Friday, April 30, 2010

Not so Ahead of the Game

IF: ahead
I am very very late to post for Illustration Friday....a week behind in fact. Maybe that is part of my expression of the theme. I am NOT ahead....or I just was overwhelmed with work this week and I did not have time to do anything until now.
I have been thinking about doing this all week though, so in my head it counts.
But really, after I did the animals in water last weekend I felt so accomplished that I just did not do anything else. I reveled in the moment too long and then felt I could not match myself....not very Capricorn of me.
This weekend I work Saturday and Sunday so I do not know how much illustrating I will actually get done. I spent yesterday printing out updates for my physical portfolio (very old fashioned I know), working on freelance logo sketches, fixing a painting purchased by a customer, buying lots of printing and mailing supplies for my little etsy business, and watching Ru Paul's Drag Race...amazing.
I will try and regain some focus if my cold does not turn into something more flulike...bleh.

Above is Winnie and Rocco on a typical walk turned flying lesson.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sea Song

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Life imitating art

The commissioned tattoo! My hat is off to the artist who adapted my illustration....I kinda like the tattoo better, in fact. Really super awesome line work and detail I had no idea how it would be handled. Yay to body art!

Animal Farm

This is better than the other thing they do!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Commission Emission

I am up to my eyeballs in work both Joe and art related.
The Joe stuff is getting done, but the other night I was working on a commission piece that I had allotted a certain amount of time to and as life would have it the first painting was not good enough. I should have known when the drawing itself took so long that something was not right. So, today round two commenced...and took infinitely longer than I thought it would. It is now 2:25 and I had expected to be in the city and done with this by now, but no.
Basically, I finished the second version of the painting and then spent the next 30 minutes trying to decide if it was good enough. Ultimately, I darkened the background and found a nice balance. I think the end conclusion is I should not be expected to meet deadlines when the previous day I was up from 5 am - 11 pm working and teaching....really.

1. Not horrible, but the original is too saturated
2. Not bad, but I was obviously a bit nervous to make it too dark

3. Better colors and depth.

So, now that this project is done I am on to the logo I am designing....yay. Will post those when they are further along

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bwah hah hah, doodle time

The Winnie Wagon

Revisited. I did an illo the other day with a full house and everything in the background, but it was too much. This a sketch that illustrates the opposite. I want minimalism! This is just a sketch, but moving in the right direction. Less is off to make more, less.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Growing pains

I stole this image from my lovely girlfriend. Together we are undertaking the great indoor windowsill lettuce experiment of 2010. I am very excited to say that as obsessively as I try to watch plants grow this one actually HAS grown every time I go into the kitchen to check on it.
I am trying to focus on this small victory as I am currently slogging through multiple freelance assignments. They are all going well I am just trying to take in a lot of things at once and organize my thoughts for my next book. I want the next one to be simple. I had a great idea for a new book, but I am worried that it will be too complicated...or rather I would like to see if I can do one that is simple next just to show diversity. Its hard when all my ideas are weird. I had a pretty good conventional idea about a garden, but the question is how to keep it funny.
I do love all the work I have right now it feels like I am a full time artist or something.
In other news I received word from the big publisher who has had my book and was reviewing it for the second time. The ending still was not working so I am fixing it again, but so far no flat out rejection just suggested changes. I feel cautiously optimist. I am not sure what to think as she is acting like my editor, but has not said anything. It feels weird. I half expect to make all the changes and then get an email that says thanks, but, no thanks.

Well at least I'm trying. Very trying.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Toaster Detective

IF: Detective

Project Reject II

Excellent rejection of the week:

Dear Terry (my agent):
[Someone important] passed THE UGLY SWEATER by Charrow along for discussion. While I agree with [said important person's] enthusiasm for Charrow's art -- it's quirky and bold yet literary at the same time -- but as you've pointed out, she's young and you can tell she's still working through all of her creative outlets.

I would steer her toward Amy Krouse Rosenthal's work (LITTLE HOOT, LITTLE PEA) since her strength lies primarily in her animals (her humans are little too loose) and she can get away with a lot more whimsy that way. Actually, much of the Chronicle Books catalog might be worthwhile for her to look at. Her Etsy greeting cards actually have more of that funny, wacky humor that I'm looking for -- like, cat butt? Hilarious and weird and tons of personality! (Maybe not appropriate for a picture book, however.)

I will say that my imprint at [huge huge publishing house], [children's publisher within that house], is very commercial so you'll have to view my comments through that lens. We focus on young, short picture books with strong visuals and tons of humor. While we can get away with literary titles, they'll require a clear commercial hook to help them stand out in the marketplace.

I hope this is helpful direction for her -- I'm curious to see what she can develop and do feel free to send it my way when and if she's got something new.

With all best wishes,
[Very important person]
Associate Editor, [children's imprint of the huge publisher]


Onward and upward

Monday, April 12, 2010

Red Wagon

Winnie and Rocco on the way to the workshop

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tattoo in color

I painted the illustration that is for Kevin's tattoo. It is pretty funny.

Winney didn't do it.

Winney and Rocco and the cookie jar

The missing Link

Illustration Friday: Linked

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I made a last minute adjustment, which I DO NOT usually do if the comp. has been approved, but I wanted my client to be happy. So, here it is with the eyes closer together. I personally like it when the dog looks more crazy, but here is a more realistic rendition.

Mocha Sketch and Final

The initial sketch for a rush commission job:
The final illustration:

I love how much color defines the form. There is something so comforting about squares.

Project Reject

A wonderful rejection from a great publisher. This was a company that reached out to me originally. I do hope to work with them in the future and I completely understand that the fit is not right for this project. Its hard because immediately I wanted to say, "oh, I can change everything if it means you will publish me!" But honestly, do I want that. I think, for the future, I will consider the idea of short and series potential stories. Anyway, received this last night. I truly respect this company and I am choosing to take this as a good sign.


Hi Charrow.

Thanks so much for sharing The Ugly Sweater with me. It’s really stunning, and I loved the twist. That said, I don’t think it’s the right fit for our list. As is, it’s much longer than the picture books we publish (typically 32 or 40 pages), so I’d want to make a number of cuts (which doesn’t seem to fit with your vision of the book). Also, our focus right now is on characters with series potential.

I wish you so much luck with The Ugly Sweater. And if the right manuscript comes my way, I’ll make sure to reach out to you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A nice Dip in the mud

Illustration Friday: Dip

I want to go to there

Someone said my work looked very Scandinavian...when I can move there? Does that give me citizenship? Denmark, Sweden, Norway? New Zealand? Anyone, I will make art in the name of your country.

love charrow

Stagnant hypoxia

Here is an illustration I did for a tattoo for my friend and website builder, Kevin!
I am excited to see the tattooist interpretation of my work. It is the most exciting thing of late. I am basically feeling slumpy. I think the whole season changing causes me to feel a bit of a crisis. When the weather changes I want to change with it, but I still feel the same sense of limbo. I love work, but I also see my peers getting design gigs and jobs related to their school training. I have been out of school two years now and I was hoping to be on a more direct path at this point. I know its an individual experience, but it still feels very depressing. I know the one big difference is that I am doing all my work for myself and not for a big firm. I draw what I want, but at the price of not really being published much. I would love some magazine work, but I just do not think my style is what art directors are looking for or at least I have not gotten any responses from art directors saying the contrary.
I am also a bit worried that if this book gets rejected from publishing houses that I will lose my motivation. I know it would be temporary, but still I would like to actually get somewhere. So far my education has not gotten me jobs. Out of college I never got a job related to my degree or academics and out of grad school it has been the same story. I know a good chunk of it is my fault. I did not push myself hard enough in college because I did not want an art history office job. And out of design school I could only picture myself at Hallmark, but I did not interview because of Kansas City (I'm assuming I do not need to explain). So now, here I am feeling a bit water logged by my own decisions.
Its not that I have not had victories they just have been relatively small. And this may sound silly, but any time I talk about things that could happen they do not. So now, of course, I assume that the big 3 publishers will all turn down the book. I have heard nothing from my agent...which I know is normal as I have told it takes months to hear back from publishers...but I want a shoe string of hope or maybe a decision deadline.
This is a lot more wollowy than usual, but I have been feeling very antsy and financially strapped.
In an effort to keep myself from going insane I have solidly began the next book. I came up with the plot last not, hallelujah!, and will begin writing tomorrow. I did some character sketches, but it is unclear if the main character should be a boy or a girl. I did have a boy all drawn up, but I can basically add a bit more hair and turn him into a seems almost cruel. Anyway, this time round I am writing before I delve into drawing. Maybe I will have a solid book footing before I hear back from any publishers. Either way, I am ready for change.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Adjust the unadjustable

I recently got a really nice write up on this blog for kids art and design called
room for young ones and I also got a tweet

She was particularly taken with Oliver sleeping with Rufus, which makes me so happy because as much as I love those illustrations I am feeling insecure about the book. Playing the waiting game basically means I spend most of my time doubting, questioning, and feeling anxious.

Dwelling on this is futile. So, in the spirit of not dwelling here is a card I made yesterday. I have two versions because after I had completed the illo and put it on the computer I wondered if I should have added a more dramatic gesture. With the wonders of photoshop I was able to see what this change would look like and I determined that it did nothing to improve the quality of the visual. (note: I may have changed my mind seeing them side by side it might be an improvement. JJ mentioned that it is unclear if the extra lean enhances the sleeping or makes the goat look drunk...which is funny in a completely different way). The wonders of shortcuts; now I have more time to dwell!

Can you tell the difference.