gwendolyngrey: (greater things)
I just 'finished' a new painting, and I'm left with the overwhelming sensation of having SO MUCH that I need to work on.  

I seriously need to amp up my drawing skills and really the only way to do this is by doing a lot of drawing from life, something which until this very week I hadn't even thought about doing since my junior year of college.  The past few days I've taken to drawing during my lunch break... drawing things in the real world, not stuff in photographs.  None of it is interesting or deep:  flowers I pass on my walk, the salsa jar on the table in the break room, gestures of sheep in a nearby meadow (sometimes I love working across the street from the historic area!), etc.  And it's really proving to me that I'm way too used to taking shortcuts with my drawing and relying on what I think I know about an object instead of what's actually there.  It would also behoove me to step outside my comfort zone a bit and stop always drawing things that I know I can already draw (more or less).

Also, if I want to start successfully incorporating backgrounds and settings in my work, I'm going to need to be able to draw and paint environments and landscapes MUCH more convincingly.  Again, I think I'm going to have to start going outside and doing some plein air paintings instead of heading straight for stock images on the computer.

And then there's color!  Good lord, color.  Basically, I need to start putting a lot more thought into the color scheme of a painting before I even think about picking up a brush.  Having a vague idea and making decisions as I go simply creates a lot more work in the long run and leads to a whole slew of headaches along the way. 

All that said, I really enjoyed painting every evening after work (even if it was only for an hour or two), and I desperately want to keep working and improve.

Inyhoo, new painting!
steampunk wings

The plan for the summer is to put together a decent body of work and then actually get out there as an artist and start selling myself.

This weekend is Ft. Fred though, and I need to make a petticoat to go with my new-ish pink jacket or I'll be stuck wearing my ancient stuff.  I also want to finish the miniature I'm working on, but I don't think I can get it done before the weekend. 
gwendolyngrey: (northanger abbey possibilities)
 I've spent the last week utterly buried in research about portrait miniatures.

(blog post about my plans and immediate aims... sort of)

Books are strewn around my room (in fact, there are five just at my feet right now... two of them are open to specific pages), my desktop is covered in images, and I'm reeling with information.

I still have SO MUCH to read on the topic, and I desperately want to get more period appropriate materials, but I think it's time for me to think a little less and do a little more.  No, I don't have handmade ultramarine blue ground from lapis lazuli or handmade madder red or any handmade paints at all, but I do have modern equivalents of the most common colors used in the 18th and early 19th centuries (although I've found a source that sells pigments made from historic recipes and instructions... they're quite expensive, but hopefully I'll be able to make my own paint some day).  And while my current brushes might not be squirrel hair, that's an easy fix.  As for painting on ivory, that's not even a possibility anyway, but I'm looking into various imitations and I've been experimenting with different colors of polymer clay.

Also, why is no one else doing this at the moment?  There are plenty of current artists working with historic subjects and selling prints etc. at events, but I've yet to see anyone work with authentic materials on appropriate surfaces and do it in public.  Wouldn't that be an awesome sort of demo at an event?  To have someone portraying an artist of the time and actually doing real work to talk about, display, and sell.

Painting and portraiture was a real and lively trade... it ought to have some sort of presence in the reenacting world.
gwendolyngrey: (marie antionette- blue smile)
Here's hoping they won't always be frogs...
valentine's day

(also, this marks the first time I've ever thought "Oh, I should do a painting/drawing for cards this coming holiday" and then actually went and did it.)
gwendolyngrey: (art magic button)


First finished "thing" from 2011!

Okay, so it's really just a quick, digital painting, but I still had a lot of fun doing it.  I've never actually done any digital painting before (crappy oekaki dreck from when I was 16 does not count) and I wanted to try something new.  I don't have a tablet or even photoshop or gimp so I used the online drawing program on deviantArt and just drew with my mouse.

And let me just say that "painting" on the computer is nothing like painting with a real brush and paints.  It's much more immediate, but also much less responsive... or perhaps that was just my mouse.  If I had all the nice technology I could see myself really getting into digital work, but that day is still quite far off.  Although I think I'd be much happier doing costume renderings this way than with pen and watercolor.  Guess I should probably start saving for photoshop...
gwendolyngrey: (Anne- happy)
I am famous!

Well, not really, but apparently my work is seen outside my own circle of acquaintances.

I spent some time this past weekend hanging out and sewing with one of my new co-workers (who is also a reenactor), and at some point I pulled up my website to show her some of my previous costume projects.  I have my art on my site too, so I showed her my Farb At Heart painting thinking that, as a reenactor, she might get a kick out of it.

She looked at the painting, looked up at me, and said, "Wait, so YOU did that?  I've seen it before!"  She couldn't recall exactly where or when she'd seen it, but I guess someone else in the hobby must have passed the image around or something.  She seemed vaguely impressed by my other paintings too, and expressed interest in having me do a portrait of her and her boyfriend.

As soon as my current obligations are done (Christmas gift and miniature for Katie) I really want to focus on art and painting for a while.  I have quite a few ideas for a series of "farb" paintings to follow the original one, plus several steampunk-ish paintings, and for almost a year I've had the idea for a 3-D shadow-box type of project which I'm dying to work on.  Also, miniatures.  I feel like if I can get fairly good at them I'm in the perfect place for finding a market... maybe do them and the occasional portrait or two on the side.

Who knows?  If I actually manage to stay motivated and create a decent body of work I might try to get into some galleries around here.  If I don't have to rely on my art for my living, taking a stab at getting my name and work out there feels far less daunting.
gwendolyngrey: (northanger abbey possibilities)
Today has not been a total waste.  Finished the sleeves of the brown print regency dress and cut out the skirt.  I still need to attach it to the bodice and hem it yet tonight, but it's so simple I have no doubt I can get it done before going to bed.  (knock on wood)



Also, I cut out a chemisette which I plan to quickly whip together before leaving for Ft. Erie tomorrow.  It's just a simple little thing made of voile with a couple of neck frills. 

I had originally knocked around the idea of making two new dresses for Ft. Erie, but was violently sidetracked by a new painting instead.  Last night I finished the final sketch for a steampunky painting (which the wings from my last post will feature in) and primed a sheet of wood in preparation.  Since I leave shortly after 5pm tomorrow, I won't have a chance to actually start painting until I get back from Erie, but I cannot wait to get going!  I'm so excited for this painting!

This afternoon I had my phone interview with C.W.  I think it went pretty well, but it's always so hard to tell!  I was told to expect a call within a week whether or not I get the job.  If so... then I will greatly rejoice.  If not... I'll just have to start searching for something else.

And completely unrelated to anything else, LJ is utterly dead tonight.  I blame Costume College.  Damn you all for having fun!
gwendolyngrey: (art magic button)
I don't have pictures of my brown print regency dress... mostly because I'm avoiding setting in the sleeves.  The bodice is done, and one sleeve is pinned in, and now I'm perfecting the art of ignoring less-than-pleasant sewing tasks.

This is what I did instead.


And this:


The second sketch is me trying to work out steampunk wings for a painting I'm planning.  I know, I know.  Reenactment this weekend, I need a new dress, I should be sewing, yadda yadda.  But it's been OVER A YEAR since I picked up a brush, and right now all I can think about is painting and I have so many ideas simmering in my head at the moment.

Besides, this summer was nothing but hardcore sewing.  I'll get the dress done, but I need this change of pace for my creative sanity.

And speaking of sewing, I have a phone interview set up for the tailor position at Williamsburg!  Wish me luck!
gwendolyngrey: (art magic button)
Sometimes Grand Rapids surprises me by being super cool.

Last night was the annual Art.Downtown art hop, when all sorts of galleries and public spaces coordinate shows and openings.  

The best show was undoubtedly the one in the old GR Public Museum, and was entitled 'Michigan- The Land of Riches'.  The building itself was built in the 40s, but for the past fifteen or twenty years has only been used for storage.  Still, pieces of old exhibits and dioramas remain, and became the base for the current art show.  About 100 artists were involved with the project, and were given liscense to use any of the old displays or furniture or storage pieces in conjunction with their own work to creating installations.  The result was incredible... taxidermied animals everywhere and wonderful pieces relating to Michigan's past or simply nature and human beings in general.

My friend Nate did a great piece of performing art.  Nothing crazy (like the dancers who'd suddenly swoop in out of nowhere with odd, ritualistic choreography) just him, in a display case, sitting behind a desk in a ringmaster's jacket and hand-made yeti mask.  Occasionally he'd move slightly, but to have something living and breathing inside a case while surrounded by hundreds of displays of dead, stuffed animals was quite surreal.



I only took pictures of Nate, so here are a couple images from the exhibition guide which give a pretty good feel for the show overall.







As you can see... super cool.  ;)

The rest of the night was good too... rode around the city on the free trolley which they were running just for the event, discovered a new favorite place to eat downtown, walked all over and hung out on a porch with good friends.  Great company and conversation overall!

And, for pretty much the first time since my senior show a year ago, I want to paint again.  Lots of new ideas are simmering at the moment, but will have to wait until current obligations and projects are well in hand.
gwendolyngrey: (Dreaming)
... with Marina Bychkova, doll artist extraordinaire.

Her porcelain ball-jointed dolls are simply exquisite, and all the costumes and jewelry and accessories are amazingly crafted. Nearly all the costumes are encrusted with beading, and all metal pieces (crowns, corsets, shoes, etc.) are carved and cast individually.

I stumbled upon her work the other day when browsing through the Coilpress blog, and followed a link to her website. Be still my heart.


If anything could make me want to attempt ball-jointed dolls myself, this would be it. As it is, I'm already itching to break out my wax and bronze and silver and start casting again... unfortunately I no longer have access to the metals studio, so no matter how much I want to, I can't.

Sometimes I think there are altogether too many wonderful and inspiring things in the world.
gwendolyngrey: (Dreaming)
Apparently insomnia is good for SOMETHING.  Nearly all my good ideas or sudden insights seem to arrive between 2 and 3am as I lie in bed unable to sleep.  Last night I had one of those ideas that come all in a sudden flash, instantly filling my mind with a clear vision of what I could/should do.

The question at hand was concerning the art show that myself and a couple friends are planning on having at the beginning of the new year.  Lately I've not had any motivation for anything remotely art related, but I thought it would be good to push myself into having to make something.  I miss the high productivity that school forced out of me, and having a goal and purpose outside of myself can only lead to good things.  Anyhow, I had NO idea what I would do for this show, until last night it suddenly hit me.

I don't want to go into too much detail right now, but it'll be more sculptural (as opposed to paintings), and sort of plays with the idea of a "scientific" study of historical clothing.

All these totally awesome pictures are sort of serving as my visual references for this project.

I can't wait to start working on it!

                     
gwendolyngrey: (Dreaming)
If only I wasn't obligated to finish this jacket for my brother.  It's somehow turned into a massive mental roadblock... stopping me from working seriously on anything else, but not engaging enough to entice me into working on it.

This week, instead of sucking it up and making the be-damned jacket already (or sewing anything else for that matter), I mostly just read library books.  On Monday I got together with Gill for a night of jewelry-making, and as all the earrings I possess can fit neatly into a small, shallow bowl, I made myself a couple of pairs.

The filigree pieces on these were originally the center part of some odd decorative corner things... I could never quite figure out what they were exactly meant to be, so I just broke off the ends and attached the middle section to some jump rings and beads.

 
For this pair, I took tiny clusters of fake flowers and coated them in black tool dip.  The tool dip went on pretty thickly, and took about twenty minutes to dry enough to continue working.  The clusters were then strung onto a connecting wire, and irregular pearls dangle inside.


As you can see, even with two new pairs, I really don't own many earrings... these are all that I have in the whole world.  Still, I've only had my ears pierced for about a year, so it's not that odd that I don't own oodles more.

Today I sorted through all my papers and reference images and bits and bobs from my old studio space while listening to the audiobook of the first volume of the Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy.

I first read this book a couple of years ago and had totally forgotten how incredibly good it was.  The language (and the world being described) is so incredibly visual and rich.  Just hearing the story is enough to fill your mind with images and characters far more vibrant than any movie.  Not to mention the plot, which is thoroughly engaging, and manages to avoid falling into the many cliches that a young-orphan-making-his-way-in-a-fantastical-world type of story typically holds.  I also love the fact that the author, D. M. Cornish, worked as an illustrator for many years before writing the book, and did all the illustrations (which are wonderful) for it himself.  The second book, Lamplighter, is just as good, and I am eagerly looking forward to the publication of the third.

More than anything else, I found the book to be inspiring... I not only want to make nearly every single piece of clothing described, I want to paint all of the characters, and, for that matter, paint all sorts of other things as well that have nothing to do with Rossamund and the Half-Continent.

This evening after dinner, I sat down, with Foundling for company, and got back to basics.

I hadn't really drawn ANYTHING since April, and since I've recently been brewing up some ideas for paintings, it seemed prudent to get back into the "art" mindset with some straightforward figure drawing.  I want to do a bunch more simple drawings like this in my sketchbook before picking up the brush again. 
 


gwendolyngrey: (Default)
Holy. Hell.

I just dug through all my art in the basement looking for a particular drawing.

There is WAAYYYYY too much of it down there!

I have a very few pieces posted on etsy, and plan to upload more, but what I have on etsy doesn't even begin to scratch the surface.  My deviantArt page hardly scratches the surface!

This picture was taken just over a year ago after my junior review.  It sort of gives an idea of the situation, as I loaded three years of work into the car trunk.  Now, add another full year of work and a couple large scale paintings and you start to get an idea of what it's like.


I often think, "Hey, I really need money, I should just sell some of the art I already have... kill two birds with one stone!"  But even if I was as proactive with etsy as I should be (and am totally not), it's not a good time to be an unknown artist.

If any of you here on LJ see anything you like on my deviantArt page (which has some of my favorite pieces), I'd be more than happy to offer them to you at very good prices.  Ridiculously good prices, actually.  I am, of course, always eager for commissions, but I'd REALLY like to get rid of a lot of the stuff I've done already.

I have a lot of oil paintings, life drawings, figure paintings, some etchings, monotypes, woodcuts, watercolors, portraits, illustrations... I'm drowning in them!

And please, pass my etsy link along to anyone you think would be interested.  There's a lot more coming!

gwendolyngrey: (SBP- air is filled with exclamation poin)


I CAN STILL PAINT!!! 

Ha Ha!

Okay, so I didn't seriously think I'd forget how to paint, but I did think that after months of not painting my next attempt would look like crap.  It doesn't.  :-D  Um, so far, at least.

And the three little ruffles on the hem of the 1810 dress are Terribly Cute and, in my opinion, make it look much more real.

Now, if the lining arrives in the mail tomorrow I just might get a spencer out of this weekend as well...

gwendolyngrey: (Default)
This post of Katherine's, about Koons' giant, pink balloon dog being on display at Versailles, made me laugh, but many of the comments posted also brought up one of my big pet peeves.

Modern art is NOT the same thing as contemporary art.

The era of Modern art had its roots in the 19th century, really started to take off at the turn of the 20th century, and had its heyday in the 1950's and early 60's when abstract expressionism was The Thing.  Modern art was all about finding the true essence of a medium, and creating art solely for art's sake.  Jackson Pollock is probably the prime example of a modern artist, as his painting were literally about nothing BUT painting.

The problem with modern art, however, was that art for art's sake wasn't sustainable.  How many times can you splatter paint across a huge canvas before an audience is completely bored?  Modern art was replaced with Post-modernism, and by 1980 the world was solidly post-modern.  As for what post-modernism actually IS, well, that's a whole 'nother discussion. 

Contemporary (ie. current) artists are post-modern.

Any artist that has emerged since 1970 is post-modern.

Jeff Koons is very much a contemporary artist, and as such, is NOT modern.

gwendolyngrey: (Mary Beale)
Last night as I was researching Mary Beale (and incidentally staying up way too late falling in love with the late 17th century... it's dangerous stuff!) I started thinking about her as a portraitist and about how much fun it would be to actually 'get in character'  by doing several 17th century style portraits and drawings.  Then something happened.  For the first time in months and months, I actually really wanted to paint.  I want to wear my scruffy old apron and slap gesso around and be surrounded by the odor of oil paint and liquin.  There's a sort of magical calm in painting, where the rest of the world doesn't matter... all I need to worry about is if the colors are good or the mouth is the right size/shape or oh-crap-I-have-to-draw-the-hands-now. 

One thing I've always wanted to do is to paint while in costume; most specifically, in the costume of someone who actually was an artist and would have worked in those clothes.   This is going to be fun.  :-)

And I'm incredibly thankful that my love for art (and being an artist) has returned before the next semester starts.  In less than two weeks I'm going to be back at school, spending time at Calder surrounded by (and creating) art.  Two days ago I was dreading going back to school.  Today I don't think I mind at all.
gwendolyngrey: (Anne- little miss perfect)
It was a very interesting critique today...

I think I have discovered that the most controversial thing you can do in art school is to be purposefully sweet and cliche. 

The professor was nonplussed when I said I knew that my painting was saccharine and that I wanted to push that further, one of the other students basically said my art was worthless if I didn't mean for it to be taken seriously (he was most gratifyingly shot down by some of the others though), and several people simply didn't know how they should be looking at it.

What followed was one of the most lively and argumentative critiques I have ever experienced.

I must admit I was hugely amused.
gwendolyngrey: (SBP- air is filled with exclamation poin)
I need to do painting about summer. Perhaps if I surround myself with images of sunshine and flowers I can forget that I was excited today by it being 'warm' at 32 degrees. 32!!! That's FREEZING POINT and it felt WARM after the arctic temperatures we've been having lately. Funnily enough, about this time last year I also did a painting of the feeling of summer... I think it's because I know that spring is on the agenda even though it still feels like the depths of winter. I just want it to be sunny, and for the sun to actually feel warm.

Anyway, my canvas is stretched (with the raw knuckles to match!) and primed, and I've been browsing around stock image sites for inspiration. I'm actually exciting about painting this one!

And even though my headphones for metals have a long way to go, I'm done with the casting process. I can't express how utterly relieved I am that both sides turned out nicely. Casting is definitely a fun process, but SO stressful when there's a looming deadline!

It feels good to be excited about art again.

(and I'm totally in love with a couple of my costume designs... I cannot WAIT to make them!)
gwendolyngrey: (Default)
Just when I should be pouring every ounce of energy I possess into school and art, my brain decides (quite independently) that I don't really NEED to catch up, no... what really matters is that I read the new Legacy of the Force Star Wars books that my sister lent me.  Since yesterday I've already read two, Bloodlines and Tempest, and all I want to do right now (instead of working on my costume designs or paintings or metals or logic homework) is do dash home and dive into Exile. 

I just entered the 3x3 Magazine Student Art competition... we'll see if anything comes of it.  I know that I certainly don't enter enough competitions, and have recently resolved to enter as many as I can afford to.  It seems like a very necessary expense, but I hate not getting anything tangible for my money.  I do need to look around for more things to enter though... this is only my third this whole year, and as a student, competitions are really the only good way of getting my work seen. 

My hands hurt and I'm SO tired of my clothes!

And I wish I journaled more... I say (or rather, think) that all the time and then never DO anything about it.  I keep thinking that if only I had a laptop that things would be different.

My dinner tonight has been a mini-bag of popcorn.  I ought to do something about that... it's making me grumpy.
gwendolyngrey: (Default)
My stomach has been really off the last few days.  I don't feel outrightly sick, but just constantly, mildly nauseous and exhausted.  I've had to get up early every day for the last couple weeks, but Sat I was in bed before 11, and last night I went to bed at 9.  I don't know if I'm just worn out, or if my body is trying to tell me something, or if I have a mild illness or what... but I'm just sapped.  There's just no end of things to do... and I can't really put anything off because I'll just be screwing myself later.  "Ugh" pretty much sums it up.

On the bright side, I did well on my Logic exam!  The professor has spent the whole semester thus far trying to impress upon us the fact that if we don't study for at least 30 minutes a day we will utterly crash and burn, and our only hope of achieving any level of success is to do the wark every day.  Yeeaaahhhhh, sure it's a good idea.  I'm all in favor of students doing their work.  However, I naturally prioritize my homework, and Logic generally is lowest on my list.  This means that before the 1st exam I maybe cracked open my book once or twice and didn't do any of the exercises.  In spite of this lack of dedication, I still managed to get an 87 on the exam... and while that isn't a grade of miracles, it's still above the class average of 84 and is a fairly solid, respectable grade.  I'm quite pleased... but will probably put in a bit more effort for the next one.

Lately I've been having fairly serious thoughts  about my future as an artist, and what I'll be doing with myself come graduation.  When I sat down and considered everything, it boggled my mind that I hadn't thought these things before, and that I hadn't really been thinking beyond school.  Take, for instance, something like art galleries.  At the present I don't go to galleries, I don't research galleries, and until I went through the phone book I (naively) had no idea that Grand Rapids had any art galleries let alone 18!  I need to make a habit of visiting galleries regularly, and at least getting a feel for the local art scene before expanding my horizons.
Another big thing is equipment.  I have access to everything I ever need here at school... computers, lights, cameras, wood-shop and metals studio, etc.  Once I graduate I will have to be self-sufficient, meaning I will have to OWN everything I need.  So far all I have is an easel.  I won't get very far with that.  I've written up a list of all the essential equipment that I won't be able to do without, and have resolved to whittle it down at every opportunity.  My dad seems to think that I should worry about paying back student loans before even considering buying expensive art "supplies", but one has to put something out before being able to make a return in any business, and art is nothing if not a business.

Oh!  And as a part of the general paranoia surrounding a post-graduation world, some of us illustrators have been putting together art blogs.  That way we'll still be able to have some level of community and sounding-board after we're out on our own.  Mine is Binding Eyelets (name suggested by Gill and Adrianne after I had been finishing off my regency stays at Adrianne's apartment and I mentioned that all I had left to do was bind a couple eyelets... they thought it would make an amazing name for a show or blog... and I must say I agree... after all, in the grand scheme of things it is quite unique.) And speaking of those two wonderful friends and artists, here are their blogs too: Christina Mrozik (Gill) and Adrianne Hollemans.  Seriously, CHECK THEM OUT!!! They are amazingly talented, and I have no doubts that they will be very successful.

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