Saturday, December 17, 2011

Brian the dog (Thing-a-week)

I painted this in the summer, on a lark. I spotted some Facebook photos my uncle had posted of my cousin's puppy - a Golden-Doodle named Brian - and thought I'd practice my pet portraiture.

My uncle really liked the piece and bought it as a wedding gift for my cousin and her husband.

I haven't painted any others, since, but when I'm back from my African adventure, I think I'll paint my mother-in-law's beagles. And, of course, I've always got some pet models at home...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fecund (Thing-a-week)

I'm writing this from the past - which is not nearly as cool as the future, but until someone invents a time machine, this will have to do.

This little ditty (can I call a digital sketch a 'ditty'?) was created from scratch (that is, not based on a paper-and-ink sketch) using Sketchbook Pro. I used the mirror function to create a perfectly symmetrical image. It's a pretty handy tool, I must say. And, thanks to my new drawing tablet, and the neat pen and brush settings in this program, this piece has a hand-drawn feel to it. It doesn't look like a digital sketch, which is kind of neat.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tech-crazy Cait (belated Thing-a-week)

So, I've been real trigger-happy with the technology purchases lately. In the last few weeks, I bought a wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, Sketchbook Pro 2011, and the Wacom Airbrush Pen. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales killed my restraint!

But I've been putting these tools to good use - especially Sketchbook Pro. What a well-designed, agile program for making digital art. I think this could quickly replace Photoshop in my illustration toolbox. Like Photoshop, you can work in layers, choose a range of brushes (not as extensive, admittedly, but the layout is much easier), and even save files as .PSD, if you want to move a document into Photoshop for final touches. 

But Sketchbook Pro has some neat things that Photoshop doesn't seem to (at least, in CS3, which is rather outdated now, I realize). If you'd like something to be symmetrical, there's a mirror effect you can choose where you draw/paint one side of the image, and it automatically copies what you're doing on the other side. Saves a lot of time.

This program is also a lightweight and loads up fast. It doesn't bog down my computer, allowing me to run other programs without any issues. 

I've only been playing with it for a few days, so I'm sure there will be some drawbacks. Doesn't seem like you can make your own brushes, for instance. But, so far, at least for the kind of digital art I'm making, this software floats my artistic boat.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

An illustration first (Thing-a-week)

Today, I present to you, a couple of drawings I made for a new role-playing game called Victoria, created by Edmontonian, Daniel Hodges. I also drew some plan views, but I'm especially proud of these drawings, especially the warehouse:

While I've done quite a bit of editorial illustration, drawing images for a role-playing game was brand-new to me. Thankfully, Daniel was easy to work with and offered me a lot of guidance. He gave me quite a lot of creative freedom, but had a vision for the game, which he communicated clearly. 

I'm hoping to post a few belated Thing-a-week projects before I leave for South Africa this week. While I've been making art, I've really fallen behind with the blogging. But I have some good reasons! After getting home from Europe in October, I was inundated with work (a good problem to have, admittedly), but also various life stuff (bronchitis, sick dog, house-related woes, etc.). While other people were celebrating Movember and starting their Christmas shopping, I was chained to my computer.

Anyway, a few belated Thing-a-week installments are forthcoming - and I'll also post some S. Africa photos while I'm gone. Looks like there's a good chance I'll be doing a safari excursion near Durban and perhaps even seeing some penguins near Capetown! Imagine: penguins! I'll have to bring my sketchbook.

As usual, Mike Kendrick is posting super-neato stuff on his blog,, so I'd strongly advise you to check it out. He's also started a Facebook fan page, so send a 'like' his way!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thing-a-week: Ink and pixels

While recuperating from bronchitis last week, I doodled to entertain myself. Nothing fancy, just my usual sketchbook and a pen.

But when I finally felt better this weekend, I cracked out my brand-new, fancy shmancy Intuos4 drawing tablet and altered them in photoshop.

After being in Europe, and then sick, I've missed almost a month's worth of Thing-a-week installments. So, I plan to catch up this month.

It'll be a challenge though since I've got a big art event Nov. 18 and 19 called The Night of Artists, at the Italian Cultural Centre in Edmonton. It's an annual music and art festival produced by the art group of the same name. I've been a member for about a year and this is the first time I'm participating. So, if you're in Edmonton, I hope to see you there!

Hopefully you've been visiting Mike Kendrick's blog lots. While I've been MIA, he's been extra productive lately, creating neato Halloween props and tableaus. His post this week is no exception.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thing-a-week: Au Revoir!

Some say garbage is worth its weight in gold.
They say time flies when you're having fun, which makes me think September must have been a month-long party (I must have blacked out).

Suddenly it's October, and I'm just two days away from crossing the North Atlantic en-route to France. How did that happen?

With my 30th birthday looming (mark it on your calendars - October 15!) I'm pretty thrilled to be celebrating it somewhere fancy. I'll be in Paris that day and hope to do all kinds of cheesy tourist things, including eating bagettes from atop the Eiffel Tower.

Anyway, I probably won't be posting while I'm gone, so I'll see all y'all (yes, I just wrote that) in late October. Try to stay out of trouble, okay?

Oh - and while I'm gone, do not forget about the infinitely more talented Mike Kendrick, whose blog is always entertaining.



P.S. That image on the right? An illustration for a story on garbage mining, which is forthcoming in the Dominion newspaper.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On failure

As a freelance journalist, I've become strangely desensitized to rejections from editors. If a story idea doesn't fit a publication, I shrug it off. Sometimes, a great idea doesn't suit the needs of a particular publication at a particular time. I send off loads of queries, and while I might get frustrated when I can't break into a particular market, I don't get terribly upset.

Naturally, when I began focusing on my art career in 2009, I figured I'd go boldly forth, and pitch myself just as shamelessly.

Turns out, I'm a big chicken shit. While I do submit my work to magazines and apply for art shows and galleries, the rejection has been much harder to bear. I have had many a pity party in front of my monitor - even when I realize that my work was inappropriate for a particular opportunity.

I have to constantly remind myself that failure's part of the deal - especially for artists. We will get rejected by juries, funding committees, the general public. We will inevitably display our art at an outdoor festival and overhear snide comments from passerby.

Success! This spring, my art graced 17 billboards across the province.
I'm waiting for my thick skin to grow in, but until that happens, I force myself to ruminate on the good that comes from putting myself out there. Sometimes I fail, but sometimes I do fantastically well.  Earlier this year, for instance, I was one of three winners of the Art Upon Request campaign, and had one of my artworks on 17 billboards across Alberta for a couple of months.

Failing, now and then, helps me appreciate these wins. It also helps me bond with members of the art communities I'm a part of. Falling on your face is a kind of rite of passage, I hate to say, and it bonds us all together.

Another win: Sold this at a juried art show this month.
But failing's also important for the learning opportunity. Sometimes, I fail because something I've painted, drawn or written kinda sucks. Or, it's simply wrong for the market I've submitted it too. Knowing the difference between a piece of art that's missed the mark, or a piece of art that simply doesn't match a market, is a critical skill. You don't figure it out without putting yourself out there and risking failure.

That said, after a recent failure to secure a spot in a juried arts and crafts festival, I think I'll be laying low for a wee bit. As a writer, I know that success is 90% perspiration, I also know that a person needs to have reserves of mental energy to put it all on the line. So, for the next couple of weeks, I'll be doing the things that make me happy and putting applications and queries aside until I feel ready to put it all out there again.