Sunday, December 06, 2009

Scott Gustafson and Jon Foster

This past week I had the opportunity to listen to two great illustrators speak- my sweet hubby watched the kids while I went to both of them. :) I took a few notes so I'll share some thoughts and gems of wisdom with y'all.

Here I am with Scott Gustafson! He has been a favorite illustrator of mine since I first saw his work. And besides that he's such a nice guy. The things that I love about his work is the personality he gives to his characters and the ways he uses color- so many colors to make one color. I can also tell he has studied the work of and is influenced by great illustrators such as Norman Rockwell, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, J.C. Leyendecker and the list goes on.

He shared his process with us. He does a lot of things that I do when working out sketches, except he uses a photocopier and wax and I use photoshop- moving characters around, shrinking and enlarging etc. It was really fun to see his process of oil painting- he showed us a day by day progress of an Alice in Wonderland piece he did.

A couple words of wisdom from Scott: If something isn't working in your illustration, leave that for a while and work on another area of the piece. Give it some time and then you can come back and work on it later. If you give it time, you can usually work it out better. I also commented to him that I really like his use of color and he says that he often relies on a color wheel to show him what colors he should use next to each other. That very night, I dusted off my color wheel.

The other illustrator I was able to listen to this week was Jon Foster. He fantasy illustrator. The thing I like about his work is his amazing compositions. I like his teen novel covers. Some of his work was inspired by N.C. Wyeth and J.C. Leyendecker also.

Here are a few things I learned from Jon. Fear will keep you from fully experiencing the things that you want to experience. It's funny, and I thought about this. I think a lot of times I procrastinate starting my jobs or doing all the art I would like to do because I have a fear of not being able to do it good enough. I need to get over that fear and just make art for the joy of making art. He encouraged us all to have fun with art and experiment. It's all about enjoying the process of painting. Play with paint, value, form. Try starting with a small amount of color and see what you can come up with. Doodle and have fun. Everything doesn't have to be rendered or it won't have life and energy so let some things go. If something is too rendered, go back in and chop things up. Experiment with different color pallets.

Jon also talked about not comparing yourself to other artists. While he was in school, his teachers told him that he was only the middle of the field, and he put a lot of work into getting only meteocher artwork. It took him 8 years after he graduated to get his first illustration job.

He also talked about how you learn a lot more after you graduate- which I agree with. You get the tools you need while you're in school, and then after school you get the experiences that really help you learn how to use those tools. You meet people and see new art that influences you for good. Now that I've been out of school for 5 1/2 year, I am realizing more and more every day how true this is. When I first graduated, I thought I should be able to illustrate a trade book right off, but now looking back, I am glad things didn't happen that way, because I've learned so much from the smaller jobs I've done and other experiences I've had.

Randomly, (you can't even tell what this picture is about) here is a little glimpse of my studio while I'm working on sketches for a book. I tape all of the sketches up on the wall. That way I can come back to things and fix them later after I've worked on some other things. It also lets me see if any two pages are very similar and how well the book is going to flow. Well, that's enough of my chatter! Signing off!


Bethany and Thomas said...

It sounds like you got some really good advice! What a good opportunity. I really love your work and I'm sure it will be you giving that good advice someday!

jennifer said...

I'm pretty jealous that you got to got to hear these artists. Mark and I were out of town at the time. But I'm glad you went and are sharing some of the things you learned from them. I need to get over my fear, as well.

TheIcePixy said...

I wish I could have gone! I love Scott Gustafson's work!

PJ said...

That were two of the best lectures I've heard. I still go back to my notes today when I need some encouragement.