re in the first wave.

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Postcard mockup!

For the more nautically-minded among you, I’ve whipped up this illustration of the brigantine Irving Johnson of the Los Angeles Maritime Institute, sailing away with a classic sailors’ valedictory phrase. Send it to far-flung friends or keep it for yourself as a reminder that calmer times are ahead.

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Both cards feature space for an address, stamp, and message on the back, like so:

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Tres chic! Check out the whole selection of postcard offerings here. Enjoy!

Emerald City Comicon Pre-Show Commissions

Hey gang! I’m trying out something new for Emerald City Comicon this year: pre-show commission slots! This hopefully means I’ll be able to deliver a higher calibre of work to those of you looking for original art, while prioritizing my time talking to everyone on the show floor rather than hunching over my sketchbook desperately trying to complete larger art pieces. Everyone wins!

There’s a couple different options for con commissions. Read on to find out which is best for you:

1. Little Paintings (Full Color / $20 – $40)

These cuties are done on high quality cold press watercolor paper and measure either 3″ x 4″ or 4″ x 6″. Featuring a bird or animal of your choice with an optional word balloon, they’re ideal gifts or tiny talismans of your favorite beasts.

2. Pin-Ups (Ink Only, Grayscale, or Full Color / $40 – $70)

These are larger pieces (generally 6″ x 9″ or 8″ x 10″, but I’m flexible) with minimal background elements and one or two figures. More figures or full-color generally equal higher costs, but let me know what you’re after and we’ll work together to achieve it!

3. Ships (Grayscale or Full Color / $75 – $100)

A handsome portrait of a tall ship of your choosing on a calm (or tempestuous) sea! 8″ x 10″, full-color, lotsa rigging guaranteed.

Sign-ups are limited since there’s only a couple months before the show, so shoot me an email at lucypcbellwood [at] gmail [dot] com and let’s get rolling! Payment for commissions is due up front via PayPal or your online money transference service of choice. All pieces will be ready for pickup at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle March 27th-29th.

New Essay: “Sexy Lucy”

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“So, I have a challenge for you.”

I’m sitting on the couch scarfing pomegranate seeds and ice cream while my gentleman friend looks up from doing the crossword.

“I’d love to see you draw Sexy Lucy. I mean, if you want to. If you think it would be fun.”

I laugh through a mouthful of dessert. “What? Why?”

“Well, I saw you draw Happy Lucy today and that was really adorable, and I’ve seen Grumpy Lucy and Goofy Lucy and Tired Lucy, but you never seem to draw Sexy Lucy.”

Some of you may’ve already seen the essay I posted last week on Medium about setting boundaries in autobio comics, but I figured I’d post a link here too just in case you missed it. This is a question I’m always navigating in my own work, but it took a particular conversation to get me to articulate my feelings on the subject. How do we skew our lives in their presentation online? Can I craft an alternative reality in my work that alters who I am in the physical world? What right do my readers have to my innermost thoughts?

Give the whole thing a read and let me know what you think. I’d be really curious to hear from any of you (especially women) who handle questions of intimacy in your autobiographical work. Where do you draw the line and why?

Sketchdump 8.23.14

Proud to say I’ve been back on the sketchbook horse this month after a lengthy fallow period, so I figured it was high time to show my work. Behold! Some nudes from a figure drawing session last week (five- and one-minute poses, respectively):

There’s also a bundle of progress shots from my work on the Charles W. Morgan travelogue, random sketchbook pages, and the odd outfit sketch or two.

Gosh you guys: drawing for fun is FUN. Did you know? I forget sometimes. I’ll try to do another of these before too long!