Sketches from my first sketchbook: Six years of progress #1

I took my first art/design course when I was a sophomore in high school (six years ago). I was interested in making art for video games and I was already learning C# and experimenting with tools like Autodesk maya and engines like UDK to make my own stuff.

That whole dream never really panned out (ended up in hard sciences) but I really went at the art. I was doing fifty hours a week, staying up all night to practice contour and learn to draw new things. It was one of my first real obsessive periods. I periodically get really into things which later eb and flow but most have stuck around (writing and drawing more than anything).

For the class we had to do daily sketches from life or our head based on a prompt. These are some of them. Bare in mind that while I was working hard, I was very much a beginner. It’s awesome to look back and compare this stuff to my current works and compositions. The style is actually pretty similar, still, in a lot of ways. It’s just more refined and cohesive now.

I’ll go in order of the pages and this was taped to the front page.

IMG_8995

I started out with bic pens and markers which s what this was in. Pretty sketchy shading but I was really proud of the contour. It took my a while and few tries at the time to nail down the general shape of a face let alone the gesture of a body.

This was probably the first time I tried to depict tattoos on skin, which is something I do on a regular basis now. I’ve gone so far as to design elaborate tattoos just so I could put them in a drawing later on:

copyr

In this semi-photo-realistic digital portrait I spent the most time on the tattoos and hair. I’ve found that abstract designs (time here) work much better for accenting skin in the context of a drawing.

This style evolved further into turning the skin into it’s own canvas within a canvas:

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Here the skin is less skin and more of a symbolic mosaic kind of story. I don’t like to explain intent explicitly and won’t, but there is a specific reason things are where they are here.

To me it’s really cool to be able to trace stylistic elements I employ in my hyper-realism and composite art back to one of the first decent anime sketches I did a few months after I started drawing.

Across the Way

Red lights abound,

A flickering side-show hiding our frowns,

Dressed up all pretty;

just want to be found.

Empty glasses accenting nothing,

but young blood craving something;

more.

Things seems good,

potentially normal.

He wants to chat,

thinks I’m immoral.

I tell him to fuck off.

Mood seems dampened,

But I bite back the tears.

Because after all;

it was just a compliment, nothing weird.

At least that’s what my best friend seemed to think.

Hours later the bars all closed.

My spirits had lifted; I suppose.

Said my farewells and let her drive,

away.

because she was always more poised than I…

…thought I could be.

Can’t question that, because it’s easier just to trust she’s got your back. And if she has my back I’m sure she has her own…you can’t defend another if you’re all exposed. Can you?

And if I can’t honestly say I have my own, then who’s got her back? Because I clearly don’t…since I’m the bitch who let her drive away; all fucked up on oxy cut with glaze.

Too late now,

I say to myself;

Walking down the street,

On my way to the house.

Few minutes later,

phone makes a ding,

weights all seem lifted,

when she says she’s home safe.

And that makes one. I thought to myself, eyeing that same shadow across the way. It belongs to the creep that I’d kept at bay. But now it’s all dark, and I’m not feeling sure…that I could do it again. Alone. Here.

He probably lives on campus, probably not a bad guy. Just a little pushy when hyped up on rye. The rhyming is lazy when I’m all worked up. Thing’s don’t quite flow and we all know what they serve at bars. I could try and rhyme alcohol for you but I don’t think it would matter, in communicating this learned fucking reflex that causes me to cower…when I see a man. When I don’t know what he’s doing over there.

Across the way.

I’m sure it’s nothing, and that little flash every thirty seconds is probably his phone.

Still; my hand is on that whistle…the best gag gift I ever got.

And I’m sending this message because I just want you to know, that I don’t feel quite right being alone…right now. And maybe the drugs just cloud up my mind, maybe his shadow is nothing but kind, but maybe I don’t feel like he’s reassured me of that the way he touched me without asking.

So, I’ll send you a text in a minute or two,

When I walk through that door we’ll know I was a fool,

for shivering and quivering in these fucking high heels,

hoping to God he isn’t the kind of tool,

who likes my false advertisement; my eyes still belong to you.

So don’t fucking worry,

I’ll be home in a few.

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Digital concept painting:

Soapyabstract4

Copr Blu-art 2018

The artwork and poetry portrayed here is the exclusive property of Blu-art and cannot be reproduced in any fashion without explicit and authentic written permission from me that is reproducible and recorded by me. 

Singularity – Artwork

A composite wallpaper I made using adobe photo-shop and personal/free assets. Thanks to NASA for providing the awesome in-space photo I used in the top left transition.

2400×4200 pix

Singularity15.png

– special thanks to KO for modeling and taking upwards of forty awkward shots of her legs for this piece, you’re the real hero –

The base of the piece was a photograph one of my best friends took of her legs, then I masked over it and repainted/replaced the skin to get more of a painted/graphic look which makes it easier to blend into a conceptual piece that already has a mixture of drawn objects next to photographs. The smoke, city, and blended transitions were all painted in to connect the extremely disparate elements of the piece. I wanted it to look like worlds or realities were about to crash together while there’s this tear or rift in reality just a few feet away from the model. The problem is she has to jump to reach the red door before everything comes crashing down.

The biggest challenge here was trying to highlight a focus, because everything is pretty hyper-detailed and distracting. That chaos is good and needed to represent worlds literally colliding, but it make it tricky to form a true compositional balance when the background is –for lack of a better word– is a cluster-duck.

Anyway, I think it turned out pretty cool for what it is and I learned a lot making it which is always the goal here.

 

Cheers!

-Blu

 

-Free stock credits (via unsplash)

https://unsplash.com/@istocode

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My portfolio (I do take commissions): https://arctic-ink.myportfolio.com/

My clothing designs: https://www.designbyhumans.com/shop/ArcticInk/

Exams make me Nervous

You know that buzz silence has? You know how that chorus of nothing seems to multiply when you’ve come up woefully inadequate, again?

It wasn’t so bad when it was just the Professor scratching the chalk-board, now it’s the whole class, out of their seats…handing in their papers before waddling up right next to her to paw at that fucking blackboard. Scratching out, “Are you done yet? We are, why aren’t you?!” All the while I’m sitting here, just trying to recall these mechanisms so I don’t fail.

 

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Cynic 34

Writing and creating artwork is pretty much the best thing ever. It comes to me whenever I need, and goes when I don’t. I love that. The hard part for me is sharing the products. It’s nerve-wracking putting a piece of yourself on display to be ridiculed or loved or even ignored. No, it feels much better to keep such things private, to hide them away from the toxic fangs of judgment and just enjoy them. That’s what I do most of the time, why most of my work never leaves this blog. It feels safer here than places like deviant art or even design by human.

Is it weird that I only find enjoyment in the act of creating? Even when it’s positive feedback or constructive…I don’t know. I don’t want these things to feel high stakes, I want them to be a medium for expression and emotion and a release. Maybe some of it comes from school, where I’m judged constantly during exams, quizzes, and projects. Maybe the arts an escape from that, and by sharing or submitting I end up falling into that same examination. I don’t like that feeling. I just wanna make pretty stuff and feel something.

I think that’s why I take so many hiatuses from blogging or posting anything at all. My art is just better when I don’t think about what other people will think about it. You know?

Anyway, happy hump day.

-Blu

Monthly Drawing Mosaic 2: April

Really starting to fall in love with Photoshop as a medium. Whatever is in your head…just make it happen.

 

Note: While not all of these are watermarked, they are copy righted (copr Blu-art 2018). If you’d like to use any of them, just ask first and I’ll likely say yes and provide a full resolution version. 

Cheers,

Blu

Coming Down – Cover Art

Another big project!

3250×4998 pixels

stonework2

 

Cover Version:

9996×6500 pixels

Coprstonework cover.png

The form is meant to mimic the inkblot of a butterfly, which follows the time-related elements of the novel.

I worked on this alongside another recent piece, Winter, and I think the style is very similar. You can find that one here: https://arctic-ink.deviantart.com/art/Water-Mage-Full-Size-741323220

Cheers!

-Blu

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My Portfolio: https://arctic-ink.myportfolio.com/

My Deviant Art: https://arctic-ink.deviantart.com/

My Design by Humans shop: https://www.designbyhumans.com/shop/ArcticInk/

2

Painting for my Cousin’s birthday – Taurus

He’s a weight-lifter who just won state in power-lifting. He’s also a Taurus so I decided to continue the zodiac project which I’d been putting off.

Taurus.png

So my goal was to give the piece a heavy handed impact and a strong center focus, with the eyes being the most rendered bits. Been experimenting with more impressionistic and suggestive styles for skin facial structure. I think the varied texture and coloring of the skin and the blob of black with little bits of brown that suggest curly hair turned out well. The backgrounds a little meh, but I wanted the focus to go straight to the blue/purple eyes. The horn and shattered stone cow represent Taurus and the traits associated.

To me, it looks a lot like a traditional portrait for Scorpio I did four or five months ago: cropped-determination41.jpg

copr Blu-Art 2018

The theory and direction here was very similar, except it’s in watercolor and pen.

It’s crazy to think I’ve only just started my transition to digital art a few months ago, and I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made. I feel myself getting to the point where I can translate my traditional art style to my digital work in a much more fluid manner. When I first tried out digital drawing I was discouraged because everything felt disconnected. It felt like I wasn’t really building off of old skills, just learning something new. Now it feels like I’m slowly combining the two into something uniquely me.

Beyond the fact that this drawing was for someone close, it is important to me because it made me realize where I want to take my art and style as a whole. That’s something I’ve been trying to figure out for a long time, too.

 

Cheers,

Blu

Is Digital Art Cheating? – an actual blog post since I guess I have a blog that I don’t blog on and should fix that

I was at a party where many art majors were present last night.

I tend to sit in a corner and hangout with the person who invited me at these sorts of gatherings since I don’t drink. There was a lively debate running at a table I was near, and it caught my attention. There was a man arguing that digital art took literally no skill and that while it may take some time to learn the tools, was essentially the technician version of being a radiologist (technician is a good job, so he was already off base with the analogy).

So me and my friend both took issue with this and told him so. He kinda laughed because I guess I don’t look all that cool. Now I mean my main qualm was his assertion that someone couldn’t be both a digital artist and someone who could use a pencil. Now I use pens, which have a reputation for being significantly less wieldy than pencils (look ma, no eraser). So I told him that I do digital art and think I can also illustrate semi-competently.

Do I consider myself a professional or expert? No, absolutely not, and I hope I never think I’m an expert because that’s when you have hit your cap. I don’t ever wanna stop learning or improving because that progress is what drives me to make art in the first place. But do I think I can draw most things I’d want to? Yeah, I could attempt it and do an alright job probably. But it’s all practice.

So he told me to prove it, and I’m like “okay”.

I showed him this, which is multimedia, granted, but the digital and traditional portions are distinct. It was a traditional drawing that I later redid the background in illustrator.

Hunger Demon7

His response: “Pfft, that’s low art.”

My friend flipped on him there, asked him to share his high art. I was already uncomfortable with his insult, because I worked hard on this and never intended to sell it because it was art for something personal, which I think is what art should be for. It was the fourth drawing I did when I started drawing again early last year during a very difficult time in my life. This piece meant something to me, and art should mean something to you when you make it. This piece depicts bulimia nervosa and OCD which are both worth depicting, because they are brutal disorders.

If you really think you can honestly look at any drawing or piece of art and determine in five seconds whether or not it is low (has no meaning or minimal low-brow value/appeal) or high (has meaning and value), then you don’t know how art works.

So, he showed us a picture from a gallery of a large painting with an abstract horse thing as the subject. And it was good, in my opinion. I’m a sucker for abstract and impressionism. I told him I liked it and he seemed kinda self satisfied and my friend looked at me like what’s wrong with you. But I wasn’t gonna lie and say I didn’t like it to be bitter, I mean then I’d be like him; toxic.

Anyway. I left with her pretty quick after that, didn’t want to be around the negativity I’d associated with the room and party. I felt kind of bad until I thought about it more and realized that his attitude will ultimately prevent him from learning and getting better and that’s what’s sad…That he needs to shit on other peoples hard work and throw around “low art” when he doesn’t even understand the context of something.

 

I thought about the question more and here’s my answer:

I don’t think either is better, I think they are different and similar, but one is not better or a “lower” form of art. Traditional is hard because you don’t have a perfect eraser or perfect paper that never breaks. It’s easier to add than take away. This limitation is ninety-nine% mitigated in digital art, but now you have to either drop two-thousand on a flagship cintiq or struggle to draw lines with a mouse or low quality tablet. TABLET DRAWING IS SO HARD THAT I DRAW WITH A MOUSE.

Yes, I draw with a mouse and attempt to draw lines with a mouse. This is part of what makes digital art challenging, the images are not auto generated, you still have to make these things. And when you’re using composites it’s a whole different beast to blend disparate images together, it’s heavier and hard shading to do that than to draw a face in my experience.

But I love both because they look different and are unique. I can’t draw something that looks traditional in Photoshop and I can’t draw hyper-realism on traditional mediums. (I can composite backgrounds in after scanning via multimedia techniques though).

I feel like art is up against enough when we artists aren’t trying to eat up each others confidence, you know?

 

 

Cheers,

Blu

Challenge: Abstract portrait using stacks of paper as a canvas

This turned out pretty clean all things considered. I used a stock photo of stacked papers as a base then drew the face (mostly splatter style, the nose was hard and took the most time), then accented the areas with other composites (the street is from Iowa City where I study). Tried a meatier style for the eye which is meant to be the focus with all the composites shooting out of it.

Here’s the stock photographers page who provided the canvas for free: Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

17×30 inch at 200dpi

Soapyabstract4.png

copr Blu-art 2018, Arctic-Ink 2018

It’s pretty similar to the challenge I did here: https://bluebeard-art.com/2018/03/30/challenge-drawing-a-dragon-eye-using-a-leaf-as-a-canvas/

Except it’s mostly drawn where the dragon eye was frankensteined together with about twenty images and I really only shaded in the rocks and eye with the sketch in the pupil. That one was easier because it was all blending and less brushwork.

Here’s the original image (sourced above)

brandi-redd-122054-unsplash (1)

 

Cheers!

-Blu