Ballerina goldfish watercolour painting

I've been watching Terryl Whitlatch's videos on Creature Design, and week 2 was all about creating a fish-hybrid using either an amphibian or reptile as the other portion. In my search for reference of koi fish for the one part, I stumbled upon images of the pinkish-white ballerina goldfish. The fish's large but delicate fins make them visually appealing, somewhat like flower petals. So, my initial drawings of koi fish morphed into a ballerina-koi hybrid fish and the homework was temporarily abandoned so that I could pursue this image further.

I decided to paint it in watercolour using one of my favourite colour combinations of turquoise and orange. I set about creating rough sketches on paper, then brought it into Photoshop to play with the design before committing paint to paper. I used Dr. Ph. Martin's lightfast indian ink and white acrylic paint.

The original will be available for sale on my Etsy store. Regular prints and other items featuring this image are available at my Society6 and Zazzle stores. 

 

Valkyrie in Training

It's amazing how one doodle can be a catalyst for other ideas. This idea was based on my original Thumbelina doodle. For some reason, I kept going back to it and wanted to further explore other possibilities. At one point, she was riding a sea creature and, now that I'm taking Terryl Whitlatch's course on Creature Design, who knows what I'll come up with. :) 

In the end, I thought having the girl gleefully riding a pegasus while he tries his best not to drop her might be a more fun and comical piece; hopefully, my intent comes across. 

Painting reward for Strays' Kickstarter

I painted this as a new reward on my friend's kickstarter for her comic, Strays. The story centres around a teenage girl kicked out of her home after coming out to her parents. Her life is changed by a dog that literally falls on her head. This dog loves bacon so I included it in the image. I like to think of this as a dog's idea of heaven. 

Painted on Arches 140lb watercolour paper with lightfast inks. The image size is 8" x 10" but with border fits an 11" x 14" frame.

Thumbelina

In my continuing quest to get back to traditional media, I decided to do this piece in watercolours with a touch of acrylics and Prismacolour pencil crayons to refine some areas. The idea was born while brainstorming a comic book cover but something about the girl stuck with me and so I put it away until I had more time to work on it. I ended up scanning it and bringing it into Photoshop to play with various concepts before printing it out and transferring it to watercolour paper. Instead of Fabriano paper, I used Arches 140-lb cold-pressed paper which has a slightly different texture than the Fabriano but still lovely to work on. I finished up with a couple of coats of Krylon archival matte fixative. 

I am continuing to try and apply what I've learned from Nathan Fowkes class on Composition to each piece. For now, I will be going into less detail about my classwork to focus more on producing art and blogging about it. I hope you keep reading because I still plan to keep sharing!

The original piece is now available on my Etsy Store and prints are available at my Society6 store.

Watercolour Painting of Peonies and Dragonflies

Some months back I purchased a set of Dr. Ph. Martin's India Ink because I heard they were nice to work with. This past weekend I felt the urge to try them out.

For my first painting I didn't want to try anything too complicated. I just wanted to get used to working with the medium. I picked a spring theme because I'm tired of the cold weather that feels like it will never leave!  I chose peonies as my main subject because they remind me fondly of yearly trips my family and I used to make visiting my grandmother in New Brunswick. She had the most beautiful peony bushes growing in front of her house so when I see peonies they remind me of her and those carefree days. I also chose pretty dragonflies that remind me of spring. I painted my favourite colour combination of oranges, greens and blues. My second week's assignment for Nathan Fowkes's class on composition was to use unity with variety to create a meaningful relationships with the subject and I kept that in mind when creating this piece.

I used a couple of fine nibs, and a size 10, white Taklon brush on 140-lb cold-pressed paper (un-stretched). I found them all delightful to work with. I taped down my page and didn't use a lot water so the paper stayed fairly flat. I finished with three light applications of Krylon matte archival fixative spray.

The original will soon be available to purchase but I've put up prints and products featuring this art on my Society6 shop. For a limited time, there is a free shipping promotion going on. Promotion expires May 8, 2016 at Midnight Pacific Time.  

Promo code: https://society6.com/rinarozsas?promo=8QPG4QQM2C8G

Update: The original is now available on my Etsy Shop.

My first attempt at acrylic painting after many years

About a month ago, and for the first time in years, I tried my hand at an acrylic painting on birch panel. I had to reacquaint myself with how fast acrylics dry, prepping the board, controlling my clumsy brushwork, and cleaning up—some of the reasons I had mostly abandoned traditional work for digital. While my first piece may have been a little too ambitious, there is something about the look and feel of traditional work that is difficult to reproduce digitally so I put the first piece aside to revisit at a later date.

This past weekend I painted a pet portrait on 8" x 10" canvas. It was for some friends, and of their beloved cat, Arthur. I think it turned out quite well. I suppose all that blundering around on the first piece helped with this latest one. I hope to do more of this because sometimes it's nice being able to hold a physical piece of art. 

Schoolism - Pictorial Composition - Week 1, Engaging Your Audience

I often wonder if I've hit all the marks with a piece I've worked on so I decided to take Pictorial Composition with Nathan Fowkes because I know that it's an important aspect to making a successful image.

Nathan said, "Artwork is made up of rendering, colour and composition." He shared that we all have a tendency to focus on the first two but, without composition, an image can lack depth and fall flat. Colour is the frosting while composition is more of a fight. We need to learn what to emphasize or leave out. The course would cover what makes an image a compelling and engaging piece. 

This week's assignment began by putting together a reference file of images of any kind that inspire and move us: frame captions, photography, animation, or films that we felt had a pleasing composition. Of 3 images we were asked to paint copies but in a specific way. We were to deconstruct them to find out what made them tick. I chose one background painting from Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away (art by Kazuo Oga), one painting by Lord Frederick Leighton, and one painting by Frank Frazetta.

How we went about deconstructing them:

  1. Create a quick study of each that uses only 3 greyscale values to depict the original scene. No soft edges, no textures, just 3 values forcing you to think and make clear choices on what to edit and why. It reminded me of gesture drawing where you must quickly put down the essence of what's important. One should be able to tell at a glance what's going on in the picture.
  2. Make a full-range greyscale study of the same images, maintaining the strength and intent of the originals while minimizing extraneous detail. Again, no textures, just the guts. This was tough because I normally love to add detail; I had to constantly remind myself not to do that.
  3. Lastly, do another study, almost the same as the previous step, albeit in full colour. Each study was to be made in under an hour.

I'm not sure if I was completely successful but I feel like I already learned some valuable tips that I'll keep in mind for future projects.

Wraparound Cover for Seven Strange Stories

I was excited to be asked to create a one-page cover for Oliver Ho's upcoming comic anthology entitled, Seven Strange Stories, even though I had already illustrated a couple of the stories within. As we went back and forth with the designs, it evolved into a wraparound cover to allow for more elements from each story to be weaved in without feeling too congested. With most of the stories containing some supernatural theme my goal was to create an image that looked like a dark fairy tale but without being too extreme—just enough to suggest it. Because I am a huge fan of James Jean and his work often contains disparate components, I looked to his art for inspiration.

My Process on Getting Started

Despite looking at various Fables covers, I still didn't have a clear idea in mind. So, I jotted down some elements from each story that I wanted to draw and then started to sketch them out roughly onto a huge pad of newsprint. I tried not to worry about creating anything concrete but focus on loosening up and get a feel for what might be included on the cover. Sometimes just doodling whatever comes to mind or doing practice drawings will do the trick to keep from overthinking things. Oftentimes, I go into a bit of a trance and drawings begin to overlap because I don't want to turn the page. I'll often look back at my scribbles and an idea will come to me—not always for what I'm currently working on, mind you—but I can always use them for other projects. I liken it to staring at clouds or patterns where images would begin to form.

I sketched out some thumbnails from the ideas and sent the ones I liked best to Oliver. When he approved one I took it into Photoshop to further develop; I created a clean image using a pencil brush on a greyish-toned background that I would later paint over.

Colour Selection

Ah, colour selection. This one's always tough for me because, well, the paradox of choice, of course. :)

I decided that I want a limited palette because it's more efficient and creates a better balance. I went to paletton.com and selected a tetrad colour scheme of blues, greens and their complimentary oranges. I chose this combination to emphasize a slightly sinister theme with warmer tones to balance things out and suggest that things are not all doom and gloom. I also use white but not pure black and combine colours from my palette to create variations. When I was almost finished painting I tweaked some of the colours using a Levels Adjustment Layer.

Design Challenges

I had never created a wraparound cover before and there were a couple of things to consider including: 

  • Not having any important elements overlapping the spine. The spine width depends on the paper stock, the number of pages and binding style, so I worked this all out before painting.
  • I also had to consider the placement of the title, trade dress and promotional text while keeping an overall strong composition. I planned out roughly where all these items would go and made sure that they wouldn't obscure anything important in the art.

The book is still in production but it shouldn't be too much longer. When I have more information on its release, I will share details.

Update

The book is now available and can be purchased directly from Oliver Ho at  www.sevenstrangestories.com. You can also find the book at the Page & Panel: The TCAF Shop, Silver Snail, and Another Story Book Shop.