This season I've been lucky enough to provide some illustrations for articles in the Willamette Week, Portland's weekly arts and culture paper. I love receiving a prompt and imagining how the concept can be made into a picture.
About a month ago I was asked to do a tree and some pinecones for an article about tree identification in the Pacific Northwest. The concept was to be kind of a wildlife journal look to the art.
I started by collecting reference images- a combination of Google Image search and visiting the library for the Sibley Book of Trees. I shot back some rough sketches for feedback.
After getting the "go-ahead" I did the pieces with watercolor on bristol board. It was the first time since moving that I worked in watercolor and it felt like greeting an old friend. The pieces were scanned and the color tweaked in Photoshop to give more of a "vintage" look as discussed.
In doing this project, I became a bigger fan of trees than I thought possible! The Sibley book hung around my house for a few weeks and I flipped through it over breakfast and in spare moments. Finally identified some trees I've wondered about for years. Painting the Douglas Fir had me flashbacking to my visits to the Portland Audubon Society which has a nice bird sanctuary and nature trail. Another good spot is Hoyt Arboretum and of course Forest Park.
Seeing the final version in WW's website was a real treat. It was an extra bonus to work on an article with an environmental message, something that I highly value. If my drawings helped catch the eye of a reader and encouraged at least one person to go out and appreciate nature- well now! That would be a fine thing indeed.