Friday, September 28, 2012

The Difficulty of Stylized Realism

This was something that I woke up thinking about, so I thought I would take a moment and get my thoughts out.

I saw this amazing gallery of artwork on my Yahoo homepage this morning displaying the work of artist, Dirk Dzimirsky. His work is truly breathtaking and fools the eye into think it's looking at a photograph. You can visit and see all his work on his website here.

Breath, 2010 - Charcoal Drawing on Canvas by Dirk Dzimirsky
I started to think about how difficult it must be to create these images. And honestly when I see incredible artwork like this, I start to feel pretty crappy about my work. I'm sure it happens to most artists when we compare our work to someone else. We start to see all the flaws in our work and get this helpless feeling like we can never be "that" good. In a way it's a good thing as it constantly makes me strive to be better and pushes me further.

But I do think it's important to take a step back and tell yourself you are doing a great job and what you create -is- amazing. So I started thinking about stylized realism because that's what I always try to aim for in my work. And once I started to think about stylized realism, I began to realize how difficult that style is and what talent it takes to create it!

Think about it...with stylized realism you have no reference to go from. Sure you can accumulate references for your work, and I typically do for my pieces, but in the end they don't end up looking anything like that photographic reference. Because artists who create stylized realism look at a picture of a tree and then magically translate that into their own stylized version of a tree.

I think that my Cheyanna piece is a perfect example of what I'm trying to explain:

Cheyanna - Watercolor and Ink by Nikki Burnette
I studied photographic references for all aspects of this painting: the pose of the fairy, the foxes, mushrooms, trees, leaves, etc... But have you ever seen anything in nature that looks exactly like the different elements in this painting? I think if you walked through the forest and saw this exact scene in nature, you would think you were transported to a magical land. And I guess if you think that, then I've done my job correctly!

I think with stylized realism, it is all about taking the realistic shape, form, value, etc... and simplifying it. You have to take that super complex leaf with all its veins and textures and figure out how to simplify it, yet still make it look and "read" as a leaf. And with my particular style, I also have to translate 3 dimensional form into 2 dimensional linework which adds a whole different aspect of difficulty to it. For instance, on the foxes...they don't really have lines on their bodies anywhere! But I had to figure out where to add lines so that it made sense for my style and still came across as a fox.

Now I'm not trying to say that stylized realism is more difficult or better than extreme realism or vice versa. I'm just saying that I realized there are some extremely difficult aspects to creating a stylized piece that I had never really thought of before. Our minds have to create the image that we see by changing details yet keep it similar enough so that people know "that's a fox" or "that's a leaf." It really is an interesting thing and takes a lot of talent! So if you're a stylized realism artist like myself and are feeling down about your work, just think about that for a moment. All artists have a talent that is uniquely our own and create a world through our art for others to enjoy.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Giveaway - Signed 8x10" Print of Willow

I wanted to let you all know about a new giveaway I'm having this week! This giveaway runs from today until next Thursday, October 4th. I'm giving away a signed 8x10" print of my witch Willow. Willow is painted in beautiful shades of autumn: gold, brown, red and orange. This print is truly stunning and it's super enter the giveaway. It only takes a few seconds. Just visit this link for your chance to win. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On the Drawing Board

I thought I would share the finished versions of some of my quick sale sketches! These were sketches that I put up for a quick sale. The first person to claim the piece got to decide how or if I would finish it. They could leave it as is, have me add pen linework or have me add pen linework with a watercolor wash where they got to choose the colors. I thought it was really fun and I will be doing a lot more in the future! This is one of the paintings that I just finished up. I hope you enjoy her. =)

And don't forget that you can get your very own piece painted in this style for a very reasonable price! I just updated my commission information and added all different sorts of options for you to choose from. I'm looking to take on some more commissions, so I'd love for you to check out all my info here.


Friday, September 21, 2012

On The Drawing Board

Hi everyone! I have a few pieces that I've been working on lately that I wanted to share with you.

This first piece is a commissioned painting and it's part of my element witch series. My previous painting "Serafina & Firenze" was the fire witch and this is the water witch! I have completed the witch part of the sketch, but I still need to work on her familiar. Each witch will have a familiar companion that represents their element. I hope you all enjoy the water witch and I will continue to share the steps as I work on this painting. If you're interested in your own commissioned painting, I have all sorts of different style options and price points! You can see all my options here.
I've also been doing more quick sketches and they've all been Halloween themed! I think it's the cold, fresh air that gets me in the mood to draw witches and anything Halloween related. Here are two sketches that I drew.

What I did with these sketches is I offered them up for sale on my Facebook Page as a "Quick Sale - You Choose." The first person to claim the pieces got to choose how I finished them! They both chose to finish these pieces with pen linework and a watercolor wash. I've added the pen linework and will be painting them soon!

I also finished -another- Halloween witch sketch yesterday! And offered it up for sale on my Facebook page in the same manner. The person that won the sketch also decided to finish it with pen linework and a watercolor wash. So I'm excited to finish this piece up too!

I plan on offering up more sketches as a "Quick Sale - You Choose" where you decide how you'd like me to finish the piece. If you're interested in purchasing one, make sure to keep an eye on my Facebook Fan page here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Cross Stitch and Tube Releases + Tag Tutorial

I wanted to let you all know about some new releases from my licensing companies! First, I have a new cross stitch release from Heaven and Earth Designs featuring my steampunk piece: Copper. I know a lot of you mentioned you were excited about a new steampunk cross stitch pattern coming out, so I definitely wanted to share that with you! You can find her on the Heaven and Earth Design website here.

Next, I have new tube releases from Creative Design Outlet to share with you! They released three of my Halloween witch pieces as tubes right in time for some Halloween tag creation! You can purchase them separately or as a set of three. The set includes: Serafina & Firenze, Kenda and Willow.

They also released this set with a matching scrap kit! It features lots of fun frames, papers, word art and over 40 different elements that are formatted specifically for taggers. You can purchase the scrap kit along with my 3 Halloween witch tags for only $8.50!

I also wanted to share an awesome tag that Mona made for me! It features my Halloween witch image, Zoe. She also made a really great tutorial that explains how she made the tag from start to finish! You can check out her tutorial here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nikki Burnette Fantasy Art Commissions - OPEN

Commissions are currently OPEN! Please visit this link or click the picture below to see all my available options and current price list. Make sure to maximize the image!


Looking for a fantasy art commission? Well, I'm happy to announce that I have completely overhauled my commission information and I now offer all different styles, sizes and price points! I'm hoping that my new commission format will allow me to paint or sketch the ideas that have been swimming around in your head for the price that's just right for you!

So please contact me if you're interested in a fantasy art commission! I would love to draw that fairy, witch, mermaid, vampire, steampunk girl, original character or role playing game character that you've been thinking about and want to put on paper!  You can choose a sketch, line art, line art with watercolor wash or a fully shaded watercolor painting. They come in all different sizes with lots of different options and upgrades starting at just $25!

I plan on taking on 5 clients at any one time. Once the 5 spots are filled up, I will close commissions for a bit until I get caught up and then I will reopen a spot as there's room.

Just have a look over  all the information and example pictures below and please contact me if you're interested in commissioning me or have any questions at  Thank you for your interest!

Current Commission List

1. Water Witch Commission (11x14 Fully Shaded Watercolor Painting) - In Digital Linework Phase
2. Tattoo Commission (8x10 Fully Shaded Watercolor Painting) - Sketch Complete
3. Witch Commission with Elements of The Morrigan (8x10 Fully Shaded Watercolor Painting) - In Sketch Phase 
4. Witch Commission with Elements of The Morrigan (ACEO Fully Shaded Watercolor Painting) - In Sketch Phase 
5. Open

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Giveaway - 2 Signed 8x10" Angelique Prints!

I am having another giveaway on my Facebook Page! This time I'm giving away 2 8x10" signed Angelique prints. One to the winner of the giveaway and one to a referrer. So make sure to enter the giveaway and then share the giveaway when prompted for a 2nd chance to win! This giveaway will run for a week! Good luck. =)

To enter the giveaway, click this link!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On the Drawing Board

Here's the cute little Halloween witch I've been working on this morning! I think I'm going to ink her next and maybe add a watercolor wash to her. We'll see! =)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Copper Prints Over 40% Off

From Monday 9/10/12 - Monday 9/17/12 I am offering over 40% off of all my Copper prints! Copper is Portrait of a Steampunk #3 and is the 9th portrait overall in my Portrait Series.

You can purchase Copper in the following sizes:

8x10" Prints = $7.00 (Regularly $13.00)
5x7" Prints = $4.00 (Regularly $8.00)
ACEO Prints (2.5x3.5") = $2.00 (Regularly $4.00)

All you need to do to purchase this weekly special is send me an email to and let me know what you'd like to buy! I'll then send you an invoice directly through Paypal to your email address for an easy and safe purchase. Once I receive the payment, I will package them up and ship them off to you. There will be a shipping charge added to each order (though I do combine shipping so this is not a charge per print! =) ) The charges will be as follows:

8x10 Prints

United States: $3.75
Canada: $4.75
Everywhere Else: $9.00

5x7 Prints

United States: $3.00
Canada: $3.75
Everywhere Else: $6.00

ACEO Prints

United States: $2.25
Canada: $3.25
Everywhere Else: $4.25

**Please note that this special is not being offered through my website store or my Etsy store. Though I will happily combine shipping with any orders purchased through my Etsy shop or website store. Just message me if you have any questions. =)

On the Drawing Board

Morning everyone! I thought that it might be fun to start a series on my blog called "On the Drawing Board" where I post frequent pictures of what I'm working on. I do this on my Facebook Fan Page so that everyone can see what I'm working on and how it's evolving. But I know a lot of you don't use Facebook, so I thought I might try it on my blog as well!

I'm working on a new steampunk sketch today. I'm all done sketching her. Next, I'm going to ink over my sketch lines and add a watercolor wash to the entire piece. I'm working on this piece as an example for my new commission styles! This steampunk girl will be available for sale once I'm finished with her. =) Hope you all enjoy her!