My original inspiration came from the crows, my favorite birds, who caw and fly around my apartment on the daily. I love them so much, and wanted to create a happy scene with books, tea, and animals. I also wanted to challenge myself to create a complex fairy tale environment filled with small elements and whimsical characters. Most of all, I wanted to play with dramatic light and shadows.
The entire painting is created in Photoshop, using only a basic round brush on a blank canvas. I will post a video of a walk-through of this painting from sketch, to color, to shading and highlights, and final touches later this week. It will be available on my Instagram and Facebook pages. But for now, I will be pointing out the small intricate details and all of the “Easter eggs” in final painting!
First off, all of the characters have names…
Let’s start from the top:
Boo-Booo: named for any and all little spiders that make their way into my apartment. All of their names are Boo-Booo. THIS Boo-Booo loves plants.
Poe: a playful crow whose best friend is Niko the cat. They like to play hide and seek.
Allen: a snarky teasing fellow who is the most outgoing of the three crows. He likes to laugh at the cats when he is just out of their reach. What a teaser!
Edgar: the oldest of the three crows, and a most serious and educated creature. He loves to look over Eliza’s shoulder and read along with her.
Pluto: named for the famous revenge-seeking black cat in Edgar Allen Poe’s short story. You can’t tell, but Pluto also has one eye. They to hide in the curtains.
Edward: an upright and pompous cat who pretty much wants nothing to do with anyone unless its on his terms. He secretly enjoys unwelcome hugs from Eliza, though he would never openly admit it.
Binx: he loves to tease the crows and run around. Named for the boy-turned-cat in Hocus Pocus, Thackery Binx.
Sesame: this is probably my favorite cat of the bunch. Sesame loves to rub its face on Eliza’s foot. You can almost see a little drool coming out of its mouth. I love black sesame seeds in ice cream and Japanese desserts! YUM!
Nori: this sleepy kitty is up all night and snuggles up in the shadows all day. She has a bad habit of keeping everyone else up during the night. MEOOOOW! Named for the delicious dried toasty seaweed, used in Japanese cuisine. YUM YUM!
Twinkie: a super sweet loaf of a cat. He likes to bask in the strong afternoon sunshine.
Periwinkle: a trouble-maker to the extreme! She likes to mess around with the lace and curtains. Eliza has almost given up on trying to stop her at this point, but the china must be saved!
Niko: a friendly and happy cat who loves to play hide and seek with Poe the Crow. Sometimes you can find him curled up and taking an afternoon nap in the cauldron.
Eliza: a tea-loving, book worm of a witch. Her great-grandmother’s enchanted silver moon earrings are her favorite pieces of jewelry, and she is rarely seen without them on.
Eliza was the last element that I drew. I didn’t know how I wanted to design her until everything else came together. The first sketches looked so much like the profile of my mom, and I didn’t want to steer too far away from her complexion, because it made me happy that she showed up so conveniently. (Hi mom!)
I started with lighter skin, brown eyes, black hair, and lace sleeves. A dark purple jumper with silver buttons seemed instinctively fitting. Silver is a witch-preferred metal used for its connection to the moon. When I was done drawing the outfit the colors reminded me of the title character from Hayao Miyazaki’s film “Kiki’s Delivery Service”. How ironic! Kiki is a cute little witch! All that I needed to do was add a little red bow to Eliza’s hair to make the look complete. In the movie, dark purple is a traditional color that is worn by witches. I think it’s fun how my subconscious lead me here.
The tea set on the table is one of the more traditional designs from the Royal Albert Collection, called Old Country Roses. If you are a tea-goer it is likely you have come across this pattern much more than once. All I want to do is eat the goodies on the tiered stand. Traditional afternoon tea happens around four o’clock in between lunch and dinner. It is meant as a pick me up as dinner is eaten much later in the evening in many European countries. A pot of tea is accompanied by finger sandwiches, scones with cream and preserves, and dessert. YUM YUM YUM!
There is an unassuming green coin pouch hanging on the coat tree, decorated with stars, moons and glittery designs. I had received this green velvet pouch as a gift when I was little, and started to use it as my wallet around 14 years old (because Harry Potter characters did the same! haha!) I brought it with me when my family vacationed in the UK that summer, and filled it with English coins from my adventure. It sat in my room for a long time, until 2010 when I was cast as Johanna in Sweeney Todd at Sunnyvale Community Theater. It was the single most influential experience I had on stage, and I walked away having made the most beloved family and friends. This was the last time I used the little green pouch, but it was a symbol of things that were near and dear to me. It was surrounded by a lot of happiness.
I struggled trying to come up with things to put in the picture frame. Initially, I had frames on the wall as well, but those were replaced with a hanging plant in the final painting. I’m happy for that choice. But, I like to add little meaningful details in as many places as possible, so I decided to use my mom’s photo for the frame on the little table. I miss her so much. She passed away in August 2018, and in October of 2019, we had her Celebration of life Service in Maine. This is the picture we used for her service. It was one of her favorites, taken when she was in cosmetology school. I love you mom! ❤
The bookshelves hold so much detail and information and I am excited to break this down with you. That being said, I am going to close out this blog post right now and leave you with the remainder of the images that break down the shelves one by one. With the exception of Eliza’s red book, EVERY SINGLE BOOK is a real book that is either about witches, for witches, or has witches/wizards in them. I have referenced and written out the titles for the most relevant and available fiction books. Most of the others are reference books for witchcraft practices (non-fiction). Maybe you’ll be able to add some of these to your reading list!
And, if you are interested in purchasing a signed art print of “A Witchy Afternoon – 13 Lucky Friends” I am offering a limited edition batch right now in my store. (Original Print/First print has been sold) I have printed a few copies so far, and the print looks FANTASTIC and even better than on the phone or a computer. The printer I use captures every little detail and is printed on a 13 by 19 inch sheet of archival paper. It is made to fit a standard 12 by 18 inch matte opening, so that you can frame it easily.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ALL THE DOTS! I think that after this piece the dots started to diminish drastically.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vampires and blood. I really like the grasp of the neck on this one. The crosshatch is starting to look a lot better.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The lady in the fur coat…she was my first lady that I sketched out. She was supposed to be only a test, but she turned into a finished piece. I call her “Balance”, now. But, she used to be “Harmony”, and before she turned into a solo painting, she was the first of a trio of paintings. At the last minute she would be replaced for my first show, back in November 2016.
She is drawn in black and gray and influenced by Erté and Edward Gorey. The anatomy of the piece was inspired by the yin-yang, by harmony. Here is the outline:
PLH – my abbreviation for “Peace, Love, and Harmony” – is a collection that started with this yin-yang inspired painting. “Love” was pieced together using the combination of hearts, diversity, showgirls, and dramatic feathers. It was the second completed painting in the collection. Here is a breakdown of the 5 heart outlines (can you see them?):
The last painting in the collection was “Peace”. I do find that this one is a little harder to comprehend than the other two in the collection. Many assume that the ladies are lovers, and they very well might be (that is up to the viewer to decide, I am only the artist). The idea was that their bodies and flowing dresses would create a peace sign. I am happy with the final product, but do understand that the anatomy of this piece is a lot more abstract than I intended it to be. Here is the outline for the peace sign:
When I was done with “Peace, Love, and Harmony” I opened the files up, side by side, and felt an instant sense of irritation. “Peace” and “Love” looked like they were a part of the same collection, but “Harmony” was so dark, she had ZERO color, and she was alone and creepy…I didn’t like that she clashed so much in her solidarity and in her anatomy/color scheme. So, I decided to re-draw “Harmony”.
“Harmony” (aka: “Balance”)
I changed name of the black and white painting to “Balance”; she is currently featured as my only solo painting and she is my FIRST painting featuring one of my ladies. It all started with her: the lady in the fur coat.
The new “Harmony” took longer to draw than all of the others combined. I knew that I wanted to feature two women that were intertwined in some way – one with light skin and one with dark skin, as I wanted to continue the theme of diversity and equality throughout all three paintings. There were so many overlapping pieces. The biggest challenge was bringing out the skin tones of each lady against the backgrounds of the skirts. The hats and feathers helped so that they wouldn’t get lost against the colors of the fabric. A yin-yang is still used as the base for this piece. Here is the outline:
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog! xoxoxo
Try and try, and try, and try…again, and again, and again…… Ctrl+z, Ctrl+z, Ctrl+z,…Ctrl+z……Dang it!!!
It has been three long years since the concept of “Women and Wine” was doodled while sitting in my first apartment in LA. What began as an evolution of rough sketches turned into a few years of tedious trials and errors. Why? Because I could not find the right medium for what I wanted to do. Everything that I tried and tested seemed wrong. Time and time, again, I would visit this project and scrap it. I started with Photoshop – tried out a new comic book technique -, I moved into pastels, and went back to the computer again, and into acrylic paints on canvas….the cycle was never-ending. There would be months, and sometimes periods close to a year, where I turned my back on the paints and mediums. I was frustrated. Nothing clicked, nothing worked…I wasn’t happy with any medium. It all seemed unbalanced, the textures were just wrong…
It wasn’t until November 2016 that I was able to put a finished seal on this project, and it solidified my new art medium in Photoshop (and in perfect timing, right before my art show). Not only was I able to pinpoint the new technique and exceed my initial vision, but I also found my calling in the art world through this project: embracing the neutral beauty of diversity. (I will touch on this in a future post.)
This is a collection near and dear to my heart, not only because of my love of wine, but because of the beauty of the physical differences among women. There are three pieces in this collection; each one features a general grouping of wine (red, white, and blush/rosé – with their proper glasses, of course). They also feature women of color: Asian, African American, and Persian (onlookers assume that she is white, but she is, in fact, Persian). I am proud to say that most people had appreciative and very positive (if not, overwhelmingly positive) responses to the incorporation of colored women in the art. My happiest moment was my last customer, who walked by with her mother, and did a double take. She came back a few seconds after walking by the booth, and looked at the woman featured in “White Wine”. “Oh my gosh! Mom! Look! Look at this! She has my hair!” She paused, took in the painting, and after taking a breath she almost whispered, “Oh my gosh.” She took her hands off of her mouth to rest over her heart, “I have never seen my hair in any kind of art, before. That is my hair! My hair looks exactly like this! That’s my hair!…She is beautiful…”
This is why I create art: to touch people, to make them feel. And it makes me so happy to be able to fill a much-needed gap in the art world that has been lacking for much too long.
Here is the tedious process that went through the creation of “Women and Wine”. I hope you enjoy it!
A dear friend of mine reached out to me recently, in light of some hardships that she was dealing with in regards to her health. She asked me if I would be able to draw her the concept of “healing”. With her humble permission, she allowed me to post a step-by-step process of this painting.
I hope that this picture brings you joy and lifts your spirits, Tori. I hope that you ask for help when you need it, that you will allow others to love you, and that you will also take the time to love and take care of yourself as much as you love and take care of others. Trust in God. May he lift you up and comfort you; may he free you from worry and give you peace. I hope that you get well, very soon.
Love Your Friend, Erika
The following is a Photoshop tutorial, using a twist on a new layering technique that I stumbled upon at the end of last year. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for visiting, everyone. And thank you again, Tori, for your permission to post.
Without a solid plan, without a sketch to paper, I broke out my paintbrushes to experiment with a few different abstract techniques. I am still trying to discover my flavor as an artist in the abstract realm.
Anything can be used to apply paint to a canvas. It can be a blessing that glorifies your painting or some huge mistake that ruins your work. Using unconventional tools isn’t a rule made specific for abstract art; it can be used throughout every style of art and painting.
I didn’t get too crazy this time around, but I did use my hands as the primary tool for most of the following paintings. Utilizing traditional techniques helps create a solid branch to stand on when experimenting with new techniques.
Imagination can be an artist’s greatest weapon, but sometimes your hands don’t always do what your brain tells them to do…
There were a couple of paintings in this group that started out with a different end result in mind. They didn’t look ANYTHING like what I had imagined, but when I started to make mistakes, I kept going, I kept adding, and the results were so much more entertaining than what I had started with. Sometimes, making mistakes is a good thing. Sometimes, when you are trying to execute a solid idea, and it doesn’t come out right, and that is okay! Just paint over the canvas and start from scratch. This happened for me a few weeks ago, when I painted Envy, in the Seven Deadly Sins collection. Sometimes, you just want to keep going to see what will happen. Regardless of what happens, the artist should always keep these things in mind when diving into abstract art: balance, color coordination, and purposeful execution.
I NEED TO ASK A FAVOR FROM ALL OF YOU:Let me know what grabs your attention. Let me know what colors you like/hate, and give suggestions for alternative colors, if you want. Any and all feedback is appreciated, so much! I have a thick skin, so if you hate it, tell me. If you love it, tell me. If you think it is “just alright”, tell me. I don’t take it personal. Art is subjective, anyways.
My sister-in-law, Lizzie, asked me to paint something for her that was “Big!” and “Gold and Black!” and she wanted “Glitter!” In my last collection “The Seven Deadly Sins” there was one painting that many people gravitated toward and that was “Greed”. Lizzie wanted something that looked like “Greed” but without the yellow and white. She just wanted gold…and glitter.
I am not unfamiliar with large painting projects. In 2011, my dear friend, Nes, and I were commissioned to paint the set of “Cabaret”, which was made up of many gargantuan rolling set pieces. They were more like walls on wheels.
It was quite fabulous playing around with perspective and house paints. Nes owns his own photography company, Fragoso Photography, in the San Jose Bay Area. (You should really check out his work! He does head shots, special events, holidays, and even product shots! He is excellent!)
The canvas that Lizzie picked out was the largest one I had on hand, at 40 inches by 60 inches. I prepped it with black gesso.
Here is the finished painting! “Lizzie”. What looks like black paint on the canvas, in the complete composition, is actually very dark purple. Using subtle hints of complimentary colors works very well in this type of artwork. It isn’t something that most people would be able to see, but if I had used flat black and just gold, the painting would have looked like it was missing something.
When looking at this composition straight on, you can’t really see the small speckles of different shades of gold paint. The glitter almost hides the “speckle” effect.
I was a little hesitant to add the glitter. I was afraid that it would take away from the natural speckle effect of the painting, and a part of me still feels that way, but the glitter is a very fun effect. I might try it out with some other pieces in the future.
With speckling comes a mess, and another ruined shirt, but it is welcome! Sometimes artwork can be messy, which is why it should be done outside. The natural light that you get from being outside in the sun (not direct sunlight, but overcast light or in the shade of a tree) really helps with color blending and the color choices that you make. There are light bulbs that you can purchase that help with indoor painting. But, many lights have a yellow tinge, or aren’t strong enough to project enough light throughout the room to reflect the true colors that you are painting with. So, if you are picky about colors, make sure your work space is flooded with enough natural light…or just go outside and enjoy the air!
A week ago, I was convinced that my “Seven Deadly Sins” collection was painted on fairly large canvases that measured 24 inches by 36 inches. They were large, but the canvas that I used for “Lizzie” was HUGE! It really put size into perspective. I found out that I really like painting abstract art on a grand scale. Truly, it makes me want to re-paint the “Seven Deadly Sins” collection on these large canvases so that they engulf the viewer. I’ll think about it…
I am about 5 feet 9 inches tall. Here I am standing next to this monster! And I feel like it should be even bigger!
The only requirement of an abstract artist is to make people feel. An artist might touch a white canvas with shades of misty purple and powder blue to invoke the feeling of calm, or the thought of peace, or emptiness. These critiques are welcome and subjective. At this point, the artist has done his job: their work is “good enough” to absorb into the public eye, so that they may “feel”.
If “White Fox in a Snow Bank” is deemed the title for the same piece then the interpretation changes. The free-floating composition that was once left to graze the mind is placed in the artist’s mental gate. It is a part of the experience that the artist wants to guide you though. There are large debates in the art community in regards to titling works of art, and it is even more relevant in the abstract world. I think that titling artwork has its place. Sometimes, it is less appropriate. But, this decision should be made by the artist and accepted as an element of the art itself.
The artist should title their piece if they do believe that it will “open the eyes” of observers and guide them, so that they may see clearer, and so that they may be able to further melt themselves within the piece. If the artist believes that titling their work will hinder the excitement of feeling what is on the canvas, and if it is not specifically associated with any other relevant outside items, the work should not be titled.
In the case of my first abstract collection, I have decided to reveal the titles. They are a group of actions and feelings and each one is a part of our lives, in one form or another. The planning process was difficult, because researching the theme hit so many emotional nerves. Focusing on the goodness of people can be refreshing. Diving into the worst characteristics of humanity is gruesome, and those laced in what seems to be goodness makes one reevaluate their own nature. Trying to create art that represented and embodied these feelings and actions was a challenging feat.
The only tangible pieces of research that were obtained for my collection were the assignment of colors and the order of their display. At the time of their “creation”, each feeling had an official hue assigned to it. Their order is from least to greatest.
I hope that revealing these titles will enhance your understanding of the collection, and maybe lift the curtain back so that you may be able to see.
A sin that is the perverted love of good things
Lust is extreme yearning. Because it is the only sin that is shared with animals, and it is a sin of the flesh, it is labeled as the least of all sins. It is more often labeled as a sin of perverse sexual desire, but it can be applied as a yearning for almost anything: lust for money, power, food, the latest iPhone, and so on.
It is the movement of lust, and the feeling of lust, in all of its smoothness and sensuality. It can be the silk sheets of two lovers, or the smooth finish of the next unneeded electronic gadget. Lust is the calm movement of desire, or the supple air of breath from a kiss that is wrong “but feels so right”. Sleek, comfortable, and often described as beautiful.
A sin that is the perverted love of good things
Gluttony is overindulgence. It is consumption to the point of waste. Society often pinpoints gluttony as “eating”, but the sin covers so much more ground. Overeating, under eating, and purging, can all be labeled as gluttony. It is hoarding money, wasting material goods or non-material items. And as a whole, putting your desires and your needs above everyone else and their well-being.
It is too much. It is abundance. It is waste. It is no coincidence that most food companies use a combination of yellow and red in their business logos. Most fast food chains use these two primary colors because when they are seen together they trigger hunger on a subconscious level. It is also no coincidence that gluttony’s color is the combination of yellow and red: orange.
A sin that is the perverted love of good things
Greed is a sin that is linked to material possession. People think of money, gold, wealth, and over-indulgence. It is a sin of desire and cupidity. A person can also be greedy in love, feelings, and actions.
In its purest form I saw greed as wealth. It is yellow and gold, it is diamonds. In our society wealth is beautiful. More is better. Greed is the finish line that no one will ever reach. Greed only spends on what it wastes.
Color: Light Blue
A sin that contains no love or is the deficiency of love
Sloth is to be “without care”. It is the ONLY sin that revolves around a LACK of action. It is the absence of interest. Boredom, apathy, slow responsiveness. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
I do think that “Sloth” was the most curious and disconnected from the collection for the people who saw them face-to-face. When displayed side by side, left to right, it is the center of the display. It is also the most blinding with its foggy color, and confusing in its lack of movement. It sits there, doing nothing, as if wandering through a mist. The brush strokes are boring, lacking, lazy.
A sin of unnatural love that is directed toward a person in order to harm them.
Wrath is unbridled feelings of rage, anger, and hatred. It is seeking vengeance. It is the “love of justice perverted to revenge and spite”. Anger, in itself, is not a sin. Anger is a natural feeling, but it becomes a sin of wrath when it is directed toward an innocent person, when it is abnormally strong or enduring, or when it fancies overindulgent “justice”. (punishment).
It is decay, rot, death, and blood. It is unfounded war. It is unjustified death. Wrath is an abundance of spilled anger. It is the slitting of the throat of a lover, and it is the pools of blood in fields that were once green. She yells at him. He hits her.
A sin of unnatural love that is directed toward a person in order to harm them.
Envy is the second worst sin. It is the result of pride, the greatest sin, becoming wounded. Envy makes good things feel bad. It lowers another person’s reputation. It finds joy in another person’s misfortune. It grieves at another person’s prosperity and causes sorrow and hatred. “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” – Harold Coffin
If you want to know what your greatest desires are, pay attention to who you envy. It calls into question everything that you think you are. It exposes what you value and where your heart is. You experience joy in another’s sorrow, and sorrow in their joy. It is a never ending whirlwind of suffocation and destruction. If you cannot prevail, and become better than the person who you envy, then you try to bring that person down to your level. Envy is the great leveler. It is wanting something you never had.
Color: Violet or all of the colors
A sin of unnatural love that is directed toward a person in order to harm them.
Pride is the father of all sins. It was known as the devil’s most prominent trait and is viewed as the “anti-god” state. All other sin acts out because of pride (which is why purple is used in all of the paintings – what looks like black, in some of them, is purple). It is the abundant admiration for one’s self. It is failing to acknowledge accomplishments of others, and the twisted belief that one is better than others. It is disconnected from people and reality. Pride honors those that the WORLD sees as worthy. It is hungry for attention, respect, and worship. It searches for fault in others.
Pride is deceiving. It is best at hiding beneath good qualities, such as humbleness. It is the donation that you give that flaunts your name so the world may see your generosity. It is the shy individual who is preoccupied with how the world views him, and what he will do when the spotlight is flashed on him. It is the voice inside your head that says “I’m better at that than her”. You don’t even have to speak; it is there. It is self-centered love that sparkles and gleams behind tainted humility. It is all about you.
A collection, like this, starts with notes and sketches. What looks like random spots and lines and colors are planned movement and a combination of elements. There should be cohesiveness in the painting.
Here is some of the aftermath of Wrath. The trees suffered a little with all of my gashing and slashing movements. (It was a lot of fun though.) I might have shared a hand-full of orange paint with the neighbors when I was working on Gluttony, too…woops….
Here they are sitting out to dry, with Greed.
I struggled the most while trying to capture Envy and Pride. I wanted their flow to relate to each other more than between the others. Envy is pride that has been broken. And pride is the root of all evil and all sin. It is fitting that when most people look at Pride, they see the universe. And isn’t that the point? I was very happy with the response to the piece. I felt like I did my job, as an artist.
Envy was the most difficult. It’s okay to make mistakes! How many times was the Mona Lisa re-painted? (too many!) I scrapped the first version of Envy, and painted over it. The flow wasn’t right and the colors were not what I had envisioned, and the texture I wanted was non-existent. When it comes to artwork I rely heavily on instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
I had to sit down and try to revamp what I had wanted. I tried salvaging it, at one point, but it got to be too much. When all else fails, paint over it and start over!
Sometimes you need a little helper to motivate you and keep you going. This is one of my helpers, Ody. (Short for Odysseus).
After all was said and done, I was very happy with the result.
Thank you for joining me on my first journey through abstract art! I hope that you were able to open your eyes a little, like I did, and expand your understanding of the strange and subjective art style. I hope that you pick up a paint brush and try some, yourself! I promise that you will have a lot of fun!