For a freelance artist, getting an out of the blue email for a project is like finally finding your favorite lone sock whos desolate partner has been waiting patiently in the laundry room.
Since I started up my site, I’ve gotten a handful of “you’re so cool, do you do personalized projects?” emails, to which of course I answer – “as a starving artist, I’d be delighted to do your compensated bidding”, which until recently had been followed up by lots of oxygen and no return of chit chat. Not too long ago, I got a little alert in my mail box- a message from a dude who’s name I didn’t recognize. So, like any good waryful eye brow raised internet user – I googled the name. Editor of Bucks Life Magazine you say?!
I lept back to my inbox and nearly pulled a my-corset-is-too-tight-swoon when presented with the opportunity to be featured as one of five “local artists to watch” in the Bucks Life Magazine. But wait, there’s more- tell them what the bonus prize is, Bob! Not only do I get to illustrate my own portrait…I get to do the portraits of the other four. Channeling the big red jug of juice, I said “Oh yeah!”. Actually, it was a tad more professional than that (I hope). I usually feel out the correspondent to see if I can slip back into normal Becca talk mode full of all my make up-ness of words and bizarre similes – and he was great. Full on accepted my artist crazy and was more than helpful and supportive through the whole process.
I readied my stance, hung my toes and jumped into the first portrait of Christopher Kennedy. He makes the coolest abstract magical works with light and has coined it photoluminism (You can see his work here). Going through his gallery, it was enchanting to see the light shapes dance around and create these swimming ribbons of lights all without manipulations in post. I, however, have been working primarily like a termite by playing in post. I started with a fairly standard caricature sketch I made of Chris and then brought it into photoshop to try and recreate the streams of light into the line work. Kind of started as an experiment, but it turned out so well, I committed myself to making the rest of the portraits in the style of the subject artist.
Mark Sfirri was my next face for creative molding. That must be a little terrifying – to have someone who doesn’t know you interpret your face to feed their own whimsy. Mark is a woodsman – not the kind that wears flannel (well, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know) but a man who shapes wood into incredible pieces of art by spinning the block on multiple angles. Here, this video explains it much better- kind of like his own special feature if his art process were a blu-ray. I started in a similar way to Chris’ portrait – with a run of the mill drawing representing his likeness and then I started carving in shadows to give his face depth, and well, it only made sense to continue in the wood vein. Adding a wood texture with my stylus and some required sawdustings, I crafted Mark into a block head. Which is in no way a reflection of anything but the chosen medium for interpretation. For more peeking into Mark and his work trot on over yonder.
Ken Smith is the hands and mind behind the appropriately named Ken Smith Basses. He crafts extraordinarily beautiful species of wood into bass guitars and (double the pleasure, double the fun) double basses. His work is detailed and rockin, so I wanted to make his visage into a graphic, bold, sticker for one of his guitars. As always, started with a sketch and then did the strong black line work and coloring in photoshop. I recreated one of his guitars from his site and let the power of bevel and emboss assist in creating a vehicle for his sticker self. This photoshop file size was a BEAST- I spawned nearly 80 layers trying to achieve some of the cool little nuances in Ken’s guitar. It took sometimes a full game of Bejeweled 2 just to wait for the file to open, so some unintentional credit goes to Ken for aiding in my new high score.
Finally, we come to Morris Docktor. He’s a painter, sculptor and muralist with a real classic style – check it out. I have to admit at this point I was a little frazzed out creatively and wasn’t really sure how to approach his portrait. I dabble with traditional paintings, but it’s been a while- I’ve been working digitally for quite a spell. What better time to combine the two? I had the idea of doing a portrait within a portrait, with it’s frame being the transforming window from the actual into the interpreted. Trippy, I know. The piece started with the “painting” portion and armed with new opacity settings and a “dry brush” effect on my stylus I crept back into the freedom that painting can offer. It was loosey goosey compared to most of my digital work and I have to say, I’m a fan. Morris inspired me to go old school, and there’s no school like the old school.
So, without further ado – make haste and seek out the Early Spring 2012 Art Issue of Bucks Life Magazine – here I did you a solid and sent you right to the selfishly important bit. Isn’t that cool?! It’s me! And my art! Holy frog! I pity the poor fool near enough to me in the store now that it’s available in print. I may cry on them. You can flip through forward and see the other features or browse through the whole magazine, which is just…I can’t think of words, it’s too awesome. Like amateur parkour’s inevitability for pain, I hope this leads to a big break.