If you're already a backer and reading this missive, you surely already got the message that Alphabird hit its fundraising goal this morning. Yahoo! Thank you so much to everyone who helped me make this book happen. I've had a blast this month working on the first half of the characters and look forward to the next few months when I see it to fruition. I couldn't have done it without you, so please pat yourself on the back for a job well done. If you still want to pledge, you have until 10:30AM tomorrow PST. Click here to be a part of Alphabird!
Are you ready for our lucky 13th bird? Oh boy oh boy.....here we go!
S is for Seymour whose beak was two spoons, which only encouraged his love of show tunes.
I really had to push to get this one done for you today, but it happened! Here's an early studio shot of our friend Seymour:
Soon after taking this photo, it dawned on me that I needed to reverse those spoons so they would resemble the awesomely simple musical instrument and not a dumb set of salad tongs. Fortunately, it wasn't too difficult a task.
I had a great time figuring out how to interpret the gorgeous plumage of the real bird on my piece--above is a detail shot from this morning, and below is the back of the finished piece:
I have another update on our friend Kevin the Kingfisher. When I posted this on Facebook, a conversation ensued about how the kettle drum looked like a glass of beer. I do appreciate feedback about my work, as well as a fine pint of beer. However, I've gotta be convinced it's a valid argument before going back in on a finished piece. I think the addition of some minor hardware to this sculpture is a good one, though, so thank you. It still kinda looks like a glass of beer, but that's okay by me because I believe that all good kids books should also appeal to adults. I love your comments and feedback and encouragement.
Of course, it also gave me an opportunity to hang out at my favorite art supply store, more commonly known as a hardware store. I found some sweet little keys that look like tuning keys for my kettle drum. Here's a closer look at them:
I almost hate to do this, but in case there are any of you out there who are still thinking about grabbing one of the five remaining spots at the $350 pledge level to pick first from the original birds, I'll let you in on my present plans for the remaining 13 birds to make: F - a Flamingo with a fiddle G - a Goose with a gong I - an Indigo Bunting with an ipu J - a Junco with a jug M - a Magpie with a marimba N - a Nuthatch with a nose flute O - an Owl with an oboe Q - a Quail with a qin-qin T - a Tanager with a tambourine V - a Vireo with a viola X - a Xenops with a xylophone Y- a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker with a yu Z-a Zebra Finch with a zither
It's a little risky announcing this now, so please contact me before the Kickstarter ends if you have your sights set on one of these projections because I might change my mind in the next month!
I'm back again with bird number 12. But first, an update on the progress of Alphabird. As I write this, we're a mere one hundred and fifteen smackers from reaching our goal with less than 48 hours to go. Woohoo! I think we're gonna make it!
So on with the program......there weren't a lot of birds or instruments that start with the letter U, but fortunately, there was an exceptionally clear set of choices here-- the Umbrellabird with a ukelele. As a native Oregonian, I'm frequently told I'm not supposed to own one, but I proudly sport my Barbara Kruger bumbershoot every year. And who could resist a bird who's naturally coiffed like Elvis? I also couldn't resist choosing a ukelele because it's one of the sweetest sounds around. So.....U is Unanimously for Umbrellabird!
U is for Ullie who tuned his strings daily while trying to master slack-key ukelele.
Both males and females have a long, inflatable (!!!) wattle on their neck, which serves to amplify their loud, booming calls. The males extend their wattles to attract the females. Some birds have red wattles, but I chose to stick with an all black-bird again.
I painted the feathers on the wattle of my bird, but I'm honestly tempted to go back in and figure out a way I can do some dimensional layering like the illustration. I'm still pretty pleased with my cowboy-booted Umbrellabird.
So......I promise you one more bird before the Kickstarter ends. And it's gonna be a good one.
P is for Pablo who hailed from Peru. He loved to play pan flute in a floral muumuu.
I've been making penguins for years and it's one of my favorites. I believe the first ones I made were matching sets for my nieces for a holiday gift, but I've gone on to make many incarnations over the years. Here's my studio shot of the piece in progress:
As you may have noticed, I decided to go with a different kind of hat, the black Fedora or bowler-style seen on many men and women from that region. My notes suggested I'd go for a chullo, but I know penguins prefer a classier chapeau.
Every time I look at this piece, I get El Condor Pasa stuck in my head. Could be worse, right?
And hey....by the way.....Alphabird just hit 100 backers and is less than $700 from its goal. Thank you all so much! Three more days of fundraising, and then a lifetime of bird puns. And believe me, I've already come up with a millennium's worth of hilarious El Condor Pasa lyrics in the past 24 hours.
And, speaking of birds, here's a sweet Easter photo of me and my Goddaughter Birdie from today.
I'm back with bird #10.....the Raven with a recorder.....AND with great news! As a result of an email and Facebook blast, we're now a mere $1265 away from funding Alphabird! Fingers crossed that there are still a few people out there who like the thrill of waiting for the last minute. If you have been thinking about any of your friends when you've seen any of my updates, now is the time to let them know about Alphabird on Kickstarter!
Here's my sketchbook page for the letter R:
R is for Rosco, an avid sports fan. His rocking recorder led the team's marching band.
This bird is a perfect example of why I need to hire a professional photographer for this project. Black is one of those colors that can easily confound the camera, and I haven't made matters any easier with my subtle black on black feather patterning.
It was a lot of fun making this bird and his band outfit.
Thanks to everyone who has supported my project in the past few weeks! I'll be back tomorrow with bird #11.
It's time to show you my favorite bird thus far--the woodpecker playing a washboard! I used my favorite variety of woodpecker as the model: the Flicker. I made my first Flicker about 13 years ago when I was one of six Oregon artists asked to make an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree with a bird native to my state. I had just bought my house and saw a Flicker using a dead tree on the property as his own personal bug cafeteria, so that's the one I chose. You'll also see a dapper Flicker in my playing card deck! I was happy to reprise him again, but with even more detail than ever before.
W is for Wilbur
whose washboard solo
had the warblers two-steppin'
and begging for more.
I had a great time working on the details in this piece like the washboard:
It's a Kingfisher standing on a kettledrum. You'll see that my original poem had him playing a kazoo, and although I like the poem a lot, I didn't want to mess up the beautiful shape of this bird by having to bring its wings forward to play a tiny kazoo.
So I guess I have to work on the revised poem, but I'm hoping I can still work the name Kalamazoo in there!
Apparently, this breed can come in a wide variety of colors, but I chose this nice photo of common Kindfisher, with a tealy blue and rust colored one to work from.
With barely over a week to go in the Kickstarter, I am back to start dazzling you with my 7th bird for Alphabird: the Loon with a Lute. My strongest memory of this bird was paddling around a moonlit lake in northern Maine some 30 years ago as my sweetheart called to them and we'd wait for their response.
Here's my sketchbook as I worked through the ditty for this page
The one I like best reads:
L is for Lucy
who waxed sentimental,
when strumming rock ballads
on a lute, oh so gentle.
The orientation of the bird and instrument will be adjusted for the photo shoot, but here's the general idea--bear in mind that I still need to add some strings to that lute!
I had a great time doing the patterning on the back and neck
and even the subtle detail on the eye:
I'll be back tomorrow with another bird for you. Don't forget, there are still 9 opportunities to choose an original bird from this project--an offer only good during the next week of this Kickstarter. If you haven't pledged yet, what are you waiting for?
Here's a parting shot of my workspace this past week, with a sneak preview of what's to come.
As of this morning, I'm excited to say that we've reached the halfway mark, both in the duration of my Kickstarter campaign and in the fundraising goal! And since we're on the subject of halfway.....I will also report that I am well on my way to reaching the goal to be halfway done with the birds for this book by the time the Kickstarter portion ends.
H is for Hal,
whose playing was purty,
when hovering over
his pink hurdy gurdy.
H! A hummingbird with a Hungarian hat!
So that's easy to think up and maybe make a rudimentary sketch, but once I started looking into what exactly was a hurdy gurdy......well, I knew I was in for a project. I looked at images and videos on the web to try to understand how it worked, and decided to mainly work off an old illustration to help me distill the most important elements of this complex and ornamental instrument:
Quilters might recognize those flower-shaped pins I used for the tuning keys--I knew that my hurdy gurdy would be pink, so why not make it a little crazy. Here's my finished piece:
I chose the Anna's Hummingbird because they are the breed that overwinters here in Oregon. I'm not completely thrilled with the angle on the hurdy gurdy in this shot, but that's where the photographer I'll hire comes in handy.
I'll be back in a few days with bird #7! Those of you who have supported my project on Kickstarter, thank you so much! Anyone reading this who's been on the fence, please help make it happen and plan ahead for your holiday shopping by pre-purchasing books or original artwork that will help me fund the photography and printing of this book. Click here to be a part of Alphabird!
First off, a very important announcement. We have a new backer reward: at the $35 level, Kickstarter backers can get an 8x8 full color print of any of the pages in the book.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, on with the show. Here's how our friend Dodo turned out:
here's a detail of those feathers:
If you didn't recognize them, this Dodo has on a pair of off-brand fuzzy boots that were trendy about a decade ago. Know what I'm talking about? Here's the product name for his pair:
The figure stands about 10 inches high. Still working on the digeridoo he'll be playing.
Here's my sketchbook page for the letter E:
E is for Ernest Who remained undeterred When the audience requested the encore "Free Bird"
E! An Egret With an Electric Guitar!
The neck of this magnificent bird is not quite like the one in my sketch above--it's a lot more crooked and proved to be the most challenging part of this piece.
This is a large piece (about 12"high) and has blue flippers for feet.
The feathers are a subtle white on white detail that's hard to capture on film.
But here's Ernest! I made a few little lighter wielding critters who will be requesting "Free Bird" for the book, but, again, am not sure I've gotten it right yet, so put it aside for now.
Next week will mark the halfway point in my Kickstarter campaign. My goal is to be halfway done with the birds (13) by the end of the fundraising. I'm coming down the homestretch on H, so sit tight if you want to see bird #6: a hummingbird playing a hurdy gurdy in a Hungarian Hat!
I'll leave you with a special message from me and Birdie.