Spring Has Arrived!

It’s official; I survived my first year at NSCAD! It’s a huge relief to have some time off, but it’s also bittersweet, because many of the foundation students will now go their separate ways. Some will transfer to other schools, and I won’t see them again. Others, I will be seeing much more of, since we’ll be taking a lot of the same classes. It’s been an intense and wonderful ride, and I look forward to all the fun that next year entails, including lots of painting, illustrating, and some printmaking, too! In the mean time, starting in July, I’ll be dedicating some time to one of the biggest influences I had growing up, graphic novels, through a history course.

Now that I’ve met all my school deadlines, I’ve had time to look at some of my own projects, and started by updating my Deviantart page with a few of my stronger pieces from the semester.

Modern Surreal Vitruvian Man by Jess Naish Lingley

Modern Surreal Vitruvian Man by Jess Naish Lingley

This was my final project for my drawing class. The concept was pretty open-ended, allowing us to use many of the techniques we’d learned over the past few months. After a few days of mulling over various ideas, when making coffee one morning I came up with the idea of using a master drawing that would allow me plenty of space to express myself. This led me to choose the infamous Virtuvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci (bonus round: I completely the drawing on his birthday!).

Over the course of this class I most enjoyed working with ink, something I hadn’t really given any time to before, so it’s the main medium in this work, both with brush and pen nib. Despite only having a few short days to work on it between all my other final projects, I’m very happy with the way it came out. Working with pen nibs was interesting and something that I will likely revisit in the future.

Beach at Dusk by Jess Naish Lingley

Beach at Dusk by Jess Naish Lingley

This illustration began a few weeks ago when, on a whim, I decided to give my wacom tablet some love, instead of doing my homework. Four hours later, I was assured of my xmas purchase and discovered a new love of digital painting/illustration. After finishing my final projects, I was able to finish it off and upload it. It’s not perfect; the line art is a bit messy since I started it in GIMP, which wasn’t giving me great quality lines for some reason. The software wasn’t as intuitive as I needed it to be, so I tried switching over to Photoshop Elements and had a much easier time of things. Though I’m still working on anatomy and creating decent backgrounds, I feel like my new knowledge of color really shows through here, along with my love of painting. I had a lot of fun using dusk-like colors and will continue to challenge myself with these colorful atmospheres in future works.

It’s strange, since I didn’t enjoy working with the Cintiq as much as I enjoy working with my simple Bamboo and laptop. I’m enjoying digital illustration now a lot more than I was a year ago; perhaps my mindset has changed? My new-found love of digital art prompted me to pre-order ImagineFX’s Digital Painting issue, which I will use to bolster my newbie digital art skills over the summer. I’m not sure how much digital technique I’ll be picking up at NSCAD, so I’m hoping this magazine will be a good starting point. I know there are a lot of things I could probably be doing faster/easier, which is one of the great benefits of digital coloring. That, and no mess to clean up!

Perspective, Loomis-style

Perspective, Loomis-style

With my time off, I’m studying Figure Drawing, For All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis. I want to try and drill myself on anatomy and perspective as much as I can this summer, after all the years of drawing I missed out on after my college stint. I definitely have some catching up to do. Loomis is tough stuff, but if I can learn his basics and strengthen my knowledge of perspective, I can basically do anything. Just by mapping out perspective lines and very basic figures, he can easily build an entire complex drawing. Once you’ve got the foundation down, the rest just seems to fall into place. Getting that foundation down, though, is very tough to get right. It wasn’t until I started studying his proportions that I realized how far off some of my own (from imagination) were.

In short, I’ve got my work cut out for me! There are so many things I want to catch up on this summer. Between all the art I want to do, and the movies I’d like to catch up on, I’ll have plenty things to stave off the boredom. I’ll also have more time to update my precious blog, so stay tuned for more progress reports, and posts on inspiring artists!

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.

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! ^_^

Finished My First Semester!

Last Wednesday was my official last day of classes! I’m so relieved that I have some time off to recuperate and enjoy the holidays, but I enjoyed myself immensely and can’t wait to see what semester #2 has in store for me!

These last few months have gone by fairly quickly, but I had a lot of work to push through in that time. I’ve got almost more material from my first semester than I had putting my art school portfolio together. Drawings, paintings, prints, writing papers… I’ve been very busy! The great thing about the subject matter at school is that it all ties together. I used an idea from a computer project in my final drawing project, and used illustration skills in a computer project, for example.

It would take forever to describe each and every piece I did, so I’ll post a few of my favorites over the next few weeks. I recently updated my deviantart page with some new art while applying for a scholarship, so here are a few from there:


Self-Portrait 2012
by ~soulexposed on deviantART


Gouache Color Study by ~soulexposed on deviantART


Linocut Sugar Skull by ~soulexposed on deviantART

I haven’t had a lot of time to collect outside material for this blog, and I’m just now catching up on my Google Reader, tumblr and pinterest. Between that and some upcoming personal projects, I’ll have plenty to do over the break! Anyway, I wanted to share this Jen Mann painting video I came across on tumblr yesterday.

Jen Mann- Speed Painting from Wolf & Sparrow on Vimeo.

She’s using my favorite colors, pink & blue, so naturally I’m in love with this piece! She paints with her work flat on the wall, using a photo reference, with oils. It’s very interesting to see how small she works right off the bat, rather than putting down blocks of colors and working over top of them. She blends each section of the face beautifully. Also worth noting is that she paints in a very planned-out way, from the top left corner to the bottom right. It was very educational and inspiring watching this painting come together.

I think that’s enough for now. Stay tuned, as I hope to update several times a week while I’m on break, and maybe even stockpile some posts for when I’m back in school in January.

Cheers! 😀

The Digital Brush Strokes of Paolo Cammeli

More and more I’m intrigued by the possibilities and opportunities that digital art brings. I love drawing and painting more than I can say, but since Tim mentioned buying an Intuos tablet for photo-editting I’ve started considering what I could do with a tablet in Photoshop.

Paolo Cammeli paints digitally in a style of oils and watercolors combined, colors that are vibrant and bloom together like water.

what else do you bring me by Paolo Cammeli

what else do you bring me by Paolo Cammeli

The skin tones in our subject above are glowing and rich, full of detail. The umbrella and blossoms are painted softer to help draw our focus to the beautiful work done on the lighting and shading of her skin. Her expression, playful and curious, is really beautiful, more interesting then a lot of the pout-y fashion model faces I see around (ones that I’m definitely guilty of drawing/painting). Her frame and hairstyle remind me a bit of 50’s pinups.

waiting by Paolo Cammeli

waiting by Paolo Cammeli

There are many ways to tackle painting fur, and Paolo has chosen a sort of cross-hatching brush technique which looks beautiful. Her understanding of lighting and shadows is showcased here again in the fur, a beautiful rich transition in white fur using golden light and cooler shadows. The girl’s robes and head piece caught my eye, the fur on her shoulders and the owl/horns on the headdress which makes me think of gypsy tattoos.

fairy silhouette by Paolo Cammeli

fairy silhouette by Paolo Cammeli

This is a speed-painting by Paolo, only taking roughly 30 minutes to do. I love how much she can convey with flat colors. Layers of transparent blossoms over-top each other give this piece a watercolor-feel to it. Paolo has a great understanding of color and always manages to make the colors in her work pop without being garish.

New Rome by Paolo Cammeli

New Rome by Paolo Cammeli

She’s good at cityscapes as well! Cities frighten me almost as much as landscapes because of the shear amount of detail and measurements required to make them look realistic. They also seem incredible boring and sterile to me, the opposite of what I see above. A city painted in dreamy sunset colors with immense detail, from greenery to reflections in huge windows, makes me want to explore this world and learn more about it.

My first day of actual class ie non-orientation activities is tomorrow: drawing in the morning, paint/print studio in the afternoon! Though I know we’ll be starting with basics (likely fruit and vases) I look forward to practicing drawing in more areas that I’m currently uncomfortable with, so I can create rich portraits and lifelike backgrounds like Paolo does.

Wish me luck on my first day of ~art school~! Excited doesn’t even begin to describe it!

The Cool & Sexy Illustrations of Babs Tarr

Babs Tarr’s style is a funky mix of fashion and cartoons, with lots of sharp lines and curves to bring her subjects to life. I love how animated her figures are and all the bright color she uses, along with line-work and splotches of texture that look traditional, even though most of her work is digital.

toothpick by Babs Tarr

toothpick by Babs Tarr

The limited color palette in this image helps draw attention to the figure, grey/green among the pink and blue. Tarr’s grasp of anatomy is excellent, allowing her figures to almost strut across the frame. I love how many little details she includes, like the girl above chewing away on a toothpick, the script tattoo on her arm and the tooth through her ear lobe.

RAD Girl by Babs Tarr

RAD Girl by Babs Tarr

This screams 80’s and rather than being cheesy, it really pops! Unlike the first drawing, this one doesn’t any thick black outlines, allowing the neon colors to really show through and sort of burn your eyes the way neons did back then. The pink cheetah-skin skateboard with bright green wheels is just hilarious! She uses white in subtle ways to brighten the area around the subject, through the cheetah pattern and finger prints.

July 4th 2012 Outfit by Babs Tarr

July 4th 2012 Outfit by Babs Tarr

The chunky brush textures here remind me of a pastel or pencil crayon drawing, though this is digital. It becomes obvious pretty quickly that Tarr puts a lot of effort into the fashion aspect of her work. In fact, in the above drawing of her very own outfit from the 4th of July, she lists off each piece of clothing and and where you can buy them, on her deviantart page! I thought this a really nice touch and love that she shares her style with everyone.

Spy Girl by Babs Tarr

Spy Girl by Babs Tarr

This gets me excited for the new James Bond movie coming in November! Tarr’s subjects are beautiful and flowing but she’s also able to create breath-taking and narrative backgrounds. I struggle with making my subjects really fit into the background, but here the flow is effortless. I love the way the bright pink explosion lays a pink light on everything. I’ll be honest, I just love that there’s a bright pink explosion.

At the Moma by Babs Tarr

At the Moma by Babs Tarr

Though she does a lot of illustration and more cartoon-y work, she has a background in oil painting techniques as well. The above is an oil self-portrait, from a photograph her sister took of her at the MoMa in NYC. I particularly like the way she painted the windows in the buildings across the street. Her shapes are well blended and shaded in a very life-like manner.

The Noise by Babs Tarr

The Noise by Babs Tarr

The symmetry of the subjects here is really cool. This work is another one of her oil paintings. The clouds are vibrant and flow in such a way to draw your focus around the two subjects. The girls’ black clothing really stands out against the richness of the colors in the sky and clouds. It’s impressive that she painted the individual bits of zipper in the jackets, and links in the chains they’re wearing. The texture in the jeans is very nice as well. Her deviantart page for this drawing mentions that the shoes are inspired by Alexander McQueen.

Rolling Bulls by Babs Tarr

Rolling Bulls by Babs Tarr

Drawings on their own are one thing, but making the illustrations appropriately spaced for text and information is another skill all together. The figures above flow in such a way to draw your eyes to the text at the bottom. I love the sketchy-feel of this piece.

To be a successful illustrator, I think you have to have the fundamentals of art down: be awesome with a pencil, know your lighting, be comfortable with anatomy and know how to make a great composition. She has all of these skills in spades and it really shows. Great work, Babs!

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!