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

30 November 2015

"No Man's Land" - Allegorical Portrait from Concept to Completion

Like any concept, the initial visions of imagery and mood, message and methodology are springboard material at best; they are made of stuff that evolves, and is meant to mature as the idea is seized and formed by the artist.

I usually conceive of a few key words or phrases that represent the initial spark of the concept, and help guide the process of bringing it to roaring life.

In this case, I was working with the key word Soldier in my mind, as a I gathered additional information to then execute the concept into a final result.

Soldier evolved as it became evident that the title begged for something a bit more atmospheric in its description, as in a place, or a state of mind, more specifically. I didn't want the title "soldier" to leave the viewer stuck on the loaded iconography of what we currently think is a "soldier". I wanted the title to allude to there being more than the soldier of today, or the soldier of last century, or even the social, political archetype of the soldier figure, alone. I wanted it to be psychological. I wanted it to trigger the elusive, vaguely defined "no man's land"notion of a complex inner state, emotionally.

Perhaps this piece is an inside-out and backwards portrait of what the perspective of seeing through the psychological state of No Man's Land is like.

This final piece grew out of an exploratory study of the idea of "Soldier" I had - Again, that initial concept was a spark, but I knew it would not come to fruition through the creative process in the same form it began.

Here're some sample images of building up the first study to get more clear for myself exactly what I needed to articulate:

After the first small rough, you'll notice the final first study is quite textured, for my usual approach - I was playing and exploring, chasing something I wasn't sure of, and seeing how much I needed to push and pull the mediums to possible catch it. Here is the final:

This study was on a 6x6" loose hotpress watercolor paper sheet, trimmed with a deckled edge.

So I took a step back from getting to a point where I didn't have any other points to get to, for this particular study, and I looked at it with devil's advocate eyes, fresh intentions come readily to light for the concept's trajectory... What if I smoothed it down to push it back, going at it delicately, tenderly, instead...

I had a number of questions to answer, and once I did, I started again, this time with the final piece in mind.
Here's the way this more mature approach took form:

First, the watercolor on the natural white hot press paper! THEN, the graphite structures...

And now building likeness of my portrait first and foremost through layered form and structures, in graphite...

Loosely, generally addressing the broad shapes within the skull and flesh to create presence...

Be gentle and patient with your build up of layers and structures - Get the structures solidly, don't get lost in distraction at the final result.

The eyes are taking form, and therefore emotive impact, slowly building up.
A little gentle scumbling of layers along the negative space...
Almost there, but not quite. A good several more layers and details to go.
Matte medium and acrylic working it's way in through the layers...
I had to put some brush splatters in for the ash and other particulate...

And the final, signed piece:

"No Man's Land" - 6x6" - Mixed Media, 2015

There is elemental symbolism and primal allegory intended in the simplicity of this and similar works. I think there is much more depth, more human experience, behind the concept of "No Man's Land" than we give credit in this modern era's understanding of soldiers and war. 
This piece goes beyond the geographical battle field, and beyond physical isolation, or doubt, or displacement, though, those are in there as well.

The white feather, sent aloft, is an English symbol for cowardice. The flame is a universal aspect of life and spirit, verve, hope. It is important here that the eyes, the vision, is darkened, but still looking out. And it is important that the palette is pushed back, in an unidentifiable ash of atmosphere.

Keep the Fire. 

Contact me directly here for any inquiries on the availability of "No Man's Land", or for archival art prints of the work for purchase


27 November 2015

Happy Thanks Giving Season!

Just a brief and positive post for this important and pivotal time of the season, this year - 

This Thanks Giving, I am particularly reflective and grateful for the prominent shades of endurance, patience, strength, emotional stamina, and flexible, learning growth that have all guided inherent and necessary changes in my life, this year, so far.
I am thankful for the trajectory my work is on, for the aid and opportunity I have been given with the work made this year, and for the shows, new clients, creative colleagues, and support from loved ones that have all been involved. Here we go, into 2016...

Freerange 18lb. turkey home brined with all the seasonal trimmings from scratch!

May your holiday and your winter season be warm, loving, supportive, and proactive.
With kindness,

31 October 2015

"Bean Sídhe" - A Banshee for Halloween 2015!

"Bean Sídhe" - the Irish Gaelic woman of the barrows, the wailing woman, the fairy spirit heralding death, or as common culture calls her now, the Banshee... She is an ancient apparition, often one being tied to an old Irish family, or house, making there supposedly be many banshees for the many strong old tribes throughout the country.
According to myth, this particular spirit is either that of a woman who has died in childbirth, fated to play the grim role until the time she would have died of natural causes, or, a woman who has been murdered, or brutally killed.
Often robed in green or grey, she is fairly silent in solitude, dwelling like a foreboding presence, until, should someone in the family approach death, she breaks the night with chilling screams and wails.

Her association with the screech owl is a possible origin for the myth.

I liked the idea of her sudden screaming voice coming to life to be the cause of her suddenly lurching forward from her shadowy garb consumed by terror. As if trapped, she'll soon return to her hooded robes, silent once more, after death.
Final art is available!

If you've been following along on my Instagram - Mairintaj_InMediasRes - the behind-the-scenes process will look familiar, but the rest of the imagery following is debuting here, freshly finished, never before seen online.

Here's how I started this little seasonal vision:

1. Jump straight in on hot press with graphite:

Phase One, Graphite, 2015
Phase Two, Graphite, 2015

2. Throw on some veils of watercolor washes, building up the values to the right degree, then block in the flesh tones and richer values, colors with acrylic and colored pencil:

Phase Three, Graphite, Watercolor, Acrylic, Colored Pencil, 2015

{And I realize I'm jumping ahead here, conveniently}
3. Whittle away, through the ugly phases, into the tightening up and the final details, until it's done...To gloss over the sweaty, hard work nicely:

"Bean Sídhe" - Banshee - Final Art, Mixed Media, 5x7", 2015
The bean sídhe's detail shot, wailing, 2015
5. Find the right frame! {An understated challenge at times, but not this time, happily}

Framed, In the Studio, Now Available for Purchase, 2015
Framed, In the Studio, 2015
"Bean Sídhe" - Banshee - will be available for purchase in the premier Artists' Open Studio Auction by Strange Dreams Surreal Art Collective this Sunday, November 1st through 7th - so the first week of the month.

*Follow my social media for release of availability and open auction information!

**Find me and regular information on my Facebook Page HERE

And as always, contact me directly HERE - or please comment below! - for any questions, comments, or work interest.

30 October 2015

"Scrap Sneaks" - Artists' Evening Figure Drawing

I've started in with another tight little group of artists in my area for an evening live model figure drawing session, and this past Thursday, as a short break from my all day work on a Halloween-themed piece, I did this:

Model Stephanie, Reclining pose, Graphite and wash in 5x5" sketchbook, 2015

Our excellent model composed the pose herself, and our small group of four dove in to a twenty minute segments accompanied by stellar music and some pleasant banter.

Anyone familiar with Spheres by Daniel Hope? It's good stuff to draw to, I highly recommend blasting it while you work.

I intended to do a quick gesture study of the pose across the centerfold here, in the sketchbook shown above, then move on to a tighter drawing on a loose horizontal sheet of hot press watercolor paper, but I found I enjoyed the start I got with the first attempt, so I just kept along with that one. A few twenty minute segments later, time flying by, and this is what I had for the evening.

Detail, Stephanie, left, Graphite, Wash, 2015
Detail, Stephanie, right, Graphite, Wash (Fishburn...not), 2015

I actually took it home and added the wash color later.

An altogether delightful way to relax and change up the inner gears. I'm looking forward to next time!

In the meantime, back to that newly finished painting, and posting it, and continuing on that other freshly started painting...


17 October 2015

At the Artists' Cooperative - Themed Life Study Session "Huntress of Cameroon"

When schedules allow, I enjoy the creative camaraderie of our local artists' group co-op and the themed sessions held there, not to mention the inspiring model reference available to work from.

This month we've managed to schedule in the well-suited Hawa Lassanah for a "Huntress of Cameroon" staged and costumed pose.

Unfortunately for time, I was at my own gig, modeling for the school's figure drawing class down the street, so once work was taken care of, I had only the tail end of the day to drop by and join in with everyone else!

It was worth it.

Much needed conversation and critique aside for other work, I got to explore the subject matter in a sketch that evolved in my little book over the course of a few twenty-minute segments. I also came away with full on reference shots for future work with the pose, as it can happen.

Here's an example of the day:

Graphite sketch, evolving drawing, Model Hawa Lassanah, Lancaster PA, 2015
Model Hawa Lassanah, Sample Reference Photo, 2015
Thank you to the Fulton Street Art's Cooperative in downtown Lancaster, PA, for another great gathering and group experience.

For however short or long a time can be managed, it is always wonderful seeing old and new friends, talking shop, and sharing in those supportive exchanges.

More material to be safely stored and picked at, as things allow!

*Next on the Art Dispatch - Process scrap sneaks of the seasonally themed latest painting!


09 October 2015

"Scrap Sneaks" - The Infinity Tree

In the middle of chipping away at the involving, consuming, slightly perplexing concept for an upcoming painting aiming at a conference cross country (more to come on that), I felt a tug in a playful segue, and started sketching down a fat tree trunk in my sketchbook...

I was working off of the serendipitous key words, "Yggdrasil", and "tree bridge".

I know, it sounds random. But anything rooted in mythos is fuel, for me...pun intended.

*On a side note, I've been gently annoyed with myself for the past several months at how much I do not have trees in my developing new work, or much in my old work, either. I'd like to remedy that gross oversight, on my part, by factoring in the very inspiring, diverse, and important icon of the tree into what is coming. So it felt freeing and very much heading in the right direction to lay down marks reminiscent of tree anatomy again.

The following evolved swiftly, with little formula, and through a few light layers of mixed media - I've got graphite (my favorite), colored pencil, matte medium, acrylic paint, and gold leaf, here.

This might be a more clear vantage point - 2015

Working title jotted at the top, I intend for a larger, more mature and evolved direction for this idea, but I simply wanted to get the idea down in an experimental fashion before I mused on the future applications of the concept.

Sometimes it can be drastically dangerous to young ideas to think on them too long. It may be an obvious thing to say, to write down so definitely here, but I wouldn't be surprised if we all needed such simple reminders on a regular basis.
For my part, I can overanalyze before I put enough work into a piece, and I'm actively, consciously working on amending that for myself.

It's going well!

Back to the sketch - I found myself, in the fluid process of drawing on the page, working in an infinity figure eight into the trunk of the tree as gently as possible, while trying to maintain a plausible growth direction for the limbs, and such.

Merging water and the ether sky, this vertical "bridge" is a concept I'm going to be revisiting again, as other projects allow.


05 October 2015

"Currently In Show" - 'In His Hands' "Handed" An Award!

This October is currently featuring "In His Hands" as part of a juried collection for the Susquehanna Orchid Society's exhibition, and this past opening reception weekend, the 1st through the 4th, was a bustling installation, judging, awards, and public reveal for First Friday and Lancaster Art Walk!

I had such a delightful time joining with my fellow exhibitors and honored artists, a few quality art friends of mine amongst the lovely batch.

The event has been put together by the jury from Mount Gretna School of Art and by the Susquehanna Orchid Society, and hosted at the Ware Center in downtown, aided by the impeccable Lancaster Galleries.

Categories for the submitting artists include "Works On Paper", "Paintings", and "Photography".

I was honored with the First Place winning for 'Works On Paper' category!

"In His Hands" is available and on display at The Ware Center through the month of October, 2015 - Stop by if you're in the area and enjoy the full exhibit in person, at your leisure!

Art Prints are available through my website store HERE

And as always, with additional requests, questions, or comments, please contact me directly HERE

Enjoy and happy Autumn!

15 September 2015

"What's Inspiring Now" - Edgar Maxence {1871-1954}


Edgar Maxence. Currently the fresh discovery in my little (but slowly expanding) art realm who's work is a validation of much of my creative interests since I was a small child.

It continues to astound me the depth to which we artists can delve and still 'unearth' tens of thousands of beautiful works of art, brilliant past and present artists. There are so many creators in this world, and have been, throughout our part in history, that to think we - as devotees of art - can be justified in limiting our influencers to those mass-accepted rock-stars is, in a word, blind.

It takes time, energy, effort of attention and study, to continue exploring artists as yet unknown to ourselves, so it's understandable that all this work doesn't permeate the field too far from it's original society.

Still - I had never heard of Edgar Maxence! I'm stunned at myself, and more than a little disappointed I had not found him sooner. Perhaps it was my limited art education, or the fact that I have been educated in America, where only big names from other cultures are mentioned in this country? Or, certainly, the fact that I have never committed doggedly to names and dates of as many other artists as I could find, over the years. As I said, it's hard to learn about everyone.

Edgar Maxence was a French painter, born in 1871, died in 1954, trained at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He studied under the noted Gustave Moreau, a symbolist painter, and created much of his work utilizing the female archetype as a vehicle for his symbolic compositions.
And he worked in many mediums besides the traditional oil paint - often mixed media.

I love this chap.

Jeune Fille Rousse Nourrissant Des Cygnes - Redhead Girl Feeding Swans, Edgar Maxence
{Watercolor and pastel!!! That's more my style}

Portrait De Jeune Fille - Portrait of a Young Girl - c.1900, Edgar Maxence 
L'Âme de la Forêt - The Spirit of the Forest - 1898, Edgar Maxence
L'Âme de la Forêt - The Spirit of the Forest - 1898, Edgar Maxence {Framed}

My own work is gaining momentum within the evolution of my personal symbolism, something I've always been inclined towards, but found myself suppressing during my training under the BFA program at PA College of Art & Design. Somewhere along the way, I lost touch with it, and therefore became more begrudging in creating work. It was a chore, trying to be an artist in line with ways of working that I didn't inherently resonate with. And I kept doing it, after school.

It's taken me these last few years after graduating from the illustration program with my degree, to re-cultivate an intimacy with the mythological and philosophically-inspired symbolism that gives me verve in my creativity, once more.
My work, I'm sure consequently, is less smothered and repressed by imposed convention, and more self-sovereign, visceral, and ready to come forth. It's braver. I feel braver.

It's an ever-unfolding experience, learning and growing forward as a creator, and we must cultivate a diverse 'garden' of both gods and fellow mortals of artists in our inspirational repertoire, all the while keeping the fire of our own unique vision.

Don't forget the inclinations that drove you in your art from your youth, and if you do a bit, then you'll find your way back by reaching out into the unknown - whether it's exploring the world, art, or other disciplines and relationships that truly touch you on a deep level - and discovering new things that trigger the inclinations buried within.

Always push forward.

More work coming soon!

In the meantime,
Happy creating!


11 September 2015

"In His Hands..." Susquehanna Orchid Society Annual Show and Sale

A fellow illustrator/artist friend of mine suggested I do a piece for the Susquehanna Orchid Society 32nd annual exhibition and auction, so I gave it some consideration and eventually decided to pull something together.

The historical and mythological predisposition in my inspirational repertoire instantly got me to thinking of cultural origin tales. The go-to in Western society is often Greek mythos, and I found myself dredging up the transformation of Orchis.

"Orchis Transformed" being the alternate title for this little orchid-themed painting, the creative process sprung from how Orchis, the son of a satyr and a nymph, took too enthusiastically to a priestess of the wine god Bacchus during a feast, and was therefore punished, eventually concluding in his transformation into the orchid flower. And so, for Greece, the origin of the erotic plant is explained.

I say erotic because, besides the beautiful and sensual meanings associated with the flower around the world, the orchid species has a distinctive shape to its roots - In Greek, 'orchis' means 'testicles'; when you see the roots, you'll appreciate why they made a connection between a lustful mythological man and this particular flora. 
The ancient culture also maintained that eating the roots of the orchid would help a couple achieve the desired sex of a coming child. It went something like, if the father ate the large, new tubers, the child would be a boy, and if the mother ate the smaller tubers, the child would be a girl... Strange times, back then.

Anyways, the theme for the show is of course orchids, and I wanted the focus of the art to reflect that, so keeping things simple, small, and as mood-appropriate as possible, not letting myself get caught up in the exact Mediterranean-native orchid species that would be best (which I nearly got derailed by focusing on, dorky me), I chose an attractive moth orchid and paired it with dramatic lighting, a natural palette, and tender hands. I also wanted to freshen things up a bit by using masculine hands for an intentionally graceful composition. 
Who says male anatomy can't support beauty in art? They also supported the concept better than female ones would have.

Here is the final piece, followed by a framed shot and then photos documenting the process:

"In His Hands...", 5x7", Mixed Media, 2015

With a cool little find of a frame, 2015

The frame I found for this was a serendipitous little thing, and it's border design has a delicate pattern that looks like orchid leaves to me, so the two elements seem to complete each other nicely.

Besides the research and reference of shooting a friend's hands holding a piece of rope, hah, I did the painting in watercolor, graphite, acrylic, and colored pencil, with a little medium and such thrown in, all in once place, on this little board:

Roughing in the drawing of the hands over the wash
Finding the line variation and value notes for the hands 
Underpainting stage
From underpainting...
...to painting and final touches

I greatly enjoy the puzzling intricacies in the anatomy of hands, and this was a surprising piece to discover at the end of the process. I enjoyed working on it.

Coming Exhibition:

"In His Hands..." is officially juried in to the orchid-themed exhibition for the Susquehanna Orchid Society's Annual Show and Sale, held this October at the Ware Center in downtown Lancaster, PA, in collaboration with the Mount Gretna School of Art and Lancaster Galleries.

This should be a great bunch of original art available with stunning, living ‪orchid‬ arrangements, all for show and sale, and it's *open to the public* {free admission!}

Here's some schedule information to plan by:

     Thursday, October 1st - 6:30 pm to 9 pm Preview Party

     Friday, October 2nd - noon to 8 pm Exhibits open to the public, Vendor Sales open

     Saturday, October 3rd - 9 am to 6 pm Exhibits open to the public, Vendor Sales open

     Sunday, October 4th - noon to-4 pm Exhibits open to the public, Vendor Sales open

Join us for ‪#‎LancasterArtWalk‬! And congratulations to all exhibitors!

See you there,
Until then,