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Inktober 1-4 Plus 2 More

Here is the first Monday where I will share with you some artwork that I did last year. Most of it will be from Inktober but there will be a few outside of that. Hope you enjoy!!!!!!! Inktober 1: This is one of my personal […]

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Here Comes the Mondays

Here Comes the Mondays

Monday gets a bad rap these days. You spend all week working your butts off, then the inviting weekend commences, only to have it crushed by going back to the reality of work… Again. The only exception is if you enjoy doing what you do. […]

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Black Cat Jason

Black Cat Jason

When Karen saw the Little One painting, early in November 2017, she inquired if I’d be able to do one from a cell phone photo. Karen later showed me which photo she had in mind for me to paint of her cat. It was quite the photo. Both ears were cropped out of the photo, along with the side of his body. It was fuzzy and extremely flashed right on his face. You could barely make out the lines in the pupils of his eyes. The colors seemed a little bit much on the warm side, so I cooled it up a bit in Photoshop. I really wanted to bring out the blacks in his coat. The bottom photo was the original one Karen sent. The top is the one I edited. This was going to be a challenge.

Jason was a very loved, almost 18 year old, long haired black cat, bottle fed and raised by his humans. He had recently been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a form of cancer. He had surgery a few months ago to remove part of the tumor. It was a success and he is doing well. His swallowing is much easier now. Karen’s husband, John, was particularly bonded with Jason. She thought it would be a great idea to give him a painting, for Christmas, of his little boy cat.

I asked if she could take a few more photos of Jason, to get a better idea of what he looks like. But I soon learned that not everyone is very good with the cameras…

Still, it did give me a better idea of what his body built and shape was like. There are two photos that are doubled, but that is because I changed the color tone a little bit for when I was ready to paint. The versions on the left are actually the edited ones I made. They are crisper and vibrant in detail and color. You’ll see in one photo (second to last photo row), he looks like he has a clipped ear. Someone once thought he was a stray and clipped him. Vets clip stray cats’ ears to let others know if a cat is spayed or neutered. Karen wanted me to keep his ears whole in the painting. In the original photo, his ears are missing, so, judging by these other photos of him, I had to find another cat online with similar looking ears and facial profile. And since she could see his eyes better than I could, I requested Karen to find a similar looking black cat with eyes that look just like his on the net. In the end, I had multiple reference photos of Jason, along with reference photos of Jason lookalikes.

After receiving and researching all of that information, I set to work on drawing the line art of Jason. I did two versions of it. One with more dilated pupils like in my reference photo of the eyes, and one of thinner pupils like in his original photo. Karen preferred the thinner eye pupils. It had more of his personality in it. I did the drawing part digitally and then printed it out true to size, transferring it onto paper for painting.

I’ve never painted a black cat in watercolor, so I went in search of how other people do it. I found a person on YouTube who showed a sped up process of how to paint a black cat in purely watercolor. I took notes and tested it out a little, but I found it to be more time consuming and I thought: I’ll just do it the way I know is the right way, for me. I think it’s really fun to use different art mediums together to come up with something special.

I learned quite a bit from painting Little One and video recording myself. I had since bought a camcorder and a tripod. This new tripod offered me a lot more flexibility as far as movements and how to situate a camera, or camcorder. I was pretty excited to try recording myself with this new painting, but with a better camera layout. It did feel a little awkward at first, but after awhile, I just got lost in my work and forgot the awkwardness. I wasn’t sure if I’d actually have any good footage to make a video with, but I would worry about that later.

There’s a lot of planning that goes into a painting. Especially if I am working with a very low quality photograph. I want to make sure I represent the personality of the subject as much as I can.

I chose a warm red background to make for another lovely warmth of a painting. I thought leaving it white would not feel very natural. In his reference photos, I noticed that Jason had quite wild and long whiskers. In one photo, it looks like one of his whiskers was flying away from the rest. Apparently it’s a pretty common thing for his whiskers to get crazy haha. So I incorporated that into the painting. I added his name upon request, after Karen saw the finished piece. It was there, but discreet.

Karen and John both had the same reactions when they first saw this painting: “It’s Jason!”. Karen said John was extremely happy with his present 🙂 They gave the painting a beautiful black framed finish that compliments his coat so well:

Over the years,  I used Adobe Premier Pro, which is a video editing software. But with my current laptop, I no longer had access to it, and I really don’t like how Adobe makes you pay a monthly subscription to use their products. I’d rather just pay once and be done with it. Plus their software is so expensive. I’ve had to find alternative programs to use in place of Adobe software that offers just as good capabilities, if not better. When I first got my current laptop, I was using a fairly simple video editing software called iSkysoft Video Editor. But I found it to be pretty limiting to what I had plans to do in the future. Last summer I did some alternative software research and came across HitFilm. HitFilm is a free video editing and VFX (visual effects) software that offers paid add-ons for more video editing capabilities. Until now, I’ve used it to create videos of Rain. I still had to figure out how to speed up clips. I couldn’t have a 9 hour video! The solution turned out to be much simpler than I initially thought. I really was unsure how a sped up video clip would look from 9 hours to about 14 minutes. I’ve never done it before, so it was an interesting process. For me, the hardest part was finding the right music. I tried going by way of commercial free music, but nothing I came across felt right. So I went back to my own collection of music accumulated over the years. As soon as I heard these two songs together, I knew I hit jackpot. It’s starts off unsure of where I’m going to go. How will it look? By the time you get to the second song, you can’t help but get excited. …Well, that’s how I take it anyways. It took about two weeks to complete. How do you like it? Should I make more videos like this for future artwork? I admit, it’s a lot more fun to watch an art video like this, rather than a photo slideshow.

Something else came out of this. One thing artists tend to struggle with is how much to charge people. You don’t want to charge people too much, but you also don’t want to charge too little. It can be hard to find that balance at times. So far, I’ve been charging $10 per hour, which is usually around $100-$250. It’s what I’ve read to be a good starting point when an artist first begins doing commissioned works. When I showed Karen the finished piece, and told her the price, she brought to my attention that I was charging far too little. She paid about $325 for a different art piece the previous year. And she pointed out that there are artists who charge $500-$1000 per print of their work. I was reading her suggestions and examples, and I just sat there, stunned by what was happening. But not in a bad way. The things running through my head at the time were things like: ‘Really? Is my artwork *that* good?? I should be charging more? Wow…. Someone really understand the value of time and effort that goes into an art piece, or print! Have I progressed that much to be charging more now?’ It was quite a shock to me. I guess I just didn’t think I’d gotten to that point yet. You compare yourself to other artists long enough to think you have much to improve upon, and think: “I’m not there yet.” I try not do to that to much, and if I do, it’s usually not with envy, but with admiration for how good someone is. I want to learn how they do it, so I can see if I can use it in my own artwork. And if I can’t use it in my artwork, that’s okay. If I can, then hopefully the changes are noticeable to people who watch my art over the years.

Well, that was my journey with Jason. It seems like with every commissioned piece I do, I learn something new, which is a great thing, I think.

Here is my very first speed art video. I hope you like it! Let me know what you think 😀 If you can, be sure to watch in HD for a more clearer viewing quality 🙂

 

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Meeting Cher & FNMS

Meeting Cher & FNMS

One day, when I was around around 15 years old, my Mom was surfing around the internet, curious to see if there was anything out there about Nager Syndrome, since finding that sort of thing on the internet was something fairly new to us.  She […]

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Adventures of Little One

One commission I had this year was of a cat named Little One. This one was particularly special to do because it was my first Cat Commissioned piece. I’ve done cat paintings before, of my cats Micah and Rain, but never of others’. Not because […]

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Showing Off At The Library

Last year, I had the honor of showcasing some of my artwork for public display for the first time ever. That’s right, my very first Art Show!

From November to the end of December 2016, I displayed 5 pieces of original traditional art pieces. Having never done this before, this was quite a learning experience. But a fun one. Having an art show to prepare for forced me to finally find an affordable cost saving way to frame my artwork. Because of this, I discovered a way to frame something not just for artwork for future art shows (hopefully!), but also for those who commission artwork from me in the future. I now use a frame less sort of framing design that has a foam backing, acrylic sheet, and something to hold it all together. Acrylic sheets are not as fragile as glass sheets. They have a far less likely of a chance to crack when being shipped to its’ destination, or if it were to fall. It is also lighter and easier to cut. And of course has UV protection. I personally love the frame-less look. The appearance of floating on a wall. It’s simple, but beautiful. And the person could hang it up right away without waiting to have it framed.

Also upon my research into framing, I have learned that big art shows prefer the acrylic sheets over glass because of how fragile glass can be. I imagine it can be quite stressful if an artwork were to fall and crack the glass!

If someone in the future prefers a different frame they could always easily take the frame a part and put it in something more fancier. The clips hold everything together very tightly so there is no need to glue the artwork onto the foam board.

Here is what it looked like hanging on the walls at the Library:

When I went to go pick up my artwork at the end of my Show, the ladies who worked there were quite happy to meet me. I was told that people who came to the library loved my artwork. It was a big hit with everyone. Most of them adored the fox and the kitten paintings the best. I had left a stack of business cards (in a homemade box to hold them in) and… maybe more than half were gone? It was nice to hear what people thought, because I hadn’t really heard of any sort of reaction, except for the person in charge of the Show. Of course, I left whatever remaining business cards at the library jusssttt in case. Some others, who were at the library doing different things, were pretty excited to meet the artist behind the pieces hung on the walls. It was fun, even if I was a little shy (It’s a work in progress).

I want to thank my friend Amy for  encouraging me to sign up and for the person in charge of the Local Artist Show, Eric, for letting me showcase my artwork 🙂

I hope to do it again someday!

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Two Years Of Change

The last time I wrote a blog, or really did anything productive on my website, was on August 22, 2014. A lot has changed since then. The first change was the loss of my best fur buddy cat, Micah. He passed away just three weeks […]

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The Worth Of A Life

First, if you have not read this, do so now. It is what this blog post is about: Richard Dawkins says fetuses with Down’s Syndrome should be aborted Okay, you read all that? All set? Here we go: I get that this is a personal […]

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You Should Really Read This

And not just this! Oh noooooooo-!

If you’ve been following along, last time I showed you pictures of two torn up teddy bears, with scarcest of information about them. (see previous blog post for more info)

So here we go:

Back in mid-May I was confronted with the opportunity to design something for someone. Something I never thought I’d ever get the chance to do. At least not anytime soon. It was also an opportunity for me to really flex my artistic muscles with Manga Studio 5.0. And man did it ever!
Ok so I’ll just stop torturing you now and tell you what it was:

It was a cover design foorrrrr…. A book! And not paper type book, but an e-book.

And here I present to you the creation:

 (click to view larger image, then larger on bottom right of the image)

My Soul To Keep

“My Soul To Keep”
Photoshop CS4 & Manga Studio 5.0

This is a memoir about a woman who went through a great deal of things in her life time, starting from when she was only a child. As you can tell from this cover picture, it was not always a happy childhood….

First, I worked on it in Manga Studio. Then I did the rest of the drawing part (most of it) in Photoshop. After I finished the drawing, I colored the entire thing in Manga Studio 5.0.

The most challenging part of drawing this, for me, was the wheelchair. Aside from the fact that I don’t normally do mechanical subjects in my artwork, I had to be sure I used the right sort of wheelchair Gracie Lea Silverwood used when she was a child (Ah! There it is! That’s what GLS stood for!). I had to get the right perspective, the right angle, the tiny little details of what made the wheelchair, the wheelchair. And the sizing differences, between the chair, the child, and the teddy bear, taking into consideration what her body type was at the time, going through what she went through. I admit the wheelchair was a bit intimidating to work on. There were so many details to pay attention too!

I also used references of her from when she was younger to how she looks today, taking note of the features that made her who she was and is. Gracie has informed me, since the publishing of this e-book, that people who have known her the best, say that this depiction of the little girl looks just like her. Even the scenario she is depicted in resembles familiar memories.

I also had to get a feel for the emotion behind the overall story. Gracie told me a number of stories from her childhood and even some from her young adult life. I got a sense of what she had to deal with. Gracie already had a general idea of what she wanted as a cover, she just needed someone to make it come to life. I wanted to really capture the emotion felt during her childhood years. The teddy bear is also very significant. But I won’t tell you how. You must read the book in order to find out for yourself!

I truly hope I was able to capture the strong emotions and messaging of the story of Gracie’s childhood. It’s not always something that can be so easily done! Let me know what you think! And while you’re at it….

You can buy the e-book directly from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca. Click on either of these icon images to go directly to the e-book.

Amazon USAAmazon Canada As you can see from the USA and Canada sites, it’s already gotten rave reviews! Yyyayyy!

Note: Even if you do not have a Kindle, but you have either an iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet you can still read it via the Kindle App (Google Play has a free Kindle App) or you can read it directly on the computer through the Amazon website. So you’ve got options!

This book cover was a tremendous challenge. But a welcomed challenge. I feel like I learned a great deal. I’m so glad I had this opportunity! :}

Here is a synopsis of the story:
Most little girls dream of tea parties and playing with dolls. Their biggest worry is making sure Mommy or Daddy chase the monsters out of their closets and out from under their bed. However what happens when your own Mother is the monster, instead of the arms of love and safety? “My Soul to Keep” is the story of Gracie, a disabled little girl who, from day one, knew she was an unwanted child, just trying to survive and avoid her mother’s daily abuse. All the while, she struggled to hide her pain from the outside world.

I hope you all get a chance to read this inspiring story! And feel absolutely free to share this around! 😀

~Sarah

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A Preview of the Big First

Hello Everyone, How was your summer? Hopefully it was a great summer! Today marks the official start (via calendar) of Fall! And as much as I do like being warm, I lovvvvveee fall. And if you live around New England I think you’ll understand why. […]

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