Sunday, 24 July 2016

2014 ACEOs

Once again I made a LOT of ACEOs in 2014, 71 of them by my count – wow!

So to present them this time, I have tried to group them in a semi-logical order. Yes, this post is going to be quite full so I will try and not swamp you too much!

I got a bit more experimental this year particularly since I had been gifted some very neat acrylics including iridescent paints and my favourite a little tub of phosphorescent acrylic. *squee* Phosphorescent for those that are not familiar with the term is glow-in-the-dark, UV (black light) reactive paint. I am a sucker when it comes to anything that sparkles or glows. 

I was also interested to discover what effects could be created using this medium since in natural light it is almost clear and I liked the idea of having aspects hidden in the art that could only be viewed in total darkness. I don’t feel I achieved the hidden aspect part well but I did have fun and was pleased with the below four pieces that I made. Each is shown with a photograph taken next to my UV/Black light lamp, because yes I already had one just hanging around even before I got the phosphorescent paint!

The top two here were created on paper while the bottom two were painted on ACEO sized woodblocks. The top left is the outlier of the group and thereby by default more interesting because I worked on a Bristol vellum card using watercolour markers, pen and coloured pencils as the base before applying the paint. Top right was all acrylic on a Strathmore illustration board, it’s titled ‘the Ibegon,’ with reference to the green tendrils; this is a fictional, carnivorous plant I created for my narrative so while the visual subject of the art card is the skull the underlying idea was about the plant. And I do love my puns, the name, ‘ibegon,’ is meant to be pronounced ‘eebegone’ as in ‘he be gone,’ which is what happens if you step on one of these, maybe then they should have been ‘you be gone’ -Oh I can hear the *groans* already lol.

 Back to the art, the bottom two woodblocks in this set were slightly different. The skull was painted onto pure wood and the moon had a canvas surface laid over the wood. Interesting to see how the acrylics worked on each of these.

Onwards then and another experiment I tried this year was collage. I was working toward the theme of first anniversary and as soon as I realised that the first wedding anniversary is represented by paper, clocks and string I had my goal. I’m not certain about how successful the two pieces I made for this theme were but it was an interesting thing to try. Also discovered that I make twice the mess with glue than I do with paint and ink xD Oh well.

Back to my regular mediums; below are the other ACEOs that I created using paint in 2014. There are a few oil ones here but again I was mostly testing out the new acrylics and having some fun ^_^

Of course I continued illustrating and made many illustrated cards too. I would say that my art falls into two styles which got coined by the proprietor of the local gallery/coffee house as ‘cute and creepy.’

So, yup, I do cute and creepy and love both realism and fantasy.
 I’ll start with the realism ones. I will say that Hyper-realism is great to witness but I don’t think it’s something I would want to achieve (not sure I even could!). I prefer to work in a way that allows the viewer to know it is art and not a photograph or reproduction. Hyper-realism artists have an awesome talent but I like a little splatter in my own work and the art I buy.

I use photo references for all my ‘realism’ pieces and consider them as good practice to learn more about the subjects I enjoy painting and illustrating.

Fantasy pieces are always fun; I never quite know where they will go. The freedom! Ah and argh, freedom to use all I have learnt from realism and twist it any way I choose is great but then it’s also frustrating. Sometimes too many options work against me! Still I feel more alive when creating fantasy pieces even if they don’t always turn out quite as shiny as the realism ones.

Ah yes, you knew it was coming; something that involves my narrative yet again. You know the one, that one I have still not finished writing after eight years or so lol. Well book in me or not I have had fun drawing the characters from it especially during those times when redrafting and writing got far too tiresome. It is a bonus for me to be able to switch to art when my writing brain falls over.

Below then are ACEOs I made using some of my original characters. They are subjects I love so these tend to come out quite naturally. I found photo references for most of my characters by searching up the face shapes I could ‘see’ in my head and then used those as a base to draw from. Since I created head-shot portraits for my characters I can always look back at those when I want to make a new piece of art based on any one of them. Of course I have my favourites and there are some that work better in visual format than others.

One great bonus this year and a happy note to end on is that I got commissioned by my sister-in-law to create two ACEOs of her daughter named Liv. She gave me several photographs to work from and explained that, at that time, Liv was obsessed with slugs and snails. Liv would bring them in from the garden in her hand like a special present and would sit and watch them. These are Swedish slugs too so a bit more yellow than the ones I grew up with. I thought this was an excellent challenge! She was very happy with the final pieces, as was Liv who was utterly delighted to receive the art in the mail ^_^

On top of all of that another person was very endeared in my little drawings of Liv and her slug. That person was a local author and publisher named Darcy Nybo. Darcy decide that she liked the drawings so much that Liv should be her character named Emma Jean for a short story she had in mind. In 2015 we worked together to create the short story, ‘Emma Jean Finds a Friend.’ Although I guess I should save that for the 2015 post.

Well I hope you enjoyed this rather long entry and look forward to telling all about the short stories Darcy and I worked on in 2015 that made a young girl in Sweden a star without knowing it!

See you next time :)

Friday, 15 July 2016

2014 Illustrations

 2014 turned out to be quite the interesting year for illustrations. Or maybe random would be a more fitting description.

I certainly think my skills improved throughout the year which I credit to the previous year’s practice creating miniatures. I was amazed how much that practice paid off and think it shows when I switch to larger illustrations. This year I also happened to create the smallest illustration I have ever made so let’s start there!

Fellow artist Sea Dean introduced me to this niche little movement of postage stamp art. The operation is run by Friends and Faux and the idea is that each artist creates an original piece of art, the size of a postage stamp, in the allotted spaces on the reverse and then mails it forward to another artist until all the slots are filled. Once it is complete the postcard is returned to Friends and Faux to be displayed. Below is my teeny tiny addition to the postcard I was sent followed by the postcard as it was when I sent it off to its next destination.

Lion Cub postage stamp
Watercolour markers, Prismacolour pencils and Sakura white gel pen on Bristol vellum card.
Postage stamp, approx. 0.9 x 0.6” (or 2.5 x 1.5cm)

Friends and Faux Postcard ready to be mailed!

Next up is a piece I started in 2013 but never quite got around to finishing, that is until January 2014 when I decided I really must put the final touches to it. Completing the below magpie was very satisfying especially since it had been on my ‘to do’ list for quite some time. I’m not sure why but I really like magpies (aside the awful noise they make) and had wanted to make a larger illustration of one for quite some time. I also wanted the challenge of attempting to draw wings in perspective and boy was it a challenge. I was pleased with how this turned out and it was also well received among my peers.

Even better this image ended up being selected for use by Darcy Nybo in her short children’s story named Emma Jean Finds a Friend, fantastic! More on Darcy and story illustrations later though since that didn’t happen until 2015.

Treasure Seeker
Waterman ink, Prismacolour pencils, Micron ink and Sakura white gel pen on cartridge paper.
Letter, approx. 11 x 8”

The below illustration was created for a monthly competition set out by Colored Pencil Magazine. I recall agonizing over this illustration for a very long time. It took well over a week of short (3-4hr) drawing sessions to reach completion. Oddly, once I decided to draw the line and call it done, I was quite dissatisfied with the final. I think this occurred purely because I stared at it for far too long and because I compared it to the many other artists who drew from the same image. After a time, I grew to love it and now believe it is possibly my best realistic cat portrait to date!

One honour was that Colored Pencil Magazine bumped me into their advanced category instead of adding me to the beginner section as I had specified. I chose beginner because it is very rare for me to work purely in coloured pencil and nothing else. Hey-ho they obviously assumed I was a pro with this medium! Best of all this kitty was matted and framed and has now found a new forever home. I’ll admit I was a touch sad to see it go but also ecstatic to know that the buyers fell in love with the piece – there is no greater accolade as an artist. ^_^

Cat in a Sunbeam
Waterman ink, Micron ink, Prismacolour pencils and Sakura white gel pen on Bristol vellum card.
Letter, 8.5 x 11”

Below is one of those pieces that just seemed to sit on my desk forever. True it is a fairly complex layout but somehow it always got put on the back-burner. The reason for this is probably because I had so much else going on and I knew that this piece could wait. Yes, it’s another story related image! I quite enjoy creating layouts so it was a lot of fun trying to design what a section of the central part of the main city would look like. The large block on the left that has a diamond pattern is part of a huge spiral tower. The diamond shapes are meant to be slotted together pieces of vibrant green glass that shimmer when they catch the sunlight. I’m assuming they don’t reflect enough light to start any fires!! I do hope to eventually colour this layout, perhaps digitally but hey that might take another three years.

Draygun City Layout
Prismacolour col-erase pencils on cartridge paper
Letter, 8.5 x 11”

The below three illustrations were created for an Erotic art show. Now ‘erotic’ would not be my usual choice of subject but I thought it would be interesting to give it a go. I decided not to do anything too risqué, so don’t get your hopes up lol. Racy art really isn’t my thing and of course my mind went straight to my fictional characters. Since I nearly always draw the figures of my characters before I clothe them I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to do a few shirtless examples. I chose men over women because I figured more artists would draw women and popping a few men in there, even cartoonish ones might balance it out.

We were also asked to add a one-line statement for each entry so I decided to get artsy and make a short poem for each one which I will include under the pictures. Also, yes, these three characters were purposefully designed to look similar to one another.

This first one below is actually a print from one of my original ACEOs that I first created for a theme week challenge in one of the ACEO groups I belong to. I think the theme was either roses or valentines but can’t quite remember. This image was the catalyst for the theme of my ‘erotic’ pieces and dictated which other two characters I would draw. I’m not sure why I decided to take this route because I’m not well practiced at drawing flowers and roses aren’t something I revere trying to render.

The character’s name is Adeth and the print was created using Hahnemuhle fine art paper then embellished using watercolour markers and Prismacolour pencils. I decided to recolour and re-edge the whole image to make the colours more vibrant than the original so that it would better tie in with the rest of the set.

Roses are Red
Embellished Print, Watercolour markers and Prismacolour pencils on Hahnemuhle fine art paper
Letter, approx. 11 x 8.5”

Roses are Red and Adeth is blue,
This poet’s hand outstretched
In hopes you approve.

The below character is named Luk. I decided to add a bit of magic into this one with the telekinetic floating rose petals. This character is meant to look a bit sickly, mean and um, well strange since he isn’t the most balanced of personas. I imagine being in Luk’s boudoir would make anyone feel uncomfortable, including him lol!

His World
Watercolour markers and Prismacolour pencils on Bristol vellum card
Letter, 11 x 8.5”

Fragile beauty and broken grace,
A fading flower reflects this space,
Stay here he beckons and my world embrace.

Another weird one; the below character is named Kale (yes like the vegetable) and he’s a few to the left of sanity. What I really wanted to capture with this piece was a piercing gaze which I think I achieved. I imagine locking eyes with this character to feel quite intense as though he is looking right into or through you.

Watercolour markers and Prismacolour pencils on Bristol vellum card
Letter, 11 x 8.5”

Bright night of jagged thorns,
Twisted vines at breaking dawn,
Light once lost, ever scorned,
Awaken now to new ties formed.

Sadly, the show ended up being cancelled due to lack of interest. This last piece however did make it into a different show to which I attended the opening. I recall it was winter and utterly freezing outside so I had on a huge purple duffel coat with my fluffy hood drawn tight to a close. The second we stepped into the gallery I roasted in that coat because it was a packed out with people! I’ll admit I was surprised just how many folks turned out to see the art on display that night and being nervous just made me sweat even more intolerably – argh!

Glad to say I did get to speak to a few of the patrons despite the fact that it was difficult to hear anyone above the chatter. I was asked by one person what the roses meant in ‘Awakening.’ They wanted to know the significance of the vines being threaded through his arms. To this day I don’t have a great answer to that question beyond, ‘he’s an insane and sadistic character that self-heals.’ It was an answer that got a look of intrigue that’s for sure!

Anyway, that’s all from me for this entry, see you again next time :)

Friday, 8 July 2016

2014 Paintings

Acrylics are one medium that always seem to get the better of me, I find they dry too quickly, I struggle to blend them and I never quite get the same depth of colour as I do when using oils.
Having been gifted a nice starter set of acrylics this year I decided that I would challenge myself to test them out yet again. This post therefore begins with my 2014 acrylic attempts and ends with the oil paintings that I created in tandem.


I’ll start with the experimental fantasy one below, the idea of this piece was to try and give a sense of texture and light. I don’t think I captured the water very well but the overall feel of it works. I tried using gloss medium in the paint (which doesn’t show up well in the scan) to selectively add sheen to the rocky parts of the image.

The Caverns - 8 x 6” Acrylic on canvas board

The next two were created for an art show that had the theme of shoes.

Tread Lightly - 6 x 6” Acrylic on canvas

The above was painted from a photograph of my husband’s imitation converse. I really like the image because of the juxtaposition of the teeny tiny flower on the beach and his huge feet. To be fair the flower was incredibly small, perhaps 1 cm in length and he almost stepped on it before I spotted it! That gave me the idea to take the photograph and I think the composition lent just as well to this painting.

Wedding Boots - 8 x 6” Acrylic on canvas board

Now this was also painted from a photograph and is titled Wedding Boots because, yes, this is what I wore under my gorgeous dress on my wedding day! The painting perhaps doesn’t do justice to quite how clunky those boots were but I was glad to have them underneath since it was a slippery wet October day when we wed. The other reason I wanted to paint this image was because of the wonderful colour contrast between the sheer blue of the dress yellow ground and the popping red of my stripy socks! ^_^

Next up, below is another fantasy type piece. I wanted to test out a touch of the gold and iridescent paints in my gift set and try working on a tiny scale. This was painted from a memory of the glowing dandelions out the back of our house in Winfield. I’m not certain how successful it was but boy I regret going small on this one.

Dandelions - 3.5 x 2.5” Acrylic on ACEO woodblock

Lastly for acrylics this year I decided to have another go at painting flowers. We have a lot of Day Lillies out the front so it seemed a natural choice to go for something bright and bold that I had a lot of reference material for! I did work from a photograph and initially wasn’t happy with the final of this piece. It has grown on me over time, now that I have forgotten all the things I wanted to change when I first finished!

Day Lily - 8 x 8” Acrylic on canvas


I started off my oil paintings this year with a similar theme of fantasy. I wanted to attempt something with a nature theme that might also be a touch surreal or magical.

Nature’s Hold - 8 x 6” Oil on canvas

The above Nature’s Hold; I returned to painting trees with shapes in them. Perhaps a little too subtle here; the roots are meant to resemble fingers digging into the earth. With the below Tree Spirits, I decided I wanted to created something a touch more ethereal and delicate. I like the idea of keeping the brightness in the center and the edges dark to draw the viewer in to the center of the painting as if the tree is well hidden in a secret place.

Tree Spirits - 8 x 6” Oil on canvas

The below ‘Into the Blue’ was also created for the shoe themed show. I had the background of this painted for quite some time but wasn’t sure what the subject should be. I decided to keep the colour palette as limited as possible. Since the painted background made me think of water I decided to add a boardwalk, the figure and boots came later.

Into the Blue - 6 x 8” Oil on canvas

I like the idea that this can be interpreted as the viewer sees fit. I wanted to make it ambiguous as to whether or not the figure is actually there or merely a ghostly echo of a person that once was. The figure could be a person skinny dipping, a person contemplating the end of their life, the ghost of a murder victim or the specter of someone who just really loved that place. I tried to make the boots on the pier more solid and physical looking which I think aids in making the figure more spectral in appearance. I also wanted to set the shoes aside from the figure so it is unclear whether they belong to the person on the jetty or have just been left there. 
I’d be interested to read what others make of this piece!

The background for the below painting was created in one short sitting and felt surprisingly liberating and freeing to complete. The subject of the dragon on the other hand was a painstaking endeavor to finish. Being fascinated with reflections I really wanted to give the impression that the dragon was studying itself in the water. Once again I decide that keeping the colour palette very limited would work best and despite fighting to get the reflection to match I think I am pleased with how this one turned out.

Reflections - 10 x 8” Oil on box canvas

Last but certainly not least is the below White Tiger. This piece pained me a great deal. I chose to try and paint it to get more practice painting white subjects since I find white a tricky colour to render. White is after all, not white at all. I experimented a lot pushing and pulling subtle blues, pinks and yellows to try and achieve a white that wasn’t flat. I think I did reach my goal in the end however this piece went through at least four under-painting evolutions and a lot of cursing lol. I’m glad I stuck with it, however I think it might be some time before I brave another all white subject!

White Tiger - 10 x 8” Oil on canvas

Well that’s all my paintings from 2014, I hope you enjoyed them! :)