Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Haring Homage (Sweet Squares #19-#22)

Colored squares with Haring-like figures
© 2012 Sylvia Liu
For my Sweet Squares, I am continuing with the theme of fun markings on colored squares. This is a bit of a homage to Keith Haring's figures.



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Friday, September 21, 2012

Meaning (Sweet Squares #16 - #18)

Abstract squares with letters
"Meaning" ©2012 Sylvia Liu
Sweet Squares #16-#18: playing with color and letters and "meaning." (A little bit inspired by the political season). Have a great weekend, friends.  


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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lined Seahorse (Sweet Square #10)

Illustration of lined seahorse found in Lafayette River, Norfolk, VA
© 2012 Sylvia Liu
Today, I started the day with good news from the local paper: scientists recently found an unusual creature in the Lafayette River in Norfolk, Virginia: the lined seahorse. It's good news because these seahorses like clean water, which shows that the multi-year restoration project to make the river, which suffers from high bacteria levels and algae blooms, fishable and swimmable by 2014 may be making progress. (A 1979 paper described the river as "a shallow, turbid, urban estuary, polluted with primary treated sewage").

(This Sweet Square is part of my continuing explorations with watercolor).


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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Light a Candle (Sweet Square #9)

Light a Candle for Peace (response to Libyan assassination of US ambassador)
© 2012 Sylvia Liu
Any attempt to reflect on the anniversary of 9/11 and this morning's news of the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans seems trite and inadequate. But here is my small response.

There are few days in my life that I'll never forget, and 9/11 was one of them: my husband was in Manhattan and I was at a meeting a block from the White House when we heard of the attacks. I was six months pregnant with my daughter, and I remember walking 10 blocks back to my office, staring in horror along with everyone else on the crowded and traffic-jammed streets, as we looked at the smoke coming from the Pentagon to the south. It was the first time in my life I felt a personal sense of danger from a terrorist attack (as opposed to muggers and other city dangers). I remember wondering bitterly what kind of world my daughter would be born into, and being angry that everything would be different from then on.

Well, those feelings faded as life went on. Though the country went to war, Homeland Security was set up, color-coded threat levels were created, and 6 ounce bottles of gels were confiscated, I never again felt so personally connected to the world of terrorism. The news today reminds me that American diplomats and troops are on the front lines every day, and that it is very real to them. And it is real to the citizens who live in these war-torn countries. In the world their children are born into, it's not so easy to dismiss violence and terrorism as a sad news story.



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cuttlefish (Sweet Square #8)

Cuttlefish illustration
© 2012 Sylvia Liu

Cuttlefish are less well known than other cephalopods, but just as interesting:
  • Their blood is greenish-blue because it uses a copper-containing protein, hemocyanin, to carry oxygen instead of the red iron-containing protein hemoglobin we're familiar with.
  • They are masters of disguise because they can rapidly change skin colors to camouflage themselves.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Little Map (Sweet Square #7)

Illustration of old fashioned nautical map
© 2012 Sylvia Liu
I'm not much of a water colorist, so I figured Sweet Squares would be a good time to experiment with water colors. I made different squares of washes and then made a doodle inspired by one of the washes. The shape of the colors reminded me of an old-fashioned nautical map, so I drew a small, quick one.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Funky Frog from Melted Crayons (Sweet Squares #5 & #6)

Melted Crayon Scan
© 2012 Sylvia Liu
I enjoy making patterns and backgrounds to play with in Photoshop. My daughter and I did this today by melting crayon shavings between waxed paper.

Starting with that as a background, I sketched a frog, and then started experimenting. Here are the end results:
Funky Frog Illustration
Funky Frog © 2012 Sylvia Liu
In "Funky Frog," I used the paint bucket tool to randomly drop colors onto the existing wax patterns in the frog. Clicking the bucket tool repeatedly to increase the size of the color swatch resulted in interesting effects like the outline around the eyeballs. I painted the background using a large watercolor brush tool.
Illustration of Fun Frog with Swirly Background
Swirly Frog © 2012 Sylvia Liu
In "Swirly Frog," I used the bucket tool inside the frog and the smudge tool on the background.

What kind of handmade or painted backgrounds have you used for digital illustrations? (P.S. This entry covers sweet squares #5 and #6).



If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy these other illustrations I've done using scanned hand painted or hand made patterns:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Steampunk Squid (Illustration Friday & Sweet Square #4)

Steampunk Squid Illustration
© 2012 Sylvia Liu
This steampunk squid does double duty today:

(1) It's my fourth entry for Sweet Squares, a 30-day challenge to draw or create something every day. So far I've been on a cephalod kick, drawing a nautilus, octopus, and kraken, and adding some fun facts. Here are my squid facts:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kraken (Sweet Squares #3)

Kraken illustration
© 2012 Sylvia Liu
I've always liked the old-fashioned look of wood-cut or lino-cut printing, and I've even tried my hand at doing some in the past (for example, of surf boards). For today's Sweet Square, I've made a sketch of a kraken in a block cut style.

Kraken are:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Curious Octopus (Sweet Squares #2)

Curious Octopus illustration
 © 2012 Sylvia Liu
This was done quickly, finger painted on my iPad. A curious and smart octopus. (Second Sweet Squares piece).

Reasons I love octopi:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nautilus (Sweet Squares day 1)

Nautilus illustration
© 2012 Sylvia Liu
Illustrator Diandra Mae has started Sweet Squares, a challenge to draw, paint, or create something every day for 30 days, with no expectations other than to explore and have fun. I thought I would give it a try.