Clay Shells & Summer Decisions

My first year at NSCAD is gradually drawing (hahaha I’m so clever) to a close! It’s been a bit of a blur, especially the first two months of 2013, but it’s been fantastic. For all the financial short-comings of the school and the several threats of faculty strikes, I couldn’t love this school more. I think the feeling is mutual among a lot of the other foundation students. Being around creative people all day is a dream come true and endlessly inspiring. This summer will be the first in memory that I’m not desperate for, since it’ll mean no classes. Well, that’s not completely true; I compromised by taking a history credit later in the summer.

I have so much to look forward to next year, including: painting, illustration and print-making (relief and screen-print). I chose these courses to help shape my style as an artist. Rather than sticking exclusively to painting, I’m wetting my feet in a few other drawing-driven mediums for my 2nd year. After that though, I intend to apply all of that to the mountains of painting courses I’ll be loading up on. Anyway, I should move on since I could talk course choices forever…

Clay Shells (you can hear the ocean) by Jess Naish Lingley

Clay Shells (you can hear the ocean) by Jess Naish Lingley

Modeled Forms has been a great challenge for me; I’m so used to thinking in terms of how to render forms on two dimensional planes and this class really forces me to think outside of that. We’ve worked with clay, wax, soap and will be moving onto plaster and pewter soon. Making the above shells was satisfying; we used the theme of “play”, and I thought immediately of the three-shell game. Obviously my idea evolved a bit from that, since the game requires each shell to be the same. I went for a more tactile-oriented theme, and these shells are really nice to hold in your hand. There are grooves and rivets to fit your fingers into, and you can even hear the ocean if you hold them up to your ear! Glazing was a really fun process as well since it’s so unpredictable.

wooden box in progress, getting ready to do inlays

wooden box in progress, getting ready to do inlays

The second half of my shop class focus on wood as opposed to metal. It’s much more precise and planning oriented, which was a bit stressful at first. We’ve taken wood basically from the tree and “trued” it to form the above boxes. Mine is still far from done. I’m planning an inlay in the top with an exotic wood. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to make my sketch book designs work with it, but I’ve a simpler idea in mind, so it’s all good. I liked this class from the get-go, though it’s likely due to my upbringing. Wood working has been in my life ever since I can remember, so going to wood shop and smelling the saw dust is like coming home, in a way.

self indulgent homework by Jess Naish Lingley

self indulgent homework by Jess Naish Lingley

I haven’t got much to post at the moment for drawing, but it’s certainly not for lack of work. A lot of what I’ve been doing has been very large scale (22″ x 30″, sometimes double that) and done with messy media (pastels and charcoal). I’ll need some time to get decent photos of these works, but in the mean time here’s a snippet of last week’s homework. Studying master drawings is something we do quite a bit, but I’m torn about it. Reproducing master drawings is a great educational tool, but I end up feeling sort of guilty afterwards because even if it looks good, it’s not my idea. I use it strictly as a study tool. In order to understand anatomy it’s sometimes necessary to copy figure drawings, and if that means I’ll be able to draw them eventually on my own, I’m all for it.

Lastly, I’ve made an important decision regarding my summer break over the last few weeks. It’s time for me to start building myself as a professional artist and illustrator, and I intend to do this full time over the summer. I could work full time at a retail position of some sort, and financially it would probably make more sense, but I strongly feel that if I want to succeed in this field I need to start now rather than when I graduate. I’ll be buckling down for some serious studying this summer, both to improve my painting and drawing skills and begin digesting the business side of everything. It’s the path of most uncertainty, but it’s calling to me and I can’t resist. With this career, I need to pay closer attention to gut instincts and go with them, rather than ignore them and do what’s “right” or what’s easier.

Onwards and upwards to a bright and exciting summer!

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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!

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! ^_^

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!

Busy week ahead!

Lots of things going on! (photo by Tim Lingley)

Lots of things going on! (photo by Tim Lingley)

It’s a good thing I had most of last week’s posts done ahead of time, because I was sick and wouldn’t have gotten them out otherwise. Because of my feeling ill, a little bit of homework has piled up and I’m working diligently to catch up. You may not hear from me on Wednesday or Friday, but I’m hoping to have things back on track next week. The above photo by the awesome Tim Lingley (care of his brand new 5D Mark II!) gives a bit of a glimpse of the several things I have on the go. Teaser: beads, feathers and color wheels oh my!

While I’m frantically arting away, here are some snaps from Instagram (technically Statigram because they make it easier to share) of my new art life!

Wooden Shelving with Copper Circles and Buckets

Wooden Shelving with Copper Circles and Buckets

Drawing has been the most challenging class for me so far. It’s very technical and forces me to slow down and really draw accurately. Both classes and homework assignments are time-consuming, but extremely rewarding. I feel like I’ll see the most improvement over the year through this class .

Origami Greyscale

Origami Greyscale

Art isn’t just the subject of choice at this school; it’s a way of life. It’s celebrated both inside class and out, even in the lunch area. Every once in awhile I’ll see a sculpture hiding above a door, or creatively drawn notes on the bulletin board, and it makes me smile. I’m so happy to be in such a wonderful inspiring environment. So much love!

Beautiful building on Barrington

Beautiful building on Barrington

I’ve been down Barrington street many times, even before moving to Halifax, and this remains my favorite building on that street. Even the broken down abandoned buildings are turned into pieces of art. There is so much art within Halifax and so many galleries that no matter what your taste, whether low-brow or high, fine art or commercial, there’s bound to be something for you.

Hope everyone has a great week! The autumn colors are starting to peak through the leaves and the air is crisp; enjoy it while it lasts!

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!

Some News & Some Progress

In the interest of feeling better about myself and being a more open and honest person, I finally feel like it’s time to reveal the ~big news~ I’ve been hinting at over the past few months. I’ve been keeping it to myself because I don’t know how well received it would be to some, but in the end, I have to do what makes me happy and need to stand behind my beliefs 100%.

I’m going to art school in the fall!

Two years ago I decided that I wanted to get into art again after having ignored it for a few years prior, and soon after, I started wondering why I didn’t attend art school in the first place. To make a long story short, I decided that it was time to make art a part of my life again in a big way. Spurred on by a particular thread at Concept Art Forums (NSFW language), I began drawing once a week, then a few times a week, then every day. I took as many classes in as many different medias as I could find and hit the ground running. Starting in January 2011 I put together a portfolio of works (contains nude drawings) to submit to art schools around the Maritimes provinces. My first two choices, both of which I’ve been accepted into, are Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (NSCAD U, Bachelor of Fine Arts Interdisciplinary) and New Brunswick College of Craft & Design (NBCCD, Foundation).

As excited as I am for this, it’s also pretty nerve-wracking, as my husband has yet to find work in my #1 choice city, Halifax. There’s a possibility that if he doesn’t find work there we may go out west, as far as Toronto. I’d basically be set back a year since all of the art school deadlines out there have already passed, though in the mean time I could try and take some courses at a community college to transfer for 2013. Either way, as of September 2012 I will be doing art full time.

I decided on today to tell the world about this since NSCAD recently contacted me to say that I could start studying as early as July (and as of a few hours ago, I’m registered for fall classes!). I’m hoping that networking with as many people as possible will help this move happen, so if anyone out there in the blogosphere has any info that could help us along, please message me!

Onto some progress I’ve made since I got back from the big road trip:

Owl of Death by Jess Lingley

Owl of Death by Jess Lingley

I finished off the last owl of the set on the Sunday we got back. Whew! The most fun I had on this one was probably the sky, with the most challenging part being shading the skulls. I enjoyed coloring the feathers as well but was getting a little cross-eyed by the end of it. It’s nice to have this project finally done; I’m pretty happy with how all three pieces have turned out . I’ll post some more photos later on when I have proper frames for them, and higher resolution images.

progress on models by Jess Lingley

progress on models by Jess Lingley

I started into the second color of this under-painting after I finished the last owl drawing. I used blue for the cloth and red/pink for the models themselves, since I wanted to have those colors as undertones and keep the two well separated in the final product.

finished under-painting of models by Jess Lingley

finished under-painting of models by Jess Lingley

I tried to put as much detail into the under-painting as possible, including some shading and patterns in the dresses. The patterns are very hard to see; I had to crank the contrast and dim the gamma on the original image to be able to make out the details at all, but I think it will pay off when I go to paint over it.

first layers of oil paint on models by Jess Lingley

first layers of oil paint on models by Jess Lingley

Last night I started in on the glazes for the background, which I plan to complete before moving into the main subjects. I tried to keep the colors thin since normally, I pile them on, and wanted to try a different technique. I’m still a little worried that the grid is going to show through, but I can always touch that up at the end if I still need to. I really like the psychedelic-vibe this piece has going on at the moment. Hopefully this will be dry enough in a few days for more layers.

Have a great weekend everyone (long weekend for those of us in Canada), and see you on Monday!