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?

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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 ofΒ  “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. πŸ™‚ I’ll have to keep this in mind when I start to make serious decisions about my career down the road.

Until Friday!