Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Little Summer Project

This summer has been a strange transition in my life. With the realization setting in of school being finally behind me, I now have to turn to face what is ahead. I have been looking for jobs and making applications and preparing for a big move, but I still wanted to do some art projects. 
I'm taking a baby spider plant from my parent's house with me to Lexington, and I thought it would be fun to paint the pot. I just kind of winged it and had fun, making some designs, but I really liked how it turned out!

Then here are the details of all the designs around the rim of the pot.

And then here is the plant! Her name is Arachne. Yes, I name my plants.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Life Lessons from Bike Rides

          Me and my bike, we’re the best of friends. When I’m out riding my bike through the countryside in the summer, I have peace of mind. As long as I have this escape, this get-away, I know that I will be ok, that everything will be ok. Everything is what it is, and will be what it will be. When I was out riding today I realized something: stepping into the unknown is like stepping into a shadow. Before you enter it, the shadow just seems very dark and black and you feel blind. But as soon as you enter it, your eyes only take a second to adjust. So the unknown isn’t that scary, all we have to do is adjust. I learn a lot from my bike rides. I learned to keep my mouth shut or bugs will fly into it. I learned to be aware; the road is not always going to be smooth. I know that I have to keep my eyes in front of me to watch for bumps and potholes, but that I must also keep looking around me. There is so much beauty all around us- keep looking, you might see a butterfly. And there might be some trash along the road, pick it up. I learned about balance on my bike, and that sometimes you’ll fall but it’s not the end of the world. So maybe life is less like a flowing river and more like a bike ride down a long road.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Little Summer Projects

So this summer has been a strange limbo for me. I have a lot to do with my illustration pursuits, such as building a client list, mailing out my postcards, and general networking. I have also been updating many of my profiles, passwords, emails, and applying to lots of part time regular jobs. That has certainly not been very fun. But I think I am making progress, slowly, but slow is better than none. Along with all this I have kept drawing by designing a tattoo for a friend and designing a t shirt for another friend.

This is a cheetah tattoo, designed to go on the thigh, front or side.

 And this is the t shirt design, it is for a Rush t shirt for my friend at Purdue University.

This has been fun, at least that small projects keep coming my way. I am also in the process of beginning a very large commissioned painting for an aunt and uncle of mine. I'm very excited, it's going to be 4'x5', which will be the largest painting I have ever done. Updates on that process soon!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jan van Eyck Painting Process

Jan Van Eyck was a master painter of the Northern Renaissance. He revolutionized the technique of oil painting, and we, as students of the classics, can learn much from him. I learned van Eyck's painstaking and meticulous painting method for my Painting Materials and Techniques class; it was a ten week class and I was not able to finish the painting! So I thought I would share the process here.

Ampersand Gesso Board
Small round watercolor brushes 000, 0, 1, and a #6, #7, #8 sable flats
Professional grade oil paints: Sap Green, Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo Blue, Quinacridone Rose, Pthalo Green, Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Magenta, and Dioxazine Purple or Carbazole Violet (transparent hues)
Titanium White and Zinc White
Cotton rags
Plastic Wrap to cover palette
Wax Paper palette
plastic clipboard case or any sealed case to keep the painting in
a sealed palette case and glass palette
sheets of 220, 320, 400, and 600 sandpaper
Linseed oil
The first step is to prime the Gesso Board. Sand it with the 220 paper (wrapped around an object to make a sanding block) for about 3 minutes. Then sand with the 400 paper for about 3 minutes, and finish sanding with 600 or 800 till the surface is shiny. Next, take linseed oil and pour a bit on the board. Spread out with fingers and let dry for at least 20 minutes, and then wipe off with a cotton rag. Let the board sit for 24 hours before drawing on.

After the drawing is transferred onto the board (using wax-free Saral Transfer paper), you are ready for the under-painting. 
The piece that I worked on was a small detail of Mary from the Ghent Altarpiece. 
The under-painting is a grayish mix that is used for the flesh, Mary's crown and pearls, or anything in a similar range to that. Mix Titanium White, some linseed oil, Quinacridone Rose, Pthalo Green, and a little Indian Yellow to make a translucent gray. Mix a whole range of values using these combinations, keeping it neutral to warm, mixing more Indian Yellow into the lighter values.

Apply the paint slowly and meticulously, think of the painting you are copying as all gray values. Paint very thin and try not to leave any brushstrokes, just kind of dab the paint on.
Here is the start of my underpainting. Just the face took about 20 hours, and the pearls took many more.
Remember that what you paint is going to look darker than what you have mixed on your palette.
For all of the gold parts, also do the gray under-painting.

For any large, simple, dark, neutral part of the painting, for example a large fur coat of a background, use complement weaving. Choose a complement pair that is close in value such as red and green. Mix Quinacridone Rose and Pthalo Green (more of one- red) and a bit of Indian Yellow and paint the first layer, paint all the way up to the figure, then use a cotton cloth to dab to control value and eliminate the hard edges. Let the layer dry. Then use Pthalo Green and Quinacridone Rose (more of one- green) and Indian Yellow and paint another layer then dab. Repeat as many times as necessary.

For colored cloth, jewels, flowers, or hair paint a thin color that is one step lighter than what it is supposed to be. For example, for a dark red flower, paint orange, for a violet, paint red, for a dark blue, paint a lighter blue. Add a little Titanium White in so it's not too transparent. For jewels, don't neutralize at all, they should be full bright (this will shine through later). For brown hair, it should be a reddish or greenish brown under-painting. 

The rusty orangey mix for the hair is Quinacridone Rose, a bit of Pthalo Green and Indian Yellow and some Titanium White. Then cool it down with a bit on Pthalo Blue. Make a value scale of this color.
 Mary's hair unfortunately looks like the Little Mermaid's hair...
Look closely and notice that I used the other end of my paintbrush to scratch in directional lines and waves in her hair.

The next step is the first glaze! Begin with the flesh. Glazing is pretty simple and once you have done one area, you will understand how to do it with the rest. It is a very thin application of paint done very slowly and using tiny brushes and brushstrokes. Mix Indian Yellow, Quinacridone Rose, and Titanium White to make a variety of hues. Also use any other of your transparent blues and greens to make some cool values too. 

****It is important to note that you SHOULD DEFINITELY keep your sealed palette in the freezer when not painting, so your paints will stay wet for a long time even though they are thin!*****

Make your paint mixtures fairly thinned with linseed oil, but not puddled up, just like the consistency of butter. Make a plum color with Alizarin Crimson, Indian Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, and white.
Also make some very saturated as well as very light colors. The gray of the under-painting will neutralize.

^Notice the consistency^

Put down the colors first and don't dab with a cloth, just stipple with the brush to blend. Try to not have brush strokes. There is variety in every part of the painting, there are no areas of homogeneous color.

^This is a detail comparison to the photo I was looking at^

Here is the palette of colors you would generally mix for the first glaze over the gold parts. Jan van Eyck used gold filigree I'm sure, but I didn't have the money or time to do that.

This is as far as I got. It needs the first glaze finished, as well as at least 2 more glazes more, because at this point you can see that the gray under-painting is still shining through and dulling it. The hardest work is over though!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wax-On, Wax-Off!

        This is a piece I did for Collage class. It is a beeswax collage, which means that I use melted pure beeswax and a quilting iron to put everything together, basically. I put layers and layers of tissue paper and a bunch of fortunes that I had collected to make the background. Then I made transfers of some copyright free illustrations of birds and moths by making copies of the images, sticking them to contact paper, soaking them in water, and rolling of the paper (the ink sticks). I then attached the transferred images to some canvas paper and cut them out. I used the hot wax to put all the sticks, strings, and birds of the mobile together and made squares of foam-core to give all the paper elements their 3D effect. This was a very new material and process for me to try and was both meticulous and fun. The coolest thing about beeswax collage is that if you really don't like the piece or you make a mistake, all you have to do is heat it all up again and pull everything off!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


This was my final project for my World Mythology class. I decided to merge the Medusa and the Minotaur into one creature because I found a strong connection to the meaning behind each character; both the Medusa and the Minotaur represent the idea of facing and accepting your "inner uglies".

Jacques Derrida's take on the Medusa is that she symbolizes the ugly monster that lies inside the self, the inner demons that we try so hard to hide and are afraid to face. It is only when we can look the Medusa in the eye that we can overcome it and see ourselves completely. We cannot do as Perseus did, and hide it away in a bag, taking it out and using it as a weapon occasionally. Much like Perseus hid away Medusa’s head, Theseus killed the Minotaur and left it rotting in the labyrinth, thus representing a corresponding concept. The Minotaur was a monster that was the consequence of a mistake; he is a symbol of sin, inner guilt and shame. He was hidden away and also used as a weapon of punishment, which represents a lurking and undeniably darker aspect of the self. The Medusa and the Minotaur are innocent characters, both punished for a mistake or offense that was not their own. Both are also powerful and dangerous, but lonely and sad at the same time.

I enjoyed working on this piece because it was so personal to me and my inner struggles. I drew it in fine graphite with ink pen line work, and then did the rest of the color and textures digitally in Photoshop. I wish all the detail could be seen better here!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Something Old

"A lady from Wales caught a fish with no scales"
I can't remember the rest, but this was a limerick that I illustrated back in my sophomore year of college. This is how I like to do my ink work. I don't usually do much black and white anymore. I see this as a combination of Disney and Aubrey Beardsley...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Something New

I am yours often enough 
Dead in the deep end
Torrid little tale

I had so much fun doing this project, which was to illustrate a "Sexy Haiku". This piece doesnt quite fit in with the rest of my portfolio since it is done in a different medium. I tried something different and made a tight pencil drawing and then did the rest completely in Photoshop using textures and paint. I would really love to explore more in digital collage!