I can be a bit obsessive when it comes to music. I frequently listen to albums on repeat, especially when I’m working on art. Music helps me stay focused and inspired. Here’s a little taste of what I listen to in the studio…
If I’m working on something a little dark or Sci-Fi, I will often listen to the album Drink the Sea by The Glitch Mob.
I have several albums I love listening to while I’m painting a fantasy piece. If it has a mystical aspect to it I’m guaranteed to listen to Seven Lions.
If the piece is more nature based I might listen to Of Monsters and Men.
Then sometimes, I just listen to whatever is calling to me, like Masterplan, Bon Iver, Florence + The Machine, Placebo, M83, Blackmill, Metallica, Evanescence and many more.
Creating for the future, or the long-term, is what I’m doing right now. I recently finished a large commission and I won’t be taking anymore for at least a year. That’s kind of scary! Commissions have not made me rich, but they have been a nice cushion. So why on earth would I do this? I’m thinking about the future. I have a list of paintings I want to create and while I love the commissions I’ve tackled they aren’t MY creative vision. I’m also in dire need a cohesive portfolio, one that represents ME, for next year’s DragonCon jury process.
The last few years have been a journey to reinvent myself, my art, and find my true passion. I feel I’ve finally breached a wall in my psyche and now I want to create art where my vision and heart collide. That first glimpse over the wall was of course, Renascentia, which is also quite apropos since the name means rebirth in Latin.
If you want to follow me over the wall and pitch in $1 a month, take a look at my campaign on Patreon. Seriously. I’m only asking for $1 a month. Crazy!! But that $1 will add up and you’ll get an inside look at my creative process and a nifty little reward each month too. I’ll be sharing sketches, progress shots, tips and how’s to articles and videos on a weekly basis. Basically, double what I share on Instagram. Patrons will also get to see the creation of my next sketchbook volume before anyone else.
My Patreon campaign will help keep me accountable, keep me pushing ahead with the art I need and want to create over the next six months. If it does well, then it will also help me with funds for art supplies and maybe further down the line, funds for more conventions. I hope you’ll consider pitching in $1.00 a month while I go crazy making art!
There are only 4 months and a couple weeks left in this year. Whoa! I can’t believe how fast the year has flown by. I thought it was time for a progress report–a look at what I’ve accomplished, what I still have planned and a peek into 2016. Before 2014 ended, I had already begun thinking about what I wanted out of this year. At the time I was working on the first stages of Renascentia, compiling pages for my sketchbook Daydreams & Wanderings, and I had purchased my Art Show space for Jordan Con 2015. I had also stumbled across this video by Bobby Chiu. His wisdom urged me to take my 2015 goals more seriously than I have in the past.
What I’ve Tackled
- I ran my first Kickstarter Campaign and as a result printed my first sketchbook. I’ve sold half of the books printed now. WooHoo! Check out my Flip-Through video for a look inside Daydreams & Wanderings.
- I was a part of two local art exhibits, one a juried exhibition at the University of North Georgia.
- I didn’t get into the Dragon Con 2015 Art Show, but Won Judge’s Choice at the Jordan Con Art Show!
- I’ve completed my first freelance illustration work for Pelgrane Press.
I can’t share that work yet–Three of the illustrations have been released! You can see them in my DeviantART Gallery and checkout Hideous Creatures: Wendigos on the Pelgrane Press site.
- I’ve submitted my art for publication. It’s just a small feature, but I’ve been saying for the last year that my work wasn’t ready. Even after winning Judge’s Choice and working for Pelgrane Press, I was still saying, maybe next year. I finally had to slap myself upside the head.
- I’ve submitted my art to a large competition. This was another big move for me. Even if my painting isn’t selected, it’s good to get past the fear of rejection.
- I opened a new shop for selling my art and prints and upgraded my website to Squarespace. There’s also a semi-secret shop on my website called Five Dollars. Check it out!
What I still Want to Tackle
I’m in the final stages of a large commission and once that’s off my ‘to do’ list I’ll be working on some new paintings for my personal portfolio. I have so many things I want to paint!! These new pieces will come with me to Jordan Con and they’ll be the work I submit for the Dragon Con jury process in March. First up will be finishing this drawing for The Bone Oracle before moving onto the painting.
- In September, I’ll start taking a class through Schoolism on color and light, which I hope will help take my painting skills to the next level. My subscription is from the Kickstarter campaign they ran this year. I can’t wait!!
- I’m tentatively planning to sell my art at a small horror themed event in December, but that’s not a for sure thing yet.
- Also, I’m giving some thought to entering and attending my first out-of-state art show for a convention in Tennessee next summer.
There’s have been a few moments this year where I’ve wondered if I’ve been doing enough. It helps to compile it all in one place, to see that I AM moving forward. The year’s not over yet. Let’s see how much more creativity I can cram into 2015!
I’m one of those people that believes in Karma–cause and effect. I believe that our Dharma plays a huge role in how we confront life’s challenges. I also believe there is a balance to everything. The world around us is always attempting to balance itself, to keep things in check, and when we live as close to this balance as we can life is good to us. I’m using words associated with Hinduism and Buddhism, but I’m not affiliated with either. This is something I’ve believed and thought about for the last 20+ years. It’s my brand of common sense. Is my life always stress free, full of serenity and enlightenment? Ha! I wish.
But there are moments when I see the dominoes falling into place and I know why. My gut tells me this was meant to be.
Last week I received word that I did not pass the DragonCon Art Show Jury. Was I upset? Not at all. I know that may sound crazy, but I had been giving some thought to not applying this year. What????
I’d just finished a painting called Renascentia (Latin for Rebirth). This painting… THIS painting.
I began working on this painting in 2014. I sketched her out over the course of a week and then set her aside while I worked on a commission. Then the Christmas holiday season hit, my daughter was home from school, and not a whole lot got done. But even so, each time I returned to the first stages of the painting my heart would beat a little faster. It was clear not everyone was as thrilled by this work in progress as I was, but I couldn’t let her go. Before the painting was even finished I had decided she would be on the cover of my sketchbook, Daydreams and Wanderings.
It was in the weeks just before JordanCon, when my Kickstarter funded, that I knew Renascentia was the start of something new in my creative path. She is the beginning. So when the call came from DragonCon, I was not crushed because I’d already begun thinking that I wanted to focus on painting this summer, to follow this new path and see where it takes me. If I’d passed the jury, preparing for the art show would have consumed everything. It’s a lot of work! Plus, I was already going to JordanCon; where I would have to chance to meet some artists I admire, sell some of my own art and make some new connections.
However, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a tiny voice in the back of my head saying, “You suck. You got into DragonCon last year but not this year because you suck.” LOL
And then, Renascentia was awarded Judges’ Choice for JordanCon 2015.
I wrote a blog post on my website about my JordanCon experiences. If you want the full scoop, click through! But I will share the comment Todd Lockwood wrote in response to that post:
Dominoes falling into place…
All artists have a list like this right? It’s a list comprised of things they just don’t care for, have no innate ability to create, or something they feel strongly about–in my case the representation of women. These are my big five. Sorry (not sorry) if you were planning to ask me to paint one of these. 😉
1. Manga/Anime – I love the style, but it’s just not in my bones. Can’t do it. Not going to try. But like said, I do love the style and much to the horror of a few of my friends I love Anime. Yes, I’m one of those Studio Ghibli fans and I passed this love onto my daughter.
2. Caricatures – I don’t like them. Some people find caricatures amusing. I’ve always found them disturbing and in some cases scary. They make my insides cringe. However, I can acknowledge the skill behind them. Artists who can pull this off are amazing. I’m not one of them.
3. Women with enormous breasts and slender figures. – Need I elaborate? Add sexy armor to this too, because it’s ridiculous. If that’s your thing then there are other artists who will fulfill your warped dream. Damn… Did I just type that? Yeah. I did.
Imagine an image here….. You all know what I’m talking about.
4. Your favorite superhero. – Sorry. Not going to happen. Sure, I might draw and paint my favorite Marvel villain occasionally, when the urge hits, but that’s something I do for me. Good or bad, it’s fan art. Now, if you’re an art director or just someone with a lot of money that wants to commission a painting from me, that’s a different story. 😉
5. Space Ships, Cars, Mechanized Vehicles – Really not my thing. I could paint them (with a ton of practice) but I prefer focusing on fauna, flora, faces– flesh and bone. The clouds are so much cooler than the airship in this painting, don’t you think?
Those three words sum up life in my studio right now. If I thought I was busy last year, this year is blowing 2014 out of the water. Here’s a snapshot of my creative life this month.
I’m working on three pieces. They are in various stages of completion and they will all be finished before the end of the month.
Jordan Con 2015 is next month! I’m in the Art Show this year. Need I say more? Prepping paintings. Prepping prints. Prepping business cards.
I’m also preparing to apply to the Dragon Con Art Show again this year.
Two big events this month!
Reciprocal – a juried exhibit at the University of North Georgia Art Gallery (Oconee). Opening reception is tonight. I will be there!
Daydreams & Wanderings Kickstarter – You all know about this right? I’m 70% of the way to my goal. Unlike other crowdfunding sites, if I don’t reach my goal, the kickstarter fails and I don’t get any of the funds raised. So help me reach 100% by sharing my campaign with your friends and family!
They move from star to star, swallowing every planet in darkness, building black towers on every surface, and turning oceans to deathly broth.
I think it surprises people when I create a piece of dark art (literal in this instance). I’m known for my love of nature and animals, but those that truly know me are aware of my fascination with the dark. From about the age of 9 I would scour the tv guide for classic horror movies. And as someone who’s survived cancer, I’m no stranger to darkness. Here are several more examples from my childhood (pre-teens) if you’re not convinced!
1. The Labyrinth – My favorite character was Jareth, The Goblin King, of course. I wanted Sarah to stay with him, to hell with the crying baby!
2. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – I was secretly thrilled by the possibility that Luke would join his father.
3. Giger’s Xenomorph – I’ve talked about this obsession numerous times. I have movies, comics, and my own fan art.
I love monsters and villains. I have a life-size God of Mischief hanging out in my studio. So, yeah. When J Edward asked me if I was up to the challenge, I needed only to look within, find that inner darkness and breathe it into my painting.
Last year I painted a well received Jackalope and I made sure to tell everyone he was the first in a new series. Then I had one commission after another and the series was put on hold. Until now!! Say hello to The Alchemist. Yes, I know he’s a fox but he’s an alchemist too. He’s part of an ever evolving series of paintings called the Mystics. Read more
I’m a bit superstitious when it comes to discussing big projects, and I have a Big Project planned for 2014. I hope to create many things that have never been, but I also hope to grow as an artist and continue develop my skills. Besides the big mysterious project, I have several paintings already planned, personal works for my portfolio, and I’m hoping to attend my first convention as an artist in an art show. Fingers crossed!
Till then, I will exit right, under an enigmatic veil of smoke…. Poof!
I invited fans of my Facebook page to ask me anything. Here’s what they wanted to know!
I do enjoy exploring different genres! My interests are diverse as well, so it’s not surprising they bleed over into my art, but if I had to pick one it would be fantasy. Fantasy is a broad genre. It can have elements of Myth, nature and wildlife, people but all with the elements of Fantasy. I particularly love animals and creatures but also portraits. You can expect to see more of a focus in those areas.
2. If you didn’t paint or write, what do you think you would be doing instead?
As I mentioned in the previous answer, I have diverse interests. If I didn’t have any health issues I would love to work in archaeology/geology. See. Even now I can’t pick one! While at university I took Geology, Zooarchaeology, and The Geology of Archaeology. I could see myself digging up the remains of the past.
3. If/when you get “artist’s block”, how do you handle it?
I do sometimes get stuck and I’ve found that most of the time it’s because I’ve lost the inspiration for the painting. Forcing myself to keep painting only makes it worse. I’ve found walking to be the best solution. It helps to get outside, clear my head, enjoy the little things. Then I go back to the painting and think why isn’t this working for me? What needs to change? It usually works!
4. What has had the biggest influence on your work? Is it a particular artist? a genre? some personal insight?
I paint what I love. It’s that simple. As a child I spent an enormous amount of time outside, wandering the woods, drawing, collecting rocks and bits of nature, drawing, riding horses every weekend, dreaming up imaginary worlds and people based on the movies and stories I read. And of course, drawing. Not much has changed!
There are also a few artists that stick out who definitely left seeds of inspiration in my mind. Georgia O’Keeffe is the first artist I consciously remember. My mother kept a book of her art on our coffee table. John Waterhouse’s iconic images weave history, mythology and fantasy into rich worlds. Last, Michael Parkes. I saw a framed print of his painting Gargoyles back in the mid 90’s (in a print shop I’d later work at) and instantly fell in love with the magic.
5. What are your own personal artistic goals?
My main goal is to become a professional illustrator. I’d love to be painting covers for science fiction and fantasy novels, middle grade books, maybe even picture books. I’d also love to create art for card and board games. I’m determined to get there!
ImagineFX and deviantART. Digital painting involves most of the same skills as traditional painting but I did have to learn how the brushes function and how they can be manipulated in Photoshop. Those two resources were and still are invaluable.
7. Are you ever going to come north for a craft show or the like??
Yes! When? No clue. But it will happen.
8. Some artists (Not me) Say that Digital art.. isn’t “real” art.. What is your response to that?
I laugh. Because nowadays painting in Photoshop and Painter is incredible. It’s just another medium. If you can’t paint/draw with traditional mediums, then it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to in those programs. You use all the same skills and more.
9. Were you artistic as a child and what training have you received as an artist? Were you classically trained or only trained in digital arts?
Yes, I was artistic as a child. I have a creative mother and she was the first person to inspire me to draw. I’ve had a passion for drawing and art since I was at least 9 years old. My training as been less exact.
When I was in middle school I unfortunately had an art teacher who demeaned students without any artistic ability. She also used those with ability as an example to belittle other students. I didn’t like being used and it angered me that a teacher could be so cruel. I avoided art classes for a while.
I was an art student at university for a year. I took two drawing classes, a sculpture class, and several art history classes. But I didn’t stick with it out of fear. I kept drawing and painting but finished my Bachelors in another field.
Later, after moving to the United Kingdom, I took a year long course in Creative Painting and Drawing at Kensington & Chelsea College. It was the first time I had to attend a portfolio review as a part of my application. I was accepted and it was one of the best courses ever!
I only began digital painting about a year ago.
10. Matisse said: “Creativity takes courage.” What has been your greatest struggle re: your art?
Painting what I want to paint and not what I think will sell or what’s expected of me.
To enter leave a comment on this blog post and be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you’re the winner. This time around I can only ship to the US, sorry international fans!
What will you win? I’ve made a fancy collage of four paintings below. You can choose one of those paintings and I’ll send you a 5×7 inch print! You can get a better look at the paintings choices in my deviantART Gallery.
I will pick the winner on Monday, November 25th while I’m drinking my coffee.
There were seven entries, but only one could be a winner today. I assigned everyone a number, from the first person to leave a comment to the last. The winner, according to Random.org is number 2, Sherry Key!
Sherry, get in touch with me via Facebook or email and let me know which print you’d like from the choices above.
Thank you all for entering!
Over the weekend I met up with fellow guild members J Edward Neill and John McGuire to discuss a project. During the course of our lunch meeting J Edward asked me how I’d developed the idea for my latest work in progress, Her Domain. I believe my initial response was a small snicker. My imagination can be a bit chaotic, at least from where I stand. It always begins with a spark, then the idea grows like a film in my mind and last the most difficult part of all must happen–the execution. Nearly all of my personal paintings develop this way, but let’s take a closer look at Her Domain.
Here’s my current progress:
The spark is often something I’ve seen. It’s like a trigger. The seed takes root and from that seed the idea grows. The spark for Her Domain was this photograph by Mark Walton featuring deviantART artist TheRedBamboo:
I was immediately entranced by this image. I envisioned her submerged in a small pond or river, the bones of her victims beneath her body. <– That’s how my mind works. I see more than what anyone might see at first glance. It’s like a domino effect. The story grows in my mind like a dream. I do not only see the painting, I feel the painting.
Ideas like this one are a never ending stream in my world. I found the above photograph in April of this year. I rotated the image, made a quick sketch, and then refocused on whatever I was painting at the time. When I returned to the sketch early this month the idea was still fresh, but now it needed to be developed. I began working on a more detailed sketch:
As I hope you can see, the original photograph was only a starting point–the spark–the idea involved more elements to be added. The basis of any good painting begins with a good drawing. Because I was expanding out from the initial image I was going to need more reference shots. I needed to know what the shoulders would look like when I angled the arm and hand in front of the figure. Guessing would only create something that looked wrong. So, I held a mini photo shoot in my studio.
I took these photos with my iPhone, leaning back in my office chair. Yes, I did feel a bit silly, but my muse demanded I get this right. At this stage I’m still in the Idea phase. I went back to my sketch with my new reference shots to work out the kinks.
The final phase is where the real work begins–taking the idea in my mind and giving it life. When I begin painting I have just a sketch, but when I look at the sketch I already see colors, tones, shadows, ripples of light, etc. The execution is making those a reality. When you compare the final painting to the spark, you may only see an echo of the original photograph. Through the idea and the execution I’ve created something different, something of my own.
How long does it take me to finish a painting? It depends on the complexity but usually it’s anywhere from 1 week to 4 weeks.
Here are a few more before’s and after’s, the spark and the execution:
The Price of Magic