One of the fun things for artists at Christmas, is that we get to make some of our gifts. I try to reserve making gifts for people who want something hard to find. This year I turned a tiny collectable Hello Kitty into zombie HK. I made a string of beads. I made two stuffed plushies (which I’ll post next time after that gifts are received). And I customized a blank Munny into a Loki.
The thing about Munnys is they can sit around for a while until you figure out what to do with them. My friend was looking for a bobble head Loki or something similar but no one could find one. Of course I had this blank Munny, my first ever, waiting for something. After some research on customizing Munnies in the Kid Robot forums, I got to work.
The great thing about a Munny is you can add Super Sculpey to it to customize your character. That’s how I built the helmet, bracers and boot tips. Oh yeah, and I used an old paint brush handle and made his staff. Then, even though the Munny is vinyl, you can bake the Sculpey right on it! It comes out of the oven a bit soft and hardens as it cools. Then a bit of paint gets you mostly done. Just to throw it over the top, I added a felt cape.
I was pretty pleased with the results and so was my friend. And now I have a new addiction (the forums warn of this) and a new medium. Hand made gifts can be great for discovery if you let it push you a little further than you’ve been before.
Recently, I learned a new skill. I learned how to sew. I had taken a crafts class a couple of years ago as part of my teacher’s prep and learned the basics. Then I went to an expert (AKA mom) and learned more. This hippo, was my first little project I did on my own.
I think it’s important for artists to learn new skills and learn skills they think they won’t need. It’s important to look at other artists work, that aren’t in your field. It’s important to look at people’s work who is better than yours IN your field.
I can’t count how many times I used a skill from my construction (once everyday work) to make a piece of art. Learning how to saw and build properly has been useful. You never can tell when new skills come in handy. It’s true of unrelated skills too.
For no reason many years ago I studied photography. For quite some time. I learned how to do this: one of my early photos, The Pear…
Seriously, I spent time learning about lenses and shutter speeds and film. And darkrooms and chemicals and tidyness in darkrooms. (pre-Photoshop people!)
And even though I didn’t stay in photography. I thought about it a lot. It affected how I did my work after learning about it. It taught me how to do composition in artwork. I learned about light and contrast and framing.
Learning stuff you don’t think you need to know often comes in handy. It gives you ideas. Learning how to have fun and do frivolous art is important too. I took this photo when I got hold of this large pencil.
Now it might combine with some of my other new skills and my tried and true skills and lead to another project. Of which I will say little about. The cool thing is that it comes from a collaboration of a friend who is like me. Learning new things, stealing peeks at other artists work, alchemically changing ideas inspired by those glimpses into ideas and projects of your own. That’s how art works.
It’s nice to return to basics! Doing things in black and white means you really have to sort out composition and contrast and value. So I did this set of postcards for a Black and white swap. I also learned that a depleting Sharpie is very useful for lighter nearly grey tones. very nice. technically doing the work with just a black pen (over a pencil sketch, erased when done) also helps me to focus light weight, which is something I’ve been working on in all my recent work. but these cards were great practice!
One of the reasons I like working on ATCs is that it gives me a chance to push past my regular comfy space and extend my reach. It sometimes brings out the best in me or helps me to do something I rarely do. And it will also strengthen my little used abilities or remind me that I do have skills I forget about. So what I’ll do on the ATCs sites is sign up for fun stuff, interesting stuff and sometimes 1 thing that appeals to me , but seems like I might not be able to pull it off. I admit I don’t always pull it off 100% But just as often I surprise myself. These cards are from a swap called Steampunk Pin-ups. So I did them in my usual style, google image pin-ups and the punked them out. I love the way they turned out.
Here’s the CMYK companion piece to RGB. It’s smaller at about 16″ x 16″. I did it to hang in a show that was themed 3 Color. Well no, I did it because it was in my head, but it was nice to be able to hang it in a show. Personally, I consider black and white to be colors, but the parameters of the show said they weren’t so I got to bend the rules a bit. One thing about ‘rules’ are that you have to find which you want to play by and which you don’t. For instance, to me assemblage should be made from found objects. Yet, I ‘found’ the ping-pong balls in a store. It’s the only new object in the work, but I bent the rule I have in my head to make the piece better. It’s interesting to me to watch artists develop styles or ideas and then step away or push them further to make the art more interesting.
Sometimes I like to mess about with assemblage art. I find it fascinating that you can take a bunch of parts of things or found objects and combine them, sort them, arrange them into a larger work of art. I did this work for a show out of all recycled materials plus glue and paint. It’s called RGB. I’m currently working on a companion piece for it called CMYK. I also find it interesting to work in an abstract ideas. I really enjoy telling stories and most of my ideas and art end up being stories but when I get involved in abstract, I find it brings me back to focusing on elements and principles of art.
Where do ideas come from? Everywhere for me. Sometimes I hear people say things, I read a story, I see something beautiful; all of these things and more will make ideas pop into my head. A lot of times it something plus an idea in my idea. This 2 minute sketch of the first appearance of Michonne on The Walking Dead show was actually a real scene. But then I heard Laurie Holden (Andrea in the show) say that this new character was Andrea’s new BFF. So all that combines in my brain in a Chibi anime style. And I did this sketch on the dry erase board on the fridge while waiting for the tea to heat up. Also dry erase markers and board are hard to work with! They are very slick. Still it’s fun to have the board cause it’s like sand drawings on the beach. Not perfect and not permanent.
For me, over the last about two years, my style has really solidified. It’s been in short bursts and has been greatly aided by doing ATCs. I think signing up, having a deadline, picking topics that are both easy and not so easy have pressed my style far ahead of where it has been stuck. There are a couple of big factors that have also contributed to my current art state, but more on those later.
I think I can track the changes to this little Halloween piece I did. I have been sketching with Sharpies for many years; they are easy to carry, waterproof, they look good color-wise and they show a nice range on many papers. This Halloween piece was the first time I did an illustration in Sharpie instead of acrylic inks. I like acrylic inks and I still use them, but they are messy and not portable. Still, I had a lot to learn in terms of Sharpie use and line weight, which is easier with acrylic ink.
Do jack 'o' lanterns dream?, 8" x 10", watercolor, ink
Bad Lion, 2.5" x 3.5", wc & ink
Well I’m back to the beginning Vizzini! Actually with the new updated WordPress, I think the gallery pages are better. I’m rewarding myself with a day of board gaming at a friends house. I’m sure over the next few days I’ll make some other tweaks like adding alternate text and more SEO stuff, but now at least I’m not on edge about my site not being available!
OOPS! ihad a bad install of wordpress that crashed and burned when i did a thing! also i don’t know php. i wish we had those plug in brain computers like in the Matrix. bear with me while i rebuild!