I’m really making some progress reading Les Mis.  Here are five facts about the book.  The first three don’t spoil any plot points.  The last two may.:

1. Les Mis is very long because Victor Hugo included lots and lots of historical facts.  There are entire chapters of historical facts with maybe one line of character development.

2. While Les Mis is long, Hugo broke it down into small chunks.  It consists of 5 volumes.  Each volume contains 8 to 15 books.  Each book contains 2 to 24 chapters.  On the new Kindle, it will gauge how fast you read and tell you about how much time you have left in each chapter.  It’s the best feature ever.  I can read most chapters in about 5 minutes and when you chip away at it like that, it goes quickly.

3. The free Kindle edition is abridged.  Abridged is lame.  Read the Unabridged version and skim the bits that you don’t care to read. On Kindle, it cost $3.  Hapgood is the translator I’m reading and honestly, the writing is interesting enough that even the historical bits with no character development are still good to read.

Spoiler Alert:

4. Valjean’s backstory is pretty much the same in the book and the musical.  We learn a bit more about his sister in the book.  When they lived together, she had lots of kids and he was helping raise them.  While in prison, Valjean learns that she only has one child with her and no one knows what happened to the others.  The little boy that’s left has to wait outside for an hour every day waiting for his school to open, even in the rain.  Even in the tiny stories and asides in the novel, everyone’s life is miserable.

5. The biggest shocker of the novel so far: Fantine is blonde!  Hugo mentions it more than once.  And after you read about Fantine’s back story, her fate is even sadder.  I can’t explain the whole story here because I’m in the middle of it.  More later, perhaps.

CurlyBlondwebIn honor of blonde Fantine, here is a new blonde girl, drawn on my tablet.  This is not meant to be Fantine.  I just like drawing curly hair and wanted to try it out digitally.

Oh Holy Night

 

“Oh, Holy Night,” 1855, John Sullivan Dwight

Did you know that it’s likely that Jesus was born in a cave rather than a wooden stable like we might picture of today?  They think they know which cave it was in Bethlehem and the site is a now the oldest Christian church in the world, the Church of the Nativity.

The church door is very low.  To enter, you have to fall on your knees.

Merry Christmas to all…

Today, I bring you song number 2:

“Same Old Lang Syne”, 1980, by Dan Fogelberg

Same oldUntil I started researching for information on this song, I thought it was called “Toast to Innocence ”  But it’s not.  It’s called Same Old Lang Syne.  If you can’t remember it, google it to listen and then the images above will make a lot more sense.

I drew this one in ink, scanned it, and colored it in Photoshop.  I’ve decided that Sketchbook is best for me when I’m drawing digitally from the get-go, but if I drew something in real ink and need to paint it, it’s better for me to use Photoshop.

One more song to come.  Thanks for reading along.

Have yourself a merry little christmasToday’s song: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, 1957, by Hugh Martin. (The original was written in 1944, but Martin added the line that inspired the picture above in 1957.  Thanks, Wikipedia.)

This is such a great bittersweet song.  When I hear the line “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough” it makes the think of a dad holding his son up high in their sparse apartment living room to put the star on the tree.

And, honestly, it was a good reason to try a piece from a different vantage point.

Two more songs to go.  Check back soon.

Here are two new pieces I just finished for a project.  I mixed up the watercolor and digital paints, and it was so much fun.

The Process:

First, with a pencil, I sketched everything on a regular sketch pad.

Then, I redrew everything in pen.

Then, with a pen again, I traced everything onto hot press watercolor paper.  I used my homemade light table, which I will post about another day.

I chose hot press paper because the colors look brighter, and the paper is smoother.  When I have tried to trace onto cold press paper, my pen jumps all over the place.

Then I painted with my watercolors.  There are a few places, like the small boat, the girl’s headgear, that I did wet-on-dry.  I usually prefer wet-on-dry.  But for the ocean water, I had to do wet-on-wet…because it’s the ocean.  It’s all wet.

The make the middle girl’s shirt have a little texture, I blotted it with a paper towel as it was drying.

Then I scanned everything in at 600 dpi.

Obviously, these scans needed some work.

So, the clone tool became my new best friend.

The leaving the island picture only required some small fixes.  The funnels on the ship bothered me. I liked the third one back the best, so I selected and copied it over the first and second funnels.  Then I made the sky a gradient behind the clouds.

The arriving in America scene took a little more work.  I used the clone tool to copy the first boat window and paste it over the other three windows, and then I moved all the windows down a few centimeters.  I cloned along the edges of everything to make it all a little neater.  Then I added a gradient to the sky and the boat windows.

I would have liked to do the skies in the pictures with watercolor, but the statue and the clouds were too hard to work around.  I tried to use my masking fluid, but it was getting all clumpy and just wasn’t working for me.

Then, in the original scan, the cables stretched at the front of the ship were bothering me, so I redrew them in straight lines with the pencil tool.  Then I had to clone stamp over the old ink lines, which was a lot easier than I expected it to be.

The clone stamp worked really well because it pickup up the colors that I wanted and also the texture of the paper.  I love clone stamp.

If

Several months ago, I started listening to archive episodes of the RadioLab podcast. If you don’t listen to RadioLab, you should listen to RadioLab. These guys take interviews from scientists and historians and do this public radio mashup kind of thing. Every time I listen I learn something new, have a story to share at the dinner table, and, usually, an idea to add to my drawing notebook.

This is the first image created from that page of the notebook:

20120821-223150.jpg

It came from a short podcast that they did in 2008 where they actually played a bit of radio art from Australian artists named Sherre DeLys and John Jacobs.

In the RadioLab podcast, the host does not frame the piece in any way. When you listen without knowing what’s coming up, it’s like walking into a building you’ve never been to before with a lot of activity, like a hospital, maybe. At first, you are overwhelmed trying to figure out where you need to check in, who you can ask for help, why all the elevators don’t go to all the floors, trying to keep all your important papers and insurance cards close while also trying to remember the way back to your car.

But when I was little, I used to try to get lost in my neighborhood on purpose. I almost enjoy feeling a little disoriented, maybe. So, I like the way RadioLab presented it, at least as a first listen. As a downside, if you listen to this piece on RadioLab, you don’t get to hear the end of the story. 360documentaries replayed the piece earlier this month, and, thankfully, they give a bit more background information and a little update at the end. I’m adding 360documentaries to my list of podcasts. They can dig up some interesting stories as well.

“If” tells a beautiful story, and you should go listen to it. Probably right now.

RadioLab (if you want to feel disoriented, in a good way)

360documentaries (if you want the background story and closure)

And, as an added bonus, if you look at the 360documentary page, you can see the image above in action. The kind folks at 360documentaries used my image as the art for the radio segment. Yeah!

Do enjoy “If,” however you choose to listen. I’m sure it will inspire you, as well.

Do you ever do something on accident and then wish you knew how you had done it?

I drew this tree in pen and scanned it.  I had plans to color it with a digital watercolor sort of flair, but I did something wrong, and this is what happened.

So, then I had to figure out how I had done it.  But I didn’t want to lose the tree, so I saved it and got to work on a new fish.

And I did it again.  Sort of.

In the tree, I think I had the paint brush set to Color Dodge, so it turned my black lines green, brown, etc.  In the fish, I had the layer set on Linear Dodge, so it kept the lines a little dark and just added a bit of color.

Not sure how to turn this particular sort of art into a children’s storybook…but a children’s poetry book?  Yes.  And do I have some poems in the works?  Yes.

Will I publish them here?  No.  I’ve read that if you publish your writing online, some publishers will not accept it because it’s already been published.

And now you know.