I was featured along side the other nominees for the Spectrum Fantasy Art Live Rising Star Award! Check it out here: http://muddycolors.blogspot.com/2017/07/rising-stars.html
And here is my monthly newsletter giving a breakdown of what's happened! Click the image.
I've been wanting to sell mounted prints of my most popular illustrations Reflection and Trial. And I know how scary working with resin can seem, so I decided to put together a step-by-step video guide explaining how to mount prints and seal them with ArtResin, a non-yellowing and archival resin just for the artwork.
What you'll need:
- Gesso or Matte Medium
- 8x10 Wooden Panel
- Medium Sponge Brush
- Exacto Blade
- Wax Paper
- Brayer (or a bone fold or credit card)
- Tombow Xtreme Adhesive
- Wax Paper
- Spare Cardboard. Used to protect your workstation.
- Mixing cup
- Box Top. Used to protect your mounted piece from dust as it cures.
- Latex gloves (optional)
Step 1: Prepping Your Surface
Cover your 8x10 wooden panel with gesso or matte medium to protect it from any acids in the wood. Some panels come pre-gessoed. Just make sure that your surface is very smooth, so your print will lay flat.
Step 2: Adhere your Print
Apply Tombow Xtreme Adhesive to your wooden panel. Carefully align your pre-trimmed print to the surface. (Side note: I print my own prints with a Canon Pixma Pro 100 printer on Canon Premium Luster paper.) Cover your print with wax paper and use a brayer to press the print onto your wooden panel. Cut any excess with an Exacto blade.
Step 2 Alternative (not in video)
Cover your wooden panel with matte medium or any other acid-free glue meant for paper. Print your intended print with a .25 bleed and place your print on the wooden panel. Cover with wax paper to protect your print and use your brayer to press the print firmly to your surface. Start from the middle and work your way outwards with the brayer. This prevents trapped bubbles. Let dry for 20mins. Flip your piece over and trim the excess paper with your Exacto blade. Here is a past tutorial I did for mounting BFK rives paper: View it here. It is the exact same method.
Step 3: Apply ArtResin
Mix as instructed. Make sure your measurements are exact. Otherwise, it won't cure correctly. I use 2TB of the resin and 2TB of the hardener for a single 8x10 print. Apply ArtResin directly onto your now mounted print. Spread across your piece. ArtResin will self-level, so don't worry about getting it even. Let it sit for 5 mins to let the bubbles settle.
Step 4: Bubble Killing
Use a hand torch to eliminate bubbles. I bought a small kitchen one for $20 at Bed Bath and Beyond. Try to eliminate all your bubbles in the first 20mins. The ArtResin will start to harden at 45mins. Remember to cover your sides with resin too. This will seal your print that much better. Smooth out any dripping. Remove any dust with a toothpick or loop of paper.
Step 5: Cover Your Artwork
Cover your piece with a box lid for 24hours. It'll completely harden in 72hours.
Step 6: Paint the Sides
Wait the full 72 hours. Paint the sides of the print with water based paint. A wet paper towel will remove any smudges that may get on the actual print. Just wipe away quickly.
Step 7: Hang and Enjoy!
Why Pan's Labyrinth?
I've been wanting to do a fan art piece for a while now, so I left it up to my patrons on Patreon to vote on what I should do next! To get involved in my next fan art piece, joining my Patreon at Patreon.com/AshlyLovett.
Movie Plot Summary
In 1944, in the post-Civil War in Spain, rebels still fight in the mountains against the falangist troops. The young and imaginative Ofelia travels with her pregnant and sick mother Carmen Vidal to the country to meet and live with her stepfather, the sadistic and cruel Captain Vidal, in an old mill. During the night, Ofelia meets a fairy and together they go to a pit in the center of a maze where they meet a faun that tells that she is a princess from a kingdom in the underground. He also tells that her father is waiting for her, but she needs to accomplish three gruesome, tough and dangerous assignments first. Meanwhile, she becomes a friend of the servant Mercedes, who is the sister of one of the rebels and actually is giving support to the group. In a dark, harsh and violent world, Ofelia lives her magical world trying to survive her tasks and sees her father and king again. - Written by Caudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. IMDB.com
Process Work: Research Stage
With the beginning of each fan art piece, I start with my research behind my character and the story. I started with the color palette.
" I used the angular, cold world of fascist-era Spain to represent reality, and a very rounded and uterine world to represent the fantasy that the child escapes into. I guess you could say that I am obsessed with images of stillborn things, and seduced by the idea that the womb is the most comfortable place to be." - The Guardian (article link here)
I also found this fascinating article about the lighting objectives and how they worked with the film's low budget and struggled with their environment:
"'The initial color differentiation between the film’s two worlds was simple: Ofelia’s fantasy world would feature mainly warm colors, primarily “deep crimsons and golden ambers, almost like amniotic fluids,' notes Del Toro....In the Pale Man’s intensely warm environment, which is dominated by red tones and a blazing fire..." -American Society of Cinematography (article link here)
The Pale Man represents all institutional evil feeding on the helpless. In fact, this character is inspired by Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya. In an interview with Screen Anarchy Del Toro says, " The Pale Man represents the Church for me, y'know? [He] represents fascism and the Church eating the children when they have a perversely abundant banquet in front of them. There is almost a hunger to eat innocence."
It was also intended to be an old wrinkly man. However, during the sculpting stage, Del Toro wanted it more humanoid and suggested shapes similar to a manta ray. The creepiness factor went way up and they went with it. Read about it here.
Process Work: Sketch Phase
After getting a feel for the look and reason behind the character, I started sketching from the movie to get to know Mr. Pale Man better. I knew I had to include his eye hands in some way. It is a key feature of his character. Now how to do it best?
I didn't want to just take a screenshot straight from the movie. That's too easy and has been done time and time again. I wanted to showcase his wrinkles, the translucent skin, the blue veins, and I knew I wanted a long verticle to compliment his skinny form. I was lucky enough to come across David Marti's Instagram. He is the Co-owner of DDTSFX with Montse, the production company responsible for the prosthetics used for Pan's Labyrinth. There I pulled tons of reference from photos and videos. They were very helpful in understanding The Pale Man's body. I eventually found this gem of a photo on Google images searching "the pale man makeup team." (Side Note: Muddycolors.com put together an excellent post about googling references photos. Click here to read)
I did some Photoshopping-Frankeisteining and came up with a fabulous reference photo for my final illustration. From there I tapped 16x21 piece of BFK Rives paper onto my drawing board and went to town.
Process Work: Final Drawing
I work with chalk pastels on BFK Rives printmaking paper. The biggest challenge for this piece was controlling my values. I had to make a decision to either apply my details in the areas cast in light or shadow. Doing both would only make the piece overworked. Both sides would fight for interest. I chose the lighted areas. The second biggest challenge was designing the forms. This character doesn't have normal features (duh.) Normally I love working with the hair and the plains of the face to create depth, form, interest, and flow. I didn't have that option here, so I had to take great care with carefully placed shadows and highlights to show form.
The most fun was adding the highlights on his hands. It really helped it pop! I also enjoyed adding green throughout the piece to help bring out the reds since they are complimentary colors. Finding places to add subtle blues and purples was a fun challenge too. I didn't want it to be just reds, blacks, and yellows. I needed warm browns and other colors to liven up the overall palette. I used cold medium grey for the veins on his skull, arms, and chest.
Below are process images, close-ups, and 2 time-lapse videos of the making of this piece. I originally offered the time-lapse videos to my patrons, but I really wanted to share it for this blog post. So enjoy!
The final illustration measures 13"x21". Click the images to zoom.
I'm a big fan of Del Toro's work. My first fan art piece was of Crimson Peak (right.) Later this year I plan to do a Hellboy and another Pan's Labyrinth piece featuring the faun. I just need to put aside the time for this kind of personal work since I really enjoy it.
The last week of Month of Love using the word "light." I wanted a mermaid that glowed like a beacon. Mesmerizing all the fishes into telling her all their secrets gathered throughout the ocean.
Click to zoom in on close-ups
My inspiration for color and content. Artist include Serena Maylor, Christian Birmingham, and others.
I decided I wanted to stick with the Archie and Betty's relationship as my angle. I wanted to create a piece that had some ambiguity. I want the viewer to question whether they are a couple or just friends. This pose could lean either way. I also wanted to merge the present and the past by playing with their appearance. 1950s hairstyles are coming back into style, which helped me play with this idea of ambiguity. This is why I named this piece Timeless.
View the full art how online at http://nineteeneightyeight.com
My piece created for Month of Love a yearly challenge held in the month of Feb. I'm thrilled to be a roster artist again this year. Each week artist are given a word to interpret.
The first week's word was "secrets." I originally thought I could do some spot illustrations to add to my portfolio. But eventually, after some doodling, I noticed offhandedly one of my sketches made me think of a pilgrim. And that train of thought made me think of the novel "The Scarlet Letter." Perfect for secrets and romance! Here is a plot summary for this novel.
I feel good about the composition and the negative space which is intended to have text. I wanted to do more narrative work and play around with new lighting. I'm satisfied with the outcome. I wasn't sure about the solid A, but I think it balances well with overall drawing and shapes of the piece.
My reference/ inspiration gallery of photos and other artist work. Includes the amazing Audrey Benjaminsen, Sam Weber, Ed Kinsella, and others.
Very happy to announce that I'll be participating in 4 group shows this year with Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. They are well known for curating pop culture shows and I'm honored to work with them!
I'm starting off the year with the first official Rick and Morty art show, which opens tonight at 7pm-9pm at Gallery 1988 West. Rick and Morty is a cartoon featured on Adult Swim. If you can't attend, the show is online (click here.)
There you can purchase the originals (Update: Rick sold) or 1 of 10 limited edition prints (Update: First edition sold out. New 11x14 variant prints now available. Click here to purchase). Below is my chalk pastel piece titled "Rick" which will be in the show.
Sketchbook phase first. I needed to understand what made these characters look like "them". Learn the subtleties. I found that I needed to be careful with my line work and placement of the nose and eyes. Otherwise, they'll start looking like a muppet. After a few episodes, I eventually I got the swing of things. It's interesting that they make their pupils squiggly.
If you are unfamiliar with the show, it airs on Adult Swim and is moving along to a Season 3. This promo videos does better justice in explaining the show I think. Enjoy! It's hiliarious.
From the sketch phase. I collected reference photos from the show to get to know the color palette and wacky characters. My initial idea was to do a more illustrative piece, but even after a lot of process work, I decided against it. I love portrait work and that is what I sent the gallery when they accepted my portfolio. If I want to explore more illustrative work then it needs to be with another project. Always a good lesson to know it's ok to throw out hours of process work if the idea from the beginning is just not a right fit.
Time-lapse of my chalk pastel drawing of "Rick"
I wanted to make sure I didn't make Rick a nice guy. He is a selfish sarcastic old man who gets drunk all the time. I also really wanted to make sure he had a long face and hair that mimicked the same silhouette. And that uni-bro. I had to give it justice!
Below is my reference I used for Rick. Old gentlemen, uni-brows, and drunk people.
What about Morty?
After finishing my Rick portrait, I thought, "Why not do a complimentary Morty piece?" The deadline for the artwork was no later that Jan 6th and the gallery gave me the OK. I finished and shipped my Rick portrait framed and ready on the 22nd. I started a Morty portrait but realized I didn't want to rush it. Morty was a more difficult subject matter due to the fact that his character is made to be less interesting that Rick. I mean...it's not hard to make an eccentric drunk scientist with crazy hair into an interesting portrait. Also, Rick was an old man, which gave me many opportunities to play with lots of line work and interesting marks because of wrinkles. Morty is 14.
You have Morty who isn't very smart and below average in just about everything. His character is designed to look average. So it was a battle working out Morty's face while still trying to make his portrait stand alone. How to put in interesting mark making while still trying to keep him looking young and still in the same world as my Rick portrait? In the end, I decided it was better to just send in "Rick" for the gallery show and finish Morty as a fan art piece for myself. I'm happy with it and glad I took my time. And here he is.
To purchase the original Morty or get a Rick or Morty limited edition print Purchase Them Here at Gallery 1988's online store.
The reference photos I gathered when I envisioned Morty as a more real life character.
Rick and Morty is TM©Cartoon Network
Recently I’ve been very interested in the layered textures of flora and how those patterns are mimicked in flames. Incendium was created from that study.
incendium n (genitive incendiī); Latin
- A fire, inferno, conflagration; heat; torch.
- (heat of) passion, vehemence
Framed: Tabletop or Wall Display
Framed: UV Museum Glass
Framed: Wooden Frame 11x13
Medium: chalk pastel
Surface: Rives BFK
Freebie for you guys. I often share time-lapse videos on my Patreon and here is one of the latest.
Here is an impromptu chalk pastel drawing I decided to do of Doloris from the HBO series Westworld. You'll notice I play around with the placement at the beginning of this video. Totally not planned. I hope I can finish this up within the next few weeks.
See more process videos and tutorials on my Patreon:
music ©Soundgarden - "Black Hole Sun"
Another excellent Month of Fear has come and gone. You know, it was Month of Fear that began my current portfolio 1 year ago. Before I pursued children's book. And it wasn't until I participated in Month of Fear that I realized my love for dark things, changed my portfolio, and didn't look back.
Month of Fear Week 3: Door
Of course, I couldn't help but think of the book Coraline.
"Coraline’s mouth dropped open in horror and she stepped out of the way as the thing clicked and scuttled past her and out of the house, running crablike on its too-many tapping, clicking, scurrying feet. She knew what it was, and she knew what it was after. She had seen it too many times in the last few days, reaching and clutching and snatching and popping blackbeetles obediently into the other mother’s mouth. Five-footed, crimson-nailed, the color of bone.
It was the other mother’s right hand.
It wanted the black key."
Below is my reference gallery of artwork (Dave Mckean and Sam Wolfe Connelly) and photos, my own reference photography (use of grey construction paper and packing tape), my rough sketch, and uncleaned up version.
This is not my first go with illustrations from the book Caroline by Neil Gaiman. If you'd like to see the process work involved in making the illustrations below, click this tag and scroll down to see everything: Category: Coraline
I've added 3 new originals to The Store.
"Variscite" mini-original. chalk pastel, gouache, and silver embellishment paint.
"Fae" chalk pastel original framed and matted with UV Museum Glass
"Aurora" chalk pastel original framed and matted with UV Museum Glass
Month of Fear is back! And here is my latest piece. This first week's word is "Secrets."
To learn more about this monthly challenge click here. To see my work last year, use the link on the right.
This piece went really quickly because I had a lot of things going on this month. I started with this thumbnail and let the idea tumble around in my head.
photo gallery reference for this piece
Art work inspiration from James Jean,Rovina Cai, and others.