Shadow men

two shadowy faceless men, one staring at the viewer

Just sketches that came out of a job I’m currently doing. It’s always fun to experiment with some unremarkable photo you have and mess with all the settings until you end up with something terrifying like this! I might develop them either for Night Gallery 2014 or for my upcoming Darkness reload, we’ll see.

another creepy shadow man

Tree linework!

clean, complicated and numerous lines begin to suggest the form of a deciduous tree.

This is most of the linework from Elegy, the only progress shot I think I have of it. I just love the complexity of all the lines in an organic shape like a tree, and these lines here don’t even begin to touch on the millions of actual lines that are really there: in the bark, the outlines and veins on every leaf, and so on. A tree really is a stunning visual overload!

So occasionally I just like to stare at this piece every now and then and lose myself in lines. They’re so much easier to see and appreciate without any shading or color to distract from them.

Miao Yin final piece and progress shots!

inspired by cult movie classic Big Trouble in Little China

I hope to post a nice little feature on the Big Lebowski in Little China show soon, but in the meantime I can definitely show you the evolution of Miao Yin from a digital painting to a beaded mixed-media piece with gold ink accents! (I ended up calling the final piece “Miao Miao” through some perverse desire to be a truly horrible person.)

This piece is at PG Gallery until May 17 2014 and is only $85. And trust me, I’m not making another beaded one. One was quite enough!! *PHEW!*

EDIT: This lovely piece has found a home with its biggest fan! I even got to talk to the person who got it, she’s super-sweet. There’s just nothing like seeing one of your pieces go home with someone you know loves it.

Phonetasia I: Several months of a small child’s abstracts

I always save my little son’s phone doodles simply because they’re so bright and cheerful. My goal was eventually to make a big gallery of them so I could view at them all at once and enjoy the feast of random colors and shapes that emerged. (Kind of like Jodie Foster listening to washing machines in Contact.) After seeing the finished gallery, I actually think it would be fun to try a “redraw” of some of these sketches where I took an interesting form or idea from one of Paul’s pieces and then actually tried exploring it in one of my own drawings. I might try it!

With due credit to the original artist of course.

I’ll be making more “phonetasia” posts exploring the weird things you can do with various phone apps and filters. Paul’s art below was made using Kids Doodle.

Everything I did wrong when I tried to make a digital comic file

As promised! Wow, where to begin.

First off I will start off by saying this is referring to creating a .mobi file with the Kindle Comic Creator to be used as a kindle book for sale on Amazon. I made digital files for Comixology and IndyPlanet as well, but all that involved was sending them a .zip file of nice huge .tiff images and they do they rest!

…not so with Kindle.

Now, before I dive in to the comedy of errors that has been my past two days, let me share some links:

And now on to my list of gaffes.

1) I tried to use Kindle Panel View.

Now, this might be a good idea for some comics. What I didn’t know is that if your comic needs to use double-page spreads (say you have splash images that take up 2 pages) YOU CAN’T DO THIS.

Other problems with Panel View: you have to manually drag to select all your panels because panel detect ONLY works if you have black bordered panels separated with a clean white gutter. If you have a black or dark gutter, or a background image behind your panels, or inset panels, forget it.

Worse yet was the dragging functionality for selection: After selecting my panels I had to then go back and re-drag to specify the “zoom” area of every single panel. So I had to do the same thing twice, for every panel…otherwise when someone used Panel View they would get tiny little arbitrary slices of each panel and that was it.

And if that weren’t bad enough, it’s incredibly hard to drag those panels in the first place…they constantly keep snapping back into place if you don’t click outside them in the exact right way, and half the time it won’t even let you drag at all anyway because the drag area is so incredibly small. My wrists after a 42 page comic are SHOT.

2) God help you if you need to change Panel View on/off after you’ve started.

Because…you can’t! You’d better darn well know whether you want to do Panel View or Double Page Spreads (and remember this is EITHER/OR) before you start. If you end up having to change this, you get to start a whole new file! Lucky you! (Lucky me after I found out you can’t have double page spreads with Panel View.)

3) FILE SIZE

Turns out that even though you’re technically allowed to use PNG and TIFF files for your images…no. No, it must be JPG/JPEG and only JPG. Because your images can only be 800kb or smaller and your mobi file had better darn well be under 50mb if you don’t want Amazon to slap a big ugly (well it’s not big I guess, but it looks scary and foreboding) warning on your sales page saying “Due to large file size, this book may take longer than usual to download.” YUCK!

Worse, for those of you selling a comic for $1.99, you can’t do this unless it’s 50mb or less. (I’ve also heard that $0.99 books must be 3mb or less.)

The only way to achieve this is pretty much to use JPGs. I, of course, tried non-lossy file formats like TIFF and PNG first…can you say 2GB file??

4) …Except the cover file is different!!

Yes, the cover file and only the cover file can be larger in dimension than all your comic page files…and you actually NEED to use the dimensions they give you [1563×2500] because otherwise it’ll look all jacked up on the device. Well la~de~dah!! …at least you can update the cover image without making a new .mobi file, but I suspect you have to delete the old cover image from your folder or it may refuse to keep the update.

5) How in heck do I get my double page spread???

After I was on my second or seventh or eightieth new mobi file (had to remove panel view, then had to reduce the size of individual pages) I did the whole “double page spread” thing and thought I had it made. But when I went to preview it, it was still in portrait only displaying single pages!! Now, to go back a bit, when you start making your file in Kindle Comic Creator, you have to pick Portrait, Landscape, or Unlocked. …except, no matter what you say, you have to pick Unlocked if you want your double-page spread to work at all.

kindle comic creator dialog box

The good news is, if you selected Portrait or Landscape instead, this can be changed.

6) What can’t be changed is the canvas size. Time for another new mobi file!

Below the Portrait/Landscape/Unlocked options you’ll notice there’s “canvas size” dimensions to pick. ONCE THESE ARE SET THEY ARE IN STONE. Thus, if you were perhaps to get distracted by a late-night episode of Perry Mason (the original black and white series naturally) and did NOT switch these babies around to reflect Portrait as Opposed to Landscape, or Landscape as opposed to Portrait, you will have to REDO EVERYTHING LATER!

This became an issue because the “Kindle for PC” I downloaded from Amazon won’t let me rotate the virtual Kindle. Thus, I couldn’t see that when you rotate it, your double-page spreads show up. I panicked. Did this mean that I actually needed my dimensions to be in landscape mode, reflecting the size of two pages, and then two pages would populate in the preview like they were supposed to???

NO.

kindle landscape capture

Nope! Kindle defaults to displaying one page at a time in your selected mode. Therefore, if you have traditional (Portrait) comic pages and you put it in Landscape, you will still only get one page displayed at a time but now there will be a VAST SEA OF NOTHINGNESS on either side. AND you will no longer have access to the Double-Page Spread option that you desperately need for your splash pages. Yeah, THAT was worth making the 10th mobi file or so to find out…

7) So in other words, preview your comic using Kindle Previewer, NOT Kindle for PC.

It actually lets you flip the blasted thing, and then you will be comforted to see your double-page spreads do in fact exist and were not just a madman’s dream. They let you download Kindle Previewer when you’re making your book! It also comes bundled with Kindle Comic Creator but you may prefer the separate version.

the double page spread on kindle previewer

It really existed after all! *SOB* …I forgot which mobi file is the right one by this point, where did I save it…?

8) Hey, so about that pricing and description…

Yes, admittedly after all that I flaked out and just slapped a random price on my book without double-checking what prices I had set in other online venues. AND I neglected to use the book description field to talk in-depth about the book or include a link back to my website. More Amazon Bookshelf edits!!!!

9) To summarize, what I SHOULD HAVE DONE.

To get low file sizes, use JPG files no greater than 1280px on the largest side. The exception is your cover, which should be 1563X2500px. Also, have a portrait-oriented cover for a portrait-oriented comic, and a landscape-oriented cover for a landscape-oriented comic, or you will run into trouble.

To achieve Double-Page Spread in order to preserve splash pages, turn Panel View OFF, select the UNLOCKED orientation and set your canvas size to the dimensions of a single comic page. Don’t save until you’re certain your settings are perfect or you’ll be making a new file!! Preview in the actual Amazon Previewer, not Kindle for PC.

If you use Panel View, remember Double-Page Spread and “Unlocked” (ability to rotate) orientation will not be an option for you. It’s best to use Panel View for comics with very pronounced, simple panels on a white background so you can use the “auto-detect panels” as much as possible. If you must draw panels, ensure that the zoom for each panel is selected properly. Have someone burly massage your wrists afterwords and offer you chocolate and spirits.

Preferably someone like PERRY MASON

 

A Girl and her Mod Podge part 1: Rex

Yep, I made an Angel Rex tray. He didn’t stick around long, I can assure you, he was snapped up pretty quick…but in the time I shared with him, I loved him.

You might notice some black streaks or faint smudginess in the red of the tray. That’s because I used a block print of Rex as an experiment. Not surprisingly, the ink smudged! I would caution anyone against decoupaging a block print for this reason. If, like my little rex tray here, the piece still looks pretty nice with streaking, go for it. But I would not recommend the approach if you desperately want a crisp, clean-looking piece. Gritty pieces only!

Progress of Dr. Phibes Plague of Locusts

the abominable dr. phibes gestures ominously toward the plague of locusts he has unleashed on an unsuspecting mankind, his lovely assistant vulnavia in the background

Let’s switch gears and take a look at some progress shots from a horror/psychedelic piece I did a couple of years back, about one of my favorite movie characters, The Abominable Dr. Phibes. I did this as a vector piece for the most part, figuring that using zillions of shape layers would add a subtle angularity and therefore a dimension of unreality to the piece. I also wanted to use super crazy saturated colors, so having a ton of solid and transparent little shapes that couldn’t really blend and get muddy like paints to also helped. I was pretty darned happy with how it came out, honestly! Looking at the progress shots really kind of cracks me up though, especially the initial sketch. He almost reminds me of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas…

Also, if you notice the first sketch says “Impressions of Africa.” For some reason I was thinking of the Dali painting of that name when I conceived this piece. I forget why…maybe because Vincent Price as Dr. Phibes reminds me a little bit of Dali at his most dramatic. Dali certainly paints himself in a theatrical way in “Impressions of Africa.” I tried to mirror Dali’s pose a bit in the sweeping gesture of Dr. Phibes, but by the end of it I’d forgotten about Dali and had no thoughts other than making it as lurid as possible. Hopefully I succeeded!

dali impressions of africa

Plates!

linoleum block plate carving

I recently found some old snapshots I took of my plates as I was working on them for Eurydice, Daedalus, and my tentacle raccoon. The first two were block prints carved from linoleum. For the raccoon, I printed out my design on typing paper and then cut it out with an X-Acto knife and taped it onto inked plexiglass, which I then printed onto an old monoprint I had soaked in water. Enjoy!

Eurydice

I took the name for this traditional linoleum block print from the ancient Greek legend of the singer Orpheus and his wife. Orpheus and Eurydice were deeply in love and happy, but on the night of their wedding Eurydice ventured out into a field (some say to dance) and was bitten by a snake and died. Orpheus then descended into the Underworld and got Hades to agree to allow him to take Eurydice back to the realm of the Living, provided he did not look back at her on the way. Tragically, Orpheus looked back almost as he and Eurydice were about to be reunited, and she remained in the land of the dead.

The high heel shoe implies dancing to me and a beautiful woman, and the bear trap in the field shows the misfortune and the sudden snap of deadly jaws that sealed Eurydice’s fate. Below are the different sketches I made before making my print and adding watercolor to it. Eurydice was originally made for Hand Prints 2012 and went on to appear in mixed-media collage form in last year’s Earth Day Art Crawl (above).

DRIFT part 2: SCRAP

the drift scrap version I made for EDAC 2013 sandpaperdaisy

In my last post I mentioned that DRIFT had gone through different forms. Here you see DRIFT:SCRAP, a piece I made for last year’s Earth Day Art Crawl. I took a copy of my digital painting and decoupaged it to a piece of scrap wood left behind by the last people who owned our home, then screwed in different bits of machinery from busted appliances. I wanted to both extend the lines of the reclaimed bits in the children’s home-made rocket and also explore the Earth Day theme of art made from found objects. Everyone loved it including me!

My pictures of the piece are from last year (read: last phone) and aren’t that hot, but I’ll try to get some new ones. I still have this baby and I’ll be bringing it to this year’s Earth Day Art Crawl on the 19th where it will be for sale!

Phosphate, a lost (or rather, sold!) piece

brightly colored fish cut from paper, swimming in a phosphate polluted pond

Back in the days before I had an easier-to-use phone camera, the occasional odd work of traditional art would slip by me without getting fully documented. Such is the case with Phosphate, a piece I was actually quite proud of. I made it as a challenge to myself for last year’s Earth Day Art Crawl.

That year, the inaugural year of the art crawl, we participating artists were challenged to make art which was either environmentally themed, made from recycled materials, or both. I responded by making a phosphate-polluted pond with lovely koi-like fish below the scummy surface, digging out some neglected mod podge and a frame from an old piece of art. Little did I know that mod podge would soon become a frequent element in my traditional art pieces! At the time I just wanted a good way to seal up the old frame and effectively represent the uneven surface of a pond. Here are the progress shots I did manage to get of the piece:

You can see something of the finished piece in the last image, but alas! It is partially covered up by the next pieces I was working on, my “Fleurs du Mal” collage series. I was in something of a rush and I barely finished Phosphate before it was time to run it over to the gallery. Comforting myself that I would be able to document it once the show came down, my hopes were dashed when I discovered it had sold. (Certainly a piece of art being sold is something of a nice consolation prize though.)

I hope you’re happy with your new owner, Phosphate!

Fenris Devouring the Sun, the rebirth of an old monoprint

this traditional mixed media print depicts fenris the wolf devouring the sun during ragnarok, the norse end of the world.

I mentioned in “The Many Faces of Daedalus” how I liked to re-examine or even re-use old art to try and perfect an idea or turn it into something new entirely. Fenris Devouring the Sun is one of these pieces! The colorful background of this piece is in fact a very old monoprint of mine depicting the Sirens from the Odyssey. I never did anything special with this print, and when I finally pulled it out of my student portfolio a decade later I still enjoyed the vibrant colors but I was deeply unsatisfied with the clumsy linework. Experimenting, I turned the print this way and that to see if a different orientation suggested a new picture.

The results excited me. As the hair and faces of the sirens my lines were wholly unsuccessful, but as the body and rays of the sun and some suggestions of Fenris’s fur, they were perfect! I hastened to design Fenris around the lines I liked from my old monoprint and then soaked the old print in water and printed upon it with black. In fact, this image from the “ABOUT HEATHER” page shows me carving Fenris from humble typing paper with my trusty X-Acto knife. In the background at the far right, you can see my old monoprint too!

heather landry aka sandpaperdaisy working at her kitchen table

Then I continued to experiment, using watercolor, COPIC marker, india ink, just anything I could think of really. The result, I’m pleased to say, took a Juror’s Choice Award at the 2012 DOOMSDAY show! It also got the following comment from the judge:

“Heather Landry’s Fenris Wolf is a high-intensity nod to the near universality of end-of-the-world archetype across cultures.” -Rob Millard-Mendez, juror for the DOOMSDAY show

fenris monoprint and juror's choice award ribbon from the 2012 doomsday show at angel mounds, evansville indiana

So there you have it, a successful makeover of a very student monoprint. Have any of you had good luck with revisiting a piece?

The many faces of Daedalus…how do you feel about re-using your art?

a repeating row of dissected mudpuppies combined with airplane blueprints in bright neon colors

This piece is one of many versions of this linoleum block print I did for the 2012 Hand Prints show:

linoleum block print of dissected mudpuppies melded with airplane blueprints.

A friend of mine had a lot of fun taking it and coloring on it to create three collaborative pieces as well:

daisytrog_collaboration_3_by_troglodytespacebird-d57b54x

daisytrog_collaboration_2_by_troglodytespacebird-d57b522

daisytrog_collaboration_1_by_troglodytespacebird-d57b4yy

And lastly, I recently used them in different pieces for my December 2013 solo show:

polygons and viscera, goya reference

The Sleep of Reason on Society6||Redbubble

Bone and syringe butterflies merge into black polygons which in return become flying lizards. An homage to Escher's Metamorphoses.

Ergo Sum

In other words, those mudpuppies really got around! I’m not sure when I first hit upon the idea of using my own art as collage to make new pieces, but I’m currently using the same approach on my Kaguya Hime piece in progress. Part of a totally unrelated piece (Moonlit Night, in fact!) is supplying the huge swollen moon behind the princess.

I personally like finding new ways to use different elements I’ve made that lend themselves to replication (mainly my digital and block prints) because that way, as an artist I still have the option of finding a better way to finish a work of art. If something I made doesn’t stand out in its original setting but later becomes much more successful in a completely different context, I feel very gratified. I have also done this with very old art, using amateur monoprints as effective and vibrant backgrounds for newer, more skilled block prints or incorporating crude paintings from my youth into new collage art.

How do you feel about re-using a piece of art or making series based on many variations of an element you’ve created?

Fanciest workspace of all time

A couple of months back, I got back into linoleum block printing again after an absence of more than a decade to participate in Hand Prints.  I started with five different designs: Eurydice, Daedalus, Tentacle Raccoon, Bait, and Angel Rex.   They were easy enough to create digitally (my current primary method of making art), but things changed once I faced the task of carving them, inking them, and getting them onto paper.  It was quite the logistic challenge to figure out where in heck to do the printing and what I needed to do to make each piece come out all right.  I took some photos of my workspace during the process.


I’ll post images of the actual carving process next time around!