Wednesday, July 27, 2011

5 Years from Now

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? It's one of those questions that is asked on almost every job interview. I started thinking about that question today in terms of my artwork and my art business. Where do I see myself in 5 years? How will my business have changed in 5 years? Of course I have lots of goals and hopes for the future, but there are two things that stood out to me: being able to paint more frequently and being able to travel more with my artwork.

It may sound weird, but painting is a luxury to me! If you made a pie chart looking at the amount of time I spend on various aspects of my art business, painting would definitely be one of the smallest pieces of the pie. So much time is spent on other tasks like maintaining my Etsy store, making inventory, fulfilling orders, email correspondence, bookkeeping, etc... I'm definitely not complaining, because I feel very fortunate to be able to make money at something that I love doing. But in the future, I would love to see painting become the biggest piece of the pie.

So as I think about where I will be in 5 years, I hope that I will be in a position to have an assistant to help me with various business aspects so that I can concentrate most of my time on creating artwork. I know that is probably a huge dream of a lot of us artists. What artist wouldn't want to be able to paint all the time and have an assistant to handle everything else? That would be fantastic! A girl can dream right? Actually, I enjoy all the various aspects of my art business, so I would be happy if my "painting pie piece" was simply larger in 5 years than it is now.

The other thing I see myself doing more of in 5 years is traveling more with my artwork. I would love to go to all the big sci-fi/fantasy conventions and fairy festivals around the country and sell my artwork. I have done a few shows local to my area and I met fantastic artists who travel all the time! They have at least a couple conventions lined up every month and they live almost a gypsy lifestyle traveling from one show to the next. I couldn't see myself traveling all the time, but I think it would be so fun to have at least a few that I would go to every year. I love the whole convention/fair atmosphere and getting to interact with all of my fans and artist friends that I know online would be fantastic!

I think it's important to keep looking forward in life to set goals for yourself. I am a big goal-orientated person. I always have to have something to reach or strive for. If I'm not working towards something, I am not content. I always want to be bettering myself, my artwork and my business. I try not to become complacent with where I am at right now. So, it was interesting to think about this 5 year question in terms of my art business. It helped me to set some new goals to work towards.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Come See Me on Thursday!

Come see me this Thursday, July 28th at Suwanee Town Center! On the 4th Thursday of every month, Suwanee Town Center hosts the Toast at Town Center. They have many fun events like concerts, games and more for all ages to enjoy. The Art Walk, hosted by the North Gwinnett Arts Association, is also part of the Toast at Town Center. During the Art Walk, local artists come to present and sell their work for everyone to enjoy.

I will be there this Thursday selling all of my goodies! I even have a couple new things to debut that I haven't shown before. Set up begins at 5:30 pm and we will be there until around 8:00 pm. I would love for you to come and see me! I will be selling prints of all sizes, stickers, magnets, necklaces, buttons, pocket mirrors, coloring page packs and a lot more. I also plan on bringing a painting and will be working on it in my spare time. We will be set up right in front of City Hall, so you can't miss us. I can't wait to see you!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Some Exciting News!

I thought I would share a bit of exciting news with you all today! I decided to start doing more shows and conventions this fall. I have been selling my artwork for awhile now, but mostly in an online capacity. I have done a few shows here or there, but nothing consistent. I really enjoy showing my artwork out in the "real world." It is so fun to interact with customers and receive instant feedback on my artwork. Not to mention I've always loved arts & crafts shows, sci-fi conventions and other similar events! Not a year goes by that I don't go to at least a couple.

So I decided to apply to two different juried arts shows (non-fantasy) in my area (around Atlanta, Georgia). In our little world of fantasy art online, which is a fantastic community of talented fantasy artists and wonderful fantasy art lovers, I feel pretty comfortable! I feel like my art is well received and feel very fortunate to have fans all over the world. But, I have to be honest; I was a little nervous applying to these non-fantasy art shows. The world of art, outside the fantasy niche, just seems like such a big scary place to me! I wasn't sure what the outcome of applying to these shows was going to be, but I knew that to continue to build my art business, I also need to continue to grow and expand where I sell my work.

Well, I got notice a month ago that I was accepted to the first show I applied to and just received notice last week that I also got into the second juried show that I applied to! I feel very grateful that my artwork was well received by the panel of jurors who oversaw the application process. I cannot wait to showcase my artwork and I hope that some of you will come out and see me! I will be sure to make a blog post with my complete fall show lineup (with dates, locations and times) as soon as I know all the details! =)

Friday, July 22, 2011

How to Improve Your Drawing Skills

One question that I get asked a lot is "How did you learn to draw?" I also get a lot of aspiring artists who contact me asking them how they can improve their skills and ask for tips and tricks. So I thought I would take some time to give you a little insight into how I improved my drawing skills over the years and also how I continue to improve my drawing skills. I feel that I'm always a work in progress striving to get better and better!

I think some people are under the impression that there's some magic involved with drawing. They think that artists are born with some fantastic talent and just sit down and draw masterpieces. So, when people who want to draw, sit down and try and don't automatically get it, they may become frustrated.They may think that they weren't born with that certain something and they just can't draw!

What those people don't know or don't yet realize is that many artists that they admire started out just like them, frustrated at their drawing table, feeling like they weren't good enough and perhaps thought they should give up their hopes of being able to draw well. But those artists they admire worked through their frustrations and developed their skills over time. They worked tirelessly, read books, studied anatomy and produced many, many, many sketches to get to where they are today.

I firmly believe that anyone can draw if they are dedicated and work at it. Having the desire is the most important part. Will some people take longer to develop their skills than others? Of course! Are some people born with more talent than others? Of course! But drawing is like any other skill. If you practice, practice, practice, you will improve your skills....guaranteed.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

So where to start? Well, I have one book that I highly recommend if you want to learn how to draw. I really love Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards because it takes a different approach to drawing than most other books out there. Most books will tell you what tools you need, teach you about perspective, lighting, value, etc...That's all fine and good, but they don't teach you how to actually draw. The author of this book understands the process and knows how to communicate it to the reader by showing them how to -see- things differently. Sometimes I feel like drawing is getting the logical side of your brain to shut up and allowing the other side of your brain (the more creative side) to do what it knows how to do.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain teaches you how to stop thinking about "how to draw an eye", for instance, but to instead think about the shape and it's proportion to things around it. Most people think that an eye is oval shaped with points on either end, but if you actually study an eye, you will find that it is definitely not shaped like that. There are so many great exercises in the book that will help you to change the way you think and see things.

One of my most favorite exercises is where the author has you draw a line drawing of a horse with a rider upside down. This really forces your logical side of the brain to be quiet, because you can't even really tell what you're drawing when it's upside down. Your brain can't tell you what a horse is supposed to look like because you're not looking at a horse. You're looking at a group of different shapes. This, in my opinion, is what drawing is all about...drawing what you -actually- see, not what you -think- you see.

The drawing process is very hard to put into words, but this author does such a great job. I definitely suggest you check it out! They may even have it at your local library.

Figure Drawing

If you plan on drawing any humanoid figures in your artwork, you must learn how to draw the human figure. Even if you plan on drawing stylized figures with body parts in different proportions to the normal human being (like fairies with elongated legs or arms), you still must learn how to draw the human figure. I truly believe that you have to first know what the human figure is supposed to look like before you can exaggerate certain parts and draw your own stylized humanoid creations. If you try to skip the figure drawing step, I think your creations will run a high risk of looking "off." Perhaps their balance will be wrong or their proportion...something about it just won't look quite right. So I strongly suggest you perfect drawing the human form first.

Anatomy

One good place to start is to learn about anatomy. I went to art school and even though my degree was not in Fine Arts, I was required to take an anatomy class. I feel that this class, more than any other, helped to really improve my figure drawing skills. We had to study many different muscle and bone structures of the body. It helped to teach me what was under the skin and explain why the human body looks the way that it does.

I drew more drawings for this class than any other. Each week we concentrated on a different body part. We had to draw the muscle and bone structure of that body part and complete several finished figure drawings that focused on that body part. For instance, one week we would focus on the hand. We would draw the bones in the hand, the muscles in the hand and do several life drawings of hands in different positions.

While I don't feel it's absolutely necessary for everyone to create extensive anatomy drawings to become good at figure drawing, I do think it helps to have a basic understand about anatomy and the various muscle and bone structures.

Here are some of the drawings I completed for that class:








Fantastic Stock for Figure Drawing

Next, I suggest that you practice drawing actual figures. Many people in the art world think it's super important to draw from life. If this is how you want to go about it, many local colleges have life drawing model sessions occasionally that you may be able to sit in on for a small fee. Personally, I prefer to draw from photos. I can take my time and I don't have to worry about the model moving.

There are many great stock artists on deviantart.com that take pictures with the sole purpose of having artists create their own artwork from them. Make sure to read each individual stock artist's rules, because they are all different. One stock artist that I just love is SenshiStock. I really love this stock because all of the photos are taken with the models in minimal, form fitting clothing. It really allows you to see the human form without elaborate costumes hiding legs, arms, feet, etc...

If you want to improve your figure drawing, why not set a goal to create "x" amount of sketches a day or week? Pick out some of your favorite poses and start drawing! Try to switch it up and spend a smaller amount of time, maybe just a gesture drawing, on some while creating a finished drawing on others. This will help with the burn out factor. Do this for a month and then compare your first drawings with your most recent drawings. I guarantee you will see improvement! Even if it's small, there will definitely be improvement there.

In the end, the best way to get better at drawing is to draw ALL the time. If you struggle with a certain body part, like hands, set a goal to draw 20 pairs of hands in different positions. The more you draw, the better you will get....I promise! =)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Blogging Journey So Far

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of July to blog about my artwork and products more frequently. I felt like I was working so hard at creating new artwork and products, but I just wasn't taking the time to tell everyone about it. What good is doing all that work if no one actually knows about it?

Artists that sell their own art and products fill many different roles: painter, product developer, accountant, inventory controller, shipper, customer service rep and the list goes on and on. When you run your own business and you are the sole employer, you do everything that any other company would do, except one person, you, fulfills every single duty. One role that we need to fill is the dreaded P word...promoter...blah!

The majority of the time, myself included, I find that most artists would prefer to not have to promote their art. We don't really like talking about how great we are and how much you're going to LOVE our art. And sure, in a perfect world, we can hide away in our corners and paint while the promotion fairies find new people to buy our art and products. But the reality of the situation is that if we don't promote our art, no one else surely is. So we have to come out of our comfort zone and talk about our art and show you all the new, cool things we have going on.

So yes, first and foremost I created this blog to tell you more about me and my artwork in hopes that some new people may discover my art and to keep my current fans up to date about what's going on in my world.

That is the primary objective, but I've found that I really like sharing tips and tricks with you all and letting you know a little bit more about me, the person behind the art as well. I've gotten such great feedback about some of the articles I've written so far that I'm going to try my best to keep coming out with new, informative material that may help you in some way.

Have you been enjoying my blog so far? Do you have a certain question about me, my artwork, my products, my techniques or my methods? If so, I'd love to hear it so I can make a list and feature them on upcoming blog posts! =)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Double Naming Contest!

Please read all the information below (especially the rules section) before entering. Thank you! =)

I am going to have two naming contests at the same time! These are two sketches that will be next up on my painting table.

Witch with Frogs

The first one is an adorable commission piece that I'm working on. My client requested a witch with frogs in an alchemy type setting. I created a scene with a witch holding an adorable frog with wings. Is he the outcome of an experiment? Is he a friend? Will he be used in an experiment? Are the empty jars for future experiments? Who knows! That's for you to figure out. =)



Portrait of a Witch #1

This witch is going to be number 7 in my Portrait Series. I started my Portrait Series at the beginning of 2010. They feature a more simplistic style from me with a close up view of my fantasy creations. Within the whole series, there are sub-series. For instance, I have created Portrait of a Steampunk #1 and #2. This witch is the very first witch in my Portrait Series, so she will be Portrait of a Witch #1. This is so surprising seeing as I love witches. I can't believe I made it to the 7th in the series and haven't yet painted a witch! I can't wait to get started on this piece.



Rules

Most importantly, these witches need names! I would love it if you would suggest a name below. You can submit names for both the Witch with Frogs and the Portrait Witch piece, just please distinguish which names are for which piece (that's a lot of witches and whiches). The person who suggests the name I select will win a 5x7" print of the finished piece! Anyone around the world can play, you can submit multiple names and you can also play if you have already won one of my naming contests.

I can no longer run my contests and giveaways on Facebook. I have set my blog to allow anonymous posts, so if you don't have an account to post with, post anonymously, but please post your name as well so I know who is suggesting the names.

This is important!!
I cannot contact the winners through Facebook. You must keep an eye on my blog to see when I make the announcement of who won the contest. At that point, I will ask you to email me your mailing address. Please make sure to watch for the winners, so that you know if you have won! I will be unable to contact you otherwise. Thank you so much and I can't wait to see the names!! =)

Monday, July 18, 2011

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

I think it is so fun to see what people have in their homes. It tells you so much about a person by looking at what they like to have around them. So, I thought I would take some time to tell you about a few favorite things I have in my home that I enjoy looking at often!

Cute Kitty Stained Glass Window Hanging

My uncle bought this for me from someone who was going door to door selling them. I just love it! It's stained glass that you can hang in a window or on a wall. This one has a moon with a cute little orange and PURPLE kitty with a dangling heart. What could be better than a purple kitty on a moon with a heart? Not much!


 2011 Linda Ravenscroft Calendar

I thought it would be fun to start buying a calendar from a fellow fantasy artist every year. This year, I bought a Linda Ravenscroft calendar and I thoroughly enjoy looking at it every day! I have adored Linda's artwork for years. I love all the details that she puts into her pieces and I think the women she paints are beautiful. I love their clothing, hairstyles, eyes...they are just gorgeous!


Trinkets from the Harry Potter Theme Park

My husband and I got to visit the new Harry Potter theme park in Florida back in October of 2010 for our 1st anniversary! I saved many trinkets from the park, but three of my most treasured items are my chocolate frog box, Butterbeer mug and Pumpkin Juice bottle. The chocolate frog has of course been devoured, but I saved the box because it looks exactly like the one from the movies! It's such a cool shape and even had a wizard's card inside. I got Helga Hufflepuff.

One thing I was most looking forward to was trying a Butterbeer! They had several Butterbeer stands and they all had ridiculously long lines. I stood in line for about 30 minutes to get my Butterbeer. While I didn't really enjoy the flavor, it was still a really fun experience and I of course had to save my mug!

And last but not least, my Pumpkin Juice bottle! I was so ecstatic to find this at the theme park. It even has a cute little pumpkin topper on it! They talk about pumpkin juice in the movies and books so often that it was really fun to taste it. I thought it was delicious and I was I had brought home more of it!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Inspiration: Where does it come from?

As I sat down today to create a new sketch, I started thinking about inspiration. It is a question that I'm asked quite often, "Where do you get the inspiration for your paintings?" It really is a difficult question to answer. I feel that as an artist, I just absorb my surroundings like a sponge and draw inspiration from literally everything around me. It could be something I see, something I hear, a feeling, a smell...sometimes just the smallest thing can trigger inspiration and I start seeing the painting in my mind. It's such a part of me that it's not something tangible or easy to describe.

While that is one side of where I draw my inspiration from, I do definitely draw my inspiration from more tangible things like movies, books, songs, etc... One big source of inspiration is other artwork. I love browsing www.deviantart.com and seeing all the beautiful work there. Of course, as an artist myself, I understand how important copyright is, so I'm not talking about copying paintings, or characters, or backgrounds or clothing. Even if it wasn't illegal and morally wrong, copying someone else's work doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. I want to paint and have the world see my vision, not someone else's.

It is difficult to put into words how the process works for me, but I will try! Oftentimes, I see something, maybe it's a color scheme in someone else's painting and I think, wow, I really love those colors...I wonder how those colors would work incorporated into a witch's outfit with a purple sky in the background? Or maybe I see a painting of a mermaid in an underwater grotto and I begin to wonder, if I painted a mermaid in an underwater grotto, what would it look like? What would she be wearing? What colors would I use? What would be around her? It's more that I see something and it sparks my own ideas and allows me to paint my own creation rather than taking someone else's idea and duplicating their creation.

That's just one aspect of my inspiration, but hopefully it gave you a little more insight into where I come up with some of my ideas. No matter what artistic medium you choose, painting, writing, sculpture, etc... you are inspired from somewhere. Where do you draw your inspiration from? Is it difficult for you to put into words?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Get to Know Fellow Fantasy Artist Maigan Lynn

Today, I am so excited to feature fellow fantasy fairy artist, Maigan Lynn! Maigan creates beautiful paintings of mermaids, fairies and more! I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce her to you if you haven't already heard of her work, because I know that you will adore her art just like I do. I'm so lucky to even have some of her prints in my own collection. If you are already familiar with her work, I'm hoping that you will learn something new about her after reading her interview! I know I did!

Maigan was so nice to take some time out of her busy day of running her own fantasy art business to answer some questions that I had for her. Her responses are below. Also, make sure to read down to the end to find out where you can see more of Maigan's work, how you can stay in contact with her and where to find her original paintings, prints and products for purchase!

How long have you been drawing and painting and how did you get started?

Well, like most other artists, being creative has been something that’s always come naturally to me. My favorite thing as a kid was making doll houses out of cardboard boxes! One year for Christmas (I think I was 11?) I made my sister Barbie furniture out of leftover wood pieces my dad no longer needed. I made her a sectional couch and a lounger loveseat – similar to our own living room furniture at the time. I was always looking for a new outlet for my creativity. 

The style that I currently have – the ladies with really long eyelashes, big eyes, and oversized heads – started to evolve when I was about 21. I had had a few rough years in dealing with some issues with anxiety and art was the one thing that kept me focused and at least half sane! It was the one thing that was always able to light a spark in me, without fail. I found, and fell in love with, Amy Brown's amazing creations. They were exquisite and magical and inspiring! It was the first time I really found myself wanting to learn how the painting was made. What materials did she use? How did she achieve that technique? Where, in her mind, did these paintings come from? And from that spark, it ignited another. I started doing research and pulling out my old high school art projects. I found the lessons we had done in watercolours and studied them again. I looked at all kinds of fantasy art online from so many different artists. There were so many styles that I was completely fascinated by! I learned to ask myself questions – what was it about the art I was looking at, collectively, that made me feel inspired? What did I love the most about the style I was looking at? My first answer was, and still is, the eyes. Especially eyes with overdramatic eyelashes it seemed. So I decided to try my hand at it. I knew I wanted to have my own style and developing it was interesting. Looking back on some of my older stuff is almost embarrassing now but I also know you have to start somewhere and all those lovelies helped me get to where I am today!

I had been waiting for the right time to share my art with the world – this may sound pompous but in all reality, I was scared out of my tree! So when I first attempted selling my artwork it was, in part, necessity because I needed a source of income, regardless how small it was at the time, and also, in part, curiousity about how other people – aside from my mother – might receive my creations. I will never forget the feeling I had when I sold my first art piece! The novelty has NEVER worn off, even after 7 years!

What medium do you use on your paintings?

Watercolour! And it has everything to do with my level of patience – also because I love the look of them but level of patience is #1! I will tell you why. Acrylics dry to quickly and are very unforgiving if you make a mistake, Oils take too long to dry and I don’t have the patience to wait HOURS for paint to dry, so watercolour was the perfect medium for me! It’s the one medium I’ve always felt complete satisfaction with instead of absolute frustration!

What were some jobs you had before you became a professional artist?

My first REAL job was when I was 17. I worked part time in a call centre while I was still a full time high school student. This job was TERRIBLE and probably the most high-stress of all the jobs I’ve ever had. I’ve also worked as a waitress/bartender, secretary, a floor associate in the Pet department at Wal Mart while I was attempting college, and a pet store associate in 2 different pet stores. Working in a pet store was definitely my favorite job!

What is your most favorite and least favorite thing about owning your own fantasy art business?

My absolute favorite thing is that I get to do what I love the most in the entire world every day! Or mostly every day I get to create artwork and interact with some fantastic people. I can work in my pj’s if I want! My least favorite thing is all the meticulous time consuming tasks that NEED to be done in order to make the business work as a business. Things like keeping track of inventory, keeping track of sales, and, at times, researching different options for products or tools or marketing avenues. It’s a necessary evil but I always feel like I’m taking time away from creating. 

What do you like to listen to or watch while you paint?

When I first started selling my artwork I was working from a board across my lap in the living room of my apartment so I would have the TV on and I would draw and paint while watching C.S.I. Now, I have the most fantastic setup in my art room. I have a mounted flat screen on a swivel mount that my husband gave to me as a gift. I can put in one of my fantastical Harry Potter dvd’s or Pirates of the Carribean or whatever fantasy movie I feel like watching and get to work. I also tend to watch a lot of Netflix on my computer now – mostly comedies or sappy romantic comedies…I’m a sucker for all the girly things in life! However, if the mood strikes and I feel like listening to music instead, Jewel is always the first artist I reach for. Especially her “Pieces of You” album!

Name three completely random things about yourself.

1. I HATE black socks…. I can’t stand them. I know everyone always fuss’s about wearing black socks with dress pants. To avoid this I either wear white socks ( I know, I know…moan moan, grumble grumble!), or pantyhose if I have to OR I wear really long pants or really tall boots!

2. I have a really hard time telling time on an analogue clock. Now, I’ve always done really well in school, I don’t have any learning disabilities, but for some reason analogue clocks KILL me. It takes me a painfully long time to tell the CORRECT time. My husband only discovered this after we had been married for a year!

3. If I were to have been a boy, my parents would have named me Andre. There is nothing wrong with this name for a boy….but even if I was a boy I would have made a terrible Andre!

Name one painting that you’ve done that you’re the most proud of. Can you tell us why?

This is actually a really tough question for me! I can’t think of just one that comes to mind because there are different aspects of a lot of different paintings that I feel proud about. Charlotte Metalwin, the gothic burlesque blond with the stone lion, is the one painting I have kept for myself. When I made her, I was absolutely in LOVE with how she turned out. The marble pillar being one of my favorite parts of that piece.

Charlotte Metalwin by Maigan Lynn

I’ve also been working on a zodiac series and there’s a very distinct difference between the first piece and where I am now in the series– it’s only been over the span of one year but there is definitely a difference in skill set. 

Leo from Maigan's Zodiac Series

And most recently, my Maddy Couture set. They look so simple but it was definitely a crazy task trying to draw the front, and then flip 2 of the girls around and draw the back of them. They turned out really well and I was definitely proud of the outcome. 
 
Valerie from Maigan's Maddy Couture Collection

I think the times I feel most proud are when I set out to create a piece in a way I’ve never done before, whether it’s a new technique, or a new pose, or the way the shading turns out. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I can paint something the way I see it in my mind – this is a lot more difficult than it seems sometimes!

You have really expanded your product selection lately. Can you tell us about some of your new favorite products?

My ABSOLUTE new favorite ‘product’ would be my mosaic foam tile mirrors. These were actually an accident to begin with and they turned out to be the best kind of accident. Unfortunately I don’t yet have the ability to print my own prints myself so I have to order them in. Well, one of the last orders I placed came to me in poor form. The prints were cropped very badly and not of much use to me at the time. So the company fixed the issue, sent me new prints, but then I had all these other prints that I didn’t know what to do with. So I came up with the idea of making them into foam tiles and using them to create really unique mosaic mirror pieces. Each tile is hand cut, some of the frames are hand painted, and every mirror is unique and completely assembled by me. They’ve gone over really well so far!

Maigan's Mosaic Foam Tile Mirror
Two of my other new products are my bottle cap necklaces and magnets. The necklaces are a LOT of fun and they’re SO cute to wear. The pieces are all ordered separately and then assembled by me, choosing coordinating colours for the ‘chain’ and, when applicable, the dangle charms as well. 

Maigan's Bottle Cap Necklaces

The magnets aren’t necessarily something new for me but the way I create them is new. I have a few different styles. I have the bottlecap magnets that I sell in packs of 4 and then I have rectangular foam tile magnets that I sell individually. Both of which were a huge hit at the event I did most recently. Their debut was successful and I completely sold out of the bottlecap magnet packs.

You recently started a very unique series of artwork where you feature the front and back view of your adorable fantasy girls. Can you tell us a little bit about how this series came about? Do you have many more pieces planned?

This series was a commissioned set of 4 paintings and was actually done for my cousin’s bedroom. My aunt came to me and wanted to surprise her with them and of course I agreed. My cousin, Madison, is 10 years old and wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up. So my aunt had asked me to make some vampire style fairies with very couture type gowns. As an artist of fairy and mermaid illustrations you’re not only a painter but a hairstylist, fashion director, and makeup artist – this is a normal part of my job. But when you throw the word “couture” in there it starts to become a little more scary! I was a little nervous about starting the job but once I did I just went with it. My aunt had asked to make some of them like fashion models – similar to a fashion sketch but more of a painting and in my own style, of course. 

Maigan's Complete Maddy Couture Series - Claire, Valerie, Cathryn, and Izabelle

Flipping the girls was probably one of the most challenging things I’ve ever been asked to do so far. And the HANDS! Hands are hard to do normally but when you have to flip them and create the back and underside of them it gets a little complicated. This was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on so far. It was so well received when it was complete and I’m so glad I am able to offer prints and other things using these lovelies. As for future projects, I’ve already done another commission piece based on the Maddy Couture set, but I also plan to create more sets that will be available to the general public. They are on my list of things to do!

How can we learn more about you and your artwork? Do you have a Facebook Fan Page we can join?

There’s a few places you can check out my work and I DO have a Fan Page you can join! Here is some information:

 
My website has all the information you need to get in touch with me as well as a gallery and a link to all of my licensors and online shops!

Do you have any words of advice for an aspiring fantasy artist wanting to begin selling their artwork?

I would say be patient, first and foremost. This kind of work isn’t always easy to get out there – especially in a slowly recovering economy. If it’s something you really want to do and you’re serious about doing it you have to find a way to push through the tough times. It’s not easy and at times like this, it’s not very glamorous either! 

Also, the idea you have when you first start running your own art business will quickly change when it sets in that it’s not just about making art all of the time. As far as business aspects go, the things you don’t want to do are equally as important as all of the art you want to create. You need to put time and effort into both ends. Also, every once in a while – especially when things are tough – make sure to step back and remember what the big picture looks like. Remember why you started on this path and what your goals are in the future. Perspective is important!

And finally, be kind. No one wants to buy art from someone who is grouchy, rude, or bitter. It’s important to maintain balance between respecting and protecting your artwork, and being someone other people enjoy interacting with. When people buy your work, it’s not just the art piece that will leave a lasting impression!

He Loves Me...He Loves me Not by Maigan Lynn

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Art to Last a Lifetime

When you order a print from me, I want you to be confident that you are spending your money on something that will last a lifetime. So, I thought I would take some time to explain the type of ink and the type of paper that I use for my prints.

All of my prints are made by me at home in my studio. I have an Epson Stylus Photo R1900 printer. I am adamant about only using genuine Epson ink cartridges made by the manufacturer. I don't refill my cartridges or use "fake" ink cartridges made to simulate the ones by Epson. Using genuine cartridges is of course much more costly than using simulated ones, but in the long run, it is definitely worth it. I want to be able to guarantee the quality of my prints, ensure that they match the color of my original paintings and feel confident that they will last a very, very long time.

The Epson Stylus Photo R1900 uses UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 Ink. It is an 8 color pigment system that provides greater vibrancy in red and orange tones, richer blues and crisper green tones. They are also advanced micro-encapsulated inks which produce smudge, fade and water resistant prints. The ink not only creates beautiful and vibrant prints, but it is also rated to last up to 150 years on premium matte paper.

I sell my prints in three different sizes: ACEO (2.5"x3.5"), 5x7" and 8x10." I use the same paper for all of my prints. It is a super smooth, ultra bright white, durable matte photo paper. I really like the matte finish so that there is no glare on the artwork when you display them on your walls. The premium matte paper that I use is acid free to prevent any yellowing or disintegration of the paper over time.




Making my own prints at home and shipping them directly to you, allows me to quality check each one of them to ensure that you are getting only the best. Then I package them in acid free, crystal clear cellophane sleeves or bags. The 5x7" and 8x10" prints also have an acid free backing board. When they arrive at your home, I'm confident that they will stay bright and beautiful in your art collection for many years to come!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's All in the Details

One comment that I get often about my artwork is "Wow...look at all the details!" And really, this could not be a bigger compliment to me. I love to find ways to incorporate detail into my artwork. If there's an empty spot in one of my paintings, you better bet that I will think of something to put there!

I try to look at what I'm painting and figure out how to put more details into the composition and still make it "work." While I like detail, I don't want my compositions to feel cluttered. So I always talk it over with myself and figure out where I can put additional elements. If there's a fence in the background, what can I put on each fence post? Maybe I could put a pumpkin or a bucket full of apples? Or if there's a tree, what could hang from the tree or be in the tree? Maybe some stars, an owl or a cat? I also like to create very intricate clothing for my characters and add all sorts of fun animals and creatures.

In terms of original painting sizes, I actually paint quite small. Most of the paintings I create are 8x10." So it's sometimes a challenge to be able to fit everything that I thought up into such a small space. What I've started doing is thumbnail drawings just to work out composition. Seems pretty basic huh? But I always skipped that step even though all the drawing and composition books I've ever read tell you to do that first. I always like to skip the prep and the testing and just dive into things. But I find that the thumbnail sketches have aided me a lot in creating very complex and detailed compositions that are pleasing to the eye.

Of course everyone has different tastes when it comes to artwork. Some people prefer more simplistic work. And honestly, I try to run the gamut when it comes to complexity. I do have some more simplistic pieces, like my portrait series, that don't have any background elements and are fairly simple. But the more detailed pieces are the ones that I really thrive on. I just think that when you look at a detailed piece, you get sucked into it and you keep exploring and finding new things. I will have people look at a painting of mine that they've seen multiple times before, but all of a sudden find something new and say, "I've never noticed that before!" That's just so fun to me.

I thought that I would show you some of my most detailed pieces that I've worked on to date:

Aelita and Jax



This is definitely one of my most complex pieces. I decided I wanted to create a witch/Halloween piece with an Art Nouveau style background. So I came up with a black border incorporating many different animals and creatures like a cat, bat and spider. There are all sorts of things to discover in the border! The mosaic tiled circle with pumpkins on top was also quite fun to do. Then I placed my cute witch Aelita in the foreground holding her cat Jax.

Amara



This is sort of a follow up to my Aelita and Jax piece. I thought it would be fun to follow the same style, but create a mermaid version. So I decided to create the border out of coral and seashells. I tried to make it really intricate with all sorts of details to look at. Then I placed my mermaid Amara with her turtle friend in the foreground.

Kiandra



This was such a fun piece to work on. I really wanted to create a Thanksgiving themed mermaid piece. I wasn't quite sure how to pull it off, so I started thinking, "How could a mermaid celebrate Thanksgiving?" Well, I thought she might have a feast with all of her land animal friends in a meadow by the river. I just loved thinking about all the animal friends that would be in attendance. Kiandra of course, brought the pumpkin for pumpkin pie.

Shanna 



This piece was a follow up to my Kiandra painting. I thought it would be fun to have a companion piece in the same sort of style for a Christmas mermaid. So again, I had to think about how a mermaid would celebrate Christmas. I definitely thought she would go decorate a Christmas tree with all of her woodland friends in a snowy forest! Of course, she couldn't get out of the water, so all of her animal friends are helping her decorate.

Heather



This was a commissioned painting. My client requested that I include six cats that had been very near and dear to her heart. She said that we could use only four if I couldn't fit in all six, but I couldn't stand the thought of having her choose which ones! My client requested a witch in a gothic type setting, So, I started thinking vertically. I thought that if I put the witch on a gothic throne with multiple stair levels, it would give me plenty of different places to put all of the kitties. I wanted to add more detail to his piece, so I drew a lot of intricate carving and Celtic braiding on the throne, added roses and vine work to the columns and beautiful fabric draped across the top. I'm happy to say that all six kitties made it into the painting!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Failed Product Experiments

One of my favorite aspects of my art business is creating new products and new functional ways for you to use my artwork. While everyone loves to hang artwork on their wall, I find that my customers only have so much wall space. So I really enjoy the challenge of taking my original fantasy art and turning it into a fun new way for you to experience my work using only the tools I have available to me in my studio. I don't outsource any of my printing or products, so everything that I offer for sale has been developed and handmade by me. This is both very rewarding and also very challenging. And yes, incredibly frustrating at times.

There is a lot that goes into product development. I have to come up with the idea in the first place, use graphic design elements to make my artwork "fit" the product, find quality materials and supplies (this is always the hardest part), make my product prototypes, perform testing if necessary and develop and design packaging. I have a lot of successes, but also a lot of failures. I thought I would take some time to show you a couple of my failed experiments and explain why these particular products never made it to my stores.

Notepads with Velcro Closures

Even though these never made it to my store, I still LOVE them. They are definitely one of my favorite things that I've made to date. These are little notepads that I created. I found the white notepads at an office store and created a laminated cover with my artwork to go over them. Then I created a Velcro closure and added a little rhinestone.

The main problem with these was getting the Velcro to adhere properly. I was using self-adhesive Velcro. The cover needed to be laminated to protect it from getting scratched, but the Velcro just didn't want to stick to the laminated surface. I actually had to take sand paper and rough up the surface of the lamination to get the Velcro to stick. Thinking back on it now, I could probably try out some kind of glue. I just wanted to make sure that the Velcro wouldn't come off after opening and closing it multiple times and since I couldn't be confident of that, they never made it to my store.


Door Hangars

This is another fun item that I tried to develop! I created a door hangar and then laminated it. I even thought it would be fun to personalize them at the bottom with someone's name like "Jennifer's Room" or make them dual sided with "Come In" or "Keep Out" etc...

My main issue with these was cutting them out. Looking back I should have tried a really sharp exacto knife, but I was trying to use scissors to save time (that and I really don't like exacto knives for some reason). But I couldn't get a smooth cut out around the circular part of the door hangar where it hangs on the door handle. Also, when I laminated them for extra durability and tried to cut out the lamination, it was hard to get it smooth and not jagged around the circular part.





Glass Tile Pendants

I really hated these from the beginning! There are many people that make glass tile pendants and they are very good at making them....I am not one of those people! I had grand plans to create necklaces, charms, key chains and all sorts of things with glass tiles, but unfortunately that was just not in the cards for me.

You have to use this glaze medium to adhere the image to the glass. You squirt the glaze on the back of the tile or the front of the image and then press it into the back of the glass. First off, my images  always seemed to bleed from the glaze which was really frustrating. Then, there were all sorts of imperfections under the glass...I guess you could call them bubbles? After that, you have to cover the back somehow, so I used black paper. Then you have to apply more glaze and somehow make it smooth looking... while trying not to get a cat hair or fuzz in there in the process!

I discovered quickly that I don't have the patience for jewelry making and my time would be better spent creating new artwork. So that is why these are still sitting on my shelf at home and not in my store.



Well, that is all of my failed product experiments for now, but I'm sure there will be more in the future lol! I hope you all enjoyed taking a look at my production process. =)

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Blueberry Witch is Named.....

BAILEY!! Congratulations to Maigan Lynn and Tabitha Rose who both suggested the name Bailey! It was a tough choice as always. You all really came up with some fantastic B names. I was bouncing back and forth between a couple different ones before I decided on Bailey. I think that it fits the piece perfectly and Bailey the Blueberry Witch just sounds so cute! Thank you to everyone who participated! I will have more naming contests coming up soon. Just make sure to bookmark or subscribe to my blog because this is where all giveaways will be held from now on.

And a special thank you to Maigan and Tabitha for the suggestion Bailey! You will each win a 5x7" print of the finished piece. Please email me your address at nikki@aurella-art.com and I will send off your print when I'm done painting her.

I hope you all like how Bailey turned out! I cannot wait to start painting her. I hope to get her inked on my final watercolor paper tonight and maybe start adding some color to her this weekend. =)

The First Painting I Ever Sold

I thought it would be fun to take a look back and show you all the first painting that I ever sold. I have been painting and drawing my entire life, but didn't ever think that I could sell my paintings. I used to think to myself, "Why would anyone ever pay for my artwork?"

Some of you who just recently started to follow my artwork may not realize that I initially got my start as a professional fantasy artist selling ACEOs. ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. They measure 2.5 x 3.5" and are the size of a baseball card. ACEOs are highly collectible and there were many artists (and still are) making a living just selling ACEOs off of eBay and now Etsy and other venues.

Back when I was in college and I was scraping together every penny I had, I thought why not give ACEOs a shot? What do I have to lose? I thought it might be a fun way to make a little extra money while I went to school. ACEOs were small enough that I could paint one a day during my downtime.

So once I made the decision to do it, I had to decide what to paint and what materials to use. I love the fantasy genre, so I knew that's what I was going to paint. I debated about what materials to use for awhile, but decided on watercolors. I just love the way watercolors blend and create such a magical feeling which I think is perfect for the fantasy genre. Some effects you can create with watercolor (like salting and wet on wet blending techniques), you just can't mimic with other media.

After I decided on watercolors, I went to the Hobby Lobby by my house to buy everything! I was so excited, but of course I was on a college budget, so I bought a set of watercolors for $10! I also got the most inexpensive watercolor paper I could find.

Then I came home to paint. My very first ACEO that I painted and put on eBay actually never sold. I will save that topic and image for another blog post. The second ACEO that I painted and put on eBay was of an elf with an orb and she was casting a magical spell. It was painted in shades of blue and purple. I placed her on eBay for a 7 day auction and checked probably once an hour to see if anyone bid on it. It was getting down to the final days of the auction and someone bid on it! I think I sold it for $3.00.

I still remember the person who bought it and she will always have a special place in my heart for buying my first painting and taking a chance on an eBay seller with no feedback. And the whole experience of selling my first piece made me think that maybe I can actually be a professional artist and make money from selling my artwork. It's something that I will always remember and often think back to.

Here is the very first painting that I sold back in 2006! Unless you've been following my artwork since the very beginning, you've probably never seen her before.



Of course after I sold my first painting, I was definitely hooked. It was so fun to create something that I loved and have someone enjoy it so much that they were willing to spend their hard earned money on it. It was so rewarding and still is. I may look back at this painting now and cringe, but I think it's fun to look at your past and see how far you've come.

I hope you all enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane with me! Now here's my challenge to you...if you are an artist, why not show us the first painting, sculpture or art piece that you sold? Post it on your Facebook page or blog and link below! I would love to see it and I'm sure everyone else would too. =)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Blue Dot Special Game on Etsy

Come on over to my Etsy shop and play my Blue Dot Special Game! The rules are simple. I have hidden a blue dot (don't worry, it's not microscopic - you will easily spot it) in one of my photos in my Etsy store (Tip: It may not be the first photo in the listing - so you may have to click on the actual listing and then click on each of the photos to see it). Find the blue dot, purchase that item and receive a 2nd item of that type free!

For instance, if the blue dot is on a 5x7" print of Rowenia and you purchase that Rowenia print, you get a 2nd 5x7" print of your choosing free. Don't purchase your free item, just put in the "Notes to seller" section during checkout which image you would like and I will include it in your package.

The Blue Dot location will change once weekly or when someone purchases the item, whichever comes first. I'll make sure to post the date in my Shop Announcement so that you know when to start looking. If you have any questions, please contact me and have fun!