31 January 2016

Building Up "The Safe Place" - Painting Process from Roots to Rendering

Sometimes the term 'build' is incredibly apt in describing the process through which a concept and all its integral, multifaceted parts, come together into a cohesive image.

As artists, we might more often tend to use words like "develop" or "compose" a concept, a composition, and these terms are accurate, certainly. But this painting, as well as a lot of other recent works I've been working on, have been "built" more than anything, and a large part of that has to do with the finer points in the way they were constructed, from start to finish.

This piece, "The Safe Place", was quite directly built out of the 11x14" space which it is placed in on the 400 lb. hot press Arches watercolor paper.

I designed my domain to work in, I roughly knocked out a thumbnail for guidance, I arranged my reference material, and I built this tree from the ground up, in one week, start to finish.

Here's the process, with some breakdown description, from that start to finish week:

This is what the start of any idea looks like on paper, for me. Loose and fast; shapes in value within a frame.

If you follow any of my social media posts for process, or have seen my blog before, you'll recognize this as my typical rough sketch and/or thumbnail approach.

And the following is the immediate result of choking back on the soft graphite pencil, letting the relaxed, dancerly strokes find my vision through rhythm, internal contour, and layered structure. Building it up into a state where I can go back in and start better defining the constructed forms with committed, articulate line weight variation and swatches of value definition:

Click the image for larger view

A close up of the woman's form to see a little more of the tonal detail I smudged in and carved out with an eraser.

I built up the tree as you see it above, more into the rest of the branches and roots, detailing shapes and lighting with rather abstract, calligraphic line work through tone and erasing of tone.

And then, once the drawing was certain, I stopped pushing it at that stage, in that medium, and switched over to watercolor washes to give me a sense of the color palette and how I wanted to paint it:

Simple reds and greens.

Building up:

Acrylics, matte medium, colored pencils...

And then lastly, the little details, before a final coal of matte medium, and spray UV varnish coats...Some serious drying and handling time...

Click the image for larger view
Click the image for larger view

Click the image for larger view

With a custom framing job from my local art store that I am quite pleased to patron. It's great when you can support small, local businesses and receive not only solid work, but a good professional rapport.

“The Safe Place” alludes to a Native American iteration of Woman as man-kind’s bridge to Nature, how she is humanity’s opportunity to cultivate a close relationship with the Wild, and how through her, the raw self runs free. Men, with their own unique value, take heed of woman’s distinctive bond to Nature in its ever-changing force. 
This piece is an interpretation of the place, the sacred space, where she might need to go to be alone, to be unburdened, uncovered, unseen by her male counterpart, and uncaught, as well. She rests, in the safe place, in the circle, at the foot at a strong, universal icon for the natural world. There is nothing else but the tree, and her.

"The Safe Place" is currently showing - February 5th - 28th 2016 - with two other original works of mine as part of a group exhibition showcasing local women artists in the theme of the feminine story - girls and women's empowerment, perspectives, and beauty - #ExtremeLove for #grlsgrlsgrls at The Discerning Eye Center for the Arts - the DECA Building, Lancaster, PA.

Also, art prints of the original painting are available to order HERE

For any questions or comments, contact me directly HERE

In the meantime,
Be well in this winter,


08 January 2016

"Made New" To Be Included In Infected By Art's Volume 4 Publication!

Well, I'm floored - and honored - to share the news that my painting "Made New" will be included in the international annual Infected By Art's Volume 4 art book!

"Made New" - 8 1/4 x 11 1/4" - Mixed Media, 2015

Congratulations to my fellow selectees and award winners! The work I am seeing for this volume so far is stunning.

And thank you for your hard work, jury panel, Erica Berkowitz, Patrick Jones, Lauren Panepinto, and Allen Williams.

*And thank you to those two lovely mystery people who voted for this piece during the week of the separate public voting - You rock! 

Now I just have to worry about how well the hi res digital file of this will turn out when it is printed amongst such admirable artists. Eek.


03 January 2016

"What I'm Reading" - Plus the 2016 Resolution to *Read More*

Happy 2016, everyone!

Honestly, everyone I talk with on the subject exudes possitivity about this year, and it's fantastic. Everyone's excited, and in a good way, including yours truly!

Let's kick off with resolutions and literature, both excellently tempting brain-gear turners.

On my bedside window ledge I have now five books that have since piled up neatly as the initial 'to do' list of reading material. They are:

Beowulf, as translated by Seamus Heaney:

Browse and order on Amazon HERE
Cuchulain of Muirthemne, by Lady Gregory:
*Note the lovely cover illustration by JC Leyendecker

Browse and order on Amazon HERE
The Corpus Hermetica, attributed to Hermes Trismestigustus:

Browse Goodreads HERE
Memories, Dreams, Reflections, by Carl Jung:

Browse and order on Amazon HERE
And lastly, so far:

The Book On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, by Alan Watts:

The Corpus Hermetica is very thin, but heavy to ponder and consider, in some ways, and it reads like an ancient play dialogue.

The Book, by Watts, is a speedy, light little read, all on good philosophical stuff. Just lovely.

Beowulf is a classic, so if you haven't read that, try it out soon.
And Lady Gregory was one of the great authors and collectors of Celtic myth and legend, some might say history.
And we all know Jung. Right? Please say yes. Or go read some of his stuff, if only for your thinker.

That's the lot, as it stands!

This year is already loaded, and it feels thoroughly great. So attending diligently to my 'resolution' of sorts to read more regularly is going to be a trick of it's own!

What's your resolution for 2016?

Be well!

28 December 2015

When A Return Client Asks for a Rush-Job Commission Over the Holidays...

...You say, "Yes, I am happy to take care of that for you", provided they meet the minimum fee of [quality work standards + resources and references + sacrificed holiday party time = fair charge total]. 
*Bullet points to follow for this situation, at the end

I have a client, one of my return clients (pause for personal hurrahs) who reached out to me on an unseasonably warm winter day between gigs for a quick favor; it's the simultaneously dreaded and appreciated "Could you get this done quickly???" offer of work, at an otherwise inopportune time.

Yes. That's the answer. But there are terms to be met for the 'yes' to be justified.

Yes, I want to work more, to try more challenges, to prove to my return client just why they are a return client, and be an all around rewarding freelance artist.
But no, not for a lack of fair payment, considering factors of materials, time constraints, holiday distractions, or the question of applicable, compatible content of the commission request, itself. These things must be considered and clearly communicated, as professionally as possible, mind.

Happily, my client herein is a wonderful creative professional herself and was indeed fair in her coming to terms with me on the project. Such clients should forever be treasured with respect, eager professionalism and helpful, cooperative methods.

The project was completely outside of my typical content interests or experience, however. It was to be a gift for a professional colleague in NYC, in the film industry, and it was to capture a shared idea that involved merging various famous, fictional serial killers with a teenage punk rock band line up gig. Old school and a bit creepy. But figurative work is certainly in my wheelhouse, and the creative freedom my client was interested in trusting me with was a welcome condition for my accepting the rush job.

In keeping with good taste for the sake of the client's concept privacy, as well as their colleague's, given certain factors that may develop things more, I'm keeping this fairly tight to the chest. But I will share a few sneak peeks at the process and the final result.
Or else this wouldn't be as fun, right?

One of the famous killers to be included in the concept composition was the well known Jason.

I worked quickly, efficiently at all times - or more so than usual, that is, as I am considered to be quite fast for a traditional artist.

Here's the figurative and characteristic contour layout of a ripped teen Jason, on the page with four other characters:

Really simple, I've just blocked the figure in and started pulling out the classic mask details before adding the washes of color.

And here's some of Jason for the final:

Instagram - Mairintaj_InMediasRes

And to be sure, having no extensive experience with any of the four fictional serial killer concepts my client chose for the piece, other than IT (Tim Curry clown), I went in up to the elbows in research on familiarizing myself with the four characters. It was a somewhat amusing and disturbing process.

Here's a shot at a teen version of Carrie's mother's legs in torn tights and shiny red leather boots:

Instagram - Mairintaj_InMediasRes

It was an odd, fun, quick little job!

*In summation:

1. Welcome back a return client with verbal smiles (it's cause for both of you to celebrate!)

2. Take on rush jobs if you can manage it to quality work standards within fair terms of your services. *(If not, help your return client to find a way to get their needs met by negotiations, or if necessary, a recommendation for a more suitable freelancer who will be able to fit the situation, and explain all of this patiently but firmly)

3. Show your return client just why they chose to be your return client by being a professional, empathetic, and problem-solving freelance dream (within reason of those fair terms)

4. Speak well of them and their professional dynamic in blog posts!

As always, I'm looking forward to more work with this client, keeping in touch throughout our mutually busy, expansive creative career journeys. It's always an unexpected experience.

Oh, yes, and wow - Have a Happy New Year - 2016 is just around the corner!
My, what a year...I'm glad I can see that one off with a good note.


03 December 2015

Infected by Art? Submit to IBA 4!

This year I took the stab and submitted a handful of relatively recent works for the call to enter Infected By Art's annual international illustrative art book. It's a prestigious contest-based annual publication, to be sure. But it isn't about being defeatist and assuming you or your work is not at the level to be accepted. It's about testing yourself out in amongst an international playing field of varied skill level with imaginative representational art.

So enter!

I'm excited and nervous, but ultimately satisfied I took the shot, and am forgetting about the results until they show up, for better or worse. Either way, it's a learning experience.

Here're the works that I've entered for the jury's consideration:


"Made New"

"Ghost Love"

"No Man's Land"

"Orchis In His Hands"

"Welsh Immortals"

{CLICK for larger view}

Fifth entry was free, but they were all fairly cheap, considering the world of gallery and publication submission fees.

Looking forward to hearing more, and browsing the latest submissions on the IBA website.

You can view all the IBA 4 contest entries HERE