2012 Wrap-Up

This year has been a significant one for me for many reasons.

  • I applied and got accepted to two art schools.
  • Went on a 2-week road trip with Tim and went to places I’d never been before, including New Hampshire, Boston, New York, Niagra Falls, Montreal and old Quebec.
  • I quit my safety-net tech support job, moved away from home with my husband and started a new life in Halifax.
  • I started attending NSCAD for my BFA and began fulfilling my childhood dream of attending art school!

If you’d told me five years ago that I’d be doing this, I’d have told you that you were insane. But, here I am, and I’m so happy to be here!

This year I did a lot of drawing and painting, especially in the latter half of the year. Here are the first and last pieces I’ve completed in 2012.


Assess Your Personality
by ~soulexposed on deviantART


Yummy Yummy
by ~soulexposed on deviantART

Though 2012 has been a great year, there’s more I want to accomplish in 2013:

  • Have my art shown in a gallery setting (I’m working on this one and should know in a few weeks whether or not I’m in!)
  • Improve my painting skills as much as possible, specifically by studying more anatomy and concentrating on different light sources. I bought James Gurney’s Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter for xmas, and it’s full of ideas and knowledge for me to use. I’d love to get my paws on his other book, Imaginative Realism, and might crack and buy it soon. The reason I like these books is that they teach how to paint things that don’t exist, realistically. They focus on the study of form and light to bring life to imaginary subjects. This is what I want to be able to do with my work; come up with fantastical ideas that I can bring to life through wondrous paintings.
  • Complete my 1st year at NSCAD. Since I have no intentions of leaving this should be fairly straightforward, but I’m adding it to my goals anyway because it’s always nice to have at least one thing to cross off, confidently. 🙂 This semester will be full of classes where I use my head and hands: design, modeled forms, constructed forms, wood & metal, and of course drawing. I’m hoping that building things with my hands will give me a better understanding of forms, and help me draw and paint them more confidently.
  • Sell some more of my art! It makes me sad to see pieces I love collecting dust or hiding out in my studio space, so, likely in the summer, I’ll have a nice big art sale. I would also like to start doing commissions! I’m going to start thinking about how I want to set it up, and come summer time, will start advertising to the world. I’ve got a Wacom Bamboo create on the way to help with this. It’s not an Intuos or Cintiq, but I used them at school and fell in love with them. It’ll also be a giant help to Tim when he edits photos.
  • Figure out a way to update this blog during the school year. This might mean stock-piling post ideas when I have down time so I can spread them out during the busy times. Still working on this one.
  • Stop buying new art supplies and use what I’ve got! I’ve got every kind of paint imaginable, books, and I bought tons of canvases when Michael’s had their boxing week sales, so I should be good to go from here on out! (Excluding school supplies, boo hoo)
  • Keep my chin up even when it’s tough. There have been some rough patches, like getting settled into the new living space and adjusting to a new city, but even when the schoolwork load got rough I made an effort to remember why I’m here. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to follow my dream, and I can think of nothing I want more in life. Full speed ahead!

It’s been a really great year, filled with change and new adventures. Here’s to 2013!

Cheers! ^_^

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 youÊŒre good at, all the things youÊŒve ever wanted to do, all the things youÊŒd do if you could. You donÊŒt 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.

Sunday Reflections

Since I’ve got the month off until school starts up in September (even though fully unpacking the apartment is going to take quite awhile) I’m going to try and get in 4 posts a week for the month of August. I’d like to take a bit of a different route with weekend posts, and try to reflect a bit on what I read during the week. Though much of my blog feeds are filled with pretty things to look at and lust after, they also contain very thoughtful articles and interesting insight on the art & design world.

Apartment Therapy posted an article on 10 simple things you can do to make yourself happier in your home. There are a few points in particular that interest me.

1. Make your bed. – After a long day of work or school, climbing into a nicely made bed, with fresh crisp sheets, is a simple luxury that always makes me sleep better. There’s something more relaxing about climbing into a bed that’s been made as opposed to one that’s messy. It’s like when you stay with a friend, or at a hotel, and the room has been cleaned and prepared just for you. Clean room = clean mind, maybe?

4. Start a one-line-a-day gratitude journal. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time, but I’ve always forgotten about it. Starting or ending the day on a positive note, and recording all of them, is something I could look back on if I was having a bad day or feeling down on myself. Maybe I could start an illustration-type journal with this in mind?

I’m not done with my 20’s quite yet (don’t even want to think about it, omggggg) but Mighty Girl posted a list of 20 things they wish they knew in their 20’s, and I couldn’t help but take a look.

5. Don’t complain. This has taken quite a long time to sink in. While complaining may seem like it’s helping you vent, it borders on dwelling at whatever the issue on hand is. Complaining feels good in the heat of the moment, but doing it continuously just re-opens the wound and at the end of the day, isn’t very practical. Instead of complaining, I’d rather try to find a solution to the problem or simply let it slide.

16. Focus. I’ll quote the description for this one since it says it all:

The saying, “what you’re thinking about is what you’re becoming” isn’t just chilling, it’s a universal law. Be aware of how you’re investing your attention – including your words, and your actions.

18. Don’t be intimidated. I’m still working on this one. I do know that if I want to improve at something, it doesn’t help to sit around and fret about how much I have to still do, or if I’ll be good enough or not. This applies especially with art. I just need to keep my nose to the ground, push through, and shrug off any intimidation.

Back to unpacking while enjoying the Olympics. Even if you don’t like sports, the Olympics are undeniably a celebration of the beauty and ability of the human body. Enjoy the rest of your weekends, and see you all tomorrow!

Small Cozy Workspaces

It can be a downer to think of spending the majority of your week in front of a computer or in an office, but it doesn’t have to be all that bad. If you’re working from home or have the choice of where you work, there are lots of things you can do to make the space more comfortable and inviting.

(via Made By Girl)

(via Made By Girl)

If you’re stuck with a small office or with a bedroom office, there are still lots of options. Keep the clutter to a minimum (could be a motivator to keep the bedroom tidy!) and park yourself by a nice big window. Flowers add a simple pop of color to any space and make the room feel more alive. I would keep the paint colors more subtle and pale to keep the area from being over-stimulating, to make it easier to spend long amounts of time in without getting eye-strain. Magazines about subjects in your field add a nice touch to the room as well.

(via blushingapples on tumblr)

(via blushingapples on tumblr)

This office is very similar to the one above, with a simple desk set in front of a beautiful floor to ceiling window. Rugs are a great way to add color and warmth to an area and blankets or shawls hanging over your chair are great for those chilly winter days (and also go great with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea).

(via Apartment Therapy)

(via Apartment Therapy)

Art can be either hung directly on the walls or placed on shelves, adding style to a space as well as inspiration. I like how the art here directly complements the space; the wood of the desk against the blue wall echoes the beach motifs in the paintings above it. It creates a very relaxed vibe, good for balancing out a stressful or deadline-driven job. Large sea shells would be a cute addition to this desk and could hold various odds ‘n’ ends, even business cards.

Marleau the Cat's studio (via LifeHacker)

Marleau the Cat’s studio (via LifeHacker)

This looks more like a living area than an office, which can be good or bad depending on what motivates you. Working at home has a lot of advantages like flexible hours and convenience, but separating work life from home life becomes a lot more difficult. Having greenery in or near an office can help make it feel less sterile, keep it feeling refreshed. Talk to your local plant-shop about greenery that is easy to take care of if you struggle at keeping them alive, like I do. Like above, I also have quite a few books by my computer when I need to get away from the bright screen for awhile. Getting lost in a book can really take my mind off things, whereas reading them on a computer can be filled with distractions in the form of facebook, twitter, email, etc.

(via Decor8)

(via Decor8)

Surrounding yourself with art and design you like can help keep you motivated. Keeping a clean and organized space is important; when I go to start a new project I usually begin by tidying up the space. This helps give me a sense of closure with the other project and gives me a nice clean encouraging space to start the new one. If your space is looking a little drab, you can throw small accent pieces into the mix to spice it up, like colorful pillows or a pink office chair like the one above.

It’s going to rain all weekend so I might get some more painting in. I’ve been avoiding the models painting for a little while, it deserves some love. While I’ve been working away on this blog, my husband Tim has started his own photography blog, track his 365 as well as the various places he finds inspiration. Go check it out, and have a great weekend!

Road-trip 2012: Part II, Canada

I’ll be the first to admit that after the tornado of craziness that was Boston & NYC, I was relieved to get back into Canada via Niagara Falls. Like, ridiculously relieved. It’s not that I was having a bad time in the States, I just took for granted how much I love where I live. Getting back into the country had an air of romance to it. The air was so refreshing, full of moisture from the falls. Everywhere we walked was so clean and the overall atmosphere was a lot calmer. There were tons of freshly planted flowers coming into bloom… there were even horse-drawn carriages! The breeze was a bit chilly but it was nice and warm out, so we wandered around a bit before calling it a night. With everything lit up, it was like a strange wonderland. I expected the falls to be beautiful, but didn’t expect all the glitz & glamour of the city to go with it.

The next day was spent taking our time exploring the area, as well as chilling inside for a bit in the afternoon. I really enjoyed our time here, but we noticed something pretty quickly; everything was at least x3 times as expensive as it was in the States! This applied to food, drinks, even ice cream. Seven dollars for a Peanut Buster Parfait? C’mon! I did, however, find a really cute Betty Boop lunch box that was a perfect size for my makeup collection.

Lights at Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Lights at Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Niagara Falls, via Tim Lingley

Betty Boop makeup box, via Instagram

Betty Boop makeup box, via Instagram

We spent an evening in Ottawa, just as a stop-off on the way to Montreal. As it turned out, I would’ve preferred to have spent more time in Ottawa than in Niagara Falls. Niagara was certainly beautiful, but we saw most of what we wanted to see the evening we went out for a stroll (Tim got most of his photos then, as well). We got to Ottawa around supper time and immediately saw at least five places we wanted to stop and see downtown! I found an art supply store (Wallack’s) at 4:45pm, fifteen minutes before they closed. Tim encouraged me to go in anyway and I made a mad dash to grab things; the selection there was so much better than what I’d found in NYC! Thankfully we decided to spend the next morning, beautiful and sunny, downtown so that I could examine everything more carefully (Tim found some camera stores as well). I was able to get a lot of items from my art list there including marker bleed-proof paper, illustration boards, water brushes, a beginner copic spray gun, film-protect-ant for spray paint, wooden panels to paint on and a multitude of other goodies. We indulged in some souvlaki for lunch which was so delicious and a great summer food.

Tim & I in front of Parliment in Ottawa

Tim & I in front of Parliament in Ottawa, taken after we took another couples’ photo for them. 🙂

Montreal was nice the afternoon we arrived, but was rainy the entire next day. Rather than wander the streets in the rain like we did in Boston, and since we were starting to feel the exhaustion of the trip, we spent the day underground in the maze of malls and subways that connect everything downtown. I didn’t get to see much art but I did notice that fashion there is a much bigger deal. Almost everyone looked like they put a lot of effort into their clothes/accessories, much more so than anywhere else we’d been. Tim & I were a bit swept up in it; he got a haircut and I got a manicure (still going strong after a week AND having just cut my nails!).

Graffiti in Montreal, via Tim Lingley

Graffiti in Montreal, via Tim Lingley

One of the many malls in underground Montreal, via Tim Lingley

One of the many malls in underground Montreal, via Tim Lingley

Hot Chocolate! via Tim Lingley

Hot Chocolate! via Tim Lingley

Old Quebec was the final stop of our trip and proved to be quite a gem! I got to use some of my bilingual skills and didn’t do half badly! I understand most of what people said as long as they didn’t talk too fast, but answering them was a bit harder. Vieux Quebec was the highlight of the visit, with a ton of galleries to enjoy amongst all the wonderful architecture and food it features. Even though it was cold and rainy (again!) there were lots of places to pop into to escape the weather. The first day in Quebec we stumbled upon a midevil-themed store where I had a great french conversation with the sales girl, and I picked up a ring, one of the other items I’d wanted to buy on this trip.

Montreal Manicure & Medieval Ring from Vieux Quebec, via Instagram

Montreal Manicure & Medieval Ring from Vieux Quebec, via Instagram

158/365 - Old City Quebec by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com

158/365 – Old City Quebec by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com

158/365 – Old City Quebec by Tim Lingley

Vieux Quebec, dans le plui, via Tim Lingley

Vieux Quebec, dans le plui, via Tim Lingley

Bons bons! via Tim Lingley

Bons bons! via Tim Lingley

Even though we were only in each spot for two days or less, I got enough of a taste of everything to feel satisfied, and to know which cities I’d want to go back to. I think the next trip we take should be a relaxed sandy one, but if I had to choose one city to revisit out of what I’ve seen, I’d like to go back to Ottawa or Boston. We really enjoyed the downtown area of Ottawa and despite the fact that I’ve been there twice on my own, most of what we explored, I hadn’t seen before. Based on the size and quality of the art store, I feel like the art scene there is booming and would like to explore it more. If we went to the US again, I’d like to go back to Boston; the food was amazing everywhere we went and Newbury Street was inspiring! Honestly, Boston felt more trendy and upbeat than New York. I’d love to explore it more when it’s not cold and rainy.

It also ended up being a learning experience for both Tim & I in several ways. As we got farther into the trip, it became a taste-test of various places we may end up in the next five years. As much as I love the Maritimes and desperately want to stay here, work has not been as plentiful as we need it to be. For reasons I’m going to elaborate on, probably in the next week or two, Halifax is where I want to end up by the end of the summer. So far though, Tim hasn’t been offered any work there. We’re keeping our fingers crossed; it’s a great city just a big bigger than where we are now, not as harsh of a move as, say, Toronto would be. It might be in the cards for us to go a bit further west, though hopefully only as far as Toronto. It seems there are tons of options for both of us there.

The other thing I noticed were the differences between bigger galleries and smaller, independent ones. I loved seeing the work of the masters up close and personal, but I also really loved seeing all the new talent in the smaller galleries! Not to mention they were less crowded and most of the paintings were easier to look at. It’s very encouraging to see so many new artists with so much great work!

I thought I would feel overwhelmed looking at paintings from Dali and Van Gough, but I didn’t. Instead, I felt… not alone? It may be pretentious of me to say this, but I feel like I share something with these artists. They felt so passionately about what they did and put so much time into it, even in many cases where they saw no recognition or money from it. They were sometimes labeled as crazy or were simply dismissed. But they did it anyway, because when you feel passionate enough about something to the point where you can feel it in your core, there just isn’t anything else. It’s comforting to know that the feeling I get when I paint or draw, when I’m really in the thick of it and I’m not listening to the background music or thinking about the clock or anything else, others share this. The feelings I get when I look at paintings, whether I’m overwhelmed, overjoyed, euphoric or saddened… it’s like I can connect with the artist on some level.

Special thanks to hubby Tim Lingley for taking all the amazing photos during our trip! He purchased a new lens before we left and has certainly put it to good use.

All Tuckered Out

All Tuckered Out (and glad to see our kitties!)

Whew! I’m very glad to be back home though and finally able to use this inspiration I’ve been gathering over the past two weeks! Back to normal blog posts on Friday, starting with a progress post on what I’ve been doing since I got back.

Restless Spring Rain

Over the long weekend I finished my Guidance Owl illustration and began on the Death Owl:

Death Owl, progress by Jess Lingley

Death Owl, progress by Jess Lingley

The sky was a lot of fun, I kind of channeled a little Van Gough with it. Streaks of color blended together give a lovely effect, even if it’s not totally realistic. The lighting in this piece is going to be another challenge, since I don’t color with evening palettes very often. I haven’t been able to find any solid references for this kind of color online, so I’m winging it and having a lot of fun.

The more I color in, the more the finished product starts to come together in my mind. Frequently I find things that I’ve missed while inking, and come up with ways to make several parts in the piece work together. I’m trying to blend the colors in this really well, using some of the techniques I posted in the COPIC time-lapse videos I posted earlier in the week.

With spring, I start to come out of “hibernation mode” and feel incredibly ambitious. The snow melts away and grass peaks through the brown; everything feels new and fresh. As it warms up and the rain begins, it washes away all the grime and dirt that the winter left behind, cleaning the slate for things to come in the summer. Tim’s exams are almost done and all of my projects this year have been self-directed. On top of that, I haven’t done any classes, not that I’ve been able to find any that have honestly interested me. It’s not that I’m losing the flame for art: quite the opposite, actually. I’m feeling pretty restless and eager to embark on something totally new and exciting.

Out the Window by Tim Lingley

Out the Window by Tim Lingley

I’ve been scheming away on some pretty big changes that I can’t quite announce yet (groooooooooan) but in the meantime, after Tim has finished his last exam, we’re going on a road trip! It’s an ambitious two-week drive down through New Hampshire, Boston, New York and back up through Niagara Falls, with a quick stop in Ottawa and then onto Montreal and Quebec before heading back home. I’ve only been to Ottawa and am so looking forward to the change of scenery! Walking around in an unfamiliar place, eating interesting local cuisine, seeing the sun set and rise over a different horizon… all of these things are exactly what I need to quench this thirst of mine! I’ve almost finished booking accommodations and then it’s on to figuring out what to do in the little time we have at each stop. You can bet I’m going to visit as many galleries and local craft shops as possible.

photo by Tim Lingley

photo by Tim Lingley

I have all these romantic visions of sipping espresso and water-coloring painting in New York City… so exciting! I also can’t wait to check out what the art shops have to offer compared to what’s available here… I don’t know what internet is going to be like during the trip so I’m planning to stock-pile some posts, so this blog doesn’t get too dusty while I’m gone. With any luck I’ll be able to post some interesting tidbits from the road, too. I’ll be out the last week of April and the first week of May, but until then, it’s business as usual.

For anyone who’s been to these places before: can you recommend anything? Restaurants, good look-out spots, galleries or anything else of interest?