Sneak Peak: Character Development for Fall/Thanksgiving Card

Yesterday I started work on developing the characters for this year’s Thanksgiving/Fall production.

The card will have quite a few characters, so this part of the design phase is especially important.  Some will be painted in watercolors, and separated into different body parts after scanning them into the computer.  This way I can keep the watercolor style but still animate the characters.  I have not yet decided whether the squirrel will be hand painted for each frame of animation, or whether I will  render it on the computer, since it will need a full range of motions when jumping.

The main character is the woodpecker, so I started when him first.  Once his character was in place I build the other characters up around him.  I will share more photos as I start painting the various elements of the card …

Water Mixable Oil Colors

This summer I spend about ten days painting in the north of Denmark and trying a new medium for me, water mixable oil paints.  Since I normally paint with mostly watercolors and acrylics this was a real change in pace, as the longer drying times of oil presented a particular challenge while travelling.

But I must say I loved the richness, the vibrant colors of the pigments and the final result of the oil paints.  And being water mixable means there are no nasty fumes to put up with.  So after stocking up on four canvasses and paint in Copenhagen, I set off with my kids for the coast and the little cabin we would spend the next ten days in.

“Flights of Fancy”
Oil on Canvass
by Frederikke Tu

As luck would have it, this July was so hot in Denmark, it was almost unbearable to be outside some days, so I moved the garden furniture inside and made it my painting studio.  Luckily the cabin had lots of glass and it still felt like being outdoors.

Could you imagine a lovelier studio while on the road?  Happy memories …

For the first painting I decided to forgo a grounding layer, which I normally would use with the acrylics, since there was a time constraint.  As you can see from the photos, the paint goes on nice and thin with the water mixable painting medium that is part of the range.  I have since bought a painting paste as well, which is more like the paints in thickness.

I did find that the key was not to use both water and painting medium together, or I would get some tackiness and the paint would not spread easily.  So you either use a little water or you use painting medium, but not both.  I also discovered that the white dries much slower than the other paints, so areas with more white needed more time in between coats.  As you can also see from the photos, the colors start looking really amazing after the second coat, so a second coat really is a must, especially without a grounding layer.

Painting the first coat – a little streaky, which second coat takes care of

I waited a few days between coats and in total this painting took three days to paint, much longer than a similar painting would have taken me with acrylics.  But I think the results are worth it and for many things this medium will still be my new favorite.  I still love acrylics, just for the sheer convenience and speed, but acrylics do lack something in the final feel and touch.  However they gel well with my temperament and allow me to work in my own impatient and frenzied pace.

If you would like to try water mixable oil colors yourself, there are several brands that offer them.  I choose Cobra from Talens.  But enough about the medium, I will let the painting speak for itself!  Let me know what you think.

Fathers Are Just as Important as Mothers

It is easy to forget Father’s Day – it just does not get the same kind of attention that Mother’s Day gets. I know this for a fact – and statistics support it.  I see it every year when far fewer cards are sent on Father’s Day than Mother’s Day. And I don’t believe it is because we as a society do not value to amazing contribution that fathers make in the lives of their families.  I do not know why as a society we are less likely to celebrate fathers than mothers on their special day.  But I would love to hear from you: how do you celebrate the father figures in your life?  And Dads, how do you want to be celebrated?  You can comment here or send me a mail through the website at www.ojolie.com.  Got any special requests for Father’s Day cards for next year?  Tell me now and I will give them full consideration.

Happy Fathers Day   2012
From toonpool.com

In the meantime, I am happy to share this touching video with you, just a reminder for us all in our busy daily lives to take a moment to really connect.  We don’t need a special day to acknowledge the wonderful people in our lives, but sometimes these special days help remind us to do so.

Wishing You a Very Happy Father’s Day this Sunday!

The Art of Manliness

I would love to create more ecards that appeal to men. I was therefore thrilled to find a blog dedicated the Art of Manliness with an entry dedicated to nothing less than the Art of Letter writing. Yeah! What a great find and follow up to my blog entry on The (Lost) Art of Letter Writing.

Great tips for you guys out there who might sometimes wrestle with getting pen to paper – or words to keyboard 🙂 And as woman I can honestly say there is almost nothing more manly than a man who can express himself.  And with Father’s Day coming up, son’s everywhere might need a little inspiration for celebrating their father.

 The Art of Manliness
from The Art of Manliness blog

The (Lost) Art of Letter Writing

“In a generation or two letters will be obsolete. 
Everyone will talk to absent friends the world over by radio.
It will be nice; but something will be lost with letters. 
The world can’t eat its cake and have it, too. 
And none of these things really “save time.” 
They only fill it more breathlessly full.“ 
[Saturday December 16, 1922 — Volume 3, L.M. Montgomery Selected Journals]

Shortly before Christmas a dear friend wrote to ask me about my new mailing address. When I received an actual Christmas card in the mail several weeks later, my heart skipped a little beat with joy. Of course I showed my gratitude by forgetting to write a note of thanks amidst a more than usually stressful holiday season (the holidays are ALWAYS busy at Ojolie, but this year was crazier than usual as we relocated for the second time in a year). Well past the holidays, I found this little memento and finally sat down to pen a short email. Okay, my better half will laugh and point out that I never write short emails.

It is because I used to write long hand written letters as a child. I don’t feel old, but I realize that probably makes me sound rather old to my own children. My parents were expats and I lived in several different parts of the world growing up. So to keep in touch with friends, this was the only option available. I kept a metal trunk under my bed with all the letters from friends neatly stashed away long after I had lost touch with friends, who likewise moved around a bit. Shortly before I left for college in the US, the letters were tossed in favor of what I could carry in the two suitcases.

If only I had know then that the art of letter writing would quickly become a thing of the past, maybe I would have held on to at least a few of them. I did re-read some before tossing them and there were so many fun details in these letters I had forgotten. I don’t tend to be a collector or hold on to things, but in this case it is not the actual letters I miss, as much as this way of communicating with friends half a world away. Storytelling that is meant to allow us to partake in their life from far away, sentiments committed to paper, dreams and hopes shared.

Even though the format of human communication may have changed with email, facebook and other instant messages, human sentiment and the need to connect transcends time and progress.

I have noticed that perhaps because of this there is a revival of interest in the art of letter writing. To return to a more personal way of connecting. More than ever, it doesn’t matter what medium we use to communicate our sentiment. The sheer act of sitting down and taking the time to pen a personalized message will be appreciated more than ever. It doesn’t mean rushing out and buying special stationary or a fountain pen (although by all means do if that inspires you to write). Although some will hold a more dogmatic view than me, the art of letter writing is not about form or a beautifully handwritten letter. As the word ‘art’ implies, it is really open to interpretation. An art form is something you practice and perfect, find inspiration and joy in – a medium for sharing human expression. What that means to you personally is not for me to say. But I would love to hear what you think.

Mail man in Corsica 1952, photo credit: Prof. emeritus Hans Schneider

Follow Frederikke Tu’s board c o n n e c t on Pinterest.

Inspirations from Nature | Making ‘My Wish For You’

Often people are curious about where I draw my inspiration for my cards from.  There are so many sources of inspiration, but because nature has a very strong effect on me, probably that is the main inspiration in my work.

As an artist I experience the world visually, filing away things I notice for future use.  When creating a card with a specific sentiment in mind, I try to see what that could translate into.  In my newest e-card “My Wish For You” I tried to think of what I would wish for the many amazing mothers I know and love.  And what I would appreciate my children wishing for me.  And more than anything I realized it was about the little things in life that actually are the big things – the amazing mundane things that make life worth living.

So one morning while sipping my morning coffee and going through my art journal, I noticed I had jotted down a few things I felt grateful for a few weeks prior – bird song, the sunrise that morning, the hug my husband gave me and the company I had that day.  And from there the words to this card just came to me and from there the artistic vision started taking place.  Or rather it took flight as my little feathered friends take center stage in this card.

Here is an inspiration board I keep adding to all the time – where I file away things from nature that inspire my work or that just fascinate me.  

Find the Perfect DIY Gift Idea

“The manner of giving is worth more than the gift”

This sentiment might be interpreted to mean that it is the thought that counts. And so every year on mother’s day children present little handmade presents to show their appreciation for mom. These little keepsakes are lovingly stored away as a token of their children’s gratitude, because let’s be honest – that pasta necklace or picture frame made out of popsicle sticks is mostly going to be appreciated as a memento. 

For the rest of us, gift giving has to rise to a higher level to convey what mom means to us. But herein lies the challenge; the DIY gift, while heartfelt often looks just that – DIY. The store bought gift sometimes seems too impersonal and not creative.

 

These family luminaries at bestbites.com make the perfect gift for Mom

I have collected a few ideas that might inspire you to make some gifts that are both personal and convey what the recipient means to you. These ideas work for many other occasions as well – especially the holidays, but also Father’s Day and Birthdays. Never too early to start collecting ideas and planning some fun diy projects that will make amazing gifts all year long!

And if all else fails, remember a huge bouquet of flowers will never fail to send the right message to a woman, mother and wife. Mother’s Day is May 11th in the US and many other countries.