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!

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Exciting News!

In the spirit of kicking off 2013 with a bang, I’m very excited to announce that I’ve been accepted into Argyle Fine Art’s Pre-Shrunk show! This will be my very first time having work shown in a gallery! INTERNET HIGH FIVES!

Pre-Shrunk at Argyle Fine Art

Pre-Shrunk at Argyle Fine Art

Ahem. Last fall on one of my visits to the gallery, I spotted a call for artists for this show. Pre-Shrunk is a show of 4″x 5″ works both from new and established artists. The goal is to make affordable art available to everyone. The fact that it was open to all artists caught my eye immediately, and I figured, why not? I was especially intrigued by the small canvas size, which was ideal since I wouldn’t have to dedicated large blocks of time to it in between school work. Nothing to lose by trying, since every painting I do helps me grow.

This will be an incredible opportunity to have my work seen by the public, and to play meet ‘n greet with lots of other artists in the HRM. I’m beyond psyched to have gotten in and can’t wait to attend!

Eye Shadow by Jess Lingley

Eye Shadow by Jess Lingley

This is one of three paintings I submitted to the show. All three are acrylics on canvas board, 4″ x 5″. They were very fun to paint! It was a little restricting to paint that small, but at the same time it was very rewarding to finish a piece so quickly. When trying to come up with an idea for what to paint for this show, I was a bit stumped. Fortunately I received an early xmas gift of some colorful items that instantly inspired me! All three paintings feature elements that I really enjoying rendering, from shiny reflective surfaces, to bright colors, to pretty things.

Come on out from 7pm-9pm on Friday the 25th of January to Argyle Fine Art in downtown Halifax to see my work! I’ll be hanging around for a bit as well, taking in all the other amazing art that’s bound to be on display. See you there!

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! ^_^

Still Lifes & Perspective Drawing

That one busy week quickly turned into two! Most of my nights have been occupied with homework until quite recently. I’ve got a bit of a break for the Thanksgiving weekend, and by that I mean I have less homework than normal. It’s worth pointing out that this is not a complaint! If I’m going to put my energy into something, art is better than almost anything else I can think of. It’s been exhausting trying to complete all my work on time and to a level I feel good about, but so so rewarding.

So far my drawing class has been the most challenging because it’s so technical, but I think I’m getting a lot out of it because I have to work harder at it. On Thursday I got some of the work back that I’ve done over the past few weeks, so I’m going to share my “greatest hits” since there is a pile of work to go through (at least 15 drawings in all).

2 1/2 Hour Still Life by Jess Lingley

2 1/2 Hour Still Life by Jess Lingley

This is one of the pieces from my first homework assignment. I was given roughly 2 and a half hours to do it, and was very careful about shading and blending the graphite to look smooth. The point of the assignment was for us to pay attention to how we use our time, which would set the tone for the rest of the semester. I’m still very bad at judging how long something will take, which has led to most of my late nights. I’m just now starting to get wise and start things really early. If this drawing looks a little warped, it’s because I used fixative (ie hair spray lol) on the paper to set the graphite so it wouldn’t smudge as much. After using nicer Mayfair paper, the drawbacks of sketchbook paper are becoming more clear to me.

Contour Drawing of Toys by Jess Lingley

Contour Drawing of Toys by Jess Lingley

We weren’t allowed to use any shading in this assignment and had to fill the frame (19″ x 19″ in this case) the best we could. I’ve started becoming more aware of planes and space in my drawings, using dark lines to bring objects forward and lighter lines to push them back. I find myself using a lot more of the pencils in my case (6F-6B range) than I’ve used before. It gives the drawings dimension and depth. I knew as soon as I saw the description that I wanted to use toys from my studio in the drawing, which ended up being a lot of fun.

Charcoal Still Life by Jess Lingley

Charcoal Still Life by Jess Lingley

I just completed this one last Thursday in class. We started by filling the sheet with charcoal and using erasers to sculpt out the shapes, darkening with charcoal and lightening with chalk as needed. I really like this method of working and will go back to it again. I did chalk/charcoal exercises in middle school as well, and really liked that you were able to shade as well as lighten, instead of just simply shading on white paper. My prof said that as soon as he set up the skull, he knew I’d be drawing it. Not sure what to make of that… 🙂

sneak peak at perspective assignment

sneak peak at perspective assignment

Here’s a sneak peak at what I’ll be working on over the rest of this weekend: the dreaded perspective assignment! My heart sank a bit when we got the original assignment last week, as I have little experience with perspective and was never very good at making the rules work for me. I could get the lines down and draw the shapes okay, but once I tried making them into believable structures they looked like rectangles with doors and windows in strange places, hardly believable.

I started the assignment 6 different times in my sketchbook before settling on a nice one-point-perspective backdrop. There was a lot of frustration in getting things going, but I was able to realize something very important about why perspective is so difficult for me. It’s not the rules; I’m familiar with them and I’m able to get my horizon line and vanishing points in, no problem. It’s not difficult to add shapes as placeholders for buildings, either. It’s when I go to put detail in them that things get all screwy. My sense of scale isn’t great and for all the houses I’ve seen, when trying to draw one, my brain simply empties.

The solution to that is to study and draw as many houses/offices as I can until I get more comfortable with them. After I got the building blocks completed for the above drawing I started researching what kind of buildings I wanted to populate my town with and carefully began adding windows, doors and details. I can honestly say that as of now, I’m having fun with it! I’ve got this whole town at my disposal and can add as many people, cats and signs as I want. Having gotten over the fear of not being able to draw a city, I’m ready to put some imagination and life into it.

I’m not sure how my post schedule is going to hold up over the next few weeks, as I’ve got more projects looming on the horizon. I’m also thinking that my content may become more art-related (as opposed to design) since that’s where I’m more immersed right now, but nothing is for sure. I do want to keep this blog up, because it’s important for me to have a voice outside of studies.

In the mean time, have a happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone! This year I’m thankful for the chance to finally realize my passions and pursue art school (on top of being thankful for the wonderful friends and family I have of course). It’s been amazing so far and every week brings new challenges. It’s been a long while since I’ve felt this good about where I am in my life. 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!

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!