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!

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!

Local Pop Art

Before my recent road trip I learned of a pop art exhibit opening at our local art museum: Hot Pop Soup.  It’s on until June 10th and if you’re in the Fredericton NB area, I strongly recommend you check it out!

I’m starting to think that rainy days are some of the best days to visit galleries. When you enter the gallery from the grey skies and cold rain, the paintings seem even more alive and colorful than usual. On the day I went to see this exhibit I was in a poor mood and feeling down on myself. When I entered the gallery and saw the first painting, I was immediately uplifted and smiling.

Beaverbook doesn’t allow photography as a rule, but I can show you a few pieces from some of the artists in the exhibit that I’ve scoured from around the internet. These photos a) aren’t my own and are sourced as such, and b) are not the exact paintings you will find in the gallery. You’ll have to visit in person for those. That being said, here are a few of the featured artists in this exhibit:

LITTLE DANCING SUPERHEROES  by Alexandrya Eaton acrylic on canvas 24 x 24 in. unframed (via Gallery 78)

LITTLE DANCING SUPERHEROES by Alexandrya Eaton acrylic on canvas 24 x 24 in. unframed (via Gallery 78)

WOMAN ON THE EDGE by Alexandrya Eaton, acrylic on canvas 36 x 36 in. framed dimension: 38 x 38 in. (via Gallery 78)

WOMAN ON THE EDGE by Alexandrya Eaton, acrylic on canvas 36 x 36 in. framed dimension: 38 x 38 in. (via Gallery 78)

I really enjoyed Alexandrya Eaton‘s paintings because of the repetition of the subject, something I’m sure was inspired by Andy Warhol. Having a subject repeated using different palettes forces the viewer to see the subject in a different light, in a different way. Having some of the repetitions overlap creates a sort of optical-illusion effect. Seeing pop art like this brings a few questions to mind: how did she choose which figures overlapped? How did she choose colors, and how to color them, and even what kind of texture?

The Crimson Canoess by Peter Manchester

The Crimson Canoess by Peter Manchester

The smile on my face continued as I browsed Peter Manchester‘s paintings. He combines soft realism in seemingly calm backdrops with completely absurd situations and subjects, aliens and sci-fi being quite popular. His images have the campy fun vibe of old sci-fi movie posters and describe amazing stories about their subjects. His works are extremely enjoyable as you try to piece together what’s happening, and what’s real versus what’s not.

by Jean Rooney (via Artists Wanted)

by Jean Rooney (via Artists Wanted)

Jean Rooney‘s piece in the gallery is absolutely huge! I love seeing works that span multiple canvases, wall to wall. The image above is only a fraction of the entire painting. Upon seeing it, I was hit by a wall of nostalgia. Growing up in the 90’s means the neon colors and cassette tapes resonate with me; they brought me back to simpler days, walking to school with the tape-of-the-moment in my walkman (Weird Al’s Allapalooza and Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill, if I remember correctly.) Her works as a whole are extremely bright and demand to be noticed, whether they’re funky portraits or rolling landscapes. Shapes and patterns pop out at you, weaving different parts of the painting together in a surreal way. Work of this nature begs a closer look to take in the wonderful hues and imagery. Some of her other works are available online.

Novella   oil on canvas   24"x30" (by Cliff Turner)

Novella oil on canvas 24″x30″ (by Cliff Turner)

by Cliff Turner

by Cliff Turner

My readers may have seen me mention Cliff Turner before and will know that I’m already a fan, so seeing his name on the list of artists for this exhibit really sealed the deal. His pop art paintings (some from Technicolor) evoke different feelings in different people. Some of us get nostalgic about certain kinds of food, some of us with color palettes, some of us with cartoons. Because his paintings involve so much different subject matter, there is something for everyone to focus on. It sort of feels like what you’d get flipping through a magazine in the 70’s, all captured on a single canvas. His stunning realism continues to impress and looks especially good on the larger canvases in the exhibit.

Seriously, go check out this exhibit if you can! There is so much more there than I could describe in my tiny pokey ol’ blog here.

Though I don’t have a progress post today, there will likely be one next week. After seeing this exhibit I finally decided to start a pop-art piece of my own, an idea I’d been toying with for awhile. This will give me something to work on in between layers of the large oil painting I’m working on.

Have a great weekend guys, HAPPY JUNE!

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!

Time-lapse paintings by Ursula Young & Tara McPherson

Quickie post for the weekend to make up for the lackluster week! The videos below show female artists as they work on their paintings. I get so inspired watching other people paint, because everybody works in their own unique way. The first video is short, mainly Ursula Young plugging her latest show. I love the bright colors and thick lines she uses. Her style is very cartoony/anime/surreal, right up my alley! The second video is quite a bit longer, taking you through an entire painting, done by Tara McPherson. Very educational and the music is pretty cool as well. Part of the video angles the camera by a window, so you can get a feel for how many hours of work go into something like this.

Enjoy, and happy Saturday!

Ursula Young Solo Show @ Fabric8 from Martha Traer on Vimeo.

Time lapse painting of ‘Safety of Water’ by Tara McPherson from Cotton Candy Machine on Vimeo.

Natalia Fabia

If you could see into my brain as if you were looking into a room, it would be filled with bright colors, paints, glitter, shiny things, anime, tattoos, cats, and candy among other things. At any given time there would be music playing because I almost always have one song or another stuck in my head (lately it’s been “Albatross” by Big Wreck). Inspiration is having all of these things in my head bursting to get out onto the page, the feeling in my arms, wrists and hands to translate this chaos into something concrete and tangible. Art can be a calming process for this reason; if I go too long without doodling or painting or creating, I get anxious and stressed.

I’m fairly certainly I’ve included Natalia Fabia’s work before in an inspiration blog post, but recently I was introduced to it again and took more time looking through her website. Basically, her work contains all of the things that make me turn my head: bright colors, fashion, rock n roll and insane detail. Her paintings are wildly detailed and every single object has a particular reason for being there. I read in a magazine article listed on her website that she’d spent such a long time painting a small alarm clock in one of her other paintings that her boyfriend and put a sticky note above it, stating “it’s good enough”, and then she painted that in too! Dedication!

Beverage of Punk Rock Flavor by Natalia Fabia (via NataliaFabia.com)

Beverage of Punk Rock Flavor by Natalia Fabia (via NataliaFabia.com)

Sugar Rush by Natalia Fabia (via NataliaFabia.com)

Sugar Rush by Natalia Fabia (via NataliaFabia.com)

Looking at her paintings, I very quickly came to a conclusion; I love every single one of them! With some artists, I find myself only drawn to select works, or one work in particular, making choosing a favorite fairly easy. With hers, though, even trying to pick paintings to display on this blog was agony! It’s like she was able to get into my head and pick out all the things I find visually stimulating and painted using all of those ideas. Punk rock, clubbing  and japanese culture seem to be the main focuses of her works but she explores other areas as well (in her Hooker Safari series she expertly renders animals like tigers and rhinos). Not only are her subjects completely stunning, but her environments are so well thought out and beautiful. She walks the line between serenity and chaos expertly, toeing on overwhelming but not quite. It’s like she puts absolutely everything she has into every painting so she can be proud of it, something I’m striving towards with my own work.

Brooklyn Rainbow by Natalia Fabia (via Huffington Post)

Brooklyn Rainbow by Natalia Fabia (via Huffington Post)

Her latest show is called “Punk Rock Rainbow Sparkle” which sounds like a) a kick-ass punk girl band or b) a deliciously sour ice cream flavor or even c) a palette of insanely bright makeup. Unfortunately, it’s a little out of my reach, currently at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York, though Hi Fructose has some awesome photos of her opening night! The works in this series are hyper-realistic renderings of punk rock princesses in various settings, includes clubs (dance floor and bathrooms), mansions and even seemingly simplistic rooms like a messy kitchen. She has a nac for making a normally boring space saturated with detail to the point where I want examine every piece of the painting to try and understand what kind of story it’s trying to tell (in the above painting, look at the painstaking detail on the papers posted on the fridge).

According to another magazine article listed on her website, she spends days, weeks and even months travelling with a camera taking hundreds of photos to later use for reference in these dreamscapes. Bringing bags full of props with her, she sets up and takes down rooms and furniture to her liking, to get the perfect atmosphere for her subjects (many of whom are her friends). Females are her most popular subject and there is lots of nudity as well, but despite this her work isn’t exploitive or pornographic. Her skill with the female figure is well-developed and never too polished or over-done. These women look real, both beautiful and gritty and when they are dressed, they’re dressed to the nines in killer heels and gorgeous corsets.

photo by Gendy Alimurung (via LA Weekly)

photo by Gendy Alimurung (via LA Weekly)

At this point I’m probably bordering on gushing, but I’d love to meet Natalia and check out her space. I’ve said before that I love when artists give us a glimpse at their workspace. I get a taste of the vibes that drives these artists and it’s completely inspiring! I also have a huge amount of respect for artists, and crafters for the matter, that open their space up and explain their methods rather than keeping them locked away. It’s one thing to know how a particular artist paints (using techniques, certain materials, etc), but it’s a whole other skill to be able to paint as they do. The two are not the same.

It took me quite a bit longer than normal to write this entry because I kept going back to look through her work and would get lost in it. That’s pretty much the highest compliment I can give her. I think I may have a girl-crush going on, people. She is where I want to be in the art world. Go check out her stuff! Gogogo!

Leopard Sky by Natalia Fabia (via NataliaFabia.com)

Leopard Sky by Natalia Fabia (via NataliaFabia.com)

For My Home 20/01/12

Happy Friday everyone! Lately I’ve been seeing lots of great spaces using wallpaper. It seemed to be more popular in the late 80’s to early 90’s but then it became really tacky. These days though, people are doing a lot of creative things with it!

from “Elle Interior”

from “Elle Interior” (via 79ideas.org)

For starters, the patterns are more modern and very beautiful, an art in and of themselves.

Summer Totem in Emerald

Summer Totem in Emerald

This floral pattern is beautiful and more like an illustration than a wallpaper. I’ll admit that it might be a challenge to design a room with this kind of wallpaper but if I was careful with colors, it could be stunning. I’d use calmer, more neutral tones for the furniture and tables.

Graham and Brown

Graham and Brown, via Apartment Therapy

Skulls and gothic-style items are slowly creeping into interior decor. I’m a big fan of this trend! I think with the wallpaper above, though, I’d have it over a smaller wall rather than a huge wall in a living room or bedroom. I think it’d look good in a foyer or corner, accented by other goth-themed items like candles or some vintage jewelry. Since it’s neutral and dark there are a lot of options in terms of furniture or shelving that would look good against it. Neutrals or bright colors are options here!

Revamped Dressers

Revamped Dressers (via Apartment Therapy)

I’ve mentioned before that I love the idea of taking old furniture and decorating or painting it, something I was introduced to through my brother-in-law (whom I painted a goalie helmet and two end tables for). For those that may not be so artistically-inclined, using patterned-wallpaper is a great way to dress up an old boring dresser! Unfortunately I can’t find the tutorial for this particular dresser but I don’t think it’d be that difficult to do. Simply remove the drawers, take off the handles, cut & glue the wallpaper down and put it back together after it’s dried. You could do something similar to what’s been done to this suitcase, which does have a tutorial.

Mod Podge Fabric Covered Suitcase DIY

Mod Podge Fabric Covered Suitcase DIY (via Sarah Hearts)

Not looking so tacky now, eh?