The Progression of Maggie

Using the same type of process as I was doing for my Musician/Singer Series, I wanted to make a late birthday gift for my Bestie, Michelle, who was moving back from San Francisco. Sneakily, I looked through her Facebook and found a perfect image of her Great Dane, Maggie.

Maggie, The Goofy Great Dane

When creating your own artwork or photography, think about keeping compositions off center or not entirely symmetrical. It helps create intrigue when it isn’t stuck in the center of the paper or photo. There was a lot of personality to the picture above because of her right ear being folded in on itself and it not looking like the other ear. Once drawn out in pencil (often use Faber-Castell or Staedtler brands) on an 8″x10″ piece of watercolor paper, I did have a moment where I wondered if the ear would be too weird, but I ultimately stuck with it.

WIP Great Dane Portrait
WIP Penciled Portrait of Maggie

It took me a while to get going on the inking of the pencil drawing because (to this day) inking makes me nervous. Ha! There is this fear that one stroke is going to ruin the whole piece. Especially, since ballpoint pens do have a tendency to spit ink from time to time. I try to switch to a different pen (I have several of one kind I like) when that happens, and that tends to help the problem. Or I have a little strip of paper that I will roll the ballpoint tip on to clean it up. Once I finished the inking without any catastrophes, I felt it really brought her to life.

WIP Inked Maggie
WIP Inked Portrait of Maggie

After I doodled in the background with a finer ballpoint pen, I felt I might have taken away from the dog by doing so and decided to paint the background thick enough to dim the doodles. At first, I was thinking of painting everything in bright colors but after my dad mentioned it would be a shame to not leave the dog white I was tempted to do as he suggested. Concentrating on only painting her tongue, inner ear, slightly in the eyes, and then the background, I went to town. This town I was painting dominantly pink, and then I realized I had almost obliterated the doodle background. Whoops! I gave it a day to dry before I went back over the doodles with the thin ballpoint, and BAM it looked great!

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
-Scott Adams

Final Painted Drawing of Maggie
Final Painted Drawing of Maggie

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Musician/Singer Series Pt. 3: T-Boz, Gwen Stefani, and Pink

Three Pencil Sketches
Three pencil sketches of T-boz, Gwen Stefani, and Pink

In one night, I had cranked out these three pencil sketches for my Musician/Singer Series. At this point, I was trying to pick facial expressions that were different from the other pieces. These were the three I also had love/hate relationships with during the making of them.

Ballpoint WIP of T-Boz
Ballpoint WIP of T-Boz

The composition of T-Boz (Tionne Watkins) from TLC had the most movement out of the entire series. She wasn’t too hard to ink, but I was trying to be as careful as possible with the hands. I have found that it is best to use the shadows to help shape your hands more rather than to draw only an outline of the fingers and palm. Especially when you have fingers pointed and some bent toward the palm, there will be a lot of foreshortening (Dictionary.com says it is “to reduce or distort in order to convey the illusion of three-dimensional space as perceived by the human eye”) happening within the drawing. Hands always feel complicated. Many kids that I have taught in drawing programs will avoid them like the plague by drawing characters with their hands behind their back, etc. Maybe the fact I do focus a lot on the face in my work, is a little sign that I am avoiding the hands as well without consciously making a note of it?

Final Mixed Media of T-boz
Final Mixed Media of T-Boz

Originally, I was going to paint her nicely creased shirt green and yellow, but as I was laying down the color I thought it looked HORRIBLE! In fact, I almost scrapped the whole thing then and there because I was getting short on time before the art show. Taking a deep breath, I grabbed a paper towel and tried dragging off as much paint as possible, wetting it with a clean brush, and wiping it again until I was able to get as much of the color off the paper. I already made her hair orange and skin blue, and was afraid making her shirt similar to the hair wouldn’t let her stand out. Once I painted the yellow layer, then my orange, and then a darker red, it looked better and you couldn’t even tell I had started making it green. The crosshatching of the ballpoint also made it different enough from the hair. Making the background purple behind her, pushed her orange and blue colors forward and toned down the more detailed pattern behind her. At the art show, this was the one that had the most exclamations and people recognized her right away. People seemed to respond to the more dynamic body position, and I couldn’t help but think I should have done more of them that contained more than just the head. Maybe next year?

WIP Inked Version of Gwen Stefani
WIP Ballpoint of Gwen Stefani

I was not happy with the inked version of Gwen at all! This was another point where I had put her aside intending to never use her again. The original screenshot I had taken was pretty blurry and I had difficulty with the angle of her face and the sunglasses. I could barely see her eyes, but drew in what I could. In retrospect, I wonder if it would have been better if I had never drawn the eyes in at all. Texting two of my best friends with the results, they kept pushing me to continue to work on it and they thought I was seeing it more critically than anyone else would.

WIP Beginning to Paint Gwen
WIP: Beginning to Paint Gwen Stefani

Deciding to give her a go, I started painting some color into her and was beginning to LOVE how the sunglasses looked. I felt like her hair should be pink, but I do think the color decision made people think she was Pink even though Gwen did dye her hair pink for many years.

Final of Gwen Stefani
Final Mixed Media of Gwen Stefani

For being a work that I almost threw away, it turned out rather nice! There still could be improvements made, but there are times when I need to keep Salvador Dali in mind,

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.”

WIP Inked Version of Pink
WIP Ballpoint of Pink

Once I had a chance to ink this one, I felt it looked better than the pencil sketch. I allowed the pencil sketch to sit for a while before I went ahead and inked it. The angle of her head and sneer Pink was making made it seem so out of proportion. I also wasn’t sure I liked her thick fake eyelashes in the drawing, but once she was inked it seemed to ground her on the paper for me.

Final of Pink
Final Mixed Media of Pink

She was one of the few pieces I knew exactly what colors I wanted to use, and I had a blast with her. Since she didn’t have a lot of her hair showing, I balanced the composition by using the red in her earrings, eyes, and lips. I even mixed some of the red into the background and her outfit. It is something I try to do in a lot of my work. A lot of different colors can make up an object. Such as painting a blue sky on a landscape, maybe you can use that blue in the grass as a shading color. Trying to add the colors you use throughout your painting, drawing, etc can make it very cohesive.

Despite the struggles these three made me go through, I believe they added a little “oomph” to the series as a whole. It’s easy to work in a vacuum and convince yourself that your work isn’t good. So don’t be shy and show your piece(s) to someone you trust to get honest feedback from. You never know what you may have missed or what could be on it’s way to greatness.

“Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.”

~ Henry Ford ~

Musician/Singer Series Pt. 1: Myles Kennedy

I will be trying to get the blog caught up to my work posted on Instagram and Flickr. Months back, I was trying to save drafts and have them publish during certain times, but since WordPress was fighting me I let the time pass. It’s too easy to fall behind!

Back in May, I was honored to be chosen as one of the artists in a two day art show/festival called Dayton Sideshow. We had many talented local artists who either had video installations, sculptures, or paintings. There were no restrictions to what we could create, which was wonderful! Since there were going to be musical acts going on during the entire two days, I decided to continue my artist trading card theme: my favorite musicians/singers.

At the beginning, I decided I didn’t want to hang the work traditionally. Remembering that I had seen an image on Pinterest where someone used clipboards to hang up illustrations and ideas, I decided it would be something to catch people’s eyes as they walked through the building. Grabbing my Strathmore and Canson watercolor paper pads, I cut them up in various sizes that would fit on the three different sizes of clipboards I had purchased at OfficeSupply.com. They had very reasonable prices and I recommend them for clipboards 100%!

Instead of just getting studio/stage shots of the bands, I went through many music videos and took screenshots of moments that I felt would make a good drawing. My first choice was Myles Kennedy, the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist to the rock band Alter Bridge. I cannot get enough of his voice and so much of their music has such power or frailty behind it! My normal process lately has been to go directly to inking and work with my mistakes, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that successfully with portraits. I already had a clear idea of what I wanted in my mind, but penciled out Myles in the top right corner and leaving room for doodles on the rest of the paper later.

Myles Kennedy WIP

“On broken wings I’m falling, And it won’t be long,
The skin on me is burning, By the fires of the sun…”

-“Broken Wings” by Alter Bridge

The artist trading cards I created previously made me realize I wanted to ink these using my ballpoint pens instead of the Prismacolor Fine Liners. I did keep changing which ballpoint pen depending on what I thought worked better on the watercolor paper at the time. The one that stayed the most consistent for me was PaperMate’s InkJoy 700 RT 1.0 M. Once I inked Myles, I decided to look up what he had for tattoos. I found out he had an octopus on one arm and a Koi fish on the other. I love making connections in my work, so I doodled around Myles with a Koi fish swimming around the swirling waves and octopus tentacles.

When I started adding my acrylics, I thought I had ruined his face with the green on top of the yellow. It made him look sickly. Once I introduced some blue and pulled up a lot of the green with a paper towel, I kept going by adding more reds and purples to his hair and shirt to brighten things up. I chose to keep the upper left corner mostly white other than a few purposeful splatters of color that I dabbed with paper towel to keep the saturation down. It gives a nice weight to the right and bottom side of the composition. This piece turned out to be one of my favorites despite it being the first one penciled!

Final of Myles Kennedy

Artist Trading Cards

A friend of mine hosted an artist trading card swap during a small art show opening. Since I have only participated in art swaps that involve the post office, I was excited to go out and be an active participant in selecting the art I would receive in return for my cards. You could do up to five 2.5″x3.5″ cards, but I ended up only having enough time to draw, ink, and paint three.

Rihanna in progress.

I have had these screenshots on my iPad for MONTHS from various music videos I loved. For some reason, it occurred to me that I could finally use these screenshots as inspiration for the cards. Unexpectedly, I ended up enjoying doing the series so much, that I have continued the theme onto larger sizes of watercolor paper for an art show I have been accepted into. Definitely having a blast creating the work and can’t wait to see what more comes out of it! 🙂

Madonna and Jessie J inked and ready for paint!

The first drawing I had completed was Jessie J so it didn’t occur to me until I had sketched out Madonna that I should fill the background with my doodles. There are a lot of people now who are familiar with my doodles, but have no idea that I can draw more realistic. I have played with mixing the two before, but not quite in this way. I did end up choosing to use only three colors: red, green, and blue to paint with for all three which made them pull together as a series even more than in ink form.

The final three.

Artist Trading Cards

I can’t remember what I named Rihanna, but Madonna’s piece was named: “I was sad and blue.” Jessie J’s card was named: “Stomp stomp I’ve arrived!”

Medium: Mixed media (ballpoint, Prismacolor Illustration markers, and Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic Paint) on watercolor paper.

4X6 Orange Flower Doodle

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

4X6 Orange Flower Doodle

I haven’t mentioned this, but I did finally have a chance over the weekend to redesign this blog to give it a fresh look. It’s shameful how long I allowed it to become stagnant, but honestly I have struggled lately with creating art. Inspiration wasn’t far away, but once I would get home and try to put pen to paper I would give up. Maybe I needed the break? Hard to tell because I did feel horrible about not making art. As a child, I was constantly drawing my favorite cartoons, making up my own newspapers with comic strips in them, creating cards for people’s birthdays, etc. Maybe it can be too easy to not make time for the things we love because of our adult responsibilities.

The doodle above is the beginning of me breaking through my Artist’s Block. Since I have been incredibly inspired with painting pottery, I have begun to cut 4″ x 6″ rectangles out of watercolor sheets to doodle various flowers with my Sharpie’s that could potentially end up on a piece of pottery. Though I drew on the watercolor paper because I thought I could play around with watercolor on top of the Sharpie ink at some point. Or even use acrylic, which is what I have been doing in the past.

Here’s to hoping that I will continue to make time for my art and to stay inspired. Sometimes you have to jump in head first. 🙂

Mini Sketchbook Doodle

For the sake of getting something on paper, I decided to doodle in my mini sketchbook. Sometimes it is best to put pen to paper and work with the mistakes. Especially since there can be beauty in the mistakes.

“Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.”
-Eugene Delacroix

Mini Sketchbook Doodle

4×6 Exchange

There hasn’t be enough time to start on my silhouette project that is bouncing around in my head, but I realized I had a post I never finalized. Sorry this is old news, but it doesn’t mean I can’t share the work I created. 🙂

The same people who organized The Sketchbook Project had another project last year called the 4×6 Exchange. Their idea was to have creatives sign up for an art swap on a global scale. The artists who wanted to join in the fun had to mail Art House HQ a 4″x6″ piece of artwork, and it would be exchanged with another artist’s submission. I have done something similar to this but with a bunch of Twitter artists (@davidpringle taking the lead). So, I knew right away I wanted to be a part of the project.

Of course, I was in the doodle mood and broke out the Sharpies. Most of the time when I draw these doodles, I end up deciding whether I really want to add the acrylic or leave it alone. To preserve what it looked like before color, I scan it and that way I always have a before and after image to keep.

The BEFORE is only Sharpie ink. The AFTER is acrylic on top of the Sharpie.

4x6 Exchange WIP

4×6 Exchange WIP

4x6 Exchange Final

4×6 Exchange Final