Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hello Miz Crabtree!

I was in Savannah at the Savannah College of Art and Design this past weekend for the Comics Art Forum XIV. I .Other guests included the super talented Bernard Chang, Jeff Parker, Heidi Arnold, Kaz Strzepek, Clement Sauve, Sanford Greene, Mark Schultz, Chris Appelhans and Chris Brunner. I did a workshop on silent storytelling. Which is funny now that I think about it, because I did not shut up the whole time I was there. I have a terrible habit of filling every aural void with chit chat. And, when you are giving a workshop filled with students who are focused on you expecting something , it is hard to let there be some awkward silences. I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed myself. i think I feel more energized about work than I have been in a long while. I'm pretty jazzed.
I think my Saturday workshop benefited more than my Friday class. On the plane on the way home I really had a handle on the curriculum I SHOULD have taught.
If the opportunity arises to do an artist in residence. I have my watercolor, lettering and life drawing classes firmly planned out in my head.
I think the one bit of advice I gave out more than anything else during the 4+ hours of portfolio review was to ditch the pencil, get a ballpoint pen and sit in a cafe and do gesture drawings. I found that the luxury of the eraser doesn't free up most people's drawings, it actually limits them. Not every drawing is going to be perfect, especially in school. Skritch out a 3 minute figure and move on to the next one. And draw your friends. Especially their clothes and the folds in fabric. Study body language and gesture and the way clothing moves.
If you want to cheat and look at comics instead of doing the homework-study Jaime Hernandez. Can you get that elegance,body language, flow of clothing, and those subtle facial expressions in the minimal amount of linework? Look at the random doodles of Alex Toth. Pure drawing.
Hmmm. I had best take my own advice! I shall sketch over the holidays in ballpoint pen. I want to keep it fresh. Get back to painting instead of cartooning. Use my left habd I suppose. Really tax my hand eye coordination. Use the big brush instead of the number 8.
I miss being a student sometimes. I really liked school. Some of my fave paintings that I have ever done were done in Irving Shapiro's watercolor class. Two of them are framed and on my wall. I'd post them if they weren't framed. And one of them is 20 x 30... that's be hard to piece together from a buncha scans.

I had some time to wander around the lovely historic distict of Savanah and take some reference photos. Many of the city's architectural elements will be showing up in Magic Trixie. And in some future paintings.

I ran across this lovely web while I was admiring porch railings and staircases.

I dined at Mrs. Wilkes boarding house. It's pretty fun if you like talking and eating with strangers. Why? Cuz you are seated at tables of ten and all of the food is on the table when you get there. It had to be sixteen to twenty dishes of things like, mac n cheese, greens, rice and gravy, okra and tomatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, squash casserole, broad beans, green beans, black eyed peas...and then they bring out these huge platters of fried chicken! When you are completely stuffed they bring you banana pudding and blueberry cobbler. "It's wafer thin!"

That's just a spoonful of as much as I could cram onto my plate. The chicken had yet to arrive. And that sweet tea- it revs up your motor really good.
I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the city, so I don't feel guilty for making like Harry the Werewolf at the dinner table! I don't think I've ever seen as much macaroni and cheese offered as I have in Savannah.

I got to Norris Hall just in time to see the animal anatomy students studying this wee little owl named Merlin and Cinnamon. Not only did I get to take many photos of him, but I got to pet him as well. He was very tolerant of humans as long as you kept your mitts behind his head. If you skritched his 'neck' ( I think- he's all feathers and tiny bones) he got all sleepy eyed.)

If humans had eyes that were proportionate to our heads as owls eyes are to theirs, our eyes would be as big as grapefruits!

I also went on a ghost tour, hosted by student and storyteller Andre. He lead me and several other of the visiting artists on a haunted tour of some of Savannah's most haunted spots. Technically that could be every six feet as you walk along the historic district. It has so much spectral activity i half expected to see Scooby and the gang zip on by in the Mystery Machine. The next time I visit, I'll have to stay a night in one of the myriad haunted hotels or b&bs. Not that I want to be scared out of my mind or attacked by vengeful spirits...but, I want to experience something otherworldly. And, no, I did not see any apparitions or anything like that, but, I did get kind of creeped out and really quite jumpy as we travelled around. One of the scariest places was in Norris hall /the Sequential arts building. Many of the students and faculty related to me their own experiences of hearing voices coming up the stairs when no one else was in the building and of students seeing misty shapes in the animation room, or of crying coming from empty rooms.
So- tell me what you think about this. I checked my camera before we went on the tour to make sure I'd have enough battery life for the ghost tour. It registered 30 minutes of life at dinner, so I powered off to save it until later. when I powered up at one of the haunted sites, the camera registered 9 minutes of battery left! Those paranormal shows with ghost hunters always say that their equipment goes all wonky and batteries drain and stuff when there is a presence of spectral energy or whatever. (only to resume to normal working order when they leave the scene and stuff...) So I only took pix at a few of the stops.
Now, I'm also skeptical (I know, hard to believe) of these 'orbs' that people say are present in 'ghost' photos. I have plenty of "ghost" pictures from dust reflecting my flash, or from cigarette smoke reflecting the light to create spectral mist. BUT- there were two instances here where I've got some 'orbs' in my pix. One is in a park square where supposedly two little girl ghosts still frolic. I took two pix in rapid succession. In one of them there are two orbs. In the next pic, they are gone. Usually when I take a photo that has dust 'orbs' there are many- because it's dust. Why would there just be two pieces of dust? And they seem kinda off in the distance. The other one was a photo taken looking up at the spot where there was a legend of a person being lynched for the murder of a little girl. Just one 'orb'. Or one piece of dust. I dunno, seems weird to me.
Can you see them?

My battery ran out completely when we reached the cemetery. But the next on the way to the airport, I checked it again and my battery registered that it had 17 minutes of charge left. Coincidence? Or did my camera return to normal once we were away from the ghosty areas? Whooo Knooooows?


Jouniac said...

Hello Jill

I didn't know you have a blogger-thingie. Great to have you around!

Wanna see mine?


Jouni (who taught you rude words in Finnish in Fiddler's Green -convention)

Matthew Kriske said...


May I begin by saying that I really, truly love your work, and am a big fan of it as well? I can? Good.

Anyway, I was wondering if you are ever open to doing commissions? I live in Minnesota, and haven't seen you at any conventions in recent memory, so I was wondering if there was some other way I could maybe purchase a drawing/ watercolor from you?

My e-mail is , if'n you're interested.

I appreciate your time either way.

P.S.- Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

I tried the "sketching in ballpoint" idea a few years ago. It matters that you have confidence in your abilities before you go that route. I never was that good, and it soon became an issue that the mistakes couldn't be corrected...

DivaLea said...

"On the plane on the way home I really had a handle on the curriculum I SHOULD have taught."

I want to teach at SCAD again so I can teach what I thought of on the plane. It was more than, "OMG Delta you VEX me!"

Savannah is amazing, isn't it? I loved it.
As for ghosts, we heard steps out in the hall outside our room when no one was around. We had a window in the wall facing the hall, so we knew for sure no one was there. We were also on the top floor.

I did not bring the steps to my daughter's attention. A freakout would just not go with her striped tights.

The lead on the new books is heavy, but it sure pays off in a lack of stress later, neh?

Glad you're blogging!

Andrea said...

Just cruised over from a link on Neil Gaiman's blog. I enjoyed your work with Sandman & was happy to see your name pop up. So nice to see you're out there & keeping busy--