A new type of imagery emerging

I’ve been taking a class that’s all about getting unstuck or kickstart a revolution in one’s art. It’s led by artist Louise Fletcher, who is co-host of a podcast I’ve been listening to for awhile now. I took her free one week taster course, and decided to jump in and do the full ten-week program because that first week was so effective in getting me to create images, even if they were just exercises in loosening up.

I’ve been learning a lot about what I like and don’t like when it comes to art and mark-making, but more importantly, Ive been really enjoying it! I’ve also been learning about tools, techniques, and types of paint I like. Anyway, these are just a few of the images that have come from the various assignments or modules in the course.

I don’t think this is emblematic of what all my work will look like in future; I enjoy creating representational work. However, I think all that I’m learning will affect my approach and techniques on anything I make in the realm of drawing and painting. And I’m thrilled to be back in a place where I can start putting marks on paper with no expectation of it at the start. That expectation of creating a successful, beautiful image everytime has been crippling me, and it prevents me from even starting or trying.

Only three weeks into this ten week class, I already feel I’ve gotten so much out of it.

More masked portraits

Two illustrations of people in masks

I’ve continued to do these masked portraits, though they’ve been meandering in different directions and styles. That’s me, though. I think when I get to a point that I’ve done a number of things in the very same style I begin to feel like I’m just doing a sort of copy+paste art. Which is absurd, really. For most artists who gain any sort of following, it’s precisely that recognizable ‘signature’ way of seeing and expressing, of storytelling, that leads to that.

For some reason, I remain a sort fo chameleon or shape-shifter when it comes to art. It’s something I’ve been battling with my whole career. Why can’t I just pick a lane and stay in it, become the best at *that*?

Two illustrations of people in masks, red and black, very intense

You can see, even among these few, how wildly they vacillate, style- and feeling-wise.

The below is one that I did last evening, based on a person we saw leaving the cemetery when were arriving. I had no intention at the time I made a mental note to draw them, that it would wind up being in these insanely cute and happy Easter egg colors, but that’s something that has been coming out in the mask drawings. Digital has been pulling me in ways that I don’t often go when I’m working with real paper and materials.

These look like the works of at least 3 separate artists! Maybe I’ll go back to just black and white, or at least more in a monochrome palette. I don’t know. I’d just really like to get to a place where my work is recognizably and unmistakably mine.

The therapeutic quality of art-making

When my office first announced that we would be transitioning to working from home, I imagined there would be so much extra time for things; I’d have time to write more here, time to make more art and perhaps complete a few projects that have been on hold. But it hasn’t really felt like that, despite that so many things that used to take up my time are off the menu for awhile.

Initially I found I could’t focus on being creative at all; I was overwhelmed and a bit frozen by the new reality. The only time I didn’t feel this way was when I was working; interacting over Slack and via audio meetings, etc, with my designers and co-workers.

Having work to do was and is really helpful; the opportunity to feel productive and useful, even in small way, is so good for one’s mental health, and I feel very fortunate to be able to continue working.

Finally this past week something shifted, though, and I started what has turned into a little series of portraits of people in masks. Above is the first one I did, and when I began drawing her, I hadn’t any plan to put a mask on her, but that’s where it went, and I’ve done one each day this week. Below are a few others. I’ve been posting them to instagram, if you want to see all of them.

Continue reading “The therapeutic quality of art-making”

Little cabins in the mountains

black and white watercolor sketch of some simple mountain cabins and pine trees

I painted this little sketch from Friday night this afternoon, and finally made use of the goose-neck phone holder to record a time-lapse of it.

Cartographics color the way we see the world when we get there.

A non-exhaustive survey of art and culture in NYC, watercolor

A bit of in-progress work for a travel project— a bit of an arts and culture map via watercolor. I find it sweet and endearing. But then I would; I’ve been working on it for two weeks, and have become rather attached.

Can’t explain it in full, as it’s for a small audience, but I wanted to share just a sliver or slice of what’s been taking up some of my time and best efforts. To be repetitive, I’m so happy to be working at a place that makes use of these, the more vague or difficult to explain (on a resumé) of my talents. Overjoyed they want them, now they’ve seen the work in situ*, as it were.

NYC cartography of culture watercolor map

Continue reading “Cartographics color the way we see the world when we get there.”

Watery interpretations of celestial superstitions

Watercolor illustration of Aquarius at the UNLast month I created more images using my watercolor paired with digital vectors technique, this time for some editorial illustrations. They were for an article suggesting things to do while in NYC based upon visitors’ astrological signs, which was published earlier this month.

These took a departure from my food illustrations, in that these form complete scenes. It was more challenging, to be sure, and I learned a lot in the process. It was also great fun, honestly, and such a pleasure to be able to create things like this at work. My watercolor half-pans have basically set up permanent camp at the office.

Be sure to check out the full article on nycgo.com— it’s cheeky and fun!
Watercolor illustration of Virgo at the TKTS booth in Times SquareWatercolor illustration of Leo at the NY Public Library
Watercolor illustration of Taurus at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Candles emitting a cadmium glow

watercolor sketch of some candlesThese candles, clad in two layers of glass, reflect and shimmer beautifully in the dim interior and caught my eye. I didn’t spend as much time truly observing them as I may have; rather did a sort of lazy caricature or symbolized portrait of them.watercolor sketch of some candles, in normal colorMy scanner has a really tough time with these new cadmium paints in my kit, so I worked in Photoshop to try to return the colors to how they look on the page, but still not really accurate.
watercolor sketch of some candles, in filtered monochrome colorDecided fuck it and went fully another way with a Nik filter, which produced the monochrome image. I learned from that. While it may be less true to the many colors in the glass, it feels truer. And looks more interesting.

A recipe for crisp-edged watercolors

photo of desktop showing drawings, paint, and paintingsLast week I posted some gentle little watercolors, and briefly described the process. Here, as promised, is a more detailed view of that process.

Step one: Draw your shapes in pencil.
step one: pencil drawing
Step two: scan the drawings, and import to Adobe Illustrator. Trace the shapes using the pen tool, refining as you go, to create your idealized vector shapes.

step two: scan and trace the pencil shapes in Illustrator

Continue reading “A recipe for crisp-edged watercolors”

Some gentle little watercolor illustrations

watercolor of a prawn

Here are some illustrations I’m working on for a project. The process involves first doing a pencil drawing of the shape, which I then scan and trace in Adobe Illustrator so I have a clean-lined vector shape. Then I print it out as just a black outline, and tape to the back of a piece of watercolor paper.

Next, I place the sandwiched sheets of paper on a lightbox, and paint with watercolor. Finally, I scan the painted pieces and use the vector shape as a clipping mask to regain the crisp edges of the original drawing.

It sounds like a long process, but it’s a wonderful way to combine the organic flow of the watercolor with the sharp lines of a vector illustration.

If I have time soon, I’ll put some process pics up here, as that probably sounds like a foreign language to anyone not familiar with the tools involved.
watercolor of parsley
watercolor of a fishwatercolor of a cuke slice and some watercress

On messing about with the interplay of color, briefly

abstract geometric watercolor composition

Here are a couple watercolor studies I did last night involving compositions of overlapping shapes. I haven’t touched my half-pans in months, and it was nice to get out the brushes again.

These are related -somewhat- to elements of a small design system I’m in the midst of at work for an upcoming event. In particular the top one, where the colors are doing their natural combinations when overlapped.

abstract geometric watercolor composition , another

This second composition was rather a departure or experiment that, while some interesting things happened, rather collapsed the visualization of the colors’ transparency. By removing the natural order of color interplay, the whole thing flattened out altogether to the eye. There’s no reason or logic to it.

Continue reading “On messing about with the interplay of color, briefly”