COPIC sunset and Time-Lapse Watercolors

This week I decided to tackle the sky in my Guidance Owl illustration. I knew I wanted a sunset/dusk type sky with lots of intense color. Lighting in this piece is key; I’ve kept it in mind when coloring every single part of it, wanting the sun to touch everything. After studying some pictures of sunsets all over the world, in cloudy skies and skies devoid of even stars, I picked some colors and jumped right in (with the help of Mogwai’s new album, which turned out to be amazing coloring music).

Guidance Owl -in progress-

Guidance Owl -in progress-

Guidance Owl close-up of Sky

Guidance Owl close-up of Sky

The feeling of taking a risk and coming out on the other side with something I’m happy with, that feeling is one of the things I live for in art. Though the cloud shapes are kind of funky, they’re vibrant and flowing and moody. I’m ~very~ happy with them… so much so that for the first time, I’m considering studying some landscapes using my markers to get a better feel for environments like this.

One of my colleagues who became a good friend of mine over the past few years is leaving work. For a gift to her, I got a print done of my cherry blossom drawing from last year. Here are the two compared.

Cherry Blossom Landscape original and print

Cherry Blossom Landscape original and print

The print is slightly more saturated and dark compared to the original but I feel that enhances it a bit. She seemed pleased by it, so I’m happy too.

To round off this Friday afternoon post, here are some time-lapse art videos that I enjoyed.  The first and second videos belong to Amanda Mocci, who combines the fine detail work of illustration and pencil with bold bright colors achieved through use of gouache. She’s recording several time-lapse videos of her artwork, shown below. Watching other artists is such a great learning experience. With Amanda, it looks like she keeps a blank piece of paper under her hand, when using pencil, so that she doesn’t smug the work all to pieces. With the amount of pencil and detail she uses this makes sense and is something I’ll definitely be trying out for myself.

DARK WINGS – A portrait by Amanda Mocci from Amanda Mocci on Vimeo.

REVIVAL – A Process Film By Amanda Mocci from Amanda Mocci on Vimeo.

Gabrielle Rose combines ink-based illustration with water-colors. She seems to have the wet-on-wet technique of painting down pat, to a point where she can control exactly where the paint will travel when she tilts the page. It’s beautiful and fascinating to watch. She’s able to blend contrasting colors masterfully.

Leaky Eyes Time Lapse from draw Gabby draw! on Vimeo.

Industrial Chic

Industrial spaces are popping up all over as cool new places to rest your head. Huge studios, loft apartments and old factories certainly have lots of space available for living in, but is it possible to make that cold sterile aesthetic into something warmer and friendly? Absolutely! In fact, having the hard edges and coolness of industrial contrast with softer, lighter decor makes for very interesting spaces.

via Apartment Therapy

Graffitti in the Living Room

This apartment was designed and decorated completely with vintage, upcycled and used furniture and items. For example, the table above was upholstered with an old coffee bean sack which I can only imagine smells lovely. The huge canvas behind the couch brings graffiti and street into the home, giving a super-modern feel. Color-blocking is used subtely here so to not overwhelm the room and take away from the little details, such as the various prints scattered throughout. Very livable and super chic, I would love for my home to look like this.

via Apartment Therapy

Prints in the Dining Room

This dining room belongs to the same home as the living room above it; the love of prints continues through the home onto the dining room wall, mimicking a brick wall from the city, making an excellent conversational piece that brings energy to the room. I see myself having my morning coffee in here, perhaps because of the cute collection of coffee cups on display. The draped chairs look even more elegant against the harsh industrial stained table.

via Design Sponge

Simple Industrial Dining

Here’s another dining area, this one a bit more simple. Having the one piece of art on the white wall helps it to make a statement. The beam/support above the table with the hanging chromes lights is very industrial but warm at the same time; the orange lights are a nice touch. To soften some of the hard edges and darkness in the room, mint chairs decorate the table, with the antler center piece giving a touch of nature to the area.

via Apartment Therapy

Hints of Industrial in the Bedroom

Perhaps this room is less industrial by design, and more accented with industrial pieces. The lamp hanging by the chain, the couch frame around the bed and the curtain rods act as a base for the bright colors of this room to jump from. The striped rug gives the illusion of more space, as does the chair in the corner on the fuzzy rug. White, pink and yellow make for a really warm and happy environment.

via the Decorista

Spacious Comfy Industrial Loft

Grey walls and dark dividers could make for a very intimidating space. Having a fluffy creamy carpet will fix that! Normally dark walls would make a space feel smaller, but since this loft is so large that’s not a worry. Thanks to the huge windows in this loft and the array of colorful throw pillows, this space is less menacing and more chic. Mirrors and art on the walls help soften the space as well. It feels very artsy and hip, somewhere you could house an art or photography studio and have gallery parties at as well.

If the opportunity comes along for a cheap industrial space and you’re worried about it being too cold and hard to decorate, don’t despair! With enough light and color almost any space can be made more welcoming.

Sam Spratt

Sam Spratt was brought to my attention through my tumblr feed with this incredible portrait of Katniss from Hunger Games.

Katniss by Sam Spratt

Katniss by Sam Spratt

It stopped me in my tracks. The intense realism, the depth of the color palette, the destroyed expression on her face… I’m struggling to find words for this. Every once in awhile, I see art that moves me in a big way, makes me feel something strong and tangible. This is one of those pieces and upon further inspection of Sam Spratt’s other works, I found many more. Be warned, this may become as much of a gushing post as Natalia Fabia’s was! 🙂

Lady Gaga by Sam Spratt

Lady Gaga by Sam Spratt

On Sam’s website, he says that he uses traditional oil painting methods and training with digital mediums. This enables him to achieve the rich qualities of an oil painting very quickly (once completing a piece for an article in 20 minutes!). He’s done over 400 article paintings for Gawker media, hired on for a period of 9 months as their first on-staff artist in 2010. And he’s only 22 years old! He became famous when his realistic paintings of internet memes went viral. Angry Birds creators Rovio have contracted him for a new project and some of the subjects of his realistic portraits have commissioned special prints of his work. Suffice to say that this guy is on fire.

Angry Birds pig by Sam Spratt

Angry Birds pig by Sam Spratt

Sam Spratt (via his

Sam Spratt (via his

His works are incredibly diverse; I wouldn’t say that he has a concrete “style” but his work is immediately recognizable based on the sheer skill, level of detail and expert use of color. To me, there’s nothing obviously digital about these works, they are simply paintings done in a digital way. He does everything from stunning realism, to wacky caricatures, to lifelike visions of fictional characters, even medical diagrams. When asked by Maxim about what inspires him, what he does if he’s ever feeling dry creatively, he discusses that he doesn’t really ever feel that way.

“Fellow artists always tell me I’m a jackass for this, but I’m just never creatively dry. I have a constant mass of ideas in my head and I don’t think there has been a single moment since I started as a professional artist where I have had to pause to think about what to make. I hate the hippy notion of being one with the world, but it baffles me when people struggle creatively. Look outside your window for a minute and you should see something utterly incredible. Perhaps that goes back to seeing beauty in the trivial facets of life though.”

Inspector Space Time poster by Sam Spratt

Inspector Space Time poster by Sam Spratt

Kanye West by Sam Spratt

Kanye West by Sam Spratt

His relentlousness and enthusiam for art is incredible and reminds me of my own passion for art, why I’m doing any of this in the first place. I love his no-nonsense approach to art, that while sometimes it’s good for art to have meaning and involve physcoanalysis and the like, it’s also okay for it to just happen, intuitively, and be beautiful just because.

His website has a vast portfolio of his best work and on top of that he’s posted a few process time-lapse videos as well. The video belows shows how he worked through his realistic version of the x-all-the-y meme. Basically, he starts with a very detailed black and white underpainting and layers glazes of color overtop of it, occasionally making it more opaque as he sees fit.

Seeing his work makes me want to give tablets a second chance. Perhaps I’ve only been struggling with them since I’m still learning with traditional mediums as well. Every finished piece is a lesson for me right now, and every time I start a new one I bring more knowledge with me. In time, I hope I can comfortably translate that knowledge to digital mediums. In the mean time, I just need to knock through as many pieces as I can and keep growing, learning and feeling good about it all the while.

Fashion Illustrations by Christian David Moore

Fashion illustration captures so many aspects of art that I love, such as detailing in clothing and accessories, beautiful hairstyles, coordinated makeup… I just wish I was a bit more creative on the fashion front so I could create original, of my own, something for my characters to wear.

Christian David Moore‘s style is sort of minimalistic. The clothing is exquisite but the models themselves are reduced to expressions and stark shadows. Capturing a person’s likeness in a drawing is one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced in art so far. There are some many little nuances that make a person who they are: the shape of their eyebrows, distance between the eyes, how far up or down their nose is on their face. If any one of these nuances is changed even slightly, the person becomes completely different, someone else. Being able to capture someone’s likeness with so few details takes a lot of skill.

by Christian David Moore

by Christian David Moore

by Christian David Moore

by Christian David Moore

He makes excellent use of negative space and is very careful with his brush strokes. He plays a lot with contrast, sometimes using lots of tones to paint a model and sometimes using only very light and very dark colors to give the idea of her presence. For me, a danger with COPICs and watercolors is to use too many layers. The paper can only absorb so much, and going over that threshold can produce icky stained-looking results or warp the page beyond repair. One must be careful to use only as many layers as necessary and be aware of how opaque they’re using color is. With watercolors, make sure your paper/canvas is secured and use lots of water with the paint to get a nice transparent wash of color.

by Christian David Moore

by Christian David Moore

by Christian David Moore

by Christian David Moore

I paricularly like the way the background was painted in the above image. Even though it looks like it was painted all in one color, he’s managed to shape the building nicely by taking advantage of white space and rather than painting the buildings themselves, he paints the windows, the doors and the statues. Thanks to his “suggestion” of the buildings, your eyes will fill in the rest. Additionally the grey background really draws our eyes to the model in the lovely pink gown.

by Christian David Moore

by Christian David Moore

I may be partial to this piece since it uses all my favorite colors; especially how he’s blended the colors of this model’s hair above. This minimalistic magazine cover is gorgeous. By using little shading in her face we’re immediately drawn to her eyes, hair and lips. The buildings, necklace and splotches of paint frame her face nicely. Moore’s style is effortless and flowing, very complimentary and suited to fashion.

Fashion Inspiration 21-03-12

I haven’t had a chance to start anything new since I finished the Cherry Blossom abstract piece on Sunday, so here’s some fashion that’s caught my eye recently.

Dark Beauty, via A White Carousel

There are several aspects to this look I really like: the lacey patterns, the transparent layers of fabric, the dramatic makeup and the voluminous hair. I immediately thought of painting this girl when I saw her; there’s a great balance of patterns and textures. The sequins are carefully placed to avoid being too flashy, and instead give the look an elegant edge.

via Melanie Castillo on Pinterest

The black and white palette works really well to unify this composition which might be a bit busy otherwise. The combination of different textures, fur, leather and shine, are an aspect of fashion I really enjoy. The graffitti on the wall and the snow on the ground, with imprints of feet, helps to define the model.

Vogue Japan, via Tom & Lorenzo

This page is out of Vogue Japan. In contrast to the previous image, I like how busy this one is. It captures a sort of energy and is exciting and flashy. I like the main model’s long sleek hair against the gold detailing on her dress. It’s like she’s from the future, visiting present-day Japan. Go check out the other photos from this shoot, they’re gorgeous too!

Lilybrush evening dress

Green and pink, perfect colors for spring! The fabric in this dress looks so luxurious, flowing and rich. I love the tie in the middle and crown of blossoms in her hair. Again, this is something I’d love to paint. The creases give the dress a lot of depth and character, I could have a lot of fun with that.

Cherry Blossom Waterfall & Owl of Life

Things came together for me pretty quickly once I put a list together and got going! Friday night I sketched out some cherry blossoms on a separate piece of paper and tried to figure out what shape I wanted them to take on the painting. Saturday afternoon, I began painting them on using transparent layers and, after working through Sunday afternoon as well, I finished it off last night. Originally I had wanted to have an “echo” effect with the flowers and tried stamping them on and sanding them down. Neither of those techniques turned out so I just went ahead and painted with thin, transparent colors. I was going to keep it one color but quickly changed my mind once I saw what they looked like in pink against the background.

Cherry Blossom Waterfall
Cherry Blossom Waterfall by ~soulexposed on deviantART

I’m very happy with the way this turned out, seeing as a week ago I had no idea what to do with it. By stepping outside the original idea I had for this painting I was able to figure out how to finish it off. It’s going in our bedroom, right above the bed where the light from the window will hit it.

On Thursday night I asked Tim for advice on what to do with the life owl drawing, and he gave me some suggestions that allowed me to finally finish it off as well.

Owl of Life
Owl of Life by ~soulexposed on deviantART

I ended up shading the fruit and books a little bit more so they stood out from the owl. This pushes the owl to the back a bit but I don’t mind, since he’s so colorful already anyway that it would be hard to hide him. One down, two to go!

Time-lapse paintings by Ursula Young & Tara McPherson

Quickie post for the weekend to make up for the lackluster week! The videos below show female artists as they work on their paintings. I get so inspired watching other people paint, because everybody works in their own unique way. The first video is short, mainly Ursula Young plugging her latest show. I love the bright colors and thick lines she uses. Her style is very cartoony/anime/surreal, right up my alley! The second video is quite a bit longer, taking you through an entire painting, done by Tara McPherson. Very educational and the music is pretty cool as well. Part of the video angles the camera by a window, so you can get a feel for how many hours of work go into something like this.

Enjoy, and happy Saturday!

Ursula Young Solo Show @ Fabric8 from Martha Traer on Vimeo.

Time lapse painting of ‘Safety of Water’ by Tara McPherson from Cotton Candy Machine on Vimeo.

Getting out of the slump…

I’ve been a bit slack on the posting over the last little while, which is not a great way to start off 2012! Artistically I’ve been feeling a bit stale as well, with no classes in sight and no solid goals to work towards. I’ve decided that this just won’t do.

The last time I was stuck on a painting and wanted to finish it, I made a list of all the things left to do to get it into a “finished” state. After completing the list, not only did the painting look great, but I felt accomplished. The piece in question is the textbook still life I did a while ago for Tim. It made sense to get a list going of steps left to complete since there were so many details in the painting itself that it was easy to get lost. I used this strategy on my abstract self-portrait and it worked just as well.

When coming up with a to do list of what I’m currently engrossed in, I decided that my Life Owl drawing is not finished. After consulting with Tim (he has a completely different and refreshing perspective on things), we decided parts of it need more shading so that the work as a whole is more dynamic. The other piece that’s been on my mind for awhile has been the abstract. You can tell that I’m feeling weird about it since it doesn’t even have a proper name yet. I haven’t been able to make up my mind about where to take it next and I think that’s because I’ve been going about it the wrong way.

I’ve been looking at it in terms of what’s already there and how to make pieces come forward and push others back. While looking through my pinterest boards for abstract art inspiration, I came across a bunch of wallpaper patterns that have been attracting my attention and then it came to me: what I currently have looks like a background, so why don’t I add some kind of pattern to the foreground? I’m going to add a pattern of cherry blossoms on top of it, some transparent and some opaque. I’m armed with a list and ready to paint, so let’s hope I can finally cover some ground on this!

So this isn’t a picture-free post, here’s what I’m looking at for inspiration on the abstract:

Paintings based on double exposures, by Pakayla Biehn.

Paintings based on double exposures, by Pakayla Biehn. (via

marilyn-monroe by fab ciraol

marilyn-monroe by fab ciraol

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms (via ArtBooksTea)

Progress 12-03-12

I’m getting back on track! We went to Saint John for the day on Saturday and the change of scenery was refreshing. I even managed to get inspired in Winners to start a new piece, though I’m not entirely sure how to go about it. First, though…

Owl of Life

I felt like it was finished after I’d blocked in all the color yesterday afternoon, but now I’m feeling like it’s missing something. I’m thinking of darkening some of the shadows on the owl to make him stand out more. I took a really different direction with Athena; at first I wanted to color her like a gypsy tattoo but as I got further into coloring the owl, I realized that too much additional colors could be overwhelming. So, instead of using skin tones and bright blush/lipstick I kept the flowers colored and made her into a statue. I’m very happy with the way she turned out and I’m glad I made that last minute coloring decision (besides, it would’ve been a bit awkward having a live woman with flowers in her eyes, right?). With all the bright colors in front I chose to keep the sky calm and light, though I may go back in with a few greys to give it some depth. What do you all think?

A few weeks ago I went to Michael’s to pick up a few frames:

Male Foo Dog, framed

Female Foo Dog, framed

After looking at these for the first time in months, I wasn’t sure they were good enough to be framed, but they seem to look pretty spiffy. For the time being, I’d like to hang them by the front door (inside, of course) since that’s where they’re meant to stand guard. Seeing my work framed always gives me a little ego boost. 🙂

Now, regarding that new idea I had. I spotted a large collage-type print at Winner’s featuring one of my favorite decor trends, the Union Jack. I’ve been trying to figure out how to incorporate it in my current decor but haven’t had any luck until now. It would be simpler if it was part of some kind of collage and hanging on the wall. I can’t find an image to show you what I was looking at, but it was a combination of the colors in the Union Jack plus some gritty textures and a set of lips, perhaps a Rolling Stones reference. It got me to thinking about why the Union Jack is cool to me; I dig Brit Rock (Def Leppard was my soundtrack in high school, no shame!), BBC and UK culture. I would like to put together a similar collage using the Union Jack’s colors, possibly even the flag itself and a bunch of brit rock memorabilia. It would be a blast researching the bands I’m into now, discovering new ones and looking into the culture further. The question becomes, what medium do I paint on? I have a few smaller square canvases, a bunch of primed masonite boards and a huuuuuuge canvas that was meant for something ~epic~. Hmm…

Whoa. Okay. I just got another idea writing up this post. Instead of limiting myself to british rock bands, I could expand to include all the things I love about the UK (tea, fashion… and an embarrassing amount of TV-related stuff like Top Gear, Doctor Who, James Bond, etc etc). If I were to include references to all of those things, using the bigger canvas would make more sense. One of my friends has this wicked coffee table that has a bunch of rock legends’ heads painted on top of it. Hanging something like that in the living room would be a super cool conversational piece. Am I up to the challenge? HELL YEAH!

At the moment my abstract painting seems to be mocking me a bit. I’m not really sure where to take it from where it is and may just give up and hang it. Maybe I should put it away and look at it fresh in a few weeks, and make a final decision then.

I’ll round out this post with a recommendation to check out Big Wreck’s new album (remember That Song? “So I always get nostalgic with that song… but in my room it’s forced”): 30 second clips tracks from Albatross. I bought this on a whim Saturday afternoon and have been listening to it non-stop ever since. It’s a rock album classified as “neo prog” which just means they’re not afraid of using lots of different instruments. It’s a rocky bluesy mix all rolled into one aurally immersive experience and so easy to sink your teeth into. It’s solid enough that I find myself listening to it all the way through. Ian Thornley’s raw vocals are top-notch and his education at Berkley has given his guitar melodies a rich diversity, without the music being pretentious. So, if you’re looking for some new tunes different than what you’ve been hearing from the Top 40, definitely give this album a spin.

Studio Spaces 09-03-12

Seeing how other artists have their studios set up is exciting. I get a taste of what they experience when they create their work. Each splotch of paint or dent tells a story, and each artist works in unique conditions. I like to have dedicated space, but other people can sit down and do their thing wherever they please. Some artists even prefer plein air aka working outside but this is something I’ve never been comfortable with, likely being I hate any kind of cold weather and I’m paranoid about bugs/insects. Anyway, onto some studios!

Richard Kooyman, Chicago, Illinois (site)

This space belongs to Richard Kooyman in Chicago, Illinois. I love the huge windows which much let some beautiful natural light in there. He picked a great time of day to take this photograph, too (the windows themselves look like giant paintings). The space feels warm and inviting with brick walls and hardwood floor… I like that it has an “unfinished” feel which makes it less stressful or sterile. He has lots of room to work on the wall or on tables. It looks like it has good ventilation as well which is imperative if you’re working with oils or other toxic mediums.

studio space of Kirra Jamison

studio space of Kirra Jamison

Kirra Jamison lives and works in a loft. Having a huge open layout brings a unity to the entire area. She has a lot of her supplies and palettes set up on a rolling trolley, making it easier to move around on a larger piece without running back and forth to her palette. Having all the walls painted white makes this space larger than life. It’s almost like she’s living in a gallery! I love how the floor has splotches of paint all over; rather than looking messy it looks like a properly used space.

Jeff's Garage to Studio Conversion

Jeff's Garage to Studio Conversion

Here we see a garage converted to an art studio. The open space is partitioned off into sections, which organizes the space without making it claustrophobic. Jeff says he prefers to work on a long table so he can spread things out and work on several projects at once. To fully finish the space, he hired contractors to finish/insulate the walls and redo the electrical: smart move. There is lots of room in here for his own art as well as art from others, any collections he may have (like the bears in the top photo) and all of his technology (including a large format printer, jealous!). Click the images to go to Apartment Therapy and see more of this space.

via Tumblr

Unfortunately I was unable to locate the source of this one. What a beautiful space! The colors remind me of Greece; I miss it so much this time of year with the cold, wind and snow/rain. The walls are nice and bright but the greenery up above helps to balance it out. This space looks like might be used for teaching. Having fresh air and natural light so close by would be very refreshing to work in.

Hopefully this weekend I will, at least, be able to finish owl drawing #1. Wish me luck!