Sunday Relfections: Frustrations

Turning the easel away.

Turning the easel away.

This kind of relates to last weekend’s post about work-life balance and burning out.

I moved here expecting that I could just pick up where I left off in Fredericton, working out and painting everyday and that it would be fine. What I forgot about was that back when I finished work, I told myself that I deserved some time off before school started so that I could rejuvenate and mentally prepare myself for the challenges ahead. I was looking forward to taking some time off from everything for myself.

What I’ve done instead was spend all my free time unpacking, cleaning, finding walking routes and making up workouts for myself, all while trying to fit painting and drawing in between those things. Doesn’t sound much like a vacation, does it?

I’m the kind of person that needs to feel like I’m doing something to earn my keep, so relaxing all day while Tim is at work almost makes me feel a bit guilty, though I have no logical reason to feel that way. It’s going to take awhile for me to adjust to this new lifestyle. I’ve worked long and hard to get to where I am today, and I deserve a break before things get crazy again.

I haven’t been feeling my greatest and finally figured out that maybe, just maybe, I was pushing myself too hard. For the past few days I’ve done almost nothing but sleep in, watch TV and relax. I’m feeling a bit better but tried painting today, only to meet frustration. I’m so fed up with the model painting at this point that I’ve turned it to face the wall just so I don’t have to look at it. At this point, it feels like I can do no right with it so it’s probably better not to touch it for awhile.

So, when you meet up with a creative block like this, how to you get past it? I don’t have the answer yet but hope to find it soon. I’m hoping that school will help me sort things out, when I’m given hard deadlines to finish things rather than just doing projects whenever I feel like it.

I do know that I’ll likely spend a lot of next week relaxing as well. I didn’t really anticipate the shock it would be to go from 9-5 to having so much time to myself. Hopefully I’ll feel like taking another crack at the model painting maybe tomorrow, or in a few more days.

Any other artists out there feel my pain? How have you gotten over creative hurdles?

Realistic Beauties Painting Roundup

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about traditional media painters as opposed to illustrators, so I’ve decided to give them some love, especially since I’m working on a piece of my own at the moment (that is VERY close to completion save a million little things left to fix). As much as I’m fascinated with the effects that digital painting has, there’s just something about putting a brush to canvas that excites me, completes me, something rich and organic that’s hard to reproduce.

The Three Daughters of Mara by Emily Burns

The Three Daughters of Mara by Emily Burns

If a hyper-realist approach is taken with painting, the composition becomes so much more important because simple still lifes that are rendered realistically may fall flat for some people. With the oil painting above, it’s almost impossible not to look at it. The pinup model with an animal’s head is intriguing, especially set against this backdrop set with the addition of the pixelated effect. Beautiful Decay has an article on Emily that explains the various aspects of her works, including objection of females and its progress over history as well as many other things that I can’t explain as eloquently as she does. She’s found a way to bring seemingly completely unrelated elements together in a striking way.

Shadow of a Doubt by Gina Higgins

Shadow of a Doubt by Gina Higgins

The attention paid to the creases of fabric flowing over her curves is painstaking. I love how she’s laying against a wash of colors with dramatic stripes of shadow playing over her face. The blending here is really well done for an acrylic piece. The color palette is romantic and pale, almost relaxing, but the ominous shadow over her tells a different story.

The Passage by Markus Akesson

The Passage by Markus Akesson

I can’t get over the expertly painted reflections in this beautiful scene. The pool bar on the right goes from industrial straight, dissolving into beautiful swirls of color in the water. The further down our eye travels in the painting, the more wavy and distorted our subject gets. I can’t help but wonder what she’s thinking about as she sinks back in the water.

Autel by Till Rabus

Autel by Till Rabus

This painting is another example of hyper realistic techniques paired with interesting compositions, this one a lot more creepy than what I’ve posted above. The colors drew me into this piece initially, but my questions about how this composition came to be kept me around to look at the artist’s other works. The bright colors in the dismantled toys and CDs stand out against the cool palette of the forest background. It looks like some kind of alter, or maybe a trap? It’s funny how these objects on their own look perfectly normal, but put together in this context look super creepy. Really nice work here.

I’m hoping that taking advanced art courses will teach me technique as well as composition. I’ve had fun painting still lifes so far but would really like to take it up a notch and find out how to give them depth and emotion.

Grey Walls Don’t Have to be Boring!

As I showed you all last week, we painted our studio walls grey. On its own, grey is very subdued and can be a bit dull if there isn’t enough variety in decor to accent it. While I was pitching grey as a wall color to Tim before we painted, I looked at several spaces using grey as the wall color to prove that it can be done and it can be fun! It’s especially appropriate in a setting where both of us, for painting and photography, will want to hang lots of work up and edit work in a neutral space.

(via Refinery 29)

(via Refinery 29)

Every color here really stands out from the grey, even the white furniture. Having clear furniture is nice in a small room to give the illusion of more space, but any color would work just as well since the walls are so neutral. When sitting at that desk I’d be more apt to focus on the task at hand, since everything would look so in focus against the grey.

(via Apartment Therapy)

(via Apartment Therapy)

I love how bright the roses on those pillows are and how much they stand out. Almost anything goes for print or pattern in a grey space! We don’t have curtains in our studio yet, and will have to find some, since the sun beats inside in the afternoons and it gets really warm. Those chevron curtains above look perfect for the space, so chic!

(via The Decorista)

(via The Decorista)

Going light is definitely easier to stomach than going dark, since dark walls run the risk of shrinking a space. Something like a floor rug could be the focus point in a space like this. Seeing the flowers and that gorgeous chair, I think I may be a little bit of a sucker for pink in a space, what can I say? Thanks to a recent sale at Kent’s I was able to pick up a pink computer chair, which had me over the moon. That industrial spiral light fixture is superb. Wish I could get my hands on some spot lights, or other industrial lighting…

(via Design Sponge)

(via Design Sponge)

The framed prints on this warm grey wall really stand out. Tim could get a set of prints framed, or I could frame a set of marker drawings and achieve a very similar look. Those prints are an example of how matting something (the white area around the image itself) gives it more presence. Light and bright colors in particular work best against a grey, which is fortunate since I love to work with those colors most. Having the neutral furniture really draws your eye to what’s on the walls. What a smooth, relaxing space.

(via Kitschy Living)

(via Kitschy Living)

This dresser made from milk crates is just awesome. Doing research into grey spaces made me realize how much of an ideal color it is, especially for those just starting out in the renting game! If you find yourself with lots of mismatching furniture, photos and art, but don’t have enough money to rush out and buy color coordinating everything, choose a neutral color for the walls to tie everything together. The decor above is a bit eclectic, but works well in this space. If pure grey looks yucky to you, you could choose a grey that leans more towards purple, or green, or blue.

Sunday Reflections: Design Sponge Podcast on Burnout & How to Deal

Photo by Tim Lingley

Photo by Tim Lingley

I’ve been looking for some podcasts to listen to while I paint and/or sketch, and as I was going through some of my feeds I spotted a show called “After the Jump” that Design Sponge had posted. This week’s show discussed work-life balance, and whether or not it actually exists. It’s a great podcast and I highly recommend that anyone in a creative profession, whether it’s blogging, cooking, art, etc go listen.

Grace Bonney, blog-runner at Design Sponge and host of the show, discussed why work life balance is an issue. Burn-out is a phenomenon that’s become more and more common over the past decade, but why is that? She goes on to say that with the popularity of the internet and social media, more people are finding ways to create and work their dream jobs. Having a career that you love makes it much harder to separate life and work.

One of contributing factors to burn-out is social media. We’ve become accustomed to sharing every part of our lives on the internet through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, and there can be a subconscious urge to frame our life and our issues in a way that’s pleasing to others. This puts a lot of pressure on us to be perfect and to gain the acceptance of others. With social media being so readily accessible through laptops, tablets and phones, we stay plugged into it indefinitely, even while we’re supposedly on vacation. If we’re busy trying to show off that perfect beach photo, or tag the right restaurant, are we really totally on vacation?

This podcast hit home for me because Grace reveals some personal details about medical issues that arose from burn-out. It’s both funny and sad that when we go to the doctor for a physical issue such as an infection, and are prescribed a drug, we automatically trust the doctor’s opinion. However, if we go in with physical symptoms and are told to stop stressing out and be more active, we dismiss it and assume something more is wrong with us! Of course there will be cases where there is something other than stress is at work, but stress is a powerful and terrible beast that I’ve had too much experience with. It can manifest in lots of horrible ways and be every bit as miserable as any other ailment, and needs to be taken just as seriously as an infection would be.

I don’t want to give away the entire podcast, because it’s awesome and totally worth listening to, but here are a few more areas of discussion that are covered:

  • How to figure out and achieve your goals, short term and long term.
  • Saying “no”, letting go of the “should” voice, how to get over the feeling of  “losing out”.
  • The importance of a support network.

I’ve experienced burn-out during my previous job and don’t want to experience it through art. One of the reasons I decided against art right after high school was that I didn’t want it to become something I dreaded, something I hated. Now I know that I need to separate what I do during the day, and focus on relaxing/enjoying my own life so that won’t happen. In order to feel a balanced life, I need to make sure that my personal life flourishes just as much as my professional life does. This means slowing down and not taking on too much work so that I have time to stop and smell the roses. Even if that means it’ll take longer to reach my goals, I’ll be able to enjoy the ride that much more and not be hindered by burn-out down the road.

Do you feel like you’ve reached your goals, but it doesn’t feel like you thought it would? This work-life podcast will help you figure out why and what to do about it. Go listen!

Manga Speed-Paints & a Peak at my Sketchbook

I opened Youtube to watch a video earlier in the week and saw that it had suggested a few speed-paint videos. I love watching artists go through a piece, and I’ve been looking for some inspiration to start a manga-like illustration, so I went for it and subscribed to these three artists. Even though they’re using digital methods, a lot of the color work translates pretty well to traditional media. Some of the drawings are even “sketched” beforehand and inked afterwards.

I was really interested in the way she shades fabric, especially the skirt and sleeves. I also really love the character’s eyes. Like an artist who flips a sketchbook around to draw something at a better angle, the canvas here is zoomed in, out, and flipped quite a bit.

This one goes from sketch to finished product. The artist here uses Paint Tool SAI to their full advantage, transforming and realigning shapes that manually you’d have to erase and re-draw.

Here the artist starts by inking a sketch and then blocking in some basic colors. There’s a really cool bit at around 7:35 where she creates her own brush of snowflakes. Rather than painstakingly draw snowflakes on the dress one at a time (and warping them around the fabric), she draws a few and then sort of “stamps” them on, editing them to fit the dresses curves as she goes. Really cool! Can’t do that in the traditional world though… Again, her eyes are really beautiful.

After looking to other artists and manga for ideas I started to do some sketches of my own, and it was evident that I needed some anatomy practice. I’ve been drawing a lot of animals over the past little while (foo dogs, owls, etc) and haven’t done much in terms of the human figure since those figure-drawing studios I did in the winter. Drawing faces and the figure feels a bit foreign, so I went over to Posemaniacs, loaded up some tunes and sat down for some sketching. I’d like to fill a few pages of sketches every night until I get comfortable with the idea of drawing poses again (and hopefully get better at it as well).

First sketch in the new place!

First sketch in the new place!

Page of hands.

Page of hands.

Gestures 1

Gestures 1

Gestures 2

Gestures 2

Gestures 3

Gestures 3

Experimenting with figures, shapes, more hands

Experimenting with figures, shapes, more hands

That’s not everything from the past few days, either. The sketchbook is filling up quickly! Drawing gestures is great and a good backup plan in case I don’t feel like working on anything original. It’s very relaxing to turn on some music and fill up some pages.

Hopefully the paint is mostly dry on my models painting, so I’ll be back into that pretty soon as well.

Surreal Dreaming & a Glimpse of the Future

Whether it’s through the mashing up of texture or through beautiful photo composition, fashion continues to inspire me on a level far beyond what I can wear. Now when I look at clothing, I’m not only thinking of how it would look on me, but how it would feel to draw and paint. Who would wear this outfit? What would he/she be doing in it?

Vogue Korea June 2012 (via Trendland)

Vogue Korea June 2012 (via Trendland)

The oranges and blues give this composition a surreal feeling. The model’s dreamy expression and silvery outfit reflect this as well, coupled with the strange netting covering everything, and the bubbles. It’s like she’s in that state of sleep where she’s still slightly awake, but just fading off into dream land. The netting actually helps draw all these different elements together, where otherwise they might just look cluttered.

Abbey Kee Kershaw photographed by Tom Munro (via Localshop)

Abbey Kee Kershaw photographed by Tom Munro (via Localshop)

Rather than her outfit, this model’s pose caught my eye first. It’s a pose of strength and defiance, like she’s standing up to something. With a black and white photo, the viewer’s eyes will be drawn to tiny details, without color to distract them, which is perfect for this stringy dress. The dress itself is pretty, but the accessories and hairstyle of this model really make it edgy.

dolce gabbana 2006 (via Monsieur J)

dolce gabbana 2006 (via Monsieur J)

The element that makes a piece of art, design, outfit or dress stand out to me the most is contrasting and lining different textures next to each other. It’s hard to explain why this appeals to me so much; perhaps it’s because to do it successfully, you have to be very careful to include one similar element or color in each piece for them to work in harmony. In the gorgeous dress above, we have flowers and sheer ruffles divided by a lace-like ribbon. This works for me because the colors on either side are nice together, and having the black between them really gives the combination a clean-cut look.

Flaire September 2012 (via WanderWorldLust)

Flaire September 2012 (via WanderWorldLust)

So futuristic! Seeing each generation’s version of what futuristic should look like is hilarious and inspiring. Lately it seems to be about mirror-like or reflective surfaces, like the girls’ glasses above. The background is really blown out to draw attention to them, and the pure white has a very clean and modern feel to it as well. Their simple bowl-type haircuts against their layers of clothes and accessories provide an interesting comparison of styles. I like how even though the background looks kind of dated, their fashion screams bleeding-edge.

As the weeks continue before school starts, I find myself settling into the blogger lifestyle pretty happily. 🙂 I’ll have to keep this in mind when I start to make serious decisions about my career down the road.

Until Friday!

New Studio and Finally Some Painting!

Last weekend we finally put away the boxes that were piled up in the middle of the 2nd bedroom. We’d piled them in the middle because a) it’s like the first place to pile boxes when you get in the door and b) so we could easily paint the walls. They’re not exactly unpacked yet (we just moved some to the dining room lol, but those are Tim’s boxes!) but the important thing is that we both have space to work. Rather than him or me taking the entire room, we settled on sharing it. Without further ado, here’s the tour of our new studio!

Here's our brand new studio!

Here’s our brand new studio!

Drafting table by the window cast in a nice light.

Drafting table by the window cast in a nice light.

Tim's photography corner, still in progress.

Tim’s photography corner, still in progress.

We chose a coolish grey for the walls so that anything we hang, be it photography or paintings, would have colors that really pop. The other great thing about a neutral for the walls is that anything looks good as an accent: black, white, silver, gold, polka dots, neons… anything! We’re going to have some fun with colors for the bookshelves!

Shelf full of books. We have so many books.

Shelf full of books. We have so many books.

My art corner! Drafting table by the window, computer desk right beside it for references/blogging.

My art corner! Drafting table by the window, computer desk right beside it for references/blogging.

Since there’s now space for me to paint, paint I did! I haven’t done much art since getting here; I dug out the sketchbook on Saturday night and forced myself to draw, just because I haven’t in… weeks. Ugh. I’ll confess that painting felt a bit foreign today. I’m confident, though, that if I keep at it regularly it’ll come back to me pretty quickly.

Every inch of canvas is now covered in paint!

Every inch of canvas is now covered in paint!

Hair Colors

Hair Colors

I’m happy to finally have the entire under-painting covered! I still have a lot to do, so I made a list of all the things I saw that needed work, off the top of my head. I decided to start by painting the hair, something easy and fun to get me back into the spirit of painting. I really enjoyed painting those brights colors over the browns and look forward to refining them further when these coats dry.

From here on out I’ll likely be jumping all over the place, as there are so many little details that I need to work on. I’m hoping to have this finished before I head to NSCAD in September (3 weeks to go!) so I can start back to school with a clean slate.

The other reason it’s so important for me to get in the habit of drawing/painting every day is that I’ll be doing that and more at school. In order to improve I’ll need to eat and breathe art, so I’m trying to condition myself to it now so that it won’t be such a shock when I get there and have 10-20 sketches due for homework.

The settling in part of moving is still in progress, but having a dedicated space for art really helps.

Chasing After Art & Why I Do It

Evening Fishing by Tim Lingley

Evening Fishing by Tim Lingley

I admire and look up to anyone who has left the safety of a 9 to 5 job to pursue their dreams. Many who consider this just have their heads in the clouds, but those who actively pursue it know how difficult it can be. For those who are desperate to get out but don’t know what they’d do if they had the chance, Purpose Fairy writes about Following Your Passion and Finding Your Purpose.

Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. ~ Albert Einstein

My drive to pursue art came from the desperation to break the monotonous cycle of my creatively-draining 9 to 5. Some people are already born with the drive they need to reach their goals, and some have to develop it over time.

Much of my life was laid out for me already, so I had no real reason to look at myself and ask what I really wanted. After high school, community college was the obvious choice for me because my program allowed me to live at home, pay super cheap tuition, and almost guaranteed a high-paying job upon graduation. I figured that if I had good money working regular hours, I could do art outside of work whenever I felt like it.

It wasn’t until much later that I started asking myself why I was spending so much of my day doing something that wasn’t fulfilling, something that was actually making me miserable. I’d just assumed that people toiled away a work all day whether they liked to or not, that it was just a part of life.

It was only then that I began asking myself what I really wanted out of life. It’s a hard way to go about it, but at the same time, if I hadn’t come to it this way, maybe I wouldn’t have been driven enough to pursue it to my fullest ability.

But, how do you find your passion and the drive to pursue it? The article starts us off with this:

1. Think about your childhood.

Growing up, drawing was always there from as far back as I can remember. I loved art classes all through school and drew in all the notebooks I had. I even did a painting workshop in middle school and got a radio interview out of it. It’s really encouraging to look back at those notebooks; since I was drawing every day I made a ton of progress and improved a lot, even though I wasn’t really trying.

I had no time for it in college, and that’s when I starting feeling down and out. I’m sure it also had to do with the large amount of stress I was under, but after I started work and settled in, there was still something missing in my life.

Ask yourself, If I had 1 million dollars, how would my life look like and start from there.

Jot down all the things youʼre good at, all the things youʼve ever wanted to do, all the things youʼd do if you could. You donʼt need to be rational here, just write for at least 10 minutes. Try not to let your ego take over. Just let the words roll out.

After making that list, choose one or two items that really stick out at you. Try not to be overly critical in this phase. Honestly ask yourself why you haven’t pursued those things yet. Look into what it would take to achieve those goals. You might be surprised at how easy some of them could be!

On leading a full-time creative life, Spencer Lum tells it like it is:

I can give no insights, I can offer no formulas. There are no promises here. What you get is what you get. But if you’re willing to take a gamble, I’ll bet on you. If you’re willing to put it out there, if you’re willing to fail, if you’re willing to let go of it all, thumb your nose at the world, and do it your way, I’ll believe in you. You may not find what you want, but you’ll find what you need. Want is easily known, but need is a thing that only reveals itself in retrospect.

Following your dreams, particularly in a creative field is not the path of least resistance. It’s not even an option that will get you a lot of support. No one will hold your hand, few will tell you (and actually mean it) that it’s the right thing to do. It’s a humongous test of self-discipline and perseverance.

So if it’s so difficult, why should you pursue it? I can’t answer that for you, I can only answer why I do it.

I left my job and safety net back home to pursue art because of those moments when I’m drawing, or inking, or painting when nothing else exists but the paper or canvas. Putting the brush to canvas, or the pencil to paper, just feels right.  I’d liken it to meditation, finding your center or even touching the divine. It feels like I’m doing what I’ve been made to do. It gives me a deep satisfaction and love for life that few other things do. Even if those moments are fleeting it’s worth chasing after them.

It all boils down to this: If I’m going to be spending the majority of my days and my life working on something, shouldn’t it be something I love and feel good about rather than something I don’t care about, or worse, something that makes me feel bad? Work is work and I’d rather be working towards artistic goals than anything else.

Rooms in Blue

After much deliberation (mostly holding paint chips up against the wall) we decided to paint our new living room blue (Glacier Blue if my memory serves)! Blue is a calm, relaxing and refreshing color. We thought it would be appropriate for an entertaining space as well as a space for us to relax after work or school. Blue also works with the color of the carpets, trim and furniture that we already had. But how do you decorate a blue space?

via The Decorista

via The Decorista

Both white and black can be used in a light blue space to play up contrast. Dark furniture and light carpets work well here. You can also use different blues (brighter, darker, etc) as accent colors, like they’ve done with the pillow and chair. Feel free to include blues that don’t exactly match the hue/lightness of the wall! For example, include blues that are more towards purple or green. They’ll keep the space from looking monotone and flat.

via The Aestate (tumblr)

via The Aestate (tumblr)

The mauve/violet against the navy blue really pops here. There are some neutrals to tone down the bright colors, almost a charcoal in the fireplace. Since wood is naturally brown/orangey, and orange is opposite blue on the color wheel, these two colors play well off each other and make each other look great.

via Marcus Design Inc

via Marcus Design Inc

I’ll confess that I would absolutely love to have some zebra stripes in our living room! Whether through simple accent pillows, or a chair, or a nice rug, black & white stripes look great with blue. Big yellow curtains bring warmth to the cool colors, and the green armless chair bridges the gap between yellow and blue.

via The Peak of Tres Chic

via The Peak of Tres Chic

I love this art wall; black and white photos look so classy against the blue wall above. Blue is such a great color because almost anything works as an accent against it; black & white like I mentioned earlier, silver, gold, espresso… so many possibilities! This space makes me wish we had more white furniture as it really brightens the room up. It’s also worth mentioning that pink looks amazing against blue, so go to town!

via PicsDecor.com

via PicsDecor.com

I’ve said before that wallpaper is coming back, and it’s something I’d love to play with in our space, even if it’s just on a small wall that no one ever looks at. The intricate pattern here looks gorgeous, and they’ve compromised by not doing the whole wall. Having the solid block of blue beside it gives the eye a place to rest.

We’ve finished painting the living room and are slowly putting it back together. All the boxes are finally gone (from that room at least) but we still have to organize the clutter a bit more before I’d feel comfortable showing off some photos. But stay tuned, because eventually I plan to show our new living room off!

Have a great weekend everyone!