For this post, I have an assortment of jobs that range from early in my career to very recent. On the most recent assignment, I am proud to say it was completed digitally and no original artwork exists. Of course, I did not “paint from scratch” on my computer, but I created my image by assembling elements scanned from prior illustrations and “reconfigured” to match in a unified composition.
Usually I work chronologically, but I prefer to start with this recent job. When assembling images from different paintings, unifying my painting is very important for me. Painting over a print certainly helps to “unify” or pull all the elements together so they don’t look like they were painted separately. This job was not “painted over.”
On the computer, I always make sure all the elements have the same light source and I create shadows to help tie everything together, just as if I had painted my illustration on paper.
About a year ago, I created several illustrations for a supermarket, Price Chopper, Inc. It was exciting for me to know that I embraced the computer after so many years. I received a nice note from the art director, and that’s sweet to share also.
Early in my career, I received a large assignment for General Foods. It consisted of several illustrations of Fruit Rollup packaging, with two accompanying landscape/crate illustrations. The landscapes were for a “point of purchase” in the store where the dried fruit products would be sold. The art direction was clear as I followed the art director’s sketch very closely.
The landscapes were interesting because they were inserted into another illustration, which needed to resemble a wooden crate. I used markers to create the wood texture on a separate illustration. The landscapes themselves were enjoyable. I loved painting the sunrise and sunset skies so much, that I continued to collect photo reference of those images for many years after.
One thing I have often lamented, is that I always find great reference “after the fact” when I would have loved having it for a certain job. When I was truly “stuck” while searching for reference, I sometimes used a local company called Warner Research, which the movie studios also used for printed items. An example of something I was looking for once was an image of a banana tree and a camel!
I have been gathering photo reference for thirty years, so I have a rather extensive collection. It consists mostly of food images, but also many other photos that might have been useful for prior jobs if I’d only found them sooner. Examples would be holiday related items, hands, landscapes, and many other still-life subjects.
I received jobs throughout my career that were not food related. The most important part for me on any job was obtaining good reference I could follow.
When I did an illustration for Sparklett’s, I was driving around my neighborhood looking for brick walls that had cracks. Once again, a lot of preliminary work was helpful and the job went smoothly.
The current FSI inserts in the Sunday newspaper do not carry illustrations very often anymore. Everything is very bland and boring for me, as I look to see if there are any exciting illustrations. Photoshop has truly replaced the need for the style of illustration that was once widespread.
A few years ago, I created a marker comp for a design agency of an agricultural scene. I did not spend much time creating the comp – perhaps only a few hours. However, the subject matter was very useful for me to have. Because the sky on my marker comp wasn’t too exciting, I experimented digitally and utilized the sunrise sky from my General Foods assignment. Of course, I needed to reflect the sky into the winding river, and that was also easy to do on my computer. I also inserted another sky with clouds.
I worked with the same designer on some illustrations for Parmalat (milk in a box), and created two, marker comps with breakfast scenes. I’ve always enjoyed working with markers because the looser style helps me to feel more like I’m a “true” illustrator!
I created an illustration for “Professional Write Software” and it involved photographing my husband’s watch, a sandwich, a cup of soda, and inserting a box of the software packaging. I used custom, rubdown letters for the packaging that were made from my photographs. I loved the straw’s reflection in the soda! The watch dial was definitely a challenge.
Years later, I modified the painting so that it could be “more generic” and useful for stock purposes. I was not utilizing the computer yet for digital techniques – which is ironic since I created images of computer items. I worked with markers to create a mouse and mouse pad and then cut the paper and glued it over the other illustrations.
I have shared both versions – I don’t have a scan of the original painting with the Pro-Write package, but I did have a tearsheet.
I wrote earlier about a menu that I illustrated for Spires restaurants. I found some of the menu’s interior illustrations. These images depict the bright and simple dye technique I used early in my career. There was less photorealism, and the images translated nicely when they were reduced. For the examples below, I simply scanned an old menu – which I had taken from the restaurant because I could not get any samples!
Two of my old projects came together for me on one of my few ventures into the world of licensing and fabric. I was only paid an advance of a few hundred dollars to have at least twenty of my illustrations utilized to create fabric designs with a “deli theme.” The fabric was not a big seller.
Five years later, I was told that a manufacturer was interested in making towels and potholders from the fabric; however, I would not be paid for the use of that fabric. If I chose to let them go ahead with the project, my compensation would be twenty sets of towels, potholders, aprons, napkins and tablecloths.
I decided to allow for it. I enjoyed seeing my artwork on towels! However, when I ran out of the twenty, I had to pay for more. I did that because I felt that it was such a great gift idea for me one year!
However, I am sharing these “cropped illustrations” to once again state how sorry I was that the fruit wasn’t completely painted. I wanted to enlarge the peach to indicate how colored pencil was helpful to create the “fuzzy texture” that I was looking for.
I painted three illustrations for a large company where I signed a confidentiality waiver. Since the agency involved is out of business, I’ve decided I could share the illustrations. However, I won’t share invoices, etc. and I’ve cropped the product name off.
There were three, basic flavors of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Below are the job layouts, line drawings, and comps. Those share the process of creating my final paintings, of which I only have a color copy.
On this project, I had a “paid revision” because it was decided on the final painting that the chocolate curls were preferred to be smooth instead of “striated.” I followed instructions and always hated when the final art was completed with a change of mind. Especially when I created a color comp that clearly showed what the illustration would look like!
The very last image I want to share is a digital one that I created for a friend. It is an illustration of her Maltese and I used Photoshop filters and worked over a print. It was a lot of fun and certainly a lot less time than if I had rendered it from a plain, white sheet of watercolor paper!
I no longer lament that I don’t have the tactile sensation of holding a paintbrush anymore. I am far more passionate about the other things in my life, which include music and writing. I have embraced the computer as a wonderful, efficient, time-saving tool.
Creativity can be found in life and one should never rely on technical aspects to be of the most importance. I became technically proficient perhaps, but it is what is inside my heart that is most important for me at this juncture in my life.