August 2014 Giveaway + Q&A: Winner and Answers!

Now for some answers to the questions you asked in a previous entry!  Vanessa asks:

Q:  I find that I have a very hard time figuring out light sources and shading when I’m trying to draw or paint (traditionally and digitally). Do you have any recommendations for exercises or books that would help with this problem?

A:  Vanessa, mastering values is one of the most subtle, but important skills that I am still mastering, myself!  If you can establish the proper values and shadows, you can make even the most absurd forms look realistic and the most simple paintings intriguing.

Some of my favorite exercises to understand the importance of value, especially as it affects composition, is to study master paintings and create black and white abstractions of them (thanks to Chris Oatley’s Painting Drama for the idea!).  Like this:

Breaking down a painting into the major value groupings which define the image teaches you to recognize that effective paintings aren’t about shading and lighting everything to the same intensity, but that you can push and pull the viewer’s eye by grouping together the overall values where you would like the flow of the image to move.

As for knowing what to shade, lighting and shooting your own references is extremely important!  You can bring a level of realism and grounded reality to your pieces if you can define where the cast shadows fall.  Some artists do this with photographic reference, others learn to light and rig in 3D modeling programs so they can control every aspect of their reference more easily.

There’s so much more I can say about this topic, so I’ll just leave you with a suggestion for further reading in the form of James Gurney’s amazing books on painting, Imaginative Realism and Color and Light.  Both books talk extensively about values, color, composition, and so much more!  They are an essential part of my book shelf.

Q: As an artist do you find it more difficult to begin passion projects as opposed to commissions? Where do you find your motivation? I know that when I get home from designing all day one of the last things I want to do is work on my own projects, and I have started missing them!

A:  This is a tough one!  I am still battling to get motivated after work.  After working on commissions for other people all day, I just want to curl up with a video game or a good movie.  The best way I’ve managed to trick myself into ‘working’ after work is to realize that this is essential ‘play’ time.  We remain creative by letting our minds wander (see John Cleese’s lecture on the matter).

It also helps for me to give myself a set amount of time I can expect to be playing.  You can get a whole lot done an hour a night if only you dedicate yourself fully to that hour!

Q: My last question is, where did your love of art nouveau stem from? What draws you to this particular movement in art?

A:  I fell in love with Art Nouveau when one of my good friends in college introduced me to the work of Alphonse Mucha!  I instantly fell in love with the elegant swirling lines and organic shapes.  Replicating the style is like pure joy for me.  Inking the tiny details is a form of strange meditation.  I feel like Art Nouveau is a mirror into another world where the artistry of the individual was more appreciated than soulless manufactured design.  There’s so much beauty, passion, and artistry in the architecture, paintings, and simple household objects of the period!

Thanks for the wonderful questions, Vanessa!

Without further ado, the winner of the Bad Fairy ACEO is….

Caitlan McCollum!  You’re on a winning streak, m’dear!  

If you’d prefer the 50% off discount code prize instead, let me know via email and I can get you sorted out.

I hope to return to my usual live broadcast format for September’s giveaway and Q&A.  More details to follow!

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