“Life Is Terrible”

It’s finally finished! My big surprise project! The gift’s been given, and it’s ready to be shown off! Hooray! (Can you tell from all my exclamation points that I’m kinda excited?)

Presenting my very first illustrated book: “Life Is Terrible” by Chrissy Krizman

My friend Christi Mann wrote this book for her boyfriend, Nick, for his birthday from their dog, Chrissy. Christi sent me multiple pictures of all of them and scenes from around their house as references, and I went to town. I can’t believe the whole thing only took me about 3 weeks from start to finish. Thank the Lord for my Wacom tablets, too, or this still wouldn’t be done. :) What a fun project!

I’m ready for my next challenge! Bring it on!

Super stoked,

Natalie Grace

“Webby Wednesdays” – The Ladies of Animation: Claire Keane

About a year ago, I stumbled upon the blogs of some of the most talented female animation artists. I’m not sure whose page I found first, but all of these ladies work, or have worked, for the Disney studios mostly as visual development artists. I was so thrilled to stumble upon these blogs, and I’m excited to share them with you! There are quite a few, so I’m going to share one at a time.

The first artist is Claire Keane (cuz she’s my favorite).

Claire Keane

Claire working on “Once Upon a Cloud” (photo by Razi Wilson Photography)

As the daughter of legendary animator Glen Keane (see, I told you I’d talk about him a lot) and granddaughter of The Family Circus illustrator Bil Keane, Claire has followed in the family footsteps and become a big name in art. Her contributions for Disney’s Tangled were integral in forming the look of Rapunzel and her world. Here’s a piece she did for theĀ  Check out this video of Claire painting a wall at the Disney studios in her fun and whimsical style.

Claire left Disney in September of last year to focus on becoming a children’s book writer and illustrator. I’m a little nervous about the future of Disney without her, but this might be a great move for her own career. Check out her blog page to see the incredible book she’s just finished. It’s so cute!

Nursery Projects

I can’t believe all my illustrations for the surprise project are finished! I’m so excited to see the final product and share it all with you. Until then, I’ll revisit some old projects I haven’t blogged about yet.

First up, I wanted to archive the commissions I’ve done so far for children’s rooms. I love doing art for kids since cartoons (especially Disney characters) are my favorite things to draw.

My first mural commission ever was for a couple from our church. They had picked out the bedding set they loved for their son’s room, but wanted to add some related flair to the walls. Unfortunately they’ve since moved, so I assume these have been painted over, but I’m glad I still have pictures! I first researched the bedding set they told me about and found the owl and fox pictures you could buy to go with the set, then drew them myself and added the tree and stump. I borrowed a projector from church and projected my image onto their wall, traced it, and started painting. It was SO fun, and I’d love to try one again.

These puppy pics are a commission I did a couple years ago for my friend Crystal. She and her husband wanted to deck out their son’s nursery with puppies. She has an amazing eye for decoration (hint: she even has her own business), so she gave me great directions for what she was picturing in her mind and I happily dove into the challenge of making it come alive for her.

I’ve already done a full blog post on my commission for my friend’s son’s room here (part 1) and here (part 2), but I’ll post a couple here for the sake of revisiting them.

And finally, the paintings I did for my own daughter’s nursery. I worked on these all through my first trimester to keep myself busy. Can you tell the theme?


Minnie Mouse Nursery

Have an idea for your child’s room? :)

-Natalie Grace

“Webby Wednesdays” – Beauty and the Beast on 20/20

Most Webby Wednesdays, since this is an artist’s website, will contain media involving art. This week, it’s all about my favorite Disney masterpiece, Beauty and the Beast.

I love BatB not just because it’s a great work of art, but because of the intriguing story behind the production. For years, Disney played with the idea of using this tale, but they just couldn’t get it to meet Walt’s standards. For instance, check out this story-boarding that only lightly resembles the finished work we know now:

Purdum’s storyboards were only created a year or two out from the final story, but almost everything was reworked to create the best story possible. To see how they achieved greatness, you have to check out this 20/20 episode that aired a week before BatB‘s theatrical release (in 3 parts):

Amazing, huh? I love seeing all the hard work and story telling that goes into classics like this to be reminded that it didn’t “just happen.” Extremely talented people like Glen Keane (who you’ll no doubt be seeing featured again during Webby Wednesdays) pour out their hearts and souls on paper to make iconic characters like the Beast touch the audience so deeply that we might even be brought to tears if something should happen to them.

These kinds of animators inspired me to do what I do, and I can’t thank Disney enough for introducing and drawing me into the world of art.

Feeling nostalgic,

Natalie Grace

Extra: For more little-known facts about BatB, check out this BuzzFeed collection!

Add “Professional Illustrator” To My Resume, Please…

Okay, so maybe “professional” implies a little more than what’s really going on here, but I am getting paid to illustrate a book. That’s professional, right? Anyway, enough with the semantics. A lovely lady who I performed theater with in college has commissioned me to illustrate a book she wrote for her boyfriend from their dog. It’s a super-cute story, and I wish I could share it all with you right now, but it’s still a surprise! I’m sure I’ll divulge all later, so stay tuned. And I bought those Wacom tablets just in time! I’ve been able to do every step from sketching to coloring so quickly with those things. I love it!

So for now, I’ll leave you with a teaser.

LIT, Page 1Don’t worry about this pup. She’s not really as sad as she looks. ;o)

She works hard for the money,

Natalie Grace

The First of Many “Webby Wednesdays”

Hey, all. I’m going to be transparent here because I’m all about sharing insight. I’ve been learning a lot about promoting a blog lately, and apparently one of the best steps to take towards gaining and keeping a following is being regular with your posts. So my goal is to post updates on my art every Monday and a fun web link every Wednesday. Most links will probably refer to something art-related, like the blogs of artists I admire, or maybe something I saw on Grammarly.com’s Facebook feed since I’m a word-snob. To kick it off, I’m doubling up.

We’ll start with my favorite video of the moment, Weird Al’s “Word Crimes”. If you haven’t seen this yet and you have any slight case of GrammarNazi-ism, you’ve got to see this.

So, now that you’ve had a good chortle, let’s bring it back down so your colleagues quit eying you for laughing so loud. Be aware, though. If your soul is like mine, they might start eying you because you’re tearing up from being transported back to your childhood.

Beautiful, huh? Well, you should probably grab a tissue and get back to work now, but I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s installment of “Webby Wednesdays”. See ya Monday!

Trying to stay regular,

Natalie Grace

My New Best Friend, the Wacom Tablet

I got a new toy yesterday. :) Actually, two, to be precise. For years, I’ve heard about Wacom drawing tablets, but I always assumed the learning curve would be huge, and I didn’t want to put too much time into trying to grasp it. With a tablet like Wacom’s Intuos, you draw on the blank tablet which sends your movements to the computer monitor, so your hand is out of your sight-line or barely in your peripheral vision. To me, that sounded nearly impossible to get used to. My next project is illustration-heavy though, so I started doing tons of research into drawing tablets. I thought a tablet that lets you draw right onto it would be awesome, but Wacom’s Cintiqs are stupidly expensive and the off-brand Yiynova was still a little high for my taste at $600+. So I checked out Craigslist for Wacom Intuos tablets. I figured I might be able to at least try one out through a personal seller and see if it might work for me. I got in touch with a seller who had a small and medium Intuos4 for $200. Now we were talkin’! He was gracious enough to let me meet up and try them, too. And as soon as I put the pen in my hand and started sketching, I fell in love. :) No learning curve here! Here’s a pic of the first sketch I did once I got them home:


First Wacom Drawing Ever

Since then, I’ve been playing around with drawings for this next project, but I can’t post them just yet as it’s a surprise! Instead, for now I’ll share a pic my friend Liz sent me of “Rocky Boy” on her wall:

"Rocky Boy" On the Wall

“Rocky Boy” On the Wall

I love seeing my art in its final place. It makes me feel more like a real artist when it’s up on someone else’s wall.

Wacom’s newest convert,

Natalie Grace