Thursday, September 30, 2010

Back to Illustrator

I was recently asked to be a bridesmaid in my brother-in-law's wedding. Being the artist in the family, I was asked to help design the invitations. I am having a lot of fun, as I get to use Adobe Illustrator for it. It has been a while since I've used Illustrator, and it feels good to get back into it. I think it's also the first time I've drawn something specifically to place into the program and turn it into a digital drawing.

I like designing. I wish I could have double-majored in Illustration and design. I probably would have died though. It's hard enough having one major at the Hartford Art School.

I am pretty frustrated at Illustrator right now though, because for some reason I can't open anything in it anymore. I've had issues with the program on Adam's laptop before, but that was before he reinstalled it. It has been working fine since and was working fine last night. Now it just wont open. This raises concerns because I will have to work on the design again before long. Hmmm...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Busy Busy!

So much has been going on this month! Despite still not having a job, I have had plenty of art-related tasks to keep busy with. As you may or may not know, my husband and I volunteer at our church, serving in youth ministry. We help out with the high school students. In addition, I am now in charge of all the visual aspects of youth ministry: slideshow announcements, the bulletin board, posters, flyers, getting things printed, etc. These visuals are used for both the high school and middle school groups.

While I am not a designer by nature, I am certainly having fun reading up on the art of design and creating things in Photoshop. The process of creating anything, for me, is exciting and fun! These are but a few things I've done this month.

Slideshow announcement for a previously "upcoming event".

Another announcement slide, more current.

Junior high group name.

Senior high group name.

I clearly have no definitive style with this stuff. I'm still just working out the kinks. I am noticing, however, that my design work is very dark. I think I just really like the contrast of light against dark. Actually, now that I think about it, I think that's why I like charcoal so much. Put down a dark tone first, then work subtractively to get the white of the paper. Hmm... Something for me to think about. I will try to fight that urge on the next thing I design. Just to see.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Color Wheel Antics

I have been wanting to paint a color wheel for some time now. Partially because I wanted to be practicing what I teaching my students, and partially because I have not used tube acrylics for quite some time. I wanted to be able to give myself this tedious task and perhaps re-learn the basics of color mixing. Yesterday, I finally went out to Jerry's Artarama to get some supplies for the adventure. I had everything set up and ready to go so that I could not ignore it any longer.

I was glad to finally get the color wheel project underway, but I ran into a couple problems along the way. My white acrylic is going to dry out soon because the cap is broken. I don't know how or when it happened, but I was using it just last week with my students and it was fine. This morning, I found that the top part is separated from the part that screws on, and so air can easily get in and dry the paint.

The second issue I had was with my black acrylic. It is a cheap brand that was given to me a long time ago. That should have been my first clue to avoid using it, but I didn't think anything of it because black is used in such tiny amounts at a time anyway. But, for some reason, this particular line of black paint (BASICS) is not a true black. It has green or blue in it, and every time I mixed it with another color it would not come out right. I got greenish variations. Yellow, for example, when mixed with black should be a kind of yellow ochre color (light yellowish brown). Instead, I got more of a green. Pretty annoying for an artist!

So... I'm trying to decide if I should even finish this one, or whether I should wait to get new black and white and just start the whole color wheel over. I think I need new tape, too. Sigh... I hate that I was just at the art store yesterday and now need to make another trip over there.

Friday, August 13, 2010

For the Love of the Lesson

The Shape Project:
My demo pieces for the kids

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been giving art lessons to a couple children from church. Once a week, for one hour, I teach them various fundamentals. We started off with the elements of art, and have been working our way through each of them, one at a time. So far, we have discussed line, shape, space, value, and texture. The kids are still working on the big shape project we started several weeks ago, but they're almost done! Last lesson, I showed them what palette paper was, and how to mix paint with a palette knife. Big brother painted his background color, and little sister is soon to follow.

Next on the list is color, which will probably take at least two lessons to cover. Color, by far, is the most complicated of the elements. Not only are you dealing with hue (color), but tint, tone and shade as well. In addition, color mixing can be quite tricky if you do not understand the way colors relate or react to one another.

For example, if you mix yellow and blue together, you will end up with some kind of green. Yellow and violet mixed together, however, will give you a completely different result. Likely, you will end up with some kind of brown. A colorful brown, perhaps, but brown nonetheless. How do I know this? Years of practice and learning. I know much more now than I did when I was in high school, and I know I have much to learn still.

Art is like a science. There are certain rules or facts that apply, like perspective or light. They are things we know to be true in the real world, and so they remain true in art. If you were to do it any other way, it would not make much sense. But, just as there are times in science when experimenting in light of these known facts is okay, so it is with art. Knowing how the elements of art work and why they are important is key when testing the limits of such rules.

These are the lessons I have come to understand and love. Every time I learn something new, or recognize something I am familiar with, I fall in love with art all the more. For me, art is as much an intellectual experience as it is an emotional one. Expression through knowledge, I suppose. And, on a more spiritual note (because I love finding the parallels between art and faith), as a Christian I cannot be all mind and no heart, nor can I be all heart without knowledge. Both are important because they complement each other. So, if I draw by understanding, may I also draw with passion; and if I draw passionately, may I do so with understanding of the lessons I have learned.

I simply cannot wait to teach my students these concepts. But... one thing at a time. :)

"Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind ?" ---Job 38:36

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Big Steps

One of my personal goals lately has been to get more things done around the apartment, and, I suppose, in general. Among other goals, this one has been partially the reason for my not blogging much lately. Besides basic chores, like doing laundry and washing dishes, my husband and I have also had the task of disassembling the piles of belongings associated with the process of bedbug treatments. Going through our things and getting settled was a seemingly simple goal when we moved into our apartment. But this has proven to be difficult since we have now had to unpack and repack our things more than once in the short time we've been living here.

In the last couple weeks we have made a lot of progress. Well, for us anyway. My biggest feat last week was getting my art stuff organized. In our small living space, I kind of just had my stuff everywhere. Old art projects, school assignments, unused paper, various art boards, etc... All of it was disorganized, sitting behind my drawer of supplies. Some of it was in large plastic bags, some in the folders, some of it just loose in between other things. There was really no rhyme or reason to any of it. I wish I had thought to take a before picture, but trust me when I say it was an awful mess.

Anyway, I went through EVERYTHING. I emptied every folder, threw out all the plastic bags, separated the projects and papers and boards, organized things into piles, and went out and bought new folders to store everything. I really am NOT an organized person. So this, for me, was a huge accomplishment. I always desire to be more organized, but the ability to be so does not come naturally to me. It does for my husband. He is super picky when it comes to cleaning and organizing. When he saw that all of my stuff was put away neatly, and even labelled into categories, he was very impressed.

So, I'm pretty stoked about having all my art materials tidy and easily accessible now. Still have a ways to go though. The project on deck is getting my work spaced straightened out. The desk is a huge mess and there is nowhere to make artwork currently.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Call to Seek Justice

The last week of June I was on a plane headed for Columbus, Ohio. I was accompanied by about twenty teenagers and several other youth leaders. We were on our way to Challenge, a Christian youth conference. There were speakers, bands, seminars, and all kinds of things to help students engage with God. But the students weren't the only ones impacted.

Before I left for Challenge, I posted that sketch about sex slavery. It is an issue a care very deeply about, and have cared about for about four years now. For a long time though, I was merely saddened by this injustice and mourned any story having to do with sexual abuse, but I didn't do anything beyond feeling sad. I've always wanted to do something, but never really knew what or how. In this culture, it is a common attitude that there is nothing we can do to bring justice to the oppressed. It's too big! Or, one person can't make a difference. I'm an artist. What do I possibly have to offer to a cause like that? The other reaction we have, when we realized we can't do anything, is to shut out the cry of suffering all together so that we can live in our comfortable, little American bubbles without the inconvenience of sorrow.

Well, at Challenge, I was reminded of the sorrow, and moved to do something more than just sit around thinking about how awful it all is. And I thought, I'm an artist. What can I DO? For the first time, this question was not some impenetrable fortress to disappointedly turn away from, defeated. Rather, it was now a matter of brainstorming the possibilities, and asking God to show me how he wants me to use what he has given me. While we all have different gifts, we all have the same major calling to do God's will. It's how we use those gifts to fulfill that call that matters. Psalm 82:3-4 says, "Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." How an artist does this will be different from how a lawyer does it, but the goal is the same. Neither is more or less important than the other.

So, since we got back from Challenge, I've been reading this book in the hopes of better understanding what injustice is all about, and what God thinks about it. Gary A Haugen is the founder of the human rights agency, International Justice Mission, which is completely dedicated to the cause of bringing relief to the oppressed and the oppressors to justice. I am a big supporter of the work they do.

As I'm learning more about this issue of injustice, I am realizing the potential of individual people to step up and do what's right in the face of uncertainty or opposition. I am also learning about God's hatred for injustice, and why he so urgently tells us to stand up for his children who cannot stand at all. He loves and weeps for his children, and despises the evils that hurt his children. This is where I want my heart to be.

And the question I have to ask myself, because I can't speak for anyone else, is "What am I going to do about it?" That is what I am processing recently. I've been reading Gary Haugen's book, been reading the Bible, and deeply considering the possibilities of what I can do to take part in God's cause of bringing justice to those who need it.

I will hopefully be blogging more in the midst of all this thinking, and all of life's happenings.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Freedom Friday

Today's post is dedicated to all those suffering in the bondage of slavery. I'm working out an idea for a piece on sex trafficking. I long for the day when every person on this earth is freed from physical, mental, and spiritual affliction. Until then, I want to fight for the freedom of others through art and prayer.

I thank God for the blessings he has given me, and for being a just God. Although I feel deeply saddened, and even angry about the sex trade and other forms of slavery, I know that there will come a day when God will bring justice to the oppressed and the wicked alike. He will set the captives free and bring perfect judgement to the world. May the spirit of the Lord be on me, and may he save me from myself. Let the skills he has given me be used for the good of his people and his glory. This is my prayer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Apartment Gallery?

This is what the corner of our living room is starting to look like. It seems I've gotten addicted to this system of drawing: sit on the floor, bust out the pastels, and draw for hours at a time. After I'm done with one drawing, I rip it out and move on to the next one. It may seem like these don't take me long, and compared to my illustrations they don't. I am able to work quickly, but I am still spending a good chunk of time on each one. I am constantly thinking about composition and making decisions about each one.

I think of Jackson Pollock when I work like this. When he worked, he wasn't just throwing paint onto the canvas at random. He, too, was constantly making decisions, directing the paint where it should go. Controlled chaos. So many people were critical of his work because they saw only the final product of his process, not the process itself. To critical viewers, it was merely paint thrown onto a canvas with no real skill of the painter. But Pollock was very serious about his work. I imagine he got into "the zone" while working, just as many artists do.

New abstracts...

This drawing (below) is a copy after Henri Matisse's The Dinner Table (Harmony in Red). I've always liked the composition of that piece, so I sketched my own version after it. I just don't have any greens or blues in my palette right now, hence the very brown window scene.

More random drawings...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On A Roll!

Two more drawings from today. Glad to be getting back in the zone. Once our apartment is back in order -which won't be for another month- I want to continue the various series I was working on. The Miniature portraits, for one. I wanted to have that done months ago.

Also, I really want to start doing serious illustrations again. I've been getting by just drawing and painting here and there. But seriously, it's time to get back to something beyond that. My senior portfolio, the bulk of what is on my website, was filled with meaningful and conceptual work. Each piece was worked out and followed through to completion. My work was driven by faith and conviction, things that mattered to me. I am restless in that aspect of my current work.

I have to get back in touch with my inner illustrator. And soon.

Sketches from the other day

After all that drawing the other day, I was totally in the mood to just keep going. One thing led to another until finally I just needed to sit down and do a still life. Feels good to draw from life.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lesson Two: Shape

I currently have the kids working on a shape project. We discussed what a shape was, and the different kinds of shapes. There are two... families, you could say. There are geometric and organic shapes. For the project, they had to start with one big shape. They could pick either geometric or organic, but they then have to fill it with the opposite shape. For example, if you start with an organic shape, you must then fill in in with geometric shapes. I did a small version of both scenarios for them to see, but I will have to post them later since I left it at their house.

In the meantime, today I worked on my own composition of shapes. This is the kind of thing I do when I want to work on something beyond doodling. I love pushing and pulling objects forward or back. And I get really into it. I just kneel on the floor, whip out the conte, and get to it. It usually takes me a little while to get to a comp I like. This was the last of four. The first three weren't going anywhere, so I left them incomplete, and kept going until I got this.

Lesson One: Line

Some weeks ago, I began giving private art lessons to a couple of kids that go to our church. They are seven and nine. They love to draw and make art, so it's been a lot of fun teaching them new things. We meet once a week. I started them off with the elements of art, and each week is dedicated to one of those elements.

There are seven, respectively:


For line, we talked about different kinds of lines, why they are important, and how to make them. We also talked about the emotion of line. I had them try different exercises, and even showed them some different artworks to have them identify the kinds of lines they saw, like straight, wavy, thick, and thin. When I returned the following week, I was very impressed that one of them had fun drawing more lines, and that the other remembered the word "elements" when I asked what they were called.

Anyway, I recently decided that if I am going to be teaching these kids art, no matter how foundational, I must also be practicing it. So, in my own way, I will be practicing the lessons along with my students.

I played catch-up today. These are my experiments with line. The first couple are my warm ups. I'm a big fan of line and gesture.

Returning to Fridays

I have a whole bunch of stuff for you today! While things have been a little hectic for me and my husband lately, I want to try to at least post on Fridays. I'll post on Tuesdays if I can. Anyway, so as not to have a long and tedious post, I am separating this into a few different ones.

Above, is a drawing I did during Maundy Thursday back in March or April. I never got around to posting it, so before a finally threw it out the other day, I made sure to take a picture. No, it is not inspired by that "Footprints" poem. I just started doodling and this is what occurred.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Back Burner

No image today. I must appologize to my loyal readers for not updating lately. I still want to maintain the Tuesday/Friday posts, but life has been a little busier and a little less organized as of late, leaving most of my Internet "duties" on the back burner. But I hope to return soon, and hopefully a little more prepared. In the meantime, here is a question for you all:

What is your opinion of art education in the public school system? Do you think it's important to teach art to kids? Is it not that important? Just something for them to do, or is there a benefit beyond the creative outlit?

Friday, May 21, 2010

T-Shirt Design Experiment

For fun, I've been messing around with some different T-shirt designs for youth ministry. Not sure if they will go any further than this, but I'm having fun. I think this one is missing something... texture maybe? I really have to get my hands on a tablet. Done in Illustrator.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

PIP Poster

Had to put together another poster for youth ministry. Done in Adobe Illustrator. By the way, since I've been doing more computer stuff lately, my desire for a tablet has severely increased. There have been so many cases that I think to myself, This would be so much easier with a tablet! We'll see...

I've also been bugging Adam about getting a cat. That's not happening anytime soon. So maybe when I get a tablet I'll just draw cats in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Half Bad Day

I only say half bad because the day wasn't completely awful. I started this after a series of events that just sucked. Kind of just wanted to doodle how I was feeling, and then decided to do an Illustrator version of the doodle so I could put some of that negative energy to good use. I was playing around with the various strokes for the outline, and ended up with this instead of the standard, single thickness outline. This one is more fun and more doodle-like, I think.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another Batch of Bagels

Today's bagel endeavors did not go as well as I had hoped. Instead of doing four bagels, like the first time, I braved a batch of twelve in hopes that I could share them with the ladies at bible study tomorrow. I even tried a couple cinnamon raisin, sesame, and poppy seed bagels. Well, I'm pretty sure I need a bigger kitchen before I do that many again. When I got to the baking part, there just wasn't enough room in the oven for two trays to fit on one rack. So, I figured I could just put them on different racks and that they'd be okay as long as I switched them after I flipped the bagels. Apparently, that was a bad idea. The bagels on the bottom rack got quite toasted. I still flipped them and switched racks, but I cut down the time a little for the second half of baking. So yeah, they seem to be a little crispier than desired, but we'll see. Maybe they still came out okay... I'll at least bring in the not-so-toasted ones tomorrow. Adam and I can feast on the rest. :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Certification Tuesday!

Started a new painting today. I'd had this drawn up a while ago and was glad to finally get some paint down. Didn't have a whole lot of time to advance on it, but that's because I was busy studying for my CPR class. Which I got certified for tonight! Certified in CPR (Adult, child, infant), First Aid, and AED. Sweet!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sweet Friday!

No idea what's gotten into me. Just been on a baking/cooking spree. Not even sure what this is officially, but I guess the closest thing would be "death by chocolate". Layers of chocolate cake and pudding, topped off with cool whip. Just kind of threw things together. Adam and I will be feasting on this shortly, adding heath bar bits to our bowls.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bagel Tuesday

I made bagels today, instead of actually drawing or painting. Maybe that shouldn't count as my Tuesday post, but it was my first time and I was thrilled that they came out so well. I cut the recipe in half to make four bagels. Of course, there are only three shown here. I am sure you can guess what happened to the fourth. :P

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2nd Mini Done

I think I may have overworked this a little. I just couldn't get it quite right. I felt more intentional with this one, a little bolder with my color. But still, I am not entirely happy with this one. I'll be moving on to the next one soon, though.

I'm finding it very difficult lately not to get distracted from this series. My limited attention span has me wishing I could just drop it and move on to something else. And, while spontaneity is not always a bad thing, I just can't let myself fall victim to unfinished projects anymore. I have come up with so many new ideas that I want to do that I haven't really accomplished any one thing.

I am determined to stick with this, even if it kills my ADHD self. Gah!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Delay

Worked on the False Idol poster today. Can't post it right now, though. I don't have anything else to post today, but tomorrow I have a "paint date" with a friend. So, hopefully, I will have something to post tomorrow, to make up for today.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lip-sync Contest

I've been working on several designs for the event we're holding for the youth at my church. It's a lip-sync contest that we need to promote soon because there is not much time left. A couple weeks, I think. So, the youth leaders got together to brainstorm how we could get the word out, and fast. I'm on poster duty, and whatever other images might be needed for the event. This is only one design. It was intended for the Facebook event, which my husband is in charge of putting together. Whether or not he'll use this one, I don't know. Anyways, I've been having fun working on the various images that go with the flyers. I think I have more fun with design work when I'm volunteering to do it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Progress Report

Sorry for the lack of updates on the miniature series. I had started this one a a couple weeks ago. Yes, it's the same pose as the first one I did. I was trying to be a little more intentional this time. It's not finished, which is why it looks kind of blotchy right now. It wasn't going how I wanted it to, so I took a break to work on other things, like Illustrator and Photoshop. Anyway, I hope to start up on this again this coming week.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Sketch for the April Challenge on Open Sketch Book Society.

Plus linear burn stuff.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More Practice with Illustrator

This time I put a photo into Illustrator and traced shapes over it. I think it looks like something you'd find on a diagram or something. Kind of neat. Still working out the pen tool stuff.