St. Catherine's Alumnae Magazine Cover

About a week after Hazel was born I got a magazine cover illustration job for St. Kate's Magazine. This was surprisingly welcome since I was doing so many different things - changing diapers, feedling a baby, waking up at all hours, washing bottles, etc. - so it was great to work on an illustration.  It made me feel a bit normal!  So, while Hazel slept all bundled next to me I worked on this cover illustration in the bed. It came out nicely, I think, but it's not really like my other work.  Under the cover image you'll see some other versions that I did as sketches for this.  Maybe I was a little out of my mind at the time :)


The Oregon Outback, a work in progress

Hi everyone, Peter here. I'm Eleanor's somewhat silent creative partner (which has made the URL of this site rather ironic). Eleanor and I have been talking for awhile about how it would be fun to write an entry about our process. In the past, our bicycle prints have been our truest collaboration. With this latest upcoming series, that's still true. So it seemed like the most obvious thing to showcase how we work together.

Eleanor and I both really enjoy cycling. The sport of it may be a bit more my passion, but we both love the adventure and the experience of it. From riding around for utility to recreation, it's a part of our everyday life. On occasion we've been able to take longer tours together. Last year I was lucky enough to ride Velodirt's Oregon Outback (granted a week before the actual event). Unfortunately, Eleanor wasn't able to join me because she was very pregnant with our daughter at the time. Truthfully she was probably more than happy to sit this one out because this trip had its fair share of "roughing it". Having never done anything quite like this, and having never seen this part of the country before this felt like a unique experience to find some inspiration.

Riding around for several days through the high desert of Oregon and then along the Columbia river gorge proved to be stunning. The weather was perfect, dry and cool. A lot of time was wasted pulling over to take numerous panoramic photos. I won't labor the details of the trip because that'd be better discussed over a cup of coffee someplace cozy. Besides, I highly recommend you go and experience it for yourself since the event will be held in 2015 as well. I mention the copious photography because I wanted to capture as many impressions as I could so that we might be able to later translate them into art prints. Here are a few of the highlights:

I was lucky to be traveling with three good friends. Some of the riding could wear you down since over 75% of the route is off-road. It's nice to have other people around to pick your spirits up!

I was lucky to be traveling with three good friends. Some of the riding could wear you down since over 75% of the route is off-road. It's nice to have other people around to pick your spirits up!

Like I said, some of the terrain made you dead tired. GET IT?!?!?!

Like I said, some of the terrain made you dead tired. GET IT?!?!?!

 

So when the adventure was over and I had come home, Eleanor patiently sat through my boring slideshow of photos. Eventually we got talking about which images stood out to us. There were several pictures I had taken that resonated with us. Normally, we don't work very closely with reference images but recently I have started making Photoshop collages to help elaborate ideas. Sometimes it helps communicate certain details that we eventually stylize. I'd like to walk you through one of those collages. I'm not certain this image will make its way through to a finished piece but the initial process is rather telling.

Here we've got a so-so photo of the sun setting behind the campsite. I had envisioned this as a flipped viewpoint from one of the previous images looking out from the tent. To start off, we were set on making these as 12x18" vertical prints. It was obvious that some type of expansion of the original image needed to happen. 

Here we've got a so-so photo of the sun setting behind the campsite. I had envisioned this as a flipped viewpoint from one of the previous images looking out from the tent. To start off, we were set on making these as 12x18" vertical prints. It was obvious that some type of expansion of the original image needed to happen. 

After orienting the photo in the larger format I started out by painting in some more sky.

After orienting the photo in the larger format I started out by painting in some more sky.

Next, I cloned in more grass to fill out the picture plane.

Next, I cloned in more grass to fill out the picture plane.

After some quick image searching online I found some barbed fencing that seemed appropriate to what I had in mind, plucked it out of that other image, and placed in the foreground. Then I painted in a little bit for the dirty gravel road.

After some quick image searching online I found some barbed fencing that seemed appropriate to what I had in mind, plucked it out of that other image, and placed in the foreground. Then I painted in a little bit for the dirty gravel road.

After a little more internet searching I found an appropriate bicycle image to use as well as some wildlife. Since all of this is for the sake of comping I don't see much harm in how the images were sourced. Everything becomes so highly stylized for the finished piece that it vaguely resembles its original reference. After this, I hand things off to Eleanor for her input, or for her to take her own pass at creating a vector image.

After a little more internet searching I found an appropriate bicycle image to use as well as some wildlife. Since all of this is for the sake of comping I don't see much harm in how the images were sourced. Everything becomes so highly stylized for the finished piece that it vaguely resembles its original reference. After this, I hand things off to Eleanor for her input, or for her to take her own pass at creating a vector image.

 

 

I also had some other abstracted ideas that I thought might be nice outside of the scope of what was actually photographed. Something about a worm's eye view through a bicycle wheel looking at some grazing deer or something.

Here's another crude collage that started off with some Google image searching for a mountain bike wheel. The deer-like creature is from one of Eleanor's earlier illustrations. The understanding being that we would draw another appropriate animal in later.

Here's another crude collage that started off with some Google image searching for a mountain bike wheel. The deer-like creature is from one of Eleanor's earlier illustrations. The understanding being that we would draw another appropriate animal in later.

Eleanor usually works very quickly in Illustrator. She was able to make swift work of this first vector translation of the sketch.

Eleanor usually works very quickly in Illustrator. She was able to make swift work of this first vector translation of the sketch.

After that first pass, she starts to add in more details and then plays with color and opacity.

After that first pass, she starts to add in more details and then plays with color and opacity.

Now it's my turn again! Here I refine some of the details of the wheel.

Now it's my turn again! Here I refine some of the details of the wheel.

A little more refinement by me. We're getting close now! The next few steps will be handled by Eleanor. More than likely they will involve incorporating some sort of texture and color play. If at that point we like what we see, we'll stop.

A little more refinement by me. We're getting close now! The next few steps will be handled by Eleanor. More than likely they will involve incorporating some sort of texture and color play. If at that point we like what we see, we'll stop.

I'd also like to note that all of this usually starts off with us taking a little bit of time out of the office to have a nice cup of coffee nearby and jot down some really quick, small sketches.

Very descriptive, right?

Very descriptive, right?


That's all I've got for now. I hope you've enjoyed the look inside! The plan is to debut this new series of prints rather soon. Keep your eyes peeled!

Maternity Photoshoot

Brae Howard took these amazing maternity photos of me. Our inspiration: Art Deco era gold and black, Southeast Asian opulence, and a little trip around the world with some textiles! With help from Nei Dunbar for makeup, we got something pretty cool together.  For more, see my Facebook post...