45 degrees off

Seeing the same thing from a different angle.

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Pen and Ink – A New Experience

I work with digital tools. In some ways, it’s the same skills artists who work in traditional media use. In other ways, it’s a very different skillset. I couldn’t tell you anything about mixing paints or prepping a canvas, but I can tell you about RGB vs CMYK and working in layers.

Ah… layers! I use them as a bit of a crutch. When I’m unsure about something, I simply draw it on a new layer in Photoshop. If it doesn’t look right, I can erase it without disturbing the work I’ve already done. That may sound like a very sensible thing to do. It is, really. But it has also become a crutch for me. I haven’t been pushing myself to improve (an artist should always be growing and improving) because I know I can just erase things if I need to.

I recently started reading Sustainably Creative, the website of Michael Nobbs. I’ve found a lot of inspiration there, and started thinking about sketchbooks. I had a Moleskine¬† several years ago that I used for writing. They are very good quality books, and there’s something very comforting about them. The outside is so ordinary… anything could be between those plain, black covers! The inside becomes something of a treasure box because that’s where all the good stuff is.

I got a Moleskine sketchbook and started looking at what other artists do with their sketchbooks. I started following a few more artists on Twitter to keep up with new sketchbook pieces they do. I’m very interested in The Sketchbook Project and hoping to commit myself to participating in the next one!

So what am I doing with my sketchbook? I’m using it in those moments when I only have two or three minutes to draw. I’m also finding myself wanting to set aside a block of time to do more drawing in it. I’m enjoying the feel of working with ink and paper. There are no second chances. I either need to take the time to draw the line correctly, or I have to make the result work no matter what it looks like.

First drawing in my sketchbook.
It’s a bit like life. If a line doesn’t curve exactly as I meant it to, or the angle isn’t quite what I wanted, I don’t get to undo and redo it. I can take the time to draw the best line possible, but other things may get in the way. The cat may jump up where I am suddenly, throwing off my focus or knocking my hand to the side. A knock at the door or ring of the phone may startle me. I can go back and do something to “fix” it. I can make the mistake blend in, or I can change what I’m drawing in that area so that it’s no longer a mistake and just becomes part of the pattern. But I can’t go back in time and undo what happened. I can’t change the fact that it is no longer what I originally intended for it to be. Sometimes, I wouldn’t want to change it. Some accidents might just be the universe turning you around when you were headed the wrong way and didn’t know it.

I think this is an experience I need. It’s smaller scale work than I usually do. It puts my focus on the basics… line weight, shape, positive and negative space. Even I’m not sure how a page will look until it is finished, and I look forward to having a book filled with these drawings one day.

Second drawing in my sketchbook.

Zombies, Witches, and Skulls… It must be Halloween!

I love Halloween! Besides the fun of costumes and watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, I love spooky stories. I love the traditions. I am drawn to the idea that the dead may not be as “dead and gone” as we tell ourselves. I once tried to find the ghost of the pirate Jean Lafitte on Galveston island. I didn’t have any more success than the year I tried to find gnomes in the woods (which means, no success), but I was drawn to the idea enough to try. Halloween appeals to that aspect of me. Admittedly, it also appeals to the part of me that loves tiny chocolate bars.

I’d like to introduce you to a new friend of mine this Halloween. This is Annabelle.

Art PrintsPlease do go over to Fine Art America and say hello to her. There are quite a few details, such as the spider webs clinging to the picture frame, that aren’t clearly visible in such a small preview.

A dear friend agreed to pose for the reference I used to get Annabelle’s expression right, so I’m not surprised that she turned out to be rather pretty. For someone who is neither truly living or truly dead, of course. I suspect she hasn’t been a zombie for long. Her hair hasn’t completely fallen and become matted and tangled. Her flesh isn’t showing advanced signs of decay yet. Even the flower in her hair still has color, though it is looking a bit dry and wilted. Annabelle seems to have developed a taste for blood, and I can’t help but wonder whether or not she still has memories of the friends and neighbors she feasts on.

I would like to thank everyone who voted for or suggested a name for her on my Facebook page. Even though I didn’t know what her name would be until I’d finished the art, knowing her name changes the way I look at her. You all helped complete the piece by naming her for me.

Prints of Annabelle’s portrait are available at Fine Art America (just click on the picture above), Society6, or RedBubble. You can also find a die-cut sticker that follows the shape of the picture frame at RedBubble.

If you’re looking for something a bit more functional, Annabelle is available on a variety of products through my Everyday Myth store.

Everyday Myth is also the best place to find my Witches Stitches line, and you just can’t have Halloween without witches!

There are two designs available in the Witches Stitches collection. The art is the same, but one advertises “poppets – curse-stitching – quilt binding” and the other proudly proclaims that Witches Stitches is “A member of the H.A.G. Guild (Handmade Arcane Goods)”.¬† It’s all about putting the “craft” in “witchcraft”.

Day of the Dead follows Halloween, and my sugar skulls can be found over at Graphic Content by Rosa Amarilla. The collection grew a bit this year when I added my La Bella Muerte piece, but you can also find a more colorful and whimsical sugar skull there. Don’t be scared off by the name of the store… neither the graphics nor the pun will bite. ;-)

Happy Halloween, everyone! May you always have a lantern on hand when you find yourself in strange dark corners, and may the Great Pumpkin always find your pumpkin patch to be the most sincere.