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!

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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!

Tones & Values in Painting

I’ve realized recently that one of the areas I need to work on the most in painting is tone and value. Color value is the lightness or darkness of a color and is relative, depending on what colors surround it.

It’s easier to deal with value in color as opposed to black and white, because there is a larger range of values to work with. When doing a black and white painting or drawing, value becomes much more important since all you’re working with are shades of white and black. The painting below was the second painting I did at school and was extremely tough to get through. The mix of textures in the still life set up for us, ranging from smooth to rough, fuzzy to shiny and everything in between, provided an interesting challenge.

Greyscale Still Life by Jess Lingley

Greyscale Still Life by Jess Lingley

Just FYI, yes, the statue head’s eyes were crooked! It was trolling me the entire time. D:

I enjoyed painting the different textures and choosing a composition. However, when it came to putting tones down, I really struggled.  With acrylics, we were told not to paint a light color over a mid-tone or dark color because the lighter color would lose its luminosity, something I’d never considered before. This would lessen the overall contrast of the painting and flatten it. Since I’m used to laying it on a bit thick, I had to be a lot more careful and it made the process more tedious. We also had to mix a particular tone and apply it all over the painting, rather than working on one item at a time. This helps unify the painting and keeps things from popping out and looking strange.

The worst part of the painting was mixing a grey on my palette, and having it look completely different on the canvas because of the shades of white and black surrounding it. To show you what I mean, take a look at this greyscale from an About.com article on Tone & Value. This article explains tone and value quite well, definitely worth a read.

Tone Is Relative to Other Tones

Tone Is Relative to Other Tones

The first vertical stripe in the above picture appears to get lighter as it goes down the image; it doesn’t. It’s all the same color, but depending on where you look at it on the picture, it’s lighter or darker because of the surrounding shades of grey. The second stripe is the same, appearing to get lighter as it descends the page but is in fact the same shade the entire way down.

One of the things I’d like to do to get better at tone-matching is to paint a tone-map of all my acrylic colors. It’d be nice to have some swatches of paint to hold up to whatever I’m painting, and then put them on the canvas without trying to second-guess things.

The other tricky thing with acrylics, especially when using just black & white, is that sometimes they dry darker than what they look like when wet. Since that project, I’ve taken to mixing colors a bit lighter than what I think I’ll need. I’ve also started painting from light to dark, because it’s easier to paint over light colors than paint light over darker colors.

I learned a lot from this exercise. If you paint thickly (but not impasto) and study tones really carefully, when you move far away from the painting the tones will blend together to give the illusion of depth. Almost all the paintings in my class looked much better from far away. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to get up and away from your work!

I would like to give black & white still life painting another try. I’ve also seen examples where artists will add a tinge of color to the mix, and it produces some really interesting effects. In fact, even the different between Titanium White and Zinc White (first is a cooler white than the second) makes for a distinctive look.

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.

Friday Night Painting

My last day of work at my day job was yesterday! I feel so utterly content and relaxed this morning, knowing that I’ve taken a really big step towards accomplishing my dreams. Though I’ve learned a lot in the past six years doing technical support, it’s time for me to give art a bigger place in my life. A lot less of my time will be spent in front of a computer, and much more of it will be spent in front of books or an easel. Whether it’s learning art history, or sketching, or sculpting or whatever else NSCAD has to offer, I’ll be learning about art for the next four years of my life starting in September. I wish I could start Monday!

Finished Commission by Jess Lingley

Finished Commission by Jess Lingley

Last night I was able to finish off a commission I’d been working on for the past week and a half and Tim took some photos of me working. It felt really good to paint and know that it’s more than a hobby now, it’s a way of life. I am so happy and so excited to get into school and do this all day!

217/365 - Portrait of an Artist by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com

217/365 – Portrait of an Artist by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com

217/365 – Portrait of an Artist by Tim Lingley

Painting isn’t always pretty work, especially in the summer. When working with acrylics I really can’t have a fan on because the paint already dries so quickly. It’s sweaty, messy, and I usually end up with paint on me without knowing how it got there. It doesn’t really matter though. I’m not paying attention to all that stuff because I’m too busy enjoying the process.

Over the next week w’ll have to pack our apartment away, but since I’m home I should be able to squirrel out some time to do proper entries. Thanks for your patience, everyone! Have a great weekend!

Zoe Pawlak

Haute Design, an interior design blog, introduced me to Zoe Pawlak‘s work. Zoe does custom work for clients based on the spaces they live in, working closely with them from the conception phases of the work, all the way to staging the finished painting. She got her BFA at NSCAD (hurray!) and went onto study painting after that in Montreal and Mexico. Her use of vivid colors is striking and refreshing, like a fruity drink on a hot sunny day.

The next three pieces you’ll see are of the same subject, but painted very differently. There are some that might think that painting the same subject over and over would be too easy, but I disagree. In my own work I usually start with research sketches, followed by several sketches of what I want to paint, followed by a final sketch which I may ink depending on materials. I’ve usually drawn something 4-5 times before I go to paint it, which helps me familiarize with the subject matter, especially when it’s something I’ve never drawn before (like Owls!). It can really test your patient to work on the same subject continuously.

Heaven Hold On, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

Heaven Hold On, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

All three of these works have very different vibes to them. I love the tropical palette used above, the sun and the water in saturated soft splashes of color. Her multi-colored hair draws your attention to her whimsical expression and the birds above her.

Far, Far, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48  by Zoe Pawlak

Far, Far, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

This painting has a more graphic-style to it, with flatter colors and harsher shadows. Using the complimentary palette of pink and yellow gives these simplistic colors depth.

Semblance, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

Semblance, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

There’s a lot of texture in this piece. The colors are softer and there’s a lot more happening with the background. I like how she takes each painting to a different level of completion. These pieces are plenty different, different enough that I’d want to display them side-by-side. The Haute Design article has several photos of how her clients display her work.

Swimmer, Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

Swimmer, Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

The deep blue hues of this painting drew me in pretty quickly. The cape flowing from her shoulders draws the eye up to the carefully detailed surface of the water.

Taken Away, 48 x 48, Oil on Canvas by Zoe Pawlak

Taken Away, 48 x 48, Oil on Canvas by Zoe Pawlak

Some of the paintings Zoe does lean a bit towards abstraction. The above landscape, painted in light soft colors looks like something from a dream, or a foggy landscape painted in the early morning. Paintings like this really show off her skills with brushstrokes. Some of her lines are stark, others carefully softened and others still half-blended, keeping the texture of the brush visible.

Large Flowers (Taupe background), Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

Large Flowers (Taupe background), Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

The flowers above are so beautifully bright and really stand out against the taupe background. I like the geometry in this composition, the cool greens in the stem blossoming into warm bright petals up top.

Here’s a video showing her working away as well as showing off her work to potential clients. Being able to hand-pick clients and showing work all over the world are goals that I would like to accomplish, some day. Watching her in her element is very inspiring. The music is really pretty too, definitely worth two minutes of your time.

ZOE PAWLAK from Liam Mitchell on Vimeo.

En Garde!

Tim was away for the weekend, so I decided to make the best use of the long stretch of uninterrupted time by starting and completing a painting all in one day. Before that, I worked away some more on the models painting.

more progress on models painting

more progress on models painting

Even though I spent a handful of hours on this painting over Friday and Saturday, the progress isn’t really that apparent. I lightened the skin tones and will have to go in with some shadows once they’ve dried a bit. I spent most of Saturday working on the dress on the left; defining the pattern, darkening some colors, lightening others… I can’t decide whether I should lighten everything on it individually or try a white glaze. I’ve tried white glazes in the past and they can look foggy and inconsistent, so I may just paint everything individually… again… I also painted over the red eyes because they were beginning to creep me out.

I hadn’t done one-day painting since last year and wanted to see if my still life skills had improved at all. With citrus fruits and cocktail goodies in hand, I went to work.

En Garde, acrylic on 8"x8" canvas, by Jess Lingley

En Garde, acrylic on 8″x8″ canvas, by Jess Lingley

I figured it would take a few hours, but it ended up taking the better part of the day (time well spent!). I started with a sketch, then a burnt sienna under-painting and then laid out colors over top with acrylics. I’ve been itching to do something with bright colorful fruit for awhile, so this was a lot of fun. It also had the bonus effect of making the room smell like lemons and limes, instead of turpentine and oils.

January 2011 vs June 2012

January 2011 vs June 2012

The still life on the right was done back in January 2011; it was the first portfolio piece I completed in anticipation of applying to art school! Fortunately, I kept up with painting and had enough pieces that I could leave it out. It’s alright for a first try, but lacks depth and detail. Though it was done in oils, the blending isn’t  so great, either. Looking at the piece on the right I’m relieved; it does look like I’ve improved! 🙂

Even with acrylics and fast dry times, if you’re diligent you can get some pretty nice blending by using a dry-brush technique. This involves laying some paint down with a wet brush and quickly smudging it with a dry one. The shadows on the table cloth were a challenge and I’m not sure I’m satisfied with them, but I am happy with the shading on the fruit itself. Using complementary colors for shadows really makes the colors pop, almost glow.

Throughout the week I’ll continue to work away on the models painting, which really needs a better name (suggestions?). Pretty soon it’ll be time to block in the hair, and then the entire under-painting will be covered. Exciting!