New Year? - Ready! Set! Go! (er, um)

Hey gang. How ya doin'? I'm sitting here, writing my blog for the new year, and I'm just vibrating with motivation. I've got so many cool creative projects planned for this year I'm going to need to fire up Excel just to schedule in pee breaks. I've got so many wicked tricks up my sleeve I'm going to need to go to confession every day just to keep from bursting into flames. I've got so much awesome stored up in my awesome jar, I'm going to need a solid gold abacus just to keep track of the excellence.

I've got...well I think you get the point.


guess what?

FIRST. I've got !@#$%!! JURY DUTY.


JURY DUTY. <---- see. It's annoying, it deserves all caps.

So yeah, the morning of January 3rd I get to get up at an hour that even roosters blow off, and drive up to somewhere-that-I-don't-know-where-it-is-because-I-don't-make-a-hobby-of-mapquesting-courthouses, and sit around all day being a "good person" and doing my "civic duty". Two things I'm not innately good at. Wish me luck. (Just so we are on the same page here, the kind of luck I'm hoping for is the "we don't need you, thanks for coming, you can go home now" luck. Capice? I don't need any rogue wishes, stay on message.)

You can thank JURY DUTY for the fact that I can't share with you yet exactly what these upcoming projects are. That blog will have to wait. Right now I have a courthouse to mapquest. And I have to dig out my Sex Pistols shirt out of the dirty laundry bin. The JURY DUTY paperwork said to dress nice, and that's the nicest shirt I have.

In the meantime I'll leave you with this totally non-sequiter teaser that is completely uninformative. You are welcome.



Anatomy of a Painting

I recently completed a series of paintings collectively titled 'Vintage Romance'. (Prints of the paintings are now available here on my website and in my Etsy shop.)

I thought it might be fun to share the process of how I created these designs with you. The response to the images has been wonderful and I've received a lot of questions about the images. Some people thought the images were vintage clipart designs. They are not - the are original paintings. BUT they are indeed inspired by classic Victorian clip art (some more heavily then others) I'm so glad that I achieved the "look" I was going for! Thanks for the compliments!

Many people have assumed the paintings are digital. They are not. While I do paint digitally often, I also remain an active "traditional" artist. Honestly these days it seems like the minute you dabble with digital painting at all, everyone suddenly casts you as solely a "digital artist"! It's strange! Rest assured my first loves as mediums continue to be graphite, silverpoint and alkyd oils. That said I am forever grateful to the assistance that my graphic experience affords me as an artist. Every piece I create still has a computer involved at some point. Whether I use it simply to sketch out ideas, research reference, or to tweak a final scan, the computer is an essential part of my creation process!

Here's a bit of a peek into the workflow that went into creating these "traditional" paintings. ;)

This image shows the original thumbnail idea sketch in the upper left, and the concept sketch based off of it. The thumbnail sketch was graphite, while the digital sketch was drawn in Corel Painter. I used an oval template to help with the composition of the design because I knew these images main purpose was for my Perfume Locket line. I wanted to be sure that the design flowed well within the oval. Additionally I made sure I worked small. About 3"x4". The reason for this small format is because the final product (Perfume Lockets), is only 1"x1.5". It would be silly to paint this piece overlarge - only to shrink it down so drastically. There is no point wasting time painting minute details if they won't be seen in the finished product!

The next step in the process was to draw the image in graphite on paper. I chose a toned paper with a slight texture and used a light box to transfer my concept to the paper. Then I completed the piece as a finely shaded graphite drawing. I scanned this image into the computer. This scanned image served two purposes. One, it gave me a simple drawing from which to create a vintage style sepia toned print.  And two, it served as the basis for the full color acrylic painting....


To create the acrylic painting I printed a copy of the graphite scan. I mounted the grayscale print of the Bee to illustration board. I then sealed the print with clear acrylic matte medium. I painted the piece in acrylics (Golden Fluid Acrylics) and then it was complete! Er....not quite....


I decided to change the background color of the piece at the last minute. I've been on a "Robin's Egg Blue" kick lately and I just couldn't resist. I felt the new background color really made the Bee pop, and finally the piece was finished. Time for the final scan!

This technique, painting over a print of an original graphite drawing, rather then the drawing itself, has the advantage of leaving me with TWO originals. I love that!

I used the scans of both the graphite drawing and the full color painting to create the images for the perfume lockets. Thanks to the techniques I employed, the result is a bright image with a tight composition that looks tailored to the products it graces. Which it was! ;) Yay!

Sepia Toned ImageFull Color ImageIf you like these images they are available as Prints, Perfume Lockets and coming soon NoteCards!

In fact this week only you can enter a giveaway for a chance to win a Secret Scents™ Perfume Locket of your choice. The giveway is on Facebook & you'll have to "like" our fanpage to enter. So I apologize if - like me - you hate Facebook. But hey, maybe you'll win a free locket! ;) CLICK HERE to enter.

Until next time...



Steampunk Pin-Up & Goddess Project

Hello everyone! Last week I finalized the concept sketches for the next 3 hotties in my Steampunk Pin-Up series, SteamBabes. You can see the sketches HERE, and follow my progress via my Facebook Fanpage, Twitter, Tumblr or Google+.

The neat thing about these SteamBabes is that the models for each piece are friends of mine - fellow artists Amy Brown, Ash Evans & the lovely Angela Brenneman. I really appreciate them posing for these pieces! I thought I was going to start work on them last week. But when I went to my paper cabinet, I was completely out of the paper that I had drawn the first SteamBabe on. Of course I want the series to be consistent - so I've got a Dick Blick emergency shipment coming this week. ;)


In the meantime I've been tweaking and refining the concept art for the first 4 Goddesses in my Goddess Project series. These have been tricky. The art in these images needs to be rather versatile. Not only do I want them to be spectacular paintings BUT the figures were designed partly with licensing/manufacturing in mind. For instance these images are a proposed line of figurines AND perfume lockets. But they are also going to be large oil paintings with many other components in the painting. So yes, this is rather challenging. I've got a myriad of things I need to consider while designing the rest of the sketch for these paintings. As you can see by this sketch for the Morrigan painting. She's positively littered with hotspots - basically areas I've got to be extra careful designing because once the painting is finished - I'll pop out those areas and use them for additional product projects. For instance the oval at the top and the oval at the bottom will be necklaces. As always I'll be sharing the process with you. Wish me luck! And feel free to fan the Goddess Project Facebook Fanpage to find out the latest news.

Tommorrow I'll be sharing pics of my new studio (it's finally set up and functional) and the link to my newly updated Wholesale Website. Yay!!


~Brigid ;)


Be Careful What You Wish For . . .

Over a year ago I made a wish. I wished to live in a newer house that required less maintenance (our current house is 250 years old), in a warmer climate with a lower cost of living. I wished for a studio with a door on it. I wished for my husband to have employment that was lower stress and afforded him more free time. I wished that my own art career would continue on the upwards trajectory with more of my income contributing to the household income - with the eventual hope that my income would become the primary source and my husband could enjoy even more free time. As the saying goes be careful what you wish for.

Two months ago my husband was laid off. Within a month he had a new job, we'll be moving to Texas to accommodate this new position. This means we'll be buying a new house, moving to a warmer climate with a lower cost of living and my husband will be working some from an office in Texas and some from home. Meanwhile my art career has surged, and I've more work on my plate, more licensing gigs, commissions, projects and inspiration then I know what to do with. All this is wonderful. But it's rather stressful too.

The mere thought of moving across the country with 2 dogs and 2 cats and a huge house full of crap is just so very exhausting mentally. I have a dozen artwork commitments all due in a month. I have a little girl about to go into middle school. I have to sell one house and buy another. I have to get rid of some of this crap. I hope my new studio has a door. I really NEED a DOOR.

But when I start to feel overwhelmed I remind myself that I asked for all of this. Did I think I would just wake up one day in a new state with a new home? Am I so spoiled that I have the nerve to complain and feel overwhelmed about life changes that are ultimately good? NONE of this is insurmountable. Dealing with the aftermath of a Tsunmai is what qualifies as insurmountable. I'm happy and healthy, so is my family, and we have to move to Texas this summer. This is, in the grand scheme of life's challenges, an easy one. So I'll shut up about it already. And share some new art with you. ;)
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A Double Calamity - Drawing Process

I was so pleased to be asked to comeback to Steampunk World's Fair this year. We went last year and had a fantastic time. I've been to my fair share of shows and this event is not only very well run, but a lot of fun!

Not only will I be attending, but I was asked to contribute a poster design for promotion of the Fair. This event really tries hard to appeal to a wide variety of steampunk enthusiasts, and steampunky sub-genres. So one of their endeavors this year is to share different posters, from different artists, in an effort to showcase this event's great attitude of fun and inclusion.

They gave me an eye-opening and rather lengthy list of steampunk labels and genres to choose from for the theme of my poster contribution. I chose Weird West. Then promptly panicked. But no worries! I called world renowned expert on all things Weird-West-Steampunk, Natania Barron for help. Natania steered me in the right direction and I settled upon a sassy saloon outlaw babe and her rogue cephalopod companion.

When people ask me about my artistic process I always get a little flustered. I don't tend to work in exactly the same way every time. Sometimes I dive right in, start sketching, and never look up till I have an oil painting. Other times I start with an idea, then a thumbnail sketch, then "chicken scratches" sketches, then I look for reference and/or pose a model as needed, etc etc etc. And there are a million combinations in between those extremes. But the one common factor you'll find with me is that invariably, at some point, I've used the computer to assist me in the process.

With "A Double Calamity" I used the computer quite a bit. This is the story of the process for this piece. Totally click this to see it larger! Don't strain your eyes!
Being a computer geek and graphic designer as well as a fine artist, I love computer tools that I can use for art. I particularly like the possibilities that exist for using computer software to pose models for drawing. Poser is a program I've used in the past with limited success. For the record I only ever use Poser for general reference. (I won't get into the merits of Poser art here. That's not a debate I'm interested in and I'm always delighted when I see people creating, no matter the method or medium)

For the fine artist Poser is frustratingly limited. The lighting tends to be harsh and unrealistic & the anatomy woefully flawed. But if you are relatively experienced you can use Poser effectively for very general reference when you are fresh out of live bodies to manipulate. In this scenario I'd just heard about the release of Poser 8 - which I hadn't tried yet, so I figured it was a great opportunity to give it a whirl!

I downloaded the program demo, loaded a standard model - posed her in a rough approximation of what I wanted, tweaked the lighting, and tried to render the image. No go - the demo version wouldn't let me render. No problem, I know how to "print screen". <evil grin>

Dragging my model into Photoshop I covered her with a low opacity layer of white and roughed in what I wanted. A word of warning. Don't think you can use a Poser model as an anatomical crutch. There is no tracing with these things folks. The anatomy is wonky, the joints are scary looking and the shadows are round and cold. Poser reference is great as a placeholder for layout and design and for general anatomical reference. In fact I find it most helpful when I need reference for perspective and foreshortening.

On the top layer I literally started from scratch with a stick figure, fleshing in the muscles, and features of my characters. I painted in sepia and white tones, to achieve a rough of what I wanted. I added character to the cephalopod and polled Twitter and Facebook for opinions. This piece was designed largely by feedback!

When I had my digital rough where I wanted it I printed it out. I placed the print out on my light box, and set to work transferring the image to drawing paper. In the case of this piece, I actually did this twice! The first drawing paper had no texture and was white. I decided about 1/8 of the way into the drawing that I didn't like the paper. So I started over with a piece of taupe pastel paper. The texture was a great help with achieving the look I wanted.

Towards the very end I ran into a few other problems. Feedback on Facebook cued me in that the cephalopod's cowboy hat was not reading as a cowboy hat. I had reference from the internet for this piece, and frankly I had drawn the hat accurately. BUT, this is a great example of how accuracy doesn't always read as accurate. I clearly needed to exaggerate the hat some more if I wanted it to read as a western style hat. Hopefully it's better now. *crosses fingers*. At the very last minute I decided I needed a few more details. I added handcuffs and a key, and a gun holster to the cephalopod. I also added a damask pattern to the babe's apron.

After the drawing was complete I moved onto creating a compelling print for this piece. Over the years I've learned a lot about what makes a nice print. I've found that images with plain white backgrounds do not sell as well as images with even the simplest of color washes or a parchment background. With this piece I had known from the very beginning that I would be digitally altering it by placing it on a piece of vintage paper.

The paper was scanned from my own vast collection of "interesting bits of paper".* In Photoshop I masked out the image from it's background and placed it on the vintage paper. I used a variety of layer options to marry the bits together and voila! A Double Calamity is done!

*you might be wondering why I didn't just draw this piece directly on the vintage paper. Vintage paper has acid. This can be counteracted with archival paper preserving sprays etc (which I often employ the use of in my work), BUT it's time consuming & weakens the paper. Also most of my vintage paper is smaller in size and this original piece is 8.5 x 11.

Prints are available HERE!

The original is available HERE!

Thanks so much everyone! I hope you enjoyed my long winded process explanation!

Inspiration and Art

As I've mentioned previously I've a gallery show coming up in November. I've had a few gallery shows before but this one for a variety of personal reasons is very special to me. This means while I'm working very hard I'm also putting a lot of pressure on myself. But thanks to a few close friends I'm staying relatively sane. (Thanks ladies!)

The process of creating this collection has been fascinating to me. I've been working in a way that is new and strange to me. The images are unfolding with a strong will of their own. They have a clear mind of who and what they are and demand accuracy in their portrayal. They seem to live in my occipital bone - right where the bone meats the nerve endings at the top of my spine. They are collecting themselves there - gestating their form and making their presence known. At times relentlessly. The vision I had initially planned for the show was left behind months ago. My Muse has dictated to me that those ideas must wait - because right now - something else must be done. These images demand to be captured.

And so they will be - there's no arguing with your Muse.

I've been aided in this creative process by some wonderful music. I thought I would share a bit of what I am listening to with you. In a sense this is the soundtrack to the collection of art I am currently creating.

Cello music by Zoe Keating and Wendy Sutter

The Soundtrack to Amelie by Yann Tiersen

Music that I like to call Broken Gypsy Doll music this includes:
Beats Antique, Pentaphobe & Vagabond Opera

And an inspiring group of sister songwriters, singers, musicians called
The Sisters 3


I cannot share too much of the art for the show before the show itself. I am sure you an understand why. However I will share the pieces that I can and of course when the show is open we'll post photos of the opening and eventually there will be prints and a full accounting of the art at the exhibit.

For now I will leave you with a teaser. She is not yet finished and she is nameless.


About Works In Progress

I have a Work In Progress shot on the front page of my website. Alas it is not finished yet. But it will be! I promise.

I used to work on an image frantically until it was finished. When I was younger my body could handle this. NO MORE! I just can't do all nighters hunched over my drawing desk any more. But I've found that because I cannot work at the same frantic pace anymore I am more susceptible to becoming a little bored with an image. Well bored isn't really the right word. I'm rarely bored with an image while creating it (trust me the ones that have bored me never see the light of day) - it's more that at some point during the creation process you are just DONE with it and ready to move on to the next idea.

The challenge for me is trying to ward off that feeling for as long as possible. Because once I'm in that place - I'm no longer working as hard to do my best on the image. Once I'm in that place I'll just rush through till the end to get the piece done. And that is a dangerous thing to do. It inhibits creativity and growth. These days I work on several images at a time to stave off complacency.

The piece on the front page of my website is basically my interpretation of the Celtic Goddess Bloduewedd. I have many images planned in a series of Goddess - she is the first. I'm excited about the imagery I am hoping to project in those images - but more about that later. She is not the topic for today.

As I said I tend now to work on more then one piece at a time. My new WIP is a re- interpretation of Snow White. I plan on documenting the journey I go through with creating this image so that I can share with you my working process for my digital paintings. Since I began painting digitally I've found that so many people are really unclear as to what exactly goes into a digital painting. That is understandable because there are so many ways to create what is reffered to as digital art. I myself actually work very traditionally when painting digitally. I'll share the process here as best I can. (And when I get my new computer I'll start painting live again! Right now my computer can't handle the strain.)