Copying

...is how you learn something new. In high school art class, we copied the master painters. In English class, we read the great voices of the 20th century and (unknowlingly) copied their phrasing and vocabulary. In Chemistry, we followed specific directions to complete our labs. It can be very powerful to follow a process that works, gain the knowledge that's available there and then play with it on our own.

After the recent SCBWI conference, I was looking at all of the gorgeous portfolios and feeling hungry for some education.

I want to work on color, composition, character design, ALL OF IT! I thought to myself. Maybe I should go back to grad school. Maybe I should do a Summer intensive? Take a college class? But all of that takes a serious financial investment, which requires commitment. I searched for the most convenient and effective way do this, so I could "try it out" before going back to school. That's when I remembered: copying.

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How often have I taken the time and copied other illustrators? Ummm....hardly ever. At least, it's been years. But it's a fabulous way to learn!

Some of my favorite illustrators are Lane Smith, Chris Van Allsburg, Lucy Knisley, Quentin Blake. Just thinking about working through their art and spending time really discovering how they did it, makes me gallop with excitment. Like when I was a kid! When I drew Ariel and Belle over and over.

In other news, nature is very inspiring and weird. We think, Ok, earth is, like, normal. We like it here and we know what to expect when we go outside. Then we go somewhere and see how drastically different the plants are, that it's like we're on an alien planet.

That's how I feel at the Huntington Library:

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