Student Academy Awards 2014 – June 7

Hey!  So this year my hubby graduated from college in animation at BYU.  He worked hard on the senior short film project called “Owned” and the students submitted it to a lot of different animation competitions.  Around graduation time we learned that “Owned” got first place at the Student Emmys, but my husband chose to be home and do the graduation thing with all the family instead of going to that event.  Later we found out that “Owned” got chosen to win a Student Academy Award.  He wanted to go to that one, and he took me along to Hollywood with him.  We drove down in one day, missed a turn thanks to the new Google Maps setup, and almost ended up in Mexico, but I figured it out and read the map to get us back on track.

Woke up the next morning and found a place to eat.  I wanted yummy food since I felt a little cranky, so I made sure to pick a place with good reviews.  We got lost on the streets again due to some hidden steps in the Google Maps setup and had to go back and find out what they were.  (Maybe we should get smart phones one of these days.)  After that we found the place okay.  The restaurant I chose is called the Larchmont Bungalow.  It did have some yummy food, and was very popular.


This is where we ate breakfast.


It was nice and cozy on the inside with tons of seating outside.


And they were nice and efficient and had buzzers! You sat down at the table and they found you to give you your food via your buzzer.


I got the pancakes and french toast with fruit. SO TASTY. It was one of the few breakfast things that did not include alcohol seeped fruits. They had lots of alcohol things on the menu, but this was clean.


Pretty and yummy fruits on my breakfast! I’d never had blackberries with a breakfast thing before. So good.

After breakfast at almost lunch-time, we then went to wander the Hollywood Boulevard walk of the stars.  It’s hard to find parking, but we managed to find a meter.


I’d never seen a parking meter with a credit card slot before.


Hey look, it’s Dr. Seuss! I took pictures of the stars I knew/related with, but I figured I’d post the one of Dr. Seuss since he relates to both of the fields I work in, writing and art.

After getting accosted by many tour guides for van tours, we wandered back to the hotel via the local Kroger grocer.  It’s called Ralph’s there.  It felt small and dark compared to the ones I’m used to in Kansas and Utah.  Tightly packed.  I bought food for breakfast and the ride home on Sunday.  I need breakfast.

Then we hung out for an hour or so more before wandering off to Director’s Guild of America building to wait for the event.


My hubby thought it was so cool that we got to park in this exclusive special parking garage. He had to take a picture.


Waiting for the awards to start. They had a cool animation thing saying the name looping over and over. I snagged a pic of the complete title.

It was a pretty cool event.  Lots of nice clothes.  Lots of awesome films.  All those kids worked super hard.  Then they made an announcement… BYU got first place!  They got an Oscar!  Yay!


They did it! They got first place in the animation category!


Dan Clark and Wesley Tippets on stage getting their Oscars.


Wesley and Dan took turns giving the acceptance speech.


See? Now it’s Dan’s turn.


And here we are standing in front of one of the Oscar statues! Doesn’t he look so proud? I’m proud of him. 🙂

After the event we visited one of the other animation student’s who had an internship in the area and hung out and ate pizza.  We played Cards Against Humanity.  My first time playing it, and I have to say that I personally didn’t like it, but they had a blast.  If you’re going to play that game, you should do it with animation majors.  They are zany.

Went home after church the next day.  Overall a very eventful trip, even if my description might be a little boring.  *shrug*  But hey, pictures!  And they won!  Yaaaaay!

My Trip to Andrews, Texas, and Wichita, Kansas

Just a warning, this post has a lot of pictures!  It will be long-ish.
So this summer during the last two weeks of May and the first week of June I went on a road trip with my mother down to Andrews, Texas, then up to Wichita, Kansas, for a wedding, and then back through Colorado to get back home to Provo.  One of my cousins was graduating from high school so we went there to support him.  On the way there we stopped in Santa Fe, New Mexico and got lost a little bit.  I used my great direction-asking and map-reading skills to get us found again a couple of times.  When we got into Texas we saw a fantastic dirt devil, but I didn’t think to get out my camera and take a picture.  It was very large and tall and beautiful.
While we were in Andrews I did a lot of just sitting around on the internet and flat coloring some comic pages for the amazing Jake Parker.  One of the days I went to Midland and Odessa with the cousin who graduated and hung out there for a while with one of his friends.  We ate lunch at Burgers, Fries, Cherry Pies in Odessa, which was pretty good.  The barbecue sauce on the hawaiian burger I had was weird, but I could tell that the meat was still delicious despite that fact.
On the way out of Texas I took some pictures of some oil derricks.  I like to watch them move as they go up and down and pump the oil out of the ground.  I think it would be fun to take a saddle and ride one sometime.

Two oil derricks from slightly different angles.

A grain elevator somewhere in Texas.

On the way to Wichita, my mom drove us through Elk City, Oklahoma.  This is where she graduated high school from her seventeenth grade school.  Her dad was in oil exploration, so her family moved a lot.  I got to see the trailer park she lived in and the Kentucky Fried Chicken she used to work at.  The town is a lot bigger now than it was when she lived in it.  She even showed me the drag the kids would drive on lazy boring nights since there wasn’t really much else to do.
This is the building the Route 66 Museum used to be in.

Sign for the Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma.

Then we made it to my beloved Wichita, Kansas!  Sadly, we’d missed the fantastic amazing thunderstorms.  They’d been through the week before putting hail damage on cars and wrecking havoc on everyone.  It did thunderstorm one night, but we slept through it.
There were still pretty clouds there to look at, though!

While we were in Wichita my mom ran around visiting people while I went adventuring with one of my friends to most of our favorite museums and the zoo!  The Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita is one of the absolute best zoos I’ve ever been to.  It’s in the top 15 of all the zoos in the country.  The exhibits are both animal and visitor friendly, so you can pretty much always see the animals if they’re out.  (Except the Mexican wolves.  I’ve never seen them and they’ve been there for the entire time I lived in Wichita.)  We went to the Underground Salt Mine Museum and the Cosmosphere Air and Space Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas, which is about forty-five minutes away from Wichita.  And then one day we went to Exploration Place in Wichita, a science museum/center-thing which is mostly for kids, but right now they have a Star Wars Exhibit!
I finally got to see the tigers!

They are such powerful and beautiful animals.

There’s a spot to feed the giraffes.

Where you walk in to the salt mine museum.

The museum isn’t the only thing down in the salt mine.  There’s also a business called Underground Vaults and Storage that stores important document, information, props, and other sundry things.  The above is the “noisy cricket gun” prop from the movie Men in Black!

Batman costume from one of the older movies.

Mr. Freeze costume from the same batman movie.  All of these plus more are being stored in the salt mine.

They have real rockets at the Cosmosphere!
There’s an ejection seat you can sit in.  It actually was fairly comfortable.  And yes, I wear those pants on a regular basis, along with many of the other patterns.  Army pants are the best pants!

And this is the real Apollo 13. 😀

They had a bunch of the ships and a couple different-sized Millennium Falcons at Exploration Place.  This one was far too big for them to do what they wanted to for the asteroid field scene in Episode V, so they built a smaller one that could more easily move on the lift.  If you pay attention, the Falcon moves very differently between Episode IV and V.
Wookies are gigantic.  Apparently Chewbacca was a runt!

It’s Chewy!  These are all the actual costumes used in the films.

X-wing Fighter prop used in the films.

Tie-fighter, with a star destroyer in the back.  The sound used for the star destroyer was a broken loud air conditioner the sound guy had to listen to all night in his hotel room.

Leah’s costume, R2-D2, and C3-PO costumes.

Sand people female.

Tuskan Raider, or male sand person.
See, I was there, and I pose weird.
Luke’s sand speeder actually had wheels!  They hung a mirror under the car so that it reflected the ground beneath it and all you could see was sand!

They also have a castle play area for the kids, complete with a rack.
The Star Wars exhibit was full of different activities and talked a lot about how they made the movies possible, along with exhibits talking about how scientists today are trying to make the technology in the movies possible for us in real life.  There was a robot that tries to recognize faces, hover-craft technology explained, an exhibit that explained prosthetics, and one where you made robot legs walk across a certain distance.  It was easier than QWOP, but hard because the feet on the robot wouldn’t always keep traction and would slip back on you even when you were doing the right things.

 Then on Saturday I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding!  It was a beautiful wedding and I am very happy she found a great guy.  I know they’re going to have a great life together.

I had to get my hair done up all pretty!
Then we drove through Colorado to go home.  We stopped in Glenwood Springs for the night.  The entire trip we kept an eye out for rock shops and stopped at a few of them.  I’ll probably write a post about them some time as well, but for now this post is more than long enough!

Arches National Park – May 2012

Around the middle of April, just after finals week, my parents took my husband and me to Arches National Park in Moab, UT.  The weather was beautiful as well as the scenery.  It was very nice to get to walk around again in the area I’ve decided to influence the environment of the novel I’m writing.  Most of it takes place in a desert-like area.  We went hiking on many of the trails and saw a lot of lizards!
My dad likes taking pictures.  He has a very nice camera!
Me and Balancing Rock.
Turret Arch.
Me sitting in one of the Windows.  My husband took the pictures.

Mandatory foot picture.  I liked how the orange-red dirt made my brown shoes look green.
And here I got touristy!  We ate dinner the first day at Milt’s Diner.  If I remember correctly it’s the restaurant that’s been in Moab the longest?  It’s off the main road in Moab and actually had some pretty good food!  Not that the food looks great in the pictures.  I had a very delicious cheeseburger and banana creme milkshake.
For breakfast and lunch the next day we ate at Zax’s, a very nice pizza place.  They also make pretty good pancakes and have interesting decorations/condiment holders/napkins.
Landscape arch!  It’s so amazingly thin!
But what I thought was really cool was that I found the same puddle-shape this trip as I did back when we visited the park in 2008!  Four years of erosion had certainly changed it, but it was still very recognizable.  I had my eye out for it.  It still looks like both a rabbit or a fish, depending on how you look.
And that was my trip to Arches National Park!  I saw a lot of lizards and convinced my dad to get me Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Field Guide when we left.  I’ve read part of the introduction so far and it’s been very educational!  There are so many amazing, beautiful, and strange lizards!  I’m super excited to have it for reference.  I highly recommend it, and since all the same species of lizard live in all the northwestern states as well, the book is actually good for all of the western states.

My Trip to LA – Day 6

Saturday March 10
Well, as fantastic as the week was, it had to come to an end.

Saturday morning came and we ended the trip on a very positive and spiritual note.  We went to see the Los Angeles Temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  (That is the church I belong to, just in case you didn’t know.)  We didn’t have time to go do anything in the temple.  We just wandered around the grounds and checked out the visitor’s center there.  The sister missionaries were delightful and everyone left with a good, happy feeling.  It’s a beautiful building.  I suggest you go see it sometime!

After the temple the rest of the group went to the Getty Museum, but since we had a long drive ahead of us we just hit the road.  We stopped in Victorville to eat at Freddy’s, a fantastic California-style fast food restaurant with frozen custard that is to die for!  It’s a chain that is close to my heart, since the very first one opened up within about a mile of my house in Wichita, KS, where I used to live.  I’ve missed that restaurant so much!  Getting a chance to eat there again was a real treat.
Then the long boring drive continued, but before we managed to leave California we saw a car that was on fire.  Epically on fire!  The only thing not blazing was the trunk.  The front wheels were completely missing the tires because the tires had burned all away.  Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of that, I was talking on the phone with my mom at the time so my hands were occupied.  I should have taken a picture.  I did snap a few pictures of Las Vegas, NV, when we passed through.  Vegas is definitely more impressive when viewed at night.  There was one structure that caught my interest, does anyone know what it is?  I’d really like to know.  Here’s a picture of it.

After that we listened to music and talked the rest of the way home, arriving about midnight.  Thus ended my epic trip to Los Angeles.  I’m sure I’ll visit again sometime!

So, overall, it was a very good trip.  I learned a lot, got to meet some cool artists, got lots of good tips about art and networking, and got a refreshing break from school work.  Now I’m all ready and hyped to start really trying to produce art!  We’ll see how that goes.

My Trip to LA – Days 5

Friday March 9
Friday was a spectacular day!  First we went to the Laguna College of Art and Design to see what the Masters program there is like.  It’s a nice, small school with plenty of space for the students to work in.  While I don’t think grad school is for me, it would be a nice place to go for anyone else.
After that we headed down to Laguna beach for lunch!  It’s only about ten-fifteen minutes away from the art school, so you could eat at the beach every day if you wanted to.  I took a couple pictures while at the beach.

Yup, I even took a picture of me.  When I was in high school I took a ton of that kind of picture of me, since my camera has a rotating display that can point in any angle it makes it easy!  I can see myself while I take the picture.  It’s such a cool camera!  Silly grin is silly.  Bad picture is bad.

BUT!  After lunch came the AMAZING part!  We went to Carbine Game Studios which is owned by NCSoft.  Carbine is working on a game called WildStar and it is SO COOL!  It’s beautiful, creative, and I want to play it so badly!  You have no idea how amazing and wonderful it is! Go check it out!  The in-game stuff looks just like the concept art, and it’s so beautiful!  I really don’t have the words to describe it.

While at Carbine we got to wander around and see how everything works and is developed, which is more than we really got to do at any other studio.  It was really neat to get to talk to the workers as they worked and watch them play around as they work.  Working at a place like that would be so cool.  They gave us a lot of advice, all of it really good and beneficial.  I took more notes there than I did any place else.  They told us about how a lot of them got their jobs because  friend of theirs got hired and then recommended them, and then they would bring along their other friend.

After wandering around they took us into a cool “secret” room and showed us the trailer for the game.  Then they talked to us about portfolio stuff and how to get a job.  First off, networking!  It’s super important!  Start at the bottom and work your way up.  Don’t go emailing the people at the top first, they’re way to busy to pay attention to you and already get a lot of attention themselves.  Start out with the lower level.  Comment on their work, compliment it, work towards being friends.  They will love the attention and be very willing to help you out.  Short emails are better.  Once you establish a good relationship with someone and they like your work they can help you get a job.  Jobs at studios are often filled before they’re listed online because people in the studio suggest people they know.  Make networking part of your job.

For portfolio and job application stuff they were very particular about how your cover letter should have the name of the place you’re applying to in the letter.  If you have the wrong business in there they won’t look at your stuff at all.  You would think that that is common sense, but apparently it happens a lot.  You should tailor your resume and cover letter to the place you’re applying to.  Research the company, and put in some time to make some work that is tailored to that place.  This shows that you are smart.  Highlight what you do in your free time that’s related to art.  Also, make sure your links work.  In the cover letter you should sound excited about the job, whether or not you actually are.  You can also be creative in your cover letter. You also need an online portfolio somewhere.

For your online portfolio you need to make it as clear and easy to use as possible.  They will know in ten seconds whether or not they want to hire you by looking at it.  So, the fewer clicks the better.  They need to see your drive in the portfolio, it should say a lot about you.  Only put your 5-10 best pieces in the portfolio.  You can have more to see elsewhere.  Be honest and show them that you can see the flaws in your work when they ask to see more, tell them that your portfolio is your best work and that the rest isn’t quite as good.  They like it when you can tell what’s wrong in a piece.  They are looking for people who are creative!  If you are applying for a concept design type of position, then you should show a variety of art styles.  Concept design is all about ideas.  Illustration is more about finished quality work.  Act like where you are applying to is your #1 place.

They also gave some advice on how to be better artists.  They told us to never do work in a vacuum.  You need to put yourself in a creative environment!  Go and talk to people you don’t usually talk to.  Ask questions!  Learn how to do things!  You should be harsh on yourself and honestly seek out real world feedback.  The key to success is to know what sucks.  Fix it.  Learn to see the flaws in your own work.  Always strive to do better.  Also, if you’re working in a video game studio environment like that then you shouldn’t get to attached to your work because it will often get changed and is seldom one single person’s work.

Afterwards they gave us posters signed by the entire crew!  So awesome!

So, Carbine was way cool to visit.  I loved it and it was super helpful!  We took a little bit longer there than originally planned, and then there was rush hour traffic on the way back to Pasadena.  We stopped at the Norton Simon museum for about an hour.  Since it was a special art night the entry was free and it was packed with people.  I sat out for part of it, I had developed a headache.  Then we returned to the hotel one last time to sleep.

My Trip to LA – Day 4

Sorry for taking so long to continue!  School caught up with me.
Thursday March 8
On Thursday we went to the beach!  Well, first we went to see Ken Bishop, who is a freelance artist who does a lot of work for EA games from his studio at home.  He strongly encouraged developing our “classical skills” in art.  Companies are willing to teach you the technical aspects of their software, but you need to have a foundation to start with.  He told us that we need to stay “plugged in” to what’s going on.  Stay up to date, learn new software programs, observe life- it will keep you fresh.  Also, networking.  It’s important.  Being in the right place at the right time is about being everywhere all the time.  There are a lot of people buying art at any given time, so find something you love and go after it.
After that we stopped to eat lunch near the beach.  Then we went to Sony Pictures Studio and were given a presentation there by Justin Thompson and Pete Oswald.  They talked to us mostly about character and environment design for movies.  They told us that sometimes a character’s design problems can become what’s funny about them.  Don’t try to design out all the problems, take advantage of them!  You shouldn’t worry about the 3D aspect at first.  Draw a beautiful drawing, then figure out how to make it 3D.  Environments require a different skill set than characters and is hard work to learn.  You shouldn’t pigeon-hole yourself right at the start, be flexible.  You’re really only as good as your last drawing.  It’s very rare to get a beautiful piece without a lot of hard work.  Draw everything!  You never know what you’ll need to draw someday for your job.  Be willing to draw anything and in any style.  Also, you should never settle on your first idea.
They also gave some advice on portfolios.  If you’re looking at concept design they said that you should have a finished version along with the steps leading up to it in your portfolio.  It’s good to show a range of style, subject matter, and lighting set ups.  For concept it’s good to have about 40% rough work, and 60% finished work.  A 30 page maximum is recommended.  Also, when in doubt, leave it out.
Then we went to the Santa Monica Pier for dinner and the art walk.  I took a picture of the sunset there!
A large part of the group went and ate at Bubba Gump’s, but that place was expensive so I ate with my husband and a couple friends at the Pier Burger place.  The food there wasn’t bad.  Then we wandered down to the beach and let the waves wash over our feet.  I got my pants wet because I didn’t think to roll them up until after the fact.  The ocean was nice.  Then we wandered up to the mall area.  That place was pretty cool.  Some of us ended up at Barnes & Noble and looked at art books and comic books.  There are so many books that I want to buy!  I can’t right now though.  I must save my pennies.  After that we finally went back to the hotel and slept.

My Trip to LA – Day 3

Wednesday March 7
Wednesday was a fantastic day!  It was probably my favorite day of the whole trip, it certainly is the day I took the most pictures.  That was the day we went to Dreamworks!  It would be a fantastic place to work.  They have a nice campus with plenty of sunshine, and free lunch and breakfast for the employees!  They let us take pictures outside the buildings, so here are a few.
Fountain at DreamWorks
Water Feature at Dreamworks
More water!

DreamWorks has a lot of water features.


Like, a lot of water features.


Even the outdoor eating area has a pretty water feature!


Complete with ducks!


And pretty fish!

While we were at Dreamworks we saw Anthony Holden, a BYU alumni and storyboard artist.  He talked about how he came to work at Dreamworks and the process he went through to decide his career path.  He compared his work to the story of the Brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon (Ether 3:1-6) where he brings 16 stones to the Lord because the Lord gave him the task of deciding how the boats he built should be lit.  The Brother of Jared came up with the idea of the stones because they couldn’t have fire, so he came to the Lord with the stones and asked him to touch the stones and make them give light.  The Lord did so and The Brother of Jared then proceeded to have a very spiritual and enlightening experience.  Anthony said that the Brother of Jared was like, “Lord, I have these 16 stones.  I know it’s not the greatest idea, but it’s the best I can come up with, please make it work?”  And that he’s all like, “Lord, here are my cartoons.  I know their not very good, but they’re all I can do, so would You please make them shine so I can support my family?”  I thought it was a good comparison.  It’s a good humble view a good artist should have.
Then Dreamworks fed us lunch!  It was tasty good food.  After lunch we went to The Huntington Library and wandered around the gardens and museums there.  I didn’t go in any of the museums, but I wandered around the gardens and tried to take some good reference pictures to draw from later.
Shortly after I took this picture my camera got dropped.  It still works fine, but the outside casing is all crunched up on one corner and the top piece is a bit out of alignment.
After the Huntington Gardens we went to visit Cliff Nielsen in his home in downtown LA.  The guy lives in a warehouse!  It was so amazing!
I tried to take pictures inside, but it was too dark since it was so late in the day.  He has an amazing set up!  His house is built into the front of it and then he has a huge space to use for his photography.  It was mind blowing.  He gave some really good advice as well.  He spoke out strongly for using your own reference, you can’t steal stuff from other people and it’s just better to make or get your own anyway.  Also, he said that you need to think of yourself first as a storyteller.  Doing that will make you a much better illustrator.

And there was a Goodyear blimp flying around.  I hadn’t seen one in a while, so I documented it.  I think the picture was well timed.

After Cliff we were supposed to go to visit the Whitemoon Dreams game studio, but the car I was in got very lost.  We wandered around Chinatown for a bit before accidentally finding the highway and decided we were half-way back to the hotel already, so we might as well just go the rest of the way.  From what I heard Whitemoon Dreams was nice and a good experience, but of all the things on the trip to miss, it was the one to miss.  I’m glad that was the case, because I really enjoyed catching up on the internet that day before going to bed before everyone else got back.

My Trip to LA – Day 2

Tuesday March 6
Tuesday was a very early morning.  We had to be up and ready to go by 7:45.  We went to the studio of Jeremy Lipking first.  It was a nice little studio and he had a ton of art books around.  The two key pieces of advice I took away from him was to not overwork yourself, and to get good at what you like to do.

Then we went to California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks to see Tony Pro who teaches there.  He had a lot to say and his paintings were pretty cool.  I took a lot away from his lecture.  He said to always be thinking about art.  That will help you improve even if you can’t work on it.  So, always be thinking about how you would paint or draw something, even if you don’t have the time or materials to do so.  You should also multitask.  When you go to do something kind of mindless, do something to help you with your art at the same time.  Draw while you’re watching TV, read while you’re in the bathroom.  It will help.  You need to have different creative outlets so you can take a break from your art when it’s driving you crazy or you reach a block.  It can help you de-stress and find inspiration.  You need to know how light works and how color is mixed.  He also believes there are three levels of learning to art.  The first is learning how to do it, the second is learning your own style, and the third is learning what it is you want to say with your art.  Tony was super helpful.

The next visit was Disney Animation Studios!  Disney was a fun place to visit.  The studios were nice, and everyone seemed to have plenty of space to work.  We got to see a couple different steps that animated films have to go through and we learned about their trainee program.  Bill Perkins gave a little presentation.  He talked about how you need to do research.  In order to be creative and not tied down to your reference you should do your thumbnails first, then do your research, then make your final piece.  He talked about how he never gets a perfect piece made the first try, it takes many tries.  On the way out we ran into Randy Haycock and he took us to his office and talked to us about his work and his hopes for the future of 2D animation.  He showed us how sometimes pieces of 3D films are animated in 2D first to show the 3D artists what to do or aim for in a shot.  It was really cool to see.  Look him up on YouTube.

Tangled Wall Art with Me and Beep
They had this big picture-thing up in the lobby from Tangled, and I realized that Rapunzel and I are the same height.  We have the same sized hands and feet, but she seems so much bigger!  It’s the head.  It’s definitely the head.  It’s the only thing inside the building I could squeak a picture of since they had us sign NDAs.  It’s the only thing up that was from an already released movie.

After that we took it easy, especially since we managed to stick around at Disney for an hour and a half longer than originally planned.  We went and ate dinner at Big Boy, they have really good burgers there.  Then we went back to the hotel.  It had been a very long day.  I took advantage of getting back earlier than we usually did the whole trip and slept.

My Trip to LA – Day 1

I had the opportunity last week to go to Los Angeles, California on a school trip.  It was a fantastic experience and I’m going to tell you all about it and what I learned!

Monday March 5
Most people flew out with the group, but my husband, me, and two others from the group decided to drive out in order to save money.  We left at midnight Monday morning and started the long ten-ish hour drive from Provo to LA.  I had tried to nap and sleep Sunday afternoon and evening, but was fairly unsuccessful since I was so anxious and excited for the trip.

So!  We drove all the way to LA.  It was dark pretty much until we hit California.  I was awake for most of the way, I dozed off once or twice and only once was even close to an hour.  Anyway, we were headed south on I-15 which means we drive through Las Vegas.  It’s about half way on the drive.  The moon had just set, dawn was still an hour or so away, when we came along to Vegas.  We come out of the canyon and there was a SEA of LIGHT!  It was beautiful!  As far as the eye could see there were little lights from horizon to horizon.  There really is nothing else like that view of dark rocks and then suddenly, light!  We had a great time looking at all the fancy casinos and cool buildings as they were all lit up.  It’s definitely a sight I recommend experiencing at least once.

We arrived about three hours before everyone else, so we hung out on the California State University Northridge campus for a couple of hours after eating a picnic lunch.  I had big plans to do homework, I have a short story to write for class and it’s still not done.  I set up in the library on a couch, started typing, and couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I sat there for maybe fifteen minutes half-asleep, unable to open my eyes, with my laptop out on my lap.  I decided that wasn’t going to work, so I put my laptop back in my backpack, set my backpack on the couch next to me, curled up on it, and promptly fell asleep for a good hour.  After that I woke back up and typed away for another hour and pretty much wrote myself into a corner.

After the library we met up with the rest of the group and listened to a presentation by Laurel Long.  She talked about the process she goes through to illustrate a book.  The key tidbits I picked up from her were that she paints with cheap little craft brushes and a medium eyeshadow brush from Target, publishers look at competitions, and if you give publishers post cards they will keep them if they like them.  She gave a lot more advice, but those were the most important and new things to me.

After Laurel Long we went to see Nathan Fowkes at the LA Academy of Fine Art.  He talked to us about his work as a lighting designer for Dreamworks.  He gave a lot of advice, but focused on how you need to practice and push yourself artistically at least once a week or else you’ll go nowhere.  You need to do the equivalent of gesture drawings with environments, go plein air painting (I don’t know how to spell it) because it’s the best way to learn about light and color.  It’s good to do studies every night.  You don’t know what a color does until you put it into context with other colors.  He was a very nice guy and very good at what he does.

After Nathan we went to visit Joseph Todorovich in his studio/apartment.  He had a fantastic set up with plenty of space and working areas.  He had three different easels with in progress paintings, and they were beautiful.  Sadly I fell asleep on one of his antique couches since I was so exhausted from the long day.  I did manage to catch him give the advice of how it’s important to be passionate and to always be working before I nodded off.  We got back to the hotel after 10:30, and I did a few things before finally falling asleep sometime before midnight.  I didn’t take any pictures the first day.

This is getting to be a long enough post as it is, so I think I’ll post this for now and give you the rest of the week later.  I promise there will be pictures!  More exciting stories also!