Is May the month with the most art challenges? I think #mermay has been around the longest, but now there is also #myticmay and #misadventuremay… I’m skipping all of them, as I need to rest a bit from the challenge I undertook during April: Plein Airpril!

As the name suggests, Plein Airpril is all about completing a plein-air painting each day during April. It’s initiated by Warrior Painters and there are prizes to be won for both traditional and digital painters. You don’t have to do all your paintings outside from life (which is the definition of working en plein air), but it is encouraged. I did a mix of both painting from life and from photographs (I shot myself).

I hadn’t planned to join this challenge but when I saw Audra Auclair joining on Instagram (and had read there were prizes involved), I decided I wanted to do this too. I really enjoyed painting studies earlier this year and this could be just the thing I needed to pick that up again.

I hoped I wouldn’t regret this hasty descision – April looked already like it was going to be a busy month! It sure has been a hassle to make time for the paintings from time to time. Luckily I could finish a few in advance so I didn’t have to paint during my vacation in the last week of April. But overall, I’m glad I did it! I tried a lot of new brushes in Procreate, and I think I found a new favorite. I also learned that when painting form life, you don’t have to get the colours exactly right to achieve likeliness, as long as the relationship between them is accurate. Technically speaking: if the values are right and the colour temperature is in the ballpark, you can increase contrast or saturation, it will still look ‘right’.

I experimented with simplifying shapes too, especially in noisy backgrounds. Sometimes it looked nice and stylized, othertimes like the blur from a photograph with a shallow depth of field – and sometimes it didn’t work. But that’s what experimenting is for!

If you want to see all the paintings, go to my Instagram page where they were posted daily in order!

The wondrous world of wild plants

I’m keeping a habit of making a short walk every day. Since we moved to a house with a garden I’m all about plants and finding out which species is which. And with spring being in full swing, a lot of little flowers pop up in the green sea of regular grass – making it easier to identify these little plants.

I have no training whatsoever to idenify plant species, so I use the PlantNet app, which lets me upload a photo and its algorithm compares it millions of other uploaded photos to determine which species it is. I found it works pretty well, although I always look for a bit more information on the plant if it’s really the thing. Many species look very much alike, and part of the fun is learning about them!

Identifying wild plant species feels like a lost art. I find it super interesting to be able to name wild plants and learn about their properties. After all, they form the largest part of nature around us, they grow on every roadside and field. I’d love to combine this new-found interest with illustrations of some kind, but I’m not sure what kind of project yet. But I’m thinking!

Figure Drawing Again!

Last Monday I had the opportunity to draw from a life model again – something I did as much as I could when I was still studying. After my graduation I occasionally went to Schets Sessie 2.0 but these stopped in 2020. With things opening up again, I hunted the internet for new opportunities and I found one in https://modeltekenclub.nl/!

Apart from being good practice, I find it also really enjoyable to draw from life. Perhaps because I get the chance to work much larger than I regularly do.

I do hope more people will show up next time, though; I was the only one! An almost private modelling session is nice but I also go to meet new fellow artists… Next week is the next session, who knows!

February Updates

When I’m on a deadline and have to use most of my working time to meet it, my mind always comes up with the most wonderful ideas and things to do. I guess that’s a natural thing; your brain is probably urged to look for quick wins instead of the hard task at hand. After finishing a rough deadline just at the end of January, I had time for these creative urges again!

I really felt like painting and study the fundamentals again. Maybe it’s because I struggled a bit with large assignment I had to wrap up last month – I think the immediate reason is twofold!

Firstly, I watch a Dutch tv show called Project Rembrandt, an artist competition for amateur painters. During the competition the participants have to complete technical excersises, such as life drawing and still life painting. Seeing other artists paint and practise really inspire me to do the same!

Though the show claims to be a contest for amateur painters, among the participants are a graphic designer, architect, game art student and illustrator. Appearently going to an art academy and having had painting lessons does not exclude one from the contest. I think that’s not entirely fair to the participants who had no creative training whatsoever. On the other hand, the people with creative professions didn’t get judged considerably higher or better; While our illustrator and game art student made it to the finals, so did our geologist. In the end it’s fun to watch, and that’s wat matters, isn’t it?

A trip to the Van Gogh museum

The second reason I really felt like painting lately is a visit to the Van Gogh Museum with my sister last week. Van Gogh is the prime example , perhaps even the origin of the troubled poor artist trope, but seeing his work does the same thing as the tv show: it makes me want to paint. You can feel his enthousiams and work ethic through his paintings, and that’s just really infectious!

But what his story also shows, perhaps, is that you can become an artist without formal training, and later in life too, if you persist. Van Gogh was 27 and had tried various studies and courses before he decided to become an artist. And even though he briefly studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts in Brussels, he is mostly self-taught. I’m sure he would have loved the wealth of information and study material we have now at our fingertips with the internet.

January Updates

A new year, a new chance to try to keep regular updates going! Most of January I worked on a project that I can’t show until late summer, unfortunately. The little time that remained, I worked on another project that will be under the hood for even longer I’m afraid! So what can I actually write about?! Luckily I always try to make time for personal work, so that will be the focus.

Music Album Cover

methods of dreaming hawksmoor art
All participants of the workshop made artwork for the album Methods of Dreaming by HAWKSMOOR – and everyone had very different approaches and results!

Back in December I had the opportunity to join a workshop by Maarten Donders focusing on art for music albums. We worked in pencil and charcoal, creating different sketches of associations we had listening to the music. I liked the sketches I made so I continued working on them in Photoshop – trying more collage-like techniques to keep the traditional feel of the sketch intact.

I had been very inspired by an article by Rafael Sarmento in the issue 206 of ImagineFX. In his article, Rafael shows how he reuses old artwork and painted textures in new pieces, very interesting! I really liked the playful approach he had, just moving, resizing and distorting images until it fitted in the piece. Although he uses Procreate, I figured I could use Photoshop just fine.

process gif album cover

Using this new technique took much longer than I expected – it’s not only the extra time it takes going through folders finding nice textures. Still I liked the proces, it adds a layer of unpredictability I like and by using only images you made yourself, the result is guaranteed something you!

Trico Painting

trico the last guardian painting

Other news: I sold my painting of Trico (The Last Guardian) on Etsy! I didn’t really expect selling those originals, Etsy doesn’t seem to be the best marketplace for things like that, I think. I put the piece up in September as an experiment – I’m not too attached to them and just keep them in a drawer, while someone might want to adopt one! There is a market for fan art on Etsy, that must be why this piece eventually sold. Nevertheless I’m happy, hopefully this is the start for more! I’m much more happy knowing someone gives the piece space and attention than when it just gathers dust in my studio.

Global Game Jam

wtf dog game screen
A game about being a dog and then being it’s owner.

And of course January isn’t complete without the Global Game Jam! Just like last year, the jam was held completely online. I got actually quite some sleep this year, haha! The theme was duality, and after a short brainstorm we decided to make a game about a dog chasing chickens, and it’s owner clearing up the mess. We ranked 7th of all Dutch games made this year, which is quite nice!

Play our game here!