Finally some oil paintings! Being separated from my oils is rough, I tells you. 

These two are painted on 4inX4in wood panels, which were coated in gloss medium so the grain of the wood is still visible. 

These are my Winterkins, created initially back when the weather was colder, and they're sort of like the embodiments of winter. I was inspired by the recent fashion trend that involves a lot of cultish, quasi-spiritual and occult elements, and the results have been sleeker, starker fashion choices for my figures. As well as a lot of triangles. It's a combination of ancient and medieval symbolism and designs, 1970s-style fantasy illustration, and the more naturalistic elements from my older work. The result is a lot of natural, complex details combined with larger areas of flat, geometric space, and is something I find really aesthetically pleasing. 

They're also portraits. The figures are the same as those in The Universe, and are basically me, in black, and Beastie, in white, along with the things I've come to associate with each of us: trees and crows for me, bones and rabbits for him. 

As for the process, painting on wood is fun. It's nice and smooth. The only downside is that because it's so smooth, it's easy to wipe the paint back off during the painting process if it gets built up too thickly. So these were made using a lot of thin layers and glazes. The other things about very smooth surfaces is that dust and debris show up really easily, so you have to be diligent about keeping them clean. 

I'd like to do another pair for summer (the Summerkins), but I still have to work out their details. They will remain with the same color schemes, though some of the elements may change. 

water media madness

 I was terribly, and pleasantly, surprised to find that THIS is what it looks like when you use water media on fabric. I had tried it before with some small pieces, but it works really well on a larger scale, too, and can be built up to a decent opacity. 

I was originally going to hang these on our closet doors at home, kind of a his'n'hers sort of thing, but the doors seem to be made of diamond and cannot be pierced by the pointy things of man. So they live on my desk. 

Up top is some beast boy creepiness, complete with blood and pointy claw fingers. And a hair bow. I used Mod Podge to seal the fabric on this one, and I'm not sure if it was that or if it was just not stretched properly, and so the fabric buckled slightly. It didn't effect the outcome, really, but was not as pleasant to paint on. This is primarily gouache, tinted with watercolor.

Below is some fashionable witchiness. This one was created using gouache and watercolor as well as India ink, acrylic paint and gel pen. REMEMBER GEL PENS??? I bought some bright pink gel pens a while ago on a whim because they transported me back to seventh grade, where the cool thing to do was to scrawl all over yourself and your friends with smeary opaque ink. They made the finer pink branches near the bottom, and were fun to use. 

So, they're not oils. Nothing is oils. But they were fun to make, and I got to play with lots of interesting ways to combine colors and materials. The only thing about this, which I discovered the last time I tried this, was that because of the primed surface, the paints will wipe right off if they get wet, so I might want to spray seal these sometime. Although, during the painting process, this feature actually came in handy as it served as an "eraser" of sorts. 

I really like bright pink and I need to use more of it. I've also found I really like designing costumes and painting fantastical clothing, and will be continuing this trend.

endings, beginnings, and such

 It liiives!

This blog, I mean, as well as my art-making. It's been going well, I guess. I had two gallery shows in the past two months, and have contacted another one regarding showing (haven't heard back, though). I've been working on two new paintings and am probably going to set up for a third, which will be nice and bloody. Yay!

In the meantime, have the first and second installments of a small illustrated story I've been working on. I'm calling it The End or the Beginning, because that's what it's about. 

See, I don't normally use art as a means to directly express things going on in my personal life. My personal life affects my art, of course, but I'm not usually prone to illustrating it literally. This series, however, is close to doing that. Obviously it's not literal literal (I don't know people who habitually wear burlap sacks on their heads), but this series is about something I went through over the summer, which was both an ending and a beginning for me. It also corresponds to some writing I did about that issue, and some of these images are direct illustrations of those writings. 

Again, I don't make comics, and this is probably the closest I can comfortably get to making something akin to a comic (Duck vs. Cactus notwithstanding). On a technical note, I'd like to bind these, but they're all on separate pieces of paper, and I'll have to finagle something.


So I'm shirking my "Artists You Should Know" habit, but my brain is somewhat fried and I already know what to say about this piece, which I banged out on a whim. Next time.

In the meantime, have this.

I'm calling it With A Knife With A Bigger Knife, which comes from one of my favorite moments in The Venture Bros. It's oil, leaves, pen and bloody tissue on canvas. Yes, it's real blood, but it's not mine. And yes, I know using bodily fluids in art is very "art school," but at least it's not period blood, so that's a start.

I used acrylic gloss medium to glue and seal the tissue down to the canvas, which caused it to bunch up and shred a bit, but creates an interesting texture. Unlike my actual paintings, I didn't have a set plan for this one, and frankly I'm surprised that I'm pleased with the result, because usually when I don't plan ahead, it's a disaster.

I sketched out the portraits of me and Blood Donor in Micron pen, and doodled in some atmosphere and vegetal forms with oil, and applied some dyed leaves, again with gloss medium. 

Honestly? I have no idea about this one. 

I like it, I'm sure of that, but it seems to serve as kind of a place holder between larger, more serious pieces. It's a fairly straightforward double portrait of me and the boyfriend. We like knives. It was admittedly kind of a throwaway piece. It's very small, only about maybe 9X9 inches, and served as something of an experiment.

It's also thematically related to a larger piece I have planned, which will use the brown and blue color scheme, the double portrait, and a sense of the cycle of life and death (though this one is more death-oriented) and of being two small people in the world. 

The sad thing is, this is pretty much all I've been able to do now that I have a Grown Up Job which requires forty hours of each week plus commuting. The upside is that my commute is really nice, and part of that is the ability to sleep through parts of it; I take the train. The commute was actually, in part, what inspired the larger piece I mentioned above, as well as some writing. I've also taken a position as a contributor with an online publication, and recently got my first article published with them. So everything is pretty peachy on the "being an adult" front, but the drawback is that it leaves me less time for painting. Also, the access I had to a digital camera was again shot down by shitty technology, and so this, unfortunately, had to be taken with my iPod, hence the less-than-ideal image quality. I'm hoping to either get one or both of the cameras repaired and, if that fails, get a new camera. Although the prospect of blowing yet another paycheck isn't a welcome one.

And despite the knives, the blood was not acquired through any violence on my part. Today's lesson: don't try to shave when you're drunk.

coming soon

 So I've been working on a few new things--mainly, two new things. And here's a sneak peak of one of them! 

Both pieces are oil on canvas, and for both I'm taking a very traditional figure-painting route, lots (and lots and lots) of glazing and attention to minute detail. I am really, really happy with how the eyes turned out. I spent a lot of time staring creepily into the eyes of friends and relatives to see how they look, where the highlights are, and how to create the sense of depth and texture in them. These are Neo Megilp glazes, but the painting will have some stand oil in it as well.

These photos are already somewhat outdated, as I've been working on these steadily for quite some time. I've lately been liking the sort of Renaissance-style approach to painting, with lots of underpainting and glazing, and a multi-step approach to creating the human form. Since skin is translucent, I feel it's the appropriate way to really capture the luminosity and depth of human flesh and faces--like the way light comes through the skin of noses and ears, and how the skin gets thin enough to see the blood vessels around eyes. I've always been impressed by paintings where, when you look at them, you know what the surfaces feel like, even though it's just mineral paste smeared on a piece of cloth. The Waterseller of Seville by Diego Velázquez is one that always struck me. Looking at it, you know exactly what those pitchers of water feel like; the one on the left is smooth, heavily glazed and somewhat hefty, while the one on the right is rougher, and cold from the water inside. You can feel the condensation on your hands. It's just amazing. 

Anyway, to get back to this painting, that's what I want to achieve, but with people. Oh, and I should mention that these faces are going to be covered by some skullhead makeup. Not entirely, I'm not masochistic enough to do all this work to completely mask it, but yes, they're going to have skullheads. So why am I doing all this work? Because it'll look better. Look, when you put makeup on, you have a face underneath. The colors and textures of that face inform what the makeup is going to look like, so it stands to reason that this would also be true in a painting. Don't look at me like that. I'm just being insane thorough. The skullhead bits are going to be a bit different from my older versions, though, lighter and more delicate and still leaving plenty of the skin on show. 

I can't wait for this to be done! Not out of impatience but out of excitement!


Okay, more fangirlism. I'm sorry.

No, I'm not.

Okay, so here's (probably) the last and most intricate piece I'll be displaying that has to do with Jeff the Killer. After viewing thousands of images of him and his supposed likeness on sites like deviantART, I found myself becoming irritated with many of the images because they seemed totally unrealistic, and I think I'm a hardcore realist at heart. So I decided, as I usually do when something pisses me off artistically, to take matters into my own hands.

This is the result. I first started off thinking about what would happen, after some time, to someone's face after they'd given themselves a Chelsea grin, and figured there would be a lot of scar tissue involved, as well as a considerable amount of regrowth. With a portion of the cheeks open past the natural boundaries of the mouth, someone like Jeff would also probably have something of a drooling problem. Ew. The eyes, of course, which are often portrayed as ringed in soot (the eyelids were, according to the Pasta, burned off with a lighter, though I still think that would cause irreparable damage to the eyeball itself), though after time they would only be surrounded by more scar tissue. I've seriously never thought about facial mutilation quite this much before.

The face itself is modeled after my own. One of the reasons why I like this character so much is because one of the core themes of his story is the concept of beauty, of finding one's own definition of beauty against societal odds, and relentlessly pursuing that idea. Thanks to my own body modifications, I've experienced the OH MY GOD WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOURSELF quite a number of times. It's hard to explain to someone who has a very fixed idea of what is and is not beautiful you idea of beauty, that beauty is subjective, not objective, and that one idea of beauty is no more or less valid than another. I also know how it is to feel as though the physicality you have is a liability, and how it feels to want to confront peoples' shitty and exploitative concepts of (female) beauty in an aggressive manner. There was one time, a long time ago now, when I had a passing fantasy about cutting my face open like that. I really did--I even wrote about it when I used to keep a journal. I'm not proud of it, but it's true. Nothing ever came of it because I have better self-control than that, but it's still part of my history.

If you don't know, a very distilled version of the Jeff story is that Jeff mutilated his own face and subsequently thought of himself as beautiful. This concept of challenging the commonly-held ideas of beauty, of forcing people to look at something they've been trained to see as ugly as something beautiful is interesting to me, because I do believe that the truly beautiful things are the things that make you think and feel deeply--and often, the truly beautiful things are going to make you uncomfortable, make you afraid, and make you hurt. You don't escape from real beauty unscathed. As I've said before, when it comes to creating art, I find it much more fulfilling for everyone to create something that is uncomfortable but stirring than pleasant but superficial. Beauty and terror and ugliness and transcendence, to me, are all wrapped up in another as facets of the human experience.

I also should tell you that I am way over-analytical and make a big philosophical deal out of things like Creepypastas.

And because of all that, Jeff looks something like me, with big lips, freckles, unkempt black hair, and dark circles under the eyes. I gave him light eyes, though, as it fit better with the original image. He's also got a tattoo for some reason, I couldn't tell you why, but I think it stemmed from needing something dark at the base of the image to balance out the hair.

From a technical standpoint, this is the first time I've used gloss medium (clear) on wood, which allowed me to work with the natural forms of the wood, which was nice. Besides, wood knots, like the one seen here, have a way of insinuating itself through many layers of paint, and so I figured I would work with it rather than fight it. I chose a pink scheme because it seemed natural, plus I really like what pink glazes do for skin tones. Because of the pink and the sort of low-brow inspiration for this piece, it's being categorized in the Trash body.

Today I bought another one of these wooden ovals so that Jeff can have a companion.

of wolves and foxes

I had some trouble classifying this painting (and I do so love to classify), because its attributes fall into both the Home and the Medieval categories of my painting. It's on fabric, and features the painting style that I usually use for the Home pictures, but the clothing and composition, as well as the inspiration, are more in keeping with the Medieval style.

The title, Ai Vis Lo Lop, is Old Provencal and translates to "I saw the wolf." It's also the title of a song, which was the inspiration for this piece. Here are the wolf and the fox, meeting under the tree. There's also a rabbit mentioned in the song, but I think they ate it. Fun fact: the term "seeing the wolf" was also a slang term for losing one's virginity. So take that as you will.

I had a lot of fun painting this one, and I'm very happy with how the faces came out in particular, and I tried to keep them as close to the sketch as possible. I really like using pink in faces. That's me on the left as a little black fox, and Beastie on the right as a gray wolf. This was also the first time since I was about six that I've drawn anybody with animal ears, and I was a bit apprehensive about it, especially after seeing all the furry/anthro/neko-neko-kawaii bullshit the Internet has to offer. I like them, though, and I was thinking of it in terms more of medieval-style pageantry than literal anthropomorphism.

tales from the sketchpad, part 6

The time has come to end the sketchpad series. It's sad, I know, but my poor pens are suffering from exhaustion and quite frankly, I'm tired of the sketchpad. Like, really tired.

So here are the last two pages of the sketchpad. My .01 pen was fading fast, so as you can see, I resorted to using a .08 for the backgrounds of both of these. I don't like the heavier line quite as much as I do building up layers of finer lines, but it's passable.

Up top we have another Jeff. Seriously I am the sickest fangirl for him, because I have a thing for long-haired guys with crazy eyes, toothy smiles and big knives. I don't know what that says about me, exactly, but I'm okay with it. He's seen here after a long and productive night cleaning his knife off. Pasta-monsters have a pass when it comes to blood-borne diseases. Jeff's .08 background actually came from necessity, as there was some Prismacolor marker bleed-though from the other side of his page that had to be covered. And you always have to cover up the bleed-through, right Jeff?

Next is a portrait of me and Beasty. I'm not 100% thrilled with this one, but I wanted a picture of the two of us and here it is. I struggled with this for a long time, going through about a thousand pencil versions--the remnants of which you can still make out in the white areas of the image--before settling on this one. I was originally going for something a little sexier, but it never quite worked the way I wanted.

I salute you, Sketchpad. You will be missed. Kind of.

tales from the sketchpad, part 1

My mom gave me a sketchpad a while ago. I don't typically use sketchpads, or anything spiral bound. I'm very particular about my sketchbooks, but I started carrying it around anyway, in addition to my regular sketchbook. I decided it would be a good place to draw the stuff that I don't like to draw in my regular sketchbook, namely pen drawings. My regular sketchbook is generally used to try out new painting ideas, and I don't like to use pen in it. So the sketchpad became the place for pen.

Here are some samples of the pen stuff I've been doing. I'm not entirely satisfied with them, as pens have never been my preferred medium. I think they're a little cartoonish, and that's not a style I particularly like (even less so after everyone in high school insisted that cartoons were what I "should" create). Most of these images are drawn fairly quickly, and represent pretty uncomplicated ideas.

At the top is a form of skullhead. She's a grown-up skullhead, and kind of south-of-the-border-themed. There's not much to say about her.

Then comes a self-portrait. Yes, that's me. I consider all of my work to be self-portraits, in that they express interior feelings or processes of mine, which, to me, is a self-portrait of the most intimate kind. So it's weird to do an "actual" one, of a physical representation. And anyway, I don't feel that my physicality is terribly interesting. But I like this picture.

Then comes Spider Mouse. I had a dream about Spider Mouse one night and it was just the cutest little thing, crawling up the wall and being all fuzzy. I tend to dream about really fucked-up animals a lot, but they (the animals) are usually really friendly and cute. Recently, I dreamt about a small furry horse who lost two legs to a bear attack and lived in this family's front yard and ate cereal.

I really want a Spider Mouse.