Friday, March 27, 2015

A Spring Playlist

   I like to listen to music while I plan my stories; songs can provide either pretty background noise or inspiration for a specific scene (and I need both). I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites from this month--expect a lot of soundtracks and an obscene amount of Celtic music.

Wide open spaces, the outdoors, a feeling of openness. That’s about the best I can describe this one—it’s a song about possibilities (or at least I think it is).

A really old favorite—Aragorn and Arwen’s theme from The Lord of the Rings.

From the movie Dear Frankie; it’s sweet and upbeat but also very soothing.

I first discovered this one through The Blacklist.

My favorite cover of a particularly bittersweet folk song. I listen to it when I’m planning ending/parting scenes.

Another folk song. Dark, tragic, and completely unearthly.

The main theme for The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends; it’s a lot less sugary-sweet than you’d expect but still quite whimsical.

The Secret of Roan Inish was one of my favorite movies when I was younger. Nothing captures the haunting, half-magical feel of the story better than this song. I can't listen to it without getting chills.

You can find this in the CD soundtrack of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but not in the actual movie. "Where" deals with the sad/angsty aspects of leaving a fantasy world, something the books (at least The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) never quite got around to.

An essential when I’m planning adventure/fantasy. 

   What have you been listening to this March? Any favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hello, March

Just a few thoughts…
Tasha Tudor

On Tasha Tudor--She was a 20th century artist who preferred an 18th century lifestyle, complete with petticoats, wood stoves, and very few modern conveniences. I rediscovered her last month, and while it all seems unbelievable and a bit crazy, I don't think her illustrations would have been so wonderfully detailed and unsentimental if they hadn't been drawn from real life. You can learn more about her here.


On Writing--I have about a million different ideas composting in my head; the really good ones keep resurfacing with new inspiration. I’m doing a bit of planning, like a promised back in December, but at a (very) leisurely pace--most of my ideas still seem very half-formed and vague, which frustrates me. I’ve also tried drafting some flash fiction and short stories, but none of those have quite stuck yet.


On Pelmeni--Russian wontons, basically. We made a batch over the weekend (they taste best homemade). Folding every single dumpling by hand is time-consuming and really boring, but eating them (with sour cream, or vinegar and red pepper) is always worth it.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Artist Spotlight: A Guest Post by Kelsey Hammersley


    Hey guys! For this spotlight, I thought it would be neat to get an actual artist’s perspective on what goes into creating fairy tale illustrations. I've admired Kelsey’s artwork for a long time, and I’m so happy to feature her here! If you like her post, be sure to check out her blog and her Tumblr
First of all, I'd like to thank Alex for inviting me to write a guest post for Third Star to the Right! I've never guest blogged anywhere, so needless to say, this a squee-worthy experience for me. I love seeing Alex's artist spotlights on here (plus all of her pretty fairy tale pins on Pinterest), so I thought I would talk a bit about the impact fairy tales have made on my art.

Oh, and just so you know, my name is Kelsey, I live in Ohio, and I am a Christian artist who's interested in going into illustration.

Fairy tales have been a huge influence and inspiration to me over the years. The first real artwork I encountered as a child was H.J. Ford's illustrations from the Andrew Lang Color Fairy Books. I actually picked out the fairy tales I wanted to read based on how pretty or intriguing their illustrations were. I discovered some of my absolute favorite artists while browsing through the illustration gallery of the fairy tale site Sur La Lune Fairy Tales--artists like Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Edmund Dulac, and Walter Crane. I can't quite pinpoint what it is about fairy tales that attracts me so, but I think part of it is their hopeful examples of perseverance through adversity, along with how the tales ignite the imagination.
For creating my fairy tale-esque illustrations, my ideas tend to start with a vague sense of the emotion I want to get across and the style I want to use. I try to hold onto that feeling as I work on the project. Emotion plays an important part in art for me; I want to create something beautiful, but I also want it to have meaning, something that people can connect with. The method that works best for me right now for creating paintings is to start off with an accurate pencil sketch as a base. Getting the drawing down right can be pretty tedious for me (the shading and the coloring are my favorite parts) but it helps me a lot in the long run by (ideally) sparing me from making big adjustments when I'm further into a painting. Once I'm done fiddling with the drawing, I clean up the pencil marks as much as possible so that the graphite won't mix in with the color too much and make it muddy. When adding in the paint, I tend to go through a lot of trial and error, playing around with the project and doubting myself--basically jumping from This is so much fun!!!! to I am a horrible artist. I can't finish this. But perseverance really does pay off. 

Lately I've really been inspired by the work of Albrecht Durer, particularly his woodcuts and engravings. I love how the subjects in his prints push forward into space. My linework is frequently inspired by Arthur Rackham, who's pretty much my favorite artist. My ambition in art is to both use my imagination and take inspiration from the beauty of the world around me--and hopefully inspire others in the same way that fairy tales and their illustrations have inspired me.

I'll finish off with a few tips for other aspiring artists, or basically anyone who wants to get better at drawing. Tip #1: Look at the work of other artists. Better yet, practice by copying works of the masters. You notice and learn so much about something when you try drawing it yourself. Tip #2: Take classes, or get lessons if you can. If this isn't an option, there's a wealth of online tutorials out there. I know plenty of completely self-taught artists have found success, but getting advice from other artists is a great way to encounter new ideas that you would be hard-pressed to happen across on your own. It's kind of like having someone else read your writing in order to figure out where you could improve. Sometimes you need a fresh set of eyes, or a fresh set of ideas. Tip #3: Keep drawing! The best way to learn is to try. Even if you make mistakes (and mistakes are inevitable), with each attempt you make, you will see improvement.

Thanks again, Alex, for hosting me here! :)