Happy Halloween! And that means... yes, carving pumpkins! I've always enjoyed this part of the tradition, but I've never really done anything complicated. My Jack-O-lanterns have always been pretty much traditional.
This year, I decided to do something a little different. I don't know why - may be because I had just delivered all my paintings for the show and was feeling relieved and relaxed. May be because this year my daughter is old enough to really be excited about Halloween and that enthusiasm is contagious.
And probably too, because I had been talking with a friend about illustration, the occupation I am no longer in and miss a little bit every time I read a beautifully illustrated children's book at my daughter's bedtime.
Anyway, I decided to try the - I don't know what the proper term is - woodblock type of carving where you don't penetrate the wall all the way. Making use of the variation in the depth of the carving to achieve a light / dark value pattern but not cutting holes, it's a lot easier to do more complex images than the traditional method.
I had a cheap set of woodblock / lino cutting tools which worked just fine. I tried my Dremel, but it didn't have a pumpkin bit so it was just like using a clunky electric drill. Way too clumsy. Next year, I think I'll buy a Dremel specifically made for carving pumpkins and give that a try. But I have a soft spot for old fashioned tools, so I'll probably end up using the knives more.
The cat is Mooner, my trusty sidekick who had been with me for 18 years, during my entire illustration career and left us when I completed the transition to painting full time. This part of the Jack O Lantern is in honor of his memory. 'Hope you're having a good time Mooner, wherever you are!
Skye drew me a thumbnail - I'll post it later if I can locate it - of a spider that she wanted me to carve.
I didn't have a design to start with. This is all just ad lib, stream of consciousness. Not very different from my doodles that I do while mindlessly talking on the phone.
When I was a freelance illustrator, I had two distinctly different styles. One of them was gritty, newsy, digital collage with which I worked for clients such as SI, Rollingstone and Washington Post, and the other was like this pumpkin; whimsical and fun. The two styles balanced one another in terms of my need to be both serious and goofy.
Gotta have a witch! Elphaba lives! I love Gregory Maguire's work.
Another one of my daughter's requests; "Daddy, you need to put in a bunny!"
Skye's head on the spider; it's a "Skyeder"! Get it?
And here's the best part. This is Skye's pumpkin. She drew the face, and got a little help carving from ol' dad. Looks pretty awesome!