In the little spare time that I have, I've been trying to fiddle around more with Illustrator and learn more about the software and its features and interface. So I drew a picture of "Legion" a character from the video game trilogy "Mass Effect" and tried to create a poster similar to the one I did for my artist study: sometime simple that kind of encapsulates and epitomizes the character just as my poster did with Ralph Steadman. This wasn't an assignment for my art class- just something I wanted to do.

I'm self-taught in most graphic design software (I was unable to take computer art due to a full schedule)- so I have limited knowledge of all the different tools and features of illustrator. I've used Photoshop primarily for years, so I am not accustomed to working with vectors. I love the way illustrator and vectors look with my art- especially now that I've switched to a more graphic style. That being said- the process was very long and difficult because I went into this project pretty blind.

Not only did I end up with over a dozen layers and vector shapes and paths that I had to shuffle through, but I also had to figure out how to get the text to fit inside that jagged, irregular shape that makes up the hole in his armor. I literally had to redraw that stupid shape at least 5 times and tweak it so I can use the "area text" tool to type in it. Then I had to convert all the letters into objects so I can resize them and tweak the path so that it fills the space. And then make sure it's the right color and make sure that the text doesn't protrude from the outline. It was extremely frustrated. 

The grungy looking half-tone pattern on his body is intentional and has to do with his character and storyline (he is of a synthetic race called the geth, whose minds are made up of thousands of separate virtual intelligence programs they call  the "consensus"), and it took me three days to find a (free) vector pattern on the internet that I liked. (that and I forgot the name of the specific pattern I was looking for and had to go google fishing for it)
Either way, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, and hopefully I will hone my illustrator skills enough to do some more original stuff- but the fanart is a fun and does help motivate me to further explore Adobe Illustrator.  

For the third marking period, I researched Ralph Steadman for my artist study. Steadman is a British artist and illustrator. His signature style is very eccentric and scratchy, which can be seen in his cartoons, illustrations, and his signature and handwriting. He is definitely has a unique mind and style, something I tried to emulate in this poster. His signature is found at the bottom left, for a signature is the sort of trademark or "stamp" that every person has. Each signature is unique to whom they belong to, so it seemed to me that including Steadman's signature in the poster is a must. His handwriting is just as distinct as his drawing style, so I included a picture of a handwritten quote and a doodle. "I am not like others" describes the British artist and his work, he has a distinguished style that is definitely very different from most illustrators. 
And of course, I included a picture of Steadman himself doing a fabulous arabesque in the grass, because he is just simply fabulous and this picture was just too perfect.


Russ Mills

Guy Denning

This semester I studied the works of artists Russ Mills and Guy Denning. My art teacher suggested that I study Russ Mills, because some of his illustrative qualities like selective detail and "lost and found realism" could be seen in my summer work. The expressive paint splatters and monochromatic color scheme have also shown up in various pieces of my work. Guy Denning I discovered myself while researching Russ Mills. I liked his use of multi-colored skin tones in his illustrations of people, and through that I could possibly some of those techniques in my pieces. Elements of both of these artists are apparent in several of my works; and in studying these two, I feel like I better understand my art and the process in which I make art. 

As of now, most of my inspiration hails from the works of Russ Mills, a British painter and illustrator who graduated from Leeds Met University in 1995. One reason I enjoy his art is because it does not perfectly fit into one genre or category; Mills himself has even said that his work "dwells in a netherworld between fine urban art and contemporary graphics." His tight illustrations of people and faces also draw me to his work, and his expressive use of paint and Photoshop have given me a whole new perspective on the art I create- which often has to do with the themes of emotion and exposure.  My first ten works were heavily inspired by Mills, using the same idea of tightly rendered areas interspersed between explosions of color and paint. Much of his work is focused on the human face, and often includes animal imagery. The “Nata5 Triptych” is a work that exhibits both his illustration and compositions skills, beautifully highlighting his ability to illustrate and combine animal imagery and human faces so seamlessly. One thing I have also found interesting about Mills is the fact that he works physically and digitally, often using both types of media in one piece. This has become something that I have started to experiment with, particularly with "Since Voce"- a piece that was originally digital but recreated using physical media. Much of his work is drawn using pen, and then the colors and expressive paint strokes and splatters seem to have been done digitally. I would really like to further explore this combination of digital and physical media, because I feel like if I can master this kind of process, it has the potential to yield outstanding results.

Guy Denning is also a British, urban, contemporary artist and painter. He was born in England and now lives and is based in France. He is a former member of Stuckism International and the founder of the Neomodern group. Guy Denning’s paintings are also feature people and faces, but are more painterly than the works of the illustrative Russ Mills. His paintings often contain multi-colored skin tones, something that I have also experimented with in my summer works as well as some digital pieces. His work manages to be abstract and realistic at the same time; the colors used in the skin tones and portraits do not reflect realism, but the way he uses shadow and various tones of these colors does. Much like my process when painting and creating art, Denning does not always have a clear concept or direction when starting a painting. In his artist statement he says, “Perhaps the accidents of pain give me a similar perspective as the view to the finished painting: the surprise at something fresh or something fresh or something that is not immediately understood in its construction.” I appreciate this process as I rarely make a work with a set meaning or intention in mind, as I have also said in my own artist statement. I feel as if this process is the best way to make art for me; the work is more sincere, the meaning is more genuine, and the message is often less literal when art is made spontaneously and without much premeditation. I love his work and his mindset regarding it; I feel as if they both reflect the kind of art that I hope to make one day.

Which one do you like better? Because I'm still not quite sure.

There are things I love about the digital one (left) and things I love about the physical one (right).  There are also different things I like about the process in making each work. I enjoy working with lines and pen much more in physical media that I do in digital media. I find it easier to manipulate the density, width, and shape of the lines when my pen and my hand can physically touch the paper and closely work with the line. For me, physical linework just seems like a more direct and natural process that digital linework. I've been drawing on a tablet for years, but the technological void separating my pen and the product it creates is still something I struggle with when trying create tightly rendered and meticulous lines. Lines are very important to me as well as my work, which has become increasingly more graphic in nature. My work is lines.

I feel like the more meticulous linework creating the profile looks better done in pen; however, I find that the more expressive colorful lines look better in the digital version. The most obvious reason for this is that I have yet to figure out how to water down acrylic paint to the viscosity needed to create these thin, smooth, organic lines while retaining its opacity. My tablet pen is pressure sensitive, and Photoshop recognizes how hard I push down on the pen. This makes it easy for me to create lines of various widths and densities while retaining a constant brush size and opacity. This also makes it easier for me to be expressive with my lines because I don't have to worry about continuity or opacity. 

Paint is a different story. Having to go back for more paint, having to go over the paint in several layers to achieve a nice opaque line, and having to worry about keeping the brush wet creates interruptions in the lines that kill the continuity and diminish the very expressive quality that I originally intended the lines to carry.

I may end up using tape and an x-acto knife to create stencils. So my lines can be precise, but I can layer the paint as much as I need to. This really worked well when painting the grey background; I taped the face, cut around the lines, and painted the outside of the face gray. The stencil idea worked really well, and I was very please with the cleanness and boldness of the result. I will try to buy some painter's tape and an x-acto knife and try some techniques with them to use in my subsequent pieces.

For my next pieces I intend to continue this same graphic look. I may try some different ideas and perspectives concerning the lines. I think for one of my next pieces, the background or outside of the person will be a color- and the colored lines will spill from the outside to the inside of the person instead of originating from the person and spilling outwards. I think it should look nice aesthetically as well as carry different connotations conceptually.
Sine Voce is the Latin for "without a voice". I like how this has become praised as one of my most interesting pieces of work so far because I have spent the most time on this. Not that I invested numerous hours on the physical piece, but the concept and idea of "sine voce" is one that has been culminating in my head for actually several years. 

This is a piece that started out as a notebook doodle several years ago, then recreated later on a piece of think card stock with Copic pens and markers, and now has been recreated digitally. It was probably drawn a few more times in between, but each time I drew it, it slightly changed. The face itself had become simpler (it now lacks any facial features other than the mouth and nose) and more emphasis has been put on the drawing of the mouth, neck, and knot in the throat- the one thing that has been consistently present in every draft of this idea. 

Now that it has received some attention and is becoming a more finalized piece, I have been trying to analyze the piece- especially as it has changed over the years. My first draft was detailed; it included hair, eyes, ears, a shirt, and the knot in the throat. The second one was also detailed; it also included hair, shading, colors, and a full set of facial features. The difference between the first and second drafts is that a lightning bolt with the word "sine voce" on it protrudes from the mouth of figure in the second draft. Now in the latest replica, the vocal throat area is all but exploding out of the neck area- though there is nothing coming from the mouth. Is this because I have finally found my voice? Is it because I am making progress with my social and emotional anxieties? Or is it less because of my progress in actually gaining this voice but more about the realizations I've recently come to about things I was previously afraid to address.. The actual meaning behind this piece will come with time, just as the piece itself did.

This really does prove that my best art is made when I'm not aiming for a specific goal, reward, or concept. These pieces are also starting to come less sporadically, and I am more consistently making art that I am happy with. I really do need to continue making art in this fashion- especially after I recreate this piece with physical media. 
I will later try to find some of the previous drafts of this piece; I know I have the Copic Marker one, but I am not terribly sure about the original materialization of the concept that most likely occurred on a stray piece of paper or in a notebook during class.

It's funny. The other piece I plan to submit to Scholastics also originated from a doodle.

I'm not entirely sure if I like this one. I tried to be more "expressive" and add more colors but I feel like I got a little carried away. My work looked much better when I only had one color, so maybe I should just have two colors or several shades of the same color. It seems to work best when I keep it simple.

I'd also like to try a Guy Denning sort of thing with the multi-colored skin tones, something I experimented with my summer work and with some of my digital work. Maybe I could combine my meticulous line work with the multi-colored shading like I did in my summer work. Or I could continue keeping the people monochromatic and more line-oriented and use a single paint color to add the expression.

I'm still not sure which direction to take, but I know I'm not all that happy with this work.

It may be the quality of the wood, or the fact that I didn't really have a plan or that I tried to take on too much. I might either try smoother wood, gesso the wood, or try working on canvas again if I can't find the quality of wood I need to be able to draw and paint on it.

Both my classmates and I really liked these pieces, much better than the first set of 10. I feel like I did a much better job with the linework and being expressive with the paint, while still managing to meet the deadline. My personal favorite of these 
I am going to be completely honest. The deadline for this hit me a lot faster than I would like to admit. I worked so hard on the first two of these works, that this project quickly and unfortunately turned in to "8 Works|1 Night". 

Overall, I can say that I really liked a lot of these works. However, I learned more from this project than I think I've learned from any previous art assignment. Time management works much differently when faced with multiple works rather than one. I've been so used to taking my time and perfecting one piece, that this project took an unfortunate turn for the frantic. I wasn't trying to procrastinate; I was working. But I didn't work at an appropriate pace for this kind of assignment.

I really like my summer pieces a lot better than these pieces, and I plan to either pursue that or go in a Russ Mills-inspired direction and try to get more expressive with my work while still keeping some parts rendered and clean. I have definitely learned my lesson for the next ten works, and I will try to work on my time management.
Most of my work is primarily technique driven, but over the summer I wanted to try to explore and interpret some of my emotions through art. However, at first glance, I could not find the meaning in my work and was disappointed with the glaring lack of emotion in any of the works, particularly the paintings. As I sat through the critiques of my classmates, I began thinking about my own work on a deeper level. I realized that the figures in the painting show no outer emotion, but when stripped down to the core, the colors become more abstract and the “emotion” shows. When I realized how the paintings actually related to me, I was finally happy with my work’s conceptuality. 

The two paintings were originally asked for by my aunt, who took me to Carytown and bought all the paints and canvas for me, so I was certainly obligated to put forth my best effort. I also used acrylic on canvas, a medium and surface I was inexperienced in using. I think that these are the best works I’ve made yet for DRHS art, and are the first works that I am truly happy with. I think I may have found a direction that I want to go in with my work and I am very excited. I spent several weeks on the paintings and pretty much spent most of my summer coated in paint. I spent most of my time in the spare room either painting or playing the saxophone and I am proud of the consistent effort I put into the work, for I know I can get impatient if things are not going my way.

I have worked with acrylic before in the past, but this was my first time working on canvas. These were the largest pieces I have ever painted, so I had some difficulty with the composition and trying to scale everything to make the most effective use of the space. I am used to smaller drawing in sketchbooks and drawing on photoshop where I can utilize the zoom tool, so it was definitely something new for me, especially being left handed and using paints. This was also the first time I’ve used the glossy, shiny paint and I am glad that it turned out as well as it did. I tried various techniques with the paints and brushes to blend and create various kinds of brushstrokes, such as the dry brush technique I used when painting the hair on the blue painting. The digital work was actually the first time I had ever worked in Adobe Illustrator or with vector drawings. Though it definitely simpler and less interesting than the paintings, I invested almost as much time into that as I did into the paintings. Aligning each and every eye, creating vector shapes to color the different parts of each eye, and drawing then using live trace on the skull was more time consuming than most would think just looking at it.

If I had to grade myself I would probably give myself an A or A-. This is the happiest I have ever been with my work, but I am somewhat of a perfectionist and I know that there is still work to be done and that I could have spent some more time refining certain details. I think that when I tried to just make work and not put meaning behind it, it turned out to be more conceptual and meaningful than my past work. I definitely think that I should continue to just make art and then interpret it afterward. I feel as if it is more honest, sincere, and meaningful when the meaning is not intentional but subconscious. I put a lot more effort into this work than I have in the past, and I think it shows.

Summer 2012

Fall 2012