It has been ages since I posted! I have been busy though and I am excited to share all that I have been up to lately. Firstly, I have a wonderful mentor who I have been working with for the past couple of months - Amanda Sartor. If you are not familiar with her work - check out amsartor.com. Just the couple of months of her pushing me and guiding me has created a real breakthrough for me artistically. Plus, I have started Schoolism which I got through funding their Kickstarter. I am taking the Pictorial Composition class with Nathan Fowkes. Though I have not been able to progress very far since I was busy with a paid project. (I will share that shortly as well!) In the meantime, I feel as though I have turned a corner with my art and i can't wait to experiment more. A merging of abstraction, stylized forms, and figurative art - it feels right to me. Anyway...here are a couple of my more recent pieces.
I am excited to go back to some basics right now. I never had a formal art education as I studied fashion design and while we had life drawing, studied textiles, color, prints and many other things - the focus was on fashion design and illustration. It was a great education for what it was - but for illustration for children's books, games, and more - it is lacking. I am thrilled to have been able to help fund the Schoolism Kickstarter and gain access to the lessons they have there taught by uber-pros in the industry for an amazing price. In the meantime, I have been doing Noah Bradley's Art Bootcamp 1st lesson which includes Value Studies, Master Studies, Color Studies. I have a ton to learn and not sure where I am going to find the time - but I will. I must! I have also been playing around with a more painterly style. Here is one that I have started - and it took me forever (well actually 4 days) but that is way longer than I am used to spending on my work. I want to slow down and create better work, work I am really excited to share. Because my time is always so limited, working after my full-time job, I always feel such pressure to create and 'get it done'. The problem is rushing to get it done - hasn't been garnering the results I had hoped for, both from a getting gigs perspective and a personal satisfaction perspective. So time to just chill, learn, have fun, and take risks. Here is one I did recently. Would love to hear your feedback.
Playing Cards - Five of Hearts
I have, for some reason, always loved designing cards. Be it tarot, game, or playing cards. So, I have decided to create my own custom deck. Working my way through the hearts right now. To see all the cards go to my "Other Stuff" section. (please note includes some adult images.)
New postcards in time for Halloween
A new look for an old book
It feels like I have illustrated this book a thousand times. In reality, it is about 7 times. Still, I was never happy with the composition of each page and the end result. Everyone who saw previous iterations loved them...but still, I knew they weren't quite up to par with my vision for it. This illustration belongs to the first book I wrote that gave me the confidence to pursue writing and illustrating children's books. I love this story. It took a while, and a good amount of learning, but I think I have finally 'cracked' it. I am finally as excited by the illustrations as I am the story. I am almost finished the dummy for this book and I can't wait to submit it. Treasures on this page include the Stanley Cup, a stethoscope, an anchor, the medicine wheel for the Anishnaabe (Toronto First Nations people) on a surfboard, and the nautical flag shown means "pilot on board". (hehe). There is a running nautical gag throughout the book. Lots for kids to enjoy and enough for parents and adults to appreciate even if you are reading it over and over again.
Here is the latest re-do of my chapter covers - this one is for Chapter 2 - The High Priestess. Comments are always welcome.
Still avoiding doing the edit on CLEAVE...but I will...I promise. In the meantime, I have gone back and redone a few of the chapter covers for PARIS BALLAD. Here are two of them.
Taking a brief break before I tackle the 4th revision on CLEAVE my YA novel (joblakely.com) to play with the Art Nouveau style covers for my graphic novel Paris Ballad which will also be published under the name Jo Blakely. Thinking of re-doing the other chapter covers that I have already done - but not quite happy with. This one is for Chapter 6 "The Lovers".
Fantastic Mr. Fox
This was for a twitter #daily___doodle, but I used the opportunity to really practice what I had been learning lately about composition, perspective, and light and shadow. I originally had the chicken in Mr. Fox's arms pulling away scared, but prefer this version where she has fallen in love with his charms and would go anywhere with him. Sly fox.
I found this template for mapping your influences on Deviantart.com from fox-orion and decided to do one myself. I could add so many more. So many are missing! I'd need a map at least twice as large. However, this is a nice reflection of some of those that influenced and inspire me from ages ago to today.
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”
Copyright © 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 little jo (Jo Swartz) All rights reserved.Please do not copy or use these images in any way without express written consent. You will be sued and/or publicly shamed