My Blog

Two New Pieces in the Shop

New Faceted Series

Faceted – Purple, and Faceted – Red are now available in the gallery and on my shop at fineArtAmerica.com.

I’m dubbing this new series “Faceted” though that term could be applied to almost everything I do. They actually started as separate projects but were similar enough I decided to group them this way.The styles were actually approached differently with Red being a bit more experimental and off the wall in terms of the color strategy. Purple on the other hand has more subdued contrast. The purest in me really prefer series to have a consistent approach to style. Though the idea of grouped pieces having a similar but unique take on a theme is very intriguing.

I have another in the works, as I think you really need at least three to qualify as a “series”. 

New Work

Upcoming artwork

Haven’t posted in a while, and needed to pop back in. I have plenty in the works including several new pieces that should be up on the site over the next few weeks. As with most of the pieces I create I’m having trouble knowing when to stop. I’ have a few I’ve been playing around with for over a year and at this point I may have more on deck than I do on the site.

I have a new series in the works and some other ideas I’m considering. More flowers and color, but I’ll also be getting into some new styles and subject matter here soon. I may start sharing more WIP’s and maybe do some tutorials or posts on my process. We’ll see.

Artists I Like: Yang Yang Pan

Yang Yang Pan Painting

When beauty in art is its most obvious feature, it might be easy to dismiss it as entirely superficial, but that’s not a foregone consequence. Beauty can be self validating, but it can also still challenge. The resonance of color, complexity of texture, and the virtues of subject can elevate a work above mere cosmetics. Such is the case of the evocative paintings of Yang Yang Pan.

Pan’s chromatic confections, splotchy blurs of rich color and texture, are both lovely and compelling, unapologetically pretty and surprisingly deep. Dabby multi-colored strokes, smears, and patches cover her canvases in jubilant bursts of neon, or otherwise more brooding collisions of shadow and vivid spectrum.

I’m always intrigued when an artist discovers innovative ways to make random patchy color feel new and unique. Similarly amazing is the capacity of such an approach to encapsulate so vividly, the vision of the individual painter. Within her chaotic abstracts, Yang Yang Pan finds a unique voice.

Pretty, feels like a condescending way to describe an artist’s work, Lovely is a more elegant choice, but either pays an ideal compliment to the genuine virtue of Pan’s aesthetics. Her paintings tend to be visually pleasing in a way that I genuinely appreciate. As someone who values the innate power of beauty in art, I’m always refreshed by works that delight its audience with this simple pleasure.

Often quite feminine, even girlish, her works have an airy beauty that’s quite pronounced in some, less in others. This isn’t to say she doesn’t exhibit range however. Pan frequently mingles a variety of techniques to varying effect. Sometimes a confetti of color, other times silky smudges, or melting streaks, in some cases course topographies of texture.

Her inspiration too, though frequently up close and floral, feels in other cases distant and landscape. Her palette, though lighthearted across most of her work, often takes root in richer earth tones, or contemplates deep dark shades.

Not unlike the work of Georgina Vinsun, Pan’s abstract colorscapes hint at real world inspiration. Bright flowers and shrubbery seem to bristle just below the ephemeral plane of her canvas. Verdant shores linger beyond focus, the mirage of landscapes shimmering at the blurry edges of a dream.

This is part of the fun of her paintings; the intrigue of her inspiration. I always find myself pondering the subject alluded to in the colorful haze. Her works seem transient, as though capturing a metamorphosis between abstract and material. Unfocused subject emerging into view, or otherwise dissipating into a particulate frenzy. Her works are alive with the manic energy of this process.

I’m surprised at how often the delightful colors of her paintings remind me of a battlefield. The intensity and dispersal of bright splotches imparts energy and movement, at times frenetic and forceful.

It’s the dynamic nature of her work that I love; the, at times, almost violent cohesion of pastoral beauty, movement, and emotional vibrance. Her paintings satisfy the desire for the aesthetic but offer an intriguing subtext. They speak to the eye but edify the mind. They are at once close and distant, apparent and evasive.

 

Watch Dogs 2 Fan Art – Complete

watch dogs 2 fan art

Finished these up in time for the launch of Watch Dogs 2 a few weeks ago. These character features are based on an official image of the game’s featured protagonists. I did this for fun but have really enjoyed creating them. This style is a looser interpretation of the intentional facetted geometry of some of my previous floral work.

watch dogs fan art. Josh and Sitara.

The style deviates in that instead of strictly observing straight-angles and limited points in each individual vector, it uses curves and nodes as needed. I still defaulted to straight lines though, using curves only once the arc reached a certain threshold. The resulting style is something angular, but unkempt, almost grungy and even a little more painterly. I like it.

watch dogs fan art. Wrench and Marcus.

As I mentioned in my previous post, game studio Ubisoft has emphasized art (in particular, digital and street) within the aesthetic of Watch Dogs 2. The game UI and the world itself is imbued with a distinct maker culture and geek art vibe. As a fan of the series these were fun to create as a homage leading up to the game’s launch.

Hack All The Things

Watch Dogs 2 Fan Art

A little tribute to one of my favorite franchises. An open world action game, the original Watch Dogs by Ubisoft is a personal favorite and with a sequel on the way in less then a month, now’s a good time for a little fan art, and a series of character posters based off of this image. I love this kind of thing. It gives me a chance to have a little fun, with a brand I really enjoy. Digital art and maker culture is actually a big part of Watch Dogs 2’s vibe and aesthetic and it’s been fun putting my own spin on it.

watch dogs 2 wrench fan art

It’s also interesting to end up with a style I’m really interested in doing more with. In my pursuit of new styles to try my hand at I’ve landed at the crossroads of choppy, fractured vector and slightly more detail. I love the balance between the lower fidelity of the facetted mosaic style of most of my floral work, and something with a little more “texture”. It’s closer to the look of the telephone poles series I did, and has an almost painterly style that will be interesting to experiment with on future projects.

watch dogs 2 fan art sitara

New Series: Pop Art Portraits

Pop Art Self Portrait

There are so many styles I want to try. This is a good place to start. This is the first of a series of Pop Art portraits I’m working on. There are some general rules I’m following to keep these consistent but I may deviate a little on each and will probably revisit them all when I’m done to unify the look.

Pop Art Self Portraits

Pop Art is an interesting concept with a lot of room for creative diversion. I’m not sure whether or not I’m really attracted to the style as it’s traditionally represented but the concept of color, contrast, and lively subject matter combined for deliberate impact is definitely something that appeals to me.

I don’t see myself concentrating on Pop Art over the long term but definitely think I’ll incorporate some of its inspiration into my style going forward.

Artists I Like: Georgina Vinsun

georgina vinsun painting

Oceanic, cosmic, nebulous. Just a few words I’d use to describe the abstract colorscapes of Georgina Vinsun. Her use of color is indulgent to say the least. Beyond simply vibrant though, there’s a sublime majesty in the tumultuous depths of color. Her Sun Spots collection, for instance evokes the dark beauty of the starry abyss.

Distant Stars interestingly, with its blues and greens, feels almost aquatic by contrast. Its brush strokes scurry and flow like schools of fish or undulant seaweed.  That’s part of the beauty of her work. Sweeping, churning, flowing bodies of color and cosmic force are suggestive of subject and landscape without betraying their beguiling ambiguity. Color reverberates from the primal depths of the universe, crashing like waves upon an abstract expanse.

I love the way she explores rich, vibrant color and pairings. Using them as both subject and theme she creates a blurry fusion of image and ambience. I’m always attracted to artists preoccupied with the nature and personality of color itself. With its sweeping pseudo naturalism and celestial majesty, Vinsun’s work represents some of the most compelling uses of color I’ve seen. It reminds me of one of my favorite Robert Frost’s lines. And like his Snowy Woods, Vinsuns landscapes are also “…lovely, dark, and deep…”

Phantasm Plugin by Astute Graphics

Phantasm plugin

For someone who spends as much time with Adobe Illustrator as I do, the opportunity to extend some key functionality is extremely welcome. After-the-fact color correction in particular is one of AI’s surprising weaknesses. Phantasm by Astute Graphics equips Illustrator with an awesome suite of color & lighting manipulation tools on par with Photoshop.

Illustrator’s default color tools are limited and pretty unintuitive in terms of what you can accomplish and how. Phantasm introduces a much more standardized and powerful set of options including hue/saturation, brightness/contrast, exposure, curves, and levels among others. There’s even a powerful option for creating a live halftone effect.

Like most of Astute Graphics’ plugins, it’s actually remarkable the features they contribute aren’t already native to Illustrator. Even more so in this case considering, as mentioned, the Phantasm color toolset is pretty standard.

Regardless, and also like most of Astute Graphic’s plugins, Phantasm is an extremely welcome addition. It doesn’t just extend Illustrator’s default capabilities it adds new ones that not only accelerate certain tasks, but enables you to do things that would be almost impossible otherwise. If not technically “impossible” then beyond tedious at the least.

Phantasm (and Astute Graphics plugins in general) are time savers, streamlining processes and tasks that are otherwise labor intensive. They’re very liberating, allowing for much more creative freedom on projects. Reducing time consuming, tedious processes to mere clicks affords artists like myself the opportunity to tap into an exciting new range of possibility.

As an artist obsessed with color, the hue/saturation feature alone has been a gift. Previously shifting color en-mass was an awkward process. You could “Recolor Artwork” but it was a clunky proposition. The rest of Illustrator’s default color tools are a series of independent sliders and settings that feel unnecessarily restrictive.

I’ve used a handful of AG plugins and Phantasm is one of my favorite, and most relied on. If you spend a significant amount of time in Adobe Illustrator I’d highly recommend checking out Astute Graphics plugins.

They can be a little pricey considering they’re extensions to features that quite frankly should be native to Illustrator at this point. However, if you pick and choose the one’s you’ll find most useful for your workflow, they’ll pay for themselves with how much time they save. I’ve found them to be indispensable.

Color!

I love color. That’s probably obvious. Color is an intense, emotionally visceral experience. I don’t think we really appreciate the sensuous quality of color very often. Beautiful and vivid hues are such a simple uplifting pleasure. The sensory appeal of color is definitely something that informs my work as an artist.

As part of my art, it’s a process, a distraction, and a point of contention. On every project it’s something I both get to enjoy, and have to contend with.

I think Monet knew what he was talking about when he described color as “…my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.” While it’s much easier to create, mix, and experiment with color on a computer, the speed and simplicity just mean the infinite possibilities loom with even more overwhelming proximity.

colorful flower vector art

The reason most of the pieces I do have multiple versions is a result of my enjoyment and indecision. It’s just too much fun working with with the colors alone, but it’s also a creative vacuum without convenient resolution.

After The primary design/illustration work is done, I’ll usually start experimenting with the palette. It’s at this point the design usually extrapolates into several different iterations. Limiting it to 2-3 is the hard part (you should see my art boards).

colorful vector art

Most of the time I end up with about 10-12 versions before narrowing the field. I never want to take away from a design itself by releasing so many versions that the multitude distracts from the individuality. I do like the idea of doing series however. Exploring a single work through the lens of color allows me to expand on it and satisfy the need for more.

I actually love subdued or minimal color, as well as more natural, earthy palettes but I can never resist dialing them up to a hyper-saturated level. Once I do I usually end up with a few I just can’t do without.

I also really appreciate what other artists are doing with color, particularly Georgina Vinsun and Scott Naismith. I’ll probably do a post about inspirational artists at some point, but will save that for some other time.

New Series

New Series

In expanding my technique and working on some new ideas I’ve started a series of pieces based on telephone poles. Sort of a subject matter exploration I guess.

The concept has a sort of photographic inspiration. The idea of focusing on something mundane or completely innocuous to find its unique character is something that seems to have its roots in photography. I’m interested in this approach to subject matter for some of the same reasons but also because I’m obsessed with color and shape.

The idea of taking a seemingly boring subject, focusing on shape and space and stylizing it with color is an approach I’ll never exhaust. Telephone poles are repetitious but also varied. They have a lot of cluttered detail as well as some interesting pattern and geometry in the lines themselves. I’d considered making this a silhouette series similar to the Buds series but found the detail too compelling and the illustrative look too much fun.

telephone poles artwork 1

I decided each piece would be represented two ways. One colorized, but a bit more realistic in hue and background and another more vivid color combo. I honestly can’t decide which is my favorite look.

As with pretty much every design I do, the hardest part is limiting the final design to these two versions. I get sucked into the process of colorizing the designs. There are so many really interesting combinations, it’s always hard to settle on a favorite, but it’s usually better to limit how many final versions you end up with.