Art, process and design blog of an aspiring industrial designer.

Posts tagged ‘painting’

Don Draper? Cary Grant?

Is this a portrait of perhaps an edgier version of Gregory Peck? Nope! Just an unintentionally more-husky (handsome) rendition of my art teacher.  I am quite proud of this painting.  Although there are a bunch of areas I know I can improve on (for one, I wish my strokes were a little more directional, the portrait had a more detailed likeness, the nose area still bothers me a bit…), I think I really got the point and executed on this one.  Look for all the patches of white and dark.  The white area on the forehead is actually just the actual page itself!

One of my favorite comic artists of all time is Darwyn Cooke.  At night, I like to tell myself that this cartoon-y rendition of this man kinda looks a hint like his work.

Wonder Woman by Darwyn Cooke

Wonder Woman by Darwyn Cooke (Photo credit: ohnochriso)

The faces in his work are the real clincher for me.. To me, that’s what really gives his work such a specific stylized effect – that 1940’s coolness – with the lips and eyelashes and the chiseled profiles.  His style just gives such an immediate feel of the character and of the tone of the work, even before I see a costume or color or the name of the character!

Isn’t he one of the best comic artists ever?!  I absolutely love how cool and sassy and 1940’s his style is.  Its so awesome.
(Sidenote: Those who are crazy comic book fans of course know this, but for those that don’t, Darwyn Cooke is the comic artist that drew Minutemen!, which is a comic book written by Alan Moore before he wrote the famous Watchmen..)

Anyway, I want to put a question to any readers about painting:
I’m trying to work on making my strokes more directional (or indicative of planar direction), but I find that if or when I start small, directional strokes, it is much harder to ‘block out’ the different tones of grey in the accurate shapes.  Also I find that these smaller brush strokes often have a much ‘weaker’ effect than the color-saturated ones I do now.  (I don’t know if the word is weaker, but what I’m trying to say is perhaps, that these smaller brush strokes give a more subtle transition from shade to shade, which to me gives the impression of less conviction in the stroke.  I do not like that.) Do any of you have any tips about keeping small brush strokes strong looking?  Or any tricks for indicating plane-direction with brush strokes?

Artist/Designer Round Up: Lisa Congden

“San Francisco illustrator and fine artist Lisa Congdon was raised in both upstate New York and Northern California where she grew to love the trees and animals that surrounded her. That love is now expressed through her paintings and drawings.”

I first heard about Lisa Congden from the MyLoveForYou blog and podcast. The podcast has such a great interview with Lisa, and I highly recommend anyone who’s interested in her work to give it a listen.

I love Lisa Congden’s work because of her humble start up, but also her drawing and painting style, her use of color and her subject matter.

Lisa is a self-taught artist, who was one of the earliest art-bloggers on the web. Over time, as her art improved and style clarified, she developed a strong following and eventually became a full-time artist.  I love that, from the beginning, she always had such a great fearlessness towards color. She runs this very fine line between loud and strong color use, and simplistic shapes, but I would never say that the two are balanced. I like that she is more stylized than clean and minimal. To me, it makes the art seem more real and personal, because real life is not as clean as minimalism, often.

I love that she does not mind being a bit quirky or fun or kitch-y or folk-art-ish. Her paintingss have such heart, simplicity and depth, but stay fun.

In the podcast interview with Lisa, when asked what one piece of advice she would give to herself, back when she first started, Lisa responded with:

“Don’t really worry about what other people think. I had this perception when I started out, that as an artist, unless you went to school for art, you were like cheating. What I didn’t realize is that art is what you make it. Its not about your technical skill, its not about, like, there are some well trained artists who purposefully fuck things up because they don’t want it to look textbook, but I had this perception in my head that somehow it was cheating or somehow that I was a fake. So, I was really worried about how people trained as artists were going to think of my work.. that was just my fear of not doing something the right way. I don’t have that fear at all anymore. I realized that if you make work that’s interesting, even if its super primitive on some level, and people enjoy looking at it, then its good art. Its not about your training or whatever. … I think, [I would tell myself] ten years ago: Don’t worry what other people think. Keep doing what you’re doing. Just keep trying to make your work as good as your work can be.”

-> Conclusion: Even if you untrained, inexperienced, etc., JUST START doing what you want to do. Don’t wait till school, or until you get trained, or until stuff is good enough. EVERYONE has a crappy learning curve. EVERYONE. Teach yourself, get some practice in, do SOMETHING. Because this is your LIFE and if you know what you want to do, just start already!

In another interview she did with The Great Disconect, Lisa discussed her internal conflict with becoming an artist and her need to directly ‘give back’:

“I went into teaching right out of college because I wanted to give something back to the world. My whole identity was wrapped up in what I gave back every day; that was how I felt good about myself. One of the hardest things for me to overcome when I made the decision to leave my career in education was this sense that I was abandoning my commitment to give back to the world and I felt so much guilt about it. For me, that was the hardest thing about becoming an artist.

I do think I still struggle with this a little because it is so important to me to feel like I’m doing something good in the world every day, but I’ve been able to realize that there are many ways for me to give back. I think when you’re doing something you love in the world every day—if you get up and you’re excited about what you do, it’s good for everyone. I do volunteer occasionally and I also sit on the Board of Directors for an arts non-profit here that supports artists and works with low-income youth to expose them to art.”

Although it is totally silly, when considering industrial design as a future career, I know that I, too, had this same internal debate. I knew it was wrong to feel this way, but I totally had to get over this feeling that going into design was a ‘cop out’, because I couldn’t hack it doing engineering. I could hack it! I just need to do what I love, and what I am so good at! Anyway, I feel you Lisa.

(Click on all images to go to their original webpages.)

Portrait of A Lady (Not the Novel. Literally.)

I’m not so great with super subtle, white-to-black, multiple shades of grey blending (not fifty. never fifty.) on my palate yet, so in my portrait things are defs a bit color-blocked.  Although I’d like to have done it intentionally if I’m gonna do it (instead of just because I suck at blending on a palate). Nevertheless, I quite like the effect.  (By the way, excuse: it is so hard to tell the real color while its wet! especially when dealing with the subtleties of a mono-chrom painting!) The shading the lower cheek area has some issues, but nonetheless I love how realistic and intentional, yet cartoon-y, she looks.  She is in the damn  bright sunlight. :)  And she is fierce.  With the craps-ton of shading, you can really see how powerfully the sun was hitting her, and how powerfully she, amazon princess, hits it back!

Are you a fan of the overt-color blocking? Like Obama-poster-esque?  Except in painting..

Barack Obama Poster, New York

Barack Obama Poster, New York (Photo credit: racoles)

I kinda like the effect.  Also, for some reason my painting totally reminds me of this famous self-portrait by Frida Kahlo:

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait, 1940. See discussi...

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait, 1940. See discussion of her works below. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s something about black and white color-blocking that makes me think that, if it was in colors, they’d be SUPER bright colors, like in this painting. Also, the eyebrows in mine and in Frida Kahlo’s are totally mint!  Agree? Disagree? HATE that I besmirched Frida by associating her with my painting? Let me know in the comments, if you feel like it. :)

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