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May 31, 2023

Bee and flower

Here is my progress on the bee flower painting. I am considering going back for one more session. 

I'm having a great time getting back into painting and I am so ready to do more. This time is different because I have a better understanding of color, so that alone has changed my experience from past artworks. 

May 30, 2023

Painting works in progress

Before applying the under-painting, I used Posca markers and colored pencils for the lines. 

On to some new adventures. These are two 8x10 paintings I started over the weekend. I would like to work up to larger canvases once I've re-acquainted myself with the process. It's been a while! 

Princess Peach stained glass

Finally wrapped up with this. I really like how this came out. Much like the Deku Tree terrarium, this was 2 months of sporadic progress. I have a little bit more free time now and I am so ready to move on with something new and not take forever to finish things!

May 27, 2023

Volcanic eruption

Trying to be more spontaneous. Like a volcano.

The original sketch was just a warmup on scrap paper and completely abstract. I decided it would be fun to draw something over it and improvise. Let's do this more often!

May 26, 2023

Louis Wain color palettes

I absolutely adore Louis Wain's later works; they have a distinct style and color scheme to them. Here is a color palette based on this series of artworks.

His trippier artworks have different color schemes. I made palettes for these artworks as well.

Deku Tree Terrarium

Calling it a day on this one. I'm fairly happy with how this came out, but I would not be opposed to re-doing it from scratch. I struggled a lot with the background and fine-tuning. It's very easy to over-work details instead of accepting the results. 

I would really like to do the other two spiritual stones as well. My idea for the Goron's Ruby artwork would be either a volcano or a lava lamp. I have my hands tied up with some other stuff right now, but once that's taken care of, I'll be able to finish artworks a lot quicker. I started this Deku Tree artwork over a month ago...

Owl trio

My alien OCs, the owl trio. I haven't drawn, or written about them, in a while. Right now I am adjusting their designs to make each owl more distinct. 

Crescentius is the short and fat one (snowy owl)
Allessandro is the tall man with a beard (eagle owl)
Apollow is the long legged one (barn owl)

May 23, 2023

Pond's reflection

Calling it a day on this one. Tried out some new techniques in an effort to imitate the physical act of painting. I haven't had much time or energy to spend quality time on personal art, but if I get my act together, that should change very soon.

May 19, 2023

Pond WIP

I am very pleased with how this is coming along. I scrapped my previous progress and painted over it completely, with more distinct outlines for color separation. 

There is still more progress do be done, but so far this new technique is working well! The marker brush in SAI2 operates similar to how I would have applied the paint in a traditional medium. Lots of layering colors and blending. 

I'm hoping to make it look closer to the source photo and add more definition to certain areas. I haven't been doing much art lately so this has been a joy to work on. For me, the entire point of art is the process itself. 

I miss making art, so badly. I've been so busy lately. It's a privilege to grow up, but dang, do I miss having hours and hours of free time - and oodles of energy - to do whatever I want! 

May 17, 2023

Blog ideas

 Things I want to add to my blog at some point:

  • Received artwork (importing pictures I posted to my Owlfamilies tumblr)
  • Artist appreciation posts - talking about artists I admire and writing about my favorite works that they have done
  • Photos - I take pictures sometimes.

May 15, 2023

Art nouveau Emily wip

No idea where this is headed.

Sakura and Michie

A doodle of my childhood OC, Sakura. And, her loyal sidekick, Nikki Michie! I would love to draw a full artwork of her as if presenting it as a gift to my younger self; I'd make it look like the awesome anime art I drooled over during my childhood. 

May 14, 2023

Pond photo study - Work in progress

Continuing my journey of sketching for the sake of sketching. There is an element of abstraction to it that I really enjoy, of looking for hidden rhythms and relationships. It is helping me let go of perfection and just focus on the act of mark-making. It is fun mapping out those hidden zones! 

My goal is to do much more loose sketching like this. Occasionally I will take my favorites to the next level. I love the source photo for this one and my goal is to do it justice.

Having the abstract lines in place makes it much easier to map out the values. I started with the most extreme values first and then filled in the in-between values.

My main goal for this photo study is to emulate the oil painting process as much as possible. I don't have time to do actual paintings right now, and I miss it so much! In the meantime, I want to remember the joy of painting even if it's through a digital medium. 

So far, I have found ways to imitate my painting process on the computer. It will help me make better decisions when painting for real, as well as make my digital and analog art processes more similar in certain ways.

May 9, 2023

Experimenting with color

Since going down the hex code rabbit hole I have become increasingly fascinated with how color works. The other day I pondered: What if I split my colors into their individual RGB components? I have been doing more drawing for the sake of drawing, which means I have plenty of pre-made pictures to color if I feel like it. 

I tried to keep the process simple as possible. Split up the colors and layer them up until it reaches its "true" color. Unfortunately this got complicated way too quickly. It is a cool trick for sure, but it seems more geared towards touchups and other small details. Next time, I will apply the colors normally and add the "color breakdown" only where it matters. 

In the above image, I sampled four colors from an artwork by Bob Peak. The colors were split using the RGB color sliders in SAI2, then layered using Lighten. It was very cool seeing the original color reproduced this way.

Next, I wanted to experiment with the opposite. I took the colors and subtracted their value from 255 and layered them using Subtract. This will be useful for traditional art.

I need more time to think about this and how I would use it. But it was promising to realize I could isolate the components of any color. Understanding why hex codes work the way they do has helped me understand color theory better. I can't wait to see where this takes me next!

May 7, 2023

Gouache experimentation

I am working on something for Mother's Day that involves gouache. I am not well-versed in watercolor or gouache and would like to get re-acquainted. 

One useful thing I have learned recently is to limit the color palette as much as possible. Stick with three or four primary colors max. Only introduce new colors for important areas - not every corner needs to be meticulously rendered with detail. I added the most intense colors first, and then filled in the in-betweens with more subtle shades.

May 5, 2023

Art tips from Reddit

Art tips from Reddit

Text has been edited for brevity and clarity. I picked out my favorite advice.

  • Let all the bad work out, and good work will appear
  • Simplify the subject into simple shapes. It helps to push your boundaries, draw complex things and be successful at recreating it. Make silhouettes, and carve them into a more detailed and specific pose or shape.
  • Aim to make your work look more tangible. It helps you formulate the right questions on how to make your work better. Not in the sense of making things look super realistic, but making it look like you can almost touch it.
  • If you’re too comfortable with what you are doing, you are doing it wrong.
  • When you have trouble with an area of a drawing, create a large study of the detail you are struggling with.
  • It's ok to go outside your comfort zone, if you don't, your art stays the same. Now I'm drawing and painting scenery, different animals and plant matter, I didn't years ago because I restrained myself to only animals and one animal only, which can get incredibly boring and uninspiring. 
  • Do not make art for the sole purpose of making profit off it. It ruined my whole outlook on my art and I ended up hating every piece I did.
  • Good art is about the decisions you make: it’s what you do with your brain, not your hands, that matters most. What helped me was planning out my pieces and acquiring strong references when needed. Figuring out the composition and color scheme before sitting down and painting.
  • Use references for everything. Even if you think you know what an object looks like, even if you see it every single day, you don’t really know what it looks like and using references will ALWAYS make your work look better than without. My professors could tell when we didn’t draw with a reference and they would name and shame you in front of the class for it!
  • Have a drink, take your paper to the wall, sketch big and hold the pencil by its end. Really loosened me up and allowed me to see the bigger picture without getting tied up in the tiniest details.
  • Always keep at least one thing the same. Don't make "a painting", make a series of related paintings, each with elements in common, and some big changes. Then stand back, evaluate them, compare them, learn what worked and what didn't, then apply that to the next series.
  • Nothing is holy. This tip helped tame my perfectionist streak years back. Just do the work and don’t overdo things if it isn't that important. I.e. prioritize your energies. Back in my beginner years of digital art I was so overwhelmed w/ the freedom it gave me that it cost me my time. Nowadays I try to be economical and plan things out so that my energy & time isn't wasted on a single page or panel. 
  • You can stick with one medium (2D or 3D) but knowledge, technique, workflow, inspiration comes from all mediums, for example: watching a 3D lighting artist working their magic or a surface/texture artist recreating surface imperfection. I tried to understand their concept and apply it to my 2D work.
  • Learning how to wheel throw ceramics has improved my art in ways I didn’t even notice at first. With the process of learning wheel throwing you have to get used to repetitive processes and understand that even if you do everything right it could still end up wrong. Artists need to be okay with their failures. With ceramics, if you mess up, you just try again. You can't save anything and I think that's a great lesson- being able to deal with pieces that just don't work and being able to move on from them.
  • Practice gesture drawing. The difference is profound. It's easy to get caught up in the technicalities of construction and anatomy. When you do that, you lose sight of the human you're trying to draw.
  • Don't be afraid of failure. Every time we don't accomplish our goal, and we try again, we are learning. 
  • Remember to have fun with your art. I used to stress because I was so set on trying to make things for other people's happiness and that dashed my own. When I focused on things that made me happy, I now have noticed that I am way ahead of where I was. I have my comfort characters I draw once a year to gauge my progress. 
  • The ability to dissociate from the results and embrace the failures came from significantly increasing the volume of art I was making.
  • It’s hard to be precious about a single drawing when you realize there’s always going to be another one. Plus, you know that you’ll be better in the future, so mistakes aren’t a big deal.
  • I go to art school and it's frustrating to see people put so much time into saving projects when they have the skills to just start over and make something fundamentally better.
  • Get a life. Studying is great and drawing 10 hours a day is OK if that's our jam to progress, but this will only bring us bland, rehashed technique. Getting out, living our lives with the various experiences related to it is what brings our art to life.
  • If you're going to mess up anywhere in a drawing of a person, make sure you at least get the eyes right! That's the first place we look as humans, and that's the first place people will notice your mistakes.
  • Your work doesn't need to be realistic, but it does need to be convincing.
  • If you are making changes to improve your piece, then you are not finished. If you are making changes just for the sake of making changes and not to improve it, then your piece is finished. This advice helped me to move onto the next artwork and not to continue dwelling on a piece.
  • Challenge yourself with something different for each piece. I think if you're pushing yourself to practice things outside of your comfort zone you'll continually improve.
  • No one is required to master the fundamentals before they’re allowed to draw whatever they want. Just draw whatever you want and apply whatever fundamentals you’ve learned. Technical knowledge is good, but the desire to keep making art will take you much further.
  • Turn your reference image and canvas upside down. You will see so much to fix that you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed
  • Tell the stories you wished you could read. Not the stories you think you would sell. For me, I had the will to keep working and progress when it got hard when I was making art I was passionate about. The effort would wither and die when I was trying to create watered down safe crap that I thought would be acceptable to a wider audience.
  • The power of community support and quality critique. Grinding in isolation and crossing your fingers for wisdom from subreddits might only gain you an inch per year, while paying for a class with feedback will get you a mile.

May 3, 2023

Breaking down the art process

Breaking down the art process (so I don’t have a breakdown instead)

Make a detailed outline of the process so I can focus on one thing at a time

This is an iterative process, and no two processes look the same. Steps may be repeated, or skipped altogether. Also, this process is very much subject to change.

The most difficult part by far is the foundation. Before the foundation is established, the idea is shrouded in uncertainty. I need something concrete I can work with before I can proceed to the next steps.

What is the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

  1. Declare the idea
    1. Provided by commissioner
    2. Selected from roster
    3. Spontaneous idea
  2. Explore
    1. Conceptual ideas: Free doodling
    2. Abstract ideas: Free writing
    3. There are no rules. Draw or write whatever comes to mind. Worry about filtering later.
  3. Reflection
    1. What do I like about what I drew/wrote?
    2. Where do I want to go from here?
  4. Thumbnails
    1. What am I trying to say?
    2. Reduce to abstractions. Simplify as much as possible
  5. Research
    1. Now that I know what I want to say, how will I say it? 
    2. Collect reference material
  6. Zero Sketch
    1. Laying down the foundational framework. Reduced to simple, abstract shapes that act as placeholders
    2. Scan and fine-tune if necessary
    3. Print out zero sketch so that it can be drawn over (but the goal is to not need this step)
  7. First sketch
    1. This is when to start adding the most important details
    2. This is very important. Print out again. Have fun adding details.
  8. Lineart
    1. Start with the thickest line weight first, to get the essential outline. The silhouette should be recognizable from far away.
    2. Move on to smaller line weights to add in details
  9. Coloring
    1. Block in colors
    2. Plan and adjust colors
    3. The best part: Coloring!!!!
  10. Fine-tuning
    1. Add details that are easier to include after the image has been flattened to one layer.

May 1, 2023

May check-in

 Getting back into stair climbing

Re-entering my stair obsession phase. For over a decade I have maintained a habit of walking on the treadmill five days a week, but I never exerted myself and it made little to no difference. Recently, I've been so stressed that I haven't been able to keep up with even that!

My sister: “Are you exercising now?”

Me: “No, I'm just going on the treadmill.”

I want to stay happy and healthy. Getting actual exercise has been very therapeutic especially when I feel stressed out about other things I have to do. Maintaining this habit is a noteworthy victory because of this slump I've been in. We all know that getting started is not easy. But once you get going, and you find ways to start loving it, that significantly lessens the friction. My goal is to apply this mindset to as much of my life as possible. 

Remember the Greek story of Sisyphus, doomed to push a rock for all eternity? You might as well find ways to make it more tolerable, fun even. I have my music, my podcasts, and my wandering imagination. Making sure I'm not bored during my workout has been a game changer. 

Vivian Maier

I recently learned about the work of photographer Vivian Maier through the Great Women Artists podcast. I went in with very little knowledge or expectation, and was left with great feelings of awe and respect for Vivian just from listening to her story alone. Then, I looked at her photos and was immediately blown away. She was a nanny who did photography as a hobby, but never showed her work to anyone. Her work was discovered posthumously; most of it was never even developed. 

From there, I rented the documentary Finding Vivian Maier which tells the story of how this remarkable discovery unfolded. I am endlessly fascinated by this woman and the way she lived. She was a true outsider artist and took that to the next level. She did amazing work even if no one - not even herself - ever got to see it. She did photography because she loved it. For her, photography was all about the physical act of taking pictures, and not looking at the end result. 

She was an eccentric woman who struggled with loneliness. She never married or had children of her own. Photography was her own little world, a haven of safety and vulnerability. She was incredibly secretive. It makes me wonder how she would feel if she had known her work would receive this much recognition.  There is an interesting moral dilemma to viewing her photography, knowing that she intentionally hid all of this from the world. It makes her all the more intriguing. Her story resonated with me deeply and I will be thinking about her for a long time to come. 

The most powerful thing about Vivian Maier's story is the humble reminder of why I am an artist in the first place. Even if nobody saw my artwork ever again, would I still pursue this path? What if even - I - didn't get to see my own finished artworks? Just some food for thought. What motivates you to keep creating?

Mario movie

I saw the Super Mario Brothers movie, and it was okay. The story was generic and there was very little room to breathe due to the non-stop action sequences, but lots of eye candy and references galore. The story felt rushed and over-simplified, but you can tell the people who worked on this film love Nintendo and Super Mario Bros in general. There was so much going on it would take multiple viewings to catch everything. Say.... they should make a video game out of this!