Enter…the rat

In my previous post, I discussed my illustration of The Mole from Wind in the Willows, which I created for my newborn niece, Willow. Today, I present the companion piece to that one, The Rat. Once the Mole ventures out of his hole, he comes upon the Rat, out rowing his boat on the river, and joins him. This is a river rat, or water vole, which live in England and are closer to a muskrat than the city rat or farm rat (which is what I tend to see in my mind when I hear the word “rat”.)

I decided to show him taking a nap along the riverside because that’s what sunny afternoons are for when you’re a river rat, right? I had a good time with this one, coming up with various shades of brown to try and give him some dimension and make him look furry. Below you can see the pencil drawing I did for this sketch. I wish I had matched some of the pencil lines more closely when I inked it, but overall I’m pleased with how this turned out.

Enter…the mole

This is my take on the Mole from Wind in the Willows. In March of this year, I became an uncle to a little girl named Willow and her dad (my younger brother) mentioned to me that if I had any ideas for art to decorate her room, I should feel free to indulge those ideas. The room was going to be a nature themed room and so as I thought about it, the characters from the Wind in the Willows naturally came to mind.

I’ve liked the Wind in the Willows since I first read it, and have liked the illustrations that others have done for the book, but I decided to try and update the characters a little bit in my renditions of them. The book was first printed in 1908, and since the book describes the characters as wearing clothes, most illustrators place them in the common dress from that period of time in England. This makes for quaint and charming little critters, running around in their coats and hats, but doesn’t really reflect current fashion trends. For this illustration, I tried to dispatch with my mental images created by other illustrations I’d seen, and try to show my modern take on the Mole.

The very beginning of the book finds the Mole doing some spring cleaning, and suddenly, for some reason, coming up out of his underground tunnel and being overcome by the beauty of the outside world. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone doing spring cleaning in nice clothes, so I chose to garb him in overalls. I also gave him large glasses, partly for comedic effect, and partly because moles as a species have very poor eyesight. I did try to stay true to the anatomy of a mole in most respects, so you’ll see that his hands are the large tunneling paws specific to moles, and his toes are oddly splayed like most mole feet. I’m not sure that moles have ears like that, but I needed something to have the arms of his glasses rest on, and I don’t think they are too distracting. I mean…he is wearing clothes after all.

For those interested, here is my pencil drawing of the mole.

Raccoon and frog

The first image I completed for my portfolio is this raccoon and frog. Is the raccoon stalking the frog or just being friendly? The frog isn’t sure.

The first project my mentor gave me was to look at the portfolios of hundreds of illustrators on several illustrator advertising websites. The point was to look at the various styles of currently working illustrator and decide what I liked and what I didn’t. Through this exercise I discovered that I really like watercolor illustrations more than any other medium. Second would be illustrations colored with the computer. The illustrators I liked the most were Brian Ajhar and Peter de Sève. If you look at them both, their watercoloring and drawing styles are very similar. Their artwork tends to look like watercolors on top of pencil drawings, with very complex colors created by many layers of various watercolor washes. Travis was able to show me a bit about their watercoloring process, which I then tried to apply to this raccoon and frog.

Here is one of my early pencil sketches for this illustration:


Hello, and welcome to my blog!

I feel like I should start off with a little bit about myself, rather than jumping right in with pictures or something. This is going to primarily be an art blog, with the purpose of chronicling my development as an illustrator.

My name is Eli Moody, and I’m currently an employee at Peabody Library, Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, TN. I’m a library assistant and my primary duties are scanning and posting documents online for professors, and dealing with our periodical collection in various ways. They are both pretty boring duties, and I am fortunate that my bosses have so far been supportive in my pursuits to add some creativity to my job duties. I’m a very creative person, and I’ve drawn and doodled most of my life, but I’ve never seriously pursued any formal artistic training, preferring to think of it as a hobby. I’ve been able to flex my creative muscles in the midst of this tedious job by creating video tutorials, making signs and posters for library events, and creating personal pieces of artwork for my co-workers. The library bought copies of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop for me to use in these pursuits, and I’ve learned to use them because of the library, for which I’ll always be grateful. However, through these fun projects and activities I’ve realized that I would much rather be creating artwork than scanning articles, and for the past few years I’ve been trying to figure out how to make that happen practically.

My first step was to create art with greater frequency, and try to branch out into as many styles and mediums as I could, trying to figure out what I liked or felt natural at. I started posting artwork on Facebook, and as a result began getting some commissioned work. I was excited about this, but felt pretty lost too, like I was just stabbing in the dark. About a year ago though, something happened that changed my outlook and sense of direction…I met an actual illustrator.

Travis Foster has been a free-lance illustrator for over 23 years, and lives just north of Nashville. A friend of mine put me in contact with him last summer, and after talking with him, he kindly agreed to take me under his wing and help me learn to be an illustrator in my own right. I was able to go to his studio and watch as he created watercolor illustrations, look through his original art to see his artistic progression over the years, and get a list of materials he uses. He also coached me in my watercolor technique and gave me a lot of pointers. My next step was to work on creating 20-25 illustrations to serve as a portfolio for prospective clients, which is what I’m in the midst of doing now.

This blog will be a chronicle of my creation of these portfolio images, and beyond. I have a lot to share and am looking forward to getting this blog going. Welcome to my site and please look around.