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ART CHALLENGE #1: A Word

We’re starting out pretty easy. I had begun the 15-Day Drawing Challenge, courtesy of Amanda Wright (Wit & Whistle), about 5 days ago. So I’m on #6, “A Word.” I posted a page out of my sketchbook from a couple of the first ones below. This one is due on TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4th.

#15DayDrawingChallenge – THE CHALLENGE! Draw these things: 1. a pattern 2. an animal 3. your favorite thing to wear 4. something you found on the ground outside 5. recipe instructions 6. a word 7. an insect 8. a cross section 9. an animal doing something only humans can do 10. something in a jar 11. a diagram 12. something you’re afraid of 13. a plant 14. your favorite food 15. something microscopic

I found it on Pinterest, and you can follow my personal Pinterest page HERE. You’ll probably be seeing most of my photo inspiration being pinned before I post them here 😉

DrawChallenge

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Inspiration New Art Uncategorized

Tree Sketches

Little 5×7″ watercolor sketches that I created while on vacation. Pinterest is a great place for finding reference images…

Trees - Watercolor

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Something You Haven’t Seen Yet:

Here’s a book cover that I had done as a favor (something I don’t recommend on ANY level, even if the commissioner is your bestest friends in the whole world):

Acrylics on watercolor paper, approx 18×24

The author of The Veil Wars never got back in touch with me concerning this piece, so I can assume he didn’t care for it and doesn’t want it. So you guys get to see it! I had stopped working on it in anticipation of hearing back from him, so it’s incomplete. But I might as well stick it up here since I don’t see me ever picking it up again. And look! I can do contemporary soldiers, too!

Regardless of its never being used, this was still a valuable experience in trying to meet the expectations of a client that I’ve never met before (who also lives across the country). Hearing his requests, sharing reference images, drawing sketches and getting feedback on them, then diving into creating an illustration that could more than likely be rejected. It was definitely a valuable experience, if not a waste of some stressful days.

This Summer’s New Paintings:

Besides that, I had forgotten to share my latest time-lapse watercolor piece on here:

This is a long one, but it’s also a very detailed painting. You can jump around and skip the areas that get tedious.

Here’s the painting:

Watercolor, gouache, and white ink on watercolor paper. Approx 22×30

This one was FUN to work on. It’s appeared in one show this summer already (won Honorable Mention), and I’m still waiting to see if it makes it into the Beyond Crayons and Fingerpainting show at B2 Gallery (it’s my last year to of being young enough to enter!). It is currently hanging at my studio/workplace gallery, Uncorked Canvas, which is literally right upstairs from B2 since this August.

Here’s another little watercolor I messed around with (my first attempt on 300 lb watercolor paper, which is actually quite a chore to work with!):

I’m Unprofessional:

Otherwise, I can say that I have been very unproductive this summer. With school being over, I suddenly don’t have the day-to-day lectures that used to give me a huge amount of time to draw during. I realized after sitting through a meeting this last week, wherein I started drawing feverishly in my sketchpad, that my productivity had been entirely dependent on boredom (plus, I concentrate better during boring lectures when I’m absent-mindedly scribbling). My passion for art has not diminished, but I’ve lost the daily habitual time and place to create, and I haven’t formed new habits for creating yet. Which is really the definition of an unprofessional artist.

When I start creating, the passion is enkindled and I can create and imagine new pieces like no one’s business. But, if I put off feeding that passion for too long, that imagination and ability to create diminishes. “Discipline will set you free,” is a quote by a musical artist that has really stuck with me. That, and the knowledge that inspiration begets inspiration. You don’t run out of imagination or exhaust your skill, but instead, the more you create, the more you are capable of creating. Those truths, realized through experience, have really struck me recently.

Professional artists are scheduled, and know that self-discipline is the only way to success. I can’t remember where exactly I read the article that says it, but one of the traits of an unprofessional artist is the habit of waiting for inspiration to strike before sitting down to draw something, which is the endless, unproductive circle that I’m stuck in right now. I can say, after taking a long break from creating any major pieces, that the fear of failure is actually holding me back, too (and the longer I wait, the more I’m sure of failure). I’ve never had that problem, and I didn’t realize what the issue was before now. And fear of any kind is the lamest reason to put off succeeding or growing as a person or professional. So screw that! I welcome failure! If growth must come at the cost of losing a few pieces of paper and a couple of ounces of paint, then bring it on! Because the step that comes directly beyond that failed piece of art is a lesson in how not to fail the next time.

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New Projects, New Equipment, New Job, and a Little Life (Only If There’s Time)

With how often I have to postpone coffee dates, I think we can safely assume that there’s no time for life. So now that we’ve got that nonesense out of the way, let’s move on with reality.

New Projects

The first thing worth mentioning is this NETT (New Emergence of Tacoma Talent) that I started with my friend, Lydia, and B2 Gallery (who showed my work last October). You can find the info on Facebook (you’ll have to search for “NETT”; I can’t seem to make embedded links work on here…). It’s a gathering of artists for critiquing, sharing, getting people into galleries, general work time, etc. The first gathering was  a big success and loads of fun. If you’re in the general area, you have got to stop by. It’s going to be a monthly meeting with a Saturday morning every two weeks dedicated entirely to critiquing and working on projects. Uber-fun. We’re also doing “challenges” to keep each-other motivated to create. This month it’s five sketches/drawings and one completed piece of art with the inspiration, “Communication.” I need to get that done…

I have started a project with my sister – we’re sharing the WordPress site, SlushBucket – where we’re doing an exchange where we create a piece of art with the same medium on the same size of paper. We ended up keeping a shared element in the drawing, too. Here’s a preview of my half of the first exchange:

As you can see, it was Bic Ballpoint challenge 🙂 8×10 inches each. So! Once I get her half of it in the mail I’ll be able to get a good scan of it and post it. Next challenge: Sumi ink, must contain bones. I’ll keep ya’ll updated.

I’ve been having fun exploring speedpainting videos on YouTube, and came across the work of Agnes Cecile:

It looked like so much fun that I can to make an attempt at stealing her style. I failed utterly at that, but have still had plenty of fun.

And also:

I have a few commissions that were/are going great. I’ll upload all of them in a separate post when they’re all done and received (soon).

“Odd Trio” was purchased, but I offered to finish the drawing before I sent it off to him. So here’s the finished piece (small changes like the right arm finished and stuff):

New Equipment


Woot.com is one of the best websites EVER. No joke. My new equipment includes an AMAZING 17-inch, quad-core HP laptop that actually handle Photoshop like it’s not big deal. It was also a screaming deal. And you know what about Woot.com blew my mind? I ordered on, like, Saturday night (so they would have shipped Tuesday at the soonest), but by Wednesday, I had my laptop delivered by overnight FedEx (and shipping is always a flat, $5). A couple days later I got a “Your Order Has Been Shipped” e-mail. They beat their own system to get it to me.

My last computer didn’t even have a battery. This one lasts for 4 hours and is beautiful. I named him Jeff. And I love him.

My eyes look weird in this photo because the sky was gray and that makes my eyes very pale. Don’t worry – there is usually pigment in them. Can’t say as much for my skin…

My dad was awesome and bought me a new Wacom (pronounced “Wack-um,” apparently) tablet for Christmas, so that, in addition to Jeff…well, just expect to be seeing a lot of digital collabs between me and my beautiful partner (Jeff is my better, prettier half).

Also! This last weekend I was in Portland (Oregon has no sales tax) and I stopped by Dick Blick (…again, no sales tax), and saw that they had a 20% off sale. I HAD to spend more money and replace my dinky children’s drafting table with THIS:

Pain in the ASS to assemble (thanks for your help, mom!), but oh, so pretty. His name is Wilbur (yeah, I’m bringin’ that name back). It’s a flippin’ dream to work on. And, because it’s glass, it can double as a light-table. I love him. Those are new watercolor brushes, too. They are soft and I petted my face with them so much that I think I ruined them with my icky human oils 🙁

New Job

At My Final Wish! Check out MyFinalWish.net and see what the work entails. They just got an office set up for us and it’s only a 25 minute walk from my house. I’ll post some work once I’ve got it finished. More info to come as it develops; it’s a new business 🙂

Still working at Uncorked Canvas in the Harbor. That’s going well as always. Created some new paintings for them that you’ll just have to visit their FB page to see 😉

I’ve also been working with my friend, Liza Brown, on chalkboards for local restaurants. Busy work.

Otherwise, I’m busy with commissions, helping out grandma (and trying to get her into assisted living, which is, apparently, a lot of work), and trying to do these things in a timely fashion (which is a lot of work). But…I’m doing art, so that’s all that matters 🙂

A Little Life

LOL. Surely you jest.

And this has nothing to do with anything: ever have so much to do that you instead spend hours working on a long, involved blog-post? No one? Yeah, I don’t know where I got that…

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Inspiration New Art Projects

Dustbowl Dance

I recently tried my hand at something like Impressionism (whether triumphant or not…) because of an assignment. I was supposed to draw inspiration from a song, so I chose Dustbowl Dance by Mumford & Sons. I feel that there is a really strong narrative that accompanies the lyrics and emotion of the vocalist. In the future I think I’ll try my hand at illustrating this song again, but more in my own style, because Impressionism is not quite how I first imagined it…

I found the process that I went through to create this piece really simple and effective. I had to complete practically the entirety of this oil painting in one day (as I wanted to give it a couple of days to dry). I thought I’d share the steps I went through.

1. I first scribbled out the image I had in mind just to visualize what I was looking for. I then went online to find stock photos. It’s more difficult to find images of men screaming at just the right angle than one might think. My surface is a 24x36inch out-dated poster that my dad brought home from work. They were throwing them away and he thought I might be able to use it. Only one layer of gesso is needed (try sanding the glossy varnish off of the front before applying), and it doesn’t even need to be sanded afterwards.

2. Then I went back to the drawing board (loldon’tlaugh)

I used tan and black charcoal to create a rough layout and value sketch. Finished:

3. At this point I will spray a final (not workable) fixative on the drawing (fixative specifically for charcoal). I believe it needed about 4 layers in order for it to be completely smudge-proof. You need to be able to drag your finger across it without picking up any residue. Remember, if any charcoal lifts into your paint it will muddy your colors and pretty well ruin the vividness of the painting.

4. Then I took brown acrylic and texturized the edges. This means fewer layers of slow-drying oils in order to achieve the dark-brown that I will want later on, as well as allowing me to simply glaze the outside after everything important is complete.

Yes, it looks God-awful. And it will remain God-awful until the very end. The most important thing you can do for yourself as an artist is ignore – or even embrace – that moment (however long it can be) where your work is garbage-worthy. Every piece of art goes through that stage. The moment I began to grow as an artist was the time that I forced myself to finish a drawing in spite of the fact that I wanted to set it aflame. Persevere, slow down, keep your end-goal in sight, and trust your own skills to be able to fix what seems lost .

5. I begin painting. 

At this point I’m still using the photos as my guide. Another important moment in a work of art is the time that you throw away your references and look at the painting instead. You can not keep photos as your guide for the entire piece or you will feel bound to follow them and lose sight of what is best for your art work. Get the guidelines in there and throw your photos away (except for the rare glance).

Yup, still definitely at that God-awful stage. Pressing on…(it is due, after all). I change the second guy’s facial expression because the original one really looked like he was sneezing.

6. This is about how I left it the first day. I forgot to take a picture before hitting the sack, but you get the idea. I had pretty well covered the entire thing and will only need touch-ups the next day.

7. The next day, I changed the far-right guy’s head based on my dad’s advice (which I totally agree with). This is because the other one appeared too “dead,” and didn’t follow the narrative as well. I scrubbed him out with a paper towel and painted in something that seemed more… surrendered. Resigned. The colors in this photo are inaccurate because I had to used my yellowish overhead light.

8. How it appears now (after coming back to it a few times):

You’ll have to forgive the lack of photos nearer the end of completion; when I get in the swing of things I look up from my painting and realize that 5 hours have passed and I’m almost done. But you can see the changes I’ve made between the steps. I hope that that’s helpful enough. I had to set a heater in front of it off-and-on for the next couple of days, and it was nearly dry when I took it in to class.

It was a fun experiment. Impressionism was quite an adjustment to my mindset; you follow your feelings rather than measuring the completeness of a work by how realistic it looks. I began to hold the end of the paintbrush and really let loose, not caring so much about where the brush landed or that it hit exactly where I aimed. I’ve never painted something so color-driven, either. I am inspired by values and contrast. This piece definitely has those elements well-defined, but I only used red and brown and blue for the darkest areas, and let warm tones stand versus cold tones. It was quite an adjustment, and one I was – surprisingly – not adverse to.

Let me know what you think. It’s my first of its kind and I’m curious to see if you think that it’s successful.

(This is just a glimpse of my workspace and supplies, in case you’re curious: