Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Vacation

I had big plans for my two-week vacation. I mean BIG plans.

I was going to clean my house, sort out the clothes that don't fit, paint my kitchen, weed my gardens, go to the beach – and maybe take a little trip.

What I ended up doing instead...
Visited with friends - Lots of them; Had a late-night BBQ with our neighbours and kids; Went to a museum; Played in the river; Helped the kids have a lemonade stand; Played in the river; Did not rush; Watched a chipmunk eat an apple core; Went camping; Watched the fireflies in our yard with Mo; Dug up clay at the beach; Built a castle; Climbed a cliff; Went paddling; Looked for crayfish; Roasted marshmallows; Did some sewing; Enjoyed some girl time around the fire; Read a book; Helped some friends; Swam in a pool; Drank lemonade; Had a few nights where I did not work... and so much more...

Is my house clean?

Am I happy?
You bet.

I can't wait until next summer when I have the whole time off - and maybe then that to-do list might get done. Till then, I am going to enjoy my moments with my kids, make memories and be present in that time that I have.

New sketches

©2012 Peggy Collins
©2012 Peggy Collins
©2012 Peggy Collins

Friday, July 27, 2012

Illustration Friday - Lonely

It has been a long, long time since I have posted/done anything for IF. I have missed it. With deadlines, work and kids I had put it on the back burner. I just so happen to have a new piece that fits this Friday's topic perfectly, from a new book idea I am working on, IF it is a go, I'll be doing some photography - but for the idea I needed a brick wall texture at 12am so I found it here:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Steven James Petruccio on buildings, tonka and bananas

I love the fact that we are interviewing one of my son's favourite artists - Steven James Petruccio. We've been in love with Steven's work since we found our first Tonka book, and, I think he's inspired Mo with his love of buildings and vehicles. Steven has take some time to share some info on what he loved doing when he was a kid, some of his drawings, and the best parts of being an illustrator. I have also discovered, looking at the photos he sent along - that he also likes cowboy hats.
A young Steven - with an
affinity for cowboy hats already.

Steven has illustrated tonnes of books, ranging from historical, to vehicles to marine life and more - so without further ado, here we go!

MO: Wow, your art is so realistic. I love to draw buildings too. Have you always liked to draw architecture?

SJP: Yes, I’ve always loved looking at different architectural styles from classic Greek buildings to Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehrybuildings, so I enjoy getting the chance to paint buildings in my work.  In fact, I’m working on a series of paintings which are only the top portions of local buildings.

MO: Do you research your buildings online or at the library - or do you go and see them in real life before you draw them?

SJP: I research everything and I use whatever resources are available.  I’ve used all of the ways you mention, online, library and actual visiting and drawing buildings on site.  The internet is usually my first resource now, since it’s so easy to get many images  quickly.

MO: The Tonka trucks in your books look just like the ones in our sandbox! Did you have a set of trucks you use to look at when you draw or do you use pictures?

SJP: The TONKA books were really fun to work on.  Scholastic Publishing sent me all of the trucks I needed for each book, at my request, since I wanted the paintings to look like the real thing.  I photographed them and also drew and painted them as they sat on my drawing board.  My son would play with them in the sandbox and I took many pictures of him doing so.  He is the main character in the backhoe book!

MO: Were you excited when you got the job to do the Tonka books? What was your favourite part? I love to draw a lot of things like that too - but sometimes there are really hard parts that are a bit frustrating. Does that ever happen to you?

SJP: I was very excited to illustrate the TONKA books because I had many of them when I was a young boy, the dump truck was my favorite.  My favorite part of illustrating the books was that I actually got to show people how these trucks really worked and that’s what I always imagined when I played with them.  I went to a local construction equipment company and the owner let me climb into the real trucks and also go to construction sites where the trucks were at work.  Everything I show in the books is the way things  really look and work. Oh, talk about frustrating, I’m glad someone invented the eraser because there re times when I just can’t get parts of a drawing right.  I keep trying until I get it the way I want it and that doesn’t mean it’s perfect but it looks good to me and other people who see it will understand what I’ve drawn or painted.  Don’t give up!

BEN (grade 1): What types of stories do you prefer to illustrate?

SJP: I really don’t have a particular type of story that I prefer.  For me, as long as it’s a good story and I can “see” the characters and places in my mind as I read the manuscript, then I know I’ll be able to do a good job making the pictures.  If I’m not interested or excited about a story then I don’t expect my readers to be either so I always try to illustrate good stories.

Peggy: If you could suddenly change careers... would you try something else? Is there a career path you've always wondered 'what if?'about?

SJP: I always wanted to be an artist.  I didn’t know what kind of artist but I knew I wanted to draw pictures.  I always loved comic books and the exciting, dynamic way they were illustrated so I really wanted to be a comic book artist.  Once I was in college I discovered and learned about other illustrators, N.C. Wyeth is my favorite, and then I decided not to limit what I drew to only super heroes.  The other thing that I’m good at and enjoy doing is playing the guitar and singing…If I were younger I would definitely try out for American Idol!

Peggy: I still get amped by a brand new package of crayons (so much so I don't want my kids to open them!)... with the even tips and shiny finish... is there any supply you LOVED when you were little that you still have great affection for?

SJP: I really loved getting the big box of Crayola crayons with the sharpener in the back and I tried to keep all of my crayons sharp.  My favorite artist tool though is a #2 pencil.  When I visited my grandparents I was always  handed a pencil and a small pad of light-green paper  to keep busy.   A good drawing is more important to me than anything…and that doesn’t mean a drawing that looks “real”, I love good abstract drawings too.  Pencils give you thin lines and thick lines as well as light and dark areas.  You can make textures with them and even get messy with them.  So a #2 is #1 for me!

Peggy: Did you have a special place where you did your art when you were a kid - or were you a dining room table artist?

SJP: I shared a small bedroom with my two brothers.  We had a bunk bed (I had the top bunk) and a pullout bed underneath.  There was just enough room for a long bureau and a narrow desk that my dad built, at the end of it.  I used that desk to draw at.  There was enough  room for my pad, pencils and inks.  I spent many days  sitting on the stoop in front of my home in Brooklyn, with a drawing pad on my lap just drawing pictures of anything.

MO: What is your favourite knock-knock joke?

SJP: I’ll have to go with the popular…

Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, Knock!
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

Thank you Steven!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lucky Me

Things have been rolling along for quite some time now. I have not been able to say much because I wanted to be sure there was actually something to say - that things are really and truly happening. Now I can... I have news.

I've been working as a Designer at Loyalist College for 10 years now. In that time I have met and worked with (too many to count) amazing and funny people. I have been able to buy my house, have my kids (with incredible benefits) and extra time off, and go to work every day knowing generally what my day would entail. It has been a safe, reliable and enjoyable journey. A great job.

Though all of this is wonderful and relatively easy, there has always been this voice, nagging at me - saying - MORE! you want MORE! As far as my family goes - my heart has been screaming LESS! LESS! It is an interesting juxtaposition to be in. I used to think I'd love to be a work-at-home mom. I know now that I need a healthy balance of in and out work. However, since I went back to work full-time last September things have been nuts. My health has not been good, my sanity even worse and my family overly stressed. Too much time away and too many days of driving.

A few years ago I got to try my hand at teaching. Turns out I love it, and though I have a lot to learn, it is a really natural fit for me, it makes me happy and fulfilled. It was actually my alternate desire when I went to Sheridan - to be a teacher as well... and now - thanks to an amazing Dean and other colleagues - I will be leaving my current (35 hours/week) job to teach (12 hours/week).

What will I be teaching? Drawing, storyboarding and conceptualizing, to name a few things, in Animation and Digital Media in Public Relations. I can't wait. I know it is going to be a lot of work, and it is scary as hell to make this leap, but when your planets align, and suddenly all you have been working for is there for YOU - not taking the chance would be foolhardy - Don't you think?

This also means I will be developing a wide range of elementary and secondary programming for literacy and art visits to schools - particularly through May and June. I will also be able to start running some summer programming I have always dreamed of. I've been observing people lately - and I have realized that so many people take chances, and are much happier for it... I am glad to be joining the ranks.

I will also have a lot more time for my illustration work - which has been suffering in the wee hours of the morning... but I am working with a few publishers on some new and exciting things - and I am so glad I'll have the time to do them how I want to.

SO, at the end of August, I say good-bye to predictable and safe, and say hello to fresh faces looking to be inspired, more personal time with my family and hopefully much less stress, or at least a different kind... Lucky me. (and wish me luck).

baby bumblebee

I have to admit I was a little horrified to hear my two-year old singing this old song at first... and even more alarmed when I found her in the garden trying to PET/PICK up a giant furry bumblebee. I am not sure now who was luckier. Here is a little sketch inspired by that moment.