Monday, October 5, 2015

Sweater Weather

I was tagged by Anna at Something Splendid Studios. Thanks for the tag!!! ^_^

1. Favorite candle scent
Anything apple-cinnamon is perfect for fall. I don't really have a favorite candle scent, though; I love candles in general. When we're in that section of the store I'll always be the weird girl sniffing the candles.

2. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
Can I have all three? :) Coffee is a necessity for me, but tea is probably my favorite flavor-wise. (I have especially fond memories of this one Twinings apple cinnamon breakfast tea that tasted fantastic--just the right balance between the apple and cinnamon flavors--but I can't seem to find it anymore.) I don't drink hot chocolate much unless I'm seriously craving it--and even then it's mostly an excuse to have whipped cream.

3. What’s the best fall memory you have?
I don't really have a best fall memory, per se. My favorite times are hanging out with all my family, especially my sisters (unfortunately that's a lot harder to achieve now that we're scattered across the country), or being out in nature, like that one time we hiked up Multnomah Falls in October. ^_^

4. Best fragrance for fall
I hardly ever wear perfume so no input on that. Favorite fall smells would be dried leaves, and just the way the air outside starts to smell as it gets colder.

5. Favorite Thanksgiving food
This one raspberry "pie" (it's more like a cheesecake since it has a graham cracker crust) my sister makes with cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, and Cool Whip, that gets topped with raspberry sauce and it's all light and fluffy and just the right amount of sweetness. SO GOOD.

via - not the recipe, but it's similar in appearance to what she makes

6. What is autumn weather like where you live?
Too short! We hit this really nice stretch of weather in the 50s or 60s, but all too quickly it starts snowing and getting too cold for comfort. But Ohio does have a really nice fall, for as long as it lasts.

7. Most worn sweater
Anything oversize and incredibly cozy.

8. Football games or jumping in leaf piles?
Ugh, definitely not football. Jumping in leaf piles is fun, but I prefer wandering through the woods.
via; photo by elena morelli

9. Skinny jeans or leggings?
I guess leggings. I wear them with dresses a lot in fall; they're comfy and a lot less of a pain to deal with than panty hose.

10. Combat boots or Uggs?
I prefer boots, but Uggs are more my staple come winter (they have better grip than my boots).

11. Is pumpkin spice worth the hype?
When it's done right. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte, definitely worth the hype (though maybe not worth the calories). I love lots of pumpkin spice things, but sometimes the blend of flavors makes me nauseous.

12. Favorite fall TV show
Flower Boy Next Door. The perfect drama for staying indoors and wearing oversize sweaters.


13. What song really gets you into the fall spirit?
I don't have particular songs that remind me of fall... How about Stranger Sun from Boys Over Flowers?

14. What do you want to be for Halloween? 
I doubt I'll do anything for Halloween this year. But I'd love to dress up as Sophie Hatter from the Studio Ghibli movie version of Howl's Moving Castle sometime. I've already got the long brown hair and bangs, just need to find the dress and a hat!

15. Hats or Scarves?
I love the look of scarves, but I'm more of a hat person.

16. What’s your #1 favorite thing about fall?
The weather, the atmosphere. I love the mood of this time of year, when everything starts getting sleepy and a bit gloomy--ideal weather for curling up with a book and a cup of tea and gazing wistfully out the window. It's great for alone time, but also a great time to spend with family and friends--preferably while baking cookies.
afternoon tea by liana wears

I hereby tag Joni at Lace and Fog and Alex at Third Star to the Right. I hope you'll join in on the fun! :D

Monday, April 13, 2015

Portrait Drawing

I thought I'd post a little art tutorial to show a step-by-step approach to drawing portraits. I used the photo VALентина by Ирина-Марьенко as reference, as a personal (non-commercial) exercise. 

Starting off. Sometimes I draw a light, loose oval to rough in the head size, but my Portrait Drawing & Painting class teacher taught me the benefit of using straight lines to block stuff in. Straight lines are easier to adjust and leave you with more blank space, but your brain can still fill in the lines so it's not too confusing.

So, I used these initial lines to block in the rough size of the head, hair/hairline, face area, and shoulders.

I tend to focus most on the face when starting portraits out since that's generally the most important area. Still using straight lines here to add more angles and indicate the placement of the facial features. I've had the best success with getting the overall shapes blocked in before getting caught up in the details.

Refining things a little more, getting the eye socket area blocked in. (It kind of helps me to get that area blocked in first--especially when the eyes are in shadow--and then worry about dividing the space to fit the actual eyes in. I also roughed in the edges of the face.

In my drawing I ended up unintentionally straightening the girl's facial features so her head wasn't as tilted and her right eye (the viewer's left) was lower than in the reference photo. It's not all that noticeable at this point in the drawing, but I'm pointing it out now because this would have been a good point to stop and double-check my angles (possibly using a ruler to compare the tilt in the original photo with the tilt in my drawing) in order to prevent myself from making that mistake.

This is also a good point in the drawing to double-check the proportions in general and make sure you're on the right track. Mirrors come in really handy for drawing portraits (use the mirror to compare the original photo with the drawing). Turning the drawing upside down also helps. I wasn't getting too picky with this because it was just a practice drawing, but that's what I would do to spare myself some later heartache when working on a portrait that I wanted to really get right. It's easy to correct things at this stage (though it's hard to spot what's going wrong), whereas later it becomes more clear what's going on wrong and far more difficult to fix it, when you've got more complicated details, possibly shading, and a lot more time invested in the project.

Getting the eyes, nose, and larger sections of hair more refined, plus roughing in the scarf. I could get more accurate with the cloth folds in the scarf, but it's not as important to me as getting the face and hair right.

Getting a lot more details in the eyes and blocking in some basic shadows. The lines I added in the hair are to indicate either light or dark areas. This takes more discipline than I usually have, but makes things look neater later on, versus taking the alternative route and freehanding the shading and hoping I get the placing right.

More work on the hair (see how I filled in those marked-off areas?).

Some light shading in the scarf and hair (I compared them to how light the girl's face is in order to get a base value; if I wanted some lighter areas in the scarf or hair later I could "draw" in the highlights with an eraser).

Finally blocking in the lips more (I still feel uncertain when drawing lips so I tend to procrastinate on them).

One thing to note when shading edges: generally speaking, the areas in the light will have harder edges and more contrast than areas in shadow. The side of the girl's face that's in the light had a much harder edge than the side that's in shadow, and same thing with her hair. In the area in the shadow, you can still tell roughly where her face stops and her hair begins, but the edge is a lot hazier. Our brains tend to want to "translate" what's happening here, and since we know her face and her hair are two separate entities, it's easy to make that line hard without realizing it really isn't. This is just a suggestion (and I don't think any rule/tip about drawing fits in every circumstance) but when I have a hard time telling where one thing stops and another thing begins in a reference photo, I've learned to try to copy that in my drawing rather than interpret the line for the viewer. It actually makes things a lot easier for me.

At this point in the drawing, it's getting more obvious when comparing the drawing to the reference photo that I got the tilt wrong. Also, her eyes are too close together in the drawing and the shape of her chin is too abrupt (too light and jutting out too far).

Finishing off with drawing. For an exercise, I was content to end it here. I would do a lot more correcting and cleaning up (especially with those smudges on the right side!) if this were a serious project. In that sense, this isn't nearly as useful a walk-through as using one of my real portraits as an example would be, but hopefully it still gives you some good starter points for going about drawing a semi-realistic portrait.

Again, here is the link to the original photo if you want to compare the two (*winces in anticipation of potential judgment*).

And yes, I did use a Papermate Classic pencil to draw this, despite owning a set of perfectly good drawing pencils. I'm a rebel at heart.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

How the Rose Blooms

I painted this in December 2014 as a Christmas present for my sister, Brenna. She loves the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast (as well as the Disney version).

I started off by creating a fairly detailed sketch on acrylic paper, using a couple Koh-I-Noor woodless colored pencils. Those are slightly water-soluble, so I softened some areas with washes of water before going in with paint. This was my first real attempt at having an underdrawing with values keyed out already; normally my drawings for paintings are much simpler. For the acrylic, I used my mom's Jo Sonja paints. 

The style was inspired by William Morris's book design and the Kelmscott Press, which I had been learning about in school (example). Also, I had this pretty little dark wood frame I had bought at Goodwill, which had cool scrollwork and just looked fairy tale-ish, so before the painting even began the two were destined for each other.

(Sorry this photo's so awful)

I started off with washes of acrylic rather than using thick paint layers, so the paper still has a glow to it in this first picture of the acrylic stage (there's light coming from the white of the page underneath the paint washes, rather than from the values produced by the paint itself). I wish I'd been able to keep more of this quality, but I wanted to push the highlights more and had a tricky time with it, so I ended up painting and repainting a lot, and the layers piled up. But I'm still happy with the final result. 

This is a different scan of the final than the one I have posted at the top. I think the darks and the color are a little more accurate with this one, but there's some glare from the varnish I added when I was done with the painting, and the texture from the acrylic paper is showing up really strongly for some reason.

The painting took a different direction than I expected, and for a while there I wasn't at all sure what to do with it, but still. So much fun. I love roses. And fairy tales. And my sister. *happy dance*

Saturday, January 31, 2015


My Facebook page is now up to 100 likes, and my Tumblr blog is up to over 200 followers, so to say thank you and celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The prize is a hand-drawn, laminated bookmark, inspired by the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princess. It was drawn in graphite pencil on Bristol paper. Here's a picture of both sides of the bookmark (before it was laminated):

This is my first time holding a giveaway, so we'll see how this goes! You can also visit the giveaway on my Facebook page.

The giveaway is open from Saturday 1/31/15 to Saturday 2/7/15. Good luck! I hope you'll participate and share the news with your friends!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Digital Self Portrait

A digital self portrait from July 2014. I had a little fun taking an old pen drawing of mine and putting it in the computer, using Photoshop (with a mouse) to edit it, add color, and trace some linework in.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


I got crafty this Christmas! I thought school would interfere with my making Christmas presents, but it actually wound up being a great motivator, because painting and crafting sounded waaay more appealing than dealing with school projects. As far as forms of procrastination go, I couldn't complain.

For one of the presents I crafted, I painted a set of wooden coasters for my second oldest sister. (As opposed to the set of coasters I painted for my fourth oldest sister a couple of years ago.) I left the sides and backs of this set blank, which saved me a lot of time; I actually finished the painting in one day! Although a lot of that was because I was having so much fun with them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Printmaking I, Spring 2014 - Part One

Cross-hatched test linoprint

When making the difficult decision of which classes to take for the Spring 2014 semester, I was excited to discover that my college offers a printmaking class. I'd never actually tried printing anything before (unless you count stamping cards). Some art history books I'd read gave descriptions of printmaking methods such as etching, but I had a hard time picturing and understanding the process just from a paragraph in a book. Since I had the opportunity, I opted for the hands-on experience. Unfortunately, I didn't take photos while I was working, so I can't really show you the process. But I'll talk about my experience with the class and the projects, at least.

We had a total of six projects over the semester: a collograph, a reduction lino print, a woodcut self portrait, a line etching, an aquatint etching, and a soft ground etching.