Art Book: Inspired
Posted on 15 Jan 2015
Remember my Hunt for the Black Lotus painting? For those whose browsing histories don't span all the way back into the mists of late 2013, the piece was prompted by the ArtOrder Inspiration Challenge, masterminded by Jon Schindehette and juried by a selection of awesome illustrators and art directors.
At long last, the challenge has borne its inevitable fruit: the limited-edition art book showcasing the selected artists & artwork, Inspired, is now available in the ArtOrder store.
From left to right: Rebecca Yanovskaya, Tara Larsen Chang, Kristina Carroll, and Filippo Vanzo.
There is a ton of gorgeous work in this book from a great assortment of up-and-coming illustrators, pros, and artists who have bridged the gap from the former classification to the latter since this project was first conceived (moi??)
. Seriously, I suffered a minor existential crisis just trying to choose a few representative pieces to stick on my blog - the judges on this challenge were amazing and each and every piece in this book deserves to be there. If you're an illustration fan or a collector of art books... check this one out.
One Fantastic Week
Posted on 14 Jan 2015
Is that... could it be...??
If you're an illustrator, and you haven't heard of One Fantastic Week
, you're probably missing out in the worst possible way. Peter Mohrbacher
and Samuel Flegal
have taken on the monumental task of putting together a weekly web show/podcast in which they talk illustration and the freelance lifestyle with various visiting artists from the fantasy/scifi community. Artists including, as of this week's show, myself! I've been watching the show for ages; the dulcet tones of Sam, Pete, and their ever-rotating cast of Special Guests have kept me company through many a lonely marathon drawing session, but I never dared to dream (even in the darkest depths of my black little heart) that I'd get to be One Of Them someday. So if you're wondering why MY week has been fantastic - wish fulfillment!
My generous hosts allowed me talk at great length about my process, my tragical life story, and my various bleak worldviews; you can check out the full video at the One Fantastic Week website
or download the podcast version on iTunes
(Sidenote: If you like the show as much as I do, consider kicking $1 to its creators over at Patreon
to help keep it going!)
Every Day Original
Posted on 15 Dec 2014
I was recently invited to participate in Every Day Original - a site that offers small, affordable original works of art, with one new piece posted daily.
Each artist is assigned a specific day of the month to launch their work; mine is the 16th, so my first piece will be available tomorrow! Here's a preview of the small oil painting I'll be offering this month:
Be sure to check back in at Every Day Original
tomorrow morning at 10am Eastern for a full view of the piece and a chance to possess it (along with the correlating Tiny Piece of My Soul it contains). While you're at it, check out the backlog of awesome originals from the rest of the EDO artists - there are some gorgeous pieces available that we, the internet-going public, are fools for not having purchased already.
New Work: Sword of Purpose
Posted on 10 Dec 2014
"You must never be deflected by unpleasantness. I want you to remember that. Although it may not be apparent to others, your duty will become as clear to you as if it were a white line painted down the middle of the road. You must follow it, Flavia."
"Even when it leads to murder?" I asked, suddenly bold.
With her brush extended to arm's length, she painted in the shadow of a tree.
"Even when it leads to murder."
We sat for a few moments in silence, Aunt Felicity dabbing away at her canvas with no particularly exciting results, and then she spoke again: "If you remember nothing else, remember this: Inspiration from outside one's self is like the heat in an oven. It makes passable Bath buns. But inspiration from within is like a volcano: It changes the face of the world."
- Alan Bradley, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag
Look, more art! This piece was inspired by another contest prompt
, this time on the theme of gifts. I decided to create a scene of an old woman bestowing upon her past self the magical Sword of Purpose (a gift that might have come in handy for my own past self over the years - THANKS FOR NOTHING, FUTURE SELF.)
I knew I wanted to draw two characters huddled over a box containing a magical sword - but since I found myself a bit short on compositional inspiration, I ditched my usual thumbnailing process for something a little more organic.
I overlaid scans of two recent pencil drawings (Tam Lin and Banshee), scaled and rotated them at random until I had an interesting mishmash of shapes, then inverted the composite image (for no reason other than instantly making it look 75% cooler). From there, it was a game of find-the-pictures-in-the-clouds; essentially choosing which blobs could, with a little bit of tweaking, become faces or bodies, cropping and adjusting accordingly, and copy/pasting in additional snippets of line art as needed. I sketched on a separate layer as I went along to help nail down my ideas, since it was easy to suddenly spot a shape that suggested the perfect gesture or face, and then completely lose sight of it the next moment.
What I ended up with wasn't the prettiest thumbnail I'd ever drawn, but it had the advantage of being an exciting abstract composition, supplied to me more or less at random without a lot of painstaking generation of new content - like a ouija board for art! The process also gave me some new ideas for the piece - like the looming monster suggested by the flowing hair & wolf paw from Tam Lin.
I re-inverted my thumbnail (making it 75% less cool to look at, but much easier to trace) and brought out my trusty lightbox and Col-Erase pencil (to work out the remaining details NOT dictated to me from the spirit world.) From there, the piece followed the usual progression - from tight pencil art to digital color - without incident.
Pencil on Bristol, 11x17"
If the purple-and-gold color scheme looks familiar, it's because it's a throwback to one of last year's SmArt School assignments, wherein art director Lauren Panepinto took my drab color rough and cranked the saturation up to 11! The resulting color scheme was so eye-catching that my freelance clients requested nothing but purple and yellow from me for six months. Understandably, I got pretty burned out on those hues for a while, but I think I'm ready to love them again.
The digital painting process, in living color...
The bright colors are one reason I decided to tackle this piece digitally - my traditional work tends to veer unavoidably towards shades of brown (hmmm, perhaps because I'm painting with brown paint on brown paper?) and I knew I wanted something more vivid for this piece. I might have to take a hard look at the materials and see if I can't recreate this in traditional media, though - it could be a fun (or at least instructive) challenge. Plus, I have one very good reason to add to my stack of traditional paintings, as I am officially...
...in the Weekend Salon at Illuxcon next year (woot!) and of course no pixels will be allowed on premises.
New Work: The Nutcracker
Posted on 18 Nov 2014
Ye gods, is it that time of year again??
Here's one of my latest commissioned pieces: a poster illustration for Kansas Ballet Company's 2014 production of The Nutcracker. This assignment has been percolating since May, when the company's art director (and reigning Mouse King) stumbled across my booth at Spectrum Live.
The client originally envisioned a poster featuring Clara and a shadowy Mouse King; this was eventually discarded as too menacing for the target audience (composed primarily of little ballerinas) and so we settled on a composition centered around a portrait of the nutcracker doll.
Like most of my recent digital work, the piece started out as a 16x20-ish pencil drawing on bristol. While the larger pencil drawings can be a little unwieldy to work on (and store), I like how working larger allows for an additional level of intricate detail and, when reduced, a more polished final image.
The final illustration, prior to the type treatment.