Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Horizons

To start, here is the continuation of some Christmassy images from last week, new since my last entry. As a general rule I will always lead off with some visuals to capture your attention!

Copic markers on bristol
3.5 X 5.5"

"Candy and Jack"
Copic markers on bristol
3.5 X 5.5"

Copic markers on bristol
3.5 X 5.5"

Copic markers on bristol
3.5 X 5.5"

"The Gingers"
Copic markers and colored pencil on bristol
3.5 X 5.5"

This will be my last blog of 2011, and I'm so excited that my act has seemingly come together before the new year, when resolutions sometimes stick...and sometimes don't! My hope is that I have given myself a good running-start here heading into 2012! I'm excited by the opportunity of choosing a topic each week that I can speak about freely from the heart. Most likely these posts will be about the things that inspire me, or the break-throughs I've just experienced, as I do sincerely try to keep a positive attitude (especially when I'm aware that others are watching, impressionable to my thoughts, words, and deeds)! But I'm sure that sometimes they will be about the challenges and frustrations I face, such as in today's...

I'm not just speaking about ART here, but also how art translates into our lives. My art practice is definitely a therapy for me and I find it very meditative. It's important to me to keep evolving not just as an artist but as a human being as well. And it's also important to live and create art solely for the self sometimes. These two things are not always in balance for me. I'm a black sheep in that I have always worked for myself, and not studios. But my desire has always been to be a part of a collaborative. I believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Always. And thus far I've not had the pleasure of fulfilling that calling in the greater sense, such as having a position in a feature animation studio, seeing my name scroll by in the credits along with the countless other faceless names who dedicated their talent and energy to a given project. I understand that when artists work for others on projects that aren't necessarily fulfilling to them, they inevitably burn out. Same goes for when you live your life for others and lose yourself -- putting dreams on hold and so on -- that zest for life can sometimes seem to all but disappear.

I generally feel peaceful and nostaligic at Christmas time, but within a week, that turns to a sadness and mourning at the prospect of turning over another calendar year. For me it means another year gone that I didn't reach my goals, be living the life I thought I'd have by now, and with the dream job I thought I'd have by now. The holidays can be overwhelming sometimes, and if I'm feeling this way, chances are someone else is, too.

I have grappled with the fear of failure for a long time, and it is true that ignoring it can never make it go away. Here is an excerpt that came my way recently which I found profoundly inspiring and reassuring and I'd like to share it here:

I am readying my portfolio to send out, seriously, for the first time, as "the knocking in my heart" has simply grown too loud to ignore any longer!  My hope is that we can all exercise forgiveness -- of ourselves and others -- for being human and not always being perfect people/artists all the time, and that we can look fearlessly into our futures with no regrets.

Happiest of New Years to each and every one! May 2012 see you live your life to the fullest! If you are fortunate enough in life to know what your calling is, may you be brave enough to risk failure in your relentless desire to touch the stars!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Starting New Traditions!

When I woke up this morning, something felt a little "off", like I was missing something. "Hmmm, it's Weeednesdaaaay...I was supposed to doooo somethiiiinggg..." Then I remembered...THIS IS MY NEW BLOGGING DAY! ;D

Funny enough, last week after I wrote my big long blurb about CTNX, for as much time as it took to recap that wonderFULL experience and find appropriate pics to support it, I was actually bummed that my next entry was going to have to wait a whole week! But now that it's time once again, I'm feeling like this is a perfectly managable pace, and the start of a great new tradition. (I promise I'll keep it short 'n' sweet this time!)
I've been starting each work day with little warm up sketches. Here are a few Christmassy themed pieces from this week so far to brighten your holidays!

Copic marker on bristol
3.5" square

I recently converted to using Copic markers and my life has been forever changed! I've 99.9% moved away from using colored pencils exclusively and I'm not looking back! (I still create many mixed-media pieces.)

Copic marker on bristol
Approx 3 X 5.5"

This past summer I took a Copics 101 class at a scrapbooking supply shop, of all places! I had no idea why these markers were raved about so much in the art community...until I was taught how to properly use them and physically shown what they are capable of doing!

"Nutcracker Prince" duo
Copic marker on matte paper
Approx 3 X 5.25"

Copics allow me to work soooo much faster and achieve waaaay more vibrancy than I ever could with colored pencil alone. They're fast, they're FUN, they can be layered and reworked, they can even be erased. Ridiculous. I feel so liberated by this medium, I feel unstoppable! It's irrational how excited I am for Copic markers.

More next week!

Please "like" my facebook fanpage at: for daily uploads of these warm up sketches and more!

Merry Christmas! Be happy and warm and full of gratitude! Please don't drink & drive.
Laurie B!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Bloggering Time!

Hey World!

So it's settled. Wednesday's be my bloggin' day from here on out! I don't want to wait until January to make this resolution stick. I would have called it my December Resolution, but alas I've already missed last Wednesday, Dec 7th! ...My kid gotsed the pink eye last week and he couldn't go to daycare until he finished his round of meds, so he and mama -- that would be me ;) -- got an exTENDed-extended weekend! YAY!...kind of. It was unexpected and I greatly missed my kid-free studio, art supplies, and copious amounts of table space and uninterrupted time. But I still managed to stay creative. I always do!

At any rate, I'm back! And ready to recap my CTN eXperience!

It's been a few weeks since coming home from the CTN eXpo, AND I HAD A BLAST, btw! (Buckle up, this is going to be a long post!)

I took a lot of notes. A LOT of notes. 16 pages, double-sided. Photos, too. Over 600 images in 3 days. I think my shutter was a bit noisy during some panels, but I was "in it to win it" and just wanted to retain everything! (If any of you readers out there were in any of those same panels, I apologize if my incessant picture taking was annoying. Though, a few people have since been in touch with me saying it was "genius" that I recorded everything, and asking me to share some of those images with them, which of course I've been happy to do!) I'd say, that in itself makes it all worth it in the end!

I always like to let an event like this resonate with me for a while and let the highlights float to the surface in their own time. Some of these highlights are instantaneous, seeming to speak directly to me and wasting no time about it! But then some of these may be the messages and conversations that were repeated a few times in a few different places, as opposed to being just an isolated event. Or they may emerge as the little moments, the instances, that I relive the most.

I'm so happy I had the opportunity to attend. I believe it's the Law of Attraction that's in force in these memories -- those greetings, those handshakes, those conversations -- that the universe is giving me because I put myself in a postion to receive them. The right place at the right time! Case in point:

Right off the bat on Friday afternoon, the first panel I went to, entitled "Dream Jobs You Didn't Know Existed" by the amazing speaker/talent/businessman/author William C. Vaughan, pretty much sealed the deal for me. He answered the big question that had been weighing on me and my career. #1 on his list of "Seven Deadly Job Search Sins" was "Homesickness: the unwillingness to move/relocate". I instantly realized that this is where I'd been teetering forever. My eyes were immediately opened and the bar was set for the rest of the weekend.

I don't want my dream job to go unrealized my whole life. I've been tangled in the ideal of being a full-time mother, but I see now that I want to be a mama that my kid (and future kids) will be proud of, that they will have the priviledge of coming onto the studio lot everyday if they want to, to have lunch breaks with me, watch early screenings of new movies, and even land a few voice acting roles! "Even more than this, you've given me HUGE insight into expanding my already existing career, and so for this I thank you, Mr. Vaughan!" Find out more at about him, his books, and his career at

Next was a Spotlight on Sergio Pablos, an amazing character designer who's worked on Tarzan, Treasure Planet, Despicable Me, and Rio, to name a few. A seasoned vet with a thick Spanish accent, this guy had some grit to him!

I picked up some good cues from him, such as that it's still fine to work traditionally. This was reassuring to hear, as one of the other vibes I picked up over the course of the weekend was how important it is to keep current and to stay ahead of the technological curve. He says, "It's good to learn how others do things, but you've got to find your own way. Small studios have a hard time employing you if you can't jump to other departments, but big studios want you to specialize." (Also from what I'm hearing, there's kind of a shortage of raw talent our there, so coming from him, this was extremely validating!) When questioned by an audience member about the pressure to go digital, he replied, "If I'm going to go into a medium that's going to limit me, then I don't want to go there!"

What lovely sentiment! ;D

To find more about him and his current work, go to

Later that night was Creator Conversation with Florian Satzinger, a character designer from Austria. I stumbled onto his work almost accidently, but couldn't miss the chance to hear him talk in person!

His designs are fantastic and whimsical; very 'weight-y' and super fun to just let your eyes wander upon! (See more at his website at or read his blog:

He shared this really great trick on how to draw a character turnaround by building a box around your design, then finding anchor points so you can rotate it in perspective with more accuracy. Effing brilliant! This was really impressive when it was being drawn live right in front of us!

I ended the night by heading to a mixer hosted by Animation Mentor where I mingled with several friends and met even more talented folk!

Saturday was a long day, with 5 back-to-back panels. I woke up super early hoping to be first in line for a Character Design Portfolio Review, WHICH I WAS!! Unfortunately the candidates to be reviewed were already chosen in advance [insert descending slide whistle sound here]. Soooo, a little deceiving, but at least I got first dibs on seating! Lol! And to be entirely truthful, I learned A LOT by listening in on others' critiques.

Then came Creator Conversation with Carlos Grangel (, another Spanish character designer. I have to admit, I didn't know anything about him going into it, save that I liked his jpegs on the CTNX website. I'm so glad I signed up! This guy was a treat!

He drew for us.


I don't know why, but there's something so inspiring and revealing about watching other artists draw live in front of you. You get a glimpse into their thought process that you otherwise wouldn't get with just a still image. It's like the difference between watching 'the big game' vs reading the final scores in the newspaper the next day!

There was one bunk panel I went to midday, that kinda bummed me out. It was called A to Zbrush. I've been debating getting (back) into sculpture (I majored in sculpture back in fine art college) and thought it'd be a great crash course. But I didn't have a great seat, and could barely hear the guy. Not that it mattered. He didn't cover any basics of the software, he just noodled over this one sample file he had open, griping about "how he hates it when" artists leave out minute details, like the tragus and the anti-tragus of the ear. I think he was hungover. "Whatever, douche. I was going to pay $1000 to take your online course, but now you can suck it!" The end.

...Then there was THIS guy!...

He was set up in the atrium practically all weekend long, puddying away! I should have taken a seat front and center with HIM for an hour and a half instead!! Gorgeous work! A veteran of the biz as well! Kent Melton is his name.

He's also responsible for this little beauty, which I came *this close* to buying, but couldn't decide on which version hair color I wanted! So I was a good girl and decided to sleep on it and buy online later! This is Kent's sculpt of a Fred Moore design. I've been told my work is like Fred Moore reborn. This delights me beyond words! Now just imagine if I could sculpt one of my own designs! I believe I have some modelling clay around here somewhere!... I think a Laurie B! vinyl is in order, don't you??!

I had the pleasure of hearing Louie del Carmen speak about "Cultivating Your Artistic Personality". Louie is a personal friend of mine who's been up here to the Calgary Expo before, and who arranged for my first tour of DreamWorks, back in the day. He currently still works there as a story artist. I loved the title cards in his presentation!

Once again, I had the pleasure of watching over his shoulder in his office as he boarded some panels for Kung Fu Panda 2...which is just out on BluRay/DVD yesterday, and I can't believe I haven't even picked it up yet! For shame! ...I watched it 4 times on various flights this past summer and fall, and despite some meh reviews, I thought it was a spectacular movie that held its own, same as the first one! Good job, Louie!

I had an evening panel with legend James Gurney of Dinotopia fame. He was a really sweet man -- reminded me of a fun uncle -- and a very, very prolific artist. (

He spoke about his family and his sons a fair amount, which reinforced to me that permission to have a family and a fulfilling career. Lately he has been having a great time letting his son join him at work. And this put a smile in my heart, for obvious reasons!

Another day done, but not before heading to another mixer in the lobby/lounge! I met numerous fellow Canadians who've been working state-side for years, supporting their families, et al. Among my new aquaintances is storyboard artist Kris Pearn, who is a sweetheart! Not only is he Canadian, but he's also from a small farming community, like me! Reminds me of that line from Ratatouille, "Not just anyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere." He shared a lot of work visa info with me which cleared the air and eased my mind about that aspect of relocating for work, if need be. Good guy! "Thanks for the book, Kris!" xoxo

Sunday morning was the home stretch. I had been all panelled-out and hesitated to go to either of the 2 panels I had left as I'd barely spend any time in the exhibition hall. But alas I kept an open mind. And then along came Bill Perkins, decades-long art director and visual development artist with Disney.

This guy blew my mind...sideways.

The workshop was called "Creating Mood" and I thought it was just going to be a painterly how-to. Wrong. He covered art theories with such thorough analysis, I felt like I was watching the creation of the cosmos! There were words in there I never even heard before. I'm even at a loss for words to describe what this panel was like. Suffice to say I'm stupidly-glad I went! God willing, one day I'll partake in his many workshops:

The last panel was on the age-old debate over "2D: Dead or Alive" with Mike Nguyen. I thought nothing could top what I had just bared witness to, but I was wrong again. What Mr. Perkins had in intellect, Mr. Nguyen had in pure heart and soul. The real deal.

Mike in fact DID talk about the creation of the cosmos, the meaning of life, the higher power that lives within us, beckoning us to this beautiful medium called animation and what, really, is at the heart of why we do what we do. "The best things in life can't be told, because they transcend explanation."

What an inspiring way to cap off the CTNX!! ...And in answer to that age-old question, he in fact answered it within the first 5 minutes: "2D is not dead. Trends are moving away from traditional not because of the medium but because of the content."

Amen, bruthah!

Check out his sweet indy project at

"Mr. (Monk!) Nguyen, it was a divine pleasure spending an afternoon with you. I'm certain we will meet again someday."


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Diving into the Talent Pool

Nov. 17th - Calgary Airport, 6am local

At the airport waiting to board, on my way to the Creative Talent Network Animation Expo (CTNX) in Burbank. I've had a few anxious moments looking forward to attending again, getting excited for the panels and workshops, hanging out with my friends, and meeting new people. I'm very tired because I only slept for about 30 minutes so I'm hoping I'll zonk out during the flight. Everyone else at the gate seems so alert...even babies! Don't know what's up with that! We all had to wake up at ass-o'clock in order to all be here at this moment in time, didn't we??! At any rate, I have my trusty earplugs and eyemask and I already feel myself zoning. Sleep en route to Phoenix (2.5hrs) to my connecting flight and then another nap after I check into the hotel. That's my plan!

...I remember going to Phoenix Comic Con with Noah when he was 9 weeks old...It was the first time we flew with him. The family next to me right now have a wee one and they were just talking about Hawaii/Oahu/Honolulu. We went there, too, with Noah. (Along with a zillion other places in his first year of life!) Just being in the airport solo make me realize how much traveling we did with him. It's been really hard, but it's also a huge accomplishment and I don't resent it. I also don't wish to carry on with this lifestyle...

...Part of ditching convention life is having an alternate plan for income. I'm hopeful the CTNX will be an answer to that. I am going to enjoy myself, and listen to workshops, and network my face off! I'm not going to stress about finding work. Work will come. I feel a great push within me. I knew my art was strong before...but now there's a drive and a desire and even an increased ability propelling me, compelling me, forward.

Phoenix Airport, 10am local   (I totally slept on the Phoenix flight! Hazah!)

I need to remind myself that many, many well-knowns of the animation industry have taken notice of me so far. Nickelodeon, Mattel, my one-on-one with Eric Goldberg in Ottawa, Blue Sky Studios in NY (NYCC), repeatedly! Bobby Beck, founder and CEO of Animation Mentor, who's become such a huge friend and force in my life. But if I simply remind myself of how we met..."there it is" again! Michel Gagne, Rob Corley and the Bancroft Brothers, Paul Dini, Joe Moshier, Scott Morse! ...I do think it's time I have an honest conversation with myself, so that I take myself a little more seriously heading into this spectacular weekend.

     "Laurie! Where to begin?! You are plenty talented! Your abilites are truly a gift! And in following your strengths, you're already living such a blessed and extraordinary life! This is your dream. GO AFTER IT! LIVE IT! Remember Blue Sky, Scott Morse, Eric freakin' Goldberg! You already have what it takes. In order to take it to the next level, you need a studio atmosphere. You need to submerse yourself in a richly creative surrounding and be challenged by equally (*wink wink*) talented people. I know you're afraid of not being able to keep pace, but you simply won't know until you get there how much the right environment will SPARK you! It will happen, I promise you! Just look at that "Monster Fashion" piece you just completed. That is on par with Imaginism Studios and you know it! AND you did it all traditionally! DAMN! TAKE CREDIT!"

     "Now. Let that sink in."

     "Too fast. Take another moment. Let it reeeeaaally sink in. (pause) You are sought after. You are complimented at every turn. People -- INDUSTRY people -- are impressed by your work. Share it. Make more of it. By any means possible."

     "Have a great time at CTNX this weekend! Squeeze every bit out of it that you can, or want! Enjoy yourself, and BE yourself! Because you're pretty KICK-ASS, and not just in your art, btw! Your mind has the power to blow other minds. If that ain't talent, I don't know what is! It's time that you admit that you owe it to yourself and the world of animation (not to mention the vast population who will forever seek to be entertained!) to just take that plunge and jump into the freakin' talent pool already!"

...Jump into the talent pool?!...YES, ABSOLUTELY! I intend to CANNONBALL that be-otch!

     "And that, my friend, is what people want to see outta you!"

Thanks! I think so, too! ..."Why just the other day I was having a conversation with myself about you..."*

     "YES! This is exactly what I'm talking about! You just go ahead and be YOU! 'Cause ain't nobody else in this world can do it for you!"

Loud and clear, coach! ...I am pretty kick-ass, aren't I?!

     "That's what I said! An' I don't says sumthin' unless I means it!"

Dually noted! ;D Seems all that's left now (I mean after this weekend and taking in all that I'm meant to take in) is to come up with a solid plan.

     "Well, where do you want to go with this? Into the industry, and relocate your family? Or stay freelancing and have that flexibility to raise Noah in these early years and watch him grow?"

I'm not sure yet. Ideally? A bit of both. Can't I do short-term, freelance stints working in the industry for feature studios, a la my good friend Michel Gagne? Must it be all-or-none? Can't I have my cake and eat it, too?!

     "Well, I for one don't see the point of having cake if you can't eat it!"

My sentiments exactly!

     "Besides, who ever said you can't have it all?!"

??!? ...Uhmm, PEOPLE DO!! They say it all the time! "You can't have your cake and eat it, too," that's what they say! It's ingrained in us so much it's become a staple expression of the english language!!!

     "LAURIE! Focus! Don't dismiss what you've accomplished here and regress back to square one. And don't you dare let others tell you what you can and can't do. Evah."

     "So, let others have their cake and not eat it. If that's what they want to live by, that's their call! "...Only WHO can prevent forest fires?...You have selected 'you', referring to 'me'...That is incorrect...The correct answer is: only YOU can prevent forest fires!"** ...Get my point?!

"Ayecarumba!" Yah! Got it! ...Touche, smart-ass!

Touchdown Burbank, 11:45am local

*"Lady and the Tramp" reference

**"The Simpson's" reference

Monday, November 7, 2011

Office Space

I have been M.I.A. for far too long.

I had a baby a year and a half ago. He is the most amazing thing I've ever created, but with that has come the biggest life-adjustment I will ever experience. In addition to becoming a full-fledged family, my husband, our child, and I have continued to travel the convention circuit for the last 18 months.

It has been grueling and near impossible to sketch at shows, especially as my kid became increasingly mobile. So for our last handful of con appearances this summer & fall, we opted to leave the little guy at home with family, which has been just as challenging. It has definitely come with mixed emotions, as to be expected. It has been difficult getting my head in the game when my heart is at home (awww!), but I inevitably hit my stride at each convention -- and then some! -- as now, more than ever, do I have the deep understanding of the value of my time and how much I can actually accomplish when my efforts are concentrated.

For 2012, my husband and I are discussing a restructure to our convention travel schedule and with that comes a restructure to everything else. I am extremely happy to report that we have acquired office space outside of our home, and though it has only been 1 week, it has been the welcome change that we have been seeking! Having worked from a home-based studio for the last near-decade, and having lived -- and worked! -- amidst major home-renos (not just the baby proofing kind, but YES, ceiling-to-floor baby proofing as well!), finally having that separation between work and family is reflecting itself already! We're into a new and refreshing routine!

Many of you have commissioned me at shows and some of those pieces are still outstanding. For that, I offer you my deepest apologies, and thank you for your continued patience. I hope that I have your understanding. I have never "not delivered" on a commission even if the wait has been long, and in those instances I have always poured much more additional time and effort into a piece due to the long wait so as to never leave a fan unsatisfied. ...My would-be consolation prize!

In the meantime, many have inquired about commissions via my website, and eventually -- once all of the back-orders have been fulfilled -- I will open up the request line there, too!

As for now, in an effort to get back into the forefront, I am happily settling into my new nest, new routine, new business model! I have one more trip to take this month, so I will post freely for the next few weeks before settling into a more regular blog routine.

"Thank You!" to the many, many great people and fans I've met out there over the months and years! More "Laurie B!" is on the way! ;D