Off Book by PBS

After being all gung-ho on starting homework on Monday, I think I overdid it a little and messed up some muscles in my neck. I don’t remember inking being so hard… body, y u hate me? ;_;

So as I sit here smelling of bear balm with a heat pack on my poor neck, I thought I’d take a minute to share something really cool I stumbled upon through twitter- wait, maybe it was reddit… or was it tumblr? I think I have a slight social media overload going on here. Anyway, PBS’s Off Book is a series of videos about art and design related goodies. The only two I’ve seen so far are embedded below, but there are a handful of others I’ve yet to watch (since I have to get homework done at some point).

After watching this, my love for illustration was renewed! As I’ve progressed through school so far, I’ve been trying to soak up as much information as possible on fine art and illustration careers. The line between them is not as blurred as I thought, it goes much deeper than originality versus commercialism. I haven’t really made up my mind on which one I’d like to pursue over the other, and this video made it a bit harder. I was initially leaning towards fine art because I wanted absolute freedom of expression. However, listening to artists talk in this video about how being unique is so valued as an illustrator these days, and seeing some of the amazing works presented, it looks like I’d have more freedom with illustration than I believed.

I’ve found myself giving fan artists a bit of a hard time lately (in my head mostly). It seems too easy to take someone else’s character idea and put a face to it in exchange for fanboy’s/fangirl’s money. This video has softened me a bit to it, though I still prefer original work. The sense of humor and community in fanart is hard to match and certainly something I participate (ie: lurk) in with my favorite shows. As a bonus, there’s a short interview with Sam Spratt, a digital artist I’ve fawned a bit over.

Alright, I’m almost through my second coffee of the day and need to get back (no pun intended) at it. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to finish up homework by Friday, since I’ll be visiting home over the weekend to touch base with family. With any luck and lots of frequent breaks, my neck will be back to normal by then. Cheers!

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Finished My First Semester!

Last Wednesday was my official last day of classes! I’m so relieved that I have some time off to recuperate and enjoy the holidays, but I enjoyed myself immensely and can’t wait to see what semester #2 has in store for me!

These last few months have gone by fairly quickly, but I had a lot of work to push through in that time. I’ve got almost more material from my first semester than I had putting my art school portfolio together. Drawings, paintings, prints, writing papers… I’ve been very busy! The great thing about the subject matter at school is that it all ties together. I used an idea from a computer project in my final drawing project, and used illustration skills in a computer project, for example.

It would take forever to describe each and every piece I did, so I’ll post a few of my favorites over the next few weeks. I recently updated my deviantart page with some new art while applying for a scholarship, so here are a few from there:


Self-Portrait 2012
by ~soulexposed on deviantART


Gouache Color Study by ~soulexposed on deviantART


Linocut Sugar Skull by ~soulexposed on deviantART

I haven’t had a lot of time to collect outside material for this blog, and I’m just now catching up on my Google Reader, tumblr and pinterest. Between that and some upcoming personal projects, I’ll have plenty to do over the break! Anyway, I wanted to share this Jen Mann painting video I came across on tumblr yesterday.

Jen Mann- Speed Painting from Wolf & Sparrow on Vimeo.

She’s using my favorite colors, pink & blue, so naturally I’m in love with this piece! She paints with her work flat on the wall, using a photo reference, with oils. It’s very interesting to see how small she works right off the bat, rather than putting down blocks of colors and working over top of them. She blends each section of the face beautifully. Also worth noting is that she paints in a very planned-out way, from the top left corner to the bottom right. It was very educational and inspiring watching this painting come together.

I think that’s enough for now. Stay tuned, as I hope to update several times a week while I’m on break, and maybe even stockpile some posts for when I’m back in school in January.

Cheers! 😀

Zoe Pawlak

Haute Design, an interior design blog, introduced me to Zoe Pawlak‘s work. Zoe does custom work for clients based on the spaces they live in, working closely with them from the conception phases of the work, all the way to staging the finished painting. She got her BFA at NSCAD (hurray!) and went onto study painting after that in Montreal and Mexico. Her use of vivid colors is striking and refreshing, like a fruity drink on a hot sunny day.

The next three pieces you’ll see are of the same subject, but painted very differently. There are some that might think that painting the same subject over and over would be too easy, but I disagree. In my own work I usually start with research sketches, followed by several sketches of what I want to paint, followed by a final sketch which I may ink depending on materials. I’ve usually drawn something 4-5 times before I go to paint it, which helps me familiarize with the subject matter, especially when it’s something I’ve never drawn before (like Owls!). It can really test your patient to work on the same subject continuously.

Heaven Hold On, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

Heaven Hold On, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

All three of these works have very different vibes to them. I love the tropical palette used above, the sun and the water in saturated soft splashes of color. Her multi-colored hair draws your attention to her whimsical expression and the birds above her.

Far, Far, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48  by Zoe Pawlak

Far, Far, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

This painting has a more graphic-style to it, with flatter colors and harsher shadows. Using the complimentary palette of pink and yellow gives these simplistic colors depth.

Semblance, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

Semblance, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 48 by Zoe Pawlak

There’s a lot of texture in this piece. The colors are softer and there’s a lot more happening with the background. I like how she takes each painting to a different level of completion. These pieces are plenty different, different enough that I’d want to display them side-by-side. The Haute Design article has several photos of how her clients display her work.

Swimmer, Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

Swimmer, Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

The deep blue hues of this painting drew me in pretty quickly. The cape flowing from her shoulders draws the eye up to the carefully detailed surface of the water.

Taken Away, 48 x 48, Oil on Canvas by Zoe Pawlak

Taken Away, 48 x 48, Oil on Canvas by Zoe Pawlak

Some of the paintings Zoe does lean a bit towards abstraction. The above landscape, painted in light soft colors looks like something from a dream, or a foggy landscape painted in the early morning. Paintings like this really show off her skills with brushstrokes. Some of her lines are stark, others carefully softened and others still half-blended, keeping the texture of the brush visible.

Large Flowers (Taupe background), Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

Large Flowers (Taupe background), Acrylic and oil on Canvas, 48 x 72 by Zoe Pawlak

The flowers above are so beautifully bright and really stand out against the taupe background. I like the geometry in this composition, the cool greens in the stem blossoming into warm bright petals up top.

Here’s a video showing her working away as well as showing off her work to potential clients. Being able to hand-pick clients and showing work all over the world are goals that I would like to accomplish, some day. Watching her in her element is very inspiring. The music is really pretty too, definitely worth two minutes of your time.

ZOE PAWLAK from Liam Mitchell on Vimeo.

COPIC sunset and Time-Lapse Watercolors

This week I decided to tackle the sky in my Guidance Owl illustration. I knew I wanted a sunset/dusk type sky with lots of intense color. Lighting in this piece is key; I’ve kept it in mind when coloring every single part of it, wanting the sun to touch everything. After studying some pictures of sunsets all over the world, in cloudy skies and skies devoid of even stars, I picked some colors and jumped right in (with the help of Mogwai’s new album, which turned out to be amazing coloring music).

Guidance Owl -in progress-

Guidance Owl -in progress-

Guidance Owl close-up of Sky

Guidance Owl close-up of Sky

The feeling of taking a risk and coming out on the other side with something I’m happy with, that feeling is one of the things I live for in art. Though the cloud shapes are kind of funky, they’re vibrant and flowing and moody. I’m ~very~ happy with them… so much so that for the first time, I’m considering studying some landscapes using my markers to get a better feel for environments like this.

One of my colleagues who became a good friend of mine over the past few years is leaving work. For a gift to her, I got a print done of my cherry blossom drawing from last year. Here are the two compared.

Cherry Blossom Landscape original and print

Cherry Blossom Landscape original and print

The print is slightly more saturated and dark compared to the original but I feel that enhances it a bit. She seemed pleased by it, so I’m happy too.

To round off this Friday afternoon post, here are some time-lapse art videos that I enjoyed.  The first and second videos belong to Amanda Mocci, who combines the fine detail work of illustration and pencil with bold bright colors achieved through use of gouache. She’s recording several time-lapse videos of her artwork, shown below. Watching other artists is such a great learning experience. With Amanda, it looks like she keeps a blank piece of paper under her hand, when using pencil, so that she doesn’t smug the work all to pieces. With the amount of pencil and detail she uses this makes sense and is something I’ll definitely be trying out for myself.

DARK WINGS – A portrait by Amanda Mocci from Amanda Mocci on Vimeo.

REVIVAL – A Process Film By Amanda Mocci from Amanda Mocci on Vimeo.

Gabrielle Rose combines ink-based illustration with water-colors. She seems to have the wet-on-wet technique of painting down pat, to a point where she can control exactly where the paint will travel when she tilts the page. It’s beautiful and fascinating to watch. She’s able to blend contrasting colors masterfully.

Leaky Eyes Time Lapse from draw Gabby draw! on Vimeo.

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.