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February 2018

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That Post Where I Review January and Set Artist Goals for February 2018

Written by , Posted in Artist Notes, Month Reviews and Goals

It’s that time of week again when I sip my tea while the rest of the family sleeps and go over my week in blog format. Good Morning!

Since this post is being written at the end of January and February is scratching at the sliding glass door, wanting to make its entrance, I figured I would review last month and set some learning goals for next month.

In January –

ReadFigure Drawing for all it’s Worth by Andrew Loomis (Review of it in February)

Thrawn By Timothy Zahn

Binge watched – The first two seasons of “The Expanse” (I absolutely LOVED it!)

Art Development Goals – I wanted to become more proficient at drawing the human figure.  I practiced sketching and doing studies of both male and female figures. I also sketched well over a dozen heads, faces, and hands while paying close attention to their details with a couple of studies of each body part.

Two Final and Finished Pieces – I created two final pieces, one was a mock of an alien romance book cover that I created three times to study my use of three different mediums.  After going over the results with my husband (To get a sense of what seemed to fit my own style and personality) we both came to the conclusion that my watercolor version seemed more like “me”. The second piece was a request from my youngest child to draw a dragon that represented my personality. Although this piece had nothing really to do with the human figure, it gave me a chance to incorporate my own emotions into the work and explore more of what my illustrative style seemed to be. The dragon sits on the top of a cliff, her back against a twisted and withered tree. She looks beyond the edge of the cliff with a pensive look on her face. She fears failure, ridicule, and the unknown. All things I am currently trying to address within myself. Will she venture beyond her safe vantage point? Let us hope.

Thoughts – Well, I’d like to say this was a kick butt kinda month and an awesome beginning of a brand spankin’ new year, but I felt as though I was trying the wade through the mud of self-doubt and insecurities. I resisted any feelings of satisfaction found in art and couldn’t shake my restless and dark feelings about myself. Some of this may be due to the dark and rainy weather this month but more than that, I think the weight of events in 2017 hasn’t lifted within my mind and I need to figure out a balance in life that will nurture my creative outlet, build self esteem, and help me get back into a more positive groove. To help me do this, I dumped Facebook and blocked nearly all friends and family members from my art accounts. It felt as though I cut an anchor loose. I couldn’t let go of my internal dialogue of how they must be judging my work and critiquing my skills. I found myself trying to appeal to their tastes so they would respect me more and not just doing what I want to do. No one knows I have done this, and I don’t anticipate them inquiring. I suppose I am going through a mid-life realization that I’ve spent too much time pleasing others (Since I was raised to believe the opinion of others was much more important than my own self-esteem) and not enough time figuring out who I actually am. I think, once I open up and become a more accurate version of myself, it will show up in my art.  Lets hope that February will be filled with less mud and more revelation… speaking of next month…

FEBRUARY GOALS

ReadingThe War of Art: Winning the Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (I want to finish it before I see the movie!)

Binge Watching – “The Man In The High Castle” (The first episode was intense!)

Art goals – I enjoy listening to podcasts while doing art (and housework) and “Artists Helping Artists” is a great podcast for all sorts of information.  Leslie Saeta is one of the hosts and every year she does a 30 in 30 challenge. (thirty paintings in thirty days) This year the challenge begins on February 1st.  So I will be challenging myself to look at a reference and paint it in 30 minutes.  Basically I will be doing a 30 in 30 in 30 challenge. Hehe… I am doing this so I can spend some time playing and getting to know watercolor better. I’m hoping it will free me from being so focused on details and help me to be more loose and deliberate with my paint strokes. I will also continue to sketch and study the human figure. I’ve found that I try to avoid drawing and painting humans because I don’t like how my human subjects look, which means I need to practice drawing humans more! Hopefully I can get my children and husband to help me out and model for me.  We’ll see!

Two Final Projects – Since I will have my watercolors out anyway, My plan is to do two final pieces depicting humans. I’d like to try and illustrate a Fairy Tale and a Science Fiction scene. It will be interesting to see what I come up with.

Also!  (Drumroll) I recently made a sizable purchase from Dick Blick Art Materials and I look forward to doing a post of my unboxing! Who doesn’t love looking at new and shiny art supplies?

Hope you all had a wonderful first month of 2018!

Enjoy your creations!

Jennifer

Sunday

28

January 2018

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That Post Where I Review “Color and Light” by James Gurney

Written by , Posted in Artist Notes, Book Review

Since each month is dedicated to building a specific skill, I’ve been purchasing one or two art books each month that cover that particular skill. For the Month of December, I was working on values, and nothing effects values more than light. So I grabbed James Gurney’s book titled “Color and Light, A Guide for the Realist Painter”

This book most likely graces the shelves of many, many artists out there. I’ve seen this book on the shelves of digital artists and traditional artists, fantasy artists and landscape artist, and just about every artist in between. So if you have this book, have read it front to back, then by all means, you are welcome to skip my review and make a cup of coffee or paint something. For the rest of you, here it goes…

James Gurney is an amazing painter of realistic and fantasy art. He is found all over the internet. He has a Youtube Channel, an Instagram account, and he is on Twitter. With what seems like just a few brush strokes, he is able to create awe inspiring paintings in his sketchbook that he takes wherever he goes.  He is also the creator of “Dinotopia”, a picture book series filled with people and dinosaurs living together in a fantasy world.

In “Color and Light” James goes over all the details of the effects light can have on a subject while explaining what the artist should be looking for and how to use those lighting effects in their paintings.  He covers all areas of lighting from natural lighting found outside like overcast light and twilight, to indoor and artificial lighting situations like up-lights and back lights.

Gurney also covers color (it’s in the title after all) and goes over color wheels, limited color palettes, warm and cool colors and combines the color info with the light info and discusses how they work together in various lighting situations. He goes over different surfaces and how light and color effects those surfaces, like skin, hair, water, etc.  Then he covers these effects out in nature, the changing colors found during a sunset, on a foggy day, and the uneven blues found in the sky on a clear day.

Overall, this book has a plethora of information, which is why it is helpful for an artist to keep one on hand for reference.  It is filled mostly with Jame’s paintings, and each painting provides a great visual example of each topic he covers. Since artists tend to be visual learners, these examples are perfect ways to help us see what he is writing about. This book is a great resource for the intermediate artist and up. He writes with an assumption that the person reading this book already knows and has practiced the basics of art (Line, value, composition, etc.) This isn’t a how-to book, it is more like a “take your art to the next level book” but that is not to say a beginning artist wouldn’t enjoy or gain any information from it. I also want to add, for those of you who are watercolor artists, most of his descriptions of palettes and painting methods are meant for layering paints like gouache and oils. So there will be a few times when we need to use his stated methods in an opposite direction (Applying light colors first..) Having said that, I do recommend this book for anyone ready to take their use of lighting, color and values to the next level.

Have a super week exploring your creativity!

Jennifer

Sunday

21

January 2018

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That Post Where I Talk About How I Am Learning To Be A Better Artist

Written by , Posted in Artist Notes

Happy Sunday!

There is nothing like an early Sunday morning to relax with a steaming cup of tea to reflect on the past week while making a schedule for the next week. This is how I organize my brain, in a calm and quiet way. The hubby is still snoozing (He is not a morning person) and the kids are either still asleep or quietly occupying themselves until dad wakes and makes his “Daddy’s Sunday  breakfast”. In case you are curious, he either makes pancakes, waffles, or biscuits and gravy. I think that being a morning person, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, unless there is brunch available, then brunch is my favorite meal of the day, totally!

Ok, enough about family life, lets get down to some Art Talk!

I’ve been spending this month organizing my goals for 2018 and trying to implement them at the same time. (yeah, it sounds crazy to me too) Basically, my goal for 2018 is to have a nice portfolio of work to show to future clients/customers/and dare I say fans? While my own art skills are probably hovering somewhere in the intermediate level, there is always room for improvement and I finally figured out how to create my own ‘art student’ environment without actually having to pay those nutty college tuition fees. Here it goes…
Each month is dedicated to an area of study.

For the month of JANUARY that area is (Drum roll)

THE HUMAN FIGURE

From there I create an action plan to practice sketching dozens and dozens of figures, hands, faces, and other body parts in the wee morning hours every day during the week. I will also complete more detailed studies and finally come up with a polished sketch and maybe even a final illustration that incorporates all those things I learned. I am aiming for one or two final pieces each month. (fingers crossed)

In the afternoon I am reading and studying videos of my area of study. This month I am currently reading

“Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth” by Andrew Loomis

After spending time on learning about that topic, I come up with ideas for my practice sketches to do the next morning. And thus the cycle continues.

Last week I worked specifically with the male figure. I studied the major muscle groups and drew some hunky figures. This week was spent on female figures and embraces (Hugging). It isn’t easy to make them look natural. In fact, mine started out looking like two paper dolls tangled together, but with more practice and by adding the right values, I think I managed a couple of happy embraces. (with less paper cuts). For this upcoming week I will be sketching more hugs and working on hands. (Probably the most temperamental body part, although I sometimes struggle with noses too.) And by the end of the week, I should have a final piece in the works.

While working, I like to listen to podcasts and videos about artists, creativity, and whatnot. This week I was listening to a ‘Schoolism’ chat with Bobby Chiu on Youtube and I loved this particular quote he said,

“If my being successful is dependent on what people think of me, then I am putting my success in other people’s hands.” Bobby Chiu

This is something I need to work on myself. To care less about the opinions of others and more about my own personal and professional development.

What are some things you are working on for 2018?

Enjoy Creating!