Sunday, December 28, 2014

Learn the rules to break them.

It's been far too long since I updated my blog but I have a good reason. I've been doing a lot of research on a variety of areas.

I was getting quite frustrated and angry at myself because my art was lacking. That resulted in a lot of emotional breakdowns because of how passionate I am and where I want my art career to be. 

What I found out was I'm frustrated because I lack understanding. 

I read up on Da Vinci and have been studying him and other masters for some time now. They spent years studying and learning everything about their craft...I'm only at the one and a 1/2 mark. I've got quite a ways to go.

Another thing I realized is I tend to break a lot of rules with my art...but how can I break the rules if I don't know the rules? 

I can't. 

So, I'm learning the rules. I started with values. 

This was my first attempt.
This was my second. Obviously there have been improvements but I still have quite a ways to go. 

Right now I'm working on perspective. 

I've started following Brandon Dayton as well as spending time working through tutorials on

The basics are important even though I don't plan on being a rule follower with my own art. I need to spend the time learning, studying, and absorbing as much information as I can. 

I'm going to be posting my practice and my studies so be prepared. 

Some of them are going to suck. I'm okay with that. 

The important thing is to learn, not be afraid to fail, and keep trying. As long as I don't quit...I can't lose. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

I must be crazy.

I honestly must be crazy. 

I must be crazy to be this devoted to trying to figure out what my artistic purpose is. 

I get so frustrated with myself because it almost feels like I'm losing focus sometimes but in reality I'm trying to find my voice and figure out the best way to say what I want to say with my art. I'm tough on myself because I know that's what it's going to take. 

I read and study all kinds of work each and every day. 

I want to absorb as much of a variety of art that I can to help build my visual language. 

I've been doing this for over a year now and looking back I've definitely progressed beyond where I was but I have so much further to go. 

I look at my work now and I'm disappointed. I want it to be more. I want it to have feeling and life but it doesn't. So what do I do? I start over. 

Who does that? 

Who spends hours working on something and then when it's finished realizes it doesn't look the way it's supposed to so they start over? 

I do. 

I must be crazy. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's not your fault.

It's not your fault you're an artist.

It's not your fault you went to college in hopes of doing something amazing for the world. It's not your fault they told you that you could be anything when you grew up so you decided you wanted to draw, paint, or color.

I know it's not my fault. It's nobody's fault.

It's not a fault.

Being a fault would mean something is wrong with being an artist.

I want to draw.
I want to paint.
I want to color.

I want to create unique pieces that make people smile and maybe, just maybe for that one brief moment their life is free of all stress and worry.

It's not your fault.
It's not my fault.

It's my choice.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

That's it...I QUIT!!

I have spent every single waking moment since graduation trying to figure out what in the h#ll it is I'm doing. 

What is my purpose? What am I supposed to do? What is the goal of my art?

I have done the children's book thing. Didn't work. 

I've done the graphic design thing. Didn't work. 

These things didn't work because my heart wasn't in it...because it's not what I love doing. 

What I love doing is coming up with unique and different ideas that tell a funny story. I love creating humorous illustrations that make people smile. That's what I love. I like having a little bit of an edge to my work because it's enjoyable. 

So why in the world am I wasting my time trying to force my art in a direction that everyone else says I am good at? Why? 

I honestly don't know. 

I just know I'm not happy unless I'm creating my own unique drawings.

I don't want to be the traditional artist that everyone says I should be. There is no love, no passion, no ME in the work I do for these different avenues and it shows. 

I tried the different areas and I failed at them. Okay fail might be a bit of a strong word but you get my point, right? 

A great mentor and friend Chris Hart helped me see the error of my ways even if he doesn't know it. I asked him a couple of questions about art and what I got in return was a wealth of information. I have a few of his books and highly recommend you checking him out. He is simply an amazing person as well as an incredible cartoonist. 

I have a background in web design, graphic design, and animation. I intend on incorporating the animation part in my work eventually but first I need to get my foundation down. That foundation is illustration. 

I'm an illustrator. I have to keep reminding myself of that because so many things about the graphic design world intrigues me. It's like something shiny catches my eye and I lose focus of my illustration passion. 

I must stay focused!!

I have taken time off to get my family moved, to figure out what in the world it is I'm doing, and to figure out just how serious I am about my art. 

It's not about the money. Okay, that's a lie. 

It's always about the money but I love drawing and creating so much money is the last thing I think about. I have my day job which is nothing art related at all and that pays the bills but my art is my passion. It's what helps me get through my mundane office job on a weekly basis. 

The point of this post is this...I'm tired of going in different directions. 

William Beachy of told me to pick what I want to do and Focus!Focus!Focus! 

That's my plan. 

I want you all to know that I am a humorous illustrator. I love jokes. I love laughing. I love making people laugh. It's what I do. 

Laugh at me or with long as you laugh I've done my job. 

From here on out, I will be 100% illustration (eventually animation will be thrown in but we'll get to that later) and nothing...and I mean NOTHING will keep me from it. 

It's what I love, it's what I want. 

I'm quitting everything else. 

I'm done. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Pinch me!

So this time last year I was on the path to being a children's book illustrator.

I found out that's not the direction I should be going in right now. It might happen later but for the time being, I'm working on editorial type illustrations and just having fun with all of it.

I draw or create art every day but the amount of pressure has been lifted.

I went into the children's book world because every one told me that my work looked like it would be a good fit.

Well great.

However, that didn't necessarily mean I would be a good fit for the children's book world.

I create from the heart as all artists do but the work that I was doing was empty. It didn't have my passion or my love in it which meant the drawings came out lifeless and dull.

Lifeless and dull is not me.

I tried it. I didn't like it. It's okay.

After that I took a long look at how far my art skill had progressed since before graduation and after.

I've come a long way.

I'm an illustrator. I'm a designer. I'm an artist. All of this is true.

The question I always find myself asking is where do I belong? Do I belong anywhere? I stopped putting pressure on myself to create and just started having fun with it again.

What happened was amazing.

Me being the fearless person I am, I took a risk. I started looking for work that I could do to fuel my artistic hunger. I didn't know where this would take me and I didn't know what exactly I was looking for but I knew it was out there.

What I found was freedom.

I am now a graphic designer for a real estate company where I get to create marketing postcards. They wanted someone artistic, creative, and someone that thinks outside the box.

That's perfect!!

I can't tell you how refreshing it is to be able to have the artistic freedom to create ideas from scratch. I get to put my unique creative talents to work and they get fresh new ideas that no one has ever seen!!

Pinch me!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cartoons on the shelf.

Sometimes all it takes is a little guts and a whole lot of throwing caution to the wind.

Stepping out of my comfort zone isn't something I'm fond of but if growth is to happen, that comfort zone needs to get busted all to pieces.

Looking at my illustrations I noticed something was missing. There was no heart, no soul, no passion.

My characters tell the story but they don't make you feel the story. What good is an awesome and unique cartoon character if they don't make the story come to life?

Well, that just won't do.

So I think I'm going to step away from the cartoon style work for a little bit and take a more realistic approach.

This eye is the first realistic drawing I've done in what seems like forever. I love it.

Oh this is going to be fun!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Just having fun!

My latest sketches were so much fun. I'm trying to come up with some solid pieces to put into my portfolio.
I plan on coloring these pieces. 
I like them. 

The first one is based off of my teenage son and his mood swings. 
Oh what fun they are!

 The second one is an idea I came up with in the midst of a cold. 
It's snack time and all the snacks are gone. 
Where did they go? 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Everything happens for a reason.

'Everything happens for a reason.'

I've heard this phrase many times in my life and I honestly believe it but sometimes it's hard to remember, especially when you are so invested in your mission. Actually it's hard to remember a lot of these special little bits when you're elbow deep in stress over something. 

I've been doing a lot of research and studying recently for my illustration work and one thing I found was that my characters have no depth. They're flat, simple, and quite frankly they look quite amateurish. 

I know I'm an amateur but it doesn't have to look that way. 

So I started doing a little more detailed research. I started really looking at my work and comparing it to the artists that I admire. 

Something about their work and the characters they create said something that my work didn't. There was emotion and life behind their lines but mine just looked ordinary and plain. 

What gives? What am I doing wrong? 

I asked the illustration community (which is actually a not-so-secret group of illustration buddies I have in a group on Facebook) how I could make my characters appear more lifelike. Their unanimous response was to study animation techniques and storyboards. 


I went to college for animation. I studied and studied animation for months. I have books and books on animation, storyboards, and various other drawing tools and now you're telling me the one thing I thought I would never be able to use is the one thing that will help me make my characters more appealing and full of life? 

Is that even possible? 

I never once thought that my education was a waste I just always wondered what it would have been like to go into college for illustration rather than animation. Who would have thought that my animation background would help make my illustration future that much more promising?

It makes sense. Animators use the characters environment and their situation to enhance the emotion of the character. The character's back story is really pushed into the details of the face, hand gestures, and pose which help to bring the audience into the character's world which helps with the realism of the character. 

Who knew I had all of this information literally at my fingertips? 

Maybe everything really does happen for a reason. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It takes time.

I am constantly researching and trying to learn as much as I can. It's hard work.

It really is.

I read, I study, I draw, and anything else that I can possibly do so that when the time comes and I get the call from a publisher or I get a call back from an agent I'll be confident in my skills and know I'll be able to do any job they need me to do.

That confidence takes time.

I asked a pro-artist once if he could tell me how I would know when I became better as an artist. His response was simple: it takes time.

How much time? How long? How many days? Hours? Weeks? Years?

That wasn't a fair question to ask because there was no way he could know that. It will take me as long as it needs to and I am constantly reminding myself this.

There is no way to speed up the learning process. Getting better takes time. It takes dedication and hard work. It takes getting so frustrated and mad at your work that you just want to sling it across the room.

And you will. I did.

I sat so frustrated at my work and so aggravated because I couldn't get a face just right or an arm wouldn't turn out the way I wanted and it was driving me bonkers.

I picked up my pencil and kept drawing. I didn't give up. I won't give up.

I'm in this for the long haul and those aggravating moments are going to happen. There are plenty more to come and that means that I'm pushing myself. That means I'm forcing myself to learn.

I'll get to where I want to be and when I get there, I'll keep going. I just have to remember that it takes time.

Lots and lots of time.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Slowly but surely I can see it.

Now that the huge snow storm and all the sickness is gone...

Every now and then I get discouraged because I think I'm not making progress. I've been drawing for over a year now and while I've definitely made some improvements I still worry because I'm not making enough of them. Or at least I think I'm not.

I read somewhere that as long as you're working, you're improving.

Really? Is it that simple?

I know it takes more than a year to get good and I'm okay with it taking time I would just like to see some sort of proof that I actually AM getting better.

I tend to be impatient and demand results sooner than they are ready to be seen.

The problem is the results are there. Right in front of my eyes. I'm growing. I'm learning. I'm getting better. I am. I just have to remind myself that it's a process and it will take as long as it needs to.

I just have to keep working on it.

Here are two drawings that I've done. One is from a year ago and one is recent. I see it.



Monday, February 3, 2014

Having a plan helps.

There are so many ways to create and complete illustrations. I get so overwhelmed with all of the different ways to do things and then I get frustrated which means I have to walk away. Walking away is great but it doesn't help me accomplish anything so instead of walking away this time I’m working on a plan. There are tons of ways of drawing and finishing my illustrations but right now this is the method I want to work on. I’m still working my way through it but I’m hoping it comes up with some pretty good results. (Also, sometimes it’s best to walk away but this time I’m trying to work through the frustration).

Ok, so here are the basic steps:

1. Thumbnails- roughly sketch out all of the scenes of the book to get an idea of layout, composition, characters and their environments.
2. Roughs- create more refined sketches with more detail.
3. Scan- put the images into the computer for even more refining.
4. Inking- lighten the sketch and then go over the lines to define the shapes.
5. Color… (work in progress)

The coloring part is a beast all on its own and is too involved for me to post about it here.

I know there are tons of different ways to do all of this but this is the method that I want to explore for the time being. I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible while still trying to get the best results. It’s all a work-in-progress but I think having a plan helps keep things organized and helps eliminate trying so many different methods at once. I’m hoping that once I get this part mastered I’ll be able to get more in-depth with each step.

I think I’m going to try this for a while and see how it goes. I’ll post some images of my process so you can see how I’m doing. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

To be a better artist, stop thinking...and start working!

I have spent a good part of my time trying to figure out how I want to draw, how I want to paint, how I want to market, and how I want to do just about anything with my art. I have spent so much time reading and studying that I've caused myself to stress more about my methods then about actually doing the work. I don't have the luxury of quitting my full-time NON-art job just yet so that means I'm going to have to schedule time to get my stuff done. I do have a few major projects in the works so what I'm doing so far is working I just need to stop thinking and start doing.

I was quite upset with myself a few weeks ago because I hit a creative block (is there a such thing?) and just couldn't seem to move past it. I was thinking too much. I was stressing about what method would be right, what approach I needed to take, and what goal I needed to reach before I could call myself an artist. This bummed me out. Then it made me mad. Then I became sad. Then, I took a break from anything and everything and it hit me. Stop stressing about getting there and just start working. How do I expect to even become happy with my art when I'm not even working on any art to begin with?

I'm in awe of so many artists but I often forget that it took them hours, days, months, even years to get to the point that I'm in awe of. If I want to get there I need to commit the time and energy it takes to get there. That being said I need to stop typing and start drawing.

Here's my latest little guy and proof that I stopped thinking...and started doing!

Happy drawing!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Being an artist and playing video games.

I love playing video games. At one point I could get lost playing video games. I remember me and my husband losing 8 hours playing Zelda: Ocarina of Time in a single sitting. For me it was the best game ever. Then the massive multiplayer online games caught my eye and lost hours turned into days. This was before college and before maturity kicked in. This seems to be another lifetime. We are a gaming family. My two boys, myself, and my husband all enjoy spending time together blasting away zombies or getting that little Italian plumber to the end so he can be told the princess is in yet another castle. We all want to get our sorcerers/warriors to the max level so we can have the best gear to be able to rock it out in the PVP/PVE world only to die and do it all over again. The problem with all of that is my love for my art outranks my love for playing games. My art is my passion. My characters and my layouts all need work and time to grow and that means I have to dedicate enough time to make it happen. That means going into the studio and sketching out my ideas, re-sketching my ideas, looking up references, re-sketching some more, researching techniques, and ultimately working towards a finish line. That doesn’t mean getting my chair in front of the TV after dinner and playing games until bed time. Those games are created by designers and artists that have put their time in. If I want people to enjoy my work, I have to put the time in too. If I’m serious about my art I have to be serious about the work and time devoted to it. I want to be a better artist and I want my work to show that I’m in it for the long haul. That only comes with time. Hard work, lots of hours, and time. I love being an artist.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I practice my way.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Right, I get that. We all get that. But how do you practice? What do you mean how? You just do it. No I understand but how? You just pick up your pencil and you draw? So do I draw tons of trees? Will drawing tons of trees make me better at drawing faces, and monkeys, and buildings? Why can no one ever answer this question? Eventually I figured it out. One of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to figure out as an artist is how to practice. Professors in school, tutorials, instruction books, forums, friends, everyone and everything related to getting better at art will tell you to practice. Ok, well just doing the work itself isn’t enough. It’s not, at least not for me. For me that there has to be a purpose and if I’m going to practice I have to figure out what it is I’m going to practice. I can pick up a pencil and just get to work but what am I working on? What is my plan? What is my purpose? Do I know where my weaknesses are? I listened to all of my professors when they said to practice but it didn’t take long for me to get frustrated because I didn’t know what to practice. I don’t know if that was a fault of my professors because they didn’t give me the answer I was looking for or if I wasn’t asking the right questions because I didn’t know the right questions. Either way I knew I was missing something. I knew I needed to practice because I knew my skill was lacking but what did I need to practice on? What was I missing? I’ve asked this question of many people with different artistic backgrounds and no one has ever given me the answer that made it make sense. I am not kidding when I say I am constantly reading, studying, and drooling over artists that inspire me. Ok maybe not drooling but close. I don’t ever want to copy the brilliance of another artist but I do want to always strive to produce their quality of work and beyond if possible. The question I have to ask myself all the time is what is it about their work that always brings me back? Is it the colors, the line work, the environment, or is it something else altogether? That required some study. Once I figured out what it was about their work that intrigued me, the more prepared I was to start practicing. In my research one of the most important things I found out was practicing is different for everyone. My strengths and weaknesses are going to be different from the next person so my steps to improving will have to be different as well. My weaknesses, I soon realized were I don’t know the fundamentals of all things art related. That meant I had to essentially start from the beginning. I had to learn the things that other artists probably already know which is fine but that meant I might have a tougher start. This is something I had to accept. I was and still am behind but that doesn’t mean I can’t catch up. We all learn differently so it stands to reason that we all might have to practice differently. They don’t teach you that in art school. If they did I missed it. My approach now is to find the gap between my work and the artists that I admire and work on bridging that gap. If it’s a beautiful face and I know I can’t draw an awesome face then faces are what I’ll work on. I’ll practice drawing faces. I’ll draw face after face after face until I get more comfortable with faces. Then I’ll draw more faces. Eventually I’ll get to a point where I’m beginning to be content with my work. That will require practice. Knowing what to practice will be what sets me apart from the artist I was yesterday and the artist I’m hungry to be tomorrow. Now I get it. I really do need to practice...but I need to do it my way.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New year. Same goals. New process.

At the beginning of December I said I was going to start fresh. And I did. I created a new website, new blog, cleared out some of my old funky work from school and replaced it with some new pieces, and now I'm working on doing that again. This past year was tough for many reasons but one of the main reasons was I put a lot of pressure on myself. I put pressure on myself to be successful right out of the gate and that just wasn't the case. It's not the case for anybody. I've always had goals and dreams which is a good thing but they haven't always been realistic. Goals are great as long as they are something that you can reach within time. 

I thought I needed to be working in freelance gigs straight out of college, not working my regular job anymore, and being able to roll from my bed to my studio on a daily basis. WRONG! I forgot that I still had work to do. I forgot that I was green in so many areas and the things I wanted to do with my art I just wasn't ready for. I'm still preparing. I'm still learning. I'm okay with that. 

I graduated from college with a degree in animation and design. Those fundamentals are great and I'm quite proud of them. However, I have no basis for illustration or even art for that matter. I had no idea about tint, shading, composition, perspective, hue, get the idea. So what did I do? I panicked. Surprise! Once I got over the initial shock of the fact I didn't know anything about the basics I realized it was time to learn. So I got to work. I started taking notes, reading, studying, and learning as much as I could to make me a better artist. I have a long way to go but there is something to be said for studying outside of the school atmosphere. There is so much about illustration and the mechanics of it all that I just didn't know. But I will. In time. And then I'll study even more. 

I have an image in my head of the type of artist I want to be and one day that image will become my reality. Until then I have to study, I have to listen, I have to learn what it means to appreciate art. I already eat, sleep, and breathe art styles of all different types but I don't fully appreciate it. I love art and everything that is involved but I don't appreciate it. To be able to connect to your work you have to appreciate the process. I'm not there yet but the fact that I know I'm not there yet means I'm going in the right direction. 

One pencil stroke at a time. I'll get there.