Thursday, February 28, 2013

Steve Smulka's Glass paintings

These are oil paintings. So. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

 About a gazillion more of these can be found on Steve Smulka's website, so go ahead and spend some time there if you feel like feeling unaccomplished today. (He also has a collection of female figure paintings, which are very beautiful as well.) Usually, hyper-realistic paintings have a tendency to leave me a bit cold - I'm more partial to a looser, atmospheric style and more fantastical/caricatured subjects - but I can't help but admire these. I'd love to see a process breakdown. How do you even start a painting like this?

Originally found on the Lines and Colors blog.

© Gina Florio 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

85 Years of Oscar

Gallery 1988 teamed up with graphic designer and illustrator Olly Moss to create this tribute poster to all the best picture winners throughout the years. Some very cool designs in here! Click the link for a photo gallery of all the statuettes, but I included some of my favorites here.


And they've even updated it with Sunday night's winner...

I enjoyed Argo, but personally I had been holding out a small amount of hope for Silver Linings Playbook - that was the film with the most heart, to me. And let's not even talk about the fact that Brave won over Wreck-It Ralph. Bleh.

Sketch a day update coming soon!

© Gina Florio 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Work Habits

Dan dos Santos posted this video on the Muddy Colors blog a few weeks ago.

Not all of these ideas pertain exactly to artmaking - for example, writing down which tasks to accomplish within your 90-minute periods - but the idea of working "smarter, not harder" makes sense to me. I find that I improve the most when I take a couple of hours to sit down and really focus on something that's giving me trouble. It can be a really frustrating 90 minutes, but when I come across that particular problem again, I'll find that it goes smoother.

The idea of working in chunks and taking frequent breaks also makes sense to me - especially as a creative worker. I definitely take a lot of breaks while editing. I've also heard of this principle being applied to fitness regimens! It's called "interval training" and is usually used by runners training for marathons. They'll sprint for 5 minutes, walk for 2, sprint for 5, walk for 2, and so on - even if they feel they can keep going at the end of each 5-minute period, the 2-minute walk period helps them replace their depleted energy, so they can go farther and build up endurance. The brain can be the same way. With editing, I have days where I'm under the gun and I need to go as fast as possible for the entire day, and while I can do it, by the end of the day I'm completely burnt out.

Something that I really struggle with as far as work ethic goes is distraction (which is easy to get confused with "taking frequent breaks"). I've gotten much better lately - but with the entire internet at your fingertips 24/7, it's so easy to get off track. This also relates to the prevalence of multitasking that the video mentions. In today's society, we're expected to be always connected, always available, always knowledgeable about the latest news and pop culture. Lately I reread James Gurney's Dinotopia books (always good for an imagination boost), and paid particular attention to the "Dinotopian Code" this time around:
Survival of all or none.
One raindrop raises the sea.
Weapons are enemies, even to their owners.
Give more, take less.
Others first, self last.
Observe, listen and learn.
Do one thing at a time.
Sing every day.
Exercise imagination.
Eat to live, don't live to eat.
Don't p... [the rest is cut off]
It seems to me like these are good rules, not just in a fictional utopian society, but in real life. The one that stuck out to me the most was "Do one thing at a time." I've been trying to remember and apply that to my own life lately.

This article, "Relax! You'll Be More Productive," also appeared in the New York Times recently, and seems to back up much of what the video claims. It makes for a good read. The more we understand about how our brains & bodies work, the more we can implement this information to improve our lives.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why I Am Like A Cat

Content by Jeff Wysaski of Pleated Jeans. (Originally found on reddit)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Daily Sketches - Week 7

Had some time to branch out a little last week and experiment more with my watercolors.

Feb 11
Feb 12 - this is a building on my street that I've always liked for its interesting look

I've wanted to paint the cul-de-sac at the end of my road for a long time, because it's always a welcome sight to me - it means I'm finally home (usually after a long day of work). I photographed it when the sun was starting to set and the light was really interesting, and worked from that. I also decided to take pictures of my process. Please note that my level of knowledge about watercolor and painting in general is basically at 0. And please feel free to give pointers. I would love that actually.

This is my watercolor set. There are 24 colors, and I was originally using most of them, but then read that it's better to use less colors, and to always mix your greens from blues and yellows instead of using green paint. The test swatches on the paper with the dots below them are the ones I've been restricting myself to. And yes, I paint right in front of my computer, it's pretty bad. I wish I had the space for a separate traditional art desk.

I've been reading a lot about color and light and I knew that I wanted there to be a separation between the "warm" parts of the picture (everything the light was touching) and the "cool" parts (stuff in shadow). I decided to try to accomplish this by using a yellow underpainting in the warm sections and a blue underpainting in the cool sections, since watercolor is transparent and hence good for layering.

The painting with more or less all of the shapes blocked in, I had also started to do some shadows on the trees in back.

The final product.

I am happy with the way this came out - or maybe I should say, I'm happy with what I learned by trying it - but it definitely could be better. The colors need work - I don't think I achieved the high contrast between warm and cool that I was going for - but I think my real problem here is with value. In the original photograph, the stuff in shadow is noticeably WAY darker than the stuff in light, and that's not true in the painting. Everything's very midtone. I think it was Ty Carter (who has done a lot of great posts lately on color & light) who said, "Your paintings can work without color but not without value... if your values are off, everything is off." It's hard to get dark darks in watercolor though! I'm always afraid of going too dark at first because there's no way to fix it like there would be with a non-transparent medium like oils. But then I end up with a painting like this with no contrast. So it goes. Learning...

Feb 14 - trying a black and white watercolor to improve my values.

Feb 15 - I like turtles.

Extra for Feb 15.

Feb 16 - visited the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the LACMA and decided to attempt a still from The Shining with markers.

Feb 17 - monkies, which were much harder than expected.

I also made a few improvements to my desk this past week (most notably, my new clamp-on swiveling daylight-color-temperature lamp/magnifying glass which I'm in love with) and decided to take a couple pictures of my setup. The desk itself is actually an Ikea countertop, which I bought legs for & attached. I usually just push my keyboard and Wacom tablet back and draw or paint in that space. (My desktop background is by the amazing Khang Le.)

Eventually I'd love to move the printer somewhere else and put an angled tabletop drawing board in that area.

A reminder pinned to my bulletin board.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, an exciting bit of news - Dave and I and some friends FINALLY got tickets for the San Diego Comic-Con this year (the big one). I have been wanting to go for years now, we've even tried for tickets the past couple of years, but never gotten through. I know, I know, it's all big and commercial now, and it'll be super overwhelming, and there will be too many people, and we'll spend most of our time waiting in line, and our hotel was ridiculously priced and will probably suck... but I'm excited anyway. I would feel bad calling myself a nerd if I didn't go at least once. And hopefully I'll get to meet and buy prints from many of the artists I follow there.

Happy President's Day to everyone - I hope everyone has the day off (unlike myself... but I can't complain! It's good to have work).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Late Valentine's Day Post

I love Mutts, and I love Carl Sagan (and I love love). However you feel about Valentine's Day, I hope you had a good one. For me, it's a day to remember how lucky I am to share my life with the many people I love.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013 Oscar Nominated Animations

This year almost all of the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts have been posted online ("The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare" is the last holdout as of right now). I've already posted Paperman twice on this blog but third time's the charm, right?

Even though Paperman will most likely win (not that I'm saying it shouldn't, it IS great), you should DEFINITELY check out the other three below.

'Adam and Dog,' beautifully directed and animated by Minkyu Lee, who says: “This is a short film that me and a group of my close friends made. It was put together by artists who work at various studios, including Disney Feature, Dreamworks and Pixar; The animation is done by myself, Jennifer Hager, James Baxter, Mario Furmanczyk, Austin Madison, and Matt Williames. Glen Keane also helped by being a consultant on the film, and also doing some visual development. It is a completely independent film without any major studio involvement. We are really excited for people to see it, and wanted to share.” You can also find a collection of some of the absolutely gorgeous backgrounds over at Living Lines Library.

'Head Over Heels,' by Tim Reckart, who apparently was friends with my friend Eric in middle school. Don't let the 'offbeat' look of the film fool you - this is a film full of heart (reminds me of Pixar's 'Up').

'Fresh Guacamole,' by PES - the precursor to this, Western Spaghetti, is also worth a watch (and both films make me hungry every time I watch them). Besides the absolutely brilliant execution as far as visuals go, I think what makes these films so winning is their excellent sound design!

It goes without saying that short films have less pressure on them than features during their production as far as studios and budgets are concerned, so you're always going to find smaller, off-the-beaten-path stories and animation styles in the shorts. But I think it's interesting to note that, of the 5 nominated films, two are stop-motion animation, and the other three have the look of traditional 2-D animation (even though they all implement CG animation in some way). EDIT: I also meant to mention how all of them are wordless! (With the possible exception of the Simpsons short, which I haven't seen yet.) Sometimes the best way to tell a story is without words.

Last year the winner for animated short was 'The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,' which is also definitely worth watching if you have the time.

It was a surprise that this won because everyone expected Pixar's short 'La Luna' to win. But totally deserved I think.

The nominees for Animated Feature are: Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Pirates!: Band of Misfits, and Wreck-It Ralph. I've been a bad animation enthusiast this year in that I've only seen two out of the five - Brave and Wreck-It Ralph. Wreck-It Ralph was probably my favorite movie of 2012 in terms of pure enjoyment. Brave was aesthetically beautiful (I couldn't stop staring at Merida's hair) but disappointing story- and character-wise. I REALLY wanted to see Pirates because I've been a fan of Aardman ever since being introduced to their winning Wallace and Gromit shorts when I was little, but missed it while it was in theaters... same with ParaNorman, heard great things but missed it (although I have it on Amazon Prime rental right now so hopefully I'll watch it soon). I've heard Frankenweenie is missable though so I'll probably pass over that one.

They say it was a bad year for movies - but it was a great year for animation!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Just a few reminders for when we're feeling down about our art.

Keep at it!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Daily Sketches Weeks 4-6 and other stories

Let's dive right in, shall we?

Jan 21
Jan 22

Jan 23 - doodled during perspective class (no disrespect to the great Gary Meyer)

Jan 24

Jan 25 - trying to be more gestural

Jan 26

Jan 27 - just... ugh. The one good thing I can think to say about this is that it was an accurate representation of how tired I was at the time (drawing ability included).

I would like to state for the record that I am aware that a lot of these are, how do you say... bad. Shitty. Not worthy of the internet. But part of my daily sketch resolution is to post them all here (and on my Instagram)... for better or for worse. On the one hand, it feels like I'm humiliating myself every other day, which is a bad feeling... but on the other, the fact that I know my friends and family are seeing them every day makes me push myself to do better sketches.

Jan 28 - looks like perspective HW but isn't. A quick visual from my drive up to Art Center College of Design that day
Jan 29 - actual perspective HW (draw your room) in process

Jan 30 - completed perspective HW. This is Dave's and my office / guest bedroom / retro videogame area.

Jan 31 - super quick celebration of drawing every day for a month.

Unfortunately sometimes I just don't have the time to make great ones (or even good ones). Editing TV is a standard 10-hour day (10am-8pm). I run in the mornings before work and Dave and I cook most nights after work. And after that it's basically time for bed, rinse and repeat. Plus all the regular life stuff you deal with - grocery shopping, emails, friends. Weekends get crazy with errands and social engagements. Sometimes I try to draw at lunch at work, but I worry about that being company time. If I have time in the mornings post-shower I'll draw then. But generally it's 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there. I want to stress, I'm not complaining. I'm lucky to have a job I enjoy that gives me enough money to attend my art classes and buy my supplies. But time is valuable too. I listened to an audiobook of Bobby Chiu's "The Perfect Bait" over the winter break, and he stressed the need to MAKE time if you want to get better. So that's what I've been doing.

Feb 1 - practicing from classic movie still frames

Feb 2 - perspective HW #2 (draw an accurately proportioned building given only the measurements)

Feb 3 - puppy bowl recap, no photo reference

Feb 4 - puppy bowl recap, using photo reference like a good non-lazy artist

Feb 5 - This was after about a 14-hour day. Literally got nuthin.
Feb 6 - more classic movie practice

Feb  7

Feb 8 - getting back to my VisCom roots with some fluffy bunnies

Feb 9 - continuing the cute animals kick

Feb 10 - Completed perspective HW #4 - draw a building in 2-pt perspective given a plan (overhead) and elevation (front) view.

SO anyway - all of that was just a roundabout way of saying, when you see a shitty daily sketch - it was probably a really long day but I carved out 10 minutes somewhere to make SOMEthing.

In other news - I am now 4 weeks into my perspective class at 3kicks with Gary Meyer, who also teaches at Art Center College of Design. He's 78 years old and has a great sense of humor (this picture is a pretty accurate representation of his personality). He does go EXTREMELY fast though and it's a bit of a struggle to keep up. I'll try to gather my learnings into a post for everyone - but to be honest, many of the lessons / assignments haven't been terribly practical. However, even though the subject matter can be pretty dry, it's been helping me a LOT, I can already feel it affecting me when I'm drawing. I've started to keep the general 3-D-ness of a drawing in mind, finding the vanishing points - setting an object or a scene in space instead of just doodling flat with no background/context. (I've also noticed that almost all of the sketches I do from imagination are in 1-point perspective. What's up with that?)

Finally, I just wanted to draw your attention to some new areas of the blog - I now have a Favorite Artists page just to keep track of the great artists who influence me and examples of their work (I would like to update this sometime with links to all their personal websites soon). I also have an instagram feed on the right under my profile. I would love to make a header/banner soon too - but I feel intense pressure to make it AWESOME since it's the first thing people will see when they visit. Any suggestions?