Tuesday, 26 April 2016

2013 ACEOs :D

2013 ACEOs
Rise of the ACEOs! Oh my, this miniature art form has taken over my life ever since. At a teeny tiny 2.5 x 3.5” (or the size of a baseball card) they are ridiculously difficult to render in traditional mediums but I just cannot stop making them.
I’ll try and drip feed selections of the one’s I made this year in this post – I made so many!!
My first one’s were ‘drow glyph’s.’ These first one’s I made at the end of 2012 and you can see the full set here: http://blackwednesdayisle.blogspot.ca/p/drow-birth-glyphs.html

I decided not to show the full set here on The Glass Spire since they have their own space on my sister blog Black Wednesday Isle. I created these using Windsor and Newton oil paints plus a silver pen and the good old Sharpie. I hadn’t really grasped how to work in this tiny format yet and these glyphs actually denote characteristics. These work like star signs so you can head on over to the other blog and figure out which symbols relate to you! I put a lot of effort into making the symbols accurately reflect personality traits so the reading you get from these star signs should ring true. You can let me know if they work for you or not!

Onward then to the actual art cards I made in 2013.

When I began I had little concept of just how difficult it is to create full art pieces in miniature. I mean, it looks so easy! I had no idea. I learnt the hard way that it really isn’t easy at all. It is a good challenge and one of the best boosts for an artist is trying to replicate detail on such a small scale. Eventually it makes you much better at replicating details on a larger scale.
ACEOs presented in no particular order then… I have a lot so I will drip feed as best I can.

Working so small and then switching from art cards to a big canvas does feel a lot like stepping off the end of the world. Suddenly an A4 or Letter piece of paper seem enormous. Worse a bigger canvas is like facing a black hole in the endless universe of space with nothing but a paint brush and some water. The good news is that once you get down to work you realise how honed all that miniature working has made you, all that practice and paying attention to detail to make minis really helps when making larger work.

As soon as you get into it you lavish in making those bigger strokes. In fact, I wish I had a long moustache sometimes so I could twiddle it and chortle at the genius of knowing I don’t have to be quite as finite with larger pieces. It probably wouldn’t look good on me. :P

Very small works make me question composition in ways I should question composition on larger works. I never thought that art cards would help me evaluate my process as much as they did.
All said and done I am now a true addict and advocate of the very tiny art works. It can be frustrating to spend a long time (for me over 14hrs sometimes) on a single item but miniature works have taught me a lot. The size constriction proved beneficial to me and of course I got to keep playing with my love of animals and fantasy too ^_^

This year I made a few sets of things and also what I like to call Part-prints. I took some of my character work and printed it out to scale. The backgrounds on these are originals made to scale the portraits are not.

And here (below)are the sets I made - I sure did have a lot of fun creating this year!

Oil paints

Pencils ^_^

Mostly watercolour markers :)

Well I hope you enjoyed this one. New entry soon x

Saturday, 16 April 2016

2013 Digital Paintings

I created three digital paintings this year. On top of everything else I made in 2013 that was quite an accomplishment especially since I had struggled with digital paint for quite some time. The first two I made took over 40hrs each even though the rough sketches I worked from were relatively small Letter sized images.

Childcare 101

This one above was a great learning curve from me. As recommended by a friend of mine who is more seasoned in painting with a Wacom tablet I began with a black and white image to get a better understanding of shading and tone in this medium. I chose to do fictional character work and stuck to the round brush in various sizes for blending. Working in black and white helped me understand how to blend in a digital medium better than I ever had before.

Once I got this principle blending and shading down I decided to try a piece with a few colours.

I Couldn't Care Less

 This one above involved cool tones for the characters I think the odd skin tones worked out well. I didn’t know much about painting hair digitally and chose to try and it strand by strand on the male character– oh wow I won’t be doing that again!! I used a different brush to make the female character’s hair softer. There were a few technical issues with the drawing I learnt from this: heads too large and mouths not shaped as well as they could have been but I think I got the light balance well here. All in all it wasn’t bad but I can see where improvements in technique need to made.

My last piece (below) was a silly ‘just for fun’ quickie. A quickie for me is several hours and not a several minutes ‘paint-it-out’ like other artists. Rest assured I spent a long time on this ‘faster’ image. I wanted to make a Halloween piece using digital paint and this is what I came up with. It’s meant to be creepy and a little rough in design. Yes, it still took me a lot longer than those speed painters you see online. Still I am glad I tried and hope I can try again in future to utilise this medium.

Happy Halloween from Nai

Well here’s to more joyful mishaps and experiences! Until next time.

Monday, 11 April 2016

2013 Oil Paintings

A LOT of paintings for me this year! Quite a nice steady flow of them.
I managed to create fourteen oil paintings in total in 2013 so yes this will be a fairly long entry. Feel free to skip past the text and just look at the pictures if it pleases you :)
The first two I made were created early on in January and March while the rest were completed later in the year.

Sunlit Woods – 8 x 10” Oil on stretched canvas.

First painting made in January this year - the above was created on a gifted canvas that already had yellow and copper streaks painted on it as a background when I received it. Since the background was set I tried to imagine what kind of subject would sit well on top. I rarely paint impressionistic landscapes but decided to let the brush strokes speak for me; bending loose trees, plant dots and dappled shadows seemed fitting.
It turned into an interested piece that has an iridescent sheen in all the right places when the light hits it. Of course it is nigh impossible to scan or capture iridescent reflections in a photograph. Still it was a good experiment that got me out of my comfort zone.

Red Lion Fish - 8 x 10” Oil on cradle board

Call this experiment number two for this year. Not very much iridescent so this one doesn’t shimmer in any light but instead is translucence in places. I created the blue background first using thin layers of oil to allow some of the wood grain to show through and create natural patterning. Painting the fish turned out to be a rather delicate procedure of layering very thin washes. Now I work flat and in thin layers to begin with so trying to make those layers even thinner to make translucency was no easy task! Still I think I achieved my goal in capturing the ghost-like appearance of a see-through fish.

Cherry Blossom -  8 x 10” Oil on stretched canvas.

The above was an unusual and specific commission that took longer than I expected. I walked the buyer through every stage of the painting to ask what they wanted. They sent me several random photographs of blossom and we outsourced what type of bench should be presented. I sent the composition before paint was applied and then kept them up to date until we reached a point we were both happy with. It certainly taught me a few things! I think it turned out rather lovely even though this isn’t an atypical subject for me to paint. The best news is that it was a gift for someone other than my client and the report back was that the new owner loved it :D

Young Snow Leopard – 16 x 18” Oil on stretched canvas

Well the beauty above spent many years as a WIP waiting in the wings. I started this painting in 2011 and by 2013 I pulled the confidence to finish. Yes, that’s quite a long time to leave a piece sitting unfinished, it even travelled all the way from England to Canada in its raw unfinished state! Still it ended up being a great finish. I guess good things are worth waiting for after all.
As always there are many things I want to change but I was so relieved I managed to get it down and that the cool colour balance I planned from the start actually worked!
I put the green plant on last and I recall I was so afraid I might mess up those slender lines and have to try and fix the background my hand was shaking!! Painted those plant lines about three times to try and shade them and phew what a relief I didn’t have to correct any shaky hand errors. ^_^
For comparison below is a blurry photograph of the 2011 version I worked into for those of you who like WIPs (stop giggling at the pun you!!)

Next up in order of creation date we have a piece I titled Courage.

Courage – 12 x 9” Oil on canvas board

The above is one piece of art I love and hate simultaneously. If 2013 taught me anything it is that I really dislike working on canvas boards and that purple is the worst colour to try and mix from your basic set of colours. I painted the rocks here with relative ease but that pretty flower took more than a few re-paintings and I ended up having to borrow a purple from someone else because I just couldn’t get the shade I wanted from mixing.
I have since purchased Dioxazine purple for my paint set and even named a purple-haired character Dioxa in honour of my struggle.
On the plus my persistence paid off since many people seem to really enjoy this image and I was personally pleased with the final too. This painting has also served me well in various print formats so I’d call that a big win :)
Below is another example of me not quite learning my lesson when it comes to canvas boards and flowers.

Valentines in October – 12 x 9” Oil on canvas board.

This was a hugely experimental piece for me and aptly named because I literally painted the dead flowers that my husband gave me in February in October. I seem to have a thing for dead flowers, I really love the way they curl up and preserve. Those interesting shapes were the reason I kept the flowers for so long and why I wanted to try and paint them. Adding my new knowledge of translucency, I thought I could apply it to the glass vase and the faded flowers.
As usual I made the background first and was enamored with the idea of the dripping paint look. Sadly, I forgot to realise than chucking a whole lot of water onto something that is essentially cardboard beneath the canvas might have a negative outcome. So yes the board warped under the amount of water I used to get the stressed drippy background – gah!
Some acid free paper (to protect the art) a heavy book and a wet cloth are required to unwarp it.
I was aiming for delicate again but different and decided to have the vase ‘float’ rather than have a hard surface for it to sit on. I also wanted to aim for a watercolour look.
As read I probably should have known better, last time I tried to paint dead daffodils I ended up with two perspectives in one image – now that is a feat I couldn’t do again if I tried!
Moving onward then, I had several of those canvas boards left that I wanted to put to use.
A glutton for punishment maybe but I had also been working on some ACEOs (small art cards 2.5 x 3.5” for those that don’t know – and yes that will be my next blog post shhh don’t tell) based on a starlight theme. Since I enjoyed doing the smaller set of star-scapes I decided to create larger versions.

Orion – 9 x 12” Oil on canvas board

Orion will always be my favourite go-to choice of constellation. It reminds me of home because in a soft romantic Disney-esq type of storytelling ‘I can always look up and know that my friends and family can see the same constellation, no matter how far apart we might be.’
It’s a very easily recognised constellation that also happened to be the one I could see from my bedroom window as a child.
Well of course I had to attempt this in oils. I used a wet-on-wet technique for the darker foreground and again tried to let my brushes make the marks of the silhouetted trees.
The next two I will put in tandem follow this theme of star-scapes.

Northern Starlight – 9 x 12” Oil on canvas board

I love the idea of the aurora and made a pretty good smaller piece based on this.
I don’t personally think the above painting captured what I wanted to show but I’m glad I tried and it also shows my love of reflections. Reflections or mirrors in still water is a theme I am still working on. Speaking of reflections in still water:

Another Starry Night – 12 x 9” Oil on canvas board

The third in this set was just that; a mirror of sky and silhouette.

After such a foray into landscapes and sky I decided I should do a little fantasy.

Serv Eye – 6 x 6” Oil on cradle board

The above piece sold – woo – hoo! It is named ‘Serv Eye’ because this is one breed of dragon in….yeah you guessed it, my story. I based this painting on earlier drawings of one dragon in particular. This wonderful and huge dragon was named Fao. Write his name backwards and be amazed at my literary skills when it comes to names :P

Back again then to more ‘serious’ paintings I give you my second large piece of the year.

First Autumn – 16 x 20” Oil on stretched canvas

This was difficult in terms of pose and colour. It’s much easier to work in one colour theme and much harder trying to make those complimentary shades match. Also pointillism isn’t a technique I was familiar with so it took me a long time to try and ‘pointillism’ the grass backdrop with my brush.

A much smaller piece below that involved ink and paint.

Ivory – 3 x 4” Oil and ink on cradle board

I’d call this one a study. It also involves those reflections I seem to be inclined toward.
I stained the wood block using ink and then added the painted skull and candles. It was interesting to see how the two mediums worked together. Also without sounding too morbid I really enjoy sketching/painting animal skulls.

Last two oils for this year were both animals.

Autumn Wolf – 10 x 8” Oil on stretched canvas

 This was great because I got to throw ‘all the colours’ at the backdrop and then make them muddy. I also very much enjoyed making a different type of grey for those rocks. I should have written down the combination I used to make that one.

Tiger Eye – 8 x 6” Oil on stretched canvas

The above tiger eye is another piece that found itself a new home – hooray!

The best part about this one for me was the unusual cropping. Seems I really do like cutting my pieces in odd ways. I guess if it works then don’t knock it!

Well that's all for this round. Catch you on the next post ^_^

Monday, 4 April 2016

2013 Illustrations (Part 2 of 2)

Well hello again!
As promised the other half of the illustrations I made in 2013

So this allotment is all the fantasy work I did this year. Plus a few interpretations of my husband and myself because it's always good to keep up on conceitedness :P

These images flow in a random order and don't fret we're not THAT conceited (I hope)

Starting off then with the four Wyvern - these are some of my first ACEO art cards but I'll save talking about that for another post. Size aside I named each of these as Renma (red, top left) Roen (green, top right) Ruso (blue, bottom left) Raska (yellow, bottom right)
It seems I  care about my fictional pets :P

This was my attempt at drawing bioluminescence. Some odd colour and medium choices made to finalize this one. I don't think I capatured my aim but there is some good chiaroscuro (light v dark) happening despite my mistakes.

This was a fun drawing I made for charity. My fixative screwed me over because it came out all brown >.< Once that happened I cried (a lot) then I realised that it actually gave the piece a really nice old timey feel. So yes I pretended that the old time 'brown' was intentional - it wasn't lol.

This is just one of many random character sketches I made. I like this one because of the cropping I chose. This isn't cropped after drawing - I wanted most of the faces to be clopped in half. This idea  was interesting because the action is mostly in the arms and hands and you can't see the people very well. A few mouths, eyes and clutched hands made this a good sketch. Shame I never did anything with it after this. 

So this one (above) I clearly took to the finale. The lady with pink hair is named Caryf and the boy on the ground with bird wings is named Dhei. (In an ultimate cheesy way their names translate from my fictional language to night and day) The big red damsel is younger and named Nai (yes Naiad like the nymphs) Artistically this picture was made for me to test character heights. Of course I had a lot of fun posing these three and designing their clothes but it's difficult to write about characters that are very different to one another - making a picture...nope - making a picture didn't help!
Two little sadistic fae in charge of a big bug is exactly how it sounds.

The biggest and best thing I did this year was my book!
I self published this short and dark poem.
It took me a long time to illustrate - the text was added later using InDesign.

So this is a cutie illustration I made for valentines.

This one above was to see how many elves I could get on one Letter sheet. I think I got plenty with many personalities showing.

Ok *Ahem* the above is my character Kale who I like to draw a lot. He is naked in this version because I got annoyed at how many naked women were being presented for the same challenge. I hid the naughty parts to PG 13 the image and I also had to consult on 'how should I draw water?'
I have to giggle that my main concern ended up being the water and not the nude.

Girl in grey was another created from a Coloured Pencil Magazine challenge. I liked the limited tone.

This was just for fun. Jethro features as a character in my writing. The shorter guy Hvidsten is very grumpy. In this scene they are a bit lost in the middle of nowhere - I love how happy Jet is and how annoyed Hvidsten is.

Ending this on a sweet note - another piece of valentine art I made.
The short and tall of us x

2013 Illustrations (Part 1 of 2)

2013 really was a very productive year for me art-wise so gear yourself up for a fairly long post because I have plenty of illustrations to show!

Actually I am going to split this post into two sections. Two parts will be easier for you to digest and for me to write about.
This first one then will show all the animal study illustrations I made in 2013 - part two (coming soon) will detail the fantasy pieces I created.


I experimented with drawing on top of ink stained backgrounds with black Micron ink and Sakura white gel pen which made for some quite striking images. I wanted to try and hone down a realistic illustration look without losing the artistic factor. I think I achieved that fairly well and certainly had some fun with my chosen subjects. 

Yes a lot of my chosen subjects were cats but I tried to pick expressive poses that I hadn't tested before and to work into the colour of the background.

Considering I am not a fan of very bright colours I was pleased at how well the ink staining married with the final illustrations. Pink is not my go-to choice of background colour!

I found the above tiger cub pose a very difficult one and ended up making an art card, this illustration and a painting with this same expression just because it was a challenge!

Brown ink stains worked well for me, also I love the patterns in big cat fur. The above ocelot is a smaller 'big' cat but I enjoyed incorporating those shiny eyes and that fur pattern in one image.

I love foxes as much as cats. I'm not sure how successful the above illustration was but I sent the original off to the Papergirl 2013 event. This event hands out art for free. I hope someone out there has this fox illustration with the message I put on the back! 

Next to cats and foxes I like birds of prey. Eagles, falcons and hawks have always fascinated me.
I was lucky enough to watch many birds of prey in training and my favourite one was always the tiny Merlin. I am not well practiced in drawing birds, the feathers are so much trickier than fur to me.

This one was all about pushing perspective. Foreshortening is a nightmare to most of us artists. Ergo the idea for this was to test a deep perspective.

The above two illustrations were created as challenges set by Coloured Pencil Magazine.
The left Roller bird had so many colours and I liked the idea of limiting my medium to only coloured pencils. The right white wolf came from a photograph that had two wolves in it. I went for a more simplistic impression of fur and the background was a wash of water-mixable pencils. The magazine folks seem to only like photo-realism so it didn't score highly on their site. I personally like the character captured in that wolf even if it wasn't photo-realistic or well received. 

Another bird - oh yes I like the magpie and jay scavengers too. So here's all that trouble drawing feathers I spoke about. Also perspective on feathers. Add on top of that any subject that is purely white or black or in this case both >.<
It all worked out well enough for me to finish and be able to post this but this was a challenge no doubt!

Next up then will be the fantasy illustrations I made in 2013 - are you tired yet? I am certain I must have been by the end of this year!