Posts Tagged ‘studies’

Over the summer, I collaborated with G.W. Smith of Thee-Gartisan Works for his steampunk photo book. When he told me he wanted one of his books to be in comic book style with colored pencils, I was super excited! Finally, I got to do a big project with my favorite and strongest medium.


We begin with the original photo. In the foreground, we have our dark heroin tearing off a cyborg’s arm. Everyone else watches in disgust, except for the little lolita fairy sporting a smug grin.


Then onto Photoshop, where I overlay a reddish gradient to unify the color scheme. It makes it easier when I move onto the colored pencil stage. Also, I thought it brought out the anger and horror in our two main character’s faces.

Screen shot 2015-05-23 at 3.25.27 PM

I did a handful of paint-overs to construct the scene according to my client’s needs. The easiest part was adding more foliage to create a ground for the title text. Hardest part was making all the figures fit into the comic book layout.


Pencil outlines to be approved before I start inking and coloring. Drawing the portraits in comic book style while keeping their likeness made me a little nervous. As usual, I was afraid some audience would criticize how it looks “too anime”. Thankfully, the only comparison I got was with Archie comics.


Now to move Channing out of the way.


Plowing through the fun part of coloring in the figures. The details in steampunk outfits are incredible, so it was a challenge to determine what main characteristics to fully render.



Filling in the background one section at a time. I like starting from one corner and gradually move out so it doesn’t overwhelm me. Slow and steady wins the race.


Channing being my lazy understudy (thank god he didn’t leave in paw prints).



Now I can offer colored pencil projects to new clients with this piece as a sample. I enjoyed the process from start to finish.


Bonus image of my unfinished tattoo flash project. It’s been collecting dust for what feels like a decade, but I figured I’d post just to say it’s still a thing (although I’m actually not too far from finishing the set).



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I got paid for a birthday commission! A friend of mine wanted a silly portrait of her boyfriend riding a stegosaurus. It’s a pretty straight forward project and post, so here are some pics with a few comments:


The most challenging part was his face not only because he loves to photo bomb with crazy expressions, but also because my dingy, childproof brush kept fraying. If I had a professional calligraphy brush, I’d have more control over small details in tight spaces. I felt ridiculous squatting in front of the easel and trying to keep my hands from shaking.


The palette reminds me of summer; left side is a night at a festival and the right is a day at the beach. Thankfully, she didn’t mind how the painting ended up with really saturated colors. I guess that’s what happens when you rush through color mixing.





As usual, I tend to think I do a better job sketching than the actual painting. Two things I should do next time: 1) after doing a monochromatic underpainting, work with a limited color palette and add color variety with glazing 2) offer colored pencil and mixed media commissions instead of a plain painting. Like I’ve said before, I think I’m better at drawing than painting anyways and they look a whole lot more interesting. Of course, that isn’t to say I don’t enjoy painting. Drawing just happens to be more “me”.


Well, I just received a text from her saying, “He LOVES it!!” It’s a mission accomplished. I don’t paint nearly as much as I should, so this project was a great excuse to get back in touch.


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Here’s the much awaited walkthrough of my Nautilus painting I did for the boyfriend. I was hoping to have a better documentation of the final product, but it’s gonna be a while until I get my hands on a decent camera. Note: my way is NOT the only way. Read up as much as you can and pick out what works for you best.



Studying how to draw the subject from its shape, gesture, and lighting. Also, brainstorming potential narratives  for the character. I would typically have 2-3 pages of ideas, but in this case, I knew exactly what I wanted the nautilus to do since I was revisiting an old concept.


Thumbnails studies of the composition. Some artists create elaborate sketches at this stage, but I like to keep it simple. Creating a detailed drawing and trying to copy it with paint never worked for me. The repetitiveness not only makes the final product look so “empty” and “soulless”, but also makes to process very boring for me . Leaving space for invention keeps me interested in the project.



This stage is almost like fleshing out the thumbnail sketch with paint onto the canvas paper. For the underpainting, I’ve decided to do monochromatic “cool” blue. Monochromatic to get an idea of light and shade; “cool” blue to contrast the “warm” oranges I was planning to use on the Nautilus.



Again, I keep the study small, quick, and simple, so I can get enough info without overwhelming myself. I usually do these in acrylics since they’re fast-drying. On a small palette, I dab primary colors with a side of black and white. When I say “primary”, it doesn’t necessarily have to be basic red, blue, and yellow. Here, I used alizirin crimson, ultramarine, and lemon yellow. Then, I spend time mixing colors until I come up with combos I like. The colored dots on the left are colors I’ve decided to use; the study on the right shows how I applied those colors.


After the color study sketches, I recreate the palette as much as I can with oils. I started off with these colors above, but mixed and made more and more along the way. Some colors I ended up not using at all! It’s always good to leave some room for play in-between formulas. Otherwise, it’d be like paint-by-numbers. When I finish a painting, my palette ends up looking like this mess (this one was for another painting).



There’s not much to say but apply colors and mix more if necessary. However, don’t just fill in the underpainting with paint. With something as fluid as oils, use its materiality to your advantage (although it’s easier to show it on a large-scale painting). For example, playing with the brushstrokes like I did on the Nautilus’s shell and the bubbles.



The key is to have fun and don’t be afraid to make mistakes—even if it means starting it all over. Personally, I’d much rather redo an entire project than keep going with a piece I’ve lost interest in.

Here’s what I’ve made with the left over paints. Happy painting!


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Alot of people ask me what exactly is “Hair Monster” and how did she end up this way. In my mind, there is no straight-forward answer (however, the character’s always been female to me). Every creature has its own story. Some say she’s hiding from the world that rejected her, others say the world made her a sacrifice in hopes of salvation. Here are some sketches I’ve made in the past that could be the potential origins of “Hair Monster”.

Note:  this post is about the character not the image. The visual inspirations for this creature is a whole different story (in fact, it’s a PowerPoint presentation, haha). 

The word “curse” kept popping up in my head when I started these sketches. As I’ve mentioned in the artists statement, the character was inspired by a confused teen torn apart between two racial identities. I’ve been there myself and believe me, I didn’t cope well. I started noticing in middle school how my father would constantly ridicule me for being “too American” and put me down for “not being Japanese enough”. To this day, I can’t express how much hate I have towards him. When people have a lot of anger in them, they turn themselves into something terrible—something they’re really not. That is mainly why, I call these series “Curses”.

If you’ve noticed, this one is labeled “3” because I used to have a “1” and “2” until I’ve managed to lose them (probably during studio cleaning). Thankfully, I still have this sketch because it’s the one that lead me to this piece. I wanted to show how a curse can take over other people the way hate spreads its influence so quickly and easily.

The quote is from a Linkin Park song that just happened to be stuck in my head. It has no significance to the image whatsoever. I think I was flipping through a figure drawing book and liked this posture.

This quick sketch was a “what if?” scenario sketch. I imagined a character that was in total control of this “curse”. What would she do and look like. She’s showing that she can peel away her second “skin”.

What curse isn’t complete with an enraged medium? Sometimes less is more.


Another “what if?” sketch with the figure having the upper hand. Looks like she took a few people down with her. In my mind, she’s a dancer, haha.

An extension of the “what if?” scenario. Has she given into the curse or is she resisting? Risks of using hate to your advantage. Rage can be an important part of a process, but should never be an outcome.

I called this one the “Humiliating Curse” after reading and watching various articles on racial suprematists. The figure was inspired by a Japanese print of a defeated samurai.

That is all for part one! It’s bad how I find making these more pleasurable than the actual pieces.


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As promised, here’s a post on my new charcoal hair studies. Photos aren’t the highest quality since I snagged my boyfriend’s camera phone. Note: I’ll have sketches and thumbnails on my sketchbook blog  that goes along with these drawings.

Before that, here’s a layout of one of my current workplace. It’s a dark corner, haha. At least there’s a little window on the other side. The boyfriend usually keeps the blinds down since it creates a glare on the TV. Advantages of having a generous boyfriend, who lets me use his space:  I get to work on my projects, chill with someone I love, and listen to John Stewart (and other shows) in the background!

“Hair Study: On Her Throne I”

“Hair Study: On Her Throne II”

It looks like a creepy family portrait when they’re next each other. My friends told me one of my wig studies (not posted) looked like an octopus. I don’t know why, but these ones remind me of scorpions.

Finally, a WIP piece inspired by a Berlinde de Bruyckere drawing. She has definitely become one of my fave artists. I want to see her work in person SO BAD! Her work is a beautiful marriage of the beauty and the grotesque.

Yay, a solid blog update!


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it’s now or never. Below are works done during the Drawing Marathon 2011 and figure sculpting class. Drawing Marathon is an annual event hosted by the Hartford Art School Painting & Drawing department.  Here’s a little more info. Alumni welcomed! A lot of drawings were made, but these are the ones I deemed acceptable.

we created an installation with a big cow sculpture. the model posed next to it, but i decided to combine them.

Figure sculpting COMPLETES me. I thoroughly enjoy this class because it’s a totally new perspective of the figure. My drawings have changed since this class. The professor has us keep a separate sketchbook for this class. It’s a little boring since it’s all academic practice, but seeing the progression is kind of fun. We’ve sculpted two models so far.

Here are some bonus shots of my studio buddy and proof that I’m still making “Hair Monsters”. Eventually, I’ll have an official website for my portfolio. Progress will still be updated on this blog.

my little studio bunny aka "Jaclyn (professor) Harassment Bunny"

me with some of the greatest people in the art school. 🙂

whoo~ big update done!


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I love how I cross out one thing on my to-do list only to add like, a million more. I’m losing sleep early on in the semester like a good student, harhar. My studio diet consists of hot water and pretzels. Otherwise, my health is corrupting from food to sleep.

A way overdue post for this piece, “Hair Monsters in Love”. Hopefully, this photo will only be temporary since it’s not the best, especially on white ground. Charcoal is my “bestie” while graphite is my “bffl”. It felt exciting to finally buy a jar of charcoal powder. Breath in the black dusty goodness (I’m not gonna live very long). I love the softness of the medium.

Installation photos from fall semester final critique to give you an idea of size. I’m becoming a master of paper wrestling! The paper is so heavy and big, I needed to us a staple gun since the tacks kept popping off. Working on a large scale feels relieving though. My entire body gets to move around with the drawing.  I don’t follow the “bigger the better” art philosophy, but I highly recommend it if you’ve never done it. If anything, it’ll help you catch your mistakes.

Currently, I’m doing wig studies like the one above. When inventive drawings drive me insane, life drawing reassures me. My professor tells me I should showcase the studies alongside the “Hair Monsters”. I’ll think about that… Loose, stringy hairs are my new fave things to draw, haha.

Bonus shot of an unfinished study and me… I don’t remember what I was doing. Expect more project photos in the near future!


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