Snowed In with a Red Eye

by Anais St.
Red Eye

Not an actual red eye, just the one I drew above; but I was snowed in. The Maryland/D.C. area was swathed in snow this weekend. I don’t know how much fell but it seemed close to a foot. Granted there are other places further north that has gotten more but for me a foot of snow is enough for me to consider myself snowed in. I hate winter!

After shoveling the driveway thrice between Saturday and Sunday, I sat down to some much needed art therapy. I spent my Sunday afternoon and evening watching art videos on YouTube and drawing the mandala above after watching Tiffany Lovering’s tutorial on drawing a “hypnotic eye” (see video below). It helped soothe my sore muscles for the time though when I got up from my chair my back, side, elbows, and arms began hurting simultaneously. Snow is so heavy!

I tried to follow Lovering’s video as closely as possible but, as you can see, I made a few mistakes in my sphere/hypnotic eye, but I was proud of what resulted from my effort. Since she referred to it as a hypnotic eye, I decided to color it to resemble an eye. And because I was watching Avatar: The Last Airbender while coloring, I decided to make it red and orange—thinking of the fire nation. My original plan was to add several additional circles around this central one, similar to Lovering’s video, but I changed my mind and thought it best to simply add the two triangles of lines to hint at the small space around the eyeball. I guess the finished product is an abstract eye.

Hope you like it and visit Lovering’s YouTube channel for additional videos.

Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas to All!!

Christmas, my favorite holiday, has rolled around again. I am late with my well wishes but I do hope that everyone had a wonderful and magical Christmas day filled with lots of joy, laughter, and love.

This year I’m highlighting the holiday with this awesome piece by Alexander Jansson, a Swedish illustrator. I’m in love with his work, which is often whimsical and surrealistic. The one above is a mixed-media illustration called “Doctor Blumenauer and His Magical Flying Table.”

I selected this one not for its relation to the holiday but for the story it seems to tell. All the characters are in awe as they watch Doctor Blumenauer’s table fly into air. They all believe it’s a real magic table but there’s a guy in the shadows behind Doctor Blumenauer’s caravan with a control, programming the table. The illustration makes me wonder at Doctor Blumenauer’s back story. He’s obviously a charlatan here but how did he get started and was he chased out of the last town he visited? What are his Christmas plans? Will he spend it alone? And is that his assistant in the shadows?

My mind is already jumping to conclusions, forming a story about Doctor Blumenauer. I hope the illustration tickles your imagination too.

Here’s to a Happy Holiday.

Merry Christmas!

Favorite Harry Potter Book Covers

While laying in bed this morning contemplating what to write, the idea popped into my head to do a post on my favorite Harry Potter book covers. Yes, this is just an excuse to indulge in my Harry Potter fanaticism. I guess I will be rereading the seventh book soon as well. It’s about time too. The Harry Potter bug usually bites me once a year and infects me with a need to reread a Harry Potter novel, usually the first book. But for now I’ll focus on the covers.

Back in July, Bloomsbury announced that it will publish new covers for the UK edition of the Harry Potter books this September. Last year, Scholastic released new covers for the US edition of the books for its fifteenth anniversary. Here, I will compare the covers (the original vs. the most recent US and UK covers). I will highlight my favorites and will list the covers I like that were published in other countries.

When placed together, it’s easy to see the different elements the illustrators chose to emphasize. Kazu Kibuishi, who illustrated Scholastic’s 2013 covers (The illustration of Hogsmeade above is by Kibuishi.), always tries to place the focus on Harry, which makes sense because the story is about him. So Harry is always placed in the foreground sometimes as larger than the other characters or with a spotlight (glowing glasses). Jonny Duddle, the UK illustrator of Bloomsbury’s September 2014 books, emphasizes the obstacles Harry faces. Harry is usually drawn as a smaller figure in comparison to the other images in the scene to portray the enormity of the events he faces.

Mary Granpré, who designed the original US covers, maintains a cheerful/innocent tone that was probably perceived as more appealing to younger kids. Even as the book became more serious the covers still maintained a sense of innocence. The same goes for the original UK covers, which were designed by Thomas Taylor, Cliff Wright, Giles Greenfield, and Jason Cockcroft. Children’s literature has evolved much since the Harry Potter novels were first published and the evolution of the covers certainly show that. These days, it’s not surprising to see more serious, scary images on children’s book covers. So, without further ado…

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Scholastic’s August 2013 cover by Kazu Kibuishi.

I feel guilty for liking Kibuishi’s cover more than Mary Grandpré’s original. I get a bit sentimental over books and hate seeing the covers change sometimes but I do find this cover more appealing than the first. I like that it features Diagon Alley because it’s the presence of Diagon Alley that convinces us that a secret, magical world is waiting to be explored. I also like that the illustration consists mostly of blue, which gives it a mystical feel, and that Harry is placed in a spotlight, which is formed by Hagrid’s size. Hagrid is so big that, along with the crowd of people, even the buildings seem to shuffle around to give him space. Plus, the color around Harry and Hagrid is lighter, like a halo. Hedwig, perched on Harry’s shoulder, also helps.

The original UK cover by Thomas Taylor.
The original US cover by Mary Grandpré.

Harry’s face seems to have the same expression on both the original US and UK covers. This cover will always be a favorite simply because it is the first.

Bloomsbury’s September 2014 cover by Jonny Duddle.

This is my second choice because of Harry’s expression. He looks a bit puckish here. (Click the newer versions for a larger image.) Continue reading “Favorite Harry Potter Book Covers”

Sharing My Instagram Pics: The “Newspaper Reader”

It's easy to mistake him for someone real. Princeton, NJ
It’s easy to mistake him for someone real.
Princeton, NJ

A friend of mine invited me to Princeton back in March and I was amazed at how quaint the area around the university is. I was expecting a bustling town but instead I found a sleepy one. Well, according to my standards. It was pretty quiet there. While touring the campus, we happened upon this gentleman taking a break from his day to read the daily news. He was quiet stiff. Upon closer look, I realized that he had forgotten his glasses at home and was straining his eyes to read.

So went my thoughts when I saw this 1975 sculpture by J. Seward Johnson Jr. called the “Newspaper Reader.” The man is reading The New York Times. I admire the details in this sculpture—the stitching in his shoes, the lines of his pants, the wrinkles around his eyes. It’s great. I thought it was a real guy before realizing that the newspapers’ pages weren’t moving.

According to Wikipedia, J. Seward Johnson Jr. “is an American artist known for his trompe l’oeil painted bronze statues. He is a grandson of Robert Wood Johnson I (co-founder of Johnson & Johnson) and Colonel Thomas Melville Dill of Bermuda.”

The following links provide more information on the sculpture.

Amazing Posts I Found Online: Make-up, Statue, Cup

I found these amazing posts while perusing the web, reading blogs, or skimming through the many newsletters I’ve subscribed to.

A make-up artist paints album covers on her face:

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Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear; make-up by Natalie Sharp

I found this one on Flavorwire. It’s pretty cool. I’m unfamiliar with the albums featured but I am amazed by the artist’s skills. Her name is Natalie Sharp and she’s very talented. Visit her website to see more of her work.

Continue reading “Amazing Posts I Found Online: Make-up, Statue, Cup”

Amazing Posts I Found on the Web: Book, Art, Fashion, Cake

A writing pad:

Available on Amazon.
Available on Amazon

I found this on Buzzfeed—Affordable and Clever Gifts for Your Writer and Bibliophile Friends. I’m considering to buy it since I tend to get great ideas at the most inopportune moments like in the shower, especially in the shower! The pad is waterproof and costs just $7.95.

Continue reading “Amazing Posts I Found on the Web: Book, Art, Fashion, Cake”

Tessanne Chin WINS The Voice

Tessanne is the Voice!
Tessanne is the Voice!

I just want to share my excitement. I am so happy that my country comes first again. Tessanne Chin wins The Voice!!! 🙂 Mi just love it when the whole Jamaica come together fi push we one another forward. Congrats to Chinita Goodaz!! 😀

Performing the last song for the night, written by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic.
Performing the last song for the night, written by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic.

‘Taking the Ordinary and Making it Extraordinary’ — Edward Weston

by Edward Weston

“I have been photographing our toilet, that glossy enameled receptacle of extraordinary beauty. Here was every sensuous curve of the ‘human figure divine’ but minus the imperfections. Never did the Greeks reach a more significant consummation to their culture, and it somehow reminded me, in the glory of its chaste convulsions and in its swelling, sweeping, forward movement of finely progressing contours, of the Victory of Samothrace.” — Edward Weston

I bumped into Edward Weston, an American photographer (1886-1958), while re-reading my art history text book, Living with Art by Mark Getlein. Why am I re-reading a textbook? Well, I really love art and I enjoy learning about it. Since my memory of art history is a bit foggy, I’ve decided to revisit the subject and re-learn what I studied. It’s a lot of fun! Not only am I refreshing my memory of art history, I am also deepening my appreciation for the subject.

In a section titled “Art and Beauty,” Weston’s photograph of a cabbage leaf was featured as an example. I paused when I saw it. If I wasn’t told that the photo is of a cabbage leaf, I wouldn’t have guessed it. At first glimpse, I thought the picture to be the skirt of an elaborate gown with the bodice not shown (I think many others thought the same). As you can see [above], the photo is taken against a dark background and is casted in black and white. Taking away the characteristics of the cabbage (its color) and focusing solely on a piece of it makes me consider the cabbage in a new way and focus on parts of it that I’ve never considered: for example, the lines caused by its rumpled leaf. I love lines and the lines in this piece kicked my imagination into overdrive. They flow freely and form curves and sometimes arch against each other. To me, they look like the ruffles in a dress and other times I think of them as veins or the wrinkled skin of a weird sea creature or even an alien.

Another item that Weston photographed is the toilet. Now, why would anyone want to take a photo of something so ordinary? I enjoyed gazing at Weston’s toilet. His photo transforms it. The perspective that Weston shoots from causes the bowl to loom above us, taking on the persona of the “porcelain goddess,” as some refer to it. He makes the toilet look majestic. Also, I couldn’t help thinking of it as a sculpture.

Weston is a gifted photographer who’s quite adept at making the ordinary extraordinary, and at giving objects a new personality. I find that his use of black and white photos emphasize things that are blind to us in color. With the absence of color, we focus more on content and contrast. I now have a new appreciation for black and white photos. I suggest that you check out some of Weston’s photos too. You will be blown away.

Also, check out Martha Schwendener’s article in The New York Times to read more about Edward Weston and his art. And visit this slide show, also on The New York Time’s website, to see more of Weston’s work.