Dream Portfolio/ How to Discover Your Style class



  • I'm currently trying to really tighten up my style and get to that next level of polish, so I figured this would be a great class to tackle.

    This has already been quite eye opening, and not for reasons I thought it would be. I've had Pinterest boards and folders on my computer of work I love and/or want to emulate, but I've never actually focused on just the style aspects, and then plot them all out on one sheet. Seeing them as one whole made it easier to get clearer insights. But, then doing the same with my work...holy moly, what an eye opener.

    Dream Portfolio (Step 1)
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    My Current Top Illustrations (Step 2)
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    Elinore Eaton/Dream Portfolio Observations

    Large overall constructed shapes, very designed compositions, divided by highly detailed and decorated sections--often areas or lines comprised of dots, snow, stars, complex costume, etc. alongside large simplified areas. The high contrast areas/focus of the compositions are often the simplest, or like an overall light painting with only one dark area or vice versa.

    Light. Lots of these seem “special” because of the treatment and attention to light.

    Curving, wavy lines, motion or a suggestion motion even though most of these feel quiet. Even the Delort piece (which I realize is the only black and white one and has a bit of a horror genre to it, but totally belongs and has been a favorite of mine for years) feels quiet, but full with tension and mood.
    Everything seems very dreamy to me. Themes are relationships with animals, flying or leaping, symbolism, stars falling, seeing words and energy. Not surprisingly, fairytale vibes and wonder, often feminine.

    Most of these have a very limited color palette. Lots of blues and warm neutrals. Some with pops of a bold red. Wow...actually all of them are blue and yellow to some degree, with some version of one of those colors almost black.

    No heavy line work. The few that have line work, it’s that delicate Golden Age style of lined edges with complementary colored lines with watercolor glazing and texture.

    The big thing I feel like I am missing with my work is cleanliness. My values are also not as good. Just less sophisticated and more evenly distributed.

    Notes for me:
    -Create larger areas of rest, truly large solid shapes and higher levels of contrast in size of shapes. Visually, my pieces just seem busier.
    -Pay special service to light or the darkness, reflections, spotlights, stars, golden hour, etc. Some of your newer pieces are getting flat.
    -Enjoy curvy lines, wavy shapes, and marks that express motion, but not everywhere.
    -Dreamy quiet quality. Stop yelling.
    -Can’t go wrong with blue and yellow. Warm up your whites, darken your darks. Similar to the value idea, don’t go halfsies, think more one overall color, with the support of one other, and only sometimes a punch of a third, most likely red.

    • Decide on an overall value for a piece (mostly dark or light), a lot of mine seem equally divided between darks and lights, and then use the lesser value to define focus.
      -Soften edges, think more impressionism, pastels.
      -Work on polish. Work on polish. Work on polish.

    -Themes to focus on:
    animal/human relationships
    dreams, symbols, metaphor
    fairytales
    costume, jewelry, ornamental objects
    girls, feminine sensibilities
    scenes in nature with motion--flying, swimming, weather
    Lights, stars, dark creatures with glowing eyes, golden hour, large figures or a grouping with small figures

    Any other observations?

    Looking forward to going through Step 3 and rocking some Master Studies!


  • Pro SVS OG

    Beautiful work!



  • @Elinore-Eaton This is a really great analysis, and something I have on my to-do list as well. It's such a straight forward, valuable exercise!

    Keep it up!



  • @Elinore-Eaton

    I am in the process of doing this as well. You have many works and you will get where you want to be soon enough. 🙂



  • This is a really great analysis! I thought of an artist you might like when I was looking through your dream portfolio: Kay Nielsen. Also a Golden Age illustrator, so I think his work is right up your alley.


  • Pro

    Here's another observation from your dream portfolio work: a lot of texture going on! All the images in your dream portfolio really rock the dreamy texture which I think helps a lot in giving it that ethereal look you seem to favor. In your own portfolio, your traditional illustrations have that too but your digital ones do not! Your images 2,3 and 4 specifically really seam to stick out in comparison to your other illustrations and to your dream portfolio. They have a very clean and polished digital look to them.



  • @Alicja-W Oh yes! I LOVE Kay Neilson. I also love Arthur Rackham and Ivan Bilibin, and it was interesting doing this assignment and really considering style and their work, I realized that the heavy lean on line work with those guys I think reduces a soft dreamy quality that I'm realizing I really personally like creating. For me, it also flattens the images in a way that makes it harder to make light and dark the star of the show, which I am realizing is something Iove doing.
    Such a valuable part of doing this exercise was looking at a lot of work I love and have loved for a long time, but distinguishing whether or not it's something I want to emulate, of what parts of a style I like, and why. So, I'd almost like to take some of Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielson, and Ivan Biliban illustrations and "paint them in your own style" without the heavy line work and with more focus on lighting...could be a neat exercise.



  • @NessIllustration Ooooo, thank you for the observation! It's interesting the images that you are comparing are my oldest in the bunch (2, 3, 4) and my newest (the King Arthur paintings.) I have fallen in love with how other artists use texture, and I think I'm trying to figure out how that is going to work for me.
    I'm definitely going through a struggle in style between medium and wether or not to lean more heavily on digital or traditional. <Le Sigh>


  • Pro

    @Elinore-Eaton I don't think you necessarily have to choose, you can do both traditional and digital 🙂 I find that they kind of feed each other, traditional teaches me about digital and digital teaches me about traditional! You can also incorporate some of those textures you like in your digital work, without having to switch to traditional.



  • @NessIllustration I'm glad you think so! I think I can do both too, just need to find the right balance and keep the style consistent. I'm looking forward to exploring more and getting it dialed down. I find I do one for a while and then the other, and as I hop back and forth they always inform and help eachother get better. Like huge leaps in improvement in one after I hang out in the other for a while. So, I think you are right.
    I'm curious how you think I might incorporate the textures more in the digital. You mean like scanning watercolor textures in, and using those in digital, or emulating those kind of textures straight through with digital?


  • Pro

    @Elinore-Eaton Both are possible, it really depends how you like to work. I use a lot of watercolor textures and brushes in my digital work (since in the traditional realm, watercolor is my medium of choice). But I've seen a lot of artists use textured brushes in the digital paintings (it's very common to see this in children illustration, actually). Some of the examples from your dream portfolio are digital after all, and they have texture. I really like Kyle Webster's brushes (free to download with Creative Cloud), he has a great range of pastel, chalk, oil, pencil, watercolor, etc.



  • @NessIllustration Cool, thanks for your insights!
    Love Kyle brushes too. 😉


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