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5 Ways to Break Your Artist’s Rut

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One of the things that makes us stuck in life is doing the same thing, every day, nonstop. Wake up, go to work, responsibilities, bed. Wash, rinse and repeat. You ever feel like the older you get, the shorter the years feel? Now, I’m only a millennial, but I do think that this year has been extremely short compared to 2010. So, taking this back to my previous point, if years feel shorter, and we’re spending that year working and providing, where does that leave us? Unhappy? I’m sure. As if the year has been squandered? Definitely so.

I decided to do things a little different. As a creative, I get my best ideas out of experiences and doing! So you know what, I changed my city scenery and traded it for a farm.

And holy cow, it was awesome!

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Really! Holy COW!

Again, I’m a city girl, so all of this was brand new. The environment was totally different, from the air to the clouds… and the occasional whiff of manure.

My friends took me apple picking for the first time! I went pumpkin picking for the first time! I took a day where I enjoyed the fresh air and allowed exploration and adventure to unfurl as I wandered through a corn maze. I petted a freaking ALPACA! For the first. Time!

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It was so freaking fluffy!

I say this because not only as creatives, but as people we just need a day to get out of the studio. Doing so refreshes our routine and breaks the monotony. It creates bonds with others, memories, things we can take back home and enrich our lives. Being in a new environment, even just for a day can do wonders for the mind and soul.

So here are 5 tips to break the monotony:

  • Experience some place new. Even if this means taking the funds out to make a small trip for the future. Do it. You won’t regret it.
  • Do something new/learn a new skill. Are you a terrible cook? Found a place hosting low-stress cooking classes? Jump on it!
  • Spend time with people. I know. Illustration is a lonely job. Call someone up for a coffee or tea date. Let the conversation spin off. I personally need time to recharge after being around people for extended periods of time. But that’s the same way with being alone.
  • Unplug. Seriously. It’s hard as heck to get off the phone. Especially my generation, but turn the phone off, maybe leave it home for a few hours, walk around your area and be present. Become aware of your surroundings.
  • Look Locally. Cities are skyrocketing with go local mentality! Check in your area’s newspaper, art stores, small businesses and online for fliers about upcoming events. I decided to take my own advice and something amazing happened.

BONUS: Look for a store you’ve never been to before! Explore it, talk to people! Especially if it’s a local shop.

Switching up my environment was just what I needed. Apple picking, pumpkin picking, and tasting those deliciously crisp Fuji apples I picked all on my own inspired me to create this piece.

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How have you broken your artist rut? Share your experiences below!

 

~PK

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Extinguishing Stress and Embracing Your Zen

Revisiting one of my older characters filled with attitude, spunk, and irritability, it seems like my Jasmyn’s found her zen. She’s at peace with mind, her soul, and everything around her.

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You know speaking of zen, I’ve started taking Tai-Chi this semester. It’s given me such a different take on my inner self. As a city girl and a millennial, everything is fast, fast, fast. From work, to school, to internship, to business, instant gratification is what I crave. Standard shipping? Pssh, yeah right, I need that 2-day option. Cashing out at the grocery store? I’ll self checkout and make it quicker. No more dial-up and landlines, I need that ultra speed and 4G. And while quicker is better with getting things done and being efficient, sometimes I forget to slow down and relax for a second. With everything in my life being so deadline driven and lighting fast, stress takes over my mind even faster. Have you ever had those dreams where you’re still at work with a never-ending line?

Excessive stress can do a number of damage to the body and the mind. I was speaking to someone who stopped working her demanding job and just now realized the stress from that job was the culprit of her backaches, chest pains, and migraines.  Once she found her personal
zen which was visiting her husband frequently, her health significantly increased.

With the hustle and bustle of life, slow down to take some time out the day for you and begin your own path to self healing. Whatever that may be. For me however, it’s painting and Tai-Chi.

Please like, comment, and follow me if this tickles your fancy.

Until next time!
~PK

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Extinguishing Stress and Embracing Your Zen

Revisiting one of my older characters filled with attitude, spunk, and irritability, it seems like my Jasmyn’s found her zen. She’s at peace with mind, her soul, and everything around her.

Redolencesmall

 

You know speaking of zen, I’ve started taking Tai-Chi this semester. It’s given me such a different take on my inner self. As a city girl and a millennial, everything is fast, fast, fast. From work, to school, to internship, to business, instant gratification is what I crave. Standard shipping? Pssh, yeah right, I need that 2-day option. Cashing out at the grocery store? I’ll self checkout and make it quicker. No more dial-up and landlines, I need that ultra speed and 4G. And while quicker is better with getting things done and being efficient, sometimes I forget to slow down and relax for a second. With everything in my life being so deadline driven and lighting fast, stress takes over my mind even faster. Have you ever had those dreams where you’re still at work with a never-ending line?

Excessive stress can do a number of damage to the body and the mind. I was speaking to someone who stopped working her demanding job and just now realized the stress from that job was the culprit of her backaches, chest pains, and migraines.  Once she found her personal
zen which was visiting her husband frequently, her health significantly increased.

With the hustle and bustle of life, slow down to take some time out the day for you and begin your own path to self healing. Whatever that may be. For me however, it’s painting and Tai-Chi.

Please like, comment, and follow me if this tickles your fancy.

Until next time!
~PK

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Why It’s Hard to Love the Skin You’re In

I’m sure many African Americans can attest to having two sides of being dark skinned. One side tells us we should be proud of the skin we’re in and see it for what it’s worth, and the other side influences us that our skin is something to be ashamed of.

Let me tell you a story.

As a child, I was picked on for two things in school. One of them was my color. My classmates used to call me names for years and it destroyed my self worth. Children my. Shade. Ruthlessly barked whatever they could to get me down. After a decade of enduring that, I fell down a hole. A deep, and.. well, dark hole.

It’s a struggle being young, impressionable, and dark in school. It’s a struggle having other black people beat you down because you’re not of the lighter variety. Because of the lack of light tone, you’re less desirable. You’re ugly, you’re dirty, you’re disgusting. In middle school and high school I was constantly belittled, hammering in my inferiority of myself.

My family always assured me otherwise. My mother nurtured against that hurt and hate while my father shared his experiences. I related to my old man because he dealt with the same things I did. And it made me feel better.

These feelings has led me to create this piece.

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Inspired by Esperanza Spalding’s song, This is how I should feel. Valued like Black Gold.

For twenty one years I’ve thought this way. It’s so self destructive and it has to stop.

My feelings of myself can’t change completely overnight. I’ll still struggle, however I am so proud to say that I’ve clawed out of that hole. No more feeling ashamed. No more wishing to be a lighter tone. My skin is my. Skin. It’s gorgeous as hell, and I’ll be damned if I let any other thought cross my mind. I’ll wear bright colors, because I can. I’ll wear bright eye shadow because my skin glows as a result. And with every dark boy, girl and every gender in between that suffered the same thing I did, I want them to appreciate themselves much sooner than I had.

I came across a great video. This highlights not only my experiences of being African American, but also darker people from other cultures and races.  Give it a watch.

So please, talk to people about it. Feel some pride. Your skin is gorgeous, and beautiful just the way it is. You’re flawless in your own right.

These mix of emotions and backstory has inspired me to create a series called “Black Gold”. Celebrating natural beauty, natural bodies, and loving the skin you’re in.

Comment below if you want to see your favorite animal represented!

Thank you so much for reading. Until next time.

~PK

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Just For You

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This was a personal project that kept growing, and growing, and growing in size. Just like the big blue guy on the left here! I can’t even count how many hours was spent making this, but I can say it was worth it. This is one of the projects that made me lose a bit of momentum, but every time that happens, it’s always best to push through. Never be afraid of change, or going in a different direction than intended. You never know what may happen!

 

This image was made with Paint Tool Sai, and later finished with Clip Studio Paint. Midway into creation, I bought a new laptop and a new program and that opened my eyes. The color specs of my old laptop were pretty dull compared to my new one, and the sheer screen size of it doesn’t compare to my new computer. But they both did an amazing job with sticking with me. Here’s a couple of close up shots.

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I was -not- inspired by beautiful Disney princess gowns at all! Nope! Not one bit!

 

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My biggest challenges with this piece was making the interior cohesive, learning a new program, and learning to operate a new computer (and Operating System) It was also interesting to limit my color palette and experiment with that as well.

With each piece I create, I learn a little bit more.
Please don’t forget to like, comment and share if this tickles your fancy!

Until next time!

~PK

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Dragon Scale Sorcery

This is the second installation of my vixen series! I wanted to play with perspective a bit and have a dynamic looking image. So I came up with this! Once my sketch on my Pastelbord was finished, I erased as much as I could and inked with my Micron pens. Since some parts of our foxy lady was closer and other parts were farther away, I dramatic line weight difference was key.

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Pro tip! Inking on Pastelbord is much easier with a fresh pen. Linework application will be much smoother.

After the ink was completely dry, I applied my first wash of red. Working wet into wet, I layered on color after color, eventually darkening it to my liking. You can still see the graphite marks are still peeking through. Be very careful with sketching too dark on Pastelbord. I’ve said it once, and I’ll be happy to say it again: this surface clings onto pastel, charcoal, colored pencil and graphite extremely well. So lifting marks (even with a kneaded eraser) can prove difficult.

All in all though, I’m very loose with color bleeding to other areas. Because of the surface’s thickness, lifting watercolor is fantastic. You can lift almost back to white!

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After mixing brown and ivory black paint, I kept chipping away at the background. As I figured out my color scheme ahead of time, I thought now would be a great chance to mess with different breeds of foxes, so I decided to make her a Grey fox.  Once finished, I started layering washes on the star of the show! I wanted a warmer palette as a contrast to her cooler counterpart, so I layered in reds for her hair and incorporated some background color that bled in.

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Pro tip #2! When layering an under-painting, those colors will show through on the final piece. Under-paintings can add depth to the overall image and can harmonize your colors when done right.

After getting the basic colors in, I layered more and more to build up the shadows. Once everything was set, it was time to break out my Prismacolors! I’ve never worried about conserving whites while working with these. That sandy surface really does wonders with colored pencils. My white always does the trick.

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Pro tip #3! When working on cold press or textured surfaces, make sure you have sharp tips on those pencils for stark, crisp marks.

 

After going back and forth, adding details from the red and green secondary light, to markings, to fire, to the shines of her eyes, our vixen is complete!

 

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Until next time!

~PK

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Cerulean Comfort

As the amount of work that needs to be done has trickled down, I’ve took it upon myself to make my own project. A series of painting depicting vixens. This was my way to express whatever ideas came to mind at any point in time, and with no need to spend days or weeks at a time finalizing an image, I stuck with a smaller sizes for the body of work.

So let’s get started!

I sketched right on my Pastelbord with graphite, working, reworking, and re-reworking my ideas. There is a definite con to that, however. Pastelbord has a very sandy textured surface, so it grabs a strong hold of charcoal, graphite, and pastel. With that being said, graphite is difficult to erase completely. Once that was figured out, I had to make adjustments on my material choice.

After everything was as solid as it can be, I inked over it with Micron inks, playing around with line weight for variation. I decided to use ink instead of painting directly over it, because the watercolor would show the pencil marks no matter how much I erased. My original intent was to use only colored pencil, but I opted for watercolor instead.

I cracked open my Reeves watercolor set, and got to painting.

My first application was a light wash of Phthalo Blue mixed with white. I then began to apply more and more layers to my shadows, beefing up our scaly guy and making him more three-dimensional.

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After those layers were semi-dry, I began laying pure pigments of Phthalo diluted with water, building up those layers. Layering some more color in, I added some violet to my darkest shadows and began painting in the scales. The big guy was eventually finished, and I tackled his fluffy companion.

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Using the same methods as before, I worked on the vixen, layering yellows, oranges, and browns for her fur and dress. Once everything was dried, I went over with colored pencil to sharpen some details, enhance textures and add additional coloring to the overall image.

And voila, we are done!

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Watercolor, ink, and colored pencil on 5x7in Pastelbord

This was such a pleasure to work on. I can’t wait to submit more!

 

~PK

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Local Art Opportunities

If you’re like me and you might not know where to go next with your art, why not reach out locally? Explore your city, scope the stores, check out the art scene. You might find out there’s more than you thought. And who knows, all that aimless wandering can lead you to an artistic adventure right in your backyard!

Yesterday was a prime example of just that. I attended two events on a last minute whim. One is called Art on the Porches which is an annual event where local small businesses, vendors, painters, and artisans sell their work and wares to the community. Everyone’s works of art displayed on beautiful residential porches.

Three days prior I saw a flyer calling for art. This lead me to a great opportunity to partner with the Public Arts Task Force and submit two paintings to their silent auction fundraiser. Now, I’ve been working digitally for a while but I have the softest spot for traditional media. Not only haven’t I worked with Masonite before, but I also picked back up acrylic as well! Talk about an evening of experimentation!

After finishing this one, I started having an internal war with myself. I fell hard and I didn’t want to let this kitten go! *UPDATE* She’s found her forever-home!

 

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“Tea and Company” Acrylic on hardboard 8×8

 

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Come on now, how could you say no to that little face?

The internal struggle continued every time I looked at that piece. I ended up creating a second one just in case. After much coaxing and prodding from my family, I caved and sent them both in. Not bad for three days worth of work. Though I’m sad to see two wonderful pieces go, I’m so happy that I was able to contribute something to a great cause. I hope they go out to great homes.

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“Spring Aromas” Acrylic on Masonite 8×8

 

After that event wrapped up, Plazapalooza was next on my to-do list and I met some more amazing people there. Everyone at both locations were so kind, exciting to talk to and had valuable information to share. I love that about art communities. There were people that were just starting out to those who have been in the market for decades. Everyone was willing to answer my questions and chat with me. It was an honor and a pleasure to fill my day surrounded by so much talent.

I’m telling you, if you want to try something new, go outside! Explore! I would have never found out about these local art opportunities if I didn’t wander around and end up at my art store. This was such a rewarding day and I could have never asked for anything better. I’ll start doing that now. If I feel artistically aimless, I’m going to explore my surroundings and see what’s happening around the community.

I wrote another post with 4 more tips on what to do when you’re stuck in an art rut. Check it out!

Have you taken advantage of your local community to do something new? Share in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

~PK

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Serenity

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During a period of time I was experiencing an art funk. I had created so much that I became burnt out and needed a break. Once that break ended, I had a surge of creativity and I needed to get something out. This was it. Featured here is my fursona Meow, sitting atop a fallen trunk deep in a flora-lush forest. The inspiration here was due to the countless of worlds and video game environments that I’ve explored. I wanted to try my hand at a forest-like world, yet something that isn’t depicted every day. Color scheme was another thing experimented with. I love trying and testing colors to make it fit into the world I’m creating.

 

Sometimes, being a commission artist means that you won’t have as much free time to work on your own characters as you’d like. Especially if there’s an ever revolving queue of clients. There may be times when you do have that spare moment to work on something for yourself and when that opportunity strikes, seize it.

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Serenity

meowsketch

During a period of time I was experiencing an art funk. I had created so much that I became burnt out and needed a break. Once that break ended, I had a surge of creativity and I needed to get something out. This was it. Featured here is my fursona Meow, sitting atop a fallen trunk deep in a flora-lush forest. The inspiration here was due to the countless of worlds and video game environments that I’ve explored. I wanted to try my hand at a forest-like world, yet something that isn’t depicted every day. Color scheme was another thing experimented with. I love trying and testing colors to make it fit into the world I’m creating.

 

Sometimes, being a commission artist means that you won’t have as much free time to work on your own characters as you’d like. Especially if there’s an ever revolving queue of clients. There may be times when you do have that spare moment to work on something for yourself and when that opportunity strikes, seize it.