Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Taking a Break

I have had a few posts in the works for a couple months now, but I can't finish them due to repetitive stress injury.  So I'll be taking a break from blogging while I recover.  I'm conserving what little time I am able to use my hands for drawing only at this time.  For now you can find me on Instagram sharing my favorite drawings from the 365 Days of Sketching Challenge and keep an eye out for new work in my shop soon!

Monday, May 2, 2016

INTERVIEW NOTES || Chiustream: Healthy Egos and Artists


FANTASTIC interview, just love Bobby Chiu's wisdom!  Here are my favorite gems to save from the interview:

- Design your life.  Realize why you are working?  To be with family, to have a better life...don't let work take over and you forget about the reason why.
- What most important ideas allow work freelance out of state?  Belief - faith in yourself is the key ingredient to rapid change.  Constantly re-thinking re-judging your stuff: Am I going in the right direction?  Am I learning anything this month?  Where do I feel life is going to be if I keep going in this direction?  Have a goal, they are huge, you need a destination.  Hoping gets you no where; action and goals take you there.  Be on the constant search for knowledge to be whatever your goal is.
- Don't wait for people/businesses companies to contact you.  Don't want for that job.  Just start doing it.  On your own.  Make your own work.  Research the company you want to work for and start preparing now, as if you are already working there!  When we do gallery shows, we get job offers because we are putting ourselves out there, we aren't waiting for anyone.  Always keep doing stuff.
- Find what you are passionate about; decide what it will be, and make a conscious decision to get passionate.
- Don't take small jobs that get in the way of your goal.  Don't make pit stops, the more irrelevant pit stops you make the longer it will take you to get to your goal.

Monday, March 21, 2016

INTERVIEW NOTES || Paper Wings Show #33 Interview With Claire Keane

Paper Wings Show #33 Interview With Claire Keane

Interview Notes

- Getting inside the head of the character and figuring out their motivation, becoming the character, even acting it out and thinking about life from their perspective allows you to create a more believable character.

- When you make a drawing and feel pressured by time and dive in, forcing things, making the wrong steps -- just take a breath and find out what it is you like about the project that you're doing, what it is you love about the image that you're going to make.  Find research and images and go off that, you can even just get one inspiring image, just when you start make sure you are starting from a place of joy rather than being frantic from pressure driven deadlines.  Pressure without the love and joy and inspiration part will either yield nothing, or very dull drawings.

- If I am frustrated that something isn't going right, I just need to open myself up, step back, and be open to anything you might throw out... most of the time it goes back to the concept of what I am trying to say.  If it's not working, I just need to start over, and when I do it just goes so much quicker.

- Everything I do has some big back story.  (Ex. With "Once Upon A Cloud," in the background she was reading a Carl Jung, "Man and His Symbols" book and thinking about the power of dreams and the subconscious in our wakeful hours.)

- Have a routine: run, come up with ideas, everyday.

- When you feel a story is off or not very good, ask the question: what was your point?  It needs to be clear.  What do you want to say at this very moment?  Answering that question boils it down to something you can work around and wrap your head around.

- Digital you can zoom, which leaves you in danger of loosing sight of the whole.  Put the Navigator on which acts like your peripheral vision, so you can subconsciously be aware of the whole.

- How to get out a story idea if having trouble?  What you're supposed to be doing, what you are supposed to be saying is in your desires and what you love, and if you can follow that and just let your heart guide you and your passions guide you to where you are supposed to be, you will find yourself inspired and inspiring people around you.

- Joseph Campbell Interviews also inspirational dealing with the subconscious.

Disney Animation Studios - Visual Development Artist
Penguin - Children's Book Illustrator (Nancy Poneski - Fantastic Editor)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

REVIEW || ImagineFX | Issue 132 - March 2016

Sketch 1 by Lixin Yin

LOVED ImagineFX, Issue 132!!!  First of all, the forward, by Acting Editor Beren Neale on David Bowie and Labryinth being featured on the cover, was hysterical and especially fitting for this edition's theme of Classic Fantasy Film Art.  Reading about classic movie poster artists from the 80's and 90's (p. 40) was a fun blast from the past.  One of my favorite parts was reading about the Richard Amsel's process of creating the Indiana Jones poster art (p. 46).

I also enjoyed getting a look inside this month's Artist in Residence featuring a traditional painter, David Palumbo (p. 24), where he shares his home studio based in his living room.  He has a ton of resources at hand: a variety of camera equipment, a closet full of props and costumes, a nice traditional painting set up, as well as music on vintage vinyl records at the ready.  Loved his tip for freelancers on using physical post-it notes to prioritize jobs.

And an absolute favorite was the gorgeous tutorial by Min Yum on illustrating a Grimm Fairy Tale (p. 70).  Perhaps it was the red hair he chose to depict on the young girl that drew me in, always nice to see red heads in art not only because it is very relatable being one myself.  Additionally, I guess I'm still a sucker for Illustration!  I especially loved his ideation process starting with the thumbnails and moving into color studies before beginning the final work.  Everything about the piece and the process is delightful.

I especially enjoyed the very quick workshop on developing hue and lighting by Lixin Yin (p. 74), where he light a dark environment with two light sources, soft candle light and an unknown skylight.  I loved the details he chose to bring out especially in the fabrics and various textures.  Lastly, the entire article on creating life-filled RPG characters by Simon Dubuc (p. 76) was phenomenal.  As someone who isn't primarily a character designer, but interested in having characters in my paintings it was a great glimpse into the world of character art.  Every single tip he had was clear, to the point, and easy to understand in quickly understanding how to create a believable and memorable character.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Noah Bradley - Interview Notes


Going outside and doing plein air painting & studies of favorite landscape painters.  Did imaginative fantasy scene digital painting on the side while in school.  FREQUENCY:  1 per day (1-1.5 hours each) MORE DETAILS:  Worked on composition, color scheme, and lighting.  Took about 6 months till first ground breaking piece: first finished fully rendered environment.  Saw major progression in even one year.  One year later, took 3 months of job applications before anything.

Tried to get new work into portfolios as much as can.
Do your own work!
Market yourself big time.  Keep online profiles updated.
Learn Business.
Learn things I wish they taught me in art school: make really good art AND show it to the right people.


Made it into Spectrum! (one year after starting daily painting)
Card art and Freelance Jobs
Dungeons and Dragons
MtG (Sent art director a post card.)


Interview With The Masters: Naveen Selvanathan - Interview Notes

Interview Notes

- If I don't work from reference I repeat myself too much, reference makes it believable and helps steer away from previous paintings and preconceived ideas in my head

- Have some kind of goal or direction, pick a theme - otherwise it's too open

- Master studies help

- Take Classes, join online art communities

- See something you like make a note of it so you can be inspired and motivated to paint

- Have a goal or deadline

- Still life helpful to understand how to paint surfaces and how rendering works, study in different 
lighting scenarios (5-20m)

- Takes screen shots while watching movies for color and composition and saves into reference folder

- Use a story moment for inspiration or collect from reference to get inspired before starting

San Francisco Academy of Art, MFA
CGMA - Dice Tsunami, Armand Serrano, 
Schoolism - Nathan Fowkes

Disney, Concept Artist
Sony Pictures Animation, Color & Painting Work

Teaches at CGMA - The Art of Color and Light

Monday, February 8, 2016

REVIEW || ImagineFX | Issue 131 - February 2016

ART "Man's Road" by Alyssa Winans
"Man's Road" by Alyssa Winans

My first time thumbing through ImagineFX Issue 131, I was excited to discover Amit Dutta's work (p. 12) in the FXpose section!  I have been following Amit for a little over a year on Deviant Art, and was shocked at the time to learned he was only just launching his art career!  It's a huge encouragement and inspiration to see the now three year into it artist have a prominent feature in ImagineFX!  (Hope that will be me someday soon!  That is once I get my new portfolio going.)  You can also find Amit on Deviant Art and Facebook.  I also enjoyed seeing the highly stylized illustrative work of Alyssa Winans (p. 8) featured in FXpose as well.

Reading the letters to the editor section (p. 30), I am super excited to know that IFX plans to have an issue on career advice and best schools to attend in the future.  It will be nice to have a comprehensive source to refer to, can't wait for that issue!  In the Workshops section, I highly enjoyed reading about tips and tricks for card art with Laura Sava (p. 78): especially the tips on composition, detailing on metal and painting skin.

Short review today, again since I am primarily a stay at home mom, I'm only picking out the most relevant or visually interesting articles.

Friday, February 5, 2016

REVIEW || ImagineFX | Issue 129 - Christmas 2015

Art for graphic novel, Toraidhe, by Aaron McBride
Art for graphic novel, Toraidhe, by Aaron McBride

ImagineFX Issue 129 had quite a few articles that I was drawn too and left me with some great advice, ideas and inspiration. In the article, "Become A Pro in 10,000 Hours," (pp. 20-23) I enjoyed reading comments on the 10,000 hour theory from various artists. Daniel Tyka described the sacrifice it takes to put in that much time into growing as an artist and how it can aversely affect everything from relationships and social life to your body. He also said that the theory works, but it must have structure and time management, starting with the basics before jumping into something that might overwhelm you.

Character artist Jose Alves recommended a strict regiment of drawing a couple hours every day on paper. You have to learn to accept mistakes because there is no ctrl+z option so you become bolder and embrace risks. Starting a habit takes motivation, but the good news he says is that after a while it becomes so routine that you start to crave it. One thing he warns about is to always be a student desiring to learn more, because "...[once] you feel your an expert your progress will stop." Fine artist Rebecca Guay says "...you need to be fully present and focused, not just mindlessly drawing away in your sketchbook," and that you must constantly be looking for what needs improvement, otherwise 10,000 hours will mean nothing. Tom recommends choosing the most relevant topics to work from and break them down into and manageable categories, he also recommends getting up early to get a head start on learning while fresh. Winona Nelson said that you have to invest in down time to stay sane, refresh the body, and oil creative gears.

In this months Artist in Residence (pp. 24-25), Darren Yeow confesses that other than sketching on paper he only uses digital mediums to keep his space cleaner. He keeps reference books and inspiration handy on a bookshelf; since he didn't go to art school he says they represent his education. Being a mom, I LOVE that he includes in his studio a jar of nature objects his toddler gifted to him as well as a photo of his pregnant wife, "to remind [him] of what's important." I applaud him so much, since from history I have read many unfortunate biographies of famous artists where being a talented artist and a family man don't always go hand in hand.

Enjoyed the interview with Aaron McBride (40), especially hearing about how even he, a famous artist, has a star struck reaction when meeting another famous artist he admires (specifically Raphael Lacoste) for the first time.  I also LOVED seeing the preliminary illustrations for a personal project, a graphic novel, Toraidhe.  which I am interested in learning more about.  Aaron shared a great art tip too: put details only where the audience will be looking, be your own editor.

Lastly I enjoyed learning how to create a production painting of a Star Wars inspired scene with Feng Zhu (p. 83).  Some tips gleaned were starting off with a short description from a script and then answering "The Five W's" (who, what, when, where, and why,") imagining yourself inside the picture itself to identify areas of interest that require the most detail, and tips on understanding how reflections work on different surfaces.

REVIEW || ImagineFX | Issue 128 - December 2016

Spark by Anna Steinbauer
Spark by Anna Steinbauer

In Imagine FX Issue 128 I only read the two most visually appealing articles to save on time.  I enjoyed the in depth tutorial by Anna Steinbauer (p. 66) on painting a female knight and witch in the woods based on a film she enjoyed as a child, Fantaghiro.  There were so many wonderful tips on painting process I will have to go back to re-read and try out later.  Loved her pro secret (one I must implement it into my own workflow) to make a list of all the finishing steps and details to complete a painting so you can be more efficient and know what's ahead.  Also Anna recommended taking eye brakes or lowering the brightness of the screen to minimize the harm stairing at a bright computer screen can cause.  Lastly, the shortcuts and three resource brushes were great tips/additions!

I also enjoyed the quick tutorial on designing a game environment for Assassins Creed Syndicate by Tony Zhou Shou (p. 72).  I liked getting a look into the environment design process, where the main idea was to establish the mood/atmosphere and reinforce art direction.  The romantic moonlighting and backlight character were striking and a refreshing use of lighting.  He had many great tips I will have to go back and review, one of which was easily checking values by using a black layer set to saturation mode.  The downloadable smoke/fog brush looks like it would be an awesome tool.

Lots of great comic art, resources, and articles too for those who are wondering, but it's not really my thing.  I tend to gravitate more towards dramatic paintings.

Claire Wendling Interview Notes

Claire Wendling Interview Notes

Claire Wendling Interview with Bobby Chiu | Schoolism

I just finished my first week of "365 Days of Sketching Challenge," where I was doing studies of Claire Wendling, a talented French illustrator living in Angouleme.  I decided watching this interview would be a great way to end the week, it has been on my list for a while and I finally took some time to watch it during my son's afternoon nap.  Out of curiosity, and for anyone else wondering, I did a quick Google search for "How old is Claire Wendling?" and found out she is 48 years old this year.  After watching the interview, I realized it couldn't be more perfect to watch at this time when I am making goals and working on my own path back to art, because she had a point in her life where she had to do the same thing.  I found out we share other things in common as well (which I am sure many other artists are familiar with): a shy childhood, love of animals, unsure where career path would go, struggled with math.  More personally, we also share a common struggle, to get back on our feet after an illness, and dealing with a recovery period.  For me, after my illness I had an added challenge of adjusting to motherhood.  I am so thankful that Claire shared about her illness and recovery.  I feel comforted to know someone who went through the same thing, but always wish no one would ever have to go through it.  I have a deep understanding where she was at that time, and deeply empathize with the challenging thoughts she expressed about living with illness, some of which I catalogued below.  I remember telling my husband, before I heard this interview, the same thing about not being able to draw/create was like loosing a leg, but he didn't believe me until I showed him this interview.  I can honestly say it is by the grace of God that I am back on my feet again.  Of course, I must say I love hearing from Claire also because she is a female artist too!

Below are some of my favorite encouragements, quotes & tips gleaned from the interview, enjoy!

. . . . . . .

- "When you are young you are full of a lot of envy, because you have to learn everything."  When you are old you have to invent something new and be better than the day before.

- First subject remembered drawing: dog on a chalk board, small pelican figurine

- First frustration: could visualize, but not draw a crocodile.

- Draws from memory first, then checks anatomy and ideas in books afterward to check what went wrong and to correct.  Forces working with brain first, to create instead of copy.

- Career Direction:  comic book collaboration with a writer friend (6-8 years), film art at Warner Brothers, personal art books published.

- Career Gap & Eventual Recovery:  home sick and alone in US so moved back to Angouleme stopped drawing for three years mostly because life full of pain and fear.

Claire:  "I didn't know why I was drawing, I didn't know how to draw, and I didn't know why I wanted to draw.  For one year I couldn't think, I couldn't watch T.V.  I realized after that was like loosing an arm or a leg, I missed something a capacity, an ability.  Before I was saying I don't need to draw for living, if I don't draw I can live, that's not so important, but it's weird it's like something is missing, something is not beating inside you anymore.  It's like you're not truthful.  I was not useful anymore for myself.  I don't need to draw everyday, I know that... but if I can't, I know something is broken inside me."

She became so sick at one point wasn't sure if would live or die.  "Every night I was going to bed saying, tomorrow will be better.  For three years I had problems, I had pain, and I was fed up...I didn't want to know."  

Healing: after two weeks in the hospital.

Bobby:  "And when you found out that you are coming back, you're going to live, everything is great again or starting to become great.  What about your art?"

Claire:  "It's not like that...before you had accepted you were going to die, so you have to allow yourself to live again."

"And so I tried to draw again, quite soon, I was afraid at first because I had forgotten so much.  I had lost three years...but you know people were telling me, you know, "drawing is like a bicycle you don't forget it."  Okay yeah, but you can fall off.  So I tried hard to remember why I was drawing.  It was so important to me.  And how to draw anyway."

Bobby:  "So you gave yourself some goals."

Claire:  "It took me a few months to adjust...a friend told me if you don't know what to draw, be your own client.  So I asked myself to draw every day on a single theme."  She picked fairies, because she already knew them.  "Every day I was at my table...day after day I could experience pleasure again, so that was great, that was really great."

. . . . . . .

Monday, February 1, 2016

365 Days of Sketching Challenge

Sketchbook of Mary Highstreet - Studies after Claire Wendling

Yep, I'm crazy.  I just started a

365 Days of Sketching Challenge
(Here's my loose schedule.)

I have wanted to start a daily sketching habit, but it just hasn't been happening.  I thought this sketch-a-day challenge would motivate me to actually follow through with it!  I have seen other artists do it before and it is encouraging to see that merely from day 1 to day 30, they have improved tremendously already!

The ideas in the article, How to Do a Sketch 356 or Sketch-a-Day Challenge, were very helpful to get started.  I loved one tip in particular that I decided to use: have a theme for each week.  I think having a theme rather than one idea every day helps to keep things flowing, connected, and not to mention a lot less mental work.  At first, to build my skills and confidence, I plan to do studies of other artists and draw my way through some sketching books.  After I feel stronger with a pencil, I'll mix it up with some drawing from life or reference too.

As a bonus, I thought it would be fun to give myself some rewards with each milestone for extra motivation!  I am thinking some new drawing supplies or an art book might be a good idea.  365 days is a long time after all, so it seems that rewarding each milestone will give me small goals to look forward to!  I'll be posting one sketch from each week on Instagram if you want to see some of my progress.  Feel free to join me on this journey too!

Although any single pencil or pen and any kind of paper will do just fine to start, here are my materials of choice:

Moleskin Sketchbook (240 Plain Notebook Pages, 8.5 x 5.5)
2H, HB 2B, 4B, 6B Pencil, Staedtler Brand
Mechanical Pencil, .5 size lead
Fine Point Ink Pens, Staedtler or Faber Castel Brand 
(I'd like to try some more and different pens later on too!)
Pencil Sharpener

Let the games begin (and the skills improve)!

Friday, January 29, 2016

REVIEW || ImagineFX | Issue 130 - January 2016

Detail of Art by Ross Tran from ImagineFX Anniversary Cover
Detail of Art by Ross Tran from ImagineFX Anniversary Cover

I couldn't wait to open my January 2016 10th Anniversary Edition ImagineFX (Issue 130) with the painterly Frazetta inspired cover art by artist Ross Tran, and interviews with Craig Mullins and Karla Ortiz prominently displayed on the spine.  I think I am going to have to buy a floating magazine frame to preserve and display this issue!  To be sure, this month's magazine did not disappoint.

The FXpose artists that stuck out to me were Mathias Zamecki (p. 10) with a painting of ruins and knights, and even more medieval work by Sean Sevestre (p. 18).  Article, "The Rise of Digital Art" (p. 20), covered positive and negative developments since the dawn of the digital age and with VR just entering the limelight, the future of digital art is only beginning.  One difference between then and now, the article points out, is that artists not only gleaning more inspiration online, but also making connections and learning from in-depth tutorials.  The new online digital artist gallery, community, and job site, ArtStation, is one ways artists can connect.  Founder, Leonard Teo boasts of the website's ability to link artists to both potential clients and businesses.

I always enjoy the studio tour section, with so many wonderful ideas on how to set up a space and plenty of inspiration galore.  A look inside artist Long Pham's home studio (p. 28), gave me confidence that my own home desk space is enough to get a good job done.  There are similarities to my own, especially when compared to other studios I have seen featured; it is small, clean, well organized, and utilitarian.  Honestly the perfect space for me!  Things of note were his traditional drawing tools on hand, preference of an Intuos 5 over a Cintiq (something I have been pondering), a filing drawer for reference material and sketches, and a fancy camera for photographing reference and practicing composition.  Thanks for the tour Long Pham!

OKAY Craig Mullins interview (p. 42)!!!  YESSS!  Gorgeous artwork on every page of this article, of course, especially love seeing it in print.  His story is inspirational, especially to those who have a past and even present of struggling (like me), as he has humble beginnings; never being top of his classes, including in high school, Pitzer College in Clairemont, and even the prestigious Art Center.  He finally got away to both put in time and hard work on his own, and to digest at his own pace everything he had learned previously and when he came back he was getting straight A's!  After his schooling he successfully worked for major studios and on top of that lived the dream, moving to Hawaii and onto freelance.  Craig says that in taking a step away he enjoyed opening up his sphere of influence, rather than solely being bombarded by co-workers and company ideas.  Loved the quote about his work on the recent film Noah, "Craig would draw it, and the crew would build it."  Alas, sad to discover, in reading about his reservations on working for the film, that Mullins is an atheist... please let me change your mind!!!  Another tip from Mullins I can totally relate to lately is to, "cut out distractions and be better at what you do."  That's kind of a motto I have silently adopted in the last few years.  His latest endeavors involve teaching (soon to be tutorial on Schoolism!!!) and going back into traditional drawing and painting, which in the latter I am anxiously anticipating a revived Golden Age!

Ok this is too much to handle, flip the page to Karla Ortiz (p.50)!!!  Oh the irony of being back to back with Craig Mullins in the same issue as from hearing Karla speak live I know they both have humble beginnings!  She got her big break in 2012 and just turned thirty, encouraging anyone?  Working for Marvel, Magic the gathering as well as book illustrations and teaching various workshops, she has her hands full.  She talks about in the future she wants to split her time between fine art, which allows more personal growth, and concept art.  Loved getting a glimpse into her traditional portfolio and process (p. 54), hearing about her family of artists history (reminding me of my own), as well as seeing her works in print too.

After all that awesomeness, I just don't have any time to read the workshops, but will catalogue them for later, especially Ross Tran's process on the cover art (p. 64), Craig Mullins' scene of awe and beauty (p. 68), Raphael Lacoste's film environment design (p. 92), and a large workshop on Photoshop tools (p. 98).  After reading some of the reviews, the Jot Dash or any stylus from Adonit look worthy of checking out, as well as the workshop by Brian Yam (p. 111).

Did I mention I love this issue?!

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year, New Start: Art and Business Advice from the Bible

I couldn't think of a better way to start off 2016 than by putting all my cares/worries/ideas in God's hands and reflecting on His advice for us.  Here are a number of Biblical passages helpful for Artists and business people, hope you find it inspiring as we ring in the New Year!

. . . . . . .

My son, pay attention to what I say;

listen closely to my words.

Do not let them out of your sight,

keep them within your heart.

Proverbs 4:20&21

Pay careful attention to your own work for then you

will get the satisfaction of a job well done and you

won't need to compare yourself to anyone else.

Galatians 6:4

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you

were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Colossians 3:23

Whatever your hand finds to do,

do it with all your might...

Ecclesiastes 9:10

Whoever watches the wind will not plant;

whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

Ecclesiastes 11:4

...You do not have

because you do not ask God.

When you ask, you do not receive,

because you ask with wrong motives,

that you may spend what you get on your


James 4:3

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5&6

Lazy hands make a man poor,

but diligent hands bring wealth.

Proverbs 10:4

He who works his land will have abundant food,

but he who chases fantasies lacks judgement.

Proverbs 12:11

A heart at peace gives life to the body,

but envy rots the bones.

Proverbs 14:21

Better a little with the fear of the Lord

than great wealth with turmoil.

Proverbs 15:16

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,

nor to be hasty and miss the way.

Proverbs 19:2

A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil...

Proverbs 14:16

Many are the plans in a man's heart,

but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 19:21

A man's own folly ruins his life,

yet his heart rages against the Lord.

Proverbs 19:3

Listen to advice and accept instruction,

and in the end you will be wise.

Proverbs 19:20

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan

that can succeed against the Lord.

Proverbs 21:30

A man can do nothing better than to eat,

drink, and find satisfaction in his work.

This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for

without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?

Ecclesiastes 2:24&25

So I saw that there is nothing better for a man

than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot.

Ecclesiastes 3:22

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,

and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 16:3

. . . . . . .

Hope these verses are encouraging to my fellow Christian artists
as you seek to bring Him glory in all you do!

Here's to lots of new art in 2016!!!