Sheep

The noble profile, the slitted eyes, the curls, the baaaaa, the level gaze…

I love drawing sheep.

friendlysheep

This gal caught my eye this summer. When  I went looking for a subject for my cottage postcards I was drawn to her curious face. As in the past, I begin by taping off a grid of small postcards on watercolor paper.

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I make a quick sketch in pencil in each window and then use an assembly line approach to add colors.

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Each layer adds detail and the sheep emerges.

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The final touches are gold and silver ink…

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and glitter!

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Each card is the same but different, a one-of-a-kind love token for the friend who receives a “cottage card.”

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B&W Gouache Resist 101

Gouache resist is kind of magic.

To make a black and white image you need to block out everything BUT the areas you want to remain black using solid white gouache.

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I begin with a pencil drawing on trace. Then transfer it to sturdy, smooth,

watercolor paper. You need something that can stand up to being wet and rubbed a little.

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close up of the thickish white gouache on paper. The lighter areas are unpainted paper.

Once the gouache is “dead” dry, use a wide foam brush to apply undiluted India Ink to the whole piece. The ink fills in every area of unpainted paper, dying it an indelible black.

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The white gouache design is still visible under all the ink

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washing the white gouache off  a different piece.

Once the paint is removed the design, originally painted in white gouache,

is revealed…

Magic!

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A few other  examples of B&W gouache resist images.

tortoise

If you enjoyed this post, please  follow me here: Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, my webpage , my Etsy shop, or Instagram. You can follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar. 

 

Sleep

It’s late November here in Vermont ~ the time of year for hibernation.

Who hibernates? Bats, Bears,skunks, bees, snakes, and groundhogs to name a few.

Since moving from a mild California climate to the stricter seasonal progression of northern New England, I’ve become much more sympathetic to the concept of hibernation!

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On the last day of Baby Bear Counts One, Mama and Baby Bear are ready to curl up and sleep the winter away.

Showing the process of sleeping is relatively easy, but showing dreaming was a challenge in Only The Cat Saw.  When I was a child I often dreamed of being near the ocean or swimming when I really needed to get up to urinate!

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Enter a caption

Holly Taylor modeled as the sleeping Amy, way back in 1984

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Amy, dreaming in Only The Cat Saw. Acrylic on paper

Of course, we sleep all year long, and humans enjoy it as much as animals. Mostly sleep happens when it is too dark to draw, but sometimes a nap overtakes us, and when it does I seize that moment of daylight stillness to draw.

Since the late 70s I’ve drawn people and creatures I love while they were sleeping.

Here is a selection.

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watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine, asleep on the couch after wisdom tooth removal..

Periasleepweb

watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine.

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this drawing of Rowan reminds me of Amy’s pose. Colored pencil on brown paper

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Brennan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper

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Rowan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper.

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Sabin, asleep. Marker on brown paper.

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Tula napping. Watercolor on brown paper

Cat sleeping page

Nutkin, sleeping. Acrylic on paper.

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Wildridge kitten, sleeping. Gouache on brown paper.

Making a Homemade Advent Calendar ~ Part 1

A couple of years ago I wrote about creating this advent calendar.

In my recent move I unearthed the original sketches so I thought I’d update with a process post.

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The full size sketch of the front, done in colored pencil.

My first Advent Calendars were completely handmade: cover image printed and hand-colored, window openings cut with a knife, window images printed and colored–all somehow fastened together to make a functioning calendar.

handmadeoriginal copy

the original 1983 calendar, given to Charlene Smith, and kept framed and displayed all year round. This one is less colorful a bit more austere.

I made fewer than 10 to give to friends, and I sent one to my editor at E P Dutton Children’s Books. She loved it, and suggested producing it to sell.

She asked me to show her sketches for the window images that had a more holiday feel than the original. Some of her suggestions were “Knitting Christmas Stocking?” and “kitten playing with ornament or pine spring?”
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Following her suggestions, I revised the sketches.

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Finally I carved each tiny scene, colored it and glued it into place

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Once the 2 layers are aligned, the scenes show up in the doors and windows.

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The finished calendar.

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Although this is out of print and no longer sold in stores. I have a stash to sell.

Ghosts in the Sheetrock

Using only a carpenter’s graphite pencil line and a finger to smudge it, one evening I discovered a little fox face peering out of a mudded, sanded seam in the sheetrock. He said “Hi.”

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After him ran a cocky hound with a stubby ear,

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Followed by a bear who ate all the brownies.

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Two birds admired each other,

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and a stork drank lemonade, while a mouse preferred harder stuff.

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For a brief period my new home progress included vast areas of gray sheetrock and joint compound. Every evening, after the workmen left, I discovered new characters on the walls. Some were rather grumpy.

This fellow’s hat made him feel important,

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and this fellow didn’t like his neighbor.

Hi

This gent was more genial–

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He tried to soothe the worrywart.

ohdear

But someone was always suspicious or

themonk

feeling put out,

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Until Molly appeared and told everyone to

blow

“put your lips together and B L O W !”

Finally I discovered myself, holding my new home in my two, cupped hands.

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I can’t wait to go home and enjoy it.

I know all those ghosts are still there, under a fresh coat of Marscapone cream paint.

The End of May…sigh

Another school year is skipping, ambling, screeching, and wildly cheering to a close. Everyone is restless and eager for release. Erasers are worn to nubs, and so is patience, but, as much as I look forward to summer, I love being in school…

especially on Author Day!

Ash-Canadianweb

“School” for me might be in Vermont, or California, in Wisconsin, Michigan or Ohio. I’ve been to schools in Utah, Texas, Alabama and far away in New Delhi, India.

I have been to rural schools and urban schools, big and small schools.

I am always excited to arrive

CalpellaCub

Because now I get to share how I struggled to read, to understand math and to achieve what my 5 year old self really wanted to be–an artist!

ash age 8

When I explain how the words Passion, Practice, Patience and Perseverance became my 4 Ps, I’m hoping every child can think of their own passion; that activity or thing that makes work into fun.

More than talking about books, I talk about where stories come from.

My books grow directly out of who I am: a daughter, a sister, a mother, an animal lover, a reader, and, most important– a child at heart.

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When we’ve talked about where stories come from, we make up our own. As I draw animal characters based on their names and ideas, I explain how an illustrator works.

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We discuss ideas such as forward momentum, attention to detail, setting, mood, time of day and point of view. They learn to merge text and illustration and how to use the whole page to tell their story.

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I arrive early and I leave after all the students have gone. I sign books and pass out bookmarks.  I marvel at how the work in school happens every day, even if I just get a one day glimpse. How do teachers muster the energy to come back every day?  I need a huge latte to recover for the ride home, but I always have a good day in school.

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Click here for information on inviting me to your Author Day.

Life With Dogs-Part 2: Adopting a Dog as my Alter Ego

I was Crazy about Pumpkin.

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She was my first Border Collie and I was thrilled with her intelligence and empathy. She became my constant companion. I was still an art student when I got her and she went to all my classes with me.

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She used to cuddle by tucking her head up under my chin.

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I loved to draw her.

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Soon I was anthropomorphizing her-I couldn’t help myself.

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It was uncanny how she loved to do all the same things I did.

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Pumpkin traveled the world for close to a year. She shared a picnic at Hanging Rock with a koala in Australia.

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She rode a camel on the Great Wall of China.

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And caught a flounder in Istanbul, Turkey.

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Later she even got pregnant,

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Meanwhile, over in Bookland, Pumpkin began appearing in my children’s books from the very beginning.

Here we are making snow angels in A Year of Birds. I am still a carefree child, making Sabin do all the work as my father.

AYOB.8-9

In my next post I will reveal how Pumpkin changed my life.

If you enjoyed this post, please like Ashley Wolff Art on Facebook, visit my webpage here, my Etsy shop, or follow the blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top of the sidebar.