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!

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Tutorial by Rob Sheridan and the Issue of the Chuck Close Filter

Short entry today, because I a) have been trying to sort out moving-related stuff and b) need to keep working on my first paid commission! May show some teasers soon but it’s supposed to be a surprise so I’ll have to be a ninja about it.

Clicking the image below will take you to a digital coloring tutorial by Rob Sheridan for his piece, “Mascots”.

"Mascots" by Rob Sheridan

“Mascots” by Rob Sheridan

The tutorial is mainly Photoshop-based and very thorough; he talks about how he got the textures in the wood paneling of the walls as well as the dingy old carpets. His attention to detail is pretty amazing. For example, he drew, from scratch, the labels on the beer cans by researching old labels from the 70’s and redrawing them vector-style. For the magazine cover and the playing cards, he found high-res scans (or scanned them in himself) and warped/yellowed them to look appropriate. I like this tutorial because he really takes advantage of Photoshop for digital artwork by using tools like the perspective tool and the many filters that come standard with SP. Very inspiring work, must have been painstaking; totally worth it though, looks fantastic!

I came across an article on my feed yesterday titled My Chuck Close Problem by Scott Blake. The article describes a project (coded by Blake) that essentially recreates Close’s style in a program accessible online through a web browser. You’d submit a photo and get it back Chuck Close-ified. Blake is/was very proud of this project and a huge fan of Close. Unfortunately, when it became popular Close demanded that Blake take it down. It’s worth taking 15 minutes or so to read through the article for more details.

Scott Blake Self Portrait (via Hyperallergic)

Scott Blake Self Portrait (via Hyperallergic)

The website was free to use, so Blake wasn’t making any money off of it. Nevertheless, Close claims that Blake was “devaluing” his work. On the one hand, I can understand where Close is coming from. No one wants to have their style (in Chuck’s case, something extremely personal to him, developed over many years because of his physical condition) copied and used in ways they can’t control. On the other hand, nothing made with this “Chuck Close filter” will ever be as good as what Close does himself. The program uses already-painted squares from previous paintings and rearranges them to mimick the photo. Anyone familiar with Close’s work knows that his process is much more involved than simply gridding out a portrait.

It’s a tricky subject and I’m not quite sure which side I come down on. A lot of the comments on the article criticize Blake for spending so much time (10 years!) on a project that’s based so heavily on another artist’s work. Even though Blake put a ton of effort into this, I’m leaning towards agreeing with these artists. It’s fine and dandy to spend time on fanart, or studies or copies of other work, but in order to be successful as an artist you need to try and come up with, and explore, original ideas. Blake argues that he’s taking Close’s work in a different enough direction but I have to disagree there.

Either way, the article brings up an important discussion about what constitutes copying, and about stealing/borrowing/building off of someone else’s idea; at what point does it become your own?