marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
Via Rachel Swirsky, I've just learned about this Fat People Art tumblr and the associated Fat People Art Week which ends Feb 12, but the tumblr shall go on, apparently.

I probably can't draw anything by the 12th but maybe some of you can! And I'm going to try, because Mike and his brother are taking Charlie out for a while on Saturday so I can have the house to myself, so maybe I will manage to draw something.

Anyway this is a really nice collection of drawings, it made me smile and smile.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)

(Cross-pollinating from Facebook...)

The Rules:  Don't take too long to think about it.  Fifteen Artists who've influenced you and that will ALWAYS STICK WITH YOU.  List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. 

1. Julia Margaret Cameron, 19th century photographer.  Particularly known for portraits of women including Julia Duckworth, mother of Virgina Woolf, and Alice Lidell (of Wonderland fame) as Pomona. Also did one of Tennyson as King Arthur.

2. David Mack. Contemporary comics guy; many cool Daredevil covers.

3. Neal Adams. drew Batman & Green Arrow in the 70s, which are the comics that stick with me the most.

4. Sandro Botticelli

5. Gustav Klimt

6. Francois Schuiten, Belgian comics artist who did/is doing the "Cities of the Fantastic" books.

7. Maurice Sendak

8. N. C. Wyeth, book illustrator who was the father of Andrew Wyeth

9. Henry J. Ford, illustrator of many of the Andrew Lang fairy tale books

10. J. C.  Leyendecker, advertising artist of the 1920s

11. Rebecca Guay, contemporary illustrator--has done some comics and Magic:TG cards

12. Gail Potocki, contemporary symbolist painter

13. Edmund Dulac, 19th c illustrator, particularly of fairy tales

14. Frank R. Paul, early 20th c Science Fiction illustrator

15. Margaret Brundage, who did covers for Weird Tales in the 30s

marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
A couple of months ago a friend came to town, and we decided to skip the usual thing of going to a big showy museum in favor of finding something small and unusual.  We ended up spending a morning at The Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago. 


It isn't a big museum,  but it's full of amazing stuff from the ancient Near East, including a few real jaw-droppers.  Pretty much every new gallery had me saying "you are KIDDING me. Seriously?" upon seeing what was on display there. You can walk right up to everything, you can take pictures of everything, and IIRC admission was "pay what you want, $5 suggested."  And although other people would wander through from time to time, mostly we were by ourselves in the galleries.


Because it's a museum dedicated to the work of a particular group of archaeologists, there is informational material posted here and there showing how they acquired and restored the stuff on display.  I was very pleased to learn that their standard procedure at the time most of the excavations were done (early 20th c) seems to have been to partner with the government of the place they were working in; dig up stuff, and then the country of origin would take the better-quality stuff and the OI would get the worse-quality stuff.  There is a big statue of Tutankhamun, for example, that is one of a pair. The less-damaged one is on display in Egypt, and the one in Chicago, which was half rubble, was restored by taking a cast of the Egyptian one and using that as a basis for rebuilding.  All of the monumental objects on display are restored single members of larger sets, with the other members remaining in their home countries. It's very nice to be able to ogle things without feeling that they were probably stolen.

My whole photo set is over here on flickr, and some of my favorites are below.

Pictures behind the cut. )


Apr. 17th, 2010 09:41 pm
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
I haven't been to Wizard World Chicago in a couple of years, and apparently neither have a lot of folks - Marvel & DC pulled out of the last one.  A new con, C2E2, is going on this weekend, run by the folks who do San Diego & NY's excellent con [oops, my sources led me astray about SD].  I went for a couple of hours last night and had a really great time.  All I had time for was to go to the Tonner Doll Character Figure booth and zip up and down artist's alley collecting prints, but that was enough to blow through my supposed budget...and that was before I discovered a booth selling a gorgeous book of Gail Potocki paintings, as well as having 4 or 5 of her actual paintings on display.  I escaped from that particular trap with just the Potocki book and one Michael Zulli print (of this, minus the text of course), clever me.  The Potocki paintings were awesome too but I didn't have $35,000 on me so I let them be.  They also had a bunch of Dave McKean paintings, which were cool to look at even though I am meh about him.

Anyway, I picked up inexpensive prints from a lot of cool folks in artist's alley, including some of my old faves from cons past like David Mack and Douglas Klauba, and some new-to-me talented folks including Grant Gould, Jenny Frison, and Arkady Roytman. People kept stopping me to look at the prints I bought for Charlie, by Christopher Umiga--I got one of Batman & Robin and one of Max & a Wild Thing (those don't seem to be on his site, unfortunately). All of Umiga's images are really charming and creepy at the same time--he was the find of the day, for me (well, aside from the Potocki book).  Also awesome was getting to look through Jill Thompson's great unseen Sandman special-commission art--apparently years ago she was commissioned to do a series of ink wash type drawings that sort of summarized the Sandman series, in connection with a movie pitch or something like that.  Eventually there was a gallery show of these images and some of them sold, and the rest are with her.  DC can publish them if the fans bug them about it--they have high-res scans of the whole set--but she can't reproduce them herself.  I didn't have $750 on me so I didn' t buy any of those either, but they were brilliant and special and it was a real pleasure to see them. 

Probably the cutest thing I got was a couple of bitty acrylic paintings by Lauren Perry, who does sort of an endless sequence of stylized/cute character faces with an empty word balloon--it's like a little comics panel with the character not saying anything (yet). She calls them Blank-ees.  I got one of Death (Sandman) and one of Uhura....she had about 40 different characters to choose from on the table and was painting more as we chatted. 

Last but not least I finally found a place selling rigid acrylic sleeves for 11x17 prints: You can stick a hanger thingy on the back of the sleeve and hang it on the wall without a frame, which is good because 11x17 premade frames mostly don't exist, grrr.

Anyway it was a whole lot of fun, and I scored a lot of great cheap art, as well as the con exclusive Robert Tonner Huntress Doll Character Figure, so I'm a happy camper, despite having had to work today.  (Since I was working from home, Huntress kept me company and offered to kick everybody's asses for me). Oh and while I was running around grabbing prints, there seemed to be people playing M:TG and other things, and I heard repeated random cheering from the other side of the floor, so apparently people who go for something other than artist-schmoozing were having a great time too.  Yay C2E2!

Art horse

Dec. 19th, 2009 11:01 pm
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (nymph)
I just ordered my Christmas present from my Dad (he pays, I pick!)...I'm super excited, even though it won't be here til January. I'm also somewhat filled with trepidation.

It may look like some sort of pillory but in fact it's a drawing bench called a "horse"--you straddle it facing the tall end, with your drawing board leaning against the tall part and anchored in the slot at the front of the bench. I produce much, much better work if I'm centered and "in my body," which is a challenge for me because generally my body and I prefer to occupy separate dimensions. (My body is perpetually seeking the dimension where everything is made of candy, flannel, painkillers, and chenille. I'll let you know if she finds it.) Horse benches are very helpful for keeping centered and comfortable, and having a full range of motion in your arm--it's sort of a similar feeling to sitting at a potter's wheel, except with less hunching. They're a staple of drawing classes and workshops and I've always wanted one, but I've never encountered one in the wild/at an art supply store. Once again I give thanks for the internet, through which all purchases are possible.

I feel a bit silly and tentative buying this right now, because I haven't drawn regularly for years, but I miss it, and the inability to get comfortable while drawing on large paper is a big part of why I don't draw much. So I hope that having this will get me over that particular hump and take my poor relationship with my physical self out of the equation somewhat. Or even--gasp!--help to repair that relationship.  When I talked to Dad about it he said he would love to invest in anything that could get me back into drawing--we are an artsy family and while my parents are glad I'm making a good living, they don't want me losing track of the soulful side of life.

So, come the new year, I'm going to start drawing again, for serious. eep.  

Minor Argh

Dec. 13th, 2009 07:37 pm
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)

Rule: when doing stuff to a photo in Photoshop, always do the hard, non-repeatable work first, before doing easy crap like cropping and tweaking alignment.

Otherwise you may end up doing an hour of retouching on a version of a photo that is not, actually, the right size for the project. ARGH.

marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (3d)
So I've been quietly beetling away on a little project for the past couple of months - Ryk Spoor ([ profile] seawasp ) mentioned that he wanted to do some kind of a trailer for his upcoming Baen book, Grand Central Arena.  It sounded like fun so I volunteered to do some images, and lo and behold it was fun!  He's working on making something cool out of the resulting imagery--I did character images and Keith Morrison did ship images and also a character image or two.  The book is a fun adventure and I had a good time visualizing the characters with Ryk's guidance.  

Picspam behind the cut! )

(Larger versions are in my gallery, if you want 'em)

Explanation of how I made these behind the other cut! )
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (bluehair)
1. installed DAZ Studio Advanced version 3.  DAZ Studio is a 3d posing & rendering app, a competitor to Poser, for the hobbiest market, more or less.  The base app is free, with a "tell ware" license, which means you agree to tell two people about it.  This is me, telling you about the app. You can pick it up at if you're interested. 

2. Loaded a file, "Ariane 6.pz3" that I'd previously been working on very slooowly in Poser 6

3. Told DS how to find all the associated content files

4. Put cooler hair on the figure in the scene

5. Put a better skin texture on the figure in the scene

6. Added some lights to the scene

7. Test-rendered the scene

I've opened DS about twice, ever.  Tonight is my first time using this version, and I did all of that in about an hour, without having to refer to help text or the product tutorial.  In Poser, which I have been using for 10 years,  I would have spent my entire evening doing that stuff...even with the memory upgrade I put in a couple of weeks ago.  

This is very cool. Images are for a semi-sekrit project, so I can't share them yet, but I now have hopes of them looking the way I imagine them in my head.  YAY.

marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (sprite)

Koi Mermaid
by ~Bamfette on deviantART

While reading my flist's various reactions to the ROF Mermaid magazine cover (Nick Mamatas' here, with links to Tempest and others, and ongoing conversation here; Shweta's excellent explanation of why-all-the-fuss here), I spent a few minutes wandering through deviantART's zillion mermaid pics to see if I could find some good ones that aren't all about the boobies. (Not that I object to boobies in many contexts, including when browsing DA, but putting a fantasy pin-up on the cover of your not-erotica magazine, airbrushing the nipples off, and insisting "she's only naked because she's MYTHICAL and it's not objectifying a WOMAN, she's MYTHICAL" is kinda silly).  Anyway, there are some interesting and cool mer-pics on DA, which is always worth browsing when you're in the mood for some SFF art, benippled or otherwise.  I've linked a few of them into this post - they're all worth clicking thru to view large.  I think the one below by pascalblanche is my favorite.

by *pascalblanche on deviantART

Mermaid is taking a nap
by ~efira-japan on deviantART

Also I found this hilarious--and very well-drawn--merman, which I will send right along to Tempest.

marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
My oldest niece just finished her degree at Savannah College of Art & Design! She's done this while juggling motherhood and work, so double-woo!!

marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)

Pocket watch, originally uploaded by marydell.

I drew this picture of an antique watch for a family friend, who owns the watch. The watch recently turned up missing (odd phrase, that), and the owner is distraught--it was her father's, probably also her grandfather's, and may have been stolen. The family has some photos of it but none of them are very clear. So I decided I'd use the photos as a reference and draw a memento for her, to cheer her up a bit. I'm putting it in the mail tomorrow.

In the course of working on this, I discovered, after about 30 years of drawing, that the key to drawing well is to do it in drafts, just like writing. I started off drawing the details of the watch in pencil on ordinary paper, trying to get a feel for the positioning and proportions of the decorative elements. I drew it about twice the size of the final picture, and didn't compose the picture, just drew the stuff as - gasp - a practice run. Then I drew everything at the correct size, and in this composition, on normal paper, and then for the third run I drew it again on the watercolor block (I like extremely smooth hot-pressed paper for watercolors, since I combine them with ink).

I've never done a practice run at a drawing before - sometimes I'll make a sketch for a painting, but in those cases I just lay out the elements and then don't finish the sketch any more than is necessary for visualizing the composition. I hate to draw the same thing twice, because there's always a bit of an element of luck in my drawing--if it comes out well, it's like magic, and if it comes out badly (which is more often the case), it feels like that's out of my control. In the course of drawing this watch three times I realized that NOT doing complete practice drawings is why it feels like it's out of my control. I had so much more confidence by the third run at this drawing that I was able to draw it pretty much the way I imagined it. There are still some imperfections--I can't freehand a circle to save my life, as you see--but I'm very pleased with the results, and I'm excited now about drawing in a way I haven't been since I first started learning.

April 2013

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