But He's Good: Joy in the Process

narnia drawing for print sketchbook

The temptation for me while making my art into my full time job is to succumb to the need of making all of my process (my studio, my finished product, my daily work schedule, my pencils and pens and inks and papers) look pinterest-perfect and instagram-worthy. Of course this adds stress and striving because I know I can never achieve these, and then I stop working altogether for days at a time. God graciously reminded me this week that my aim and my goal in art-making, my "wisdom" and decision to even do this full time doesn't have to look like all of these staged perfections. So let me be honest, the struggle to do this full time is REAL. Not because I don't want to make new work, no, not at all. 

But the struggle is fear and frustration and timing. Fear that my work won't be good enough or liked. Frustration that little annoyances and roadblocks keep popping up to keep me from making my work (more on this in a bit). And timing that is not my own, the work will be finished and succeed as God sees it ready to ("He has indeed made everything beautiful in its time...").

I mentioned in the previous post that I am turning the direction of my work to focus more on printmaking - letterpress and screen printing. But here's me just being completely transparent with you: screen printing is hard to set up from scratch in a home studio. My husband and I endeavored to take up the task of building an exposure box for developing screens at home. If you aren't familiar with screen printing, let me explain: In screen printing, you push ink through a screen that has your image or design on it to create your print. To get your design on the screen, it must be developed with UV light. You coat your screen with photo emulsion (which is UV sensitive), place your image on the coated screen, and then light it up with the UV light. Most screen printers have large pre made UV light exposure units. But these are very costly if you are just starting up, and my husband is an excellent DIYer (seriously, he can build anything!), so we found some materials to make our own exposure unit. Well, we have hit quite a few roadblocks with actually making this unit work. The result is that I find myself continually frustrated because I really can't move on with these works without being able to print them. They just sit as digital illustrations. The fear, the frustration, and the timing issues all come back in full force.

drawing bird printmaking sketchbook

But here is what I am learning: to look again to the purpose of why I am making this art to begin with. What is my motive? Where have I directed my energies? Can I remember why I started being full time in my art to begin with? The following excerpt is from my reading this morning in Andrew Murray's Abiding in Christ, and it shook me back into the true reality of what I am doing, what it's for, and what my perseverance is motivated by:

"As long as duty, or self-interest, or other motives influence me, men cannot know what the object of my pursuit or possession is really worth to me. But when it gives me joy, and they see me delight in it, they know that to me at least it is a treasure. Hence there is nothing so attractive as joy... there is no proof of the reality of God's love and the blessing He bestows, which men so soon feel the force of, as when the joy of God overcomes all the trials of life... With a heart full of joy no work can weary, find no burden can depress: God Himself is strength and song."

And so, the successes and the wins in my art and studio routine, the things that keep me pursuing this joy and that remind me of my goal, to make this joy of the Lord attractive and compelling, this is what I will celebrate alongside the bumps along the way. After all, they too remind me that God is faithful to bring the joy.

I left my last post at getting ready to turn my first Narnia drawing, "But He's good," into a digital illustration ready for the screens to print. So here is the progress that I am really excited about sharing. I'd love to hear what you think.

narnia drawing sketchbook

I scanned the drawings for the "But He's Good" Narnia print into Photoshop to really clean up the images. The results were these digital illustrations: (First only the single layered piece, and then the combined layers together.)

narnia bird drawing sketchbook print

After I scanned the pieces in and edited them, I decided I really wanted the robin from the story in this drawing. So I drew up another layer with the little robin to add in. 















Additionally, I felt that I really wanted the word GOOD to have much more emphasis, it didn't feel quite strong enough. So I redrew the last part of the word.

hand lettering sketchbook drawing
narnia drawing sketchbook print

Much better. The resulting digital version feels much more balanced and complete. I did edit out the snowdrops that grew next to the lamp post. I know for sure I am going to be using snowdrops in the next piece in this series, so I am debating on whether to add them back here or not. But now comes the fun part - choosing colors! While I am retesting our exposure unit and emulsion for screens, I am going to be working on color schemes digitally. I am really hoping for some Art Nouveau color schemes to work with this series. I plan on uploading a few choices here and on instagram to see what might work best. I would love to know what you think. 




Revisiting Narnia: A New Printmaking Series

narnia sketch lion drawing

As my work moves more towards illustration and print media, I am moving forward with a few new series based in printmaking. I want these series to flow more cohesively, and in an effort towards unity in this new direction, screen printing and letterpress will be the media focus in these works. I have begun one of these series based on my love of all things C.S. Lewis, especially his thoughts on storytelling and imagination ("fairy stories" as he called them). I recently challenged myself to read through the complete Narnia series after 1. being encouraged to spend more time reading and 2. being increasingly intrigued with a fairly well known quote from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: "...he isn't safe but he's good." In these print series, I am illustrating the Narnia books anew by pulling out sections that speak to me, giving them a fresh look, and hopefully inspiring new and seasoned Lewis readers alike to visit these and other imagination-encouraging tales. While I know that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is not chronologically the first in the Narnia books, I have started with illustrating it (instead of The Magician's Nephew) for a few reasons. The first is mentioned above, that the quote about Aslan being not safe but good is what originally drew me into making these works. The second is that by starting with the book that most people are familiar with, these prints will hopefully cultivate a desire in readers to dive further into the other Narnia books. 

Here's a look at the beginning process for the first print from first ideas to final sketch:

Sketches from quick and loose ideas...

Narnia lion sketch drawing










Tightening up a little...

narnia lion sketch drawing










Solidifying the design --- And I think its worth mentioning, I am really loving Art Nouveau stylization lately. I like the repetition of organic shapes en masse and I feel like the Art Nouveau style lends itself well to fantastical stories illustrated in print format. Hopefully I can bring Art Nouveau color themes into these as well.

narnia lion sketch drawing






After getting the sketch to where I want to finalize it, I redrew the piece using transparent vellum paper and sharpie for a clean finish. I created this using two layers of vellum because I wasn't too sure if I liked the addition of the tree and design elements that pushed it beyond a circle format and into a circle within a rectangle (again another Art Nouveau inspired style choice).

narnia lion final sketch drawing

Now that I've got the illustration drawn, the next step is digitizing! I'm scanning these two layers and editing them further in Photoshop and Illustrator. My intention is for this series to be done with screen printing (the same process that is used most often to make t-shirts; many artists use screen printing for making poster-like prints as well). So I need to get this image as clean (pure black and white) as possible. Then it will just be a matter of printing out the "stencil" on transparency paper to burn onto my screen. Next up I'll show you my process of turning my drawing into a digital illustration.