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Writer | Illustrator

Posts from the Cut Paper Collages Category

Last week Thursday (June 11th, 2015), Aaron and I marked our tenth wedding anniversary.

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We celebrated with a special showing of Jurassic World at Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet in downtown Kansas City.

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We rode with raptors . . .

Jurassic World Photo Shoot from Alamo KC

. . . ate fearsome food . . .

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. . . and won tickets plus a bag of dinosaurs for impersonating a triceratops. Roar!

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Aaron gave me a multipurpose drafting table so I can paint and cut and collage without worrying about Godzilla cats or getting all creaky or spilling glue on the carpet. He chose one with a glass top and a clamp-on light so I can convert the surface into a giant light box whenever I wish. (Genius idea, right?) I adore my drafting table and look forward to many hours spent illustrating on it.

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As for my gift to him . . .

In 2011, I made a cut paper collage in the shape of a heart as a wedding gift for my friend Tiffany. Every so often, Aaron would hint for a Love Machine of his own, and I would promise to make one.

Only I’d forget.

Well! I finally remembered.

I didn’t want Aaron to know what I was planning, so I worked during lunch breaks and while he was busy writing, and hid the materials out of sight. We are just awful at keeping secrets from each other, but this surprise I kept.

Here is Love Machine AP6115.

This collage is approximately 3” wide by 4” high, made from Tim Holtz idea-ology scrapbook papers, a Monet waterlilies print, metal gears, and glue. Its design is based on a medical illustration I found online. I set it in a shadowbox so Aaron can take it out from time to time and hold it in his hand.

Because this is our “tin” anniversary, my friends Alesha and Ashley suggested I wrap the frame in aluminium foil. I presented it to my loverly on anniversary morning.

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I’m so happy he liked it!

Although . . .

I can’t imagine he likes it more than I like my new drafting table. Squeak!

Here’s to a lifetime more of memories with my favorite person.

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After a year-and-ten-month hiatus spent with words, I limbered up my rusty fingers for Draw This, a new illustrator feature from SCBWI. The prompt word for June 2015 is “Bounce.” Of course, I settled on a jackalope.

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He’s a little guy, about two inches long, on a background four inches across by four inches high. This collage was cut mostly from landscape textures found within John James Audubon prints and fastened with good, old-fashioned Elmer’s Glue.

Bounce, Life-Sized

Eventually, there will be an online gallery with all of the entries. For the time being, I’ve enjoyed seeing my fellow illustrators’ submissions on Twitter at #scbwidrawthis. Bounce by and have a look!

Stalemate

It’s hard to believe the L.A. SCBWI conference is just over two weeks away!

I (finally) completed my last portfolio piece for the showcase. I tried some new techniques with this collage, like crafting the hardwood floor with lots of little slats cut-up from this paper.

Many thanks to Aaron for posing with the vacuum cleaner and being my second set of eyes, to Alesha for the multitude of cat tree reference photos and critiques, and to Steven for the title!

Like many of my illustrator friends, I’m in the process of revamping my portfolio for the L.A. SCBWI conference. This weekend I took an existing design that I liked and gave it an update.

“The Dance Lesson” is an illustration that my marvelous agent pulled from the slush, so it will always be close to my heart. It also inspired a picture book WIP that I love. But two years have passed since I finished that collage and I knew I could make it better.

dance lesson redo

Before: The Dance Lesson, circa 2011

So, on Saturday, I set to work. I began with Owl and Ostrich. These characters have evolved somewhat since the original design, so I wanted to make sure they would be consistent with the most recent O&O illustrations. Both Owl and Ostrich lost a toe to better resemble their real-life counterparts (ostriches have two toes and great horned owls have three in the front and one in the back). Owl 2.0 is a bit more solid with a larger beak. Ostrich 2.0’s legs are a bit longer and more muscular. I also adjusted the tilt of the birds’ legs and wings so they’d look more active. After all, they are dancing!

The revised characters have different papers, too. The first version of the illustration featured three patterns for Owl and two patterns for Ostrich—with one of these papers (the pattern with the text) being shared by the two. To compare, Owl 2.0 and Ostrich 2.0 have five papers a piece. Happily, I had already planned out O&O’s new looks in an earlier color study, so I didn’t need to start from scratch when picking their papers.

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Owl and Ostrich 2.0

As for the background, I knew that I wanted to keep some elements of the first illustration (i.e., the natural palette, the floorboards, the border along the top, the music notes), but I didn’t know which papers I wanted to use. So, on Sunday, I spread out every blue, green, and brown paper pattern I owned and did a lot (ahem, a LOT) of pairing and considering. Yesterday was one of those days where the scene just wouldn’t come together. At one point, the husband suggested we get out of the house to think and eat pie. (Always a good idea.) At another point, we went out to buy yet more green paper. (Another good idea.) Finally (finally!), I figured it out and was able to finish the illustration.

The Dance Lesson 2 by Priscilla Mizell

After: The Dance Lesson, circa 2013

The floorboards are still dark, the composition similar. The biggest difference is the backdrop. Instead of incorporating the sheet music into the floorboards, I cut waves from a sheet music paper pattern and layered them atop a different shade of green. My hope is that this detail adds more movement and interest to the illustration.

What about you? Do you have some “before and after” illustration examples to share? I’d love to see them.

ETA: I still wasn’t happy with the background, so I tried out a few more greens, including one from a different Owl and Ostrich composition. I shared the results with a trusted critique partner and she agreed that, in this case, darker is indeed better. (Thanks, Courtney!) The after after illustration is below. This just goes to show that there’s always room for revision!

Edited and Revised Dance Lesson

After Again: The Dance Lesson, circa 2013