Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday Inspiration | Frank Ordaz

When A Seed Pierced The Emerald Rock by Frank Ordaz

by Frank Ordaz

Ralph Rodriguez Close Up by Frank Ordaz

by Frank Ordaz

On the Rim by Frank Ordaz

by Frank Ordaz

The Empty Tomb by Frank Ordaz

by Frank Ordaz

Frank Paints a Ship for Star Wars

Today's Inspiration stemmed out of a recent day trip we took to Auburn, where we met Frank P. Ordaz at his studio/gallery!  We enjoyed browsing around his gallery and even had the pleasure of purchasing a small original.  He is not only extremely talented in art, but also personable, easygoing and has a wonderful spirit about him.  I was delighted to take a picture together, you can see it here.

I had seen the first painting, "When A Seed Pierced The Emerald Rock," at the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, CA a few months ago and was immediately impressed and in awe of the palette, the light and colors, the impressionistic paint application and the contemporary quality!!  It spoke to me, both the work and the title begged the question: what is the artist saying here?  Frank had the piece back at his studio, so I got to take a second look at the magnificent painting, the scale of it alone is grand measuring 4' x 5'!  We learned of it's acceptance into the prestigious Crocker-Kingsley show, opening March 7th 2015, at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.  Definitely stop by the show to view this piece and many other incredible art works.  I loved reading the meaning behind the piece here.

At Frank's studio, I also enjoyed viewing his plein air and landscape paintings.  Frank is indeed a true renaissance man!  Having his roots in Matte painting for Star Wars (EPIC, I KNOW!!!) and other very famous films, and seeing his portfolio of portraits, plein air, spiritual works, and contemporary art - the breadth and depth of his body of work is incredible!

Matte painters have always inspired me, having wanted to be one as a young artist.  Seeing Frank's work expand further into landscapes, plein air, and other subjects is also so encouraging: there are so many different wonderful art fields to get into!  Thank you Frank for the tour of your studio, it was a pleasure meeting you, we will be back again soon!!

Stop by Frank's Studio here and be sure to visit his Website and Facebook pages!

keywords:  wednesdayinspiration

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Thoughts | On Master Copies and Plagarism

Master Copy After Charles Dana Gibson by Mary Highstreet

Let me tell you a secret: as young girl, I was a self-taught artist and would paint copies of images from the internet, that was how I learned to paint: I copied!  I'm not talking about plagiarism I'm talking about a Master Copy.  In-fact many self taught artists, including myself, do studies like these.

Matt and I were at the the Crocker Art Museum looking at a rotating collection of Pen and Ink drawings from the 1700's Italy.  Going around the room we stopped in front of one gorgeous ink drawing in particular, sure enough in the description it was labeled as a Master Copy, it was a study of another famous painting!  In france, young artists can be seen all over the Louvre and other museums painting copies of the Masters!  It is still considered a wonderful learning tool for French Artists, and many others as well.

There's a difference between plagiarism and a Master Copy.  Plagiarism is trying to pass the copied painted work off as your own taking all the credit for it, while a Master Copy is a sincere study of an art piece that credits the artist and labels it as a "Study." Master Copies are never sold for personal profit, they are solely for study.

Examples of Master Copies or Studies, that site the original artist:  {1} {2} {3} {4}

 The main goal in doing a Master Copy is to learn more about the painting process, color & light, and composition.  It is said "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," and for artists this is true: you study the Master's work that you most admire!  I read a wonderful article, entitled "The Art of Imitation" (p.20) from the July 2014 issue of ImagineFX magazine, a magazine for Concept Artists.   It addresses the use of reference images for the artist and just what constitutes plagiarism.  Finding that fine line between using reference for inspiration and plagiarism is a real issue that real professional artists are dealing with.  Pick up a copy of ImagineFX Issue 114, if you want to know more about what Concept Artists in the Entertainment Industry have to say on the subject.

Master studies are exceptional for learning.  There is a catch to doing these Master Copies, however, if you want to grow as a professional Fine Artist: eventually you need to ween off of these studies and create your one unique style and artwork.  You can continue to do studies for growth throughout your whole career, but it's important not to lean on them too heavily.  For all artists, those that are self taught and those looking to continue their education, there is so much to be gained from studies like these!!

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If you want to learn more about how do we artists create original works of art and get beyond Master Copies, read this post: here.

tags: friday thoughts, fridaythoughts

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Thoughts | Tackling Taboos: Using a Camera Before Beginning a Work of Art

Triple Self Portrait || Norman Rockwell Behind the Camera

Have you ever heard the taboo that real artists don't copy or real artists don't paint from photographs?  Well, I'm here to tell you that this just isn't true!  Indeed these days, photographers are becoming painters (see blog post here), AND painters are indeed becoming photographers!  As you can see above, famous artist Norman Rockwell even used a camera to capture composition and details before his paintings as can be read about in the book:  Norman Rockwell Behind the Camera

Tattoo Sailor Art by Norman Rockwell Behind the Camera

There is a stigma that the camera is not for real artists; a real artist creates only from the mind.  But let me dispel this thought: some artists can do this, but many cannot and many do not.  Some paint from the mind, some paint from life (live models, props, and plein air), some do "Master Copies" (more on this next week), some use cameras and photographic reference, and some use a combination of all four.  Some artists use these tools until they build their visual memory enough to create from the mind.  No matter how artists create, many many artists use reference, and a lot of artists learn from reference.  It's something we artists shouldn't be afraid of.  Of course, nothing can truly replace drawing and painting from life, but we all have to start somewhere.

Many great artists use props and sets and costumes, as well as cameras (John Everett Millais, J.C. Lyendecker, Norman Rockwell, and Dean Cornwell to name a few)!  In a day where most people don't sit around for a portrait painting, a photograph becomes the closest thing!

Dean Cornwell at Work Painting from Reference (a Model)
Dean Cornwell at Work
Painting from Reference (a Model)

J.C. Lyendecker at Work Doing a Study for "Baseball Catcher," Saturday Evening Post Cover, May 15, 1959
J.C. Lyendecker at Work Doing a Study for "Baseball Catcher,"
Saturday Evening Post Cover, May 15, 1959

While I agree that a camera can be an unnecessary crutch and leaned on too heavily, it can also be a useful tool.

In order to become self sufficient, if you can't work solely from imagination, it is important to gather personal reference images.  How can we do this other than painting from life?  The camera.

But in gathering reference let's be sure steer clear of plagiarism:  In a day where cameras make references all over the internet and make plagiarism an easy out for the artist, we need to accept the fact that we can't get original ideas from other people's art/photography...etc.  The best thing today's artist could do to further their art creations is to put on a blind fold when it comes to the internet, and capture our own references.  If we want to make something of ourselves as an artist, we need to "man-up" and take our own images.  So I'm here to tell you, don't be afraid of using the camera in your art creation!  Painting from life is invaluable and essential to learning as an artist, but the camera can also be a useful aid and helpful to take that leap from copy-cat to self-sufficient.  And who knows, maybe one day you will be able to paint solely from your imagination!

(LEFT) Detail of Oil Painting (from Life Painting Class with Michael Miller) AND (RIGHT) Same Model Drawn from Memory\
(LEFT) Detail of Oil Painting by Mary Highstreet (from Life Painting Class with Michael Miller) AND
(RIGHT) Same Model Drawn from Memory by Mary Highstreet

My art professor, Michael Barton Miller, was the first one to encourage me to build a "visual memory," basically a visual reference library in your mind.  He said, "After each life drawing or painting session, go home and do it again.  This time from your mind!"  At first I thought, "Are you kidding me?!"  I am no exception: I never thought I could draw and paint solely from my imagination.  But, I took his advice seriously, went home and did it again (see above).  And thanks to him, I now have a great visual memory and catalogue.

So for now take a picture with a camera, and one day, take a picture with your mind.

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In memory of Michael Barton Miller.

tags: friday thoughts, fridaythoughts

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wednesday Inspiration | Sarachmet

The Last Leaf, 2008-2014 by Sarachmet

by Sarachmet

The Last Leaf, 2008-2014 by Sarachmet

by Sarachmet

The Blue Bird, 2008-2014 by Sarachmet

by Sarachmet

Paradise Regained, 2008-2014 by Sarachmet
Would you believe it if I told you these are not paintings, they are actually photographs!  One of my the most amazing things about photographers today is their ability to make their photographs look just like paintings.  There is more of a blend between photographer and painter these days than there was in the past, thanks in part to the computer.  Digital editing has allowed photographers to become painters of sorts. The time photographers spend editing to get achieve a painterly quality even mimics the time a painter spends on their painting.

  Sarachmet's works (shown above) are perfect examples.  Her images are so luscious in their detail and yet soft in certain areas that it gives it a unique painterly quality.  I am sure you will agree that these works by Sarachmet could be paintings themselves!  We have a word for this in art it's called tromp l'oeil, or fool the eye (although ironically I've typically heard it used when painters make their work look hyper real or photo-realistic).

On my first viewing of her work, I also noticed a strong Pre-Raphaelite influence, with the golden hughes, rich colors, and crisp details.  You can read on her DeviantArt account that the Pre-Raphaelite movement is among her favorite art styles.  (Read more about Pre-Raphaelite artists on my previous blog posts, here and here.)

Sarachmet's pre-production work also mimics that of a painter:  Before each photograph is made, she utilizes her resources (family) to make the costumes, and then spends time composing each shot.*source    Painters of the past did these kinds of things before beginning a painting too!  Some artists today still do create sets and costumes and take photographs before beginning a painting, but many have either never learned it or have forgotten how invaluable such preparations can be. (I will elaborate on this topic on Friday).  I love that even the costumes themselves are works of art here.

One fun detail that I forgot to mention about Pre-Raphaelite art is that you may notice is an abundance of redheaded models.  Being a redhead myself, I like to imagine I would have been a model for the movement...perhaps this is why am drawn these works.

You can follow Sarachmet on DeviantArt and on Facebook.

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Stay tuned, because next Wednesday I am very excited to be featuring another photographer that has painterly qualities to her works, so please stop by next week!!

keywords:  wednesdayinspiration

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday Inspiration | John William Waterhouse

The Lady of Shalott, 1888 by John William Waterhouse

The Lady of Shalott, 1888
by John William Waterhouse

Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891 by John William Waterhouse

Ulysses and the Sirens, 1891
by John William Waterhouse

Hylas and the Nymphs, 1896 by John William Waterhouse

Hylas and the Nymphs, 1896
by John William Waterhouse

John William Waterhouse is another of my most inspirational artists.  He was known for working in the Pre-Raphaelite style, but having painted several decades after the Pre-Raphalite movement, he earned the title "the modern Pre-Raphaelite."  These three works remind me especially of the founder of the Pre-Raphaelite movement's (John Everett Millais) painting style as can be seen in the works I featured on my blog previously, here.  I love the depiction of the Sirens and the vivid color of the water.  In all the paintings, the gold accents and golden luminescence stands out creating luscious visual texture.  The details captured in the plants of the top and bottom pieces, and the boat in the middle one, are stunning and reminiscent of details in classical tapestries.  Not to mention, the small glimpse of the mountain in the distant background of "Ulysses and the Sirens" reminds me of Edgar Payne, another one of my favorite artists.  These are only a few of the reasons why I love John William Waterhouse.   Next week I will be featuring a contemporary photographer whose works also embody the Pre-Raphaelite style!

 Read more about John William Waterhouse here.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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keywords:  wednesdayinspiration

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday Inspiration| John Everett Millais

The Ransom 1860-1862 by John Everett Millais

The Ransom 1860-1862
by John Everett Millais

Christ in the House of His Parents, 1850 by John Everett Millais

Christ in the House of His Parents, 1850
by John Everett Millais

 Ophelia, 1852 by John Everett Millais

 Ophelia, 1852
by John Everett Millais

The Blind Girl, 1856 by John Everett Millais

The Blind Girl, 1856
by John Everett Millais

These are some of my very favorite paintings by John Everett Millais.   Millais was the founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (one of my favorite art movements), and became it's most iconic painter.  The luscious textures and colors, the extravagant detail, and the narrative quality of these paintings is what I find so appealing!  One fun fact I remember from Art History Class is: in the bottom painting, The Blind Girl, Millais used a watercolor like technique with his paint that can be seen on the grass, letting the white of the canvas create the light.  If I remember correctly, it was seen as controversial at the time since it gave the painting an unfinished appearance.

keywords:  wednesdayinspiration

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday Inspiration | James C. Hegedus

Today's Inspiration is Artist & Art Director James C. Hegedus!  I have had the complete honor of taking one of James' classes, he is supremely knowledgable in all things art+film, a true art genius!  His work has inspired countless films, the following is a small selection from which I have seen his Concept Paintings, Color Keys and/or Story Boards: Forest Gump, Shrek, Bedtime Stories, Hocus Pocus, and The Phantom of the Opera (2004).  He also worked on The Rocketeer (wish I had seen his pre-pro for this, love this classic film!!) and so much more!!

Behind every great movie is a great artist & team of artists - many people don't realize how important art is to movie making!  

Hope you enjoy this small selection of Concept Art by James C. Hegedus, these are from the DreamWorks movie Shrek:

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keywords:  wednesdayinspiration

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Daily Sketch | Lady

I have always wanted to draw Lady from Disney's "Lady and the Tramp",
here's my first try.  Definitely more to studies of Lady to come!  I love dogs, and
cartoon dogs are no exception!  Maybe Pluto will pop up sometime in the near future...  :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Daily Sketch | Llama

Sketch of the Day!

I think llamas are such fun animals!  Amusing to draw with interesting long lines and forms.  I think I will be drawing more of them for these daily sketches, perhaps I can get into some cartooning too!

I've been studying and drawing my way though Joe Weatherly's "The Weatherly Guide to Drawing Animals."  Today I was paging through the construction sections.  Can you see the construction lines showing through?  :)  

Also thanks to David Coleman, my animal drawing teacher from my time spent in LA (I had such a hard time understanding these concepts then, I'm finally starting to get it now!)  & Peter Han for his Dynamic Sketching classes!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Haggin Museum | J.C. Lyendecker & 8 Month Bump

Some highlights of our trip to the Haggin Museum in Stockton, CA

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Ever since Matt randomly found in a radio advertisement that the largest collection of J.C. Lyendecker originals was housed only 45 min. away in Stockton, I have desperately wanted to visit to the Haggin Museum.  If you didn't already know, J.C. Lyendecker is one of my biggest inspirations as an fine artist.

Many are unaware that Lyendecker preceded and was a major influence on Norman Rockwell, you can read my post mentioning it here and it is also acknowledged in Lyendecker's Wiki Article.

Last weekend we finally had the opportunity to visit the collection at the Haggin Museum, and boy was it a great trip!!

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Here are some of the pictures we took away from the trip (they allowed cameras!!!).


It was incredible, I was not prepared for how awesome the originals would be in person.  I literally had to take a deep breath a few times at the sheer idea that here I was standing in front of an original J.C. Lyendecker.  With no glass in between, added to the fact that there are no guard rails, you can imagine my sheer delight!  I took full advantage, studying every brush stroke, at times my eyes only inches away.

(above is my first glimpse of the exhibit)

WWII Poster - Boy Scouts
"Weapons for Liberty"

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The Saturday Evening Post
"Airships Circling Baby New Year"
Jan 2, 1932

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The Saturday Evening Post
"Queen of Spring"
May 23, 1931

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The Saturday Evening Post
"Fall Fox Hunting"
October 19, 1929

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The Saturday Evening Post
"Romeo and Juliet"
June 8, 1929

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Signature of 


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Now just about 8 months pregnant with Baby Highstreet, it has been a theme of mine to take bump pics with my favorite fine artworks, so I though it would be more than appropriate to take another with an original Lyendecker.  Not to mention the subject matter is perfect, one of Lyendecker's quintessential genres, the New Years Baby.

We are so blessed that his works are housed only 45 min. away from us!
I hope to take Baby Highstreet back with us someday soon.

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I hope you all will get the chance to visit the J.C. Lyendecker collection at the Haggin Museum, it was beyond wonderful!

xo. m