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!

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!

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! ^_^

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!

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!