Spring Has Arrived!

It’s official; I survived my first year at NSCAD! It’s a huge relief to have some time off, but it’s also bittersweet, because many of the foundation students will now go their separate ways. Some will transfer to other schools, and I won’t see them again. Others, I will be seeing much more of, since we’ll be taking a lot of the same classes. It’s been an intense and wonderful ride, and I look forward to all the fun that next year entails, including lots of painting, illustrating, and some printmaking, too! In the mean time, starting in July, I’ll be dedicating some time to one of the biggest influences I had growing up, graphic novels, through a history course.

Now that I’ve met all my school deadlines, I’ve had time to look at some of my own projects, and started by updating my Deviantart page with a few of my stronger pieces from the semester.

Modern Surreal Vitruvian Man by Jess Naish Lingley

Modern Surreal Vitruvian Man by Jess Naish Lingley

This was my final project for my drawing class. The concept was pretty open-ended, allowing us to use many of the techniques we’d learned over the past few months. After a few days of mulling over various ideas, when making coffee one morning I came up with the idea of using a master drawing that would allow me plenty of space to express myself. This led me to choose the infamous Virtuvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci (bonus round: I completely the drawing on his birthday!).

Over the course of this class I most enjoyed working with ink, something I hadn’t really given any time to before, so it’s the main medium in this work, both with brush and pen nib. Despite only having a few short days to work on it between all my other final projects, I’m very happy with the way it came out. Working with pen nibs was interesting and something that I will likely revisit in the future.

Beach at Dusk by Jess Naish Lingley

Beach at Dusk by Jess Naish Lingley

This illustration began a few weeks ago when, on a whim, I decided to give my wacom tablet some love, instead of doing my homework. Four hours later, I was assured of my xmas purchase and discovered a new love of digital painting/illustration. After finishing my final projects, I was able to finish it off and upload it. It’s not perfect; the line art is a bit messy since I started it in GIMP, which wasn’t giving me great quality lines for some reason. The software wasn’t as intuitive as I needed it to be, so I tried switching over to Photoshop Elements and had a much easier time of things. Though I’m still working on anatomy and creating decent backgrounds, I feel like my new knowledge of color really shows through here, along with my love of painting. I had a lot of fun using dusk-like colors and will continue to challenge myself with these colorful atmospheres in future works.

It’s strange, since I didn’t enjoy working with the Cintiq as much as I enjoy working with my simple Bamboo and laptop. I’m enjoying digital illustration now a lot more than I was a year ago; perhaps my mindset has changed? My new-found love of digital art prompted me to pre-order ImagineFX’s Digital Painting issue, which I will use to bolster my newbie digital art skills over the summer. I’m not sure how much digital technique I’ll be picking up at NSCAD, so I’m hoping this magazine will be a good starting point. I know there are a lot of things I could probably be doing faster/easier, which is one of the great benefits of digital coloring. That, and no mess to clean up!

Perspective, Loomis-style

Perspective, Loomis-style

With my time off, I’m studying Figure Drawing, For All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis. I want to try and drill myself on anatomy and perspective as much as I can this summer, after all the years of drawing I missed out on after my college stint. I definitely have some catching up to do. Loomis is tough stuff, but if I can learn his basics and strengthen my knowledge of perspective, I can basically do anything. Just by mapping out perspective lines and very basic figures, he can easily build an entire complex drawing. Once you’ve got the foundation down, the rest just seems to fall into place. Getting that foundation down, though, is very tough to get right. It wasn’t until I started studying his proportions that I realized how far off some of my own (from imagination) were.

In short, I’ve got my work cut out for me! There are so many things I want to catch up on this summer. Between all the art I want to do, and the movies I’d like to catch up on, I’ll have plenty things to stave off the boredom. I’ll also have more time to update my precious blog, so stay tuned for more progress reports, and posts on inspiring artists!

Clay Shells & Summer Decisions

My first year at NSCAD is gradually drawing (hahaha I’m so clever) to a close! It’s been a bit of a blur, especially the first two months of 2013, but it’s been fantastic. For all the financial short-comings of the school and the several threats of faculty strikes, I couldn’t love this school more. I think the feeling is mutual among a lot of the other foundation students. Being around creative people all day is a dream come true and endlessly inspiring. This summer will be the first in memory that I’m not desperate for, since it’ll mean no classes. Well, that’s not completely true; I compromised by taking a history credit later in the summer.

I have so much to look forward to next year, including: painting, illustration and print-making (relief and screen-print). I chose these courses to help shape my style as an artist. Rather than sticking exclusively to painting, I’m wetting my feet in a few other drawing-driven mediums for my 2nd year. After that though, I intend to apply all of that to the mountains of painting courses I’ll be loading up on. Anyway, I should move on since I could talk course choices forever…

Clay Shells (you can hear the ocean) by Jess Naish Lingley

Clay Shells (you can hear the ocean) by Jess Naish Lingley

Modeled Forms has been a great challenge for me; I’m so used to thinking in terms of how to render forms on two dimensional planes and this class really forces me to think outside of that. We’ve worked with clay, wax, soap and will be moving onto plaster and pewter soon. Making the above shells was satisfying; we used the theme of “play”, and I thought immediately of the three-shell game. Obviously my idea evolved a bit from that, since the game requires each shell to be the same. I went for a more tactile-oriented theme, and these shells are really nice to hold in your hand. There are grooves and rivets to fit your fingers into, and you can even hear the ocean if you hold them up to your ear! Glazing was a really fun process as well since it’s so unpredictable.

wooden box in progress, getting ready to do inlays

wooden box in progress, getting ready to do inlays

The second half of my shop class focus on wood as opposed to metal. It’s much more precise and planning oriented, which was a bit stressful at first. We’ve taken wood basically from the tree and “trued” it to form the above boxes. Mine is still far from done. I’m planning an inlay in the top with an exotic wood. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to make my sketch book designs work with it, but I’ve a simpler idea in mind, so it’s all good. I liked this class from the get-go, though it’s likely due to my upbringing. Wood working has been in my life ever since I can remember, so going to wood shop and smelling the saw dust is like coming home, in a way.

self indulgent homework by Jess Naish Lingley

self indulgent homework by Jess Naish Lingley

I haven’t got much to post at the moment for drawing, but it’s certainly not for lack of work. A lot of what I’ve been doing has been very large scale (22″ x 30″, sometimes double that) and done with messy media (pastels and charcoal). I’ll need some time to get decent photos of these works, but in the mean time here’s a snippet of last week’s homework. Studying master drawings is something we do quite a bit, but I’m torn about it. Reproducing master drawings is a great educational tool, but I end up feeling sort of guilty afterwards because even if it looks good, it’s not my idea. I use it strictly as a study tool. In order to understand anatomy it’s sometimes necessary to copy figure drawings, and if that means I’ll be able to draw them eventually on my own, I’m all for it.

Lastly, I’ve made an important decision regarding my summer break over the last few weeks. It’s time for me to start building myself as a professional artist and illustrator, and I intend to do this full time over the summer. I could work full time at a retail position of some sort, and financially it would probably make more sense, but I strongly feel that if I want to succeed in this field I need to start now rather than when I graduate. I’ll be buckling down for some serious studying this summer, both to improve my painting and drawing skills and begin digesting the business side of everything. It’s the path of most uncertainty, but it’s calling to me and I can’t resist. With this career, I need to pay closer attention to gut instincts and go with them, rather than ignore them and do what’s “right” or what’s easier.

Onwards and upwards to a bright and exciting summer!

Off Book by PBS

After being all gung-ho on starting homework on Monday, I think I overdid it a little and messed up some muscles in my neck. I don’t remember inking being so hard… body, y u hate me? ;_;

So as I sit here smelling of bear balm with a heat pack on my poor neck, I thought I’d take a minute to share something really cool I stumbled upon through twitter- wait, maybe it was reddit… or was it tumblr? I think I have a slight social media overload going on here. Anyway, PBS’s Off Book is a series of videos about art and design related goodies. The only two I’ve seen so far are embedded below, but there are a handful of others I’ve yet to watch (since I have to get homework done at some point).

After watching this, my love for illustration was renewed! As I’ve progressed through school so far, I’ve been trying to soak up as much information as possible on fine art and illustration careers. The line between them is not as blurred as I thought, it goes much deeper than originality versus commercialism. I haven’t really made up my mind on which one I’d like to pursue over the other, and this video made it a bit harder. I was initially leaning towards fine art because I wanted absolute freedom of expression. However, listening to artists talk in this video about how being unique is so valued as an illustrator these days, and seeing some of the amazing works presented, it looks like I’d have more freedom with illustration than I believed.

I’ve found myself giving fan artists a bit of a hard time lately (in my head mostly). It seems too easy to take someone else’s character idea and put a face to it in exchange for fanboy’s/fangirl’s money. This video has softened me a bit to it, though I still prefer original work. The sense of humor and community in fanart is hard to match and certainly something I participate (ie: lurk) in with my favorite shows. As a bonus, there’s a short interview with Sam Spratt, a digital artist I’ve fawned a bit over.

Alright, I’m almost through my second coffee of the day and need to get back (no pun intended) at it. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to finish up homework by Friday, since I’ll be visiting home over the weekend to touch base with family. With any luck and lots of frequent breaks, my neck will be back to normal by then. Cheers!

Homework homework homework, but also a show!

Since I arrived back to school in January, things have been extremely hectic! I’ve had a ton more homework to sift through than I did last semester, and hardly any time to catch a break in between projects.

One of the reasons I’ve been so busy is that on top of school work, shortly after I submitted those pieces to the Pre-Shrunk show, I was asked to submit a work for an upcoming art show in February about cats. How could I say no to that?! I spent some time researching my subjects beforehand since I don’t draw or paint a lot of wildlife. Thankfully, I have two little fur balls I was able to use for reference (and there are now a copious number of cat pictures on my new phone, oh no!). After several quick preliminary sketches, I got to work immediately. I took roughly three weeks to complete the painting in between school work, and got to show it off at the opening for Cat Person last night.

Mocha & Java: A Modern Portrait by Jess Lingley

Mocha & Java: A Modern Portrait by Jess Lingley, 16″ x 20″ acrylics on gesso’d cradleboard

I’m quite happy with it! Painting the fur was quite challenging, but I looked at a book from the local library for help. It’s a great book for painting wildlife in acrylics and gives great tips on palette set up and acrylic techniques. Silvers’ paintings are stunning. I’m so thankful for another opportuniy to show work at Argyle Fine Art, especially beside so much other beautiful work from the Cat Person show: check it out on their Flickr site!

It was very challenging to balance everything, but I’ve made it through to winter break in one piece. Though all of my classes are pretty intensive, Design has been the most challenging so far with multiple assignments due each week.

Design homework with Gouache on Mylar.

Design homework with Gouache on Mylar.

I’ve enjoyed the graphic design element of it the most, though I don’t think I’ll be studying it in degree form. Fine Art gives me a lot more expressive room than I would ever get with design. Besides graphic design, I got to dabble a bit in product design with a group project. I’ve never done anything like that before and it was an eye-opening experience. It’s very rewarding to take a project from a simple sketch to a full three dimensional working model.

Product design group project results.

Product design group project results.

The most rewarding class (aside from my favourite: Drawing II) has been metal shop. I went from not knowing the first thing about steel to cutting, bending, twisting, forging and manipulating it to make a final project.

Fun in metal shop.

Fun in metal shop.

It's all coming together...

It’s all coming together…

The shot directly above is blurry because my hands were shaking when I took it. Shop has been pretty physically exhausting, but coming home after working hard all day is a great feeling. I’m working on something practical for the apartment; given the shapes above, can you guess what it is? I think my favourite part of shop is welding. It’s really similar to soldering, but the filler is part of the welding torch so you can hold onto what you’re doing instead of trying to criss-cross materials with both hands. It’s a great feeling to weld stuff together! Just don’t weld it to the table you’re working on… :: cough cough ::

And then there’s Drawing II. Aaaah drawing, let me count the ways that I love thee.

Cavernous pepper by Jess Lingley.

Cavernous pepper by Jess Lingley, 22″ x 30″ graphite on mayfair.

This study ended up being a really relaxing one, despite the amount of detail I put into it. It was really rewarding to be able to chip away at it an hour or so at a time, and have a really interesting finished product. I chose this pepper to draw in a macro fashion, because it you look closely enough at it, it becomes abstracted and looks like something else. I thought of alien eggs in some kind of cavern.

Ink wash landscape by Jess Lingley.

Ink wash landscape by Jess Lingley, ~11″ x 15″ inkwash on stonehenge.

This class introduced me to ink as a way of drawing. At first, I found it pretty unforgiving, but if you work in washes it becomes beautiful. For this assignment we studied atmospheric perspective (how things get lighter as they get further away). I wish I’d had more time with this, because I found myself having a ton of fun with it. When separating a landscape into soft layers (and working with a decent sketch of course), it becomes a lot less daunting. Starting with light washes and slowly going darker, the drawing really comes to life.

Skeleton Study of Adam & Eve by Albrecht Durer.

Skeleton Study of Adam & Eve by Albrecht Durer, 22″ x 30″ charcoal and ink wash on stonehenge.

Having just finished the Cat Person painting, I wanted to put a little extra effort into my drawing homework, since I’d not been able to do my best for the past few weeks. Drawing is a class I really want to bring my A Game to, because I’m going to go on studying it and painting at a higher level. I love drawing dearly and want to do my best with it! For this assignment, we had to use a master drawing as a study. I cheated a bit and chose an etching by the amazing Albrecht Durer, entitled Adam & Eve (NSFW nudity). I was absolutely taken with the etching when I saw it, and couldn’t find another drawing that compared.

I’ll admit that I was perhaps a little over-ambitious, but I’m really happy with the results! By this point I’d fallen in love with ink. I used it to simplify the background a bit and discovered that it blends really nicely with charcoal. I could have easily doubled the amount of time spent on this, but I’d already put way over the homework requirement  of time on it, and had other homework left to do. I will definitely be using ink wash and charcoal more in upcoming projects, but also look for more color work of mine during the second half of the semester.

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through this semester! It’s been quite a blur with the amount of work I’ve had to do, but I feel like I’ve already accomplished so much this year! I look forward to Modeled Forms and Wood Shop, coming up after the break. Until then though, I’ve got some final projects to get through and maybe even some personal ones. I’m going to a few figure drawing work shops that are offered next week as well, so I’ll have lots to keep me busy. We’ve been doing a lot of figure studies in Drawing which is awesome, since I’m trying to get as good as possible at drawing the figure from my imagination.

Cheers, all!

Financial Woes at NSCAD

I was going to lump this into an update, but upon writing it I felt it deserved its own post.

I am concerned about the future of NSCAD. With the possibility of a faculty strike in the next few weeks (as early as next week for the technicians), and financial concerns at an all-time high, morale in class is a bit low between students and teachers alike. Though NSCAD is indeed in debt, so are all of the other universities in Nova Scotia, yet we are singled out and pressured to align to a shoestring budget that decreases which each coming year. We have been doing our best so far, both through pretty harsh cuts and fundraising through alumni, but the government is saying that this isn’t enough. There are many rumors around about how this will pan out, some of them saying that we may be forced to merge with Dalhousie/St.Mary’s, some saying we’ll have to make severe cuts to our programs, some saying that tuition will go up even higher. I’m unclear as to how merging us with other schools in debt would lessen our debt. What good would merging do other than to chip away at NSCAD’s reputation?

The framework for sustainability report pushed by the administration of the school talks about removing the portfolio requirement for the school, about cutting out the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary degree and even about moving from the gorgeous Granville Campus, where I will be spending (hopefully!) the majority of the next three years of my degree. It may not be the most efficient building in the world, but it is perfect for an art school. There is an air of romance and creativity in that campus that would be hard to replicate elsewhere.

There are several reasons I chose to come to NSCAD over the other art schools in Canada. Proximity to home was one; wanting to stay in the Maritimes is important to me. The vibrant art culture here is really something to be seen and experienced. I hate to see so many young people leave the Maritimes to go out west, and there are plenty of temptations to do so. There are a handful of other schools I could go to that cost less, and the job market out there is quite a bit different, with opportunities to make big money that just don’t exist here. The solution, though, is not to leave, but to grow here and help the Maritimes flourish, to attract more people our way instead of sending them away from us!

If Nova Scotia loses NSCAD, if the school loses its autonomy, we’re losing a hugely important asset to the Maritime provinces. Art students that have come literally from all over the world to attend NSCAD will look past Nova Scotia to OCAD, ACAD, and Emily Carr out west. This will have a huge negative impact on the art and music scene here. I do not want to see the Maritimes wither away to nothing, to continue to lose the young community, I want to see it grow!

Emily Carr is getting $113 million for a new campus from the government. Meanwhile, our government pressures us for more cuts demanding that times are tough, but goes forward with the questionable plan to build a $500+ million convention centre. To say that times are tough and then go forward with this kind of project thoroughly confuses and frustrates me. I watched a similar situation unfold back at home and I’m not convinced going forward with the project was the right thing to do for our city.

I am in love with this school. It was and still is my dream to attend art school here. I saved up for years and worked hard on a portfolio to get accepted. It breaks my heart to see the values of this school and what attracted me to come here be worn away and cut down. I fear that if things get really bad, I may have to consider leaving the Maritimes to get a thorough art education, though it makes me heart sick to think that way. NSCAD, one of the oldest and most prestigious art schools in Canada, needs support! I understand that times are tough all around, but there must be some compromises that we as a province can come to that ensure NSCAD’s autonomous future without breaking the bank.

Thinking caps, people! Let’s work together on this!

Exciting News!

In the spirit of kicking off 2013 with a bang, I’m very excited to announce that I’ve been accepted into Argyle Fine Art’s Pre-Shrunk show! This will be my very first time having work shown in a gallery! INTERNET HIGH FIVES!

Pre-Shrunk at Argyle Fine Art

Pre-Shrunk at Argyle Fine Art

Ahem. Last fall on one of my visits to the gallery, I spotted a call for artists for this show. Pre-Shrunk is a show of 4″x 5″ works both from new and established artists. The goal is to make affordable art available to everyone. The fact that it was open to all artists caught my eye immediately, and I figured, why not? I was especially intrigued by the small canvas size, which was ideal since I wouldn’t have to dedicated large blocks of time to it in between school work. Nothing to lose by trying, since every painting I do helps me grow.

This will be an incredible opportunity to have my work seen by the public, and to play meet ‘n greet with lots of other artists in the HRM. I’m beyond psyched to have gotten in and can’t wait to attend!

Eye Shadow by Jess Lingley

Eye Shadow by Jess Lingley

This is one of three paintings I submitted to the show. All three are acrylics on canvas board, 4″ x 5″. They were very fun to paint! It was a little restricting to paint that small, but at the same time it was very rewarding to finish a piece so quickly. When trying to come up with an idea for what to paint for this show, I was a bit stumped. Fortunately I received an early xmas gift of some colorful items that instantly inspired me! All three paintings feature elements that I really enjoying rendering, from shiny reflective surfaces, to bright colors, to pretty things.

Come on out from 7pm-9pm on Friday the 25th of January to Argyle Fine Art in downtown Halifax to see my work! I’ll be hanging around for a bit as well, taking in all the other amazing art that’s bound to be on display. See you there!