Coursework: 5 Unique Tools To Take Control Of Your Paintings

Artist April McConn looked out the window of her studio, taking in the flat landscape of the Colorado plains as she started her new painting of ancient Rome. McConn has spent the last two years creating popular paintings of life in the Roman empire, despite not having access to the massive architecture the Romans are known for. McConn faces the challenges each day of painting with realism and accuracy, with only the reference models she finds or creates.

McConn and other artists have learned to use unique, often unexpected tools as references for things that either no longer exist or never have.… Read the rest

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time_enough_at_last_rdickerson

Creating Fan Art: The Artist’s Perspective

It is truly interesting that fan art is this week’s topic, since it is something I am not only intimately familiar with as an illustrator, but this week my freelance life centers around that very idea. One of the things I enjoy doing is interviewing the cover artists for Apex Magazine, and I am sending several this week. Fan art questions often come up with those artists, who create fan art for various reasons. Along with that, I am also working on a piece of fan art this week, in the hopes that it will be published later this year in a book filled with art based on the 1982 film The Thing.… Read the rest

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icebergs-in-museum

Original art is always better than a reproduction

The transcendent experience of seeing an original piece of art in a museum is substantially better than any reproduction could possibly be. Seeing the original artwork in a museum offers reflection, education, and admiration that a reproduction can not provide. The unique crafting of the original artwork piques interest for further works by the artist, and similar artists and movements, far more than any reproduction can match. This article was originally written for my classwork with CSU-Global, a portfolio project. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.
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Customizing the sketchbook for the muse

I like to customize my Moleskine sketchbooks before I start using them, and sometimes that can be quite an elaborate process.

Partly, I customize them so that they are easier to recognize and find if lost. Instead of just looking for a generic, small sketchbook, I can tell people to look for something more unique. By customizing it inside and out, it’s easier to spot, and frankly harder to get away with stealing.

Mostly, though, I just like that, through customization, it truly becomes mine. I think if I have already given it love, already spent a good time with it, that when I sit down to create art with it I’m more comfortable.… Read the rest

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Unimaginable is not a word in my vocabulary

When I was standing in line at the local coffee shop, I overheard a couple of people talking about something awful. That happens, certainly, it’s not unusual at all (I often stand in coffee shop lines). One of the women in the group, after hearing the full details of a plane crash, said, “That is just unimaginable. I could never imagine that happening to me.”

Those are fairly common things to say, and I understand the meanings of all of those words. I get where they are going with it, that they don’t think they would ever find themselves in that kind of situation.… Read the rest

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Museum of the weird

Oh. You’re one of “those” kinds of people.

Whether I’m creating some new piece of art, or taking a photo, even writing a story (wait, “he writes?”, you say), I have always loved creating things. I especially love to create things that have, shall we say, an unusual feel to them. I love the fantastic, the supernatural, and all of the strange things that people don’t like to admit exist.

As a creator, it’s inevitable that I’m going to meet people who are interested in what I do. Now, as I’ve been doing this for many years, I have learned to read people.… Read the rest

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The huge events in an otherwise boring life

Most of time, life is pretty boring. We go through our lives, through our day to day procedures, and very little changes. Sure, each day and each week have their little ups and downs. After all, I did just eat a Snickers bar and stub my toe, at nearly the same time. But for the most part, life normally lies on a somewhat predictable path.

Creating art works the same way. As an artist, I have procedures to work on the book covers I do for publishers, or the ink art pieces I like to do, and even with my larger paintings.… Read the rest

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Rabbitfield

Life influencing art, scaring the bejesus out of me

Earlier this week, author Ray Garton (who’s awesome, and you should read all his stories) asked on one of the social networks (the blue one) about sleep paralysis.

For those who aren’t familiar with the phenomenon, sleep paralysis, also known as night terrors, is perhaps the scariest thing you could ever imagine. You wake up in the middle of the night, completely locked into place. You can’t move anything, you can’t be heard by anyone else if you decide to scream, and all you can move is your eyes.

Also, as a bonus feature, you have an overriding fear of someone or something just barely outside of your sight.… Read the rest

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This Week’s Art: Beksiński

I’ve been a big fan of the works of Zdzisław Beksiński for a long time. They are like dreams and, often, nightmares, come to life. Beksiński himself even said as much about his own work, and from what I’ve read about him he was a fascinating person. Especially in the many ways that I feel the same way about art as he did.

One of his great quotes about his own work fits perfectly with how I think of mine: “I cannot conceive of a sensible statement on painting.” I’ve never been able to come up with an, “artist’s statement”, because I don’t think mine would make any sense.… Read the rest

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Giovanni Boldini, Newspaperman in Paris

This Week’s Art: Boldini’s Newspaperman in Paris

Some of my favorite art pieces are those that show emotion, that have an energy to them. True, most beloved pieces have an energy all their own, even if it’s subtle. But there are some pieces where that energy is something more evocative.

I’ve seen many of Giovanni Boldini’s paintings over the years, often of the women that he painted. He seemed to work in portraiture quite often, and I came across a painting of his that seemed different than his others.

Here’s Boldini’s Newspaperman in Paris (a.k.a., The Newspaper; 1878, oil on panel, 18.5 in.… Read the rest

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Rime of the Ancient Mariner

This Week’s Art: Dore’s Death, Life-In-Death, and the Ancient Mariner

I read a lot of poems, and one of my very favorite poems is The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It’s a dream made for an illustrator, filled with such great visions, and it’s probably one of the reasons that it’s been a popular poem for so long. I have a Dover edition of the poem featuring Gustave Dore’s engravings, 42 of them, which I love to look at.

Of all of the great images in the book, my favorite is the scene where Death and Life-In-Death are playing a game of dice for the souls of those on board.… Read the rest

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This Week’s Art: Cornwell’s $2,000 Reward

I love the illustrators of the early-mid 20th century. Rockwell, Wyeth, Pyle, and many more, they just have this great sense of drama and storytelling in their work. Even without knowing the stories that they went with, as is sometimes the case, the images still cause a reaction.

Case in point, this image by one of my favorite illustrators, Dean Cornwell. Cornwell had a great way of fitting in to nearly any subject, and still bringing beautiful, emotional work to the table. Here’s his painting $2,000 Reward (Oil on canvas, 1921), featured in Cosmopolitan in 1924 with a story by Alma and Paul Ellerbe.… Read the rest

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Vasily Polenov, Birchwood Alley

This Week’s Art: Polenov’s “Birchwood Alley”

The first of my renewed “This Week’s Art” articles, where we discuss a particular piece of art, is Vasily PolenovBirchwood Alley (Oil on canvas, 1880). Here’s what it looks like, and click on it for a larger version.

19th century Russian art is something I’ve become more and more intrigued by over the years, and this image is one of the reasons for that. The Russian painters of that era just had a wonderful sense to their pieces. They could be dramatic, or mysterious, or even happy. Even in paintings that are mostly nature, there’s an emotion there that doesn’t always exist with other groups of painters.… Read the rest

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Art & Design: Promotional materials to leave behind

It is a good idea, after an interview or portfolio review, to leave behind some manner of promotional material for yourself. That could be as simple as a business card, or as complex as a brochure. The idea is that the person doing the review will have something to refer to later, hopefully to get back in touch with you for work or a project.

Each of these materials should follow some obvious guidelines, though the design and size of them might dictate how much information you should (or shouldn’t) have on there.… Read the rest

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Myasoyedov

This week’s art: Myasoyedov’s The road in the rye

I think it’s important as an artist to look at various kinds of art each day. Just as it is important for graphic designers, filmmakers, authors, and anyone with a creative side, seeing the works of others can help a creative person learn more about what they do.

In that respect, I used to write long articles (here!) about different pieces of art. I learned from writing them, as much as I think others did as well when they commented on the pieces themselves. Over time, that activity was replaced with the quieter activities of resharing what others posted, or of posting to my Pinterest “Inspiration” galleries.… Read the rest

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