Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SACRED Art Show... with Rodolfo Montalvo!

A trilogy of drawings:

E: You actually created three different images, all of which I love. How did you choose these images, and why three?

R: Whenever I watch a movie, read a book, or do anything that has to do with characters, a lot of the times my favorite scenes are the ones where the characters are by themselves. I think that when we get to see how our favorite characters act when no one else is around is when we sometimes get to know them best. For my drawings of Sacred I illustrated a couple of scenes that had those moments where we as the readers got to know Scarlet a little better. The image of the house was more of an establishing shot for me. There was another composition that I was playing around with that also had the house in view but it didn't work out. So in the end, I tried to make the illustration of the house match the tone of the ones about Scarlett. I wanted to create another quiet moment between the viewer and the image.

The reason I made three drawings was because I knew I wanted to work in a semi-spontaneous way that would allow me to create a lot of finished drawings in a shorter amount of time. After I spent a lot of time thumbnailing my ideas, I had a few that I really liked. I gathered some reference material together and got to work. Basically I tried to make every line count and didn't let myself erase on any of the images. All the drawings were done fairly quickly, but I did redraw them a few times to get everything in the right place with the right marks on the paper. Once I had the final drawings I wanted done I just took them into Photoshop and added the color.     

E: Who and what inspire you?

R: Inspiration for me is something that is always shifting from one thing to another, or from favorite artist to NEW favorite artist. In relation to illustration there are many things that have inspired me since I was a kid. Mostly, comics, animation, film, children books, architecture, things like that and the many artists that have worked in those fields. Right now I'm really interested in and inspired by old travel poster art.

But if I wanted to mention something more constant within myself that inspires me it would have to be my desire to accomplish my goals. 

E: What is a typical workday like for you?

R: Usually I'm up by 7:30 am and head to my desk right after breakfast. Most days I just have a quick cereal with some fresh fruit. No matter what projects I'm working on I try to warm up for the day with sketching on any of the sketchbooks I have going. Sometimes I start with a small watercolor piece, or a pen and ink drawing, or a sketch with pencil and color pencils. I like creating spontaneous pieces that I can take to completion in one or two short sessions before or after my main workload. I work from home and I like that I can shift from one project to another at any time. Depending on what stage of the project I'm in, I could be sitting in front of my desk all day, or on-line looking for reference material or researching the subject matter, or I could also be trying to line up the next project. The good days for me are when I'm in the middle of the project and I don't need to be anywhere else except at my desk trying to finish whatever it may be I might be working on. I like to save the last part of the day for more personal projects or the warm-ups I mentioned. I know that the image of me at my desk is not the most exciting thing in the world, but that's where I make my days count. The more time I spend at my desk, the happier I am. Sometimes I can get away for a bit and I'll go out and sketch people out in the streets, or landscapes at the park or the beach, and every once in a while I'll go to the zoo and sketch the animals.

E: What other projects—both professional and personal—are you involved in?

R: Some of my more personal works are paintings and collages on panel, but I haven't been able get back into that side of my work lately. The majority of this year has been spent on children's book art. My wife and I have been writing a story for a picture book for over a year now. We've been working on it on and off and we are getting really close to begin putting a dummy together. I actually submitted the story idea along with some art from it to a critique panel at the summer SCBWI conference composed of Cecilia Yung, Laura Godwin, and Rubin Pfeffer, and it received great feedback. It was one of the highlights for me at this year's conference. Aside from trying to put together the dummy, I try to always have a lot of other illustrations going to add to my portfolio, and of course also keeping up my sketchbook work. I love sketchbooks.

Professionally, I completed a couple of ebooks recently for FarFaria and I'm currently working on my first book with a publishing house. The project came about right after the summer SCBWI conference. An art director from Simon & Schuster who I met during a breakout session offered me the illustration work for a middle grade book about a week after the end of the conference. The project is going really well. I just recently finished all the jacket art and I'm currently working on the interior illustrations. You can check out a picture of the cover at the Simon & Schuster page here: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Contagious-Colors-of-Mumpley-Middle-School/Fowler-DeWitt/9781442478299

E: What advice would you give people who’d like to break into the art world?

R: I would say to work hard and give it your best shot, and also to not be afraid to reach out to others about your work. Staying focused, persistent and passionate are all things that I have in the back of my mind every day. For me, getting to work was always the easy part between creating the illustration and getting it out into the world for people to see. But slowly and gradually I have been able to push myself to get out there and "network." And if you're interested in children's books I would highly recommend becoming a member of the SCBWI to benefit from all their great resources and opportunities to connect with the children's book industry.

E: Do you have a web presence?

R: My website is at www.rodolfomontalvo.com, my blog is at www.montalvothethirdstudio.blogspot.com, and you can also follow me on my new facebook page Rodolfo Montalvo Illustration Works.

 E: If you could meet any character in SACRED, who would it be and why?

R: I think it would have to be Scarlett. It goes back to the drawings I chose to do and the quiet moments that are part of the scenes that let us get to know her better. I loved being able to connect with Scarlett and sharing her journey in "Sacred." I like the dark contrast she creates with all the other characters. Also, I would like to get to know Catalina Island some day, for me the island it self was also one of the most interesting characters in the story.

Thanks so much, Rodolfo, for being part of the Art Show! Here again are Rodolfo's beautiful pictures.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

SACRED Art Show Lives On! With Heather Anne Soodak!

Even though SACRED is now available to purchase, the Art Show lives on! I will be featuring a few more authors before we find an installation for the whole show... and when it's up, I will share where you can go see these beautiful works in person.

Today I am so excited to share the work of Heather Anne Soodak.

E: I love the perspective in this piece, and the colors! How did you choose this image?

H: I love the “spark” that Scarlett and Will have, it reminds me of being a teenager again! This moment in the school library captures that yearning they have between one another: “I had thought I was subtle in my observation of him, but when Will looked up, he found my eyes at once.” I also chose the library scene because I like that the two are both well educated and have that connection of reading and seeking knowledge.
This piece does not demonstrate my typical, cartoony style but it seemed fitting for a more serious and magical moment.

E: How did you become an artist?

H: When I was three I started scribbling, and it took off from there! It did help that my parents were encouraging. I got my first rejection letter at ten years old when I submitted an illustration to Cricket magazine-that must have been when I was serious about being an illustrator.
An early Heather Soodak original

E: Who and what inspire you?

H: Animals mostly because when I look at them I see such character, and it just makes me inspired to write and illustrate stories of them! Childhood is also an inspiration for me, I try to remember how it felt to be a kid and then my imagination runs freely. Illustrators that inspire me are Quentin Blake for getting the expression and movement just right, Maurice Sendak for touching our hearts, and Peter de Sève for his humor, though there are many more!
Heather's dog Darwin
E:What is a typical workday like for you?

H: I start the day teaching art part-time to elementary and high school students, which I love. It is rewarding sharing the excitement of art, to pass it onto young ones that create masterpieces of their own! Then, usually run errands or go home to walk my little brindle mutt Darwin who excitedly bounces about when I arrive, how could I resist? Then I have a snack, and then relax by reading, yoga, or watching a favorite show. Then I cook a nice large dinner (my favorite meal of the day) for Chris and myself, and then at about 9 or 10 I like to lose myself in the current illustration project (I am a night owl). Sometimes I do murals and work all weekend, it varies depending on what projects are coming up! That’s what makes the Illustrator’s life exciting!
Heather's workspace

 E: What other projects—both professional and personal—are you involved in?

H: I am currently working on a commission to draw a lovely librarian’s two adorable cats, promotional postcards to send out to publishers, holiday cards for family ands friends, the Picture Book Idea Month Challenge, a story about a girl and the ocean, pieces for an upcoming art show at the Art Exchange in Long Beach, organizing everything, designing my art website, and training my new puppy Darwin. Phew!

E: What advice would you give people who’d like to break into the art world?

H: If you can narrow down what you are about in one idea, (find your niche) and learn how to promote yourself for that, it will help a lot. Don’t give up, if you love it, and know you are meant for it, do it! What else is life about?

E: Do you have a web presence?

H: Check out my artwork at www.heathersoodak.com. Working on the new site, so enjoy current work on http://hsoodak.blogspot.com/ for now.

E: If you could meet any character in SACRED, who would it be and why?

H: I would want to meet Will, how could a girl not? So insightful and mysterious<blush>! And, the animal character I want to meet is Delilah of course; she seems like a nice and gentle horse. Both of these characters helped Scarlett through a difficult time. 

Here's Heather's lovely piece in sketch form:

...and in process:

...and, once more, in all its final glory:

Thank you so much, Heather!!