Category: inspirations

UNKNOWN NOUVEAU: Alexandre de Riquer

Originally posted at my Patreon blog.

Today’s unsung artist from the Art Nouveau movement is Alexandre de Riquer , another artist from Spain where he was one of the prominent figures of the Modernism movement.   He was born to an aristocratic family and studied in France.  

It was in France and London where he fell in love with the graphic design of the lithographic posters of the Art Nouveau movement, a relatively new form of advertising at the time.

His prolific body of work spans everything from posters to magazines to book covers!  Saying that, I wish I could find a broader collection of his work.  There are so few I could dig up!  I suspect I will have to dig through collections in Barcelona to find more of his beautiful work.

I love the way Riquer’s art shows more of the Japanese influence on Art Nouveau with his simplified lines and relatively flat colors.

See more articles in this series here.

Sketch Diary – Monster Girl Spider

Inspiration

Jorogumo Illustration by Matthew Meyer
Jorōgumo Illustration by Matthew Meyer

Today I’ll be talking about how I created Spider for the 30 Day Monster Girl Challenge.  For my version of spider, I went with a Japanese inspired Jorōgumo.

The Jorōgumo is a mythological creature from Japanese folklore which was known for luring virile young men to their lairs, charming them with food and music, then binding them up in their webbing so they could devour them.

Jorōgumo means “binding bride” or “whore spider”, but is also a word which refers to a particular species of golden orb weaver spiders in Japan.  For more info on this fascinating folklore, check out www.yokai.com

Tools and Techniques

For this painting, I used Photoshop CC and a Wacom Cintiq 21UX.

Concept Inspiration

I took a lot of visual inspiration from the golden orb weaver (nephila clavata) of Japan.  My Spider has many of the same markings as decorative designs on her kimono and her color palette echoes the spider’s.  Her kimono is also inspired by a bride’s as a nod to the “binding bride” namesake.

References

A selection from my references. I had many more of the spider from multiple angles, but I’ll save you the nightmare fodder!

References for Spider
References for Spider

 


Process

Phase 1 – I doodled a rough sketch in turquoise to make it easier to see when I inked on top.Phase 1 Spider


Phase 2 – Line art created with a hard round brush.

Phase 2 Spider


Phase 3 – I laid in flat colors using the selection magic wand to select areas and Edit>Fill.

Phase 3 Spider


Phase 4 – A shadow layer set to Multiply was created that was clipped as a mask to the entire Group of colors.

Phase 4 Spider

 


Phase 5 – A final touch of highlights was added with white. The highlight layer set to Overlay.

Phase 5 Spider


Animated process GIF.
You can also watch a sped up time lapse video of the process here.

Animated Process GIF - Spider

For more in-depth instruction on how I created this image plus a downloadable PSD of the image, Pledge $10 and up on my Patreon to gain access to the narrated video tutorial!  You can also buy the individual tutorial separately at my Gumroad shop, but you won’t receive the extra art goodies you would by purchasing via Patreon.

You can watch a preview of the narrated tutorial here:

 

SKETCH DIARY: Lady of January

This series began as my annual Christmas card back in 2012 and as a homage to Mucha’s stunning series “The Precious Stones”!  I’m a long time fan of Alphonse Mucha ever since I discovered his work years ago in college and fell in love with his graceful, intricate compositions.  I thought it’d be fun to challenge myself to an entire series in this detailed and decorative mode of work.  The Lady of December sat alone as the only entry into this series until I recently decided to pick it up again!

The Four Gemstones by AngelaSasser

“The Precious Stones” Female figures embodying the gemstones Ruby, Amethyst, Emerald, and Topaz.

Lady of December by AngelaSasser
“Lady of December,” Digital Painting, 2012.

I had tried to do a monthly series before in the form of a series of angels, but I wasn’t quite satisfied with the layout of the composition of the first entry in this series.  The window and the figure felt disconnected, while the background seemed too empty with too much wasted potential.

Angel of January by AngelaSasser
“Lady of January,” Digital Painting, 2011.

 

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New Patreon Intro Videos

This week I was finally able to complete swanky intro videos made for both of my Patreon pages! You guys should check them out and tell me what you think. You’ll get to learn much of the following:

– The specific artist who made me want to be an illustrator.
– Why I wanted to be a mask maker.
– What kind of art I was drawing involving masks back when I was a teen.
– What my masks looked like before I discovered leather. It ain’t pretty!

Plus other odds and ends. Enjoy the trip down memory lane! 

Now, I can get back to actually *making* art, for as fun as all this video editing has been. So many outtakes…so…many…

The intro for my Art and Illustration page:

The intro for my Artisan Crafts page:

Sketch Diary – Lady of December Part 1

It’s that time of year again! Time for my yearly Christmas card for fans, friends, and family! I have a bad habit of starting this project late every year, which barely gives anyone time to pick up some cards to send out to their loved ones, but THIS year, I am making it a point to be early! It took some effort to even begin thinking of Christmas themes while my beloved harvest and Halloween season was going on. I am one of those types who hates seeing Christmas ornaments out before I’m done enjoying my pumpkin pie and colorful leaves.

 This year I am admittedly rebooting an old theme you might remember, the Angels of the Months. You all might remember the Advent Angel, who incorporated themes of December’s flowers, as well as Angel of January, who had flowers and birthstone symbolism. Each one had its strengths, but I always felt as if they missed the mark, compositionally. Either the wings blocked the stained glass or the winged figure competed visually with the stained glass window for the attention of the viewer with too much ’empty’ space left around both. I was flipping through my favorite Mucha reference book when inspiration struck me like lightening!

Mucha’s Semi-Precious Gemstones series.

I adore the simple focus, the elegant ladies, and the detail in the windows and flowers! Lady of December will be in a similar composition with a focus on her adornments, the flowers of the months, and the representational birthstones.  I do miss the wings, but (as loathe as I am to say this), sometimes I have to make pictures without them! For shame.

With all that in mind, thumbnailing begins!  These were rough and dirty ink sketches to help establish the composition’s flow, the figure’s posing, the arrangement of the borders, window pane, and flowers.  I knew I wanted the central theme to be a ring of Turquoise, inspired by the Gregorian poems for the birthstones, so the poses had to bring the hand into play as a point of interest.
1 and 3 are my favorites.
 Next up, I wasn’t too sure of the pose yet, so I decided to explore them in a photoshoot with a chair and some curtain sheets.  I took quite a few variations, but here are some of my favorites:
Just ignore my horrid farmer’s tan…

So many to choose from! But the pose on the left had a really interesting flow created by the hands and the focus I wanted on the ring.  Meanwhile, the other photos will be filed away for reference use for the rest of this series!  Some of these may make their way to my stock art gallery, so keep an eye out over there, if they strike your fancy!

Then came the reference hunt!  Have a montage of pretty jewelry, Mucha dresses, and other things which I hope will inspire the final look of Lady December’s dress and jewelry.
Coming next: Studies and Line Art
Want to see a step-by-step as this project develops?
Check out the thread at WiPNation!

Creative Background Noise

Work, work, work.  With my largest con of the year coming up, it’s been nonstop rush time for me!  It occurred to me that I always have interesting background noise going to help keep me rolling into the wee hours of the night.  Most of it is just interesting enough that I have something to occupy my mind, but not so distracting that I can’t work at the same time.  Here are just a few things I’ve been listening to in random order:

Documentaries (Most available on Netflix)

  • I Shouldn’t Be Alive – Stories of survival with fascinating lessons about what it takes to stay alive.
  • Medicine Men Go Wild – Continuing my survival obsession of late.  A pair of medical grad students, who are identical twins, go on a world tour to learn about different medical techniques and what they can teach modern doctors.
  • Deadly Women – Featuring multiple stories about female murderers.
  • Fatal Attractions – Examining the psychology of individuals who choose to keep exotic animals in their homes.

(Um yeah. Just goes to show you my morbid array of interests, most of which fuel my inspiration as a writer, moreso than my visual interests as an artist.)

Random Funny Podcasts

  • Spill.com – Hilarious reviews and discussions of all the latest movies.
  • Zero Punctuation – Humorous video game reviews by the fast-talking game critic, Yahtzee.
  • Extra Credits – A podcast on the art and relevancy of video games which discusses the industry and its challenges, at large.

Music for the Muse

  • Niyaz – Really atmospheric middle-eastern group with an entrancing female vocalist
  • Two Steps from Hell – EPIC orchestral group with a variety of lovely vocals. Makes whatever you’re working on while listening that much more EPIC.
  • Bat for Lashes – Recently discovered this group! Very trippy, trance sounding stuff that’s great to zone out and work to.
  • Mass Effect Remixes – This action RPG had some really fantastic music. This particular group created some wonderful orchestral remixes and produced some catchy tunes that were also unused in the game, but are still fun to listen to. “Shepard of the Galaxy” is a particularly amazing track!

That’s been my DragonCon Rush listening list!  What are you listening to while you work? Feel free to share!  I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting background noise.

DragonCon 2011 Con Report

Finally! I am sentient enough to write a blog post about DragonCon!  This year was my most work-intensive year yet, despite the fact I didn’t have to man a table.  It was so wonderful to meet old friends, fellow artists, and attend many cool panels!  It made returning home to a backlog of work after all the fun that much more difficult.

My panel on E-Marketing for Artists 101 that I gave during the con is now available online for your viewing pleasure.  It was my first time giving it so I was pleased to be applauded at the end. Next time, I’ll be sure to include even more info based on the crowd’s great suggestions!

I decided to be over-ambitious and do a mixed media display of new digital paintings, jewelry, and masks to reflect my new skillset from the past year.  I’m happy to report I sold half my masks and jewelry and even a couple of framed pieces!  This year was the best I’ve done with a Gallery panel at DragonCon, though Print Shop sales remained lackluster.

Now for a tour of my panel! (See more pics of my gallery this year here).

 
Things I Learned
(Because you always learn something new with every con. Even if you’ve been attending for years.)
  • Mailing labels are your friend! Instead of wasting business cards by using them as title labels, a simple design printed on a mailing label looks even more snazzy AND saves me money!
  • Plastic Sawtooth Hangers look way better than using binder clips on your images (and doesn’t risk creasing your art/bag). The downside: Once they’re stuck on, they’re on for good.
  • Gatorade. The cure for hangovers, nausea, and walking multiple blocks in 85 degree Georgia heat in a corset!
  • What sold this year – DRAGONS (Derp moment on my part as this never occurred to me. Especially for an event like DragonCon), masks, jewelry, and my darker angel pieces.  Seems my craft items are staying my money makers.
  • When giving an hour long panel, drink plenty of water (or Gatorade). I was hoarse for a week after because I rambled the whole time at my panel without sipping any liquids.

Personal Stuff
Being able to wander the con and attend panels was great this year! I learned how to make items out of hardened felt, which opens up a whole new world of crafting for me. I also attended a panel on peasant fashion in the 1650s, which was great cultural fodder for my novel writing research.
A butterfly lady sketch
from Stephanie
Pui-Mun Law.
I also got to yack with Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and, in what’s becoming my DragonCon tradition, purchased her latest Tarot book, The Tarot: Minor Arcana!  Stephanie did a lovely sketch on the inside cover before my eyes, even with my rambling distracting her. Thanks so much for the gift of inspiration, Stephanie! Can’t wait to really dig into this tome. A flip through has already revealed tons of crows, swords, sparkly bods, and awesomeness! It will be good inspiration and motivation for me to get going on my own Tarot project, once I finally sort my direction out.
After two years of saying ‘I might go’, I finally attended David Mack’s charity body painting event hosted at one of my favorite joints in town, The Shakespeare Tavern! There was much talent packed into one place and also organic strawberry beer to be had.  David also signed my present of a rare Scarab figure from a friend, which was the source of much happiness.
I was also free to wander around snapping pics of costumes this year. You can see my meager collection of costume photos here!  If you want to see videos of my friends and I being stupid at the Night at the Aquarium event, check out Derpy Eels and Rockout Fish videos.
I’m not so sure if I’ll be able to make it to DragonCon next year with other events like SDCC and Spectrum Live Art tempting me, but after the success of this year, I’m definitely going to try!  Till next time, guys!  I’m already plotting a costume.

HELP! I Need Ideas!

So, it looks like I’ve bit yet another bullet (I’ve been biting a lot of those lately) and decided to attend Faerie Escape Atlanta as an exhibitor! That means I’ll have a convention every two weeks for at least 3 months starting in August. Possibly more if I find I like the taste of bullets and sign up for more cons in the area to rear my head at.

But I am sitting here stumped on what I’m going to make for the great Faerie Escape! I have my prints and art tile necklaces to sell, of course, but what else? I’d really like to do something fun and faerie/angel/mythic themed, so I’m opening up the doors of inspiration! Let us CREATE!

I’m thinking of doing stuff along these lines:

But I’d like to think of things in a more mythic fantasy theme. Maybe faerie king/queen masks? Celtic knot masks? Leafy masks? More jewelry with leaf and feathers? Butterfly and angel wing necklaces and keychains?

Halp! My mind is all over the place. Would love to hear what you guys would like to see in a mystical fairy/angel theme from me 🙂 So fire away!

Disclaimer: By suggesting an idea, you are of course giving me permission to play with that idea however I see fit. I’ll credit where I can, but I can’t promise royalties. This is just casual fun brainstorming session, not an attempt to make a corporate enterprise.

Guest Post – When We Were Young…

My final guest post at Eventide Unmasked (for now!).
This week’s topic: What were you writing when you were young? Remembering the joy and staying inspired.

Greetings again, Bat-fans! This is Angela chiming in for my last post here before Hayley’s grand return from England!

It’s been fun and if you want to keep up with me, I have my own blog that’s actually mine here. It’s a grab-bag of art inspirations, writing experiments, and marketing adventures so be sure to come on in and join me.

For today’s post, I feel the need to reminisce, as I think we all should once we get to that point in our creative lives where we may be a little distracted by this grand thing in life called ‘making a living’.

Do you remember what you were writing when you were young? (In the early teen range, perhaps?) I certainly do!

(Read on at the full blog post)

Review: The Last Airbender

Every now and again in this journal I like to review movies or video games that have really made an impression on me as an artist and a writer. Let it be known before I even begin talking about The Last Airbender that I am a long-standing fan of the original animated series that inspired it (Avatar: The Last Airbender). As a child of the early 80’s, I grew up with the golden age of animation still lingering and the slick adventurous and bold animation of the 1990’s – before children’s shows became all about sponges wearing pants and random inanity.

For me, Avatar: The Last Airbender was a breath of fresh air. Finally! An animated show that looked beautiful and smooth, with pleasant stylization and a rich tapestry of a fantasy world that really drew me in. Finally, a series that was paying attention! Here we had characters who were flawed and who changed throughout the course of the show. Moral lessons were not always on the surface of a story, especially when our beloved characters often did things that they knew were wrong, but that suited them as characters. DiMartino and Konietzko had created a story worth telling.

Unfortunately, little, if any, of this wonderful story translated to the movie adaptation of the series called The Last Airbender (darn blue cat people taking the rights to Avatar!). It’s true the heart of the story is still the same. We have a young monk named Aang who is burdened by the responsibility of being the Avatar, a driving elemental force in a chaotic world who is meant to bring peace. Instead of facing his responsibility, he runs away and by a twist of fate, pulls a Rip Van Winkle and ends up awakening 100 years later, where friendship and guidance from folks he meets on his journey puts him back on track to being a hero.

The movie fails in the respect that the entire story felt rushed. Characters blurt out plot points with plenty of emotion, but the driving force of their motivation seems left to the cutting room floor (considering this movie is about an hour and 40 minutes and still manages to create little emotional attachment to the characters and condenses an entire first season of plotline). Decisions are reached too quickly, characters rush headlong into blind belief and friendship in one another, despite having just met. Fight scenes feel like a waste of time when half of the driving philosophy that made the Asian-inspired world of Avatar so enthralling was the dueling philosophies of the nations and their particular styles of Bending, or elemental manipulation. We’re gifted one line of philosophy about how you must ‘give in to Water’, but really, how deep is that in the context of the movie?

Not so deep, just like the rest of the cast and its stilted performance handicapped by a shortchanged plot. First Rule of Movie Adaptation, do NOT try to directly adapt a plotline without repolishing the original story to fit your new, often condensed timeline. Most of this movie felt as if it were merely trying to reach important plotlines that happened in season 1 of the animated show. Line by line, as if it was a checklist for those who watched the series.

When is Hollywood going to learn that you can’t just rush through a plot, toss in a few action scenes, and then rake in the cash? Just like the last blockbuster disappointment, The Prince of Persia, characters had no lows where they could really bond with one another or express anything further than stereotypical surface emotion. (Though I will say, I enjoyed Prince of Persia far more than Airbender). Without safe ports in the plot for characters to contemplate and develop as characters to contrast against the many scenes of frenzied action, there is no spark of interest or resonance with your audience. And for the love of all that’s sacred, please don’t reveal the emotional life changing moments of an important character in a 2 second flashback with a couple of explanatory sentences!

I’m not going to say the entire movie was a complete failure. The effects were fairly well done. Waterbending looked especially gorgeous in the second half of the movie where many battles take place in a frozen tundra riddled with battleships, soldiers, and tribesmen. The wardrobe felt authentic and reinvented in a suiting way for a rustic Asian-inspired look. Even still, good FX and atmosphere were not enough to save this from being a mediocre production and a major disappointment (this coming from a fan of Shyamalan!)

Perhaps Shyamalan was rushed? Perhaps he was pressured to cut the material that would have made this movie feel less splintered into plot points? Whatever the reason, this fan was not pleased. I hope for the sake of the fans, they get their act together for the next two movies, if they even gross enough to finish production on them after this major disappointment.

Perhaps I’m also being harsh, but for a director who has professed so much love and respect for the source material, I expected much more from this production. Go see it if you’re bored, but please, just go rent the animated series if you want the full story.