Friday, April 27, 2012

Artomatic Show Prep: Framing

In preparation for Artomatic (a really cool art show in DC, opening May 18th), I'm in the middle of framing some new pieces. Thrift stores are a great place to pick up frames at a decent price- I picked this one up yesterday for my new Magic card painting, Rush of Blood:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Exquisite Blood: Digital Painting Process of the Hand

Here's a vignette from "Exquisite Blood," my first card from the upcoming Avacyn Restored release:

I always cherish the opportunity to do close-ups. They let me get really detailed with a body part or two, and it brings me back to that calm peaceful state of mind I always had in art school figure drawing classes. The art direction for this card called for a close-up of a vampire sucking blood from a wrist. As I often do when a female hand is needed in a painting, I used my own arm and hand as a reference for the victim's:

1. Added a Color layer over the black and white rough sketch.

2. Started painting over the sketch, using smooth hard round brush at high opacity.

3. Continued adding detail, and smoothing the dark edges left over from the sketch.

4. Used grunge overlays and texture brushes to give the skin some roughness. Used Dodge and Overlay to enhance the highlights and color.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New painting: "Blue Flame"

New painting!

"Blue Flame" 2012 | Oil on illustration board, 16x22

the original drawing didn't have all of the swooping fabric that I painted in the final. Without it I thought the composition felt too rigid.

I took my time with this one, working up a lot of layers of color. The one place this really worked is in the skin- by painting cool over warm, it created just a little dissonance that you can see in the live painting. It gave the flesh a lot of life.

Something else slightly unrelated I learned with this piece: Blue is not a very photo-friendly color! I had to shoot this twice to get it even this close to "true" color, compared with the original, and it's still just a little off. I'm looking forward to hanging this at Artomatic next month, so that its hues can be appreciated for real.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Taking The Plunge: Full Time Freelance pt. 2

(This is an update to pt. 1)

It's been 5 1/2 months now, so I think it's time for an update. First, the work is still rotating steadily, and I'm still enjoying it- phew! I've also learned a lot about myself as an artist, and about the job, since I started freelancing full time in November. Here's some of what I've experienced:

1. There's a lot of information out there on how to get started as a freelancer, but not much on what to expect after that. I see a lot of people having a crisis of "I've made it here, now what?!" I'm very lucky that I worked for a couple years as a freelancer part-time, so that I knew more or less what I was getting myself into, and developed a solid client base, but I see a lot of people who didn't have that experience struggling. So, I may have changed my mind about the advice I was giving, which was not to work full time while starting your career. That dual work experience may have had value I didn't realize before.

2. Every success and every pitfall hits twice as hard. I don't know if this is the same for everyone, but now that art is both my life and my job, it's harder for me to deal with rejection and missed opportunities. I've spent additional time pulling myself out of emotional lows created by things like not getting into Spectrum, whereas in previous years (I've been accepted and rejected a couple times each) it wasn't as big a deal. On the flip side, successes are even sweeter. When I finish a piece I'm super-proud of, I get an extra boost of energy and confidence.

3. Things you might not think of as work actually are work. By that, I mean that there's so much more to the job of freelance artist than just making art. Making this blog entry is "working." Updating my facebook is sometimes "working." Meeting people, going to galleries to look at art, doing research- all of it is part of the job. Although, I tend to still think of them as fun activities so they don't feel like work.

4. Having a working spouse (or partner/parent/roommate, etc.) seriously cuts down on money stress. No one is truly self-made, but I've heard the joke that "behind every successful artist is an even more successful spouse." Of course that's not true in all cases, but a lot of us do have working partners that make our freelance lifestyles easier, or possible. I think if I lived alone I'd still be able to feed myself on what I earn, but I doubt I'd have any money left over for top-notch art supplies, or a budget for the Illustration Master Class. Also, I've been doing it for a few years- the first year I freelanced part time I wouldn't have been able to support myself at all. Everyone's situation is different, so when I hear people talk about how easy it is for them, I always have to wonder what they're not telling me.

5. It's still easy to over-book myself, even with 50 extra hours per week. I just sort of have to laugh about this one. For the longest time I assumed I would get 2x or 3x as much work done if I had all those extra hours free to paint, but of course it hasn't worked out that way. I am producing more, but not 2-3 times more. And I'm not really stressed out about it. I figure if I'm accountable for 100% of my time, I'm accountable for every single thing I do or don't finish- there's no external force to get mad at for keeping me down. As it happens, I've spent some of my extra time on other important things, like going to the gym and cooking better food. I'd say those positive lifestyle changes have been worth it, even though they don't necessarily equal mountains of new paintings. In my next update I'll let you know if it's made me lose any edge in a market teeming with energetic 20-year-olds...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Imaginary Landscape

I went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum last week with my husband and my landscape painter cohort Noah Bradley. Having only been there once before (about ten years ago), I didn't realize they had such a large collection of paintings from the Hudson River School- specifically the gigantic opulent landscapes by Moran, Bierstadt, and Church. Admittedly, I left with a touch of landscape fever: