Journey Home, Part I

I recently moved to Texas, and I've been unpacking boxes that have been in storage for years. In one box I found a storybook that I wrote and illustrated at the age of...I don't know, maybe seven?  I hope I wasn't much older than that because the spelling is atrocious. Here it is, for your entertainment:

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Journey Home by Paige Carpenter, age seven (?) bound in cardboard and contact paper. Illustrated in pencil and Crayola marker.

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Overleaf: "ACHEINT GARDEN" Statues standing in folds of ivy, Flowers blooming ever more, Trees that sway without noise, (continued in pencil) The ruins of a castle, orcherds overgron Woods of Enchantment A view of mountains, Rivers and Brooks Water lilys in the ponds. Romantic acrting briges over brook strea rivers

First Page: In a little house in the Wood lived a lady and a little girl named April. April had a colt named Silver Sapphire. (Was just a colt?)

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Second Page: One day APril was playing in the attic She found a doll and a Book. She took them downstairs to ask Miss Lydia if She could keep them.

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Third Page: When she did She Said yes. April was very happy! She had never Had a doll before.

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Fourth Page: She Sat down and began to read. It Was a story about how she had taken from her parents when she was baby.

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Fifth Page: She made up her mind to go home that night. When it was dark She began to make ready. She took food and clothing her doll and her book and her horse. So She Set off.

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Sixth Page: She would take a path Which led to the west. She set off.

(To be continued...In the next part, April and her colt Silver Sapphire enter the Candy Forest.)

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston - Sketches

Since one of my new year's resolutions is to visit more museums, I began yesterday by visiting the Museum of Fine Arts in downtown Houston. Admission is free every Thursday. The MFAH has a wonderful collection of European art, including this painting by The Master Himself, Bouguereau.

eldersister_bouguereau The Elder Sister

She has a soft smirk on her face that I didn't notice until I was very close to the painting. I know that proud, sisterly smirk. I used to wear it when I held my baby brother.

Museum sketching is difficult. Standing for a long time in one spot resulted in people shuffling around me, and it's awkward to support a large sketchbook in one arm while trying to draw with the other. I really want a Nomad Artist Satchel whenever they become available.

Anyway, I did a few quick sketches. I'm fairly certain I saw and sketched another cast of that statue of Diana at the Met.

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The first visit to a museum is always overwhelming, even when I tell myself I don't have to see it ALL. Next time I'll slow down a bit and try to do more detailed drawings.

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Photograph of "The Elder Sister" from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Helblindi - Sketchbook

helblindi_small_paigecarpenter Helblindi, brother of Loki.  One of the jötnar (giants).

Over the past few weeks I have:

-gotten a sinus infection

-packed up and moved from Florida to Texas

-gotten a stomach virus (much coughing & vomiting ensued)

This is the second year in a row I've been ill or injured on Christmas. Not my favorite sort of seasonal tradition. A belated Merry Christmas to everyone, and a Happy New Year!

Enthralled - Drawing

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Enthralled.

Pencil & white pastel on toned paper. 19" x 15".

enthrall verb

capture the fascinated attention of (also inthrall) archaic enslave

Origin: late Middle English (in the sense 'enslave'; formerly also asinthrall): from en-1, in-2 (as an intensifier) + thrall

thrall noun
a slave, servant, or captive
the state of being in someone’s power or having great power over someone

Origin: Old English thrǣl 'slave', from Old Norse thræll

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Definitions from The Oxford Dictionaries.

World-Building, Week Four - Costumes

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Costumes of Asgard, for Sean Murray's World-Building class.

Healer ceremonial garb. The Sisters of Mercy are an all-female order who use both medicine and magic. For ceremonies they paint a red slash across their eyes in honor of the founder of their order, who healed blindness with her tears.

Farmer festival clothing. The men of Asgard like to collect trophies: furs from hunts, gold won at the gambling tables, cloth embroidered by a sweetheart, etc. Strength is more respected than class. A strong farmer will be honored. A weak nobleman will find himself despised.

Noble lady's dress. The nobility import new fashion styles from the lower realms (invention and creativity is not a trait often found in Asgard.) Ladies often keep small pets. Lockets worn on the bodice hold scented herbs or locks of a lover's hair.

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Some sketches for working men's clothing.

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Where is week three's assignment, you say? Week three is not yet finished, due to a bout of the flu and the fact that my parents are packing to move halfway across the country.

World-Building, Week Two - Landmarks

paigecarpenter_thumbs_sheet2 A few thumbnail sketches for the Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge from Asgard to the realms below, and Idunn's Grove.

I originally had the gate to the Bifrost built underneath the lighthouse, but I decided that design wasn't working.  The gate wasn't big enough to support the massive lighthouse, which is supposed to be the tallest tower in Asgard.  So I split the two apart.

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Here's a more finished concept.  I haven't done much design involving architecture until now, but I'm discovering that I really enjoy it.  I really like this piece and I'm planning to paint it at some point.

A few notes from Sean Murray's lecture on designing landmarks:

-Well-known landmarks in our own world often have very recognizable silhouettes (i.e., Eiffel Tower, Giza Pyramids, World Trade Center).  Play around with simple shapes and silhouettes-- both pleasing and disturbing.

-How does the environment (ocean, mountains, swamp) affect the design of the landmark?

-Sometimes landmarks are built around the remains of older landmarks, bits of walls or columns from earlier civilizations.

World-Building, Week One - Maps

Maps were the focus during the first week of Sean Murray's World-Building Class. I've always loved maps. Behold the first map I ever created, probably around the age of seven:

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This was a map of the imaginary neighborhood my friend and I invented. It's very well-preserved because I stuck it to a piece of cardboard and laminated with scotch tape.

Since we lived about half an hour away from each other, we couldn't get together in person as often as we would have liked. So we "played" for hours over the telephone, narrating the adventures of our characters, Sara and Little Calf.

Little Calf was a calf. Sara was a horse. And they had various adventures that involved wasting fevers and haircuts because I had read too many Victorian children's novels.

My map-making skills have improved since then:

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This map is for a book project based on Norse mythology. At the moment, the book has no title, so I'm temporarily calling it "Norseness," or "The Norseness."

Lionfish Shampoo

Lionfishshampoo_PaigeCarpenter My entry for James Gurney's contest:

"How would an Art Nouveau designer (such as Alphonse Mucha or Henri Privat-Livemont) design a label for an imaginary product called "Lionfish Shampoo?" If you're not familiar with it, the lionfish is a remarkable looking (but dangerous) real fish, but you can take it in whatever direction you would like."

I discovered two things while designing this:

1) I love Alphonse Mucha's art.

2) Old-timey advertisements are so much cooler than their modern descendants.

Working Titles

My brilliant new writing schedule is working so far.  Here's a quick update on my current projects: WWII Manuscript :  Finished.  181,000 words.  (Yikes, it's long.)

Still out making the rounds with agents.   This novel is an odd animal, so I'm expecting it to be hard to place with an agent/publisher.   Traditional publishing is a long process.   Working title: Jacob Have I Loved.  (Yes, I know there's already a book by this title.)

Vampires Manuscript : In Progress.  25,500 words so far.

Vampires, Manhattan, and musical theatre.

This sucker is moving along now that I have a writing schedule that works.  I've been writing bits and pieces of this novel since I was in high school.  Serious frustration has led me to seriously considered scrapping this project, but guilt keeps me committed.  Working title: The Majestic.  (Look!  A movie already used this title. )

Norse!Quest : In Progress.

I'm writing this on the weekends to reward myself for surviving another week of writing about vampires.   Odin, Thor and Loki go on adventures.  And Ragnarok happens.   Also that time Loki had the brilliant idea of putting Thor in a wedding dress to get Thor's stolen hammer back.

Here, have an Odin:

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Caravaggio Studies

At the IMC, Donato told me that if I wanted to instill my art with some of the Old Masters' grace and beauty, I needed to go study a ton of paintings and statues in detail-- not passively looking at art, but locking it into my muscle memory by drawing and painting studies. So I came home and went to the library and got a stack of books about artists I admire. I started with Caravaggio. He's not my favourite (am I allowed to have favourites?) but his paintings are very dramatic, full of interesting anatomical bits and very vivid lights and darks. I also want to improve my anatomy and value skills, so I can't really go wrong with Caravaggio.

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Study of Penitent Magdalene, c.1594.

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Study of The Inspiration of St. Matthew (detail), 1602.

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Study of Madonna dei Pellegrini (detail), c. 1603.

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Study of The Seven Acts of Mercy (detail), 1607.

IMC 2013 - Day Seven

Here's the belated IMC last-day post! So, on the last day, we cleaned up the studios and set up our finished (or still-in-progress) paintings on display. Unfortunately, I can't post any of those amazing illustrations yet, because some of them were still unfinished, and I need to get permission from the artists. I will post several of my favorites in a few weeks.

While wandering around admiring the art, everyone signed everyone else's sketchbooks. Here are just a few of the scribbles I collected:

Dragons

Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo gave me a pair of dragons.

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Rebecca Guay drew an elf. Irene Gallo, Julia Singh, Dirk Tiede, and Judy Riggenbach also gave me doodles and signatures.

Over the week, people had also been drawing on the whiteboard in the dorm's common room:

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The IMC this year (and last year) has been one of the best weeks of my life. I learned and laughed so much, and had a few crises along the way, but so did everyone else. We're all mad here.

IMC 2013 - Day Six

I didn't get much painting done today. I started Loki's hair and face, but I want to do a few quick studies of his back and robes before I paint them. Anna Mohrbacher was kind enough to take a photo of me while I was working.

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And here's a really dim photo of the piece in progress. (It's gloomy outside. I think it rained nearly every day this week.)

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The students and faculty, photographed by David Palumbo:

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Yes, that IS a mammoth! Amherst College has an amazing natural history museum with dinosaur skeletons, footprints, and crazy minerals.

The college also has an art museum with a Bouguereau. A BOUGUEREAU. Here. In Massachusetts. Just up the hill from the IMC studios. I'm still in shock.

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Cupid pours thoughts of love into a young girl's ear, distract her from her work. I stared at this painting for a long time, hoping to absorb some of his genius by osmosis.

IMC 2013 - Day Four

Today I took the best parts of my sketches and mashed them together in Gimp, blew it up to the size I wanted, reversed the image, printed it, drew over it, flipped it over on top of my illustration board, and did a rubbing transfer. (Yes, it's a weird, complicated process.)

Then I began drawing over the transfer.

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Rebecca Guay helped me design some interesting flowy robes for Loki. (I love Rebecca's paintings. As a child I loved the book covers she painted without ever knowing her name, until last year when I finally connected the name with the illustrations.)

So. Painting tomorrow!

IMC 2013 - Day Three

Today I began by obsessing over bones and muscles. I want my painting to have a very Classical/Grecian statue mood. Florence_statue_hercules_killing_the_centaur

(Update: a reader has informed me that this is a statue of Hercules fighting Nessus, sculpted by Giambologna.)  I found this amazing statue in one of my Google searches, but I can't find the name of the artist. This is Hercules fighting a centaur. I love that hand pressing against Hercules' chest. I want to use that hand.

So I went back to my reference photos and began piecing together arms and legs and torsos.

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At this point Donato told me to stop obsessing over musculature and concentrate on the faces, since the faces are the most important thing-- that's where the viewer's eye will linger, and the emotion on the faces is what will make the painting.

So I went and drew emotive faces.

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James Gurney came today to give a lecture. He walked around the studios and stopped to talk with me for a while. He said he loved those heads!

Several other people thought that these faces weren't expressive enough, so I turned on Youtube and got Tom Hiddleston's face and drew sad Loki and screaming Loki. That ought to be emotive enough.

In the end, I decided I really like that second pair of Thor and Loki heads. Those are the faces I'm going with. This is a moment of calm in the midst of the battle, when Thor has to decide if he really has the strength of will to bring that hammer down on Loki.