Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Artists you Should Follow: Megan Simon

personal note first before we get to the rest of it: I've been complaining here and there all over the internet about some of my recent computer woes. Well, the diagnostic stage is well and truly over (and I kept it going longer than it ought to have gone because I wanted it to be wrong) and I'm backing up as many files as I can save now, but my hard drive is well and truly not working. Everything else in the computer is fine, and a hard drive replacement is easy enough to do, but hard drives are pretty expensive at the sizes I want (video and high quality photoshop files, man, they are not tiny.) So, what this means is that once I get my computer up and running again, I'm going to be opening up digital commissions. I'll let you know more when the time comes. Anyway, onward!

Like Jordan, Megan was a class and studio mate of mine. When I think of her work, the number one word that comes to mind is 'versatile.' There may come a day when she runs into a medium that she can't work with, but to my eyes, that hasn't happened yet. Check this out:

Digital speedpaint
Mixed media (collage on lithograph)

Digital collage

Oil Painting



vector (i know i included one earlier, but this one is a bit older and i've always loved it)

digital abstract

Currently, the number one place to see all her work is at her deviantart account, but when she puts together a website (and lets me know about it), I will point everyone towards it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Artists for you to Check Out: Jordan Taylor

There is a really awesome feeling when you find out that someone you know and have a huge amount of respect for has started their own blog. It's new, and doesn't have many posts yet, but I'd like to direct you to In a Studio Somewhere, which is run by Jordan Taylor, a former studiomate of mine.

I mean, check this out:

That's the latest offering, with many more to come. (although, be forewarned: like as with me, getting the camera to take good photos has been a bit of an issue for her, by her own admission. i.e. things they should have taught us in school but completely failed to do)

I haven't seen the above image in person, but this one I have:

She painted this one, I think, during my last semester there, and I absolutely love it. Every time I look at it, I find something new to admire (and to steal.) Actually, creepy story: my studio habits are best described as nocturnal, so when no one else was around and I needed a boost, I'd go around to everyone else's work stations and check out what people had done that day. I spent a lot of time looking at this one. 

I also find it fascinating because, to me, it's an excellent example of one of the things that can happen when you give someone who learned a lot through digital media and the internet physical paint to play with. It's like the platonic opposite of the direction that I've gone, from physical to digital, and I think that that's reflected pretty clearly in both our works. 

So, yes, go forth, follow her blog! It is definitely in the top ten of things you will never regret. 

Friday, July 27, 2012


I mentioned at the end of my last post that I've come down with a sudden case of the horrible computer troubles. This is still a thing that is happening, but I've got a couple of avenues to try to fix it, now. (after I made it worse, I think--I'm not sure, but I may have deleted my OS. Which is fine, just install it again, but first I want to figure out a way to get my files off of the computer because they are definitely still there. Also I'm gonna get a new SATA cable for my HD, since that could have potentially been the fix the whole time. Before I made things worse, anyway)

I'd like to thank the truly spectacular Jay Jacot for helping me out yesterday when things first started to go wrong (and I'll probably ask him for more help, I'm just a little too embarrassed right now.) In addition to being boss at computers, he's also a pretty stellar comics artist. He hasn't updated his blog in a while, but I do want to direct your attention to this awesome number:

Amazing? I think yes. 

No, I will not pay for that

I will never, ever, EVER in my life pay for a tutorial. EVER.

This has been my practice for years, and I never really questioned it, but the debate over whether or not to charge money for tutorials/brush sets/what have you has popped up.

On its surface, this could seem like I'm just saying that I won't pay for digitally distributed resources, but that isn't it, because I will pay for brush sets if they're awesome enough, and people are expected to pay for resources like stock photography. Plus, I mean, music. I pay for digitally distributed music all the time and am happy to do so.

But the tutorial thing...I dunno, man, it's different, and I think it's different for a couple of reasons.

One of these is that when I see people asking to be paid for a tutorial, they're usually not the sort of person that's, how to say this, from here. From the internet. Internet culture is a thing; we've got customs and dialects and even our own twisted ethic. It's a strange place to be from, but we're all in this together, and that makes it easier.

And, for me, the internet has always been where the open source and creative commons movements live, where we can have honest talks on the nature of appropriation vs theft even as we're having (repetitive, useless, overzealous) discussions about traditional vs digital media. I mean, if there's something you want to learn, youtube is right there. You'll probably be able to find ten videos on even the most esoteric subject. For free.

I've made liberal use of these resources over the years. That's why I've started to do these process videos; other people have been posting them for years, and I was hugely helped by them. I want to give back to the community that gave me the tools to succeed.

So then you've got these people who come along, who are more used to giving lectures and teaching classes than anything else, asking for money for their privileged information. Except that...it's not. There is no one on the internet who is the only person who has an essential piece of knowledge. The other folks may not be easily accessible, but they exist, and a bit of persistence usually turns up someone willing to help you out.

I also happen to think that that sort of expectation places a bias on the online art community toward folks who have the kind of scratch to pay for potentially useless tutorials, which, quite frankly, is just...no.

It's my suspicion that this comes down to one big disconnect. We've been told that when someone is paying for a class in the real world, what they're paying for is knowledge. Which, quite frankly, is false; I've known more people who left college with less knowledge than they went in with than the other way around. So it's natural for people who aren't from the internet to see the tutorial format as an extension of the real-world class format.

But, y'know, it isn't.

So, if you're not paying for the knowledge when you sign up for a class, what are you paying for? Lots and lots of things, as it turns out.

  • the space in which the class takes place
  • the teacher's time
  • the teacher's attention
  • the way in which the teacher structures the knowledge
  • the context
  • access to a larger discussion (both with the teacher and with peers, if this is not a private lesson)
  • the right to ask questions and expect an answer
  • a grade (if the sort of class to have grades) 
And probably more things that I haven't thought of. 

I started reading a book recently (Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character by Jack Hitt) about which I'm sure I'll post more thoroughly in the future, once I've finished reading it. But at the very beginning, Hitt paints the larger American context as existing as a flux between a state that values the elite (though he didn't use that word; I'm well aware of its currently negative connotations) and another state that values the amateur. 

The tutorial thing is really just another reflection of this argument. In this, as in most things, I am firmly on the side of the determined amateur. Despite having been to university to study painting and having the good fortune to take a couple of classes here and there before that, I have a hard time thinking of myself as anything other than self taught because that's where my first skills came from. Just...tinkering. I imagine a world in which helpful hints and technical knowledge is locked up tight behind a toll booth, and I don't know if I'd be spending my days making art in those circumstances. 

Plus, I mean, who's to say that your tutorial is worth the money you're asking for it? Jeez, it could be totally useless, poorly put together, anything! 

What I'm saying is: if there's something that I know how to do that you want to know how to do, ask, and I will tell you. If I don't know, I'll try to point you toward someone who does know. 

off topic note: my main computer has decided that it really wanted to eat its face for no reason at all. I'm trying to fix it, but this is a super weird problem. I'd been hoping to get a lot more work out in this last bit of time before my final move out to Baltimore (and then I would continue doing work, obviously, but I have personal projects that I wanted to get out of the way, dammit!) but now I don't know if it's going to go as smoothly as all of that. 

There have, however, been a few text posts that I've wanted to do for a while, and this should give me something to focus on other than the fact that my computer is sitting here, failing to boot. This was one of those posts. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Another one hour contest entry.

Plus! Not brown.

And also, process video:

Note to self: center things more logically next time.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fox Dragons

I did this piece for a contest on dA. If anyone else wants to participate, there's about a week until the deadline. Go here for more details :) 

I'll have another process video up soon for this one just as soon as I'm done editing the screen capture footage (I love you, Camtasia)


I'm gonna try to get away from browns/neutrals for the next couple, I think.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Malevolence Poster 01

This is the first of six posters that I've been commissioned to do for Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkronax

I enjoyed this one a lot, and am definitely looking forward to the next one :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Fall Schedule (according to my dad)

  • Advanced Getting Yelled At (Post-Baccalaureate Critique and Seminar)
  • Lookin' at Pictures (Grad Survey of Contemporary Art, Design, and Theory)
  • Selling out 101 (Ideas, Perceptions, Metaphors and Materials)
  • Interpretive Crayons (Interpretive Figure Drawing) 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Decommissioned 05

I'll have a process video up for this shortly, but for now, here is just the image:

First time doing a digital painting from a live reference, rather than a photoref.



Sunday, July 8, 2012

In the last five years, I have lived in six different places (not counting rebounding to my parent's place when I transition between apartments) and I'm about to move again. I have twice lived alone, once with a stranger, and three times with at least two other women.

I have been happy in none of them.

But, whatever, it is what it is. I'm moving out to Baltimore for, probably, only one year, and because it is a move that is both long and likely to lead to an even longer move next year, my primary interest is in whittling down my things to the essentials. I think that that will make my life about ten times simpler, really.

The place I end up in after Baltimore has to last at least two years, though, or I think I'm just gonna curl up in an angry ball of exhaustedness and die.

And who knows, maybe B'more is the place that I stay. Buuuuuuut I doubt it. I went out there for a couple of days to do some apartment hunting and oh my god the posturing. It's like everyone is a third peacock out there. Too stressful, can't handle, need more muddy mountain people mixed in with the cityfolk.

Anyway, this is a long winded way of saying that the process of moving from one apartment to another makes me irrationally angry, so if anything I say in the next....two to three weeks, say, seems really over the top, that's why.

Stress, man.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Finch + sources

EDIT: there were a couple things that bugged me about the original finished image, so I fiddled with it some more.

EDIT2: it was still bugging me:

Here's the finished version of the painting I've been working on:

EDIT2 (cont'): putting the first version back up so that they're all together:

If anyone is interested, the photoreference I used was this:

I don't know whether it's a still form an episode or a promo shot--I pulled it off of a photoset on tumblr. The background, obviously, is very different. For the background (and for the color choices as well and for the way things were refined in the last few steps), I was thinking about this:

This is Blue Window by Michael Carson. (awww yissss, credit where credit is due)