Monday, December 30, 2013

Black Is (And Isn't) A Color

James Gurney has just published the best explanation of the properties of black that I have ever seen. He has done a four part examination of its use as a pigment, in composition, and properties as a color...or not.  This last installment was my favorite.  As it turns out, it depends on the context of the discussion, and its relation to other colors.  This man is a heck of an educator!

If you don't read his blog yet, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

New Scanner!

A Scanner Darkly: It might be the name of a really weird movie.  It might also be the addictive behavior of a person who just purchased an Epson Workforce 7510. 

We bought it for the large-format printing and scanning ability.  Now, I'm not planning to make art prints for sale with this thing, though I hear it does ok with that.  I was really interested in the scanning ability.  The reviews were great, and I've been a scanning fiend since it arrived!  It's got an 11x17" bed, and prints up to the same size.  It's not a plug-and-play scanner, but the software and network setup is not complicated, and the directions were quite clear. And all of that setup comes from it being WIRELESS!  Here's a fun feature: any apple mobile device connected to the same network can print without any setup!

Check out the detail it captured in one of my new drawings:
Primary - Female Eastern Bluebird

I'm still tweaking the color settings.  It seems to read white as white, without letting its natural transparency appear.  Much of this can be corrected in Photoshop without too much effort.  I did change the gamma setting, which helped a great deal.

I also prefer to start my scans through the PC application, because you can crop out the extra scan area before the image is captured.  If you use the buttons on the scanner itself, you cannot perform this function. 

Yes, I've only had this thing for a few days, but I really could not be happier!  Scanning is so much faster than setting up a photo for these small drawings!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In The Dark

Rachel has done it again, and assembled a seriously A-list team of creators for her horror anthology, IN THE DARK.  She's funding it through Kickstarter, and today is the last day to get a copy.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sargent's Methods

I've been reading the book John Sargent, by Evan Charteris.  Sargent is one of the greats of portraiture, and my work has been leaning that direction lately, so I've been doing my research.  This book was written shortly after his death, by someone who knew him personally.  It contains statements from his students, and is generally a close look at his life.  Most important, it talks about his methods, not just examines his work.

In the last couple of pages I read, I learned that he preferred to work on the mid tones, and lift the lights and deepen the shadows from there.  Let me tell you, this is a GREAT way to work!  It's my favorite way to work on drawings, in fact.  So why have I never tried that in a painting?  I haven't a clue.  But I'm going to now!  Can't wait to share the results!

I've also recently started posting photos to my Blue Canvas account.  I found it through the magazine first.  It's one of my favorites, and features a wide variety of mediums and styles of art.

Check me out here!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Inducing Creativity

Wednesday night, I went to a concert to see Gypsyhawk and Kadavar.  I was tired, it was a long drive, and we paid $20 to park, thanks to the Cleveland Indians game that night.  It was worth the trip - it always is - and I also had an interesting experience.

While listening to Kadavar, I kind of spaced out.  I found myself closing my eyes, and envisioning a painting I'm developing.  I'm just in the sketch phase, at this point, but I could see it come to life in my mind, and I really wanted to drive the 2.5 hours back home just to work on it.

So was it the laid back, jam-style of the music that stimulated the artsy parts of my brain?  Was it just the late hours that I don't often see, thanks to my work schedule?  Was it just exhaustion?  It warrants some experimentation... on myself....  What can I do to induce the most creative state?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

In The Dark - A Horror Anthology

If you're like me, you're super excited for Halloween.  If you're in need of a collection of terrifying tales, by an AMAZING set of creators, look no further!

Rachel is at it again, with an anthology called IN THE DARK.  This is a passion project for the creators, many of whom are very well known, and taking time out of their busy schedules to make this happen.  Why?  Because they want to!  Have you ever experienced a piece of work that someone made just because they wanted to?  You can feel all that passion!

Contribute to the kickstarter here, to get your copy.  There are loads of fun rewards, including having your own gruesome death written into one of these stories!  What better Halloween gift to give yourself?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Watching Paint Dry

I have learned an important lesson.  Not all brands of oil paint have the same dry time.  I had a bit of a false start on a painting, and covered the whole thing with white.  It is a brand new tube, and a brand I hadn't used before.  I expected it to dry in a day or two, but parts of it were soupy after a week!  Wen I've mixed it with other colors, it has dried much more quickly.

In order to finish this painting on time, I'm going to have to add some cobalt drier.  You have to be careful when using drying additives.  If the paint dries too quickly, it can crack.  The additive itself is dark blue-purple, so it can discolor the paint, too.  I'm going to start making test cards just for dry time on new paint!

Unfortunately, there is no way to really accelerate the process.  Oil paint doesn't dry by evaporation like water-based paints do.  Rather, the paint oxidizes, which causes it to solidify.  Once you've got it on canvas, you pretty much just have to wait it out.

I like to have a couple of pieces going at the same time.  I can work on one painting while the others dry, and have them on a sort of rotation.  It also helps each painting stay fresh for me.  It's a system that has treated me very well.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Tall Man

It was a dark and rainy night.  My energy was all but spent, but I had not touched a pencil.  I asked Rachel who I should draw, and with my last efforts of the day, completed her request.

The Tall Man, Angus Scrimm.  

I had some trouble getting a good photo of the drawing, given the reflective nature of graphite.  I'm. Going to give it a try with a scanner later.  It should yield better results.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Iron Lady

It seems like I need two tries to get these portraits right.  I get no less preactice by painting the same face twice.  That's why s o many artists have zillions of self portraits!

Margaret Thatcher

Rendr Sketchbook

Because I have been practicing capturing likenesses, I decided that I wanted a sketchbook for that alone.  I've also been using wet mediums much more, so I needed a sketchbook that would allow for that.  Wandering through my local art supply store, I found this Rendr sketchbook, which claims to have no show-through pages.

We all know that traditional sketchbooks cannot begin to claim that.  Rendr achieves it!

Here's the sketch I did of Kelly MacDonald in gouache.  The pages curl, but that can be remedied by just closing the book for a while.  But does the paint show through? 

No.  Not at all!  I'm impressed! 

What other sketchbooks would you recommend for this type of work?  Do you keep sketchbooks for separate subjects?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Foley - Sound Effects Creation

Did you ever realize that sound effects are captured and built up layer by layer, completely independently of dialogue?  It's wild the way they create what we experience.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Knight's Likeness

I've been practicing my likeness drwwing skills.  A good way to do that is draw very familiar faces.  I've been practicing on celebrities.  It's just been a few days since I started this practice, but improvement happens so quickly!  (It's very satisfying.  Try it!). Today, I give you what is actually my second shot at the face of Gandalf and Magneto: Sir Ian McKellen!

I worked small, and in gouache to help me work fast.  I'm fairly unfamiliar with gouache, so part of this piece was just figuring out how it works.  In real life, it's very flat, but it photographs with more fidelity than oil, as there is no tranparency to lose!  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Beholder's Share

One of my favorite painting teachers expressed an idea to me that has always stuck.  He taught us never to include too much detail, and told us that the viewer's brain would fill it in.  (This was complete with optical illusion demonstrations, and lots of science.  Pretty fun, for an intro level art class!)  But the real lesson here is that a work of art needs a viewer, and that the viewer will better appreciate art that includes them.  "Great art is great, because it is ambiguous." 

Saturday, June 8, 2013


A friend of mine has commissioned me to make a couple of messenger bags.  I'm once again using this great pattern from the weekend designer (the same pattern I used for the army owl tote).  The only thing  lacking from the pattern is pockets.  My friend is a programmer, so naturally has lots of gadgets to carry about.  So I want to include pockets with a bit of volume.  I've made them a couple of ways, but it's usually a trial and error thing for me.

This tutorial in Cut Out and Keep shows a couple of ways to achieve nice pockets.
Here is another for cargo pockets on pants.  On yhis, the top is a fixed width, but the bottom of the pocket will expand.

Happy pocket making!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated with the idea that we are all alone in our heads, that maybe my truth isn't the same as everyone else's.  (I was a deep little kid.)  Only since I have grown did I realize that this came down to perception, and how it shapes our thoughts.

One of the simplest and easy to simulate examples of this is colorblindness.  In this video, the small image is full-spectrum vision, while the large image is deficient.  A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with both deuteranopia and protanopia, meaning he can see neither red nor green.  Can you imagine seeing in only blue, yellow, and grey?

What's interesting is that we can simulate the deficiency for those of us who can see in full spectrum, but you can't simulate full color vision for the colorblind.  Here's a great website with more information about color blindness: Colblindor

This has me thinking a lot about my own tendency to rely on color in my work.  I really need to push the value factor, if I'm going to make this enjoyable for colorblind people.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Painting with the Shortcut

The other day, I bought an angled brush with a stubby rubber handle, and wished I had done it sooner.  May I introduce to you the Wooster Shortcut.  

I get a nice clean line edging, and the handle is easy on my hand.  It makes for a very fast paint job.  I highly reccomend this, if you're painting your house!  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer Reading

I love reading, for entertainment or for knowledge.  I was the kid that was not at all troubled with summer reading assignments.  I was going to read something anyway.

You might have seen me mention that reading about art can give you almost as much knowledge as the process of actually making it.  Well I just found a pretty rad reading list on the website.  It's not an enormous list, but it breaks things down by topic, and includes instruction books, historical, books by movement, there's even a section on the business side of art.  Check it out here.  All the usual places sell these books; Amazon, Barnes & Noble.  I'll be visiting my library with this list in hand soon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Oil Painting Paper?!

I have this feeling that I'm late to the party, but there's apparently paper designed for oil paint!  I love painting on the smooth surface of board as opposed to the texture of canvas.  This might change my world forever.  Seriously folks, FOREVER!  

Monday, May 6, 2013

Drunk Tank Pink

Is it just our associations with the color pink that causes people to be calm, or something physiological?  I might just have to pick up this guy's book, to learn more.

Here's the article on Big Think.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Read All About It

There is nothing like making work to improve your skills. Recently, I have found that reading about making art helps a great deal, too. You will find techniques, inspiration, tips. You may get a critique of your work by proxy. It's really quite wonderful.

One of my favorite new resources is Artist Daily. It's a community and forum, but they post lots of great articles. This week included debated tools, pricing tips, and a discussion on why being sociable helps you sell.

Take a look here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Van Gogh Restoration in Cincinnati

I went to school in Cincinnati, and I didn't even know they had a Van Gogh at the Cincinnati Art Museum.  Anyway, they're restoring it.  It's amazing to be able to see the care with which this work is done, and I love the idea that they are restoring it in view of the public.  It's a part of the art world that is not often seen.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

What Do I Call It?

Lately, most of my energy has been put into fixing up my house.  I mean, dark paneling and hearts-made-of-flowers border are nice and all, but not really my style.  Check out the transformation so far:

Last night, I had some free time and broke out my art brushes.  I paid very close attention to my values this time.  This is something I have struggled with in the past.  The result is a much ore interesting painting than just a likeness.  At least, I think so.

The last step is coming up with a title, which is never much fun for me. I even struggle to title my blog posts.  How do you name things? 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Good Online Karma

I learned a little trick about the interwebs from Rachel.  She got her first smart phone in October (I'm still in the dark ages), so natrually, she had to get an instagram account.  The goal: lots and lots of followers.  The purpose:  well, I still haven't really figured that out.  But her strategy makes a lot of sense.

She started taking pictures of the vinyl albums she buys, and tagging them appropriately.  Then, she started liking photos of other peoples' records.  Lo and behold, people who like records started following her!  She did the same thing with a host of other topics, and very, very quickly built up a following of people who liked all the things she posted.  Amazing!

I started to apply the same practice in Etsy, and in no time, I had sales where I had none before!  It's also a great way to build a network of support, of colleagues.

Moral of the story: the best way to get positive attention is to give it!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Most Amazing Table

I'm a sucker for beautiful things.  I love tiny decorative containers that could not possibly hold anything of use.   That said, there is a special place in my heart for very practical things.  I get all weepy when form and function blend perfectly.  Ok, not really.  But I have a great respect for designers of practical things.  Today, I stumbled across this table.

Here's some other amazingly well designed furniture.  Who else wants their entire home to function this way?!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Color Experiments in Screenprinting

I did it.  i finally listed some prints I've been hoarding for a while.  It was a fun series of silkscreen prints I did in my last quarter of college.  My teacher encouraged me to keep printing.  Silkscreen is one of the easiest print techniques to pull off at home, you know.

No two prints are exactly alike.  I printed something like 10 big squares of background color, just a couple of each.  Then I printed a couple of each face color on each color of background.  Each fire and brain color was printed on each colorm ariation after that.  The only color present on each is the black.  Looking at them now, I might have arranged my layers differently.  I probably should have found a way to print the black last, for example.  But hey, that's what these experiments are for!

Check them out on Etsy.  One is framed, and 5 of the remaining 6 are posted here.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Studio Buddy

Hazel decided that she needed to be part of my creative process last night. 

Think I could train her to be a paperweight or registration guide?

Playing with her after I finished gave me some inspiration.  It's difficult to find appropriate toys for a dog this size, especially toys without squeakers.  She happens to HATE squeakers.  So I think I'm going to start making tiny dog toys!  I'll be doodling some ideas today.  Can't wait to share them with you!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Etsy Overhaul!

I am in the process of giving my Etsy shop a MAJOR facelift!  I went ahead and listed a whole bunch of new things, including some folk style paintings, and a couple of prints.  I'm aiming to get back to my goal of one new item each week! 

Check it out here!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Logos and Free Programs

Designing logos is very specific work.  One must know exactly what to say with a single, iconic image.  I have been working on one for myself for a long time, and I think I've finally got it!  The idea blindsided me yesterday while I was at my day job, waiting for a meeting.  Funny how that happens, isn't it?  I did a nice clean drawing last night.  The only thing left to do is digitize!

My computer with Adobe CS on it happens to be 1,500 miles away at the moment, so I'm looking for free options that might do the trick.  I came across this list of 12 free design programs.  Has anyone tried any of these?  How do they compare to Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel Draw?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Purple Isn't Real

Ever wonder why purple is so hard to mix?  It might be because it's something our brain invented!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Project Excitement!

I'm so excited about making stuff!!!

First,  I'm getting my drawing chops back, and can actually pull of likenesses again!  Yippee!  I seriously worried that I had lost that ability. Bad for what I want to do.  Recognize this guy?

Never question Bruce Dickinson.

Then, I joined a local music and crafty group.  While trying to decide on a new project to take there, I found this.  EEEE!  I'm going to learn to double-knit, and make the one that does not have backwards writing on both sides.  It will certainly be a challenge, but I'm so stoked! :D

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spoonflower Giveaway

That's right, kids! Spoonflower is giving away 3 welcome packs, including Laurie Wisbrun's book on fabric design. Go enter!  Make all the perfect fabric for those projects!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

DIY Studio: Screen Exposure Unit

Screen printing is not only amazingly fun and versatile, but one of the easiest print mediums to do from home. There are tons of videos on YouTube on making everything from your actual printing station to vacuum exposure units. Yes, let me repeat that. DIY vacuum exposure units! I think I found a new project for spring!

This one is my favorite so far, but a quick search will yield many versions!