Cape Cod Digital Painting

Truro Painting

Here’s my view of Truro, Massachusetts, where we visited old friends. I used the ArtRage app with my Sensu Brush on my iPad. I seem to “paint” mostly when I’m on vacation. Love Cape Cod!

More digital artwork to come. For some of my previous iPad paintings, click here and here.

Introducing Dawn Hanna of Dawning Day Studios

cherryfenceinfeblr

I’m very excited to introduce Dawn Hanna, artist and photographer. I’ve admired her work for years and am so glad she’s pursuing her art full-time these days. She was kind enough to agree to an interview, and also, to offer a giveaway to my readers! *Giveaway now closed.

spcsixwordlrDawn was born in Rhode Island but has lived in the south for many years. She’s recently left a 17 year career in social work to launch Dawning Day Studios, her photography, layout, and design business. She is a freelance photographer for Getty Images and Arcangel and has been published in Artful Blogging and Time magazine. Currently, Dawn is working on a soon-to-be-published e-book of artist self-portraits from around the world.

So, Dawn, how did you get started with photography?

I have been an artist my entire life….I think I came out of the womb staring at the colors and shapes around me. I picked up a Brownie Instamatic camera when I was 11 years old. From there, I learned how to develop and print in a darkroom (during prehistoric times…yes I am old!) in high school. In my early adult years, I worked a lot in the darkroom at The Light Factory in Charlotte and showed in juried shows here and there. Then life took its course and I found myself a mom and growing a family. I bought my first digital camera in 2007 and learned Photoshop from a dear friend of mine. Digital expanded my mind into the kind of work that I had always wanted to do and found myself totally immersed in it from that point on. I joined flickr and found daily inspiration from fellow photographers and artists who fed and continue to feed my soul on a daily basis. With the exposure and power of the internet…..I gained recognition for my work from book designers, art directors and stock photography agencies. It has been a steady and amazing growth since then.

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What do you do when you get low on inspiration?

I have found that getting in the car and traveling somewhere does the trick for me. Sometimes I think our eyes get tired or they overlook the beauty in everyday that a new perspective can regain.

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What do you recommend for someone who’s just getting started in photography?

I would highly encourage you to jump onto the many photo sharing websites such as flickr, instagram, google + or 500px and see what the world is doing with a camera these days. There is infinite inspiration on these websites and people are generous and encouraging to all. When I first joined flickr, I was scared out of my mind to put my work out there, but I will tell you that it has been nothing short of an incredible journey and led to my growth as a photographer and an artist.

What are you working on currently?

Currently, my partner and I are working on a book layout and design for an upcoming publication that is near and dear to both of our hearts. It has been a labor of love and we can’t wait for the book to be published.

Current obsessions?

I would have to say that my current obssession, like many others…is exploring the world of iphoneology. The possibilities are absolutely endless and it is so exciting to be on the beginning curve of an incredible piece of technology and artistic trend as the iPhone and iPads are.

Thanks so much for agreeing to share with us today, Dawn. You can find Dawn around the web at her Facebook page, her etsy shop, and on flickr. And seriously, follow her on Instagram. Wow!

As I mentioned, Dawn has graciously offered to give a print to one lucky reader from anywhere in the world. To enter, go to Dawn’s etsy shop, then comment here on the blog about which print is your favorite.

You have until 12 noon Eastern Standard Time on March 14, 2013 (one week from today), at which time I’ll use the random number generator to choose a winner. *Contest now closed. You won’t be added to a mailing list, but I hope you’ll like Dawn on Facebook and favorite her etsy shop.

Personally, I’m in love with the barbed wire piece. You have to go check it out!

Painting by App, Part II

Christmas tree

In my previous post, “Painting by App Part I,” I talked about using Brushes and Sketchbook Pro and showed samples of my work made with these apps.

The next two apps I tried were Procreate and Artrage, this time with a stylus called a Sensu Brush. The Sensu brush was a gift (thanks, in-laws!) and I have to say, drawing on the iPad is a way better experience with it. Finger painting on a device is totally fun and may suit your needs, but if you want more control, definitely get a quality stylus.

The stylus itself isn’t magical, but it’s much more like drawing with a pen, and, in the case of the Sensu, with a brush. The Sensu has a rubberish tip on one side and a brush on the other. As far as I can tell the bristles themselves don’t really seem different from those on a regular watercolor brush, but I haven’t done an iPad comparison. Have you?

The Christmas tree image above was made using Procreate. What I love about Procreate is the ability to change not only colors, tools, and stroke width but also the paint load and tons of variations of brush stroke. Changing the “load” and brush type means you can control how much color you want on your brush and the shape your brush makes, plus the amount of water that’s mixed with your paint. These items are key to making your digital image look  painterly.

The following three images were made using Artrage, which is my favorite art app so far. Here’s why:

1) Artrage not only lets you paint with virtual oils or acrylics, it lets you squirt them out on the screen and mix them with your brush (or other tools). This feature alone makes the pricetag ($6.99) worth it.

2) You can upload a reference photo and pin it in the corner of your screen while you’re painting. So cool.

3) You can zoom in and out of your painting so you can work on detail areas or see the big picture quickly.

4) You can choose from among many paper and canvas options in any color you like.

5) Another favorite feature! You can change the drying time to your paint. This doesn’t sound like much, but it allows you to either mix colors on the canvas or, in the case of oils, pretend several days have passed and it’s “dry” enough to paint on top of your underpainting. Sweet.

6) You can add “water” or “solvent” (depending on your paint type) to thin it down. Like the drying time, this feature allows you to control how your current paint color will interact with the colors you’ve already painted.

7) There’s a wide variety of choices of how your brush carries the paint. I’m personally a fan of the dry brush options.

One wish for Artrage, and it’s a small one, is that you could use the edge of the palette knife for scraping off color (currently I can only figure how to use the flat of the knife for mixing).

The images below were done at Cedar Cliff Lake in North Carolina. The first is an earlier version of the second image. The last is somewhat unfinished but I figured I’d go ahead and share.

Cedar Cliff Lake View-001

Cedar Cliff Lake View

Cedar Cliff Two

All of the apps I tried have their strong points, and in the end, you have to decide what you really want out of an art app. Is it a quick sketching tool for you, or are you interested in creating more intricate pieces? Do you want to approximate watercolors, pen and ink, or oils? You can make beautiful images with all of them, but for more painterly effects, I would go for Procreate or Artrage, and Artrage is definitely the choice for anyone wanting an acrylic or oil paint look.

I’d also like to try Auryn Ink, a watercolor app, but recent reviews of it (regarding compatbility with the new iPad) were pretty poor, so I’m hoping they’ll update soon.

Thanks for hanging with me through this lengthy and fairly technical post. Back to regularish programming soon!

p.s. On an unrelated note, I just heard an interview with Lindi Ortega and was totally mesmerized by her music. Try this tune here. She’s kind of a modern Johnny Cash/ Dolly Parton mashup though maybe more on the rockabilly side than strict country. She’s playing at the Evening Muse tonight in Charlotte. Wish I could go! Let me know if you do.

Painting by App, Part 1

Ever since seeing David Hockney’s iPad art at the Louisiana Museum outside Copenhagen, I’d been wanting to try it myself.

Now that I have an iPad, I read this article about painting/ drawing apps and jumped right in. The good thing is many of the apps are free or have a free trial version, so it’s a low-risk leap.

Here’s my first stab at it:

Brushes app image

Yes, my feet are gorgeous! I know, I know. You don’t have to tell me. I drew this with my fingers using Brushes (the same app David Hockney uses). Brushes is wonderfully simple and great for quick impressions.The picture is nothing special, but on the iPad itself, my kids love being able to watch the video of how it came together. I couldn’t get that feature to transfer here, but if you know how to do it, give me a shout.

Here’s a funny article about trying to become David Hockney via Brushes. You can guess how that turned out.

Below are a couple of sketches made using the free trial version of Sketchbook Pro. These are also done with my fingers, both in Florida where the hubs and I had a nice relaxing week to ourselves in early December.

Cloud Painting

Florida Canal Painting

Sketchbook Pro lets you to easily change brush size and tool choice (i.e. brush, airbrush, pencil). And with both programs, it’s easy to get just the color you want with the stroke of a finger. Sketchbook Pro lets you make colors more or less transparent, which makes for some cool effects. It takes a bit of getting used to, though, that the paint is so consistent. In other words, your “paint” doesn’t really blend with other colors, and it never runs out.

The “paint” is most like watercolor, though unlike watercolor, you can undo your strokes as often as you like. You could easily get carried away with self-correction. I tried not to but used “undo” as an excuse to take risks I wouldn’t have taken with real watercolors. I think that’s one of the greatest strengths of all of the art apps I’ve tried—the ability to try new things with no risk, and to make a picture quickly without getting out and putting away all of your materials.

Using your finger to draw is a little clunky. These three were all done before I got my Sensu Brush/ Stylus, and now that I have it, I’ll probably skip finger drawing.

I enjoyed both of these apps, but I found myself wanting more features and more detail. I decided it was time to try the apps with pricetags. More about app art to come.

If you make art on your mobile device, what do you do with the images? David Hockney prefers to let his iPad work live only in the digital world, but I think it could be reproduced a number of ways. What do you think? Have you tried producing a “real” version of your digital images? I’d love to hear how it’s gone.

A Peek into our Hall Corner

I thought you might like to see a little corner of our home. We live in a German altbau(old building) apartment. Our building dates from around 1900.

This little corner is where our front hall meets our very long, narrow, bowling-alley-like main hall. I can’t remember if it was intentional, but the collection of images is a little homage to my home state of South Carolina. It’s the focal point of our entryway.

The top photograph, entitled Foggy is by South Carolina photographer Robin Smith (find him here) and the bottom photograph, of the Hutchinson House on Edisto Island, is by Susan Roberts (find her here).

The painting is by me, a gift to my husband before we were married. I painted it in Boston, and I remember someone asking me, is there really such a thing as Spanish moss?

It made me laugh, considering that I’d had Spanish moss in my backyard my whole life. Yes, people, it’s real. Not made up for the movies. It’s nice to be able to have a little reminder of it here with me in Germany. We’ll be seeing Spanish moss again soon!

The desk and rug belonged to my husband’s grandparents.

We’re sorting our things, getting things in order, and I’m trying as best I can to stay on my writing schedule until the last minute. This novel has got to happen.

Bologna Book Fair: Illustration Roundup

Want to see what children’s book illustrators are doing around the world?

As I mentioned in my last post, illustration is the main course of the Bologna fair’s visual feast. Here’s where you see, more than ever, that a great cover is a book’s best friend. The photo above is from the posting wall at the Fair, where illustrators are invited to leave their cards in the hopes that they’ll be noticed.

Here is one of my favorites, from illustrator Daisy Hirst:

I love the fun, playful quality of her work.

In addition to the posting wall and the many booths of books, there’s a yearly exhibition of top talent and a spotlight on a “guest of honor” country—this year, Portugal. I was so inspired by the showcase winners and by so many other illustrators whose work was on display. Check out the exhibition artists here.

Some links to blogs by/ articles about my favorites from the exhibition:

Alejandra Barba of Mexico

Jo Suna of Korea

Fereshteh Najafe of Iran

Anja Reiger of Germany (Berlin)

Katrin Stangl of Germany

Gerry Turley of England

Just as when I went to the Frankfurt Book Fair, I was struck by how many different styles of artwork there are across world markets. There’s so much exciting stuff going on in Spain, Korea, Holland, Iran, you name it.

I’d love to see some American publishers translate some of these books and/ or work with some of these illustrators. Most foreign book rights sales go the other way (English into other languages) but we’re really missing out on some fabulous stuff.

American publisher Front Street, back in the day, brought Dutch and French titles to the US market (A Day, A Dog, The Yellow Balloon, Little Bird’s ABC —all of which I love). But since Front Street’s passing, somebody needs to take up the torch. Is there a publisher out there doing this that I just don’t know about?

It was also interesting to talk to some European illustrators about where their work fits in best. One I spoke to had been told her work would sell best in Eastern Europe. Another had been told his would do better in Latin America or Asia. I’d love to see a map of what kind of illustration fits where.

Would you like to see more international books brought to the US market? There’s some dispute that Americans just don’t buy these books, but can our taste really be that monolithic? What do you think?