Monday, October 28, 2013

Sketch Fest #43 Oct. 25 ~ 27, 2013

I think my record for the pieces done during Sketch Fest previously was 9.  I broke that by 1 this weekend. :D  Most of the pieces were ACEOs and all were small pieces with the largest being 4" x 6".  Still, I have to feel pretty good about it since a lot of other artists seemed to be complaining about art block, etc.

I scribbled, inked, and painted on all 3 days of the weekend, starting with this super adorable sweetness to a prompt "It's So Fluffy".

ACEO 2.5" x 3.5" in ink & watercolor on bristol vellum (140 lb.)  SOLD

I titled this "Mama, It's So Fluffy!".  A chick and a kitten have an encounter and both are thinking that the other is just so darned fluffy!  Like a toddler points to another toddler and says, "Baby!". :D  Sweet and lighthearted to ease me into the groove.

ACEO 2.5" x 3.5" in ink & watercolor on bristol vellum (140 lb.)  SOLD

Next, I found this hilarious prompt, "FORLORN CORN!".  It actually was all capital with an exclamation mark at the end, too.  I've been wanting to design more vegetable sprites, but their shapes make it somewhat of a challenge and I often feel stumped.  But somehow, the phrase "forlorn corn" just did the trick.  I got this mental image of a lonesome and heartbroken corn baby.  It's so cute you just want to give her a tight hug!

ACEO 2.5" x 3.5" in ink & watercolor on bristol vellum (140 lb.)  SOLD

As it gets later into the evening hours on Friday, there usually are a lot more prompts posted by the people.  Some people are regular buyers, while others just want to see some of their prompts turned into art.  I'm sure a lot of the participating artists keep that in mind.  Sketch Fest can be a very nice quick money-maker if you keep the prices low and pick prompts that have mass appeal.  Putting it this way, it sounds like less of a creative venture and more like a business opportunity.  But the biggest benefit to both your wallet and your skill do come when you creatively maximize both of these aspects.  I've painted many flower fairies in the past.  I've also drawn so many roses, it's one of the flowers I can draw very quickly without reference photos.  So it only stood to reason that I quickly whip one up to this prompt, "Rose Fairy".   This was done very quickly with ink, just 3 colors of watercolor and table salt.  Skipped the usual highlights for the mood.  I really like the way this one turned out. ^_^

3.5" x 5" in ink & watercolor on bristol vellum (140 lb.)

Next I chose "Candy Corn Fairy".  Sounded cute.  And I had the mental image of my Little Tomte character (who is a gnome with a pointy cone hat and a dress) wearing her usual gear in the colors of candy corn.  Fancy her up with wings and a magic wand for an adorable young candy corn fae. ^_^

Here's a funny story about me.  As some of you may already know, I came from Japan 20+ years ago.  I'm a college graduate, and I don't even have much of an accent (or so people tell me).  Yet, there was a huge misunderstanding on my part about the candy corn that went undetected for ... well, 20+ years.  I was walking in a grocery store with my husband when we came across a huge display of candy corn.  The hand written sign read "Candy Corn $1.99".  I pointed at it and said, "Haha, some idiot wrote it wrong.  It's candy CONE."  My hubby looked at me a little strangely and said, "No, honey, that's correct.  It's candy CORN."  "Really?!?!?!  But, but, but... look, it's clearly cone-shaped, so it's candy cone, isn't it???"  *facepalm*  To this day, I still see the cone and no resemblance to corn whenever I see candy corn...

ACEO 2.5" x 3.5" in ink & watercolor on bristol vellum (140 lb.)

"Fall Leaves in Her Hair".  There used to be a prompter/purchaser who would leave "(object) in her hair" prompts month after month.  I used to really enjoy doing an ACEO every month to these prompts.  I think there were months either she missed or I missed...  At one point, I no longer saw the "in her hair" prompt any more.  So it was my pleasant surprise to see the prompt "fall leaves in her hair" this time around.  I was able to do a quick ACEO of an autumn elf.  As much as I love working in colder hues of blues and purple, I do have a fondness for the warm tones of red and orange mixed with a little purple. ^_^

I've been watching "The Rose of Versailles", the Japanese anime series, based on a massively successful shoujo manga series of late 70s.  I think I'm seeing a little bit of the characters... or the shoujo manga feel in some of the pieces this month. lol

"Pikachu, I Holla You!" -- ACEO sized quick scribble (ink & watercolor).  Someone put a prompt "Favorite Pokemon".   Really?  Gosh, let me think?  I wasn't going to draw one to this prompt, but in the end, my weak will couldn't resist.  I had to sketch out a gangsta Pikachu. lol  "I didn't choose the thug life.  Thug life chose me."  

4" x 6" ink on bristol vellum (140 lb.) to be finished   SOLD

"Chrysanthemum Festival".  Ahhh, nice traditionally Japanese-inspired prompt!  Couldn't resist once again.  As it turned out, the prompter had me in mind all along when she posted this prompt. ^^;  As much as I love the look of these large chrysanthemum blooms with long petals that curl up at the end, these require a bit more planning and tedious sketching (what's on top of what in the layers), and they definitely slow me down.  I guess I need to draw more of these flowers.

ACEO 2.5" x 3.5" in ink & watercolor on bristol vellum ( 140 lb.)  SOLD

"Blood Tears".  Goth-sounding (= fun) and potentially very simple (= eye art).  I always enjoy super quick watercolor opportunities.  The whole thing took maybe 10 minutes (+ waiting time for salt to take effect and paint to dry between stages).

4" x 6" in ink & watercolor on bristol vellum (140 lb.)

"Le Bleu Fantastique" for a prompt "Feather Fantasy".  Another very quick piece.  Black ink, Prussian blue watercolor and salt.  I like the way this came out, too.  Loose and flow-y.  I think I was starting to get tired of fall colors of orange, red, and yellow around the time I did this...  Also, probably quite tired of small space of ACEO papers.

ACEO 2.5" x 3.5" in ink & watercolor on bristol vellum (140 lb.)  SOLD

"Autumn Rose" for the same prompt.  It just sounded so lovely when I saw the prompt.   In my yard, the last rose of the season is usually a single Peace Rose (although this year, I had a single red bloom...).  So that's where I got the inspiration for this ACEO in fall colors.  The petals are starting to drop and scatter in the northern wind.  I was watching the Episode 37 of "the Rose of Versailles" (total of 40 episodes).  Things are starting to turn sad in the story, and I think it added to my inspiration for this piece.  Fall is breathtakingly beautiful, but at the same time, it leaves you with a heavy heart of knowing that bitter cold of winter is just around the corner.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Celebration Time!

Well, it is the weekend after all.  But all kidding aside, I just noticed that my Facebook page ( has reached 2,500 likes and I feel like celebrating (Plus the fact that the school district gave the students a 4-day weekend, which is like a mini-break before Thanksgiving break.  I didn't even sleep in, but that's besides the point. lol).  I thought about what would be cool to give away and came up with this.

This giveaway will have 2 winners. :D  I'm giving away one 3-piece ACEO set of pink artwork (Wild Rose Sprite, Sweet Dreams, and Sakura Fubuki) and another set of Day of the Dead artwork (Bone Queen, White Lady, and Las Calaveras).  I love doing a wide range of artwork from simple, whimsical pieces to complex and dark large scale pieces.  I don't want to limit myself to only doing one type of art since my art, as much of a business and livelihood as it is for me, is a reflection of who I am as a person as well.  I have a broad range of interest and find many things intriguing and beautiful in the world.  This is the reason my tagline at the Etsy shop reads: light, dark, and (in) between.

I also do realize that the artists who limit their styles to one particular style do so for a reason.  If one sticks to one thing, the body of work will be easily recognizable and there's also no chance of unintentionally surprising your audience negatively who has come to know you for one style or subject matter.  I've even known artists to set up different Facebook pages or Etsy shops for different styles of art.  Although I do see the benefit and logic of doing so, I chose not to worry about what other people thought of what they perceived to be less desirable, be it certain styles or subject matter.  I swing from one end of the spectrum to the other on a regular basis that if anyone is kind enough to follow me on my page, they'll know that I paint and draw in a wide range of styles and moods.  I'm not even limited to doing only digital or only traditional art, either.

So this giveaway is a good reflection of me, giving choices to the people. :D  People who want to enter for a chance to win are encouraged to specify one set or the other in their comments.  Choices are always good.  (Variety is the spice of life!)  And this is also a pretty cool way to find out roughly what the split is among my customers/fans.  I get to see who likes my light and whimsical and who likes my dark and complex.  ^_^

Speaking of celebration, we do have a 48-hour Sketch Fest this weekend that will go from  2 pm (Mountain Time) to Sunday afternoon at 2 pm.  I'll be there with my pencils sharpened and papers cut to size. :D

EDIT: October 28, 2013  Winners have been announced on my Facebook page and notified individually.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Emergence" Piece Finished

I was able to finish the newest piece for the Enchanted Visions project's "Emergence" theme this morning.  I used hints of iridescent gold paint throughout, but as I expected, it is rather difficult to photograph successfully.  ^^;  (And it will be impossible to capture in a scan... T_T )

I tried to photograph this illustration from different angles with light coming from slightly different angles to see if i can show the gold...

You can't see much of the gold, but you can see the details of the moth fairy's head and the highlights.

This photo shows the wings and the vines to the lower right of the illustration and you can see the gold iridescence a little.

When you click on this image and view it at the full size, you can see the shimmering touches of gold on the wings and on the floral parts.

Loose and soft, with contrasting densely drawn area and sparsely filled open space.  A little different from my usual, but I do a lot of different styles of illustrations. *shrugs*

EDIT: I've decided to call this piece "Reverie".  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Piece for the Enchanted Visions Project

I haven't painted one for the Enchanted Visions project for a while (Well, we also went on a summer hiatus for several months, too, as being a part of the administration for this group can be mentally draining at times.).  A few themes before and after "Anima Sola", I hadn't touched still remain on my list.

I went to the newly redecorated site and looked up the list of themes.  Some will always remain somewhat uninspiring, but "Emergence" finally caught my attention.  This was a spring 2013 theme that I chose not to participate -- I was busy with commissions and generally not excited about the theme. ^^;

Got started on a concept sketch yesterday and I was able to finish inking this morning.

I was looking at some Venezuelan Poodle Moth photos online and was inspired by the fuzzy cuteness, and decided to draw a moth fairy.  Also, I've been feeling a bit adventurous lately, so I'm going about this theme in a different way than usual.  In a way, it's a throwback to my earlier doodle style with tightly rendered "busy" area with open space left for balance.    The paper is a little bigger than usual, too, at 9" x 12".  As I type this, I realized that it's too large for my scanner to get a clean scan. *facepalm*  I'll have to see what I can do about saving a good scan for my archive file.

I'm using sepia/brown ink for this line drawing.  I would like it to have a warm, old-fashioned glow.

This is my second WIP shot after I put a wash of water over the ink drawing and added some watercolor in spots.  Still working fairly loosely.  ^_^  I like the way it is coming out.  I should be able to finish this piece in the morning tomorrow.  As I write this blog entry, I've already finished coloring the fairy's wings, body, antennae, and facial makeup.  Just needs some highlighting.  I'm thinking about touches of gold acrylic. ^_^

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Giveaway Time

It's been a few months since I held a giveaway on my Facebook page. ^_^  Well, now that they relaxed the rules regarding holding giveaways on one's pages in late August, I'm finally in the mood to run one again. :D

Since it's October and October is all about Halloween in the retail world (besides that, it's my favorite celebration), and I just got done painting a large goth piece, I did this ACEO piece in a style very similar to "the Dark Bride".  I will be giving away this original ACEO to the lucky winner who will be randomly selected at the end of the month... or maybe November 1st, since I'll be busy celebrating Halloween. :D

Details on how to enter will be posted on my Facebook page tomorrow.
EDIT: 8: 05 AM MDT (Oct. 21, 2013)  Facebook is currently experiencing limited functionality (pages are viewable, but posting, like, etc. are not working).  I will keep checking and post info on the giveaway as soon as I can. ^_^
EDIT: 10:02 AM MDT (Oct. 21, 2013) The giveaway post is UP! :D

Friday, October 18, 2013

Grimm Auction Piece Finished

I didn't think a black and white image would be difficult to photograph, but my camera keeps seeing the same artwork in slightly different tint and it's almost impossible for me to adjust for it. ^^;  Granted, the various stages of the artwork were not taken in the same lighting/condition...

Above is another WIP that followed the previous blog post.  This was taken around noon yesterday.  Just about done with the darkest parts of the black.  It was funny when someone made a comment on my facebook page asking if I had spilled ink over my drawing. XD  No, not quite 'accidental spilling'.  It was 'intentional flinging and splattering'.

This is where the piece is at after working on it today.  (Transformed from looking "kind of cute" to "evil" overnight! ) I think I'm done.  I wanted this to have a really loose feel (not like my digital pieces where every detail is spelled out).  Anyway, I wanted to capture the Black Bride's true form lurking beneath the facade/pretense of the White Bride in this interpretation of mine.  She is beautiful, but the left side of her face is diseased and decaying, and her left eye is a dead eye (like a 'dead fish' goth horror eye) that doesn't reflect as much light.

And this is what I mean by the camera capturing the slightly different tint in every shot.  Some come out looking blue while others come out looking sepia.  Having to adjust so that it looks more black is really hard. ^_^;

And this one looks a little rosy. XD  Anyway, this shot allowed for a better look at the lower portion of the image where things just fizzle out and face to white.  When I take the scan of the original, it will allow for a more proportionate look (if somewhat washed out from the bright light).  From this angle though, she looks like an angel at first glance.  How interesting...  Didn't see that while I was painting this. :D

Creepy beautiful. Just in time for Halloween and the Day of the Dead.  Seriously though, I do enjoy this kind of themes.  It's a lot of fun.  Still undecided on the title.  I guess I have till Monday.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

First Phase with Watercolor

I didn't get to go shopping for my paper towels (must have!) in the morning while I was messing with some commissioned projects.  By the time I got around to this piece, it was roughly 40 minutes before I had to go make another errand, so I quickly put some black paint out of the tube, got myself a cup of water, another cup of rubbing alcohol, another container of salt and wads of paper towel and sat down.  Usually, I start with a very thin wash all over.  Since this piece is larger (8.5" x 11") than many of my pieces (5" x 7"), I went for the 3/4 inch flat to play with the wash.  I also flung some wet paint to give the splatters in strategic spots (lol).  This is a process I haven't played with on smaller scaled artwork, but since this is a larger piece and the inked line work already contains so much detail, I figured it would be nice to go a little wild and let it flow loose.  I like the way it's coming along.

These days, now that I've been back doing a lot of "traditional" art (I really don't like this word just to denote traditional media as opposed to digital... ), I don't feel as fearful about ruining something and wasting supplies.  Well, better financial situation and increased familiarity with the behavior of the medium certainly afford a sense of confidence.  I feel more 'in control' of what I'm doing, channeling Bob Ross with his famous saying, "There are no mistakes, just happy accidents."  (Love that guy!)  I still have brief moments of "Oh, $@#t!" when something unintended just happens, but I feel confident that I can work around it and turn the mistake into something that was meant to be there. ^_^

While I work on the original, I have listed the edited line art as a digital stamp at my Etsy shop.

As interesting as dark art is for me to make and present (And there's definitely a market for it whether in originals or prints.), the digital stamps market is full of cute and pretty (and simple) things.  I'm more than happy to accommodate the needs/demands of the market by cleaning up the original drawing (= removing all her facial wounds and scarring).  I also realized that I didn't have any bridal digi in my shop... ^^;
This digital stamp is titled "Bridal Veil" and it's available at this link.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Inking Complete

Finished inking my "Grimm" piece.  Right now, she's a white bride -- at first glance, the wounds on her face and neck are hard to notice. XD  There will be a lot of grey and black to be introduced in this image in watercolor starting tomorrow. :D  Should be fun and should go fairly quickly.  Definitely be done well in time for the Femme Thou Art Collective's themed auction starting on Oct. 21. ^_^

What I'll probably do is scan this line art, digitally erase the wounds to make a 'bridal' digital stamp for the heck of it.  The roses and lace details are very pretty.  But the finished piece should be real interesting -- one of those images that look perfectly innocuous at first glance, but turns out to be quite eerie after a closer inspection of details in the shadows.  My kind of art. :D

Monday, October 14, 2013

And So It Begins

The pencil rough of this "Grimm" piece (This is probably how I will be referring to this piece until I decide on the title.) for the Femme Thou Art Collective's upcoming Grimm's Fairy Tales themed auction was finally transferred to a good paper and inking has begun.  After a dismal turnout in last month's themed auction, the admins have decided that this will be mandatory participation for all member artists this month.  I'm not a big fan of mandatory anything, but I am curious and excited to see what other artists will come up with. ^_^  I've already seen a few Snow White inspired pieces, along with a Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood.

The pencil 'scribble' of the concept.  I'm not a neat artist when it comes to sketching things out.  On top of that, my pencil pressure is so light, photographing/scanning my scribbles is generally difficult.  ^^;

Just as I usually do with all of my Enchanted Visions pieces, once I know the theme, "Grimm's Fairy Tales", I go looking for inspiration.  This is my research/brainstorming phase.  I love doing this kind of prep-work for art.  It's probably my favorite phase in a creative process.

I was looking at a Wiki list of Grimm Brothers' tales.  I knew I didn't want to do something that are familiar to most people (which is probably not the most commercial approach, but if I'm producing an artwork that is not a commission, I want to do what I feel like doing and have fun) like Snow White or the Sleeping Beauty.  Luckily, the list of titles is quite extensive and there were so many that I've never heard of.  And a few of which caught my attention as a possible candidate to take inspiration from.

"The White Bride and the Black One" was the title of the tale that caught my attention.  I did additional reading on the basic English translated version on different web sites that specialize on Grimm Brothers.  To my 'grown-up' taste, the tales are all so simplistic, vengeful, and somewhat predictable.  Putting that aside, there are certain charms in the collected tales.  If anything, these folk tales are the windows to the culture and the history of people, and that is what I take from them.

As an artist, when trying to create a piece of artwork inspired by one of the tales, I have always been drawn to 'predatory female'.   Rather than focusing on the protagonists of the tales, I tend to be more attracted to the antagonists, who, for various reasons, commit acts of evil, in these stories.  Plus, after doing a lot of cutesy illustrative work for the fall season, I'm ready for venturing into the dark side once again. ^_^

Inking with a roller pen rather than my usual tool (ballpoint pen).  The viscosity of the ink in a roller pen is different, so the look is a bit different, but I like it for a piece this size (8.5" x 11").

This will be the Black Bride, who is the step sister to the protagonist of the story (the White Bride).  After refusing to show a raggedy stranger a way, this woman, along with her mother, was turned "as black as night, as ugly as sin".  (Seems a bit harsh, don't ya think?)  But with the mother's black magic, they manage to sneak this woman into the castle as the king's bride (Of course, the royals in these tales are always such simpletons... ^^; ).   After I finish inking the lines, I will be adding watercolor to this piece, but the colors will be limited to black (maybe subtle hints of other colors like indigo and purple...).  I want this to be rather stark, with shades of grey.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Miffed & Irked by a Lazy Art Thief

I don't understand why people do this.  I don't know what exactly there is to be gained by it.  I've seen it before, and I'm sure I'll see it again.  Some do it better than others, but still, the motive mystifies me.

I'm talking about art theft.  Today, I'm not talking about the huge rip-off stint certain senator's nephew has committed a few years back with a full fledged "canvas oil painting" scam web site full of stolen art being reproduced mechanically, then sold as original pieces of art with bogus certificate of authenticity.  Nothing that grandiose.  I'm talking about small cases of individuals that lie to claim authorship on other artists' work.

I woke up this morning to a message from a fellow fantasy artist via Facebook.  There was a link, which led me to this photo.

Now look at the bogus watermark right over my own (and over my signature to the lower right).  Well, this individual was clearly too lazy (or... not proficient enough in Photoshop... just to give the benefit of a doubt) to remove the original watermark, but clearly wants to claim that she is the artist of this work.  I've seen people blur, or otherwise digitally manipulate, to be a little more... hmm, what's the word, 'inconspicuous'?

Furthermore, I'm baffled at what she was expecting from her friends and family, if she received any reaction/comments.  We have eyes, and it's not that hard to see that there is a watermark underneath her name.  What are we supposed to think about that?  Congratulations, you have attempted to claim someone else's work as your own and failed?    Oh, wow, you must think we are really stupid if you think we won't notice there's some text and logo with web address and a name underneath your name?

As artists, I don't think many of us like it when people just use our images for avatars, icons, profile pics, tags, facebook "cover", web background, tattoo, stationery, etc.  It's annoying enough that a lot of people assume asking for permission will automatically grant them their wish to use images for free.  It's also annoying that there are people who collect art images from all over the internet and put them in a "gallery" page on facebook (or some other sites) without any credit to the various artists.  But I consider putting your name right over the artist's watermark or signature a proof of one's attempt at obscuring the name of the true creator behind the image and at claiming the image as his/her own.  And this is where it gets irksome.

Just look at the sloppy digital scribble over the original artist's name...  Why?
I wish I could identify the artist of this work, but I don't recognize it from my circle of artist friends.

What is there to be gained by lying and bragging about art one didn't make?   Maybe I'll never understand the mentality of people like that.  It just seems that these people who do this kind of things seem to live in an imaginary world of tiny bubbles where they are the biggest and brightest stars and everybody else is a total idiot with no connection to the bigger world whatsoever to catch them in their lies.  I've seen this "steal and claim" behavior often among some young kids on deviantART over the years.  They're usually new to the site, desperate for attention, jealous of people who have hundreds of thousands of page views and whining to themselves why they can't get any recognition ... instantly... by just being there.

Maybe these are people who think they're so special that reality doesn't apply to them.  And there's no such thing as karma.  Ignorance must be... bliss.

Friday, October 4, 2013

New Piece in My Poppy Series

After painting a blue and white, I felt the urge to make a red poppy illustration.  I generally enjoy drawing all kinds of flowers, but poppies, roses, and peonies tend to be my first choice in many of my fantasy artwork.  I do have a series of 5" x 7" ink & watercolor of poppies going currently.  This one is the third and it's red.

This is a work-in-progress snapshot after I did a quick wash of brown and red watercolor over my inked lines and sprinkled a little bit of salt along the outer edges of the image.   I am still undecided whether to give greenish turquoise accent on this piece or just stick to monochromatic color scheme.  I know for sure I don't want to go with green for the seed pod, leaves, and buds.   And I am not interested in introducing any yellow whatsoever into this.  A part of me really liked the last ACEO ("Red Rose Fairy") with reddish brown hair, dark violet eyes and deep red flowers.  I can envision something similar to that for this one, too.  I'll leave her like this for the rest of the evening, and will decide tomorrow morning.  Maybe she'll tell me what she wants. ^^;  (It's been a really long time since I could imagine my characters talking.)

EDIT: Saturday, October 5, 2013
Just finished "Red Poppies".  Decided to stick with monochromatic scheme after all.  Also decided to keep things loose outside of the focus area of the elf's face.  I love playing with the random effect of watercolor .