My identity crisis…

I’m having a bit of a rough week right now… despite my enthusiasm and anticipation for the new year. I am struggling a bit on which direction I should be moving with my portfolio. I took some time this morning to rifle through my old portfolios, which were gathering dust under our bed. I came across some pieces I worked on a couple years ago and decided to scan them in and add them to my website. Now… seeing the contrast between old and new that I dug up, I am second guessing my current direction a bit.

This illustration is based on a poem by Shel Silverstein titled “Captain Blackbeard Did What?” about the day he shaved his beard. I did a series in this style a few years ago (you can see more on my portfolio page) and have gotten wonderful feedback from anyone who has seen them. When I pull them out and look at them they always make me smile. However, in the past I wasn’t sure that they were colorful enough or expressive enough for children’s books. Now, seeing them side by side with my other work, I am beginning to wonder if I could find some sort of happy middle between the style and what I have been doing with my colored pencil work.

This illustration was actually a class assignment to do a book cover illustration for a classic fairy tale. I chose the Prince and the Pauper and I love the contrast between the smooth gold and the rough texture of the burlap. It was done in chalk pastels… a medium that I tend to avoid due to the mess it can make. However, I love how much movement it captured. I seem to work a lot looser in pastels… which might be something to explore a bit more this year. I also wonder if I could get achieve this (or similar) style in digital medium… something I would also like to explore a bit this year.

Most artists struggle with “their style” at least once in their career. I am definately no exception. I find that I enjoy so many different techniques and mediums that I have difficulty settling in. While this in itself is a great thing, it definately makes pulling together a “cohesive portfolio” to be a challenge.

I have a lot of thinking to do and would appreciate your opinions. Which pieces do you feel are my strongest, which are my weakest, and which direction should I go from here? Which of my styles do you feel would (if pursued) be the most marketable (don’t we hate that word) for children’s publishing? I also need to select a group of them to print for the SCBWI show in New York this month… which pieces should I include? Which ones would you leave out?

3 Responses to My identity crisis…
  1. PiaD
    January 12, 2012 | 2:41 pm

    Oh I love your style. I don’t see the difference between your different styles as much as you do yourself, perhaps. As for my favourites: Giraffes (such a cute expression in the girl) and Dragon Magic (so much happening there). Good luck from a fellow PBdummy 😉

  2. Helga Pearson
    January 19, 2012 | 1:19 pm

    I really love these two. What did you use for them, soft pastels? I don’t think they’re drab at all! This is how I’d like to illustrate once I get my digital tablet. I like your other work but this is what I think is delicious!

    • Andi
      January 19, 2012 | 2:01 pm

      Thanks Helga! The first is mixed media. It’s a technique I use sometimes where I draw the image, paint it in gouache/ acrylic leaving some lines showing, cover the image with several coats of clear matte medium, wash a thin layer of oil over the piece, lift out highlights with a gum eraser when halfway dry, then work back into it with some acrylic. It’s a really fun process (though sometimes scary when you start laying in that oil wash!) The second is chalk pastel… which I would use a lot more if it weren’t such a mess! I’m hoping that I will be able to get the essence of these styles on the Wacom without the fear of catastrophy or the dust allergies.

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