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!

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!

The Candy Girls of W Magazine (Korea)

It started with me seeing colorful fashion photography that immediately caught my eye and inspired me. Back in January I bought a huge (24″ x 36″) canvas with no project in mind, and it wasn’t until April that I began laying down the first sketch. Now, I’ve finally finished the most ambitious painting I’ve done to date! VOILA!

Candy Girls from W Korea by Jess Lingley

Candy Girls from W Korea by Jess Lingley, oils on 24″ x 36″ stretched canvas

I learned so much through the process of this painting along every step of the way. When sketching, don’t use pencil that’s too dark. When working on the under-painting, be careful to keep layers transparent and thin so there won’t be ridges of paint left over. Give yourself a break every half an hour or so to stretch or your back will hate you. If you’re stuck on something, sleep on it. The list goes on and on.

Throughout the painting, to help keep myself on track, I made lists of things left to do or things I needed to fix. As I finished those things and crossed them off the list, I could see how much progress I was making. I could have spent forever fixing things and trying to make them perfect; this painting is riddled with imperfections, but the point of this painting was not hyper-realism. In fact, the differences and imperfections are what help make the painting mine (as much as a painting studied from a photograph can be). I wanted to paint something huge, something colorful, something where I could learn more about skin tones, anatomy and fabrics. I wanted to challenge myself.

This painting felt like a “final project” in a lot of ways. I spent the past few years studying and preparing a portfolio to get into art school (first day is tomorrow!) and this is the culmination of all the self-discipline and things I taught myself. My favorite parts to work on were the faces and background fabrics, and the parts I like least were the hands and the dress in the middle.

With this painting now hanging in our living room and off my easel, I feel like I can go to school with a (mostly) clean slate.

Happy Labour Day!

Manga Speed-Paints & a Peak at my Sketchbook

I opened Youtube to watch a video earlier in the week and saw that it had suggested a few speed-paint videos. I love watching artists go through a piece, and I’ve been looking for some inspiration to start a manga-like illustration, so I went for it and subscribed to these three artists. Even though they’re using digital methods, a lot of the color work translates pretty well to traditional media. Some of the drawings are even “sketched” beforehand and inked afterwards.

I was really interested in the way she shades fabric, especially the skirt and sleeves. I also really love the character’s eyes. Like an artist who flips a sketchbook around to draw something at a better angle, the canvas here is zoomed in, out, and flipped quite a bit.

This one goes from sketch to finished product. The artist here uses Paint Tool SAI to their full advantage, transforming and realigning shapes that manually you’d have to erase and re-draw.

Here the artist starts by inking a sketch and then blocking in some basic colors. There’s a really cool bit at around 7:35 where she creates her own brush of snowflakes. Rather than painstakingly draw snowflakes on the dress one at a time (and warping them around the fabric), she draws a few and then sort of “stamps” them on, editing them to fit the dresses curves as she goes. Really cool! Can’t do that in the traditional world though… Again, her eyes are really beautiful.

After looking to other artists and manga for ideas I started to do some sketches of my own, and it was evident that I needed some anatomy practice. I’ve been drawing a lot of animals over the past little while (foo dogs, owls, etc) and haven’t done much in terms of the human figure since those figure-drawing studios I did in the winter. Drawing faces and the figure feels a bit foreign, so I went over to Posemaniacs, loaded up some tunes and sat down for some sketching. I’d like to fill a few pages of sketches every night until I get comfortable with the idea of drawing poses again (and hopefully get better at it as well).

First sketch in the new place!

First sketch in the new place!

Page of hands.

Page of hands.

Gestures 1

Gestures 1

Gestures 2

Gestures 2

Gestures 3

Gestures 3

Experimenting with figures, shapes, more hands

Experimenting with figures, shapes, more hands

That’s not everything from the past few days, either. The sketchbook is filling up quickly! Drawing gestures is great and a good backup plan in case I don’t feel like working on anything original. It’s very relaxing to turn on some music and fill up some pages.

Hopefully the paint is mostly dry on my models painting, so I’ll be back into that pretty soon as well.

New Studio and Finally Some Painting!

Last weekend we finally put away the boxes that were piled up in the middle of the 2nd bedroom. We’d piled them in the middle because a) it’s like the first place to pile boxes when you get in the door and b) so we could easily paint the walls. They’re not exactly unpacked yet (we just moved some to the dining room lol, but those are Tim’s boxes!) but the important thing is that we both have space to work. Rather than him or me taking the entire room, we settled on sharing it. Without further ado, here’s the tour of our new studio!

Here's our brand new studio!

Here’s our brand new studio!

Drafting table by the window cast in a nice light.

Drafting table by the window cast in a nice light.

Tim's photography corner, still in progress.

Tim’s photography corner, still in progress.

We chose a coolish grey for the walls so that anything we hang, be it photography or paintings, would have colors that really pop. The other great thing about a neutral for the walls is that anything looks good as an accent: black, white, silver, gold, polka dots, neons… anything! We’re going to have some fun with colors for the bookshelves!

Shelf full of books. We have so many books.

Shelf full of books. We have so many books.

My art corner! Drafting table by the window, computer desk right beside it for references/blogging.

My art corner! Drafting table by the window, computer desk right beside it for references/blogging.

Since there’s now space for me to paint, paint I did! I haven’t done much art since getting here; I dug out the sketchbook on Saturday night and forced myself to draw, just because I haven’t in… weeks. Ugh. I’ll confess that painting felt a bit foreign today. I’m confident, though, that if I keep at it regularly it’ll come back to me pretty quickly.

Every inch of canvas is now covered in paint!

Every inch of canvas is now covered in paint!

Hair Colors

Hair Colors

I’m happy to finally have the entire under-painting covered! I still have a lot to do, so I made a list of all the things I saw that needed work, off the top of my head. I decided to start by painting the hair, something easy and fun to get me back into the spirit of painting. I really enjoyed painting those brights colors over the browns and look forward to refining them further when these coats dry.

From here on out I’ll likely be jumping all over the place, as there are so many little details that I need to work on. I’m hoping to have this finished before I head to NSCAD in September (3 weeks to go!) so I can start back to school with a clean slate.

The other reason it’s so important for me to get in the habit of drawing/painting every day is that I’ll be doing that and more at school. In order to improve I’ll need to eat and breathe art, so I’m trying to condition myself to it now so that it won’t be such a shock when I get there and have 10-20 sketches due for homework.

The settling in part of moving is still in progress, but having a dedicated space for art really helps.

Friday Night Painting

My last day of work at my day job was yesterday! I feel so utterly content and relaxed this morning, knowing that I’ve taken a really big step towards accomplishing my dreams. Though I’ve learned a lot in the past six years doing technical support, it’s time for me to give art a bigger place in my life. A lot less of my time will be spent in front of a computer, and much more of it will be spent in front of books or an easel. Whether it’s learning art history, or sketching, or sculpting or whatever else NSCAD has to offer, I’ll be learning about art for the next four years of my life starting in September. I wish I could start Monday!

Finished Commission by Jess Lingley

Finished Commission by Jess Lingley

Last night I was able to finish off a commission I’d been working on for the past week and a half and Tim took some photos of me working. It felt really good to paint and know that it’s more than a hobby now, it’s a way of life. I am so happy and so excited to get into school and do this all day!

217/365 - Portrait of an Artist by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com

217/365 – Portrait of an Artist by Tim Lingley (timlingley) on 500px.com

217/365 – Portrait of an Artist by Tim Lingley

Painting isn’t always pretty work, especially in the summer. When working with acrylics I really can’t have a fan on because the paint already dries so quickly. It’s sweaty, messy, and I usually end up with paint on me without knowing how it got there. It doesn’t really matter though. I’m not paying attention to all that stuff because I’m too busy enjoying the process.

Over the next week w’ll have to pack our apartment away, but since I’m home I should be able to squirrel out some time to do proper entries. Thanks for your patience, everyone! Have a great weekend!

En Garde!

Tim was away for the weekend, so I decided to make the best use of the long stretch of uninterrupted time by starting and completing a painting all in one day. Before that, I worked away some more on the models painting.

more progress on models painting

more progress on models painting

Even though I spent a handful of hours on this painting over Friday and Saturday, the progress isn’t really that apparent. I lightened the skin tones and will have to go in with some shadows once they’ve dried a bit. I spent most of Saturday working on the dress on the left; defining the pattern, darkening some colors, lightening others… I can’t decide whether I should lighten everything on it individually or try a white glaze. I’ve tried white glazes in the past and they can look foggy and inconsistent, so I may just paint everything individually… again… I also painted over the red eyes because they were beginning to creep me out.

I hadn’t done one-day painting since last year and wanted to see if my still life skills had improved at all. With citrus fruits and cocktail goodies in hand, I went to work.

En Garde, acrylic on 8"x8" canvas, by Jess Lingley

En Garde, acrylic on 8″x8″ canvas, by Jess Lingley

I figured it would take a few hours, but it ended up taking the better part of the day (time well spent!). I started with a sketch, then a burnt sienna under-painting and then laid out colors over top with acrylics. I’ve been itching to do something with bright colorful fruit for awhile, so this was a lot of fun. It also had the bonus effect of making the room smell like lemons and limes, instead of turpentine and oils.

January 2011 vs June 2012

January 2011 vs June 2012

The still life on the right was done back in January 2011; it was the first portfolio piece I completed in anticipation of applying to art school! Fortunately, I kept up with painting and had enough pieces that I could leave it out. It’s alright for a first try, but lacks depth and detail. Though it was done in oils, the blending isn’t  so great, either. Looking at the piece on the right I’m relieved; it does look like I’ve improved! 🙂

Even with acrylics and fast dry times, if you’re diligent you can get some pretty nice blending by using a dry-brush technique. This involves laying some paint down with a wet brush and quickly smudging it with a dry one. The shadows on the table cloth were a challenge and I’m not sure I’m satisfied with them, but I am happy with the shading on the fruit itself. Using complementary colors for shadows really makes the colors pop, almost glow.

Throughout the week I’ll continue to work away on the models painting, which really needs a better name (suggestions?). Pretty soon it’ll be time to block in the hair, and then the entire under-painting will be covered. Exciting!