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Art with Erika

the journey of an artist – painting life with purpose

“Inktober Slideshow” – November 4, 2017

Here’s a 1 minute slideshow of days 1 to 31 of Inktober.  One drawing a day, 31 days, Halloween and horror themed, black and white awesomeness.  If you want to read more about each drawing you can take a look at the Inktober post from a few days ago.  Thank you so much for following me on my creative journey, and have a nightmare-filled weekend!

– sweet dreams-

“Inktober” – November 1, 2017

Inktober started out as a personal challenge to artist, Jake Parker, who wanted to form the habit of drawing something every day, specifically in ink.  Over the next few years, professional and amateur artists around the world would join him in creating better drawing habits.  This year, I was one of those artists.

I heard about the challenge from a creative cousin of mine only a few days before October 1st, and as we spoke on the phone I could hear my brain rattling around ideas.   The Inktober challenge started in 2009.  Artists are encouraged to draw in ink every day of October.  Some people decided to do a half marathon and drew every other day, or even a few times a week.  This was the first year that Jake Parker released a ‘word of the day’ prompt list.  The list was optional, and was given to add an extra challenge or for inspirational use.  (Inktober was all about creating good habits, whatever that meant to each artist).  For me, this challenge was about forming a daily drawing habit, but, it turned out to be much more beneficial than I anticipated.

In the last few days of September I sat down with the prompt list and brainstormed ideas for the whole of Inktober.  I decided to stick with the list that Jake gave and I also decided to add a Halloween monster creature theme to all of my drawings.  It was important for me to make sure that the span of the month didn’t repeat any characters or monsters, and I wanted to feature creatures that spanned form mythology to modern urban legends.

inktober

Inking can be done on the computer or with quills, brushes, and an ink bottle.  There are certain benefits to each medium and certain drawbacks.  I did purchase a bottle of india black ink and did a test run with it, but I was so unfamiliar with the medium that I stuck with my computer.  I grew up learning how to draw with pencil, and it wasn’t until college that I discovered ink in the form of pens.  Using a bottle, quill, and a brush is a whole different ballgame.  But, even drawing on my computer is still a huge challenge.  I learn something new every time I jump into another project, and even through the month of October I saw an almost instant growth in my techniques and execution as the days went by.  Lines started getting finer as I found out how to shade using different textures.  They got so fine that the last few pieces started to look almost like pencil drawings.

The biggest discovery for me was drawing light versus shadow, and it happened by accident.  The first day I drew a scene with a unicorn running away from a werewolf in the woods.  I thought it would be neat to sketch out the figures by drawing the light of the moon using white ink on a black surface instead of starting with a white background and drawing the shadows to building up the darkness.  I thought the first drawing was interesting, and the second drawing with Jekyll and Hyde was also intriguing with the black and white backgrounds next to each other.  But on the third day, I had a breakthrough and went through a ton of growth, and the black background stuck with me through the remainder of the challenge.  I love the look of it.  I always had an issue with not creating enough shadow in my art, especially with pencils.  Values were never dark enough which made everything a little flat.  Working backwards, in a sense, and hitting figures with light is much more comfortable for me and this is something I never knew about myself.   I will be taking this way of thinking with me into the future.  It’s so important to be aware of how one works as an artist: where you work best, the time of day that you are most effective and creative, what mediums feel natural to you, and how your brain works when drawing.

I made it through all 31 days of inktober, and drew one image from start to finish every single day.  Some days were daunting, and should have been spread over two or three days, but I am so proud of how much I have grown.  This will be a great collection to add to my portfolio, and a wonderful experience to look back upon.  And I know that is has paved the way for my techniques in the future.  I just need to find a way to break out of my shell and figure out what I want to draw, next!

Below are days 1 through 31 of my inktober drawings.  Each one is titled for the word of that day, and there is a description following.  Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

(You can visit me on facebook and Instagram, too – I’m much more active there)

1 - swift
“Swift” – Day 1

The lines and the technique are SO CHUNKY compared to the final days of this challenge.  It really is amazing to see the growth through each image.  There are a handful of pieces that I would like to re-draw, or touch up, and this is one of them.

2 - divided
“Divided” – Day 2

Day 2 features Dr Henry Jekyll and Mr Edward Hyde.  This is the only piece in the collection that has a white background.  From here on out I decided to start with completely black canvasses.  This is also where the stipple dot technique is introduced.  Very time consuming, but effective.  I would have used it more for later pieces if it didn’t make my hand so sore.  The dots are a lot larger and more spread out in this picture than later pieces.  I will probably touch this one up later.

3 - poison
“Poison” – Day 3

Medusa and her poison snake hair was a HUGE breakthrough for me as far as technique goes.  The stipple dot effect is improving, and I am starting to get a hang of highlighting the hot spots of light.  It was here that I made a decision to draw white on black.

4 - underwater
“Underwater” – Day 4

Underwater is my first minimalist piece.  I have always been a “more is more” kind of person, but after inking Medusa with the millions of dots the day before my hand needed a break.  I also loved the “miniature” portion of the drawing.  The use of black space as a ‘character’ of sorts will make its way into other pieces later on.  You don’t need to fill every square inch of space to be effective in your artwork.  (Sometimes I need to remind myself of this)

5 - long
“Long” – Day 5

The Slender Man is a new paranormal phenomenon and he is featured in recent urban legends and in a video game or two.  He is a tall, faceless, creature who roams around in broad daylight through suburban towns or in the woods.  He is seen around children, and it is said that he follows certain victims throughout their lives until they are drawn to commit suicide.  Very interesting character and the images online are insanely creepy.

6 - sword
“Sword” – Day 6

The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow has been a favorite story of mine since I can remember.  Since the word was ‘sword’ I wanted to make sure that the sword was the center of attention, and I wanted to practice some foreshortening skills.  (something I have never done before).  I wanted it to feel like the horseman was slicing off your head.  I would actually like to see this one redone, with color, and with better crosshatch shading in the figures.

7 - shy
“Shy” – Day 7

Edward Scissorhands is probably one of the most adorable characters that Tim Burton has ever created.  The movie is one of my go-to comfort films and the ballet is beautiful, too.  (Thank you Matthew Bourne).  Edward is so awkward and shy, and I love Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, but I wanted to “re-cast” the characters just for fun.  I decided to go with Josh Groban (you look up pictures of him and tell me he isn’t beautifully charming and awkward like Edward.  I can see it) and Vanessa Hudgens (beautiful, adorable, and a wonderful alternative for Kim)   You can see the reflection of Kim in Edward’s hands.  This is one of those pieces that took a long time for research because of the details in the costume and the scissors.  I wanted them to be as accurate to the movie as possible, but trying to make out what was on Edward’s shoulder was difficult.  There is a metal and…something else.  This is as close as I could get with photo references.

I would like to touch this one up, and add more of the dots around the faces specifically.  I just ran out of time and energy, and my hand was screaming at me.

8 - crooked
“Crooked” – Day 8

The Crooked Man is taken from an old nursery rhyme that actually has to do with the uniting of Scotland and England.  It’s very cute.  The modern interpretation of the Crooked Man is especially prevalent in The Conjuring movies.  Material on the internet also points to a sadistic, old, hunched man who drives people to commit suicide.  This is my version of the character, inspired by the actor Conrad Veidt, from “The Man Who Laughs”.  Many people said that this piece reminded them of the Joker from Batman, and it is true.  The Joker was inspired by Conrad.  You can see it all over his twisted crazy face.  Again, I would like to re-do the crosshatch shading on this one, now that I’ve figured things out.  But, it’s nice to see the progression of the artwork over a short period of time.

9 - screech
“Screech” – day 9

This became one of my favorites of the collection.  The dots have made their way back in a fanciful way.  They almost look like glitter, and I love it.  Screech made me think of ‘owls’ right away, but also aliens.  “The Fourth Kind” was the last horror movie that I have ever watched (surprisingly, I don’t watch horror films…there is enough going on in my head and I find them overwhelming).  There are many people who associate barn owls with aliens because their faces are so similar, and it is said that people who have been abducted have their memories wiped and replaced with images of owls that overshadow the aliens.

I find that a lot of people see the owl right away, within the light of the UFO, but if you look closer you can see the continuing outline of the alien in the shadows surrounding the owl’s head.  Another way to find the owl is to look at the drawing techniques:  the owl is drawn with lines and the alien is drawn with dots.

10 - gigantic
“Gigantic” – Day 10

I think that this image has opened up a whole new miniature world for me to love, because I am fascinated with drawing mini city skylines, now.  I wanted the monster to be bigger than anything anyone has seen on a movie, and I wanted it to destroy Los Angeles, because I feel that New York gets most of the end of world love.  This is the beginning of the apocalypse, and Satan has come to claim the world, starting with LA.   You can see the Griffith Observatory in the foreground.  I think it might be my favorite part.  I also love the use of black space below and above.

11 - run
“Run” – Day 11

Giant Mongolian death worms are amazing.  This is another piece that I would probably like to go back in and touch up.  I think the shading could be better, but not bad for a partial day’s worth of work. Trying the foreshortening thing again, too.

12 - shattered
“Shattered” – Day 12

ALL THE DOTS!  I think that after this piece the dots started to diminish drastically.

13 - teeming
“Teeming” – Day 13

Spiders are tough for me to deal with.  An egg hatched in my room when I was younger and when I came home from vacation the spiders descended upon me….it was SO FUN! But, it is always good to face your fears, and I couldn’t think of any better ideas, so I pushed through.  This image is brought to you by: My Nightmares.  (You’re welcome)

14 - fierce
“Fierce” – Day 14

Wendigos are former humans that have been taken over by such an excessive hunger of greed that they turn into cannibal monsters.  They have an insatiable appetite and are constantly hungry and emaciated.  Their story sprouts from the native american people.  Wendigos have more recently been depicted as were-deer looking monsters, but the original legend describes them as more humanoid with graying taught skin and sharp teeth with lips that are torn and bloody.  They eye sockets are sunken in and they smell of death.  I thought the deer antlers were a little interesting on the animal version of the wendigo, so I used it as a mask of sorts that would lure hunters in close enough for the monster to attack.

15 - mysterious
“Mysterious” – Day 15

The Ciguapa comes from Puerto Rican folklore.   They are described as beautiful women with brown or blue skin, and very long black hair that covers their bodies.  They are almost like land-mermaids, and they drown men in rivers or kill them in the woods after luring them and wooing them with their strange and haunting songs.  Their feet are backwards, which makes tracking them down difficult and they can only be killed during a full moon.

16 - fat
“Fat” – Day 16

There are so many different versions of Satan floating around in art and culture, and most of them depict him as a suave and sexy man.  This is another version: huge, sitting on his throne in Hell, surrounded by the skulls of people.  The literal version of gluttony.

17 - graceful
“Graceful” – Day 17

What is more graceful than a ghost of a woman?  This ghost has a special history in Virgina. Avenel is home to one of the most popular ghosts in America: Fannie Burwell. She married James Breckinridge, right before the Civil War. He went off to war and she visited him in Gordonsville where she caught typhoid fever. She died soon after she returned home. James was devastated for the loss of his new wife and it was said that he took many chances during the remainder of his time on the battlefield, where he was eventually killed.

People speak of seeing a beautiful woman on the Avenel property, dressed in fine white clothing of the period. Some say that she keeps an eye out, waiting for her husband to come home from the war. Others say that they hear a woman’s voice asking for water around the inside of the house. It might be the echo of her final days as she struggled with the fever, and her asking for water to quench herself from the heat that would ultimately overcome her. The Avenel house was used during the Civil War, and was also visited frequently by Edgar Allen Poe.

The porch and background in this picture is taken directly from reference pictures of the property, as it is seen, today. Looking at the house from the front, this is the right corner of the newly-remodeled wrap around porch. The Avenel House is used for events and weddings, today.

18 - filthy
“Filthy” – Day 18

Filthy, to me, is the dead rising from their graves.  I tried out the foreshortening with this one, again.  I really need more practice.  There is a semi-new technique that is used in this piece, which is the squiggle lines.  I used it a lot in college for fashion when I wanted to depict that a lot of bead work or embellishment was going to be on a dress or outfit, but I didn’t want to draw the minuscule details.  You’ll see this more in later drawings….like the next one…

19 - cloud
“Cloud” – Day 19

The squiggles are strong with this one.  I created a scene from one of my favorite books “Frankenstein”.  Victor Frankenstein attends the University of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, where he creates the “monster”. I did track down pictures of the University, but it wasn’t as dramatically placed as I would have hoped for (it sits on the river, and I wanted a city skyline effect as a backdrop). BUT! The gorgeous Neuschwanstein Castle overlooks the college and town of Bavaria. It might not be accurate to the story, but at least it ties in the town from the book.  I can live with that. This is my depiction of the stormy night that turned the creator into a monster, and brought life to the tragic and neglected Adam Frankenstein.

20 - deep
“Deep” – Day 20

I thought that this piece was going to be a lot more complex, but it turned into something a lot more minimal with a lot of black space, and I love it.  Who doesn’t like dragons waiting in a deep and dark cave for an afternoon snack?  I really like the black space in this one.

21 - furious
“Furious” – Day 21

This is one of my least favorite pieces of the collection, because it looks rushed to me.  I got super busy this day with work and almost didn’t draw anything, but I powered through and whipped up something in a few hours, just so I could say that I did it.  I’m so glad that I did.  I feel that in a challenge, like this one, there will always be one or two days that really bog you down, and you just need to power through them, no matter what.

Fenrir is a giant wolf, and one of Loki’s children (Norse mythology….or, for those who follow Marvel Comics).  He was separated from his siblings, Jörmungandr and Hel. Together, the three would bring down the dynasty, ruled by Odin. While his brother and sister were easy to send away, Fenrir kept growing and growing, and it was decided that the giant wolf needed to be bound. Two times he was bound and broke free. (no rope or chain could hold him). He was successfully bound the third time, by a ribbon made by dwarves that was given to Odin. It was called Glepinir’s cord, and was made of six very special ingredients: the sound of a cat’s feet, the roots of a mountain, a bear’s sinews, a woman’s beard, a fish’s breath, and a bird’s spit. During the time of Ragnarök, the earth would shake and loosen the ribbon from Fenrir, who would swallow Odin, the chief of the gods, whole.

22 - trail
“Trail” – Day 22

The squiggles are also very strong with this one.  I had a friend tell me that although he isn’t afraid of clowns that the squiggles create a static noise in his mind that creeps him out.  I never understood why people are so afraid of clowns, but I know I wouldn’t want to run into him on a path.

23 - juicy
“Juicy” – Day 23

Vampires and blood.  I really like the grasp of the neck on this one.  The crosshatch is starting to look a lot better.

24 - blind
“Blind” – Day 24

This drawing features my own eyeless creature, who decided to steal the eyes of a young woman.  This one is presented to you by: My Nightmares.  (You’re welcome, again)  I think that this is another turning point for my technique.  The shading is becoming a little more solid and the lines are getting finer.  I can’t decide if the squishy eyeballs or the loose hair are my favorite element about this…definitely one of my favorites of the collection.

25 - ship
“Ship” – Day 25

A Kraken and a ship.  This is another one that turned into a “minimalist” piece.  There were going to be detailed waves, and a stormy sky, and the whole canvas was probably going to be filled from head to toe with details, but once I drew in the white caps I thought it was perfect the way it was.  It drew attention to the right places and the black space made everything pop.  Gotta love that black space!  The tentacles look rushed, and I might like to add more detail to what is already here.  We will see.

26 - squeak
“Squeak” – Day 26

When I was little, I remember watching a short TV movie where the main character gets stuck underground in a series of tunnels and tries to crawl away from flesh-eating rats. She reaches a dead end that happens to be in a coffin and the rats eat her alive. I had seen it only that one time but it is an image that has stayed with me all of these years, so I tried my best to draw my version of it. 

It was a little complicated trying to come up with an effective layout, because it is underground and in very close quarters, and I wanted to capture a close up of her in the split-second moment when she realizes that she has no way out. I drew the scene as if the end of the wooden coffin were made of glass, so that we can see her. Her hands push against the panels as the rats start to make their way around her. What a horrible way to die. It would be bad enough without the rats….honestly.

There is something that I need to fix in this one….foreshortening skills are improving, but I overlooked something.  Overall, the techniques are solidifying and the shading is becoming that much more effective with each drawing that I do.  I really am astounded that it took so little time to see this much improvement.

27 - climb
“Climb” – Day 27

Movies like “The Grudge” and “The Ring” scare me the most.  I think I stopped watching scary movies after seeing those two because they were so triggering for me.  But I couldn’t pass up drawing such a dramatic image.  I love and hate this drawing so much.

28 - fall
“Fall” – Day 28

My original concept for this piece was to have a raven man falling from the sky surrounded by raven birds.  What it turned into was this.  They do look somewhat like angels but they are supposed to be some sort of raven creatures falling out of the sky.  There’s something so elegant about this one.  It was refreshing to draw after dealing with the girl on the stairs.

29 - united
“United” – Day 29

When the walking dead unite, we are all doomed.  So many faces…there is no way I would have been able to complete even five of these people in the first week of drawing for Inktober.  I got a lot faster as the days went on.

30 - found
“Found” – Day 30

Easily one of my favorite pieces because of the lighting and the simplicity.  A little girl hugs her teddy bear as she hides in the closet from the thing that ultimately finds her.  I’ll let you decide what that thing is.

31 - mask
“Mask” – Day 31

I had to go out with a bang for Inktober.  This piece took the longest, by far.  Much longer than anticipated but I was able to finish before midnight last night.  (I did rush a bit toward the end of the night, so I would like to go back and touch up a little of Christine’s face)  The Phantom of the Opera is near and dear to my heart and I wanted to draw something a little more creative than a slasher film, mask-wearing, stalker.  So, I drew a fancy, mask-wearing, organ-playing stalker.

This scene is taken from my favorite part of the score, at the end: the trio.  (Sung by Christine, the Phantom, and Raoul)  The Phantom wraps a noose around Raoul’s neck and gives Christine an ultimatum at the cost of Raoul’s life.  The greatest challenge of this piece was capturing the raw emotion of each person in that split second of chaos while also balancing the composition of the drawing.  I tried positioning Christine behind the phantom as if she were running toward him with her arms out, but it didn’t feel right to have her positioned behind the men.  It wasn’t strong enough.  I wanted to be able to see Christine’s terrified expression as the Phantom’s insanity reached its peak and honed in on her.

“Semicolon” – June 21, 2017

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life,”

– Project Semicolon

A few years back a new trend started to show up across the Internet that showed pictures of tiny tattoos gracing the wrists and bodies of people who were not only brave enough to keep on walking their path of life, but who were brave enough to acknowledge and share their stories.  Depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, addiction, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, borderline stress disorder… These are only a handful of conditions that are accepted in today’s world, but they are still taboo amid conversation. These are conditions that we cannot see, unless we are acutely aware of the people around us, and even then our eyes can deceive us.

How many times have we heard the story of a person who was the topic of envious gossip, who wore the most beautiful mask for all of us to see, but who struggled with depression?  Or that unassuming person next door who seemed to live a pretty normal life apart from fighting with anxiety every day. Maybe the person is a cousin or brother or sister who approached you and said that they couldn’t figure out why they were sad, that they just were, and had been for a long time.  The journey can be confusing and frustrating for everyone.

Sometimes we see people walking through life struggling to see past a thick gray fog that billows around them.  Sometimes we don’t even know that anything is wrong. And sometimes the emptiness is so heavy, real, and painful… They are so alone that they can’t identify their place in this world. There are some people who even believe that the world would be a better place without them in it – that they are a burden to those around them.

From an outside perspective suicide can seem to come from a very selfish place. A lack of understanding and empathy can lead an outsider to feel hatred instead of love toward a person who was struggling with a very real set of circumstances. Just because one person has never experienced it, just because one person has never seen it, doesn’t mean that it is any less real. Whenever life is at stake, it would be a fool’s game to dismiss the cries of millions of people, who know the battleground firsthand, as folly.  Whenever one life is at stake, it would be a fool’s game to dismiss the cry of that person, who knows the battleground firsthand, as folly.

Project Semicolon was developed in 2013 and is a platform for people who struggle with mental illness.  It is also a place for people to gather who have lost a loved one, or who still have the blessing of being around their loved one, who struggles with mental illness. Although all mental illness doesn’t lead to suicide, it would be wise for us to become aware of signs of possible suicide, and to become more knowledgeable of the real aspects of mental illness and how it affects people in their everyday lives.

“Semicolon” was inspired by the people in my life who have been affected by suicide and thoughts of suicide.  I wanted there to be a sense of hope, love, and comfort in the painting.  There is a darkness to it, a blackness that embodies melancholy.  There are two versions of this painting, both male and female.  They have minimal features and no skin tone.  It was important for me to try and create as much of a neutral platform as possible, and be as inclusive as possible, though I know that there are many other versions I could draw in the future for people.  (This is a solid place to start, though).

The pointillism technique is symbolic of a period that is found at the end of a sentence – it speaks to the idea that life is indeed finite for all of us. The thousands of tiny dots create a gray figure who delicately embraces their life in their arms.  The sphere is their “period” that will rest at the end of their life sentence; they have made the choice to hold on to it.

A portion of the fabric of their life that has already been lived unravels from their calves and their feet.  It flows below them hinting at gray memories that they will leave behind.  The fabric of life clutches around their thighs and hips, with the hope of many bright and wonderful memories that lie ahead.  White from the fabric and the orb create a bright semicolon against the gray and black of the rest of the painting.

The quotes on both paintings start and end with an ellipsis (…) that represent the continuation of life on either side of that choice.  Their story isn’t over.

…they had a choice; they chose to live…

Thank you so much for visiting my blog.  Please take a moment to visit the Project Semicolon website, and take a look at the step by step making of “Semicolon” above.  Below are detailed pictures of both the male and female versions of “Semicolon” by Erika Robertson.

Take some time to tell the people around you that you love them.  Take an hour and listen to them.  Be compassionate, be loving, and try to understand each and every journey – don’t try to fix it – just listen.  Sometimes this is all we need.  You might help save a life.

70 - FINAL WOMAN
“Semicolon” By Erika Robertson – Digital Painting – Photoshop – 2017 – (Female with text)

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69 - FINAL WOMAN W-O TEXT
“Semicolon” By Erika Robertson – Digital Painting – Photoshop – 2017 – (Female without text)
68 - FINAL MAN
“Semicolon” By Erika Robertson – Digital Painting – Photoshop – 2017 – (Male with text)

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67 - FINAL MAN W-O TEXT
“Semicolon” By Erika Robertson – Digital Painting – Photoshop – 2017 – (Male without text)

“Champagne” – June 15, 2017

Not long after I moved down to Los Angeles, four years ago, I broke out my sketchbook and walked through some evolving ideas that turned into the “Women and Wine” collection.  As I was doodling page after page of crappy thumbnails, my brain stumbled upon the idea of collaborating women, fashion, and cocktails.  My first scribbles were of women standing next to over-sized glasses of alcohol wearing beautiful dresses. The thumbnail sketch for “Champagne” featured a woman whose dress turned into bubbling liquid in a shimmering flute. From there, the collection of three women named for white, red, and rosé wines took shape and was finished in the fall of 2016.  I decided to revisit my original inspired sketch so that I could bring “Champagne” to life.

61

I enjoy the idea of collaborating my old profession, costume design and fashion, into my artwork. Over-exaggeration, extravagant elements, and lots of little details thrill me to no end.  It’s an unfortunate thing that I don’t have the finances or the time to create costumes, as many of them cost well over $1000 in materials to create – and I am an all or nothing kind of person with those projects.  But, my newfound love of painting in Photoshop has proven to be more than satisfactory.

57

I enjoy painting and drawing in raw media but more often than not, a lot of very tiny detail is lost within pen scribbles and paint blotches, unless the canvas is over-sized. (And I don’t have room for that in my 200 square foot tiny space.) What I love most about Photoshop is that I can achieve an incredible amount of fine detail that would have been impossible to achieve if I had tried to paint the same thing on the canvas. A lot of my costuming in the past was consumed by rhinestones, bead work, and the tiniest of details. In person, you could see the fine elements on the costumes themselves, but the artwork that went along with them (the concept sketches) were not as exciting. (At least, not to me).

“Champagne” features an abundance of small detail. From her strands of hair, to her delicate jewelry, and the shimmer and glimmer of champagne and chiffon, this painting embodies a subtle strength and definitive elegance.

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It is a wonderful feeling to be able to see the improvement in my artwork as I complete each piece. The digital learning curve is starting to straighten out, and I feel that each project that I take into my hands becomes a new favorite of mine.

Above is a video featuring a slideshow of stills from start to finish for “Champagne”.  Below are select step-by-step stills and close-ups along with walk-through descriptions and notes. (You will be able to see the detail better on this blog post, as opposed to the video, but the video is fun, too!)

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog!  I hope you enjoy reading about and watching “Champagne” as much as I have enjoyed creating her.

‘Til next time!

 

 

55FINAL
“Champagne” – By Erika Robertson – Digital Painting – Photoshop – 2017
01
Original thumbnail sketch for “Champagne” from 2013 (It’s been a long time!)
05
First sketch following the flow of the original drawing.  But it isn’t looking too great…I need to change the angle of the body.
06
Much better positioning of the body, but some adjustments still need to be made.  The flow is really sloppy right now.  It needs to be more straight forward and confident.
07
This positioning is much better.  There is also a great balance of straight and curved edges which makes the foundation interesting.  I love the straight line on one hip that contrasts with the heavily curved hip on the other side.
09
I re-draw the left arm to bring a little more life and purpose to the angles of the arm.  I didn’t like the way the hand cupped over the hip.  The fingers grazing the waistline give it a little more tension.  I also adjust the size of the figure and the glass flute.
13
The background is black, so I lay the color down.  I know I will love the contrast of the glitter and champagne colors against the dark background.  I also change the color of the lines of the figure to something closer to a flesh tone.
15
I play around with the idea of draping fabric that circles around the glass, as well as arm jewels.  All of these elements mimic the shape of the champagne glass and I work with trying to find a solid balance of all of the accessories before moving forward.  It’s important to plan out your steps as much as you can before proceeding, otherwise you will have to edit TOO MUCH later on.  Plan in the beginning and save time later on.
18
Since the glass is a solid object that doesn’t move, and since the figure is emerging from it, I finalize the outline of the glass right now.  It will not change at all, save some minor reflections, and this way I can build the rest of the painting up around it without worrying about it.  I start to lay down color for the figure.
19
Shading and layering the basic lines of light and shadow.  The main light source is going to come from above.
23
I add the facial features, as I think they are one of the more difficult parts to balance out.  I try to do the more difficult elements first, so that they don’t weigh on my mind and seem so daunting.
24
I smooth out the skin and adjust the color to make it pop a little more.  I want a darker skin tone, but not too dark.  Something that will look beautiful against the gold of the dress.
25
One of the last things that I do, before trimming the boarders of the figure, is to highlight the skin with a white light brush.  It makes everything pop a little more, and it is nice to have that reflective look of the light bouncing off of the skin.
26
I erase the edges and make them crisp!  But, I trimmed off a little too much and made her TOOOOO thin….I don’t like it.  (She is already skinny enough and I don’t want her to look unbalanced)
27
This is much better.  Now, I need to work on the hands….One of my least favorite parts…….
28
I haaaate drawing hands and feet (which means I should probably draw them more…)  They just take a long time to do, and I used to actually draw blocks for hands or hide them behind the figure.  But, they are so expressive and such an important piece to most of my work, now.  They can add or take away so much in a painting.  I highly recommend them, even though they do take a long time to draw.  🙂
30
I lay down the color for the hair and placement for the bun.
31
I paint color upon color, and strand upon strand, layer after layer.
32
I add more detail and a splash of light to her hair.  I think I used about 10 different shades of brown and black to get the richness that I wanted.
34
I thought I wanted a “light-filled” champagne liquid in the glass, but it looked like it was too much, so I decided to go with a “see through, against the black” look, instead.
36
I add just the slightest hint of champagne color to the edges of the glass, and add the bubbles.  I had always been fascinated by champagne bubbles, as a kid.  I loved how they started out so tiny and concentrated only to float straight to the top of the glass in little lines.  (Fun fact:  Champagne was my favorite smell when I was little.  I used to ask my mom if I could sniff her glass of champagne when she would order it on that rare occasion.)
39
The dress is going to be a see-through jewel-encrusted chiffon.  I add the base layer of the dress to the figure and blend it into the champagne.
40
I was going to draw the shawl in the same way as I drew the figure (layering and then erasing the edges), but I decided to change my method…
41
I referenced the original rough outline of the chiffon fabric that was sketched out in the beginning.
42
On a different layer, I start drawing the back half of the shawl.
43
I want the shawl to be very very see-through, so I start taking away color until I find my “happy place” and am satisfied with the see-through effect.
44
On a separate layer I do the same with the front of the chiffon fabric.
45
And I erase the layer until I am happy with how it looks.
46
Jewels are so satisfying to paint.  Thousands of little dots give the illusion of chains or jewels draping from her arms.  The design isn’t planned out, but an art deco theme emerges with each strand that I add.  I usually let intuition lead me with details like these.  I feel like I am summoning Erte.
47
I finish the other jeweled sleeve.
48
The longest strand in the back was a little too wide and it didn’t look like it was falling properly, according to the weight of a chain of that size, so I fixed it.  I also added four more strands to the back to balance out the area.  I want the busy work to be on the arms, though.
52
The rest of the gold shimmer is added to the dress and the chiffon fabric.  Hair jewels wrap around her head and connect to the back of a simple minimal earring.  (I really love this element)
54
White shine is added throughout the painting on the jewels.
55FINAL
Finally, the shine of the glass is added along with a sparkle on her lips and eye.
56
Finished detail of “Champagne”
57
Finished detail of “Champagne”
58
Finished detail of “Champagne”
59
Finished detail of “Champagne”
60
Finished detail of “Champagne”
61
Finished detail of “Champagne”
55FINAL
“Champagne” – By Erika Robertson – Digital Painting – Photoshop – 2017

“Angelica” – June 12, 2017

Thirty is a big year for many people. It’s a major turning point where we leave behind our ignorant twenties and start solidifying ourselves in the mold of adulthood. It is the beginning of many wonderful adventures, and from what I hear from older generations it is only the start of the best decades that lie ahead of us.  On May 27th I turned thirty-one, and I can say with full confidence, that thirty had been the most pivotal and rewarding year of my life. It was filled with a lot of heartache, depression, and turmoil that transformed into growth, forgiveness, confidence, and love. Twenty-nine was the year that I was found. Thirty was the year that I was smashed to pieces and made stronger through adversity.  I find that a lot of the people around me are following the same pattern.

A handful of months ago I was approached by a friend, and was commissioned to create a piece that embodied the woman who she aspired to be in the near future. “A woman who loves herself, a woman who is confident in her capabilities, and a woman who is open to what the world has to offer.”  She gravitated toward the “Rose Wine” painting that I did last year in the “Women and Wine Collection”, but she wanted a number of changes and additional elements:

Woman to be of average height instead of very tall

Darker skin tone

Squarer face

Medium length flowing curly hair (black with brown/red highlights)

Maxi dress with loose floral pattern and halter top neckline

Rose wine

Lavender and roses

A headband to represent an element of peace

Mint (color)

Background maroon, burgundy, or berry red

Confidence

Peace

Openness

I have to say that it was quite a challenge trying to balance everything out (but I really do love a challenge!)  To date, this is my favorite digital painting.  Thank you, Angelica, for setting up an incredible platform.  Without your inspiration, this would not have been possible.  Here’s to friendship, and a wonderful decade full of life, love, growth, and adventure!

Above is a slideshow of the step-by-step process, and below is the step-by-step process with descriptions for the making of “Angelica”.

01Angelica
Every painting starts with a rough sketch.  I like to draw over the original rough so that I can keep the livelihood of the lines.  Sometimes, when you re-sketch from scratch, the movement is lost and the drawing becomes too stiff.
02Angelica
I start with a blue pencil and sketch out the first roughs.
03Angelica
I create a new layer and re-sketch and fine-tune the lines.
04Angelica
The background will be very dark, and in order to balance out the colors properly, it is necessary to lay down the background so that I know how much the drawing will pop against it.  I almost never draw anything on a white background.  At the very least I use off-white or gray, so I can keep track of the whitest highlights of any piece.  You can’t see them as clearly if you are drawing on a white surface.
05Angelica
Because I am drawing a blush dress that transforms into rose wine, I change the hue of the blue lines to something that relates more to the final product.  It is very important that the harmony of the colors is generally figured out in the beginning of the painting, otherwise the final product could be unbalanced.  It’s much easier to fix these things in the beginning stages than to try to fix them when your painting is already finished.
06Angelica
My friend wanted “mint” incorporated somehow, and this step was more of a test to see if a mint colored dress would blend well as it transformed into a pink dress against a burgundy background.  So far, so good!
07Angelica
I add a peach tone to the pink and mint to warm up the painting.  I start filling in and layering the dress and wine to see where breaks and folds will happen in the dress and in the glass.
08Angelica
I layer more colors, and smooth out the dress.
09Angelica
As the dress transforms into wine, it becomes transparent, like liquid.  I erase the edges of the hemline, and the liquid that swirls in the glass.
10Angelica
I use the dark blush colors to shade in sections of the mint dress.  Using colors, as opposed to black and white tones, can bring more depth and life to a painting.  I also lay down the first layer for her skin to see the balance of color between the background and the dress.  The outline of the wine glass is created so that I know exactly where the edges of the dress need to hit and spill over.
11Angelica
I warm up the mint and blush wine up a little more with a yellow and peach shade, so that it is a little more balanced with the tone of the skin.  The wine in the glass is filled in.
12Angelica
The edges of the dress are finished with the beginnings of the splashes.
13Angelica
The edges of the dress and wine are layered.  Folds in the fabric and wine are given solid definition.
14Angelica
Because of the painting and layering from the last few steps, the see-through effect was lost a little bit, so I go over the whole dress and smooth out and inconsistencies and add the clear liquid effect throughout.
15Angelica
An explosion of droplets is scattered around the dress.  It’s here that I really start to feel the magic of the painting appear with all of the sparkles and glitter.  There is a lot going on in this painting but I have always been a “more is more” type of artist.
16Angelica
I start to work on her face and add the most difficult features: the lips and eyes.  I lay down a temporary “hair piece” for her, too, so that I can get a rough idea for her hairline against her features and skin tone.
17Angelica
There was a specific skin shade that was given to me to work with, so I color corrected the tone.  I also started layering and hammering out the details of her arms, neck and head.
18Angelica
Hands are one of the most time-consuming elements, for me.  After they were done, I went around the whole figure and highlighted her skin with a tough of “light”.  Her fingernails are painted pink.  (I love little details like this!)
19Angelica
A rose pattern starts out bunched closely at the top of the dress and cascades out into the pink wine.  There are a few bunches of roses that are barely visible in the pink liquid.  It is the little things that you don’t really see at first glance that bring a picture to life.
20Angelica
The hair is painted in, using many many layers and hundreds of pen strokes in various shades of brown, red, and almost black  (I think the only thing that is truly 100% black in this painting are her pupils).  At the end of it all the hair takes shape and looks like loose waves that spiral into ringlets.  Small strands wisp around her face, neck, and arms.
21Angelica
A crown of roses and lavender circle her head….but they are a little bit too large….
23Angelica
…so I shrink down the size of the wreath.  Her head is also a little too large and not proportionate, so I adjust the size ever so slightly.
24Angelica
“Angelica” – By Erika Robertson – Digital Painting – 2017 – Photoshop   –   My favorite part of painting is adding the finishing sparkles.  (Maybe because I know I am almost done, or maybe because everything starts to explode off of the page, little by little.)  It takes a long time, but the extra bump of life that the shimmer and glitter gives is extra special and adds so much magic.
25Angelica
Detail
26Angelica
Detail
27Angelica
Detail
28Angelica
Detail
29Angelica
Detail
30Angelica
Detail
24Angelica
“Angelica” – By Erika Robertson – Digital Painting – 2017 – Photoshop

“Faith, Hope, and Love” – April 1, 2017

“And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

It’s been a while since I have finished something a little more complicated, but I’m so happy with this piece.  I’m still trying to find my style, which is a frustrating evolution, but I know that over time something will solidify.  I love drawing realistic people, but I am working on simplifying my fashion ladies and experimenting with “flat” brushes.  I had to re-draw this one, because the first time around the skin was so detailed with highlights and shadows that it overwhelmed the piece.  The flat minimally shaded women stand out a lot more and blend in so well with the rest of the piece.  It’s just so colorful and sparkly!

Faith is blue.  Hope is green.  Love is pink.  Each lady holds two jeweled strands that belong to her, highlighted by either pink, green, or blue jewels.  If you look carefully you can see colored stones throughout each strand that are shared with the woman beside her.  For example, Love (pink) and Hope (green) are sharing two green and two pink jeweled strands; in this way all of them are connected to each other.  The height of each lady is representative of her hierarchy; Love is the greatest of the three.   Wisteria represents eternity and drapes itself around stone pillars.  The purple of the wisteria matches the amethyst stones that hang at the end of each jeweled strand which promote peace and balance.

faithhopeloveRBG
“Faith, Hope, and Love” – By Erika Robertson – 2017 – Photoshop Digital Painting

 

Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

Have a wonderful day!

“It’s Okay… – Daily Doodle” – March 6, 2017

It’s been a tough couple of weeks.  Mom had to stop her chemo after a month because she came down with a severe flu…She isn’t doing well and it is hard to lift her spirits, sometimes.  Not a very happy doodle, today, but this is life, with all of its ups and downs.  I know God is with us, and knowing that makes all of this easier, but it doesn’t make it easy.

Sometimes you just need to give yourself permission to cry…

okay to cryRBG
“It’s Okay…” – Daily Doodle – 2017 – by Erika Robertson – Photoshop

“Unchi – Daily Doodle” – February 23, 2017

A little doodle of some doo-doo, today.  🙂  I’m having a lot of fun with these quick sketches.  I hope you are, too!

….these colors remind me of thin mints……I need my girl scout cookie fix!

chocolate ice creamRBG.jpg
“Unchi” (“Poop”) – Daily Doodle – By Erika Robertson – 2017 – Photoshop

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“Tree Hugs – Daily Doodle” – February 22, 2017

Trees love hugs, too.    🙂

tree-hugsrbg
“Tree Hugs” – Daily Doodle – By Erika Robertson – 2017 – Photoshop

#treehugger #treelover #hippie #trees

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