Search

Art with Erika

the journey of an artist – painting life with purpose

Tag

artist

“A Witchy Afternoon – 13 Lucky Friends” – July 8, 2020

This painting was the largest most time consuming piece I have ever worked on, mostly because it was a big experimental learning process for me. I took many short videos while drawing the little details, which can be found on the highlights section of my Instagram (right under my bio HERE)

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.

First sketches of "A Witchy Afternoon - 13 Lucky Friends" - created in Photoshop using a basic round brush. By Erika Robertson, Art With Erika.
First sketches of “A Witchy Afternoon – 13 Lucky Friends” – Digital Painting

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…

13 lucky friends name chart - art with erika digital painting closeups of characters.
“Nice to meet you!” – Meet the crew from “A Witchy Afternoon” – each one of the 13 friends have names and a story

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.

Closeup of Eliza the Witch inspired by Kiki's Delivery Service. Art With Erika Digital Painting.
Colors and design inspired by Kiki the witch – Reference photo

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.

Royal Albert Old Country Roses tea set closeup of painting by Art With Erika
Royal Albert Old Country Roses Tea Set – Reference Photo

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!

Closeup details of "A Witchy Afternoon" painting - reference photo by Art With Erika
A tiny green bag from a past life – Me as Johanna in “Sweeney Todd” 2010 – Reference Photo

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.

Reference photo and close up of a painting by Erika Robertson Art With Erika
Hello, mom! – Reference Photo

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! ❤

Closeup details of "a witchy afternoon" by Erika Robertson, digital painting, bookshelves with witch books.
Closeup of the bookshelves for “A Witchy Afternoon – 13 Lucky Friends”

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.

If you aren’t already, please follow me on Instagram and Facebook, and stay tuned for some exciting new artwork coming soon!

Thank you and stay healthy and safe everyone!

Practical Magic, Good Omens, and Lives of the Mayfair Witches
Practical Magic, Good Omens, and Lives of the Mayfair Witches
Witch's Bible, The Penguin Book of Witches, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Brooklyn Brujas Series
Witch’s Bible, The Penguin Book of Witches, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Brooklyn Brujas Series
The Wiccan Prayer Book, Celtic Magic, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Bone Witch Collection, Witches of East End Collection, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond
The Wiccan Prayer Book, Celtic Magic, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Bone Witch Collection, Witches of East End Collection, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Harry Potter Series, Akata Witch Collection, Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit
Harry Potter Series, Akata Witch Collection, Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit
The Crucible, The Witches of New York, The Witches of Eastwick, The Wizard of Oz Collection, The Wicked Years Collection
The Crucible, The Witches of New York, The Witches of Eastwick, The Wizard of Oz Collection, The Wicked Years Collection
All Souls Trilogy, Witch Child Collection, The Witch's Daughter Collection, and The Witch's Trinity
All Souls Trilogy, Witch Child Collection, The Witch’s Daughter Collection, and The Witch’s Trinity
Afternoon Tea Witch inspired illustration, digital painting with themes of black cats, crows, tea, and books. A Witchy Afternoon - 13 Lucky Friends by Erika Robertson with Art With Erika.
“A Witchy Afternoon – 13 Lucky Friends” – Digital Painting 2020 – 13 by 19 inches

“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.

“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.

60

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

“Balance & the LPH Breakdown” – January 26, 2017

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.

balance-store
“Balance” by Erika Robertson – 2016 – Photoshop

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?):

love-store
“Love” – by Erika Robertson – 2016 – Photoshop

love-red

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:

peace-store
“Peace” – by Erika Robertson – 2016 – Photoshop

peace-red

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”.

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:

harmony-store
“Harmony” – by Erika Robertson – 2016 – Photoshop

harmony-red

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog!  xoxoxo

“Women and Wine Collection” – January 25, 2017

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!

01
The first speed sketch (estimated sketch time: 15 seconds – if you’re curious, haha!)

02
More concept sketches.  I wanted to incorporate costume and fashion design in here, somehow, but I also wanted to combine the women a little more with the wine, instead of having the glasses and the figures standing side by side.  That is when I decided to put her inside the glass…

03
These are the first roughs of the concept of the evening dress flowing into the wine, and possibly becoming the wine…the evolution has started.

04
How much of the wine did I want to be “dress” and how much did I want the dress to be “wine”?  I had to play around with the balances a little more, do get a good “weight” between the woman and the wine glass.  How dramatic did I want the gown, too?…maybe less drama would be more, in this case.  If the dress is too busy, it will distract from the subject matter, and I didn’t want the focal point to be the dress.

05
The first breakthrough for “Red Wine”.  This pose would stay relevant for the remainder of the project.

06
Roughs of possible layouts for “rose” and “white” wines.  I like the different angles of the women, and the use of the scarf to balance out the weight of the wine splashing from the glass.

07
I had to decide if I wanted the ENTIRE glass in the picture, or if I wanted a closeup with the stem cut off.  I really did want to keep the whole glass, but there would have been a lot of dead space at the bottom of each painting.  I could either fill it with background or adjust it and zoom in to focus on the ladies a little more.  Decisions, decisions…

08
The first concept for the collection was very detailed and complicated.  It wasn’t until I started drawing it out on the computer that I decided to scrap it, completely.  It involved three different backgrounds (ocean, vineyard, and city) with three times of day (evening, twilight, and daylight), with the three kinds of wine.  The colors might have played off of each other, well, but it was just too busy.

09
Here is where the ethnicity of the women started to come into the picture.  Ultimately, their diversity would be the focal point that would scrap the busy and colorful backgrounds.  Their beauty and strength in just being “them” brings enough energy to the table without the distracting backgrounds.

10
It is so interesting to look back and see how I changed out some elements and switched details around.  At first, I had the poses for white and rose wine switched around.  I’m glad with the final decision I made.  There was also debate as to the angle of the wine glass, and if it should stand straight, or come into the frame at an angle.  The slanted glass gives the whole picture more energy.  In the end I propped the glasses upright, and the only movement in the paintings came from the ladies.

11
Here are the final quick sketches for the placement and balance of the paintings.  This is where I decided to switch the poses of the white and rose wines.  

12
The first digital sketch of “Red Wine”

13
Adding more details

14
You can see that I didn’t put away the busy background, just yet.  There are some curtains, and a picture of LA in the back.  The picture is used so I can see the balance of the elements behind the window.  There is just so much going on!  TOO MUCH!

18
Here are the final base outlines.  You can see why I got rid of the background….Everything gets lost in everything.  YUCK!

12a
At the end of all of that I was left with this outline!  I loved it, and held onto it for a long time.  But, something was not right…I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  I also didn’t feel good about drawing in Photoshop, so I tried to visit my roots in painting to see if that would turn out a little better.

20
I had to figure out the color schemes and what to do with the background.  To the right, you can see the colors of the wine painted on plastic sheets; This is a good way to test the paints and different possible background combinations before committing to canvas and wasting all that material.  A good thing to stock up on are paint chip cards from the paint store.  It makes figuring out color combinations a lot easier when you can see them together to start. Something was wrong with the paint, so I went back to Photoshop…and I couldn’t figure out what to do with the background.

21
Revisiting Photoshop…This is a technique used by a few comic book artists that I follow.  You block out your base colors, and overlay it with a shade and then start to highlight and in order to bring the light colors through the dark mask.  As soon as I got the mask on the red wine I knew that I didn’t want to use this technique…SCRAP IT!  NEEEEXT!!!!  I also HATED the background.  It was okay-ish (not really) for the red wine, but the rose and white wine would have clashed with it.  If I was going to do a “plain” background I wanted to make sure to do something cohesive so that the three paintings looked good together, side by side.  I wanted the backgrounds to be the same, also…but figuring out the color scheme that worked well with red, rose, and yellow, on top of the skin tones, was maddening.

19
So, back to the outline.  I looked at it, again, and I still wasn’t happy with it.  Something wasn’t balanced and I couldn’t figure out WHY.  Turns out it was the scarf.  (stupid, stupid scarf!)  It was too long, too dramatic.  The eye went to the scarf before anything else, and I didn’t want the scarf to be the first thing people saw.  I spent so much time drawing that stupid scarf only to erase it.  But, I am SO glad that I did.  I also decided to straighten the glass at this point, instead if having it leaning off at an angle.  This way, all of the energy is in the wine, the scarf, and the lady.  

22
Once I fixed the scarf, I sketched out the white wine and rose wine.  I printed out the images and took a look at them side by side.  I made adjustments.  “Red Wine” was WAY too thin, so I thickened out her waist, hips, and arms.  

23
I gave “White Wine” a little more of a booty bump.  I didn’t want to fill in her hair, yet, because I would be doing that later.  At this point I decided that I was going to transfer these drawings to canvas and finish them in Pastels!!!  I loved the idea of having a “chalkboard effect” on top of a black canvas!  Onward!

24
The final outlines for “Red Wine”

25
The final outlines for “White Wine”

26
The final outlines for “Rose Wine”

27
These are soft pastels!!!  I spray painted a canvas with chalk spray….but this didn’t work out…….DANG IT!!!!  It just didn’t look right at all…..MOVING ON!!!!…..maybe if I paint…..again……………..

28
This is as far as I got with the painting….just the bottom coats for each one of them…………then I scrapped it, again…….STILL NOT RIGHT!!!!

29
“This just doesn’t look like it is going to be going in the right direction…hmmmmmm…….???  Something isn’t right.”

30
“Dang it…this is so frustrating…frickin a…”

31
“What am I going to do, now?”

32
“Moving on……sorry painting…………………..I can already tell that you just aren’t the right medium for this project…I’ll have to brainstorm, again…”

33
BACK TO THE COMPUTER!!!!  Layer, after layer, after layer, are blended and smoothed out.  I used the same drawing technique seen in my step-by-step of “healing”, only with a lot more layers.  I was really happy with the way that this one turned out.  That is, until I did the next one…

34
“White Wine” was the second painting that I finished, and it was the piece where I had the biggest breakthrough with my digital drawing technique.  The skin was smooth and vibrant, the hair and textures were exactly what I wanted.  I moved on to the “Rose Wine”, which was just as vibrant and smooth and beautiful as “White Wine”, but when I opened “Red Wine” again, after having had such a phenomenal breakthrough, I was less than thrilled.

35
She looked like a corpse, especially next to the other two.  I brightened her skin, smoothed it out and re-painted her.  Her hair was darkened and a lot more life was given to the painting.  I was so happy to finish this project!  It turned out even better than I had imagined it would!

red-wine-rbg
“Red Wine” – by Erika Robertson – 2016 – Photoshop

rose-wine-rbg
“Rose Wine” – by Erika Robertson – 2016 – Photoshop

white-wine-rbg
“White Wine” – by Erika Robertson – 2016 – Photoshop

women-and-wine-collection
“Women and Wine” Collection – by Erika Robertson – 2016 – Photoshop

“Healing” – January 22, 2017

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.

tori01rbg
Sketching the rough outline.  I always start with a light blue brush and sketch out a few layouts and concepts.  This is a very organic process, but once I figure out the general layout, I need to get the lines as proportionate as possible.  This is probably the most important step, because if your drawing is “off” in the beginning, it will be very tough to fix, later on.

tori02rbg
I add a light wash to her skin and change the color of the outlines to match the wash.

tori03rbg
This is a rough hair placement.

tori04rbg
Her beautiful hair needed to be trimmed back, so that it didn’t distract from the balance of the whole portrait.  There will be a sense of “energy” coming from the palms of her hands, so I wanted her hair to react to that source instead of being scattered about the whole frame.

tori05rbg
I add in a background base and shadows.  I chose purple, with highlights of red and blue, to bring out the yellow and orange tones of her hair.  I want the background to be very dark and I want this piece to have a lot of contrast because…

tori06rbg
…I am going to add a focal point of blue-ish light in her hands to represent healing, calm, strength, and peace.  I am testing the color combinations to see if they balance, before proceeding with the drawing.  I also see if this is the exact concept that I want to move forward with.  I need to make sure the elements sit well, together, and sometimes testing is a good thing.

tori07rbg
I take away the blue highlights, so that I can fill in her hair to test its truer color against the background.

tori08rbg
I start to add skin tones and shading.

tori09rbg
Deeper shades and highlights are layered on each other, and facial details are added.

tori10rbg
The pastel strokes are smoothed out.  But, her skin is a little too pink…I need to fix it.  Her hair also needs to be brightened.

tori11rbg
An eraser is used to trim around her hair and body.  Skin and hair colors are balanced out and a lot of pink is taken away.

tori12rbg
The orange vibrancy of her hair is bumped up just a little to give more contrast against the purple/blue background.

tori13rbg
Hair strands are drawn and scattered about.  Texture is added to her hair to give a little more depth.

tori14rbg
A drastic last minute change put most of this piece in the shadows.  Because a lot of “light” is going to be added, at the end, having the darkness will create an intense dramatic effect.  I love that a sense of mystery is brought out in this step, also.  This will also bring the attention to her face and the light, first, as opposed to her figure.

tori15rbg
The light is added to her palms and engulfs her body and hair.

tori16rbg
More shadows, details, and depth are added before the final magical touches.  I love the rainbow of colors that appeared within her hair.  It was unexpected, but so beautiful!  Happy accidents, right, Bob Ross?

tori17rbg
I start with the darkest shade of color that was used in the focal light, which was light blue, and scatter magical dots all around her.  I make sure that the flow is balanced and feels right to me before adding the next layer of magic and healing.

tori18rbg
An off-white is used to highlight the magical pathways even more.  The off-white is still very bright next to the dark colors, but can be brought out just a little more…

tori19rbg
The foreground “magic” is highlighted with an opaque pure white brush, to add extra depth and pop against the purple background.  “Healing” – digital painting – Photoshop.  By Erika Robertson – 2017 – For Tori

“Just Keep Painting” – July 29, 2016

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.

1
The artwork basking in the sunshine

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.

2
24″ x 36″ – Acrylic on Canvas

4
11″ x 14″ – Acrylic on Canvas

6
18″ x 14″ – Acrylic on Canvas

5

3
12″ x 9″ – Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas

 

7
30″ x 40″ – Acrylic on Canvas

‘Til next time!

“Lizzie” – July 20, 2016

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.

14
Nes anticipating everything…2011

15
Cabaret set painting, with Nes – 2011

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.

16
Detail work for some “small” set pieces – Cabaret 2011

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!) 

1
All the glitter!

2
You can never have too many paint brushes!  (This is a fact…)

 

3
The work space, in all its glory.

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.

17
“Lizzie” – 40″ x 60″- Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas – July 19, 2016

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.

Small details bring a lot of character to artwork!  Remember, it is all about the little things!

5
Detail shot of a portion of the bottom of “Lizzie” – tons of speckles in between a little bit of glitter

6
Detail shot of a portion of the top of “Lizzie” – more subtle speckles and some glitter!

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.

4
One more “painting” shirt to add to the collection!

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!

7
“Greed” and “Lizzie”

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…

8
I could barely fit this canvas in my car!  How am I going to transport anything larger than this?!

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!

Ody thinks so too…

12
Contemplation…look at that intense focus…

11
His eyes match the painting so well!  Good job being the epic cat that you are, Odysseus.

9
DO THE ART!!!!

‘Til next time!

“Abstract Art: Part 2” – July 17, 2016

The Seven Deadly Sins ALL PAINTINGS

***The titles for the collection and each painting are listed below.  The end of this article also contains “behind the scenes” photographs.  Enjoy!***

This is part two of “Abstract Art”.  You can read “Abstract Art: Part 1”, here!  

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.

Enjoy!

 

The Seven Deadly Sins ALL PAINTINGS

The Seven Deadly Sins
July 2016 – Erika Robertson

Lust
“Lust” – 24″ x 36″ Acrylic on Canvas – July 2016

Lust

Color:  Blue

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.

gluttony
“Gluttony” – 24″ x 36″ Acrylic on Canvas – July 2016

Gluttony

Color: Orange

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.

greed
“Greed” – 24″ x 36″ Acrylic on Canvas – July 2016

Greed

Color:  Yellow

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.

sloth
“Sloth” – 24″ x 36″ Acrylic on Canvas – July 2016

Sloth

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.

wrath
“Wrath” – 24″ x 36″ Acrylic on Canvas – July 2016

Wrath

Color:  Red

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.

envy
“Envy” – 24″ x 36″ Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas – July 2016

Envy

Color:  Green

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.

pride
“Pride” – 24″ x 36″ Acrylic on Canvas – July 2016

Pride

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 short glance behind the scenes:

7

8

1

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.

3

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….

2

Here they are sitting out to dry, with Greed.

9

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.

4

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.

5
Envy – the one we won’t talk about……

6
When all else fails, start over!

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!

ody
This fat!  Odysseus.  Aka: Ody

Sometimes you need a little helper to motivate you and keep you going.  This is one of my helpers, Ody.  (Short for Odysseus).

envy
Envy – the final version

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!

The Seven Deadly Sins ALL PAINTINGS
“The Seven Deadly Sins” – Erika Robertson – Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas – July 2016

‘Til next time! 

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: