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Art Project 2016 Review

Children’s Book Illustrations

In the beginning of 2016 I dabbled with children’s illustrations. I was pregnant and wanted to see if that was a route I wanted to take with my art. Though it was fun experimenting with different styles, I definitely don’t see myself sticking with children’s illustrations. My dark heart can’t take that much fluffyness. In the end, I had 6 illustrations that I used to decorate my daughter’s room (the wanderer and cat series) and a few gifts for friends. I’d say that though this experiment didn’t go as planned it was well worth my time to try something new. I can see using these techniques for custom greeting cards in the future.


Lauren-Crest-Blog-motivational penguin frame giraffe-story-Lauren-crest-illustration-art-childrens-book

 

Drawing Environments

I’ve always hated perspective drawing and drawing backgrounds. I hate it more than I hate drawing hair and that’s saying something. Near the middle of the year, I decided that it was time to buckle down, improve my weaknesses, and focus on drawing environments for my characters. I’d gotten use to having simple white backgrounds be enough of a stage for them but I realized that the projects I wanted to take on would require a bit more effort. While the first few attempts were awkward, I can already see an improvement in this aspect. I’ve learned that some backgrounds should be more simple to fit the subject while others should be flushed out and filled with details. Through this process, I’ve also gotten a better understanding of my process and how best I like to work (pencil base drawing with digital color washes over the top). I still have a long way to go but its a start.

Sketch081 The-Collector-Series-blogLauren-Crest-FINAL 19The-Collector-Series-blogLauren-Crest-FINAL76-Lauren-crest-Illustration-deer-sketch-final-details-digital-painting

Month of Fear Entries

After my Turtle Baby was born I took a break from art for about two and a half months. I doodled here and there but didn’t work on any large projects. Mostly during that time I was looking at other illustration work and seeing where I wanted to grow and develop with my own craft. When October rolled around and I discovered the Month of Fear art challenge I decided to jump right in. I decided to relax a bit and try to bring a bit more spontaneity back into my art and, hopefully, some life and emotion that I felt had been missing while I focused on the technical aspects of my work. Since I had my process more fully hammered out I was able to finish the first two prompts on time but then we bought a house, packed, and moved. I started falling behind. In November we were busy unpacking, working on fixing our schedules (especially Turtle Baby’s nap schedule),  dealing with a grumpy teether, family colds, etc. Needless to say, I’m still working on the prompts in December.

Despite the setbacks and delays, I’ve found that all the studying I did during my hiatus has paid off. These projects are finally getting to where I’ve been trying to go, stylistically, for the last few years. I’m finally getting comfortable with my process and letting go a bit more in my work.

Looking ahead to 2017

I have some projects that I’ve already got lined up for 2017 and I’m really looking forward to them. On top of those, I plan on finishing the Month of Fear prompts and start the Month of Love prompts in February if I have the time. After that, I’ll start back practicing my perspective drawings again. I’m hoping to be a lot more productive this year now that I’ve found the direction that I feel comfortable and genuine in.

Seeing Your Art in a New Perspective

Last week I posted about Getting Feedback on Your Art. While getting feedback is essential to artist growth, it isn’t always a possibility. This week I’m going to cover what you can do to improve your art if you know something is off but either don’t have the time or ability to reach out to get feedback on your artwork. These are some tips and tricks that I’ve found helpful. Be warned, you may find more errors than you expect when using these methods, especially the last two. Don’t get discouraged! Seeing your errors and working to improve them is all part of the learning process.

  • Take a break. Despite your deadline find time to take a shower, get a snack, stretch and walk around your house, or even put the piece down for the night. Whatever you choose to do isn’t as important as getting some space from the piece. When I get really invested in a piece I tend to work on it long after I stop really seeing it. This causes me to make unnecessary mistakes and to frequently overwork pieces. Due to this I try to take a 5 minute break every hour or so (difficult as it is!) by setting an alarm and going to get water, play with my cat, step outside, etc. This allows me to come back to the piece with a fresh set of eyes and allows for me to assess the piece from a more open perspective.
  • When working on a piece for a longer span of time than a day or two I find that I get use to seeing it. This can be a problem when I need to work on a piece for a few weeks and can feel it slowly going off course but not being able to pinpoint how. To see a piece from a different perspective I’ll prop it up, stand back, and walk around the front of it. Seeing the piece from a different distance and angle can help see the piece as a whole instead of only being able to see the details. This can help with seeing how the composition works as a whole, how the lighting is balanced, and how the color usage is coming across.
  • Another trick that I’ve found is to take the piece to the bathroom (provided it is small enough) and look at it in the mirror. If this doesn’t work for you taking a picture of the piece and mirroring it in Photoshop will do the same thing. Looking at a piece reflected in the mirror will cause your brain to see your piece in a new, fresh way instead of a familiar way. Because of this you will be able to see compositional or proportional errors that you may have overlooked.
  • Similarly to using a mirror, flipping your picture upside down will help your brain register the piece in a new way. Seeing an image upside down allows your brain to perceive the image as a group of parts instead of as a whole, which can be especially helpful for faces. Because of this fresh viewpoint it is much easier to pinpoint what is off and how you can fix it.

 

Did I leave anything out? Let me know if I should add something to the list by commenting on my Facebook Page.

Getting Feedback on Your Art

As you may have seen a few weeks ago on my Instagram feed, my husband spotted an error in one of my pieces. Thankfully he caught it in time and I was able to fix it before it became a more difficult problem. This is one of the reasons that I LOVE frequent peer reviews and critiques. It is always helpful to have a second set of eyes to look at a piece and tell you what is off. Usually I find that I’ve been looking at something for too long and can feel that something isn’t right but can’t really place a finger on what it is. This is where critiques come into play.

For critiques I’ve found a few helpful sources.

  • One is my grandma. Back in the day she worked as nurse in a hospital. She has always loved all things medical so while she hasn’t worked as a nurse for a long time it is still at the forefront of her mind. I know that if something isn’t right proportionally or anatomically she will spot it pretty quickly. She is who I turn to with most of my character studies or complex illustrations where the person doesn’t feel quite right. Since my grandma is not practical to be used as a resource I’d recommend finding and befriending someone who is trained and familiar with the human anatomy. This can really be a HUGE asset to both beginners and experienced artists when working with the figure.
  • Another resource that I’ve found helpful is local art groups. I’m terrible at keeping up with them and getting out of my house but when I do it has always been a fantastic experience. To find your own group check out Facebook art groups or even your local galleries to see what events are going on around you. Most cities are teaming with groups of artists who are in your area who like to meet up, discuss art, and hang out. By engaging with local artists you will make connections, learn new skills, as well as be able to get necessary feedback on your work when the time comes. These groups are especially helpful when it comes to critiques on composition, lighting, and color use.
  • Ask a friend. If you can’t meet up with an artist friend/group and can’t seem to figure out what is wrong with your piece, ask a friend. Even someone who isn’t trained in art can usually point out pretty big  errors in your work. My husband has notoriously shocked me with what he has pointed out in my pieces (like the time I drew the wrong food on a leg. That was an embarrassing day) when I get too caught up in my work.
  • When all else fails, ask an online community. I personally feel it is best to get critiques in person since communication is a lot more clear and direct and the artwork is always slightly different when scanned in vs seen in person. However, when all else fails or when you have a SUPER short deadline this is a surefire way to find help. I’ve used the forums on DeviantArt, Facebook illustration groups, and the Forums at SVS Learn to get feedback on my work. Depending on the level of the group you may get some really in depth feedback on your piece and how to improve it.

Where do you go for critiques? Were any of these ideas useful to you? Let me know on my Facebook page!

Weekend Card Designing

This weekend I ended up creating 5 cards of various forms. 4 of them were hand made cards (you can see the cover of one here and its inside here) that centered around simple inked designs with watercolor accents. One was digitally designed and later printed.  I hadn’t expected to work on any cards at all so doing 5 was completely surprising but it turned out to be a needed break from my normal illustration work.

Below I’ve posted steps of the process of digitally creating one of my cards and the thought processes I went through as I put it together. All in all this card took about 2 hours to complete from collecting the patterns to the final card edits. It was a lot of fun and relaxing project to work on. Honestly, after this weekend, I think I’ll start creating all my cards either digitally or by hand in the future.

 

I initially started with a color scheme. I knew I wanted it to be extremely limited and center around warm blue-green tones. I collected a few patterned backgrounds and tested out the over all design and look of the card. card-Lauren-Crest-Illustration I decided that I didn’t like the starry sky background as much as I initially thought I would so I toned down the background with another pattern and lightened the color of the whale. I also created waves in the ocean and changed the colors of the water a bit by adding another pattern on top of the original one.
Card3-Lauren-Crest-IllustrationWith the overall design decided upon I started working on the details. I cleaned up the line art, added details to the water coming out of the whale’s blowhole, and added a gradient shade to the water to give the piece more depth.
card4-Lauren-Crest-Illustration

The whale seemed a bit stiff so I then added some blushing cheeks and changed the outline from black to a warm orange to give the whale some life and personality. I also started experimenting with creating more depth to the ocean by adding more waves, though those turned out rather difficult to see.Card5-Lauren-Crest-Illustration I added gradients behind each wave layer to help the waves stand out and I also choose to add more green to the waves to help them match the sky layer a bit more. After that I increased the saturation for parts of the original patterns and called the card done. 🙂

card8-Lauren-Crest-Illustration

 

Warm-Up Sketches

I’ve started working on warm-up sketches every day for the last little while. With these first few, I’ve been focusing on depicting various emotions as well as getting more practice in rendering faces accurately and quickly. These are the ones I’ve been working on as of late:

warm-up-sketches-Lauren-Crestwarm-up-sketches-2-Lauren-Crest

Follow me on Instagram for regular sketch updates like these as well as in progress updates on my latest work. My username there is laurencrestillustration!

Below are my references that I’ve used for these pieces:

http://mybluelight-stock.deviantart.com/art/cold-winter-II-73682927

http://faestock.deviantart.com/art/Alanna40-369008055

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/570057265312204093/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/567664728001941624/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/521573200572688900/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/531284087268953963/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/522910206712882258/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/345792077614870613/

http://robynrose.deviantart.com/art/Expressions-in-Profile-Stock-Pack-319939028

http://faestock.deviantart.com/art/Expression-Stock-Pack-3-478718553

When Pigs Fly

I wanted to write a post today about a unique commission that I worked on last month. I was asked to work on a flying pig painting and was given 100% artistic licence. At that point I knew that I’d have a blast with this piece but what I didn’t know was how much fun it would be. I started off by discarding the idea of doing a flying zombie pig, yes that idea was the first to cross my mind, and instead decided to work on generalized thumbnail sketches to test out the overall style and feel of the piece.

I experimented with various styles trying to get a feel for where I wanted to go. For the first thumbnail I started aimlessly doodling and something circa 1990’s Cartoon Network came out for the first piece. This was quickly rejected and I decided to attempt a cuter route. I worked from extremely abstracted pig shapes and made each a bit more realistic.  Once I drew 4 I knew I had the perfect pig, though pig #2 was a close runner up.

Lauren-Crest-Blog-pig thumbnails
With the pig figured out, I began sketching it out in a larger format on nicer paper and got to my final drawing. I don’t have any pictures of this part because after sealing the sketch with a 2-1 ratio of water and matte medium I immediately started painting it (I may have been a bit excited). Check out a speed painting video showing part of my process:

This is the final result of the commission.

Lauren-Crest-Blog-flying pig

Note the amazing clouds that are painted in the background. Those are all thanks to this tutorial video by Painting with Jane. It has saved my bacon on multiple occasions now (pun intended).Checkout her YouTube Channel for more painting tutorial videos. 

Lauren-Crest-Blog-flying pig detail

And the piece is finished off with a frame.Lauren-Crest-Blog-flying pig framed

I’m quite pleased with how this commission went. Let me know your thoughts by commenting below. Also, shoot me a message if you are interested in commissioning your own custom art piece.

 

Unicorns and Penguins and Ponies, Oh my!

This last week was an exciting week. I got to create some art for three friends/loved ones for their birthday/unbirthdays. It is the first time that my schedule hasn’t been INSANE in months so I took this extra time to have fun and enjoy creating. I enjoyed casually playing around with my style and experimenting with colors to come up with these cuties. (Note, I didn’t take a photo of my brother’s card before I sent it off. I just got so excited that I shipped it without thinking about capturing the epic, ridiculous birthday request that he gave me. *Facepalm*)

Lauren-Crest-Blog-curvy unicorn Lauren-Crest-Blog-motivational penguin

My favorite part about creating these pieces was putting them in their frames. I loved painting them but I loved choosing the right color for the mattes to complete each image and make them pop. I will add that there is nothing nearly as satisfying as seeing the final package come together.

 

Lauren-Crest-Blog-curvy unicorn frame Lauren-Crest-Blog-motivational penguin frame

 

If you are interested in a small piece similar to these (5” x 7”) for yourself or for a loved one, message me. 🙂

Inspirational Artists – The High School Years

In December I wrote four posts on artists that have been inspirational to me as of late. This post I’m going to focus on artists that got me started creating in the first place.

Gustave Courbet

Gustave_Courbet_-_Le_Désespéré

Self-portrait (The Desperate Man), c. 1843–45, Oil

This self portrait was what initially got me started trying to depict deeper emotions and auras in my art. I discovered this painting in an art magazine my freshman year of high school (2004!) and instantly fell in love. The painting spoke to me and I wanted to figure out how to make art that could reach the viewer and communicate as well as this one did. This painting really shaped my art focus for my high school years and probably contributed to my love for darker art.

 

Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham

The Old Woman in the Wood, 1917, Watercolor and ink

We are going to go old school when talking about this image. I used this image for my Myspace background and coded a personalized profile around this image. That’s how much I loved this image. When I first saw it I was stunned by the color scheme, the lineart, and character interaction of this piece. It still causes me to catch my breath when I see it. This piece definitely helped inspire my love of line art and whimsical themes in my artwork.

 

Amanda Turnage

An_Apple_for_Fey_by_ArmadaRyuAn Apple for Fey, 2008, pen, watercolor and white ink.

I found this artist on deviantart and saved this image in my “inspiration” folder to reference it down the line. I loved the limited color scheme, something I’m still working on perfecting, and the way that this artist’s style was so loose yet so detailed at the same time. The use of red tones in this piece still impresses me to this day.

 

Bao Pham

Leafy_by_thienbao

Leafy, 2009, Digital

Bao Pham was one of the first digital artists that I discovered. Her work was so detailed, lively, and realistic that I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I loved her smooth shading and crazy amounts of texture and detail that brought her creations to life. I had tinkered with creating my own creatures and her art inspired me to push for a more realistic look by better understanding lighting, textures, and movement.

 

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