I think I can…I think I can…..

December 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

There’s about 2 weeks left of the semester, of my last semester of college, ever! yay! The giraffe book is about 2/3rds of the way finished. And I’m just finishing up other odds and ends in these last couple days of school. 3 weeks until my wedding! Thankfully pretty much everything is done for that now, all I have to do is get pretty and show up! 😀

As far as the book goes, I was experimenting with some different textures to unify the page spreads, and the illustrations with the text. So far I like the way it looks. If you click on the pictures it’ll open them up in a new window, my apologies for the humongous files, I’m kind of in a hurry.

Any thoughts or feedback you have on the texture and the layout or whatever is more than welcome!


Digitize Me

November 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

Progress with the giraffes has been quite steady now, I’ve gotten about two thirds of the sketches done, and maybe a quarter colored. The next step will be to photoshop enhance the drawings and put them all together in the book! My goal is to have all of the drawings totally finished by the last of November, then I can spend the next week or two putting it together! I’ll have some more drawings posted as they come, but for now here’s the colored one from last week “enhanced.”

I’ll also be posting my latest watercolor shortly…it’s a most epic picture of a sea monster fighting a dinosaur…. 😀

Giraffe Drawing Fool

November 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

That’s what I’ll be by the end of this project! I am simply drowning (happily :P) in giraffes. With about half a dozen of the illustrations sketched to their final forms, and one colored all the way through, I’m probably about a quarter of the way through this project, picking up steam with 5 weeks left to finish!

Here are a few of the sketches and the colored piece:

Stay tuned for more in the next couple weeks!

Are We Different? Part 2

October 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

In case you missed it here is Part 1 of the story.

For your reference, the giraffe’s have been named. ‘A’ is Clyde and ‘B’ is Nelson, and they are joined by Mirabelle in this part.


The herd murmured to one another, nodding their heads in agreement. After all, they’d come all this way, they couldn’t very well turn around. And if Clyde said they were better and deserved this land, it must be true! Surely the natives will understand.

Mirabelle spoke up, “Don’t you think these natives will be upset when we ask them to leave? Maybe we should keep going.”

Clyde scoffed, “Of course not! They have to leave, it’s our land now.”

And so the herd made plans to confront the natives in the morning; That night they all when to sleep dreaming of their new life in this new forest. As the sun came up the next morning, all the giraffes gathered together and faced the forest, ready to claim their land.

The herd strode into the forest together, with Clyde leading the way. They tromped into the trees searching for the natives. They heard voices again in the distance and moved toward them. As they neared the place of the watering hold, the voices quieted to a hum. Clyde’s herd strode into the clearing, where they stopped just a few yards away from the native striped herd.

Clyde spoke; “We have come to live in this land, you have until sunset to take your herd and leave our land, anyone who refuses to leave will suffer the consequences.” The chief of the stripes stepped forward and stood nose to nose with Clyde. “This is OUR land, and we will not leave, you and your herd are the ones who must find another place.”

Clyde snorted, he and his herd had been prepared for this response. He nodded to the herd and the sprang into action. The spots charged the striped natives, they used the vines they had gathered the night before and captured the chief and all his herd. There was chaos as the surprised stripes struggled to fight back. The dust soon settled and the cries of the new captives became quiet whimpers.  Clyde surveyed the scene. All the young were separated from their parents, tied together by vines around their necks. The adults were also tied with vines around their necks and legs, so they could not fight, or run away.

Mirabelle was ashamed of her herds behavior, and fled to the outskirts of the group.

After that day, the spotted giraffes kept the striped natives in captivity. For many seasons they forced the natives to harvest leaves for them, care for the spotted young and do whatever chores they were told to do. Any native who disobeyed was punished, tied up without food or water. Clyde’s herd prospered and were happy in their new home.  They believed they had done the right thing to claim their new land.

Not all of the spots kept stripes. Some, like Mirabelle and Nelson, refused to take part, and believed the spots were wrong to take land from the stripes. They lived on the edge of the herd and kept a distance from them.

As the seasons passed, the stripes forgot what freedom was like, they hung their heads and trudged through their days. The spots couldn’t imagine living without the help anymore, the frolicked and played since they didn’t have to work all day.

One warm summer day and alarm went up from the outskirts of the village. A huge pride of lions had been spotted prowling on the edge of the forest.

Clyde, who was very old now, called a meeting of the elder members of the tribe. They talked long into the night, there weren’t enough spotted giraffes who could fight the lions, and the stripes would just run away if they were sent to fight. What could they do? The lions would make their move soon, they could hear the roars on the night wind.

As the first light began to fill the sky, Clyde paced in the center of his elder circle.

Mirabelle and Nelson approached the circle, the elders all looked at them skeptically. Mirabelle spoke, “Clyde, if we freed the stripes, they could help us fight the lions. With them we would have enough giraffes to win!”

Clyde scoffed, “As if! They’re not good for anything but harvesting!”

This time Nelson spoke up, “How would you know? You never gave them a chance. I was with you that first day in the woods. They are the same as us on the inside, what we look like doesn’t matter. We are all giraffes, and the only way we’ll survive is if we all work together!”

By this time the rest of the herd had gathered around. The stripes listened eagerly in the shadows.  As Nelson finished all the giraffes looked at one another, new ideas forming, they nodded their heads and began to voice their agreement with Nelson.

Clyde, still self-righteous started to scoff again, then slowly realized that no one was supporting him. A quiet chant started in the herd, “Free them. Free them!” and grew louder and louder “FREE THEM! FREE THEM!” Clyde, defeated, hung his head. “Ok.” he sighed. “Let the stripes go free.” A great cheer went up and all the giraffes were glad.

The stripes cast off their bondage and danced and sang because they were free!

Mirabelle stepped forward again, “Wait!” She said. “don’t forget why this happened in the first place!” A loud lions roar sounded in the distance,all the giraffes became silent and started in the direction of the frightening sound. Mirabelle spoke earnestly “now listen, if we’re going to fight off the lions, we have to work together.” The giraffes all listened and gathered round to make a plan.

As darkness fell, the giraffes all went to their positions, spots and stripes stood side by side facing the dangerous dark.

The sound of the hunting lions grew louder, soon their glowing eyes appeared in the brush. The giraffes braced themselves, as the lions with a great terrible ROAR lept at the line of giraffes.

And the most terrible (horrific?) battle in our history began. They fought all night long. The young, who had been hidden a ways away, could hear the snarls and roars of the lions in the distance as they huddled together waiting for the sun to come.

Morning did come, the land was quiet, the weary giraffes walked back into their village. Spots and stripes walked together, heads held high. They had done it! They had defeated the lions! Together! Many were suffering wounds from the fight. They were laid in the middle of the herd as the others saw to their wounds. Clyde had been hurt badly, the herd gathered round to see him, he wheezed; “Where’s Mirabelle? Bring her here…” Mirabelle stepped to the front of the herd. Clyde looked at her with sad eyes. “Mirabelle, I should have listened to you, but I was selfish instead. I want you to lead the herd now, and to tell our story, this story to the new generations, so they never make my mistakes again. We are all the same, we are all giraffes, spots and stripes can live peacefully and equally together. If we remember our history then we can make a better future for our children.”

Clyde closed his eyes and left the herd forever, to roam the forests of heaven.

*back to old giraffe*

“From that day on, the stripes and the spots lived and worked side-by-side as equals, and they never forgot their story. Which is why every year on the anniversary of the Lion War, we gather round and tell you the story of our ancestors, so someday you can tell your children, and they can tell their children.”

The End.


Now that the rough draft of the story is done, the next step has been to create some rough mock-ups of the different illustrations that will be a part of the book. At the moment there will be approximately 20-25 different illustrations that this book will be composed of, so stay tuned for those!

“Are We Different?” part 1

October 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am working on a story to tell about the creation of racism in America in the 17th & 18th centuries. After a fair amount of research, and much more to come. I’m finally making some significant progress. I scribbled of a rough draft of the first half of the story, which I’m sharing here, and would really appreciate some feedback on! Writing, while I’m capable, is not my first strength.

A little housekeeping before I begin, so you understand the story. Right now the giraffes don’t have any names. So the two main characters are referred to as ‘A’ and ‘B’. Also, in an essay I read on the subject, the writer pointed out the four types of people one might encounter in these situations. Which are: 1. Victimizers; the perpetrators of evil. 2. Victims; the recipients of evil. 3. Bystanders; do nothing in the face of evil. 4. Rescuers; the compassionate/altruistic, takes action against evil.

A form of all of these characters will appear at some point or another in my story. And now for the story!

Are We Different? (<- working title)

*story starts with an older giraffe surrounded by a group of young giraffes, the old one is telling them the story of their ancestors*

Many seasons ago, our ancestors lived in a different part of the land. A place with lots of food and fresh water, and no danger to speak of.

But the longer they stayed, the more they multiplied, until one day there were too many giraffes and not enough food. So a small group of them

decided to go exploring. (They carried some food on their backs for the journey) and set off into the sunrise to look for new land.

They walked for many, many days. Some of them got tired and turned back, but some kept walking, hoping to find a new and better land.

*the old giraffe is still narrating the whole thing, but some of the characters will now speak for themselves amidst that.*

After seemingly endless days of walking through the grassland, the lead giraffe, ‘A’, spotted a small green hump on the horizon. “Look! Trees!” he yelled back

to his clan (< herd?)

The herd picked up their pace, and by that afternoon they reached the edge of a new forest. The trees were big and green, and covered with delicious leaves.

They could hear trickling water in the distance. Delighted to have found this paradise, and exhausted from the long journey, the giraffes stopped to rest, for the night on the edge of their new home; Unaware that they were being watched from the forest.

As the sun rose, the travelers stretched their long legs and munched some fresh leaves for breakfast. The lead giraffe, ‘A’ turned to his herd; ” ‘B’ and I will explore

the forest and find the place of our new home. We’ll be back by nightfall.”

As ‘A’ and ‘B’ strode into the woods, they did not notice they were being followed… After walking for some time through the sunlight forest ‘B’ noticed some tracks

on the forest floor. “Look, ‘A’! Hoof-prints…” ‘A’ inspected the prints, “I’m sure it was just a small herd passing through.” But as they walked a little further, they heard voices in the distance, they got closer and peered through the foliage. There at a great big watering hole was another group of giraffes! ‘A’ and ‘B’ looked at each in amazement, they hadn’t thought that anyone else might already be living here. They quickly turned around and headed back to camp. ‘B’ turned to ‘A’, “There’s already a herd here, where will we live?” ‘A’ looked at ‘B’ (disgustedly? snootily?) and said, “Didn’t you SEE them? They’re not like us, they have STRIPES! Surely we are better (more superior?) then they are! How could they possibly hide from lions in the trees? Didn’t you see how small they are? At least a foot shorter than we are, they probably can’t even reach the best leaves on the tree!”

‘B’ shrugged, “yeah but…”

‘A’ interrupted, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll sort it out, I’m sure once we explain things to them, they’ll understand and move out so we can live here.”


To Be Continued…

This is just the first part of the story, in the next part, find out what happens when ‘A’ convinces his herd that they are better then the native giraffes and they

bully the natives into submission, until a pride of lions moves into the area hoping to catch a tasty snack. The only way the giraffes will survive is if they overcome their differences and work together to ward off the lions!

Humanizing Racist Giraffes

October 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Over at the local museum there is a new temporary exhibit called “Race.” which I first assumed was about racecars…and that sort of thing. Turn’s out, it’s not about racing cars, but it’s actually about racism, very different. In one of my classes we had the opportunity to go and spend some time in the exhibit and have been given the task of visually communicating the message that “race emerged as a human concept in the 17th and 18th centuries.” Whoa, easier said then done! Needless to say this project has sparked some really great class discussion and oodles of research on most everyone’s part, trying to figure out their projects.

My project is going to be a children’s book about Racism. However I want it to be presented in an approachable friendly (as friendly as racism can be) way. So the basic plan so far, is to use giraffes, instead of people, to tell about racism and how it came to be and how to overcome it, an educational/motivational piece if you will. My first steps have been to research human racism and to also try to give human emotions to giraffes….also much easier said then done. Who woulda thought that giraffe faces don’t move the same way as human faces! And with the exception of Melvin on Madagascar, there really haven’t been a great many artists to undergo the challenge of bringing emotions to giraffe faces……I feel like I’m swimming in a great big ocean here.

This is just a little of what I’ve come up with so far. It’ll get there! slowly but surely. Next step is to write the manuscript and thumbnailing the scenes. Stay tuned for more Racist Giraffes 😉

You can check out the website that goes along with the exhibit here. (Link will open in a new window.)

The Great North

October 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

For the last four summers I have spent those warm months on a small island tucked between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsula, Mackinac. I work as a historic interpreter there (dressing up in 19th century clothing and talking to people) The island however is also a beautiful place and has inspired artists for the last 200+ years. So I’d like to share a little piece of the beauty of Mackinac and some of my favorite people on it, with some of these photographs from late summer/early fall.

Rob and I got this little collapsible, portable grill this summer which is great for afternoon bike rides around the island. We usually stop somewhere along the beach on the north side of the island and cook our little hearts out with one of the best views around. There has been some super tasty food coming off that grill!

This is just the tip of the iceberg, if you ever have the opportunity visit Mackinac Island and see all the beauty for yourself! The pictures never quite seem to do it justice.

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