This is one of my recent evening brush pen sketches. In art school I was incredibly uncomfortable with the brush pen – it was a challenge. After years of practice drawing WITHOUT it I have a much better feel for it. Why? Because I have put in hours and hours of drawing time to understand form, shape and my own limitations (which are many). I start with a loose drawing in color pencil (usually whichever pencil is closest and sharpened, in this case it’s orange) and afterÂ I have the sketch, I bring out the brush pen. I ink over the lines as confidently as possible. The most important piece of this, which I didn’t understand before, is to commit. Once I put the ink down I cannot go back. I must be sure. I try not to lift the pen, to make solid, fluid lines. Some artists remain sketchy and loose at the ink stage, which is achieves another lovely look. I like the clear, solid lines so I attemptÂ that. My favorite part of the process are the accents that appear due to the brush and paper texture. When I push down to make a thicker line, or pull back for a thinner line, the organic cracking and grain is so visually pleasing! I have more brush pen sketches on my Facebook page ^_^ Have a happy Friday!
I created this entirely in photoshop in 30 minutes – I usually do the base drawing in flash. I wanted to explore painting on just one layer but old habits die hard! I ended up with 12 layers but that’s a big change for me.
I woke up with this image in my mind because I felt a bit crushed by the news… it feels as though all we have is a little light – but hopefully that’s enough to grow out of these shadows.
I am super excited to announce my solo show atÂ Trickster in Berkeley in November. Burn to Shine: 100 mini wood burnings (all the pieces will also be available for purchase online, each piece will be $65). The opening reception will be November 1st. I am postingÂ my progress on Instagram and Facebook. Between now and November I will create 80 more pieces! It’s the largest number of wood burnings I’ve set out to createÂ to date. It’s incredibly fun to explore different animals, backgrounds, and patterns. I create many with mehndi patterns in mind, but I also love burning waves and using negative space to create a soft and subtle environments.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to share a bit about my materials and process!
1. Wood slices. I obtain these from either Etsy, Michaels arts & crafts or Amazon. I shop for wood that is light in color without any dark marks or knots. If there are marks, I try and incorporate them into the work. The wood type varies from walnut, basswood, to cherry and oak.
2. Colwood Cub electrical unit. This unit heats my pens, it has great temperature control and its portable with a long enough cord so I can burn in my studio or living room (it smells so good!). I usually keep the temperature between 7 and 8, but when I want to create a softer, lighter background or environment I will turn it down to 6. I have never gone past 9, I think I’d burn my fingers!
3. A finished piece for the show!
4. A mechanical pencil. I use this to draw the character on the wood before burning. I never draw in pattern or background, only the central figure. Background and pattern I create in the moment. It’s my favorite part. It feels meditative and organic.
5. My two favorite fixed pens. I use both of these on each piece. One creates a thicker line I use for outlines of shape and the other I used for details like eyes, lips, and sometimes pattern.
6. Replaceable pen and replacement tips. I use these pens less often, but I do love the variety and texture I can get from them.Â There are two kinds of pens: fixed tipsÂ are just that, you cannot replace the tip only the whole pen. Replacement tips have one base and you can switch tips. I prefer fixed tips so I can switch mid burn and don’t have to wait for the tip to cool to take it off the base. Since I switch pens at least twice in every burn fixed tip work best for me.
7. Sand paper. Essential! If the grain on a piece of wood isn’t sanded down enough the pen will get stuck in the grooves and create a funky burn. Nearly every piece of wood can benefit from a quick sand to make sure the end result is pleasing.
That’s all from me! It’s been so much fun to work on the books during the day and burn at night – hope to see you in November ^_^
I had the pleasure of working with a loving couple on a commission recently, V & P. The process was wonderful from beginning to end and with their permission, I wanted to share a bit about my process in creating an illustration.
At the beginning of the commission, I asked V & P to send me some reference photos – I can’t draw them without knowing what they look like ^_^ I also asked them if they had ideas of what they wanted me to draw and if they had favorites from my portfolio. Asking people about their favorites gives me a good idea of the colors, stories and emotions they are looking for… They sent all the requested information as well as a bit about themselves – this included a video that V had made for P on their first anniversary. I thought, okay, I’ll watch it for some more reference on their faces but focus on what they want. They indicated they were interested in a scene in their kitchen cooking together with the Washington Monument in the background (to indicate location). So I drew this:
But when I watched the video… it was as if V & P were right there with me. Telling me stories about how they met, fell in love and I truly felt as though I knew them. One story in particular stood out, on their first date it began to rain as they were walking which they compared to a bollywood film… Immediately this image popped into my head:
Generally with commissions I try to provide two distinct sketches in two different orientations. But the second sketch wasn’t one they asked for… I wasn’t sure they would like it. It seemed too simple. One of the things that is difficult to convey with a line drawing or sketch is what the transition from the above drawing to the final piece will be… I can see it in my head, but I do this every day! ^_^ I was hopeful that from this basic drawing they could tell where I would end up…
And they could tell! They picked that sketch and V & P only asked me to change the orientation, and indicate that it was fall time – my sketch was approved! Here is the revised sketch:
My illustration work is all digital, so these sketches were created in flash. Once the sketch is approved, I lock the line drawing layers and begin to draw in color over them. I spent a lot of time on the trees, drawing each leaf in the foreground, getting the fall colors right. Because I am drawing for someone else (as opposed to drawing for myself) I take this part slower than normal. I researched reference for the Washington Monument, fall trees in DC, and I watched V & P’s video a few more times (partly for reference and partly because it inspired me ^_^).
This is something I never show, but here is my full color drawing before I take it into Photoshop.
I often feel that the work I do in Flash is the “hard” work, and the work in photoshop is fun. In the drawing above, you get the idea of the colors, but none of the light, texture, or vibrancy that comes when I work in Photoshop.
I finished the color work in Flash one day and the next day I began to paint in Photoshop. I ended up with over 98 layers – which is more than I have for most drawings. I knew I wanted the sky to have a somewhat thunderstorm-y feel, but I also wanted to have a bright light come from behind the monument. Everything else I painted, added texture, light and shadow intuitively. When you look at the illustration it’s just trees, rain and a couple… but simplicity is deceptive. From the shadows on the sidewalk, to the texture of the grass, each piece, each layer, breathes life into the illustration. The longer I worked on it, the more I feel in love with it.
It’s always nerve-wracking when I feel happy with my work but I’m not sure what the receiving party will think. After all, we haven’t met. We exchanged maybe 20 emails over the course of the commission and in the end I wanted to ensure that V & P loved it like I did.
Lucky for me, they did. And in the end, I feel like they have given me a gift. A chance to peek into their life, understand and be inspired by their love and create a new relationship where there was none.
Art brought us together… and I love that.
Many things have contributed to finding my path as an artist. From an incredibly supportive husband, fabulous friends, to a love of storytelling… I receive questions every week about how I got here, what tools I use, what inspires me… so, I thought it might be helpful to write a bit about how I got here.
After college I had a host of jobs. Most of them weren’t right for me. In fact, I quit one job by placing my office keys on the desk, submitting my resignation via email and simply walking out, never to return again. Because the job wasn’t just making me miserable, it made me hate life. Another job I held for one single day. I learned that I am headstrong, I take action and think about the consequences later. I don’t recommend it, but it has mostly worked for me. Of all my jobs before art, the only job I enjoyed was working at the library. I was an assistant but I never felt like one. There was a level of respect, playfulness and curiosity that I loved there. (My ideal world is one full of art and books.) I worked at a cafe and and the library, took out massive loans (which I’m still paying off) and enrolled in art school at the age of 27. I was often the oldest person in my classes, and believe me when I say that I was AWFUL in comparison to the students 8 years younger than me. Being older, my one advantage was that I was clear about what I wanted to do – I wanted to create illustrations to make people happy and I wanted to write books.
Returning to my headstrong self, I learned what I felt like was enough and dropped out of art school. I began drawing everyday. I am now 3 years and 500+ illustrations deep into running my own show. I admit I am distracted by shiny, new, well-paid opportunities. Many of the artists I know work at animation or game studios. I was recruited by one of the big animation companies last year and turned down their request for an interview. I have to keep clear on my goals even when it’s easy to be swayed by big names. I am a full-time artist and business. Anyone who has started their own business knows the painful truth that YOU are the only way that your business earns and moves forward. I realize the path I chose is harder. Much, much harder than I had imagined. The majority of my income comes from my personal work and a small percentage from commercial work. I work weekends, nights, and sometimes I am disheartened by the lack of opportunities I have simply because I’m not associated with X, Y, or Z company. That’s the reality of any industry. But I truly prefer working for myself. I prefer creating artwork that I feel passionate about and working on projects that speak to me.
I don’t see myself as an authority on much of anything except my own experience. I can tell you what software I use to create my digital illustrations, what wood burning tool I use and what watercolors and pens. I believe in the beginning of any creative pursuit the idea that knowing the tools of your favorite artist will help you reach your goal is an easy trap. No one can create artwork like me because its not about my tools. My history, my experiences, feelings and thoughts inform my work. I use flash and photoshop, but you could find that you hate those tools. Then where will you be? In the end you have to find what works for you and go toward that. I battle a lot of insecurity and doubt, every week, every day, and recently that’s lead me to try new things… which is good and bad. Good because I get bored and trying new things keeps me excited and fresh. Bad because sometimes I fall into the same trap. I look at what others are doing and try to BE them. I have to constantly remind myself that although I might be good at a small amount of things, it is those things that I must focus on. I must go towards the things I’m good at, develop those and keep focused.
If I have arrived at a place that is admirable to others, I did that by being true to myself and working hard. I am not talented. I have no secret formula to create my illustrations or wood burnings. There is no magic button that makes shops carry my work or blogs write about my work. It comes from a constant pursuit of independence. I wanted to be free to create what I want, work where I want, with whom I want and make people happy.
Before beginning any path, creative or not, I think its important to be clear and focused. That is what will propel you forward. So… do you truly know what you want to do?
i am somewhat like a cat – curious and attracted to shiny, new things. as an artist i feel the same attraction to new things but often i don’t find the time to explore those desires. as i look forward in my career and life i want to be able to evolve with my work, to go where the art takes me. as much as i direct it, it also directs me. over the past year i’ve been very attracted to watercolor. the indian student in me kept saying “i need to take a class” and the nidhi in me said, “just try it!” so i did – armed with what i know about art already, some good paint and some not-so-good brushes ^_^
these are my results, and the trio of framed pieces will be available at trickster in berkeley. (grand opening this friday & saturday)
last night i joined a bunch of other female artists at 111 minna for sketch tuesdays. being inside a community of creators, in a space full of art is really lovely. i decided to create mini wood burnings and while i was burning the first piece i thought about how the process of creating art is just as beautiful as the finished piece.
as i started the second piece (and normally i don’t burn two pieces in one sitting and my fingers were definitely aching at the end) i saw that beneath my work, there was an additional pattern coming through the wood grain. in a way, i felt that the wood was collaborating with me to create layers of art. the relationship that develops with a medium, whether its sketching on paper, painting on the computer, or burning wood may not be visible, but its there – in each shade, shadow and line.
those are the things that make me truly love art.
part of drawing everyday means i make the choice, everyday, to create. i love it! i feel myself growing and changing through that process. i never run out of ideas or new things to try. i’m also my own worst critic, and i nitpick my drawings to no end… mostly in my head. when i created the central park image, i was trying new painting techniques and brushes in photoshop, i fell in love with the scene, the foliage, the light and shadow, but i rushed the characters. the original image is fine as it is, but i wasn’t happy with it. the characters felt like an afterthought, and i’ll admit that to some degree they were. so for the first time ever, i decided to go back, scrap the characters and try again.
at the end of that day, i can choose to leave well enough alone, or strive to make it better.
this is me choosing to make it better.
i’ve had a lot of people ask how i make my images and if i do commissions (yes, i do!) so i thought i would share my process.
a bit ago, a client contacted me to create an image of her and her hubby for their first wedding anniversary. so cute! i love those kinds of jobs and i felt very honored to be a part of their special day. she gave me some direction – their honeymoon to greece, them walking together, and sent me a bunch of photos. we agreed on a price, which included a couple rounds of revisions and i sent off preliminary drawings.
after i sent these to her, she told me what she liked – the look between them in the first, the composition of the third, except it felt unbalanced on the left. oh, and that she wanted her black boots (hehe) and i had put a cat in her hubby’s bag (third), but they actually have a dog! i revised the sketches and sent her the following sketch.
this made her very happy so there was only one revision.
from here i took my line drawing and in flash added a layer over it and went in with color. i don’t usually have any specific color in mind, i am fairly intuitive with colors. after looking at her photos, i knew the kinds of outfits both of them wore and i generally tried to pick colors that would unify them and the entire piece.
after this, i take the drawing into photoshop. i add highlights, gradients and this is where i spend time playing with overlays of color and really finalizing the image.
and voila! she was very happy and so was i! ^_^