Best Space Scene

Dragon Con has come and gone, but I'm still feeling the thrill of those four days in Atlanta. I owe some of that to a few fantastic artists I'm lucky to have as friends, but I also owe it to the generous attendees who took the time to visit my table, buy my art, attend my panels and vote in the Dragon Con Art Awards. I still feel like a newcomer to the world of genre art. It's only been three years since my first Dragon Con Art Show. That first show was also my the first time participating as artist at a convention. But my history with Dragon Con goes back even further.  I attended Dragon Con as a fan in the 90's. In some ways I feel like Dragon Con is MY convention, as I'm sure others do that have been coming here for years and years. So winning an award, voted on by the attendees of THIS show, truly touched my heart.

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Thank you all and see you next year!

Being True to Yourself

I've been making some big changes to my website and portfolio over the past year. Sometimes it's felt like like one step forward and two back. Other times, the work was completely stalled by my own doubts. What were these changes? I decided to give my SciFi art its own gallery, instead of hiding it away. When I read that sentence back to myself, it sounds like no big deal, but it was a decision I stressed over. I might still have the art tucked away if it weren't for two friends who saw its value. One friend wanted the art for his book covers. The other friend convinced me I had something special worth sharing with the world.

So what was the fuss all about? I've always had diverse interests. This isn't even the first time I've explored space and science fiction in my art, but it's always felt as if most people associate me with nature and fantasy. They wouldn’t be wrong but it's only one aspect of my identity. I don't think I've ever fit neatly into one box--who does? I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors. I do feel a strong connection to our planet, so it's not surprising it shows up in my art. The other side of me loves Giger's Xenomorphs, and as a teenager listened to heavy metal and alternative rock (and still do), played Doom and read a lot of Stephen King novels. I don't hide this other side, it's always been there, but it often surprises people who don't know me very well. I suppose I've also never looked the part!

The Hive

I think for a long time I let how others perceive me influence the art I gave center stage. Behind the scenes, I was still working on my SciFi visions, just not promoting them very much. I'd convinced myself that the two couldn't coexist together, that if they did I'd alienate fans of my nature/fantasy art. I'm such an idiot...

The two artworks above were created using vastly different techniques, but they look as if they were meant to hang on the wall together. This summer they will. My website is in order and I've recently relaunched my store to feature both my fantasy and my scifi art. It's time to be true to myself, my art and my vision.

The Jupiter Event

Beginning with LibertyCon next month and CONvergence in July, I'll have both genres present in art shows. I'm both excited and terrified, but there's also a feeling of calm that's spread over me. I'm embracing who I am and what I love. Being true to yourself is part of the that magical recipe that let's an artist create using their full potential. When you're holding back or trying to create something in what you think is a popular style, you're only hurting yourself.

Create the art you love, the art that drives to you to want to create every day. Be kind. Be humble. Be thankful for those that love your vision too.

Feathers and Omens

Last month, the Bird Whisperer Project had the pleasure of working from a truly stunning photograph of a raven by photographer Christopher Martin. You can see the complete album of artworks on our Facebook page here: January 2017 - Common Raven. At the time, I was afraid I might not finish my raven in time for the group post. Why? Because I kind went nuts with the level of detail...

More than a few people mentioned they thought it was the photograph, but seeing them side by side, I think you can see the differences. If I hadn't been in such a rush, I would have taken more detailed process shots as I went. Hopefully, what I do have will give you a peek inside my process.

Brushes

I don't use many.  I have about 10 favorites, but more often than not I'll only use 5 for any painting. Here are the brushes I used for Winter Raven (Harbinger).

The first brush is one of the basic soft brushes that come with Photoshop. I also use the hard one, usually for sketching out my subject. The fourth brush is often the brush I use for blocking in the basic colors. All of the feathers were painted with the second and the fifth brush. Just like traditional brushes, any of these can be large or small in diameter.

Painting

Having my reference materials nearby is always handy, but when I'm working in a realistic manner I do like to have it extra close. I'll pop it out of the window and keep it on top in Photoshop. With that said, I don't need all of those feathers to be precise for the end result to "look" real. You can see some of my sketch above--those wing feathers are pretty off! 

When I'm painting I don't use the undo option much, unless I'm experimenting and completely screw something up. If what I'm painting doesn't look right, I keep painting. With iridescent raven feathers, there is no one color reflecting off the surface. I continue to lay down color till I have what I want. Sometimes it feels more like I'm sculpting a painting. Below is a handful of the colors that went into painting the wings

The screenshot below shows different stages of the raven's head. Once I blocked in the base color, I used the same brush for all of the feathers--only changing the size of the brush and pigment as I went along. In some areas, like the cheek, the brush was very, very small! The pressure I applied also varied. For the neck feathers I need stronger brush strokes compared to the softer parts of the head.

The Skull

Sometimes, one small element can transform a painting's narrative. In the case of this raven, it was a squirrel skull pendant. Ravens don't wear pendants, meaning we've entered the world of fantasy and most likely magic. I wanted viewers to create their own story for this harbinger.

The reference for the skull came out of my personal bone collection.

Yes. I have a bone collection. 

I decided to photograph the skull at the angle I needed to limit the chances of damage. 

Above you can see the different stages of the the skull--from rough sketch to basic blocking in and refining of shape, and the last being a more rendered version.

Prints for Winter Raven and Harbinger are available in my shop!

http://www.amandamakepeace.com/store/