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!

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.

Still Lifes & Perspective Drawing

That one busy week quickly turned into two! Most of my nights have been occupied with homework until quite recently. I’ve got a bit of a break for the Thanksgiving weekend, and by that I mean I have less homework than normal. It’s worth pointing out that this is not a complaint! If I’m going to put my energy into something, art is better than almost anything else I can think of. It’s been exhausting trying to complete all my work on time and to a level I feel good about, but so so rewarding.

So far my drawing class has been the most challenging because it’s so technical, but I think I’m getting a lot out of it because I have to work harder at it. On Thursday I got some of the work back that I’ve done over the past few weeks, so I’m going to share my “greatest hits” since there is a pile of work to go through (at least 15 drawings in all).

2 1/2 Hour Still Life by Jess Lingley

2 1/2 Hour Still Life by Jess Lingley

This is one of the pieces from my first homework assignment. I was given roughly 2 and a half hours to do it, and was very careful about shading and blending the graphite to look smooth. The point of the assignment was for us to pay attention to how we use our time, which would set the tone for the rest of the semester. I’m still very bad at judging how long something will take, which has led to most of my late nights. I’m just now starting to get wise and start things really early. If this drawing looks a little warped, it’s because I used fixative (ie hair spray lol) on the paper to set the graphite so it wouldn’t smudge as much. After using nicer Mayfair paper, the drawbacks of sketchbook paper are becoming more clear to me.

Contour Drawing of Toys by Jess Lingley

Contour Drawing of Toys by Jess Lingley

We weren’t allowed to use any shading in this assignment and had to fill the frame (19″ x 19″ in this case) the best we could. I’ve started becoming more aware of planes and space in my drawings, using dark lines to bring objects forward and lighter lines to push them back. I find myself using a lot more of the pencils in my case (6F-6B range) than I’ve used before. It gives the drawings dimension and depth. I knew as soon as I saw the description that I wanted to use toys from my studio in the drawing, which ended up being a lot of fun.

Charcoal Still Life by Jess Lingley

Charcoal Still Life by Jess Lingley

I just completed this one last Thursday in class. We started by filling the sheet with charcoal and using erasers to sculpt out the shapes, darkening with charcoal and lightening with chalk as needed. I really like this method of working and will go back to it again. I did chalk/charcoal exercises in middle school as well, and really liked that you were able to shade as well as lighten, instead of just simply shading on white paper. My prof said that as soon as he set up the skull, he knew I’d be drawing it. Not sure what to make of that… 🙂

sneak peak at perspective assignment

sneak peak at perspective assignment

Here’s a sneak peak at what I’ll be working on over the rest of this weekend: the dreaded perspective assignment! My heart sank a bit when we got the original assignment last week, as I have little experience with perspective and was never very good at making the rules work for me. I could get the lines down and draw the shapes okay, but once I tried making them into believable structures they looked like rectangles with doors and windows in strange places, hardly believable.

I started the assignment 6 different times in my sketchbook before settling on a nice one-point-perspective backdrop. There was a lot of frustration in getting things going, but I was able to realize something very important about why perspective is so difficult for me. It’s not the rules; I’m familiar with them and I’m able to get my horizon line and vanishing points in, no problem. It’s not difficult to add shapes as placeholders for buildings, either. It’s when I go to put detail in them that things get all screwy. My sense of scale isn’t great and for all the houses I’ve seen, when trying to draw one, my brain simply empties.

The solution to that is to study and draw as many houses/offices as I can until I get more comfortable with them. After I got the building blocks completed for the above drawing I started researching what kind of buildings I wanted to populate my town with and carefully began adding windows, doors and details. I can honestly say that as of now, I’m having fun with it! I’ve got this whole town at my disposal and can add as many people, cats and signs as I want. Having gotten over the fear of not being able to draw a city, I’m ready to put some imagination and life into it.

I’m not sure how my post schedule is going to hold up over the next few weeks, as I’ve got more projects looming on the horizon. I’m also thinking that my content may become more art-related (as opposed to design) since that’s where I’m more immersed right now, but nothing is for sure. I do want to keep this blog up, because it’s important for me to have a voice outside of studies.

In the mean time, have a happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone! This year I’m thankful for the chance to finally realize my passions and pursue art school (on top of being thankful for the wonderful friends and family I have of course). It’s been amazing so far and every week brings new challenges. It’s been a long while since I’ve felt this good about where I am in my life. Cheers!

Doodling & Flowers

My first week at NSCAD was fantastic, better than I could’ve hoped for! It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by other artists and really encourages me to up my game in terms of skills. I thought we’d be starting with basics for drawing, but we were assigned pretty detailed homework, and I’ve got over 3 hours of drawings due next Thursday. I may share some sketches when I’m done if I feel they’re up-to-snuff, but won’t be sharing every single thing along the way, simply because there will be so much to photo/scan. I will have hundreds of drawings by end of semester.

In our studio class we were introduced to an exercise called Zentangle. You basically divide up a small piece of paper into several sections, and fill each of those sections with doodles/patterns. It’s extremely relaxing and creatively soothing. I highly recommend it to everyone! It’s great for creative block as well, since it’s more intuitive and doesn’t require a lot of thought. Check out the website for techniques and for videos of other people zentangling.

Doodling with black & white oil pastels.

Doodling with black & white oil pastels.

This is a larger version of that sort of doodle done with black & white oil pastels. I’m not a huge fan of pastels as I find them hard to use and blend, but the longer I worked on this, the better I felt about it. I’ve never really been confident working in black and white (with paint and pastels) but the only way to conquer that is to practice practice practice. Hopefully with more practice I’ll get better at pastels and feel more comfortable working with them.

Having fun with zentangling.

Having fun with zentangling.

This is a photo out of the moleskin journal I got for xmas last year; I finally have a use for it! It’s so much fun to doodle and not worry about the outcome. It’s also a great way to kill time if you’re bored! I predict that I will go through dozens of micron pens for this kind of thing. Maybe I’ll involve color soon as well. These kinds of doodles could be a great jumping-off point for a painting, as well.

Gorgeous multi-colored Hydrangea at Public Gardens.

Gorgeous multi-colored Hydrangea at Public Gardens.

On Saturday we went downtown so I could get some architecture sketching in, and walked through Public Gardens. Tim pointed out these hydrangea and I was immediately taken by their beautiful subtle shifts of color. I would love to paint these sorts of flowers and colors.

Alright, off to more drawing homework! Take care everyone!

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.

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!

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!