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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The Owls Are All Inked

Death Owl Inks by Jess Naish Lingley

Death Owl Inks by Jess Naish Lingley

The third owl image is now inked! I’m a little surprised that I didn’t empty out any of my pens on these drawings, given all the detail I put in. I plan to look at the three as a whole and make sure the styling is consistent (line widths and such). Having done a few copic illustrations, I’ve started adjusting the way I ink to better suit the medium. For example, with copics, coloring a large area evenly is difficult since the medium dries so fast and can streak, so I tried to fill empty space as much as possible to correct for this (the exception being the sky where I plan to do some color-blending). Now the fun begins… swatching some copics in my sketchbook!

I began another project last Thursday, this one completely different than what I’ve been doing.

Abstract for bedroom in progress

Abstract for bedroom in progress

There’s a lot of empty wall space in our bedroom and I’ve been meaning to paint another abstract, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and paint something for our room. I wanted to really get away from what I’ve been doing, the researching and planning and measuring out etc etc. With this I put on some music and just went for it, only having a color palette in mind. It’s already changed a lot from where I started (LOTS of water). I started by painting on the floor so the water wouldn’t run off, which as it turns out, is really hard on my back. Thankfully it’s dry now and I’m pretty well done putting large amounts of water on it, so I’ve got it up on an easel.

For a little inspiration, I treated myself to a book at the art store:

Acrylic Innovation (via Amazon.ca)

Acrylic Innovation (via Amazon.ca)

I had a choice between two other books on acrylics but chose this one because it covers so many different styles and interviews many different artists. The other books were mainly just a list of different techniques with no context. No word of a lie, I’ve been reading this book all weekend and love every page! I’ve already learned so much about abstraction using acrylics and I’m super impressed with the material and artists involved. Most of the hyper-realism I’ve seen has been by oil painters, but there are a handful of artists interviewed in this book that really know how to push acrylics. I highly recommend it!

One last splurge I made after writing that gushing article last Wednesday about Natalia Fabia:

Hi Fructose issue 22 (via hifructose.com)

Hi Fructose issue 22 (via hifructose.com)

Hi Fructose issue 22, pick it up if you get a chance! It contains a 12-page spread interviewing Natalia. Great magazine, great price and the only ads are other artists advertising their shows.

Ai Yazawa

During my teenage years, anime & manga had a huge impact on my developing art style. I enjoyed the mainstream favorites (Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Escaflowne, Princess Mononoke and regrettably even Pokemon) and began exploring my local comic and basically judging books by their covers! Because of the wonderful art displayed, I was instantly drawn to Oh! My Goddess! and Magic Knight Rayearth, two manga with strong female characters with detail-heavy gorgeous artwork. Though I’m not as much of an otaku as I used to be, recently I’ve been completely taken in by Ai Yazawa’s works.

I started with Gokinjo Monogatari (aka Neighbourhood Story), about a group of coming-of-age high schoolers trying to make their way in the art world. In Japan, their high school is more of an equivalent to our colleges and many high schools require entrance exams. You can even begin specializing in a career at that age; the characters in this manga attend a local art school.  We mainly follow the story of Miwako and her adventures through Fashion Design as she contemplates her feelings for long-time best friend and neighbour, Tsutomu. The art is very bright and cheery while still containing a ton of intricate detail necessary to show off the fashion works of the main character.

Gokinjo Monogatari by Ai Yazawa (via myAnimeList)

Gokinjo Monogatari (the anime) by Ai Yazawa (via myAnimeList)

gokinjo monogatari by ai yazawa (via mangareader.net)

gokinjo monogatari by ai yazawa (via mangareader.net)

Though I followed that up by the manga Paradise Kiss, I’ve actually already seen the anime version prior to reading (there’s also an anime version of Neighbourhood Story but I haven’t been able to find it, subbed at least). The storyline is quite similar to Gokinjo, but instead of focusing on art school students we follow Yukari aka Caroline as she struggles to write entrance exams to a prestigious high school, all the while being swept up in a world of creativity inside herself she didn’t know existed. The art style here is comparatively matured to Gokinjo. Yazawa has eased off on the huge eyes and the body shapes are more pronounced and fleshed out. The story is a bit more mature as well with nudity and sexuality being fairly up-front in the storyline. The anime is only 12 episodes and the manga is 6 volumes, easily done in a weekend!

Paradise Kiss (the anime) by Ai Yazawa, via AnimeHere.com

Paradise Kiss (the anime) by Ai Yazawa, via AnimeHere.com

Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa (via anymanga.com)

Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa (via anymanga.com)

Yazawa’s most popular manga by far is known as Nana and has a first season in anime form to match. This manga follows two lead characters, both named Nana, as they follow their dreams, whether it’s to find a husband or be a rockstar. The “find a husband” bit may sound a bit sad and I’ll be honest, Nana #1 (aka Hachiko) is easy to hate at first. She makes a lot of bad decisions and is generally very whiny and hesitant to grow up. But at a gargantuan 20 volumes this manga has lots of space for character development and as tedious as she can be, it’s worth reading to watch her grow. The other Nana is much more head strong and ambitious with solid goals and a take-no-shit attitude, a very refreshing contrast to Hachiko. Is she willing to sacrifice her own love life to achieve her dreams of singing? This is the most mature of Yazawa’s manga that I’ve read so far due to the rockstar material (sex, drugs ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll baby!) but is also the most deep. This is a story of ambition, dreams, and of learning how in life actions have consequences.

Nana by Ai Yazawa, via Blogspot

Nana by Ai Yazawa, via Blogspot

Nana the anime, by Ai Yazawa (via onlyhdwallpapers.com)

Nana the anime, by Ai Yazawa (via onlyhdwallpapers.com)

What attracted me to read more of Yazawa’s work is her attention to detail and wonderful creativity. It turns out that before she became a mangaka, she attended fashion school for awhile which is obvious in her work. I look forward to each page in her manga because each frame is another work of art, from the delicate expressions to the well-thought-out hairstyles and of course, the amazing outfits. All of the works I’ve read of hers have many characters and yet she has no trouble coming up with consistently beautiful costumes and outfits for all of them! Just talking about this makes me want to go back and re-read/watch all of it again. Her worlds are so full and rich that I find myself instantly immersed in them… especially the ones concerning art school.

In addition to all the manga she’s written (there are many more than what I’ve described here) she’s also released some art books with color illustrations. I’ve been unable to find them so far but would love to get my hands on them. Images from these books have been floating around online and can be found with good ol’ Google Image Search.

Probably the biggest selling point for me in these stories are the strong female leads, even if they don’t begin that way. Growing up I was used to a lot of male main characters with females being left as secondary or side characters. In these works the females are front and center and are, for the most part, strong-willed, creative and beautiful all in their own way. I think it would be difficult to read these and not want to chase after your own dreams. I recommend them all, though if you’re puzzled on where to start, Nana seems to be the most accessible.

Gift Ideas for the Artist!

Yesterday I finished writing an article for a geek blog I used to be part of, MissionGeek, on what to buy for the geek (or not) girl in your life for the holidays and got to thinking; what would make a nice gift for the artist?

Who am I kidding, this is just a list of stuff I want for xmas. Oh well, enjoy anyway!

First of all, in spite of awesome Black Friday sales online that I particpated in I am trying to shop more locally this year and would encourage you to do the same. Most of the time my art shopping happens at Endeavours in down town Fredericton. They’ve always had thoughtful answers for any of my questions, such as what to use to paint on and seal on a hockey helmet, and how to paint/what to use for an illustration on a wooden table. If there’s a particular product you’re looking for it’s best to ask questions and make sure you’re getting the right thing.

That being said, localized art stores aren’t accessible to all of us so shopping online is sometimes a more reasonable option. DickBlick is a pretty humongous online art store and carries almost anything I can think of in terms of supplies and resources. If you’re looking to buy some slightly-used supplies on the cheap, E-Bay or Kijiji are other viable options. Often I see people buy sets of COPIC markers and they end up collecting dust, never to be used, and eventually the artist sells them for a fraction of the price.

Onto actual gift ideas! I’ve just spotted this and would absolutely love to have it:

Artist's Survival Kit

Artist's Survival Kit at DickBlick

I use the brush cleaner and it works wonderfully. Based on the amount of paint that I get on everything else, I could probably use the other cleaners as well and I’m always looking for ways to take better care of the brushes I have. As far as I know, the soap isn’t toxic and smells nice as well.

I love books about art but they are a tricky thing to gift. Without knowing the skill level of the artist in question, buying an instruction book is a risky venture unless they were specifically asking for such. Reference books or coffee table-type books are a good bet because they’re interesting to artists of any skill set. A beginner can learn tons from master works and professionals can look to them for inspiration. What I’m trying to say is: go for the books with plenty of pictures. This could be paintings, photography or graphic design, anything to get the creative juices flowing.

For those not worried about breaking the bank, feast your eyes on the Cintiq 24HD Graphics Tablet.

Cintiq 24HD Tablet

Cintiq 24HD Tablet at Wacom

I’ve used a Cintiq 21UX and while the included software is a bit wonky, it’s extremely slick. No mess, no chemical smells or poisons and undoing mistakes is as easy as ctrl-z. The digital pen is pressure-sensitive and mimics different paints and brushes quite well. At $2500 USD it’s a big-ticket item but when you calculate how much it costs to buy brushes, paint, cleaner and canvases it doesn’t seem that bad.

Does the artist in your life have all of these things? For someone who has all the supplies they need, fuel for the brain is next on the list. I recommend copious amounts of caffeine and candy in any/all forms. Tea, coffee and mugs are always appreciated (even if the mugs get used for brushes instead of drinks).

Happy shopping!

Progress 17-11-11

I may have been quiet on the blog-front but I’ve been busy on the art-front:

Male Foo Dog, Almost Done

Male Foo Dog, Almost Done

I’m almost done! All that’s left is to re-do the outlines and I should be able to handle that tonight. After that I can get cracking on the second table. Hopefully I’ll be able to go through it a bit faster now that I’m feeling better and I know what to expect from the first table.

Watercolor Shading

Watercolor Shading

In my third watercolors class we looked at different methods of shading. Using a wet-on-wet technique (wet paint on wet paper) you can get some beautiful blending and blooming effects. I was under the impression that watercolor was a very unforgivable medium, but I was wrong! Re-wetting paint after it’s dried allows some flexibility. You can continue to blend it or move it around, to a certain extent. Using complimentary colors from the color wheel, she instructed us on how to shade a tree.

I’ll admit it; landscapes terrify me. I’m willing to tackle anything else in the world as a subject. I love still lives of food, clothing, nic nacs and everything else. I love illustrations and fantasy and tattoo style artwork. But when I look at a tree and try to comprehend the pattern of the bark, the shapes of the branches or the clusters of leaves, I panic a little bit. Okay, a lot. The last class-experience I had drawing trees left a bad taste in my mouth. We’d been asked to draw a tree from our imagination. No instruction on technique, no reference, just from our minds. No matter what we drew it wasn’t right or wrong. In my mind it was a complete waste of time. I can draw “from my mind” in my own time… but I digress. This class was much better. She did a demo of how she’d start a painting and how she’d layer it to get the desired effect.

My “tree” might not have much resemblance to something you’d see outside but as a shading exercise I think it was successful. My husband said he liked it better upside down and upon further inspection, I did too, so that’s how I’m showing it to you.

Curtains in the Sun

Curtains in the Sun

It’s been over a week since I completed a still life so I decided to jump in head first with some watercolors on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon while Tim was at school. I won’t say I’m a fan of math or its instruments, but I did bust out a ruler for this to get some basic structure before laying down the paints. It was a learning experience; you can add endless layers to a painting to give it depth. It’s only limited by your patience. Mine lasted about 4-5 hours before I decided the painting was done, but realistically I probably could’ve taken it a bit further. However, I’m more of an onwards-and-upwards person so I’ll try and reflect that in my next painting.

This week I received a book in the mail I’d ordered last week that I’ve been pining over for awhile now: Artist’s Handbook. This book is a great introduction to all things art! I found that, after my oil-painting class from 2010, I’d been wanting a bit more in terms of instruction on specific technique (such as glazing, impasto, etc).Artist’s Handbook gives some brief but thorough techniques on a wide array of mediums, from pencils to paint to photography to printing. Since I don’t have the money to take every art class I’d like to (re: all of them) this should help me narrow down the field a bit. I’d highly recommend it for the artist looking for a bit more on any medium!

This week I want to finish the first end table and start into the second. As well, I have another watercolors class tomorrow night and a figure drawing studio on Wednesday! If I don’t have another progress report this week, I’ll try and put up another inspiration post, since there is so much of it around this time of year.

anatomy study and redecorating

I’ve decided that when I’m uninspired to start a new drawing or painting, I will fall back onto anatomy studies. A friend gave me a book last year called “Anatomy for the Artist”, by Tom Flint & Peter Stayner. The book is filled with skeletons, bones, muscles and more to keep me busy practicing. Here is my first study from the book:

After I finished the Doctor Who painting, I wanted to paint something for our living room. At first I was going to paint some sunflowers, but I couldn’t make up my mind on exactly what I wanted. Around that time I decided that we needed to go to Home Depot to pick up some sand paper so that I could finally sand down Tim’s brother’s helmet, so that I could begin painting it. I got my sand paper, but somehow we wandered to the paint isle and I ended up with an armful of catalogs and paint chips. It seems that I now have the wild urge to redecorate. Thanks to the paint catalogues and the Apartment Therapy website, I have tons of ideas on what to do with the apartment. We’re going to start on the living room; I envision it having a Greek-theme, rich with early colors like reds, browns and oranges, with yellow curtains to brighten the room. Based on that idea, I have decided to paint a vintage travel poster of Greece (several examples of what I’m referring to). I can’t find one to copy but that’s fine; I’d like to design my own anyway, using some of the photos we took while we were there.

Over the past week I went on a bit of a book-buying spree, I bought these three books from amazon and found this one in a local book store. The hope is that these books will keep me motivated to continue on and persevere through the next two years, until I can tackle the art thing full time. So far, the Creative License book is fantastic. It’s written from the POV of someone who went through a similar trial to mine, only it took them 30 years to figure it out. I’m thankful that it’s only taken me three! I’m still waiting for the other three books.

There are a lot of creative things going on in my life right now and it feels sort of… balanced, for once. One more week until my portrait oil painting course! I’m excited for that; painting with oils will be an adventure for sure. Additionally, my friend (the same one that gave me the anatomy book) is staying with me for a few days while she takes a different course. I look forward to discussing art and having some creative company.

summer's here

The days are much warmer now and I feel more at ease, though a bit restless. During the day while I’m inside, I’m antsy to get out and soak up the sun. It feels like I’m solar powered. The Summer Solstice was on Monday; I watched the sun set outside on my deck and thought of the positive things that summer will bring with it, all of the dreams and goals floating around in my mind. I feel more ambitious in this season, more healthy, barring a few issues I’m waiting to have looked at. Right now I’m actually very groggy and feel like I’m walking around in a haze. Hopefully this will clear within the next month or so. I’m trying not to let it interfere with my life.

Painting, as I’ve probably said too many times already, is incredible. After completing an under-painting, laying the colors on top and watching shapes come to life is an amazing, invigorating feeling. The hours fly by and it doesn’t feel like any kind of work, it just flows and comes naturally. I wish I could paint all the time, it’s like meditation. Yesterday after work I dragged out the easel that Tim’s dad built for me for Christmas one year, into the sun so that I could paint with natural light. It felt great and warm and so peaceful.

Bear with me, I know I’m using a lot of different ways to display images on this blog at the moment. Photobucket doesn’t let me upload anything of quality and Deviantart won’t let me share anything from the scrapbook section, so I may be sticking with ImageShack instead.

I’ve been watching Doctor Who Season 5 and enjoying it immensely; this painting is a scene from the first episode. As soon as it came up, I knew I wanted to paint it. The colors are so beautiful and vibrant, and their expressions are so intense.

– The sketch using a grid.

– The under-painting, done in Burnt Sienna.

– My light was fading, so this photo is blurry. I began adding colors on top of the under-painting. I made an effort to make the under-painting as detailed as possible so I wouldn’t have to worry too much about thinking of details when painting over it; his hair has been really fun to paint over.

Mixing colors, even just seeing how many colors actually make up a face, or hair, is fascinating. It’s fun to try and mix random colors together to see what will happen. When using palette paper, I am not worried about colors running together; in fact, some times I will even pick from different color-mixes used for different parts of the painting to come up with new and different colors. I love the natural dark color that Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber create, so much more beautiful than black.

I am also working on a goalie helmet design; I will post pictures of the COPIC marker designs as soon as I can get photos of them. I really need to look into a new scanner. This project is exciting for me because I’ve never done anything like it before; I like using art in different ways like this, painting or designing on unfamiliar materials/mediums.

Last week I quickly finished Sunshine and devoured Dimestone Magic. Now I’m almost the Hollow (2nd book in a trilogy by Nora Roberts) and just started Stolen Magic by M.J. Putney. Reading about fantasy and getting my head out of reality is very stimulating, artistically. Music does much the same for me, creating scenes and colors in my mind.

Creatively, this is a good time of year for me. I hope to take advantage of it the best I can.