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Thursday Night Art Jam!

ACEO Norwegian Forest Cat was painted from "Astonish Leaving" by Wazabees on DeviantART. Astonish was twelve weeks old, on his Cathood Day, ready to claim his own new home and humans. He was always one of my favorites. Wazabees did not put the cats outdoors, I thought of doing a Norwegian Forest Cat out in the forest as soon as I read the name of the breed, so I changed the lighting to reflect foliage onto him rather than the peach-colored backdrop of the photo reference. I found yet another use for the Daniel Smith Luminescent paints, his blue eye has just a touch of iridescence and I like how that worked. Astonish was always one of my favorites among Wazabees' kittens. His eyes are the opposite of his dad, Baltsar's. Wazabees had twelve kittens in his house all at the same time, and when I think of that scale of havoc, my mind boggles. But doesn't this cat have such wonderful dignity, even at that young an age?

After I finished him, I still had time so I started one of my six Endangered Species swap card, doing a Sea Turtle from the "Turtles" pack at Unrestricted-Stock. I used Derwent Inktense and washed them. I love that big set, I got so many different shades of green for it!

Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
Proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
New Topical Blog: www.robs-art-supply-reviews.blogspot.com for all the cool art stuff that isn't oil pastels!


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2008 05:43 am (UTC)
Think you might be open for a couple commissions? My mother the novelist has a pair of books in the publication pipeline that will need covers eventually.
Aug. 22nd, 2008 05:55 am (UTC)
Conceivably. Could you tell me a few more details about this? I'm primarily a novelist rather than an illustrator, but I'm working on my own cover design right now for my upcoming fantasy novel "The Steel Guardian." It'll depend a lot on what she wants and what her budget is. I'm not a professional illustrator, if she's going through a major publisher I don't have a portfolio to submit even if she recommends me.

This isn't because I don't draw or paint well enough, it's because my writing is my main career. I've often considered doing print on demand covers, because as a former typesetter and graphic designer I know I could often do a better job than I see available. It really depends on what she wants, how much work it is and her budget as well as how soon she wants it. I've got two other commissions and a big trade in the pipeline that I'm finishing off now.
Aug. 22nd, 2008 04:09 pm (UTC)
Her current project has the working title of "Cricket's Moon", and my vision of the cover would be a nocturnal, moon-lit scene in a park. In the foreground would be a cricket sitting on a dime. In the background would be the silhouette of the heroine (whose nickname is Cricket). The full moon hangs above the scene.

Her other book, "That Special Someone", is closer to being published and Mom and I are still trying to get a firm idea of what she wants in a cover.

The going rate for cover commissions these days is $75 ~ $100. We paid about $50 for our last one, but that was a special deal. As "Cricket's Moon" is to be the first of a trilogy, we might retain you for the other two covers if we're satisfied with the first one.
Aug. 22nd, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks for describing it, and her books.

The discount that I'm getting for doing my own cover on The Steel Guardian is $175. Granted, that also includes my spending up to half an hour after I finish and scan the cover art fussing with fonts and layout to make sure that all the type is set on the cover in GIMP with enough contrast that it's easily visible and the entire cover has a good composition. Title, author name, the usual front and back of book information.

If that's the going rate for POD covers, maybe it'd be more cost effective for me to farm out The Steel Guardian than do my own cover. Except that I'd drive the poor artist nuts over it because I don't think I could get someone as good at it as I am for that price. I expect to put in at least a week or two on my cover and maybe take a lot longer planning it -- actually, I already have. It's been on my mind since I decided to do The Steel Guardian.

I'm sure there are professional artists who work faster than I do, where that flat-rate price would be cost effective. My techniques aren't fast. They tend toward realism or at least impressionism. I base my commission rates on an estimate of how long it's going to take to do the piece right, and the final price is based on how long it actually takes. There's a good article on DeviantART about art pricing, which is subjective and easily distorted in the buyer's mind: The Value of Art.

I'd have to use a fast sketching style to bring it in under the amount of time she could afford. That I might offer -- but not in her genre. That's where I just don't think we're a good fit. I don't write contemporary fiction. I don't read romance, at all. I don't even shop for books in brick and mortar bookstores where I'd walk past the stacks and get an impression of what techniques and styles convey the feel and flavor of the genre. What signals readers "this is YOUR popcorn, skip that other shelf."

She has a good concept. I would seriously suggest cruising DeviantART to find a cover artist, because there are so many artists there who are good, may work in that price range and most of all have a strong specialty in the type of art she's looking for. Note the absence of people in my rich colorful nature scenes and happy-mood ones, they're not about people falling in love. They're about being alone in the woods or looking deep in the eyes of a cat and knowing I'm loved. A silhouette isn't that hard but I've never done a park -- with streetlights and benches and paths and a sense that it's in a city. I did a quarter realistically and spent about four or five hours just on the coin, in graphite.

But I compliment her on the cover design. That should pull her book right off the shelves fast, stand out among thousands of others. Good luck finding the right artist, if you get someone who loves the genre and is experienced enough at cover art to work fast (and still have elbow room for changes) you could find what you're looking for.
Aug. 22nd, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC)
There would also be a big difference if the same offer was for publication rights to an artwork I already did. Then we wouldn't be talking about scheduling or deadlines or changes, just the right to use it. I would not charge as much for that as I would for taking someone else's concept and trying to draw it through their eyes, because it's either a second harvest or something I wasn't intending to sell in the first place. It's not done to spec. It's not done your way, it just happened and was a good fit.

So if you find something on DeviantART that looks like it'd be a good fit and she loves it and it fits the genre, consider approaching the artist about it -- this is like writers selling reprints to magazines, without expecting to be paid as much as for first north american serial rights. It's probably one of the economic factors that resulted in Frazetta paintings of Edgar Rice Burroughs books being recycled onto other novels that were only a genre fit, where the details were completely inconsistent with the story.

That and it bugs me the pro publishers have this weird preference for blond characters, heroes and heroines both, not just in the romance genre but also in fantasy. Everybody's gotta look Scandinavian.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
As my mother started with Harlequin and went through Silhouette and Zebra over the course of her career before her current Awe-Struck/Hard Shell Word Factory contracts, I'm inclined to agree. Her first cover was also her most notorious--Building Passion, which the L.A. pop music group The Motels used as the basis for the video for "Suddenly Last Summer". "Clinch" covers have been a perpetual standby with romances...and it's difficult to get editors and cover artists to picture things differently. Since going to e-books, the only clinch cover she's had has been for The Hardest Step--but our vision for the cover included a walking cane and a bulldozer!

Her Broken-Down Promotion Website. You'll see that we've been doing more concept-based covers these days, even on the reprints.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 02:23 am (UTC)
That's neat. She's very creative and knows her genre and its cover traditions far better than I do. I might have been able to do something cool for it if it was horror, but the only thing I could visualize would've come out extremely creepy.

I like the idea of a romance novel with a walking cane and bulldozer, it tells you something about the setting and that the people in it aren't going to be Barbie and Ken. That's neat about her covers on the reprints.

I mentioned her need for an illustrator to a friend of mine who may be answering you on this thread, she's a good artist who needs the work.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
Oooh nice! I like her cover choices. The whole site is well designed too and it screams genre. A reader couldn't help but be fascinated glancing at it. Your mom's concept is good because she's got a good eye for design. I hope I can at least help you find the right cover artist for her -- she's doing great.

As for me, I'll be doing a thousand dollar cover for The Steel Guardian because I have to get it right the first time or start over, and get it to fit its genre just right. And that takes all the nastiest slow-finicky-detail techniques that I know, from knotwork borders to color-heightened action scenes or something I've never done, a montage. Ow ow. But at least I have two things planned:

The general color will be emerald green. There will be a recognizable fantasy-feel decorative border, probably knotwork, that'll carry over into sequels and anything else in that series. What goes inside that is something I have dozens of ideas for and am still sketching in my head. I should start throwing those ideas into the sketchbook.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 02:32 am (UTC)
It's funny, but I'm about to display my ignorance of the genre. I had an idea about romance cover content that might be powerful and simple -- a couple holding hands, close-up on the hands, obviously try to match skin tone and character description and maybe angle if say they are a tall/short couple or something. Filling most of the area of the cover. Or reaching toward each other's hands at an angle.

And then I stopped to remember how many people who don't read SF suggest "You could write about a child who has psi powers" and how many people who don't read fantasy suggest "You could have a bunch of misfits band together to find a magic sword or something to defeat this ultimate dark lord who's like Satan but fiction."

It's probably on that order. I'm truly ignorant of the genre.

But if it's not your mom may like the idea, and brainstorming is free. It's also easy to do with a photo shoot and maybe a stock beach photoshopped in behind it, or just an evening blue shaded color or something. Whatever. I probably just made an idiot of myself. But that's what the title "That Someone Special" suggested to me without the great specifics in the Cricket cover. Your mom does concepts that do pick up key details in the novel.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 05:54 am (UTC)
Well, "That Special Someone" is a Christmas book set in the Snow/Rust Belt, and we were planning on a cover featuring a fancy porcelain doll (because such a doll is at the center of the story--it's what brings the hero and heroine together, although neither one realizes it at the time). :) Could you tell that the hero of Time of Possession plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers? :D
Aug. 23rd, 2008 08:44 am (UTC)
Yeah, my handholding thingy idea is way too generic. A Christmas story in a snowy climate with the fancy doll that's part of the story is much more powerful and specific. A lot of these covers seem like good photo montages -- and you're talking to someone who's never even done that medium, I just draw things. Usually one powerful thing or one landscape rather than trying to combine multiple subjects.

I couldn't tell that cover for Time of Possession had anything to do with sports. It looked like a montage of personal things that would make sense once you read the book, details about characters' lives. I'm the least sports-interested man you'll ever meet, mostly through being disabled. I never enjoyed gym. It was the joy of my life when I finally got a doctor's slip that I could stop even going to gym. For most of my life I couldn't understand what anyone else got out of it. Eventually I did though, when a New Yorker called me on why I avoided spectator sports. "Of course you did. No one likes being benched."

There's one sports team period that I care about and occasionally pay attention to their scores, the Chicago Cubs. They are also the only team whose logo I'd recogize on anything. There's a striped scarf, but that just told me yep, there's going to be cold weather in there somewhere.

I would have to be more normative and care about sports and the Steelers to get it on that one.

Aug. 23rd, 2008 08:51 am (UTC)
Codicil: this was the 1960s, which were way too much like the 1950s despite what it sounds like from the music. It was legal and socially acceptable at that time to pick on the disabled, to bully them, laugh at them, wonder why they weren't just hidden away by their families in the attic so people could pretend they didn't exist. I only went to school and had anything like a life because most of it was undiagnosed. It was the way things were. And in those days gym teachers did not get sued for encouraging bullying or anything short of putting a kid in the hospital. Just sending a kid to the nurse was nothing. The teachers led the bullying. Half the kids that picked on me wouldn't have if it wasn't for the teacher leading it.

I know this because all through grade school I had kids coming up alone and apologizing, ashamed of how they acted and hating the system as much as I did. It didn't stop them from using protective coloration. Anyone who stood up for me would've been next on the block. If you failed anything, if you couldn't do it, you "weren't trying."

Bullying was sanctioned as "The Bullying System" and supposed to be good for budding white conservative children to sort out the pecking order and discover who was going to stay on top of the heap picking on anyone they wanted all their lives. It was part of the culture and held out to be a good thing, a natural part of being human. But I can't even remember one kid who liked the system or thought it was a good thing. Hating that was the one thing most kids agreed on even while they participated.

Oh yeah even things like having glasses was a big deal back then.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
I hear you big time. I was one of those ostracized boys myself. For two years in grade school, I was in the Gifted class, but then we moved and the "new school" threw me in with the slow-learners because they didn't know what to do with me. And then things got really Orwellian (in time for 1984!) when the School Board had me investigated for being a narcotics risk.

I guess a great many of us who wind up in SF and fantasy circles do so out of a thirst for justice, power and social liberation.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
I think you're right! That so rocks. My brother! Whoohoo. Let's not play team sports and give them hell at swordfighting or flying or costuming or world building. Hoo ya!

You're a bit younger but yeesh, the 80s were some bad years too, the conservative yuppie swing. It got better for a while after that and then swung way worse turning schools into jails. You were catching the first wave of the school-as-prison mentality to protect society from the danger of underage people having a minute free to themselves to think.

Heh, I think a lot of it is they got scared of the paradigm shifts of the sixties.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
I wish I knew about Kendo before High School, THAT would have been my sport. And nobody would have bothered me if I had a nice big bamboo shinai with me. "It's School Board approved...technically it's not a weapon..."

But the overall problem is that scholastic professionals are too stuck into specific mentalities when it comes to what they want from students and their expectations. I academically flunked High School because the whole Science department of my school was mismatched. I took Astronomy from a teacher who specialized in Marine Biology, Geology from a Law teacher, and Psychology from a frikkin' Baseball Coach. And then I aced the GED on the first try with no formal prep. I've been bitter about that my whole life.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
Oh gods yes. Back in my day there wasn't aikido or karate either, it was before the big dojo boom when the only people who learned karate were in hollywood taking lessons from bruce lee's students. It just was not big then in this country, any martial art let alone Kendo. I remember the point Kendo boomed. Right after Star Wars the first one came out, when people were lining up around the block three blocks away and playing with light sabers in line.

Teachers moved in and started up and now it's part of the mainstream -- but not really part of Team Sports. Just the alternative that gives you self defense and far fewer sports injuries. There was this cool bit in a Heinlein book about the bloke smart enough to take fencing and learn to be a champion so he'd get out of football and contact sports and not wreck his joints.

There is an incredible essay titled "Against School" by a former teacher. I'm going to get you the link. That mentality and the stuck in the specific mentalities of what THEY want from students and THEIR expectations.

I'm a grandfather. My daughter's mentality is "What do I want from this school? What is the school doing FOR my children?" Not "to" and certainly their expectations of them probably wouldn't even get on her list of priorities if there was a conflict. The sort of parent school boards hate especially when provably right.

I lucked on my high school. It was good and I had some good teachers in Anthropology (into it and loved it) English (loved science fiction) Creative Writing (did it and loved it and believed) Drama (did it and loved it and believed) and Art, where I had the choice of TWO good art teachers.

One was an Academy martinet who could have shaved decades off my learning realism. Mr. Walker really was a good teacher. But he wasn't as fun as Mr. Hodge. What I gained from Mr. Hodge was priceless.

Mr. Walker would have taught me to become a brilliant professional artist and I would have had a good art career probably beginning after high school while going on to art school. If that was what I'd wanted, Mr. Walker would have been the better choice. I knew it too. I chose to walk away from that discipline -- he didn't let students have anything but charcoal and graphite till their last year. He then made the oil painters stretch and gesso their own canvas, and made watercolorists stretch their watercolor paper. Good useful professional skills and a grasp of the high end lucrative classy mediums for making a gallery career -- with enough solid rendering to support a commercial art career. But I was neither really.

What I was and wanted was to become a science fiction writer capable of drawing well enough to do his own illos like Tolkein. The priceless thing Mr. Hodge gave me was a chance to try every medium available including many that I could not afford on my own and would not have had unless Assigned, and to create an hour's haven in every day. That no matter how bad anything else got, I had one hour where I did what I wanted. Anything I wanted. Was in charge of myself. Supported, cheered on and left alone to take my own direction.

To Be Continued...
Aug. 23rd, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, I concurr that we'll continue this in a later thread of yours. :)
Aug. 23rd, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
Way cool. Here's the tail of what I already wrote. I love this topic and I am so delighted you're interested. The site's a joy too.

An aspect where that system ties into culture comes from my youth in the 1950s and how it was explained to me when I questioned it. The Bullying System was supposed to mirror how successive waves of immigrants were discriminated against and abused, the survivors of the abuse settling in and becoming American and rising once they got the next wave to pick on. But never rising as far as the top really, never up where the Mayflower crowd set it up. It set that up as a caste system that justified discrimination. At the same time in my childhood, racism wasn't illegal, it wasn't even immoral, it was the way things were.

The Race Problem was that black people and Native Americans would not "do" what other immigration waves had and presumably didn't because they didn't Come To America To Get Rich. The philosophy of dividing the poor against each other on race and ethnic grounds so that everyone had a vested interest in the bullying and taking advantage of those lower was mirrored in the progression by age, everyone starts as the underclass and if they learn to bully gradually rises through the ranks and is rewarded by being allowed to bully. It was "sissy" to think that picking on other people was a bad thing inherently. Real men don't have compassion. That's some whiny East Indian thing isn't it where those yogis are sitting on needles being hahaha vegetarians?

Because at any point that the majority realized they were getting ripped off in either direction as labor or as consumers, ow. The ripoffs would get some unwanted limits and they feared riots -- yet hoped for them because riots could be dismissed as irrational versus quiet legal action.

It's root and branch of a lot of what chills my spine about this country. But maybe the times they are still a'changing, though you wouldn't know it from the prisonlike schools.
Aug. 23rd, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
I wound up being one of maybe two or three in his class taking a Walkerish direction toward accurate realism. And that was okay because his good thing was cool for everyone in it. I pulled a consistent A + in art for sheer enthusiasm and intensity -- and actually learning faster self directed than I would've with anyone else pacing me, because that's my learning style. I would have actually done better to skip college and spend the money on a personal library, or use a correspondence school for it. I'm not kidding. Cheaper and more depth to my education, beacuse I wasn't there to learn About Life.

I wound up by the same random accident of fate going from an average gpa made of extremes, A's and F's, to honor roll and a stable B plus average to my surprise with two things. Hodge's class to chill out in and get sane, and physically rest in his cushy armchairs and sofas. And getting the Get Out Of Gym Slip out of my doctor for bending over in the hall to pick up books, falling and being unable to get up. That's when the scoliosis got diagnosed. It is so random where gpa comes from because my grades rose when I quit even bothering to try and chose all my classes for entertainment value (except Creative Writing). I actually turned in hardly any homework except in Creative Writing and Art. I got away with it on test scores and knowing the material, but got stimulated by teachers who would throw me good reading material and appreciated the Opinion Essay.

Same system. Same parameters. Accident of luck to have several good teachers all in subjects that interested me and all of them capable of handling an autodidact by taking the brakes off and putting me on Independent Study within two days of the start of the year. Let me get you that link.

Against School goes into the history of the American school system and its roots in the Prussian school system. Not the upper class elite schools intended to turn out Future Robber Barons who Went to College but schools deliberately designed to reward obedience, conformity, punctuality, lack of ambition or creative thought, blind stupefied trust in authority and thus a tame labor force easily taken advantage of. The system does what it was set up to do. Every single thing that outraged me in school and I called the school on it -- when my high school was actually in many ways one of the LEAST offensive schools in that regard -- was planned into the system.

And the reasons for the Prussian School System was the same as for the Prussians, this was a driving force behind Compulsory Education, something the upper crust would escape by their getting Conditioned To Be Alphas in their prep schools with their Bullying System. Which is intended to desensitize people to doing bullying, starting with early grade school kids who unanimously loathe it and wish the teachers would stop it. No school that's put in an anti bullying program has met with anything but a) success, and b) overwhelming consensus among the students that the Anti Bullying Program is the one thing they all wanted.

Those work as late as high school.

Aug. 22nd, 2008 05:57 am (UTC)
Besides, if her books are about cats I might be interested in them as themselves anyway. I enjoy fantasy, SF and horror... and cat novels, whether it's a cat mystery or a nature novel or anything where the cat is an important main character.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )


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