Nesting and Turning

My working theory is that the silence and the sunshine and the singing are key materials of the nest I am always building, to hold whatever thoughts, feelings, rhythms, and ideas become my poems.

Tara writes a monthly guest column on Nicole‘s blog. Every installment holds several gems, but her latest is particularly gemful. The nest! I adore this metaphor. What are my nest materials? How do I tend to build with them? I don’t know yet, but I have hunches. I want to lay them out and inventory them like a bower bird.

An additional thrill is that Tara and I will be working on something together in the next few months. She’s a spectacular poet (in addition to being a thoughtful and lyrical essayist), and sometime last year she shared a new collection of work with me under the title Low Tide Book. (You can hear me explore her idea of “a low tide of the spirit” in Ramble #20, notably before I got with the program and started pronouncing her name properly. It should be terra, like earth.)

I read the poems and loved them, and then I can’t quite remember what happened next but somehow I got to do my very favorite thing and smush two good people together while yelling “MAKE SOMETHING!”

The other person in this equation was my friend Stefan.

I say “my friend” in that way I do to refer to anyone I know primarily through the internet, and it’s true we’ve never met in person, but I do think of Stefan as a friend.

We connected on Kickstarter in 2012 because we were both running our first projects at the same time.1 He ended up with a copy of True Believer and I ended up with a copy of Cedar Toothpick and then we sort of fell out of touch. I do remember that his campaign didn’t have a video, but rather a delightful audio recording taken in a field. Possibly with some bees. Anyway, I loved his attention to quality in paper stock and his creative focus on the minutiae of the natural world. Cedar Toothpick still has pride of place in my poetry shelf.

When we reconnected via Instagram many years later, he floated the idea of collaborating on something. By that point he’d been branching out into publishing work by other writers under his imprint, Bored Wolves. Somewhere in there was when Tara sent me Low Tide Book, and somewhere shortly after that was the moment I realized they were perfect for each other. She had this manuscript full of contemplative poems crafted in conversation with the natural world, he had a tiny, remote cabin in the Polish highlands and access to a boutique printer. It writes itself, really.

So the long and the short of it is that we’re all making a book! Tara’s already written it, and I’m going to illustrate it, and Stefan’s going to publish it.

The title we decided on was Tell the Turning and it’s (as of May 1st) ON KICKSTARTER RIGHT NOW!

1. The ecosystem was much smaller then, so it was common to just become pals with whoever else showed up in the Discover tab. It was nice.

A Life in Objects: PDF & Print Edition

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As you may’ve noticed, I’ve spent the last three(ish) months working on The 100 Day Project, a creative game of sorts where participants try to create something every day for 100 days. I chose to illustrate meaningful objects from my life with little vignettes of text.

The final collection, A Life in Objects, is now up for sale! I’m printing a facsimile edition in three, 40-page pocket notebooks—the same size as the originals (3.5×5″)—with a fancy belly band.

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The books will be printed locally in Portland at Eberhardt Press, and I’m hoping to debut them at SPX in September.

If you absolutely can’t wait to read the whole thing, why not buy the PDF edition on Gumroad? I promise it’s got all the same treats inside.

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I’m incredibly proud of how this collection came out. More news to come once the printed books are on their way!

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.

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!

The Ornithology of the American Lesbian

If you follow me elsewhere on the Internet you’ve probably already seen that I illustrated this feature for BuzzFeed on The Ornithology of the American Lesbian. The writers gave me a ton of freedom when it came to matching birds and humans, so I got to run wild picking my favorite avian friends. Challenges included accurately translating Bette Porter into an ostrich and Lea DeLaria into an owl.

My only enduring sorrow is the fact that the authors were originally thinking of human illustrations, so the classification text never got updated from Mammalia to Aves. Apologies in advance to my scientist pals—I promise I’m only responsible for the artwork. Check out the whole list here!

Linework NW This Sunday

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Hey Portland! I’m making a hometown appearance at Linework NW this weekend. This fantastic indie comics and illustration festival boasts a unique format with two completely different sets of exhibitors Saturday and Sunday. This means you can only find me there on Sunday (at Table 24B), but should totally show up both days to take full advantage of the talent on offer. Did I mention it’s stone cold free to attend? You heard it here first. Or maybe you didn’t. Either way I’d love to see you on the floor.

The skinny:

Linework NW – 4/18/2015 + 4/19/2015

Location: Norse Hall111 NE 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97232

Date: Saturday, April 18, 2015 & Sunday, April 19, 2015

Time: 12:00pm – 8:00pm

And here’s a handy map! See Table 24B? Right in the middle there. Aw yeah.

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You can check out the exhibitor lineups for both days of Linework NW right here. I’ll also be speaking on a panel called The Modern Reality of Fundraising for Artists at 4:30pm on Sunday with Hazel Newlevant, Kory Bing, and Taneka Stotts, moderated by Tristan Tarwater. Check out the full listing of panels for more exciting discussion topics.

Hope to see you there!

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.

Process Post: Black Hand

A couple months ago I was delighted to receive an email from Glenn Fleishman, who some of you might remember as the fella who interviewed me for The New Disruptors earlier this year, asking if I wanted to work on an article about an imaginary friend for his publication The Magazine.

I love the idea of imaginary friends, even if I never had one of my own as a child, and as soon as I received the list of this friend’s characteristics from writer Lisa Schmeiser I knew this was going to be a lot of fun. You should really just go ahead and read her essay, which does a far better job of explaining Black Hand than I ever could.

But since this is a blog about my creative stuff I thought you guys might like to see a little step-by-step process of the creation of this piece. The graphic below was created for one of my weekly Patreon Process Posts, which I put up every Friday with updates on my current projects and behind-the-scenes info on how I get stuff done. If you dig it, why not subscribe? It only costs $2 a month, and helps ensure the creation of bigger, better comics just for you!

Patreon12.8I created this piece start-to-finish in Manga Studio 5EX. You can see my initial sketch with the pencil tool, which actually went through three versions. First I’d given Black Hand these loopy bellbottoms, but Glenn asked for something a little more like Morpheus from Sandman, so I added bulky Goth boots and snugged up the pants—tight jeans or flowy sweats. We ended up going for the latter.

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After the sketch was approved I went in with the Hairpin Sable inker and laid down some lines. Glenn wanted a psychedelic, dream-like color scheme, so after blocking in some bright colors with the fill tool I added shadows (on a separate layer set to Multiply) and highlights (on a separate layer set to Screen) before going in with a watercolor brush and adding splotches and clouds on the background.

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And there you have it! Again, you can read the whole finished article here, and tune in for more weekly process posts like this one over on Patreon.

 

Nautical Postcards Round 1: Swallows!

Getting boxes from the print shop always feels like Christmas — the excitement, the possibility, the wondering whether that thing you asked for is really as cool as you think it is in person.

The answer is yes: it is.

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These are my first proper postcards and I have to admit I went a little bonkers putting them together. If there was a bell, I added it. If there was a whistle, that too. These suckers are printed on silky smooth 16pt matte card stock with rounded corners and they look and feel SO GOOD. I couldn’t be happier. Here’s a closer look at the art:

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NitroRoundSwallowBackAs someone who tends to have a lot of art on her walls, I wanted something that would look lustrous and beautiful enough to display with or without a frame — even after going through the rigors of the postal service. These cards definitely fit the bill. They are both attractive and BEEFY.

I have packs of five available in my store, and I’ll also be throwing in a free card with any order for the next couple months! Shop around and stay tuned for the next installment of these prints — I’m hoping to roll out a whole sequence of nautical cards before the year is out. Have something you’d like to see? Drop me a line in the comments.