04 August 2013

'The Draw' Final & Process Samples

'The Draw' - Heralding the New

'The Draw', Watercolor, 2013.
Vision, focus, aim, conviction, as herald of the creative direction I discussed in my previous post, Illustration Underground.

     "My personal work is forming a kind of thesis, or at least collection, which illustrates the tenacity for life that I wish to embody. With all the challenges dominant...I must more than ever process the struggle creatively.
Woods - and clearings in woods - mermaids, birds of prey, roses, knives, archery, stronger light and shadow, abundant nature, particular flowers, some form of a confrontation, and some level of violence are all important to these new concepts".

'The Draw', Process Sample One, 2013.
'The Draw', Process Sample Two, 2013.
'The Draw', Process Sample Three, 2013.

Coming next - 'In the Garden', and an untitled celebration piece!


25 May 2013

Illustration Underworld

"The Draw" - Study for a new website and blog header piece. Mermaid archer concept, combining archetypes of personal philosophical meaning into a soon-to-be promotional work. Graphite 2013. (More on this to follow)
Life changes and the demands on the freelance illustration lifestyle have brought me to taking a second ‘full time’ job. 
I am lucky compared to many in the same position; for one, I was offered the position out of nowhere, yet at the right time. Two, it is a job in the art field, dealing with paint and creative decision-making. And lastly, the unconventional company not only has me as a full-time seasonal employee, but with the end date known, the possibility for returning next season is likely a renewed offer that I may or may not play with.

My art world has now suddenly become the Otherworld - the Underworld, that place I have to steel away to when no one is looking – and night is the time for it.

Perhaps I should conceptualize my own themed Superhero costume?

I’m struggling with this because, for a while after graduation, particularly within the past half year, I have been able to work in daylight, and with a regular, ever strengthening discipline to encourage Studio work straight off the morning routine. Not only did I have the personal attention to apply myself, I had the solitude to help facilitate it as well. My social life was streamlined, based upon the occasion of art related interaction.

Now, with the supplemental job and major paradigm shifts, I have new and non-artist associations interacting with me daily, presenting their interesting but different worlds to me, and wondering why I long for ‘more’ time in my own, again. Not only from a personal gratification perspective, which is certainly a significant part, but also from a strictly business understanding of the lifestyle, the imperatives of my commitment are lost on most, if only in part.
Petar Meselzija said at Illuxcon, “an artist must live their art like a monk lives his religion”. I have known what that full emersion feels like, and I struggle with the fear that I am not a worthy Artist – Illustrator – for often failing now to live my art fully.

So it goes, sometimes. I'll come back to my art after this next interval on lifestyle.

I notice other professional artists and their significant others, their spouses, and it makes me think hopefully of the interpersonal success they seem to represent. Rebecca Guay, Gregory Manchess, Donato Giancola, PJ Lynch, Omar Rayyan, etc., etc. Perhaps it is an encouraging thing there are so many who have long-term relationships in the business? Even dear friends and loved ones who are creative, though not strictly professional, demonstrate a durability in combining their most intimately personal art world with their love.

But then I wonder, how do they navigate the inevitable difficulties, the misunderstandings? Such things will always be there, after all. 
That pain-staking reiteration – in as clear words as you can think of – to your loved ones on how you need to do such and such, or how all these very logical business reasons explain the necessity of this task over here, and how every time it just yields that weary indulgence from said loved one. It is a hurtful ache when they generalize or wash out the weight of your words with, “Yeah, I know, your ‘document work’, your ‘studio time’. “I know”, I “got it”. It only makes you less confidant they do, because how can a loved one who tires of your commitment so readily be truly understanding and supportive? Maybe remaining positive and productive in spite of this occasional regression in one’s relationship is based on a kind of sympathetic acceptance?

Still, consider artists of other callings, such as the Avant cellist Zoe Keating; how do they manage a productive career with a child, a marriage, a social life, all constructed in amongst a passionate work base? That is to mean reasonably happy, loving, supportive lives with positive child-rearing, spousal-dynamics, and rejuvenating, playful friends, naturally.

But there are benefits to this drastic paradigm shift of mine that should be noted.

I have discovered – quite late in the game – the podcasts of ‘The Illustration Underground’ by Kevin Cross and Mark Rudolf, professional illustrators talking the demands of the lifestyle. I’ve been listening to the episodes while at my second job - to prime my psyche for the shift into Studio mode, if you will – and one of many thoughts that rung true for me was, and I am paraphrasing: “you’ve got to see the silver linings for all the dark clouds on the horizon”.
I've made this into "Perfect perceiving silver linings for all the dark clouds".

So, irregularity forcing my hand means I exercise my creativity and integrity to be stronger at seizing any available moment. I’m working my mental muscles towards more competent ingenuity and flexibility, yet another thing Cross and Rudolf stress as being an imperative survival skill in the business. All those dark clouds they are talking about? They are the constant, turbulent weather of an artist's horizon, representing little and large upheavals in any given aspect of freelance responsibility.

I also have to be more inventive and dynamic with my time, with everyone, because it is like gymnast work to maneuver where art can fit amongst the company of people. I’ve been called a ‘lone wolf’ by many, and even since young childhood I have been aware of my solitary constitution. As an adult, as an illustrator, with my broad-bent goals, it is a constant study in adaptation, at best, practicing creative space in a more social environment.
Solitude is a treat now, an additional pleasure when it comes, and I am learning how to turn the lack of it into the ‘golden state’ I need it to be, for the rest of the time. I can no longer be pampered by solitude.

And, by knowing others of non-artist professions, not simply more people, I am given regular practice at general human interaction.
I honestly refer to it that way; it’s ‘practice’. I can talk about art and the creative life endlessly, philosophical musings and literary discussions flowing easily as well - it is a safe realm for an artist - but to quote a fun BBC comedy, “I’m not very good at chit-chat…I’m not even very good at chit”, never have been, so learning where the interest lies in it has advanced as a more fascinating preoccupation for me. It is a challenge that will deepen my skills in the long run.

Finally, all of these benefits could not be positive as they are without the quality and jovial nature of the people who have been involved in my experiences. There has to be that initial affection and support in order for an artist’s comfort level to allow them to connect deeply with others, I think.

Oh yes, and of course, being able to make my own Superhero costume is only ever a good thing.

So back to that Underworld, where all these challenges are overcome!

In the big picture, I’m still only just starting to work on my craft, to figure the trick out, to reach and grab hold of ‘it’. It isn’t as though, because I’ve declared myself an intentional, professionally pursuing freelance illustrator, I must know my whole process, let alone THE process of it all. It isn’t as if that declaration means I now represent some fixed, set method of being an artist. There is no switch to be flipped going from hobbyist or student to professional. No. That declaration means I intend to see my passions through, and I may just need all the help and support anyone is happy to provide. 
And the nature of my intent, my passions, is entirely play. I intend to live off of playing, to live life in a state of permanent flux; there's a fitting oxymoron. 

The artist intending to be an artist for life is choosing a life ‘childlike’, and they will have to choose that every day of their pursuit. It is almost a cop-out of a career choice, were it not for how bloody difficult and frustrating - even uncomfortable! - it is. Because an artist has to have the ability and be willing to endure the clear discomfort of working out problems, and discovering true solutions. Creative work has the nature of eating time more than any other activity, and it will feast while you delve the crannies of the universe – or the more daunting crannies of your own imagination – in order to capture the genius of fresh fingerprints, of signature approaches. Our 'superpower', right there.
On top of striving for success in this most serious play, the artist has to turn on their heel and be the boss as well. No creator without a capacity for business will get farther than his or her ‘canvas’.

And where is my 'canvas' at now? Upon recent contemplation, I've identified the way it has evolved with my own growth.

My older work, from high school and early college, was black and white or, at the most, limited color. It had this all-pervasive presence of white, of void, of innocence and blinding light.
The more middle work, through the majority of college including my culminating thesis, and even the lingering legs of stuff immediately after graduation, was tentative exploration manifested through color of an earthy palette and natural content.

My new phase, the current direction I am spying to sharpen out, is themed in ‘chiaroscuro’, fractured, vivid color, and an emerging 'darkness'. Nothing defeatist, simply of a stronger mettle and a fuller emotional range. More mature.
I also hit upon the central themes and iconography now important to my creativity. My personal work is forming a kind of thesis, or at least collection, which illustrates the tenacity for life that I wish to embody. With all the challenges dominant in my current relationships, I must more than ever process the struggle creatively.
Woods - and clearings in woods - mermaids, birds of prey, roses, knives, archery, stronger light and shadow, abundant nature, particular flowers, some form of a confrontation, and some level of violence are all important to these new concepts. 

This is a lot of work. It is important work. And it is an investment of my energy, as it should be.

As always, process and progress will be posted here, such as the development of "The Draw" at the beginning of this entry, and other happenings on my website shop.

"Adapt and overcome" - Viggo Mortensen

Mairin-Taj Caya

11 March 2013

Color Play with the Figure

I am an avid student of the human form. I think scientifically, psychologically, aesthetically, it has such power and validity in day to day life, not to mention in the chronicle of human understanding. Without going off on a tangential discussion of philosophy with our bodies, I'll summarize by saying that studying the figure, in all its multifaceted applications and attitudes, is a strong component of my work.
This of course means keeping up on looking at, understanding, and translating the figure as well as can be managed. And to be honest, I'm not the sort to impose a regimen on my sketchbook time. For me, it is tried and true, clocking in for study is not imperative; studying is.

Recently, on one of those wonderful whims, I switched from gorgeous graphite and white paper to several vivid colored pencils and a mildly toned, textured hand-made paper sketchbook. I'll be working more with this approach in the near future, so pleasantly did my brief step into this method go, but here are the two initial trial runs.

Female Figure I, Colored Pencil on Hand-Made Paper, Sketchbook, 2013
Female Figure II, Colored Pencil on Hand-Made Paper, Sketchbook, 2013
And no, I did not leave by the wayside my favorite graphite approach. I'll be working in that all the way through.
More to follow, in this and other art endeavors.

February's Newsletter - Installment One for 2013

My newsletter is a quarterly report of the work and experiences through my studio, and for those interested, the official subscription form is permanently available on my website here.

'The Rescue of Tamlin' Watercolor & Ink, 6x16"

One of my headlines offers a special, limited time deal on purchasing my Celtic Spring Greeting Cards. For more information on the offer, follow here.

'Brigit' Celtic Spring, Watercolor, 10x14"
Also, to purchase a singular Greeting Card for the season, or several for your friends, or a few dozen to share the art with family, make your order here.

The next installment is this coming May! Sign up and stay tuned!
And thank you all, sincerely.

20 February 2013

'My Father, the Old Horse', Official Movie Poster

This has been in the works for some time, waiting for completion in all its various forms, and then the ever important green light to be released publicly. Hence, those I've told of the project may have come to question if there actually was a movie poster on my painting board!

Back in early December of 2012, a happy confluence of social networks led me to an introduction with producer and writer Cara Trabucco, who had seen a graphite portrait I recently put online. Somehow discovering my little piece, which she wonderfully complimented, was an opportunity for the both of us; I then met director and writer Max Einhorn on the heels of an intriguing e-mail discussion, and shortly thereafter found myself in the middle of a movie poster commission.

What they had been looking for - so they told me - was an artist who could meet their vision for a classic, hand-painted poster. Something of a throw-back to the days of Tom Jung (artwork for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, the animated Lord of the Rings, etc), and the like. I was surprised and uplifted, to say the least, that they felt I could handle the job.

So, as first times go, I was treated to watching the entire film with the director, still in it's post production state, a lengthy discussion of ideas and important key notes, scheduling, all the rest, and then went ahead to rough in a few thumbs.

Rough thumb one, 2012.
Rough thumb two/ thumb two with corrections, 2012.
Rough thumb three, 2013.

You may be able to see in the pictures I snapped just how small I start my roughs. I got into the habit in school, and quickly came to love the value of initially capturing a concept in small scale configuration. I think the importance of the design of space is more forcefully before you this way, and getting it down without the concern for large-scale detail or the tendency to get lost in indulgent doodles is a good stepping stone for finding the strong foundation necessary at the drawing stage.

The final image above is the loose solution we went with for the poster.

In terms of the aesthetic direction, one of the interests the director Max wished to discuss was aiming for a high-contrast, stark black and white approach for the character Mack's portrait. He alluded to Richard Avedon's 'In the American West' photography series as an appropriate inspiration, not only for the poster, but for the film at large. *I did not use Avedon's work for reference in any way, only a brief associative inspiration.
As Mack's part of the composition was the top, it meant  - for me - working my way down from strictly value, through limited palette, to full color. I tried to be conscious of this transition throughout the painting process, making technical decision I thought would best reflect that shift.

I then delved into collecting, sorting, and compiling reference material from the movie footage and actors' head-shots, not to mention some of my own photography. It is a long process, but quite important to be handled carefully.
From enlargements of my rough sketch and drawings from reference, I drew out the full poster in tight graphite, keeping primarily to linework, as suits my process.
Then the painting! A ceaseless bombardment of creative demands on all senses, for days.

...me in the studio, trying to accommodate those demands. Yes, that is a pencil in my mouth. 2013.
Beginning wash layers, 2013.
'Lee' character portrait - roughly three hours, small layers - 2013.

'Don - old horse' character portrait, graphite rough lay in, 2013.
'Don' character portrait - roughly four hours in - loose watercolor layers, 2013.
'Young Don' character portrait development with surrounding elements layering, 2013.
Half--way through the process with lots of orange water, loads of music, and frequent stretching! Endless chair-sitting gets to be a pain...And you can see my line drawing on the wall there. 2013.
Late addition tree elements with following wash layers, 2013.
'Young Don' character portrait progress with surrounding bleed-work, 2013.
Truck, keys, and tree-line with town elements, eventually layered in...2013.
Smoke-stacks and tree-line brush work cleaned and tightened up a bit more...2013.
'Young Don' character portrait final stage with finished surrounding fade-ins, 2013.
'Mack' character portrait final stage - roughly eight hours total time for him - 2013
And with all of that out of my system, I started the arduous journey of turning the physical work into an acceptable series of files.
Including un-planned-for graphic work!

Scanned, edited, combined, and correctly formatted, 2013.
...with graphic work in, as prescribed. *Finishing touches yet to be prepped for printing. 2013.

Now, finally able to show other eyes and minds the work that has been - primarily, but not singularly! - demanding my own visual and mental focus for a few months, I am eager to attend the premiere of the film and see the finished work with a full audience!

For more information on the film's progress, premiere plans, distribution, cast, crew, and to watch the trailer, please visit the official website here.
*Also! I have been informed that the website will be re-finished with the new poster work - thanks! - as well as new information, so please keep that in mind when visiting over the next few weeks.

Even more information - for up-to-date news:

My Father, the Old Horse Official FB Business Page

10 February 2013

Banner Maid

Alright, so it started as a doodle. In my sketchbook. Quite right, it just slid out of my head via the medium of graphite...
I was frustrated for a time, as the idea had been swimming around up there for a while, perpetually seeking expression.
With several notions in mind for its ultimate circulation and promotional function, I set to...and here is the unexpected result:
(More background information at the bottom)

'Banner Maid', Watercolor & Ink, Newsletter & Shop Promotion, 2013.

To start, I've had the graphite sketch scan on my Facebook pages for a little while, and I wish to convey my appreciation and joy to those who received the initial viewing with enthusiasm. Thank you, folks!
I'll show the graphite sketch here again, progressing into the process photos through different stages, and then of course, the finish painting details, for those interested.

'Banner Maid', Graphite Sketch, Sketchbook, 2013
'Banner Maid', Process Photo One, 2013
'Banner Maid', Process Photo Two, 2013
Studio Setting, Process, 2013
'Banner Maid', Sketch Version Crop, Watercolor & Ink, 2013.
'Banner Maid', Detail One, Watercolor & Ink, 2013.
'Banner Maid', Detail Two, Watercolor & Ink, 2013.
'Banner Maid', Detail Three, Watercolor & Ink, 2013.
'Banner Maid', Detail Four, Watercolor & Ink, 2013.

The concept of 'heralding' news from the studio and website shop was a component of this concept's composition, hence the conch shell horn, the banner motifs (some design work of which is intended as a respectful nod to dear Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth), and the three symbols on the right-hand banner - from top to bottom - 'Prints', 'Greetings', & 'Originals', the three branches of focus on my website shop.
And then of course my 'mark' on the left-hand scroll.
I'm infrequent at the use of ink, at best, so this was a different direction for me. I new fairly from the start however that I was fancying the application to this idea, though. So, shortly into laying on the ink at the end, I was pleased to find it going quite swiftly.

More to come on the further recycling of this idea.
Check back for more!


31 January 2013

Promotional Face for 'Winter's Waning - An Imbolc Rite', January 26th

Starting off the hopefully full-to-bursting year 2013 - along with a movie poster, shop opening, and other commissions yet to be cleared for expounding on publicly - I was contacted by a pagan church group in Chicago, IL. via a highly respectful, considerate inquiry about using one of my 'Cailleach' pieces for an upcoming event promotion.

Winter's Waning - An Imbolc Rite:
Featuring a workshop on the 'Hag of Winter' Celtic archetype, Cailleach.

As stated on my Facebook business page, thank you Angie Buchanan and all for seeking me out, asking permission, and sharing my work with others. I appreciate your interest, respect, and enthusiasm. Take care, and here's to a vibrant Spring! 

*And please note, the massive amount of work and information I have on the movie poster will be presented here, in classic blog break-down, as well as my official website and Facebook business page, soon. I am still waiting on the thumbs-up for the official poster reveal, party, and follow-up preparation for film release. 
More to come!

Thank you, happy 2013, and keep up intentional creativity.