Happy Staycation! + New Work Reveal

be my wings

I’ve been working on this new mixed media drawing for awhile, and with my decision to take a little staycation, I’ve finally had the time to finish it! It is titled, “Be My Wings”, and measures 18×24″. I used prismacolor pencil for the face, prismacolor markers for the ravens, watercolor for both the hair and the background with grey, black, and white chalk overlay, and fabric for the clothing covering the neck and shoulders.

Of course, I have added this design to my Redbubble collection, as well as some new designs inspired by a couple of fun, newly finished ACEO illustrations.

I love buying from all kinds of artists on Redbubble, and have a design of almost every type of product in one form or another except the throw pillows! I’m dying to get one, but it is impossible to decide which design to choose, especially since I feel like changing around all the colors and decor in my apartment yet again. It’s a yearly thing :P.

I know this is a brief post after not writing for so long, but I’ve actually been aiming to spend minimal time online over this week-long break as it is simply gorgeous outside! Lately, I’d been feeling like there was a gloomy bad-luck cloud looming over my head, skulking around and following me just about everywhere I went. However, something seems to have turned a bit in my favor, because I sure picked the right week to take off! Every day has been nothing but perfect warmth and blue skies.

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Can’t beat swimming and a view! Now, onward to more adventures…

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Exciting News From Midland Artists Guild Exhibition 2016

Time has been flying, and I can’t believe the Midland Artists Guild annual juried exhibition has already came and went as of last night. There was such a diverse collection of amazing work. I think the shows get better every year, and if you are in the Midland area it is worth stopping by the Grace A Dow Memorial Library mezzanine to check it out. I was beyond excited to find out my piece “On My Mind” won one of the Merit Awards!

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This art nouveau inspired mixed media was so much fun to work on, and you can visit one of my previous posts to view the  step by step process .

My two other pieces that made it into the show were “Wonderland” and “January: She Is Far Away“.

All of these designs are available as art and ACEO prints in my ebay store, and prints on mugs, bags, pillows, notebooks, and all kinds of fun stuff in my redbubble shop. Next up, the Express Yourself Artshop fundraiser show and the Saginaw Township annual juried exhibition! Of course there will be many, many pictures :). Follow to stay in the loop!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I know I will be enjoying the rest of mine by drinking copious amounts of tea and not leaving the house.It may be Spring everywhere else, but not in Michigan! In fact, we’ve had four snow days in the last two weeks :P. So long for now!

Artists To Know! Installment 7 : Seeing The Unseen

I have always been the type of artist and art appreciator who tires of complete realism. I abhorred the same old make-it-look-like-the-photo landscape assignments in school growing up. I liked portraiture a bit better, but only if I made it my own, whether desired in the class assignment or not.

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Circa 2005 – Oh noes! The punk’s left eyeball has cracked and now little rainbow glass shards are floating out into the universe towards the viewers eyeballs, surely meaning to skewer them!

I always believed art should only show us what we cannot see in reality, or else what was the point? However, how much of reality do we really see, and how much simply slips from our view unnoticed? Human perception is a funny thing. You could have two people walk down the same stretch of sidewalk in a park, and if in the end you asked them to describe the scene they just participated in, I am 99.9% certain that they would each describe it completely differently. We notice what draws us, and ignore what repels us. That idea is the basis of the following artists’ work, work that shows us the marginalized and disenfranchised; the very people who often slip to the periphery of our awareness either consciously or unconsciously. Viewing these works, we are shown a reality that seems like a completely different world.

Aaron Draper

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For his “Underexposed” series, Aaron Draper captures lit photos of the homeless, aiming to portray them in the most pleasant, visually appealing way possible. Draper sites author John Steinbeck as an inspiration, and admires how he used his craft to highlight the plight of the poor, and expose social issues and inequities.  With this series, Draper is using lighting to draw viewers towards the person shown, causing the subject to be viewed with humanity and compassion. Draper says, “When it comes to social activism, you achieve greater public awareness by communicating hope as opposed to hopelessness”.

Diane Arbus

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Famed photographer Diane Arbus takes almost the complete opposite approach to the previous artist. The black and white photographs of her subjects seem to be developed in such a way as to accentuate each imperfection, every wrinkle, blemish, and flaw. Her work turns its lens on society’s outsiders : those with physical abnormalities, nudists, transgender individuals, those with extreme tattooing or body modification, and rarities such as twins. Unlike Draper’s work, there is a darkness to it and a definite surreal quality (One of her photographs of twins actually inspired Stanley Kubrick’s iconic “The Shining twins”.).  She is certainly a disputed artist. Some argue she was voyeuristic and exploitative , her photos no better than the circus “freak shows” that thankfully no longer exist in this day and age. Her motives and connection to her subjects have been called into question since her photographs were not necessarily being used to communicate a social purpose or to inspire a change in the treatment of the individuals, but more for striking visual interest. Additionally, her series in which she photographed individuals living in group homes for those with mental challenges, of which the above is a part, brings up a consent issue. Since the photographs were taken between 1969 and 1971, a time when individuals at such institutions were given little to no rights, the permission to photograph the residents was not given by the individuals themselves but the institution. Such a project would not be allowed publication by today’s standards. Others argue she is possibly one of the most misunderstood artists of the 20th century. Consent between photographer and subject is important, and I cannot speak to the validity of the permission she received. However, to me, Arbus wasn’t looking at her subjects with revulsion and disgust. They don’t appear isolated or lonely but confident, happy and uninhibited. They are comfortable in their own skin and are completely unaware of how they appear to others. Arbus had a great respect for her unusual subjects she sought out, saying “Most people go through life dreading they’ll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They’ve already passed their test in life. They’re aristocrats.” (though I do flinch at the way she throws around the “f-word”.) If anything, it was the so called “normal people” Arbus portrayed as lonely and disconnected and silly.

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Asa Johannessen

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The subjects of Johannessen’s “Looking Out, Looking In” series are individuals who don’t identify with any gender, male or female. An article in Independent about her show describes the portraits as “challenging the onlooker defiantly to try and categorize them”. All photographs are untitled, the subjects unnamed. The goal is to draw the viewers in to whom each individual is as a person, rather than the viewers obsessing over the single facet of “Are they male or female?” This is an interesting concept to me as someone who has always felt gender is about the last thing I notice about someone. This has led to some interesting social kerfuffles in the form of myself ending up on dates I never knew I was on. I pretty much am this comic below anyway, only with brown hair and zero barista skills.

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All that aside, the point is once again using art to bring humanity to those who are often misunderstood or ignored. Everyone struggles with identity crises from time to time, but most of us can’t even imagine feeling that such a basic component of our personhood is alien to us. Many of us can’t imagine the feelings of confusion, isolation, and despair such a conflict would bring. Individuals like the ones in Johannesson’s photographs often get treated like unicorns, an interesting idea, but they don’t really exist. This series confronts those misconceptions head on. No matter what we each individually believe, empathy and above all love is possible, and I daresay required.

Debbie Rasiel

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The goal of photographer Debbie Rasiel’s “Picturing Autism” series is to explore what autism looks like across language and cultural barriers. The series spans New York, Mexico, Peru, Indonesia and Iceland.”I wanted to offer those not familiar with autism an opportunity to see what autism looks like, a safe space where social mores would not prevent them from staring,” Rasiel stated in an article for The Huffington Post. Again, art has urged people to lock eyes with and confront images of individuals from whom they normally may avert their gaze due to unfamiliarity or uncertainty.

Art not only has the ability to show us things we can’t see in real life, but it has the ability to force us to see the unseen, and that is a wonderful and magical thing.

 

This Is Why You Should Keep Old Work Forever.

The Beauty Of It All

The Beauty Of It All, 11×14 prismacolor pencil and watercolor

For about 2 years, I had an 11×14 piece of bristol board with this woman’s face covered in flowers on it, and a metallic silver world map view behind her. She was surrounded by nothing else but white space. I was convinced it looked absolutely horrible, and I had no idea what to do with the rest of the background. I chocked it up to a loss and tossed the drawing in my storage portfolio case. A couple times I ran out of paper and thought about just using the back of it when I had a new idea and didn’t want to delay inspiration with a drive to Michaels for more bristol board. Other times I almost chopped it up into pieces for scrap paper to sketch ideas onto. I thought of posting it on my artist facebook page as a giveaway for whoever wanted it, and letting them color all over it like crazy to see what happened; an impromptu collaboration over vast distances.

Luckily, I never did any of these things. I’ve been doing a lot with watercolor lately, and was wishing I had one more piece to hang in my upcoming exhibit. I didn’t have the time to start anything else from scratch, but when I found this I decided to play around with the background and see what happened. I spontaneously dripped blues and greens and metallic silvers over the entire background, throwing the paper this way and that to guide the drips. Once I stopped over-analyzing and worrying over how terrible I thought my piece looked and just started enjoying the process again, everything came together. Sometimes even something as subtle as a bold color splashed into the backdrop can turn an entire piece around. Mine went from a drawing of a girl who looked like she had a strange, alien, flower-shaped skin disease to a pretty nice finished piece.

This is why I cannot emphasize enough, don’t toss out old, unfinished work! Paper is flat, it keeps pretty easily. I’ve my seen students do some really cool things with incomplete projects they could have tossed away. In this piece below, a student cut out elements she liked from a “practice” acrylic painting from the semester before that didn’t really turn out. These made for some great smaller blooms popping out around the central focus of the pumpkin. Even if you don’t end up turning the leftover physical piece into anything, something half-finished could at the very least provide an idea or concept for a project you do later.

And again, I have the best students ever. Unique floral mixed media for autumn.

Nancy’s autumnal mixed media, salvaging cutouts from an old acrylic practice lesson the semester before.

I’m actually constantly revisiting old work, even from as far back as high school. Most of that is also unfinished because I, like any teen, had a real short attention span. This painting, which my mom fell in love with and now has hanging over the sofa in my parents’ living room, was created from scratch in 2012. But, it was based on an old colored pencil drawing from 2005 that I never finished shading in. The particular sketchbook the original drawing was in is still in the closet of my old bedroom in my parents’ house or I would post it here, but it was a color scheme of entirely red and black and the parasol people were dressed in old-timey but super goth attire, and the faces on the parasols looked like they could all be members of a My Chemical Romance copycat band. Trust me, it was something else. Behold, the reboot.

"Wait Out The Storm", 18x24 Watercolor and Ink

“Wait Out The Storm”, 18×24 Watercolor and Ink

Now that I’ve turned you all into hoarders, I have one more all-together new piece I’d like to share. I have always been deeply interested in the steampunk aesthetic, but never created any steampunk-esque art myself. This is my first, and I’m pretty excited about how it turned out.

"Dreams Of Gold", 11x14 Prismacolor Pencil and Chalk

“Dreams Of Gold”, 11×14 Prismacolor Pencil and Chalk

The deep gold is metallic, though you can’t tell in the digital image. I was heavily inspired by the Victorian aspect of Steampunk, even turning the classic Victorian lace pattern into something metallic and industrial. I am finally going to be hanging all of these pieces up tomorrow in Espresso Milano, and will be sure to take pictures. Have any cool steampunk art you yourself have created or that you’ve seen by other artists? Throw me a link! I am a long time appreciator, but creation-wise, a novice. As I’ve promised, photos soon!

New Work – The Enchantress

Behold! In progress photos from instagram (allisenoble)! It’s been quite a journey.

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11752533_10103316100020988_1678764587642196268_nThis piece was inspired first by the cockatoos. I then based the figure off of what I thought this bird’s matching human counterpart would look like. I wanted to use primarily pinks because pink is a color that is hardly ever found in serious art (i.e. not pretty-little-princess-time children’s picture books), and you know, it’s just light red so I don’t know what everyone is  so afraid of ;). I used ink for the birds and branches, pencil for the figure’s face and hair, watercolor for the background, and accented in metallic silver acrylic. The figure is mysterious and enchanting. The word “enchantress” is often cast in a negative way, as either a fantasy villain or else scheming heart-breaker. The dictionary definition of an enchantress is a “charming, irresistible woman”. It goes on to give examples such as “dangerous, sexually exploits innocent men”. Oh really? [insert facepalm here]. A woman can be powerful and captivating, mesmerizing and awe-inspiring, without being discredited as somehow “untrustworthy” or “dangerous” because of her strengths. It’s all in how you use the power that you radiate. I wanted to show a softer, positive side to the descriptor as a beautiful, intelligent and thoughtful, creative soul that shines a light wherever she goes. Let me know what you think!

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New Work Reveal – On My Mind

My new piece ended up coming together rather quickly. I’m guessing it was due to a combination of the sudden dismal weather over the last couple days and also on and off feeling like I was coming down with something and being low on energy over the last week or so. Neither of these occurrences are fun, but they did force me to have lots of sit-down, indoor time when not at work which certainly upped my art production. Like the last conceptual portrait I did, I wanted this piece to be mixed media so I could use the artistic medium best suited for each part of the composition. I ended up using prismacolor pencil for the portrait, acrylic for the space scene, watercolor for the background, and fabric for her dress – the star print was just too perfect. I added some embroidery detail around the figure at the end to finish it off and really highlight the figure and bring her into focus despite her subtle, lighter tones. I found the inspiration photo first, and then built from there. I love finding interesting bits and pieces of inspiration in the unexpected. One wouldn’t expect a piece of art to spring from a blurred antique photo with poor lighting of a girl holding her head sulking as if she has a headache. But, I saw that photo and instantly thought of a heaviness or vastness she must be holding inside her mind. Hence, the universe concept. I wanted to add art nouveau detailing because I’ve never done an art nouveau inspired piece, and it is truly one of if not THE absolute favorite design period of mine. I knew the iconic swirling, rounded patterns would be perfect to compliment the outer space motif. I’ve actually been remembering to take progress photos to some extent. I’ll get the hang of this blogging thing yet ;).

Initial portrait shading finished, and just filled in the space scene with acrylic.

Initial portrait shading finished, and just filled in the space scene with acrylic.

Adding the art nouveau detailing by filling in the pencil outline with metallic gold acrylic.

Adding the art nouveau detailing by filling in the pencil outline with metallic gold acrylic.

Darkened some of the shading on the figure to balance the dark areas of deep space and the moon phases pattern, and added layers of metallic watercolor to the background. Also detailed some constellations over the watercolor.

Darkened some of the shading on the figure to balance the dark areas of deep space and the moon phases pattern, and added layers of metallic watercolor to the background. Also detailed some constellations over the watercolor.

More layers of watercolor, the final embroidery design around the figure, and voila!

More layers of watercolor, the final embroidery design around the figure, and voila!

New Work Reveal – Wonderland

I have been slowly adding to this piece over the last couple months. It went through some stages where I wasn’t really sure if I even liked it, but lo and behold, in the end I think it all turned out just fine :). I usually use only one or two shocking, bright colors in a piece at a time (with the exception of illustration/graphic design stuff when it calls for it) and never primaries like this, so I must admit the color scheme did freak me out a bit and I was sure for a moment that I’d made a terrible mistake. However, adding the dripping watercolor from the bottom to blend into the blurred figures in the background really tied it together. I wanted to use these “childlike” colors to reinforce the idea that we are seeing the environment through the eyes of the girl. This is also the reason why I made the drawn on windows on some of the buildings in the back simplified, and more “sketchy” and didn’t use a straight edge. This decision also greatly freaked me out at first. Apparently I don’t do a whole lot of “childlike” illustration. This was definitely something new, and it’s been a wild ride and I am pumped to move on to the next thing :). I really don’t know how some artists work on one piece for years, I’m always anxious to finish up and get on to the next big idea! I took in-progress photos this time, a first, and really must remember to do this more often.

WONDERLAND – 18×24 – COLORED PENCIL, INK, AND WATERCOLOR

Starting with the midtone shading of the skin ... I know I have mentioned before it's usually best to start with the background first. However, since I knew I wanted to do the background in ink, I reversed the process. Since primsacolor pencils are oil based, they provide a barrier so that the ink mess doesn't get all over the area where I want the figure. Sometimes you have to alter your process to best suit the materials, learned mostly through trial and error.

Starting with the midtone shading of the skin … I know I have mentioned before it’s usually best to start with the background first. However, since I knew I wanted to do the background in ink, I reversed the process. Since primsacolor pencils are oil based, they provide a barrier so that the ink mess doesn’t get all over the area where I want the figure. Sometimes you have to alter your process to best suit the materials. I’ve learned this mostly through trial and error.

Next on to the hair, and I did a little trial filling in the rabbits in color on her shirt ... still scared of the bright color!

Next on to the hair, and I also did a little trial of the color idea by filling in the rabbits on her shirt … still scared of the bright colors!

Decided to fill in black behind the pattern on her shirt to balance the dark areas in the composition, and also to "anchor" those darn rabbits to something! I also inked in the blurred figures rushing by in the background, softened the edges with water, bleeding the ink.

I decided to fill in black behind the pattern on her shirt to balance the dark areas in the composition, and also to “anchor” those darn rabbits to something! I also inked in the blurred figures rushing by in the background, softening the edges with water, bleeding the ink.

Added more color by putting a pattern on the lapel of her jacket, and began rendering the cityscape in the background in ink.

I added more color by putting a pattern on the lapel of her jacket, and began rendering the cityscape in the background in ink.

Buildings inked in!

Buildings inked in!

Further developed shading on the skin where needed to have harmony with the values of the background, dripped colorful watercolor up from the bottom of the composition, and chalked dark clouds over the background to recede it further back, and draw the eye to the figure. I believe it is now finished :).

Last, I further developed the shading on the skin where needed to have harmony with the values of the background, dripped colorful watercolor up from the bottom of the composition, and chalked dark clouds over the background to recede it further back, and draw the eye to the figure. I believe it is now finished :).