December 2014 Artist Q&A

Hey, everybody! It’s Christmas Eve and I’m making rum cake and looking forward to a day full of friends and good food tomorrow. In the meanwhile, here are some answers to the great questions you guys dropped for me this month!

Q.  Marion Z asks: What do you feel about the importance of studying the human figure, both clothed and nude as a fundamental education for your work?

A.  It’s inevitable. Whenever we look at a work of art, we’re always searching for the recognizable pattern of a human reflected back at us.  Even if you’re focused on drawing creatures, it’s important to know how you can create a narrative around that creature and add expression that humans can relate to so that they find it interesting.  We’re vain creatures and we love to form narrative from anything we find familiar.

Short answer, learning the human form is extremely important, especially if you’re going into a field that requires convincing characters.  Failure to express emotion, even when one is technically skilled, can be the difference between a well made work of art with no soul and a somewhat capable work of art that still manages to capture the viewer.

Q. Marion Z asks: How important to you, and what do you do for the sake of it, to include archival qualities in your work?

A.  If you want your art to last for future generations to enjoy displaying in their homes, archival quality is important.  The internet and digital capture allows us to share images like never before without degradation, but the tactile quality of an archival print or original is still the standard in home and museum display.

Q.  Marion Z asks: Given the resources available, what suggestions do you have for studio lighting, to improve, develop and understand the color and detail work that is so important in your work?

A.  I’m a huge fan of Ottlite brand lights.  They are pure daylight bulbs that help when mixing colors on your palette during traditional painting, which is so important if you’re working with pieces that require a delicate color balance to really vibe well on paper (which is like every watercolor piece I do, ever).

It’s super easy for things to come out too yellow if you paint under incandescent bulbs.  If you can’t afford fancy daylight bulbs, always try to paint by sunlight.  Sidenote, sunlight/daylight is also the best for showing the best color quality for photographing originals.

Q.  Marion Z asks: For any given media, what would you suggest for the student artist to gather for a foray into that medium?

A.  I personally don’t feel tied to any media. For me, it’s all about whatever tool gets the job done!  However, you still need to learn how a medium behaves before you can know what potential it has for your tool set as an artist.  For this, I recommend just buying a cheap set of the media you’re wanting to learn and having a play with it.  Don’t concern yourself with being a master, just have some good old fashioned fun!  Not spending a lot of money on new media lets you be able to play with it in a more guilt free way.

I also recommend picking up a good source book or two to help you be more familiar with the materials you’re trying to learn about.  For instance, I’ve been considering trying out oil painting, but there are some very particular things you need to worry out when using this media (ie. toxicity, good ventilation, proper waste disposal, etc.).  I picked up The Complete Oil Painter: The Essential Reference for Beginners to Professionals so I can take the plunge into oil painting with full knowledge of what the studio setup and other challenges of the media will be.

Q.  And final question, C. L. McCollum asks: Which is the next painting you plan to start in 2015? And why that one?

A.  I’ve been brewing on a new painting for my fantasy book cover portfolio for a long time now, but other obligations popped up keeping me from finishing it this year like I had wanted.  I’m super excited to get started on a new painting starring Melakim, one of my original characters from an original world I’ve been toying about with for years.

Melakim Wardrobe concepts

It’s going to feature all the things I love, a badass Hunter lady, lots of corvids, and a possible mix of traditional and digital a la Wylie Beckert’s graphite method that I’ve been dying to experiment with.

Needless to say, I am excited about this next piece!  I can’t wait for 2015!  Till then, have some thumbnails for this upcoming piece to tide you all over:

Melakim Cover sneak peek.
Tattoos? Corvids? Badass Ladies? Oh my!

Have a great holiday, everyone!  See you in 2015!

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