2k17 Art Recap

Better known as: “the year I fell in love with working on a portrait canvas”.

Jan:

This picture sums up a lot of themes of the year: night scene, fan art, greyscale, and figuring out how I feel about line vs shading vs texture. I don’t know that I have a handle on any of them yet. But… you gotta just make a lot of art, right?

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Feb:

Another big goal of mine this year (every year?) was to draw more active scenes. I love a peaceful painting as much as anyone else, but I really wanna learn to create big bold dynamic compositions. Also I like drawing horses and thundery sunsets.

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March:

Some months I finish a lot of pieces, other months I don’t. March was a not-so-much month. But I love Morgana and this piece gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to capture likenesses, which was really useful later on in the year. Spoilers for August.

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April:

Fan art for Sara’s Girl’s Scurrilous. Something about this piece just really really clicked. It felt right. Basically everything greyscale I’ve done since then has been an attempt to build on this.

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May:

And also to build on this. I had a good two months here. This is maybe my fave pic of the year. Do you know how long I spent trying to draw a snake that felt solid and fit nicely in the composition and just generally worked?! It was ages. Maybe forever. Worth it though.

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June:

This was actually based on a sketch from 2016 that I never rendered then because I couldn’t quite figure it out. This year I sucked it up and finished it, and it turned out pretty cool. So yay.

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July:

Look at ALL THOSE PEOPLE. I had never drawn a piece with this many overlapping characters before. The logistics of it were really tricky and so even though it has a lot of flaws I’m super proud of how ambitious it is. Shout out to Renoir bc I spent ages staring at this piece while sketching out the scene.

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Aug:

Kinda cheating to put them both here but I don’t care. These guys (Nancy Wake & Elizabeth Blackburn) are gonna be in a book ( LINK TO BOOK !!!) to be published by Penguin Random House next year. These portraits basically took over my life in August, and also forced me to use colour, and it was great. Anyway, highlight of the year 🙂

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Sep:

September was quiet. I was stressed out by the postal survey. And various other nonsense. But I made some cute pictures anyway so here is one of them.

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Oct:

Inktober! I learned a lot, even if I didn’t really create any work I’d wanna put in my portfolio. This was my fave. Reminding myself that specificity is central to making good art, and real life can provide tons of inspiration. Though I also strained my hand making this so… that’s another lesson for next time.

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Nov:

After Inktober I had a desperate desire to do something in colour. Lots of colour. I’ve also been playing around with the idea of creating depth this year – trying to see what spaces I can create. And this is what came out of that.

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Dec:

I’m away for the second half of December (hence posting this now) and most of the first bit of December was spent doing Not Art for a bunch of reasons. But this piece was new and difficult (a bird?! from that angle?! in armour?!) and I’m really really really still trying to work on dramatic action pieces. So I’m glad I finished this at least.

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One of the weird things about art is that you don’t always feel like you’re improving. Sometimes it even feels like you’re going backwards. But I look at this post compared with last year’s and I know I’ve improved a lot. Again. Just like every other year. So that’s cool.

sylvia-morris:

sylvia-morris:

Okay so here is your guide to my art for the auction: 

Choose between the style of (a) the top three pictures or (b) the final 3 pictures. I can do close up portraits or fully rendered scenes, depending on what you want. These pictures are here to show you what you will get in terms of background, detail, style etc.

In the middle I’ve included some fan art that is older (and less representative of my current style + background-drawing-ability), just to assure you that I can draw likenesses too. The picture of the couple in the cafe are also real people but will probably only provide reassurance to like 3 people on here.

Fandoms include (but are not limited to):

Movies:

  • Star Wars
  • A United Kingdom
  • Moana (but also really most Disney)
  • Attack the Block
  • Austen adaptations
  • Ghostbusters
  • LoTR

TV:

  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
  • Merlin
  • The Get Down
  • Stranger Things
  • The Expanse
  • The West Wing
  • Doc Martin
  • Death in Paradise
  • No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
  • Corner Gas
  • North and South
  • etc. I watch a lot of tv.

Web:

  • Check Please!
  • LBD
  • Carmilla
  • Shipwrecked and/or Yulin Kuang (anything)
  • Project Green Gables
  • Kalamatea (AoJE or AFP)
  • NMTD

Books:

  • Harry Potter
  • Carry On (or other Rainbow Rowell)
  • Austen

Games:

  • Portal
  • The Witness
  • Myst
  • Obduction

If you want an unlisted fandom: just ask.

Bidding is now open! If you want to put in a bid for me: check the bidding status here, and fill in a bidding form here.

Reminder: all your money goes direct to the charity you choose (from the list collated by FTH organisers).

NB: my offer is PG only, and if you’re really fussy about exactly what you want, and it’s outside the range of things you’ve seen me draw by a long way, just send me a message first to check that I will be confident to draw it.

Bidding closes 11:59 EST (US) Jan 19.

EDIT: Bidding is over, with @jotoledo09 the top bid!

2016: A Rambly Art Review

(Pictures chosen for the month based on how much other people liked them at the time, how much I still like them, how much they’ve influenced my work…etc and I’m just not gonna include HP:PoA pics bc there are too many of them.)


January:

My picture book portfolio favourite, amongst just about everyone, somewhat to my disappointment because I just…  I like this individual picture and I had fun making it, but idk how to adapt this style to the more complex pictures I’m more interested in (which was a useful realisation).

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February:

I didn’t actually make this for the portfolio, just for fun, but I feel like it gave me a lot of confidence in (digital) pencil+paint, which has influenced me a lot.

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March:

Special shout out to this piece because the first time I added it to my portfolio was the first time I got an actual human response from a publisher/agency, which was enormously encouraging. It’s a piece I still come back to because I know I did a lot of things really nicely here. 

I also didn’t do this for the picture book portfolio. An early theme of the year was that the things I did for the portfolio I liked less than the things I didn’t do for the portfolio….

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April:

Pictures for the picture book portfolio submitted, I was dreaming of the next big projects. I was also just relaxing and doing art for fun/learning, without putting too much pressure on myself. And in such chill circumstances I created one of my favourite things of the year. 

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May:

(I mean… just in purely how much it influenced the rest of my year, it has to be the picture of the month…)

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June:

Making a series of images was a really big deal for me, and the technique of (digital) coloured pencil over lightly shaded backgrounds is something I’m still experimenting with at the moment.

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July:

Perhaps this one should be something from The Namejs’ Ring, which taught me a lot about dedication and I still love it a lot. But I want to include this picture because it taught me that specificity is important. Those rocks, you guys. I was scared of rocks before this. But the thing about being scared of drawing something is just that you can look at references of a particular type of that thing (rocks, trees, buildings etc) and get better at drawing them??! Lol anyway.

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August:

I don’t think this is the best piece I did in August, but I am proud of it, and the main thing was that I took SO MANY risks. This was enormously hard for me. Also, the HP project was going on at this point, and I’d discovered how to do perspective in Clip Studio Paint, so you can see that I have a background in perspective (though still fairly empty).

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September:

Fave picture of the year? Probably. By this stage I had realised that I really enjoy doing pictures that have a natural audience a little older than picture books. In addition to that, I was drawing content I love (plants! robots! inventions!) and I was feeling much more confident in my ability to draw people.

When I first got a portfolio review (like 18 months ago?) one of the things they mentioned was that my work seemed aimed at older kids (which they didn’t see as a criticism, just an analysis). I was kind of miffed by that because I figured most of the narrative illustration opportunities were in picture books. So for quite a while there I really tried to fit myself into a picture book mould. I’m creating much better work now that I’m not doing that…

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October:

This was a commission for a friend and I’m honestly just really proud because I know I couldn’t have done it at the start of the year. I couldn’t have done the perspective, I wouldn’t have done such a nicely populated and interesting setting, I couldn’t have drawn the hands or the likenesses or really the bodies at all. Also, I’ve got some consistency of technique going on, which is nice.

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November (the month of personal busy-ness and political misery):

I drew… very few pieces of finished art, and most of them for Harry Potter. But I did make this cool twitter header for my husband and look at their cute faces 🙂

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December:

Also very little finished art and most of it HP. My fave piece I can’t show you because I drew it to submit to a magazine and idk if it’s been accepted yet. But hey, the month’s not over, and here’s something I made that I like. It has similar colours and feeling to the March picture, which was not deliberate, but is just an art safe space I go, apparently. The close-up portrait was a little out of my comfort zone, so I didn’t wanna stretch too far in colour/lighting design.

Anyway, I had a good year, with lots of technical improvement, a huge jump in consistency, and some more clarity in my overall illustration purpose/interests.

Mary Anning was born in 1799 to a poor family in southern England. Her father, like many locals, sold fossils (such as ammonites and belemnites) to tourists, in addition to his trade as a cabinetmaker. When Anning was 12 years old, she and her 15 year old brother Joseph discovered the first ever complete skeleton of an ichthyosaur.

After their father died, and Joseph became an upholsterer, Mary took over the fossil collecting business.

Her other major discoveries are: the first two plesiosaur skeletons ever found and the first pterosaur skeleton found outside of Germany. These discoveries were important in their own right, and also helped the scientific community come to terms with extinction – a concept that drew a significant amount of controversy from the church.

Anning had little formal education, but she read many scientific papers and became so knowledgeable that Lady Harriet Silvester said of the (25 year old!) Anning:

“… professors and other clever men on the subject … all acknowledge that she understands more of the science than anyone else in this kingdom.”

When Anning was 27, she opened a store (“Anning’s Fossil Depot”) and was regularly visited by famous geologists and paleontologists. Anning guided these men on fossil hunting expeditions and they bought fossils from her shop.

It is clear from these visits (and her correspondence with other geologists) that Anning had some respect within the fossil-collecting community. However, as a working-class woman who practised ‘the wrong type’ of Christianity, she was excluded from the Geological Society of London, she was often paid very little, and most men who relied on her expertise did not credit her in their academic writings. She struggled financially for most of her life.


Further exploration/notes:

Some cool women she was friends with: Charlotte Murchison, Elizabeth Philpot.

Shout out to Louis Agassiz, the only person to name anything after Anning during her lifetime. He also named a fish after Elizabeth Philpot and credited them both in his academic papers.

Duria Antiquior: a lithograph of Anning’s discoveries, created by her friend Henry De la Beche to raise money for her.

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The tongue twister:

She sells seashells by the seashore

created by Terry Sullivan, was inspired by Mary Anning.