Sunday, February 28, 2010

girl flies away

The beautiful star girl escapes and flies off. She loves the young man, our hero in the story, but cannot live on earth with him.
The young man is heart-broken and starts off on a journey to the end of the earth to find her.
On the top of the highest mountain he meets a giant Andean condor who offers to take him to the sky kingdom.
After a year and a day they reach a marvelous place very high and far away on the shores of a huge lake. The star girl is found living near the temples of the sun and the moon.
She is very happy to see her potato farmer husband and invites him to stay with her in her fabulous house.
As happens so often in such stories, in spite of the good food and love of the beautiful girl, the boy cannot live in the sky. He is sick and must return to earth.Lake Titicaca is a huge fresh water inland lake on the border of Bolivia and Peru. It is 12,500 ft above sea level and has Inca ruins including sacred temples dedicated to the sun and the moon. Reed boats constructed like those of the ancient Incas are still used on the lake.
The hillsides that rise up near the lake are terraced and planted with potatoes. Long stone fences divide the land where alpacas and llama graze.
Another element that went into this story is the story of the models who posed for me as the girl and the boy. My own sister and her husband cheerfully acted this out for me. My sister tried many interesting flying poses, holding her basket and leaping through the air. This is what you must do if you have a family member in the arts.
The happy ending is that the model pair are still married, in love, and now the parents of three beautiful children.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

boy catches girl

Of course, the boy is quick and catches the closest girl. All the rest of the star girls fly back into the night sky.
"So it was you who took my father's potatoes," he says, but then immediately falls in love as she gazes back into his eyes.
He takes her home and asks his parents if she can be his wife.
They agree, she is so beautiful, and they try to make her feel at home and welcome.
The mother gives her earth clothes and hides away the shining star dress.
Even though the young man loves her with all his heart, she is very sad and begins to die in the earthy home where she does not belong.
I created small black and white icon drawings to repeat throughout the book of Inca images such as llamas, potatoes, jaguar, and guinea pigs. The Andean people eat the guinea pigs they keep in the home, so I put them in a corner.

Friday, February 26, 2010

the potato thief

On the third night the boy stays awake long enough to see the stars falling down to earth. They are lovely young women holding baskets to carry away his potatoes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

the potatoes

The story begins with a farmer working in his potato field. It is said that he grows the best potatoes in all the land. He is puzzled to discover that someone is stealing his crop.
He enlists his son to watch the field at night to catch the thief. So the boy begins to sleep out in the field.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Girl from the Sky

Returning to the love story that I began after Valentine's Day, ( after all, it is still February). This folktale originated with the Inca people of South America.
I researched the setting and placed it in Bolivia.
It is a story of love found and lost, about a boy and a girl whose different worlds keep them apart.

I painted this art especially for the endpages. It is a stylized rendering of a Bolivian alpaca or llama wool blanket. I also created a border to repeat on all the pages and to unify my images. The border is a dark textured brown, intended to look earthy and potato colored (the story is about potatoes too).

The Girl from the Sky was published by Children's Press, which is no longer in Chicago. The book is not in print any more either, as this fine company was sold and moved and merged into a mega corporation somewhere else.

Monday, February 22, 2010

February snow

We began this fine Monday morning with a heavy wet six inches of snow. It is quite pretty, as if every surface outdoors is slathered with a thick vanilla frosting layer. As my son and I shoveled our way down the driveway we agreed that it was perfect weather for snowman constructing. He had to leave for school, and I am working in my studio, and no snow sculpture has appeared in our yard yet today.
I thought of these illustrations that I painted (digitally) for Wild Animal Baby magazine.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

a love story

It was Valentines Day this weekend and I thought about this storybook that I illustrated for Children's Press.
The title is "The Girl from the Sky", a folktale from the Inca people of Bolivia.
Boy meets girl, boy catches girl stealing his potatoes. Girl gets away because she can fly.
Boy catches her again.
More about these illustrations soon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

year of the tiger

This has been an eventful week.
A whole lot of celebrating.
Sunday was both Valentines Day, and Chinese New Years.
I remember Chinese New Year days from my childhood in the Philippines as non-stop firecracker noise festival. I still shudder and startle at the memory.
And then we had Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras yesterday and today, in stark contrast is Ash Wednesday.
So today I post in honor of the Year of the Tiger.
Next, Valentines, and a love story that I illustrated, followed by Lent, my favorite time of year.
And I will explain why.

This image is titled "Foreverland" and I created it using Corel Painter and my Wacom tablet.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Just for fun, a black and white illustration from a job I recently finished.
This was a digital piece, using Photoshop.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I love these tropical flowers. I hardly ever get to see them these days. When given this one in a bouquet, I drew it on my digital art tablet using Painter. Spontaneous pleasure in the moment given expression.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I called the game

Yes, true story. I called the Super Bowl.
I am the guest who never pays much attention, talks at the wrong moment, and has to be shushed. I just show up at the big game party for the food and fun company.
I always bring my sketching gear, sometimes a freelance job when I have to work on pencils due the next day.
I am just not a sports fan, even less interested in football.
Last night when I arrived at the latest greatest party I was given a slip of paper and told to write my prediction for the final score. I asked "How do they score football? is 100 a good score?"
No one helped me with that, they just groaned.
So I thought well, it would be nice if the Saints won.
And I have been to New Orleans and liked it a lot.
I wrote down, Saints 30 and Colts 18.
I won the prize- a pair of movie tickets.
I am showing an old sketch I did way back, when we lived in South Bend and went to a Notre Dame game. That was the last time I paid much attention.