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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Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.

Newshville

I will never get sick of the way life works, though I admit, sometimes I want to punch it in the face and run away. But still, it's amazing how everything is always changing! Always shifting, flowing, fighting, forging.

I'm in Nashville this week for work, and I feel different. I feel like new energy is coming in weather I like it or not (see what I did there?). Visiting old friends in new places makes for a very robust combination. There's so much joy in seeing your old collegue, in this case my friend Christina, and discovering her new home, in Nashville.

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I love the South. It's slower, greener, loose and light. But it's also dense when it comes to setting in roots, almost like you must ground yourself here...being a floater myself, I feel like it would take some settling down in order to stay here. And I like noticing this. I like seeing where I stand in the world. And right now I'm still floating. It's all ok.

Knowing what you need and making decisions to move forward are two different things. I know I need yoga, tea, walks, friendship, family, outings, exploration, reading, warm blankets, live music. But moving forward is scary and it takes baby steps. I'm ok with this, too. I trust that taking care of myself in small ways, will lead to making the larger decisions.

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Seeing my friend build her own home with an amazing man in a new place, makes me realize that I can build my environment now. We all can. Whether that's with someone else, on your own, you get to choose in this lifetime what attitude you want to live with, what your space will look like, and who you surround yourself with.

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I've been known to chuck out physical treasures these days (just ask my mom), mostly because I've felt like I needed to shed my skin. Truth is, shedding the old Annie skin and trying things like going on a tour across the US, or moving to NYC, or going a Spain and France solo trip, has helped me learn about myself. But I don't think I shed an old skin, instead I formed a stronger shell. This is a helpful shell, like a snail's shell, one where I can rely on myself more and more, and feel at home in my own skin, where ever that may be.

I'm still working on this. Very much so!

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And I resort to old feelings of wanting to stay close to family. It's a cycle. And Everyday I have to appreciate that life will surprise me. And in the meantime, I'll build my home, maybe with some small treasures, maybe just with some self care, one small step at a time.

Wishing you the best time with your explorations, and lots of love!

Annie

Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.

Rest and Digest

Underneight all of the paintbrushes, thick, rough, Arches paper, under the invoices, emails, sketches, digital comps, micron doodles... is nothing.

An artist is no different from the person next to them. Their gift is about constantly channeling from the cosmos and converting into a visual language. It's magical, yes. But so are many other gifts that rock.

We are all creative and have this incredible power to invent, solve problems, and express ourselves. But we don't create constantly. We consume information, download information, digest it, process it, then eliminate or express it. There are stages where we can't create, in fact, where we even need to rest. "REst and digest"- we've heard this before, right?

It's lke eating, digesting, pooping. It's like that.

Imagine, now, that you had to produce poop for a living. So you had to feed yourself and digest quickly in order to do this, alllll day. How fucking uncomfortable!

I feel like being a commercial artist is a lot like this. Some people are fine pooping art out all day. I envy those rare few. But I have a hunch that at times even they need a break.

And the others, like me, revered artists as a child. They were told they were very talented, and something there connected. The career path sounded glorified. Oh, to work on a movie like Aladdin! Oh, to paint like James Jeam! Oh, to illustrate a book like Shaun Tan.... Oh, to be as cool as they are!

In daily life, however, it is not glamerous and there is no glory. It feels unatural and forced. In order to keep up, one must consume at a higher rate, process the information timely, and constantly produce. Part of this is due to lacking expertise, and part of this is due to naivete. Because art doesn't HAVE to be held in this kind of cage. It doesn't have to conform to these rules. In fact, it won't. Even if you try to, you'll experience its power and own will.

So I come back to self care as I realize that I want a different path. And it's ok that I'm not a constantly pooping artist. I have my own cycle of consumption, digestion, and elimination, and I feel more whole and loved when I listen to it.

Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.

Keep Going!

I've been on a hunt this year to get published. I am learning how to connect with the community and show my stories. I admit, maybe it's working but I have had no yeses. Nada. A few "This is not a fit for me, but great artwork" and that's it.

I get it! I need to learn more and how to appeal to the industry. But man, it's tough putting your work out there that you deeply care about, and getting crickets.

The small part of me wants to give up. The small part wants to say "fuck it". But that's only the small part.

There's a lot of info out there, and what I've gleaned to be most vital is: showing your work, and creativly solving issues. That means revising, getting feedback, changing, tweaking. That also means sneding your work out there, showing it in Libraries, cafes, on social media. And most importantly, that means believing in yourself!

Now... I'm getting back to doing more personal work and letting my voice come through. Here's what's been coming out.

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In other news, I'm heading back to California! I hope to be on the beach a week from now, drawing the seagulls and sand. New York has been really special and I'm sad to go. I might be back sooner than later, but until then I will revel in the Pacific Coast, and drink in its healing.

Sending you love and peace and kick ass vibes!

Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.

Teamin' Up

I've been working on a book for the past few months with a local author in my home town, Napa. It's just about finished, and today we launched a kickstarter! We're raising $$ to print copies, do school visits/art classes, and make rediculous swag.

Over two years ago I published The Three Things, and just about cried every night for a month trying to figure out how to make a real book happen. But I made it happen! You just kind of keep going until something works. THIS time around I have some experience, an awesome author who makes me laugh constantly, and tons of excitement!

Books are so cool. I love seeing them come together; first an abstract idea, then somewhat structures with words and sketches, finally all the artwork, and then one days it's a real "thing"!

With this book, I thought I'd approach color differently. I chose a painting that evoked a feeling I wanted, and used the color picker all of the place, pulling colors and shades from that piece. In this case, it's Matisse's work. Here's some images of the book in progress below.

Happy creating folks. Here's to making ideas into real things and real actions!