Artbook of the Day: The Art of Kiki’s Delivery Service

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Ah, Kiki’s Delivery Service. Along with My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki is certainly my favorite childhood movie. I remember seeing a commercial for it either on TV or on a VHS (remember those?) and immediately demanding that we go out and rent it from the video store (remember those?!) My parents would let my sister and I take turns choosing a movie, and every time (to my sister’s annoyance) I chose Kiki– until, of course, my parents just bought me the VHS for my birthday since they’d already paid the cost of the movie many times over in rental fees by then.

So, naturally I own the Art of Kiki’s Delivery Service book from Viz. It’s filled with beautiful concept work, sketches, and commentary from director Hayao Miyazaki and others on the development of the film.

Art of Kiki (5)

I totally recognized the above painting from its fully realized use in the film:

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There are also some interesting early explorations of Kiki’s appearance:

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This drawing was one of my faves:

Art of Kiki (1)

Looking back, I can see why Kiki intrigued me so much. The fully realized female characters (including the protagonist,) the story of being on one’s own for the first time and finding one’s independence, and the fact that the whole “teen witch” thing is really just a metaphor for being an artist. Kiki has a seemingly innate talent for flying on her broomstick, but gets into a funk and loses her ability. She confides in her artist friend Ursula, and realizes that she needs to find “her own inspiration” to fly. Of course, she eventually finds this inspiration and gets her “powers” back in the end through self-discovery and an act of bravery. I think it’s great that a “kids” movie explored something so complex. And it’s no surprise, being an artist myself now, that I was drawn to such a story!

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Fun with Collage!

Sorry for the sporadic posting, but the semester recently started (I’m now an upperclassman!) and I started a new job (not a cool one, a normal one.) I’m taking a studio class called Art on Paper, which is basically an experimental mixed media class (on paper, of course.) Anyways, I thought I’d quickly share two collages that I made in experimenting with the technique.

Collage, I find, is a really interesting way to do quick sketches or studies. You can easily communicate strong color and shape. And plus it’s just fun. I continued my lipsticks and bullets motif here.

And then I made this because I’m super mature:

Hint: it looks like a vagina

I’m starting to take this motif in a bit of a more… Freudian direction, as you can see. I think that I had Hannah Hoch in mind when making these- she really explored femininity and sexuality well using collage, or papier colle if you want to be fancy.

Hannah Hoch- Grotesque

I think that Hannah Hoch’s work was paradigm shifting for me because I had previously only seen collage as something that old ladies use to make scrapbooks. Lo and behold, it can be used to communicate subversive views of gender and femininity!

Anyways, collage is fun. Go get some paper and go to town!

Revisiting Old Experiments

Last year I didn’t do a whole lot of my usual acrylic painting (my dorm room being so small and all) and started to experiment with watercolor. I took a watercolor class, and continued to do some little doodles in my spare time just at my desk (really the only surface in my tiny dorm.) I saved the small doodles I did, and recently dug them up and began working back into them not with watercolor, but with acrylic.

I already use watered down acrylic in a lot of my works, but using this same medium on paper is interesting (and entirely different.) I quite like watercolor, and it really takes me out of my comfort zone of working on a canvas and getting that immediate payoff of acrylic/oil paint. Working on such an absorbent surface is an interesting change of pace.

Most of the painting here was done in watercolor, and I added the orange dots (and a little more orangey-ness) with acrylic. I also added the dark blue lines with acrylic using a needle-tip bottle, and painted in the green bars. I like the mixture of the wispyness of watercolor combined with the crisp sharpness of acrylic. Working in mixed media opens so many possibilities! Revisiting old sketches and doodles can be really rewarding. Sometimes we do our best work when we’re not even in “work” mode, and just let our mind wander onto the page.

On Again, Off Again: My Love Affair With Sketching

At some indefinable point in time, I fell out of love with sketching. Like many artists, I started sketching at a young age. From the ages of 8-12 or so, I carried around my sketch book at all times. I drew everything. Pots and pans, flowers, bowls of fruit. It was a clean, non messy or difficult medium for a youngster to start with- no complicated or dangerous paints and chemicals. As a result, I really got a good start on learning how to “see” as an artist needs to from an early age.

I also drew a lot of fish for some reason… Fish, age 8

I got nostalgic recently and started to thumb through my old sketchbooks. It’s interesting to look at my childhood drawings now as an adult. I can sort of see what interested me at certain times. Landscapes were a big thing for me early on.

Apparently, at age 9, I also really loved ‘Murica.

However, once I started to really get into painting- around junior year of high school, I started to neglect my sketchbook in favor of the canvas. I would sketch things out with paint on the canvas ahead of time, or, in the case of my increasing interest in non-objective work, not at all. I began to see sketching as tedious once I graduated high school. I no longer “kept” a sketchbook. I’d made some here and there, but that previous childhood enthusiasm for carrying a sketchbook with me was gone. If I wanted to collect something for reference, I just snapped a picture. In college even, my Painting 1 class required me to “keep” a sketchbook and show it to my professor at the end of the semester. I think there were a grand total of four sketches by the end, and two of them were probably forced out a few days before. I just wasn’t a ‘sketcher” anymore, I thought.

Then, a few months ago, I was cleaning out my desk drawers and found this incredibly cool sketchbook that I must have received as a Christmas gift from my mom:

The cover has a holographic image of a pencil and three crayons, designed by Susan Kare. I saw this empty book, with its cool design and thick binding, and felt compelled to put SOMETHING in it. I couldn’t just let it sit there being all blank. At first, I just wrote in little notes; ideas for posts, little doodles, whatever. But then I started to feel the urge to fill it with beautiful pictures. I did these cake sketches for that very reason, and also to test out color schemes.

I ended up using this color scheme as an actual painting. And it all came from one silly little sketch. I’ve really started to get back into the groove of sketching lately. I don’t know why I abandoned it for so long. Something that at once seemed tedious to me now seems like an incredible time/frustration saver. I don’t have to rework my paintings so often because of minor compositional and placement issues. My ideas are far more developed early on, so I don’t have to do as much backtracking (which is pretty easy to do with acrylics regardless.) Obviously, that’s always been the point of sketching. You’re probably all going “well DUH, Megan!” But I guess I may have associated sketching too much with my childhood- it was something that I had graduated from. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve come to realize that, as an artist, you never “graduate” from the basics, they “graduate” with you.