A New Life

Lucy lived her life on gut feel and a creative budget. She was no stranger to unusual rental arrangements, old buildings and dirt, but this? This was a new low. She ran a finger against the wall, pushing grime aside to reveal a small trace of the faded wallpaper below. It might have been roses once, Lucy wasn’t sure. Lucy wasn’t sure about much when it came to the cottage. What she did know was that this building was old-an ancient-the Crone reincarnate as a dwelling.

Lucy stared at her dirty finger and let out a sigh, part contentment and part apprehension. The cottage was going to be a lot of work, and she wasn’t even sure why she had come. Well, she knew why. The ad had called out to her just like so many others before. The landlord had been brutally honest about the state of the cottage, and Lucy had been just as brutally adamant that she needed to live there.

But she didn’t know why. And that was the thing about Lucy, each place, each new home, it always had a purpose, some reason for Lucy to be there, and she always knew. Seconds after stepping across the threshold, she felt right, but now she stood in this cottage and felt nothing. The Crone was silent, guarding her secrets deep below her creaky floorboards.

“Home sweet home.”

The lack of direction nagged at Lucy. Had she been wrong this time? In the aftermath of the breakup, she had wanted to get away. She had scoured site after site, desperate for something, anything to call out; nothing had. Weeks passed before Lucy stumbled across that scrap of newspaper on the bus. Had she imagined the pull? Fabricated the connection so that she could run away?

No.

A Mewl broke through Lucy’s thoughts. She smiled and turned toward the front door. Her whole life in a glance: two large travel bags, a big toolbox of art supplies, and three cat carriers.

“Patience, Hades, Mama is coming.”

The cat made a low grumble in his throat. He was done with patience.

Lucy knelt beside the cat carrier and released the hatch. Hades was a muscular cat, full black and built for the hunt. He glared at Lucy, then gave her an affectionate headbutt before slinking off to explore. Lucy opened the second carrier. An orange ball burst out and buried himself in her stomach.

Lucy laughed, “It’s okay Maggie! Silly boy. Come off now, let me get your sister out.”

The ginger allowed himself to be set on the floor, but he stayed glued to Lucy’s leg.

The final cat was pressing against the bars of her carrier and purring deeply. Lucy opened the door. A gray tabby stepped out, sat down and began licking her paw.

“Ah, Blue, ever the lady.”

Lucy gave Blue a little scratch before standing up and dusting her knees off. “Right, lets get to it then.”

The kitchen was off to the left. Lucy stepped through the arch and was greeted with a bounty of cleaning equipment and detergents. The rental agreement had been a simple one. Lucy could stay in the cottage rent free, as long as she cleaned and fixed the place up. The landlord would supply everything that was needed.

“Well Magma, we’re kitted out. That’s for sure.”

The ginger gave a little purr and pressed close. Lucy knelt down to give the scaredy cat some love.

“It will be a good place Maggie, You’ll see.”

Magma looked up at Lucy. His eyes were big and pleading.

“No? I’m not doing a great job of convincing myself either. But we’re here now. Best make the most of it.”

The vacuum cleaner was a sturdy looking thing, and Lucy almost died hauling it up the stairs. Magma insisted on circling Lucy’s legs. The stairs were narrow and required an unnaturally high gait. By sheer force of will, she arrived at the top with only a few scrapes and bruises.
Lucy wheeled the vacuum into the bedroom. The bed was iron frame, but at least the mattress looked new. New-ish?

Modern?

Lucy plugged the vacuum into the socket. Her first thought was that electricity seemed entirely out of place in the cottage. Her second thought, relief that the cottage had electricity. Magma hopped up onto the bed.

“Lets see if this works, huh?”

“Mew,” he said.

“It’s going to be noisy.”

“Mew.”

Lucy gripped the pipe with one hand and compressed the power button with the other. The vacuum screamed to life. Magma twitched, but remained glued to the bed. Lucy pushed the vacuum forward. Dust billowed up in its wake. Magma sneezed.
Lucy sneezed.

Magma sneezed again.

Lucy turned the vacuum off.

“We need better gear.”

Lucy (and Magma) headed back downstairs. They passed Hades on his way up.

“Hunting?”

“Mrrp!”

“Not yet clean, Blue?”

The tabby twitched an ear toward Lucy, but remained fixed to her task.

Lucy crouched down in front of her art box and clipped it open. Magma hopped in.

“Outta the way, boy,” Lucy said as she pushed the ginger aside. With just a little bit of rummaging, she found what she was looking for: a dust mask and goggles. She was about to head back upstairs when she heard Hades’ deep meowl. Her skin prickled. She turned. Hades stood before her, his eyes blazing.

“You found something?”

Her voice was hushed. The house had called her. Hades had found the why.

Hades meowed again and then led Lucy upstairs. They passed the bedroom and entered the study. An old closet stood ajar. Hades sat before it. Lucy steeled herself for what she was about to find, and then peeked inside. Three pairs of round kitten eyes stared up at her. The emancipated form of their mother twitched, but she could not stand.

“Hush,” said Lucy. “I’m here now.”

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On overthinking and Just getting $#!@ DONE!

Hi! Hello! You there!

 

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me! Thing is, I have been FIGHTING with my art. Rabid, teeth gnashing, foaming at the mouth, snarling into the abyss kind of fighting.  And I’ve been dissatisfied. Oh so horribly dissatisfied. I kept going back. Kept trying to start over and found myself in this endless loop of pain and anguish.

Eventually I realised it was time to quit. The art wasn’t getting any better. The circles were vicious torture devices, holding me back from actually PUTTING STUFF OUT THERE.

I finished my piece on Thell, moved onto something else and figured out what I had done wrong.

The Thell piece fell victim to overthinking. I was trying too hard. I was planning too much and when the planning didn’t deliver the results I wanted, I went back to more planning. I overthought it some more. I got lost in preparing to make the art and by the time I got to the art all the spontaneity was gone.  The momentum to create wasn’t there anymore. That spark of inspiration went POOF!

 

The next piece, the piece for an OC called Lucy has gone much better. The process was more organic, more enjoyable. I will be sharing her story a bit later in the month.

For now, here is a collage of attempts at getting Thell “Right”. Next up, Thell’s story.

 

ThellMess

 

Thell Cover – WIP

Hello!
It is I! Emerging from the dark abyss that is the Christmas season. And I mean that in an abscence of internet kind of way. Mostly. Ha! I’m allowed to say stuff like that. I’m an introvert. 😉
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings etc. etc.
Now, for work….
I have been slowly chipping away at my Thell book cover. And it is slow. I’ve restarted the colouring process in photoshop several times. I keep going back and forth on wether or not it is worth it to push through and keep it digital (painful learning growing pains), or paint it all traditionally(less pain, more familiarity, but struggles to digitise it once im done).
 
Also I’m using myself as pose reference and every so often Thell starts looking a bit too much like myself and my brain yells ABORT ABORT!
Here are random bits of images of what that has looked like.
ColourCompsprogress1progress2Cover mock up

Thell – Work in Progress

So, it’s been a while since I’ve made a post. I’ve been struggling through a vicious cycle of sick, think I’m better, nope still sick, trying to push through, Oh heck this is the thing they call Burnout isn’t it? Oh man I’m burnt out and I don’t even have anything to show for it!  I should rest.  Do I even know how to rest? Oh look I’m sick again…

 

Ha. Not fun. I think I’m out of it now, but it has only been 2 weeks since the last bout of flu and upset.

But I do have something new to share! I have, over the last while, begun thinking about an Illustration for the first of my 12 in 12 Short Story Characters. My plan is to do a mock book cover for each, focusing on a portrait shot of the main character/s.

First up is Thell, a badass, twin dagger weilding, dumpster diving, Magpie fighting fairy.

Here is a collage of a bunch of very very very rough exploratory sketches, plus the final idea that I will be taking through the painting process. There are still some weird anatomy things that I need to try and fix up, but I am overall happy with the progress thus far.

Let me know what you think! And any tips on how to fix that left arm/shoulder thing would be awesome! It has been bothering me. Is it bothering you? It is now that I pointed it out, isn’t it? 😛

 

 

Hogwarts Alumni Portrait FINISHED!

Ha, not really. No art work is ever “finished”, but I did get to that point where I felt like I was noodling and noodling over the same thing and not making it any better. Sometimes making it worse and and falling into a mad panic of FIX IT FIX IT!

I am mostly happy with how this turned out. It has some nice moments and some “oh man I can do better” moments. But all in all, I look like a regal, badass Ravenclaw and really, what more could a nerdy girl ask for?

Here are some more progress shots, along with some details of the final. Also, THE FINAL.

 

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Hogwarts Colour Comps!

This week I knuckled down and got some colour comps done for my Hogwarts Portrait. I initially started in photoshop and then freaked out that it was too constricting and taking to long. So I WHIPPED OUT the traditional paints and got messy on some canvas sheets.

The Ravenclaw colours, traditionally, are Blue and Bronze, whereas in the Harry Potter movies, they changed it to Blue and Silver. I have been playing with both colour choices to see which I like best.

I would like to stay true to the books and keep with the bronze, but my highschool colours were aghem, blue, gold and grey. The comps are making me feel like I’m just sticking myself into my old highschool uniform, which is SO not the point!  Note to self: unyellow that bronze!

Without further rambling, here they are. The first three were done in acrylics and the last in oils.

 

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Charcoal Sketch

Hi Everybody!

With my Witch hat done, and my new robe having safely arrived in the mail, I got down to taking the reference shots for my Hogwarts Alumni Painting. I would share a montage of my photoshoot, but I kept getting photobombed by a four year old.

And she wasn’t wearing any pants.

But, excite! I got right into the charcoal sketch and LE GASP! It came together super quickly! So here it is, me in all my witchy glory. With a giant dog. Because if Hogwarts is going to allow students to bring in cats and toads, they really should allow giant dogs.

Next up, Colour comps!

 

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It’s a Witch’s Hat!

Woohoo! Here we go!

The painting I’m currently working on is… dun dun dun…. A Hogwarts Alumni Self Portrait. This is primarily a “practice the things you’ve been learning” piece, but also, who doesn’t want to pretend they went to Hogwarts, and have the evidence to PROVE IT? 😛

Right now I am in the gather all the references phase. Part of that includes making the references I need. Could I have bought a witch’s hat off of the ebay like I did for the robe? Yes, Yes I could have, but I had newspaper in abundance and also, sculpting things is FUN!

Why didn’t I make a witches robe? Because I do not have fabric in abundance and sewing is not so much fun.

The image collage shows the basic steps that went into this project.

1) Basic Shapes from random cardboard plus duct tape

2) Base Layer of Paper Mache, left to dry with wood blocks for shaping

3) Second Layer of Paper Mache

4) Final Paper Mache in which I built up some ridges and textures

5) PAINT

 

Witch Hat

 

Was I working on a tarp, on the floor of my office space? Yes, yes I was. It might not be the ideal way to sculpt, but I don’t really have the desk space for it so the floor it is! Also… SUPER MESSY.

Next step, REFERENCE PHOTOS! SKETCHES! MUCH EXCITE!

Masks and Witches

This week has been spent trying to figure out masking in Photoshop! The assignment? Make a weird creature with masking?

How am I doing?

 

eh… not there yet.

 

Here’s my first exploratory guy:

 

Mask Monster1

 

And here’s me trying to get him into a nice composition and all painted up. Yeah, he needs work. Lots of it. Urk.

Mask Monster Final

 

But that’s how it goes with new techniques. Eventually my brain will catch on and figure out what to do. For now, I shall embrace the pain.

 

In other news, I’m planning a Hogwarts Alumni self portrait to practice my new found photoshop techniques. I ordered a robe off of ebay. A ROBE! and I’m crafting a witch hat from paper mache. Reference, reference reference!

More updates on that when it actually starts to look like something. 😛

 

 

 

 

Blobby Body Manequins

When it comes to activities like painting or writing, being interrupted every few minutes is kind of infuriating. There is something beautiful about the creative process and getting into “the zone”,  but if you’re like me, the big blocks of time are limited. What I do have, though, is loads of little bits of time. I have started using those little bits for simple exercises. First one?

Blobby Body Manequins!

 

Yes, there is probably a more eloquent way to express what I’m doing, but it sure as heck won’t be as fun as yelling BLOBBY BODY MANEQUINS!

 

In an effort to train myself to draw from memory, I’m… dun dun dun… drawing from memory. These little sketchy guys below are all about trying to understand the body posture, weight distribution etc. You can see that the earlier ones the weight is way too much to the back of the figure. I’ve been gradually bringing the weight forward, but I’m not quite there yet. How the body moves is a subtle thing with lots of little moving parts.

Heck, I HAVE a body. I move it ALL THE TIME. Surely I know how it all works?

Ha. ha. ha.

 

Ocasionally I will do the movement myself, and then get back and try to draw it. What I won’t do is look at actual reference for this. This is all about translating what I know into a visual form. In theory, I understand how it should look.

Now its up to the practice.

 

Magpies, Magpies Everywhere!

This week I found myself diving head first back into Magpie studies. See, I was busy with the Magpie/ Master copy mashup homework for Magic Box and I realised that I really don’t have a solid understanding of Magpie anatomy.

And I know… I know, Chris was all, this is a painting course, don’t get too hung up on the drawing… but I’m going to get hung up on the drawing. I thought I wasn’t going to, and then I had a solid heart to heart with myself about the issue and decided, yes, yes I shall get hung up on the drawing. I have two super duper points on the matter too.

Point Number One: There is no rush. I have no deadlines. As much as I have this horrible voice in my head that likes to yell about how I have no time and RAH RAH RAH… I do. I can take my time with this. It’s okay.

Point Number Two: Habits. I want to build solid painting habits. Habits where I start the painting right, where I put all the effort in that I need to. And solid painting habits involve proper prep. They involve proper understanding of the things you’re painting. Winding back and getting a strong foundation for this painting is a GOOD THING.

So what is a girl to do when she’s struggling with her painting subject? MORE STUDIES! Which I did, but also SCULPTURE!

This is something that I’ve picked up from reading James Gurneys’ Imaginative Realism. Struggling with the pose of the character and can’t find a solid reference? MAKE ONE!

So I did. With colourful Sculpey because I have a box of random squares of colourful sculpey.

Come on Magpie Painting! Lets Do this!

 

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Colour Comps and Lasso Tools

This week I have been busy with the first bit of homework for the Magic Box course over at The Oatley Academy. Its a self guided course in all things digital painting. I’ve been meaning to do it for a while now and have finally had the chance to dive in.  My brain is fried and I’m only on module 1!

But it has been awesome. It’s helping me with figuring out how to use reference effectively, how to plan a painting and specifically, how to create colour comps with a soft gradient.  Random side note, in all three years of Fine Arts studies, not one lecturer actually broke down how to PLAN a painting. Isn’t that crazy? How did I go through three years of Art Study and never do colour comps? HOW?!

Mind.

Boggling.

Alas.

 

I’m begining to feel way more comfortable with the Gradient and Lasso tools than I did at the start of this week and I’m really starting to enjoy the effects I can create with them. Here are the results of my learning:

 

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Next up, Brush techniques!