Secrets

Happy Wednesday, All. As promised, I am going to commit to updating this thing at least once a week. So what’s going on in Mystic Media studios today:

I CAN’T TELL YOU! Normally I would post about the process of my projects, but I’m in the process of working on a top secret painting. I will let you know this, however. It will be mixed wet media, much like my Crowley poem series, and I was fortunate enough to have the gorgeous and talented Sushila Battagione to model for this painting. I’m hoping to have it finished by the 1st of July. Stay tuned!

the lovely Sushila Battagione - photo © Scott Belding 2013

the lovely Sushila Battagione – photo © Scott Belding 2013

**NOTE: Does this lady look familiar? That’s because you probably know her either from her artistic excellence in producing Raqs Oubliettes or from her many services and workshops via her health spa Oracle Wellness. If you are unfamiliar with either of these enterprises, I insist that you check them out immediately!**

I was so pleased to receive so much positive feedback on my thesis post, I was even quoted in The Wild Hunt (WHAT?) Thank you guys for taking an interest in my art and taking the time to tell me what you think. And thank you all for being so forgiving about the offensive amount of typos in my mini dissertation! I basically sat down and typed it all out in an hour, so it was naturally rife with mistakes. Meh. Thankfully my actual 50 page thesis paper was coherent and beautifully copy-edited.

Enough with the face-saving. There isn’t much else new and exciting going on around here. I did get to visit with my dear friend Sean who blew in from the midwest this week. We went to The Lovecraft and caught up a little bit. I brought my sketchbook and drew in the dark. C’mon, that isn’t nearly as pathetic as reading a book in the club. Is it?…

OH YEAH, it was my birthday on Sunday. I had a wealth of birthday wishes, my best friend Kelli took me out for dinner, my boyfriend organized a surprise goth pool party for me (for realz) I received 2 birthday readings and my dear friend Maxine Miller gave me this AMAZING cimaruta. Maxine is the artist that designed this cimaruta for Raven Grimassi‘s line of witchy products. I was stoked to get it from the artist herself ❤

My Cimaruta by the amazing Maxine Miller

My Cimaruta by the amazing Maxine Miller

 

Valentines, Thesis, and The Star Goddess

Hello, Friends! I hope the Year of the Water Serpent is treating you well so far. Things continue to get busier and busier for me here, but as thesis progresses I become more inspired and excited about my project.

ecmajor-the-black-water-snake-of-the-new-year

I survived the dreaded PechaKucha. It wasn’t too painful, everyone seemed to feel equally unprepared and unsure of what they were supposed to be presenting. The good news is that it did really help me determine a direction for my research.

“In this paper I will consider why people need fictional allegories to empathize with the reality of suffering. I will explore the connection between allegory and social responsibility, as well as the ways that some find empowerment and catharsis through allegorical devices.”  – current thesis statement

I am examining historical and contemporary artists that utilize violent and tragic allegory to convey social and political messages within their work. To bring my paper back into the realm of contemporary illustration, I plan on dissecting a few relevant graphic novels that speak with the same vocabulary.

research materials

research materials

 

I finished the last bit of conceptual groundwork for my thesis project and created comps for all six pieces. This week I start actually working on the art, and I couldn’t be more excited. I will continue to post updates throughout the process.

a comp for one of the six pieces

a comp for one of the six pieces

 

Phase one of my book cover commission is complete. What Christine requested was an image that would evoke the imagery of Starhawk‘s Star Goddess creation myth:

“Alone, awesome, complete within Herself, the Goddess, She whose name cannot be spoken, floated in the abyss of the outer darkness, before the beginning of all things. As She looked into the curved mirror of black space, She saw by her own light her radiant reflection, and fell in love with it. She drew it forth by the power that was in Her and made love to Herself, and called Her “Miria, the Wonderful”.

Their ecstasy burst forth in the single song of all that is, was, or ever shall be, and with the song came motion, waves that poured outward and became all the spheres and circles of the worlds. The Goddess became filled with love, swollen with love, and She gave birth to a rain of bright spirits that filled the worlds and became all beings.”

– Starhawk, The Spiral Dance

Christine wanted something more anthro and less pin-up, but sensual none the less. I was up for the challenge. I started out with some very loose sketching trying to design shapes that would be appealing for the composition.

sketches

sketches

 

I then created six variations of silhouettes to see which I liked best. I decided that the second and sixth had the most potential for a pleasing composition that met the client’s criteria

silhouettes

silhouettes

From there I created some final thumbnail comps in photoshop to get an idea of how the silhouettes would look in the form of star clusters. I imagine the line work will be created out of stars (white light/linework) and the line/star clusters will dissipate the further they move away from the goddesses’ kiss. The same would go for the misty looking nebula color which I plan to paint in. To mimic that, I made the shapes/nebulas more transparent moving from the center outward in all of the comps.

As much as I think there is potential for lovely shapes with the full-body nebulas, the client doesn’t want the cover to resemble a pin-up in any way, so the faces definitely are less problematic in that sense. I also appreciate the possibilities of conveying intimacy in a more subtle way through facial expression with the face nebulas. Between the two comps that feature the faces, I prefer the third. It is the better composition, it contains the potential for key facial details, and it gives more room to show off the fading effect of the nebulas and line work. So this is the composition that I proposed for the book cover. Christine seems pleased with that decision, so the next step is creating the line work.

For all of you who celebrate, happy Valentine’s Day and a joyous Lupercalia to you! My boyfriend and I exchanged gifts early, since his work week starts tomorrow. More traditional gifts would include jewelry and chocolates, but we are far from traditional. (Bragging time) He got me my favorite candies, a big bag of tea lights, and the Wildwood Tarot, which I have been coveting for a long time! I got him a locally made set of runes – carved from white tail deer antler – complete with a handmade leather bag, and a Chinese zodiac pendant. And of course, a sappy, sappy card.

nerdy love

nerdy love

 

Vile Kirby and What the Hell is a PechaKucha?

You can not tell me that my blog titles aren’t enticing. Whether the blogs themselves deliver, who knows. Here’s some more art!

I just finished my first assignment in Advanced Illustration. This one takes some explaining:

For the 1st assignment we were supposed to pair up with a classmate and interview them about their work. Depending on things that they wanted to explore, their portfolio was missing, or things that they absolutely hate doing, we then were to create an assignment for them, being as mean or helpful as we wished.

My buddy Josh Burd (you may remember him from this assignment) came up with a pretty hilarious assignment for me. Because I don’t have a lot of packaging design under my belt, and because I never do anything “cute or fluffy” Josh thought it would be a good exercise for me to design a new variation of Kirby as a character, and the box packaging for its inevitable collector’s toy. Josh named him “Vile Kirby” and instructed me to create him in my style. And that was it.

If you are unfamiliar with Kirby, he is a cutesy Nintendo character that has been featured in a number of different video games, including Kirby’s Dreamland and Kirby’s Epic Yarn. He even has his own bizarre cartoon.

Nintendo's Kirby

Nintendo’s Kirby

 

So this proved to be interesting challenge. Vile, by definition, means extremely wicked or unpleasant. I needed to create a Kirby that possessed those qualities, but retained some of Kirby’s cuteness and some key, recognizable characteristics. I sketched out some ideas and came up with a Kirby I really liked.

IMAG0066

 

I designed the typeface for Vile Kirby’s name and started to design the actual packaging from a box template. The final result was this:

 

Vile Kirby, digital media© Valerie Herron 2013

Vile Kirby, digital media
© Valerie Herron 2013

Vile Kirby box packaging, digital media© Valerie Herron 2013

Vile Kirby box packaging, digital media
© Valerie Herron 2013

 

Then I made a prototype box.

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My cat Naharra jumped in there to model and demonstrate scale. Thank you, darling. I’m not sure if I’ll use this in my portfolio or not, but it was a lot of fun to make. Thanks, Josh 😉

I’m beginning to write my big, scary, thesis paper. I was happy to discover that the paper doesn’t have to cover all of the conceptual territory that the project encompasses (thank all of the gods, my project is way too ambitious) but it is required to be a lengthy research paper that will shed some light on the project. I finally narrowed down all of the research possibilities to this thesis statement:

In this paper I will consider why it is that people need fictional allegories to empathize with the reality of suffering. I will explore the connection between allegory and social responsibility, as well as the ways that some find catharsis and empowerment through allegorical devices.

The first step into research required by my thesis writing class is to construct and present a PechaKucha. What the hell is a PechaKucha? It is a painful exercise of indeterminate pronunciation (my professor thinks it’s either Peh-chuh-Koo-chuh or, hilariously, Peh-chatch-kah) where you must give power point style presentation on a complex subject, limited to 20 slides, 20 seconds each. The idea is that the presenter will be forced to distill their subject matter and will only present salient information. Making the exercise even more fun, we are limited to 4 minutes or less, 10 slides.

So I have to figure out how I will be defining all of my terms, presenting valid examples, and tying it all into my work in 4 minutes or less. Oh, and we will be merging classes. I will be performing this train wreck for two classes total. I suppose after my thesis proposal, this can’t be that painful. We will see.

 

 

 

 

Thesis Year: Into the Fray

Alright, I am back in school for my senior year at PNCA. So far it appears that the whole process around my senior thesis will be a harrowing experience. Having my ideas ripped apart my the department head and classmates until they are distilled into something good, two speeches in front of the school and a panel of inquisitors, and a giant research paper. Not to mention the massive project itself. Pray for me. I will definitely show some of the process here as my thesis project develops.

please don’t break me.

I have two literature seminars that I am so insanely excited for. One of them is about American Gothic literature, and the other is all about The Wire. Will I have a shred of optimism, or any trust in my culture’s institutions at the end of this semester? I’m not bothered, I feel like both are going to inform my thesis quite a bit.

Omar comin’ y’all.

 

In my illustration classes, thankfully we are starting with some basic, warm-up design assignments. My first was to create a collage combining my work with the work of others (max. of 10 images total), and then designing it into a composition.

ATTENTION ARTISTS: It is only appropriate to do this sort of thing for educational purposes. I will not be putting this piece on my website or selling it. Do not use other people’s art in your work!

I decided I wasn’t going to make it some sort of homage to my favorite artists because A. that would be hard to narrow down and B. how fucking tacky would that be? I looked through the pile of images that I collected of work I love and made this weird, sci-fi image:

a collage of stolen goods

I’m sure you can recognize the work of Hieronymus Bosch, John William Waterhouse, and Stephanie Lostimolo. I collaged in Circe from my work. Oh yes I did just put a collage within a collage! I’m a loose cannon.

Then I added my Cernnunos icon, scanned and collaged in some textures, threw on text, and there you have it. It was a fun assignment.

Imagepath assignment, Valerie Herron 2012

The second assignment – the process for which is stretched out over the next few weeks – is to choose an image from a list of options and create an icon. I chose the option “your choice of animal.” Here are a few of the thumbnail sketches from Friday. Are those ram-horned serpents? Maybe…

I swear they’ll look fierce when they’re no longer thumbnails…

I’m still on the fence. They may end up just adders.

With my workload increasing, I’m not sure how often I will be able to post updates here, but I will do my best to stay somewhat consistant. I sleep now!

Faerieworlds, Dead Can Dance, and Portraits

Heh, it’s been about a month, so I suppose it’s time for an update…

Faerieworlds 2012 Summer Festival was amazing, hands down. I drove down to Eugene with my dear friend, Tina, on Friday and Saturday. I ran into so many good friends and danced more in 2 days than I have all year. So necessary. Sadly, I had to come back from Arcadia.

Buddies at Faerieworlds. Clockwise from the bottom: Michael, Tina, Jason, and me.

Back to work. I just completed a portrait sketch for friend and local musician Kenneth Barton. His band Petal Songs is based in Portland and has been together for over a decade. He commissioned this another portrait, and we are talking about album cover design and illustration work coming up in the fall. I’ll continue to post all the work I do for Ken.

A sketch of Kenneth Barton.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a tentative painter. I hate the process of creating a painting when the piece is very important to me. For over a year I have been trying to start this portrait of my dear friend, Eleanor. Over a year ago I conducted a photo-shoot at her house in Seattle to capture the composition and have reference for the piece. Then I did a digital mock-up painting for a study, and then moved on to the actual painting. I restarted it twice. Then I put it aside. Then I did countless tiny studies, scared to death to start working on the actual piece. I finally started working on the final piece this week. I must finish this damn painting before school starts. Here are some pictures of the process so far:

On Friday I will be driving to Seattle to see Dead Can Dance in concert. This has not quite sunk in yet. DCD is largely responsible for most of the music I love. This may be the only concert I’ve ever attended where I get a little star-struck and manic. As manic as one can be while listening to droning incantations and folk dirges. If I can dissociate from my inner 14-year-old enough to notice various details of the concert, I’m hoping I can write a review of it on The Movement of Sound.

There, I’m that is enough update to make up for a month of silence!

Crowley and the Deep Ones

I have the pencilling and inking finished on what I’m now calling “The Crowley Trinity.” My puns have gotten out of hand lately, and I blame The Bugle entirely. Anyway, here’s a sneak peek at the triptych:

I’m debating on whether I want to finish these in aquarelle or digital painting. What do you guys think? I’ll sleep on it and see how I feel.

An in-studio assignment I have coming up is to create a wallpaper pattern. The goal is to create a pattern that can essentially be tiled and applied to things like iPhone and laptop covers, wrapping paper, notebooks etc.

Each one of us got a prompt to use as a theme for the assignment. Lucky for me, my prompt was “Creatures of the Deep.” I spent the last hour drawing deep sea critters:

 

and naturally, I had to include the Deep Ones:

I must admit, these turned out way more adorable than I had anticipated. I’m going to scan these, and create a tile pattern in Illustrator. Wish me luck, Illustrator and I don’t get along that well.

I’ll keep you posted as these projects develop 🙂