Time to get that imagination motor running!
I have been a professional freelance illustrator and graphic designer for over ten years in both commercial and fine art industries. I have worked as an illustrator, graphic designer, and art director, with companies and agencies including Reading Rainbow, Blue Angel Publishing, and AKQA. Over the last few years, I have been strictly honing my skills as an illustrator and visual storyteller and am thrilled to be focused now on publications based art, children’s books, book covers, and advertising illustration.
I create unique and beautiful imagery to communicate stories, capture audiences and entrance the imagination. I am a professional at showing subtle narratives and emotion.
I live in Portland, Oregon, and am currently available for work in Publication Illustration; books, cards, and games, and am considering agent representation.
Time to get that imagination motor running!
Thanks so much y'all! I'm glad to share. Making art is often a long journey with lots of twists and turns, not a one stop shop. Sometimes you gotta just dig your heels in and keep going til you get where you really want to go.
@Julia I've been working on a process that blends watercolor and digital painting together. It's kind of my secret sauce right now, and I'm having so much fun with it. Ultimately, the look I'm going for is that it looks like something very tangible and relatable and real, the watercolor; but then has a lighting quality and magic to it that doesn't make sense for watercolor to do by itself--not easily anyhow--so the viewer isn't quite sure what they are looking at. I've tried to get the look just using one or the other and it just isn't the same. Watercolor has a natural alchemy that you just cannot re-produce digitally, and it also already has a natural luminance to it--and digital painting always has that human touch, hand to media, missing from it. Sometimes the pieces look more watercolor and people can't even tell there is digital painting involved, but there almost always is in my work.
This is a story of going down a lot of paths before you paint.
So, I was going to do "Everyone was shocked to see her show up to school with and octopus." I had lots of fun sketching some cute girl and her octopus sketches.
But, when I went to draw and paint it, it just wasn't me. It wasn't the kind of magic, myth, fantasy, and folklore jam I love doing. I don't even want to share the line art I started, but for posterity's sake here ya go.
So, I went back to the drawing board, and tried to figure out a way to turn the prompt on it's head, so I focused in on the word 'shocked' and thought about a girl literally bringing lightning to school. So, then, I went down a research hole into lightning folktales and mythology and stumbled upon the story of the Kadlu, and fell in love. According to Inuit folklore, Kweetoo, Ignirtoq, and Kadlu are the three little sister goddesses of lightning, rain, and thunder. Kweetoo makes lightning by hitting flint stones together, and I was thinking how fun would it be to show the moment when Kweetoo goes to school and shows her sisters that she can create lightning.
These are some of my favorite thumbs.
I went all the way to finished line art that never got a bit of paint. When I finished it, it just didn't have the spark I was looking for, and just had that generic kidlit look that is not my jam.
So, I started over -ish AGAIN! But, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to do a portrait and expression heavy piece, but wanted to make sure it had good storytelling, and that's when I thought it'd be good to really bring the sisters in.
I'm pretty proud of the finished piece. I took Jake's critique to heart last time, and really tried to get the full range of levels in there, and did everything I could to make the final image and any illusion I wanted to include as realistic and magical as possible.
I went through a lot of ideas for this prompt, and nothing felt right til I focused in on the word ‘shocked’ and started researching lightning folklore. I asked, “what if a little girl literally brought lightning to school?” So, I found the tale of the Kadlu, and fell in love. According to Inuit folklore, Kweetoo, Ignirtoq, and Kadlu are the three little sister goddesses of lightning, rain, and thunder. Kweetoo makes lightning by hitting flint stones together, and I was thinking how fun would it be to show the moment when Kweetoo goes to school and shows her sisters that she can create lightning.
You can check out my full process (this one was a doozy!) on the forums here.
Love seeing everyone's work! Good luck all!
What an interesting question! I've heard that style is actually a laundry list of someone's weaknesses. I think this is sometimes true, but not always, and I think it comes down to choice. I think it is ideal to be able to draw and paint everything realistically if tasked to do so. Though this may be a tall order, if you have this basically under your belt, your style comes from stylistic choices based on your preferences, rather than your weaknesses. I think you know what you may or may not be doing based on weaknesses as opposed to choices. Nothing wrong with that! In fact, I think it's quite smart to design illustrations always keeping in mind what you're good at, and enjoy doing. (The recent SVS Podcast on style talks about this a bit.) But, you don't want to feel limited on what you can and can't do, so always be working on improving weaknesses and hard skills.
On to your specific question, "How do you personally choose what elements of reality to keep and strive for and which you let go of?" I've been leaning pretty hard into figuring this out lately, since I have spent the bulk of the last two years really working on hard skills (anatomy, perspective, composition, color and light), and a lot of my experiments in really honing in on my style is listening to what people are liking in my work and wanting more of, and then crossing it with what I'm noticing I enjoy and want to incorporate more of into my work. I think this middle ground is where good style happens. I think that it's a better goal for your style to be driven by your strengths, rather than cover up your weaknesses. Find things that you love in other artists' work and work hard on re-creating it in your own way.
@MissMushy ANytime! GL on your masters adventures!
@MissMushy You are asking some very good questions!
I think one of the keys to master studies is having a very clear purpose. Ask yourself what it is that you are trying to learn or take away from the art you are looking at: the line work, composition, color, light quality, maybe how they paint eyes? Otherwise you may just end up trying to make a copy, without learning much. It happens to the best-intentioned of us. So, if what you are trying to learn is the medium that the original artist used, then yes, do everything in your power to know the medium that was used, do the research, and use the master study as a way to explore and learn that medium. If not, then the medium doesn't matter. I appreciate the skill that goes into a master study where the student is just trying to make an exact copy, but I've found over the years (and I am a master study junky), that the best way to get the most out of your master study is to be really clear about what you want to take away from the original artist and incorporate into your own work, then focus on that.
One of the best ways I have found benefits of master studies, is to do many from the same artist. For example, I did a very lengthy series of Edgar Payne master studies with the purpose of understanding his use of color and decisions around composition. He's an oil painter, but I could kind of care less about learning how to paint in oil, but I did want to figure out how to get some of his brushing technique replicated digitally--so, I did the studies digitally. I also didn't waste time getting the paintings to look exactly like the originals, because my purpose was to understand his color choices and compositions, so that's where I spent most of my time. I would do a one hour study of his original, and do a 3-4 hour original painting using what I learned. This is how I do all my master studies now, and highly recommend it to anyone else who wants to be a fellow master study junky. When done with purpose, master studies can be the best teacher.
So long rant short, ask yourself first, "what do I want to learn SPECIFICALLY from this master?" and just focus on that takeaway.
What a fun illustration! @NessIllustration I'd love to see the running characters be a bit larger and closer to the audience, maybe have the cat the closest. It will create a stronger dominance structure, as well as bring some stronger layering and perspective. If you make them larger and shift them just slightly so that they overlap the stairs a bit, you're also going to lead the eye from the mummy to them and back again, and the composition won't be divided by that strong line illustrating the corner of the room. I did a quick re-size to show you what I mean. Nice work!