Sooo…things didn’t quite work out for the first week of the summer reboot.

We just survived a thick heatwave, which always seems to kill my productivity (I tend to become an exhausted slug in weather like that).  A few things have unexpectedly popped up, too, including a vacation for Independence Day.

This month is also Camp NaNoWriMo, or Camp National Novel Writing Month, which encourages writers to finish a first draft of a writing project.  I’m participating this year for a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic novel I’ve been wanting to do.  It’s really exciting, even the prospect of writing 40,000 words-ish in 31 days is a little, well, intimidating.

So instead of a ‘real’ blog, here’s a little update, and arty blogs and videos will resume this Tuesday.

To make up for the unexpected break, here’s Tiana from Princess and the Frog, who’s also wondering why there’s no blogs.

tiana-reacts-watermarked

I’ve been trying to be more thoughtful with my color choices, so I tried to match them tonally with the style of the movie.  Normally I don’t use a muted palette, but this sketch has inspired me to try it out with other artworks.

Originally, she was reacting to what the TV show Once Upon a Time did to her character.  It changed her from being a hard-working, lower class optimist to a typical princess (as well as a run of the mill resistance fighter).  I got over it, but at the time I was frustrated the writers took away basically everything that made her unique.

Anyway, today it felt like her expression fits how I feel about not having no content for a while.  I’m sorry, but I’ll work to make sure there’s new stuff soon.

It started like any normal day. If your normal day involves waking up on a train in a different country. For me, the whole morning was a new experience, from discovering my group’s six-bed room now had nine people (long story) to stepping onto the platform and into the early morning light of Milan, Italy.

Shortly after our arrival we departed on a new train, viewing the gilded rays of sunrise illuminate the famous red rooves of Milan. Then we promptly fell asleep. We (my tour-mates and I) were a week in and on our third country, so exhaustion and even sickness were prevalent bothers. But nothing could bog us down upon reaching our destination of Florence.

The sun was still low, so the old-world architecture stood silhouetted against a beautiful sky. Towering above them all was the Duomo, a plaza, which includes the Florence Cathedral (or if you’re feeling exotic the ‘Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore’). In total, it took over 140 years to complete. In the following centuries, it was the site of Dante’s dark broodings and even an attempted Medici assassination. It’s truly an awe to behold.florence-cathedral

The white tower on the left is the accompanying bell tower, but we didn’t have tickets or time to climb to the viewing area inside.

Speeding past the Palazzo Vecchio and through a tour of the central part of the city, we found ourselves free to wander. But it was only a few minutes into the guided tour that my camera died. Perhaps it was for the best, though, as I spent the day absorbed in the wondrous atmosphere that is Florence.

Throughout my time there, I couldn’t help but notice the street artists. Although I was barely getting into being an artist myself, it was romantic to think of creating there. Painting in the same city that was home to Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rafael (to name a few) is still a dream of mine.

A few steps from the Ponte Vecchio, or the Bridge of Gold, I felt an inner call to stop near one artist. There was something special about the assortment of watercolor paintings on his display board. Their subjects were various locations throughout Florence, lovingly painted with delicate blues, yellows, and oranges.ponte-vecchio

This is the Ponte Vecchio, and the painter was under one of the arches on the right.

Upon seeing my interest, the artist put down his paintbrush from his current work and walked out from behind his table. I asked how much and was then faced with the wonderfully tough choice of which one to bring home.  There were three sizes—the largest of which I believe was 50 euros, beyond my budget and space in my suitcase.

One of my friends on the trip kept telling me to get one of the smallest ones, presumably because it would be easier to make room for in my luggage. But after a few seconds I felt drawn to a particular medium sized painting.

florence-painting-edited

The painting itself, though I think it looks even better in person.

I don’t speak Italian, but I pointed to the one in the top right. I tried to gesture to the neighboring bridge, saying that they were the same. He smiled as he took down the bright picture of the Ponte Vecchio under a calm sky. When he handed me the envelope encasing the art, I said, “grazie,” thank you, one of the few Italian words I do know.

My traveling companions were in a hurry to move on, but I couldn’t leave before waving towards his display board. “Bella, bella!” I said. Beautiful, beautiful.  I’m sure it wasn’t phrased well technically, but I think he understood my meaning.

florence-at-sunset

Florence, towards sunset.

Ironically, we were entering the ‘golden hour’ of sunset as we crossed the Bridge of Gold, famous for its luxury jewelry stores. Soon after, we found we were too late for entry into the Boboli Gardens. Instead, our little group rested for a while in the Piazza Pitti.

A huge public space, there was room for us to sprawl out on the cool brick. We spent our time people watching, with a quiet hum of Italian in our ears. Some pigeons were enthralled with small treats we tossed them. We stopped, however, when one of us expressed her dire fear of having them close. Seeing the buildings across from us radiate in the sunset glow sealed it as a moment I’ll never forget.

florence-painting-in-frame-edited

I love how it was framed, even if it isn’t easy to photograph well.

Through some careful packing, the painting made it home safely. That following Christmas, my mom surprised me by having it professionally framed. (Thanks, Mom!)

Out of curiosity, I tried to find the artist online, with no luck. But I like to think sometimes about him and the other artists I saw there—what it’s like to wake up in such a historically creative place, journey through the narrow streets, and paint incredible Florence. And who knows? Maybe I’ll find out for myself one day.

Have you ever purchased art in person from an artist? Or have you ever been to Florence? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

Between taking my first college exams, moving to a new country, and having a bad case of bronchitis, my first year away at university was nothing short of a learning experience.  It kept me busy, but as you can probably tell I wasn’t able to fit many blogs into that hectic schedule.

Which was a shame, because I love writing and running this site.  I also couldn’t finish (or even start) many artworks.  So, I’m sorry to both you and myself for needing to take a break.

To be honest, I ended up feeling very overwhelmed for much of the year.  There were many good things, some of which will be featured in upcoming blogs, but some things like school and house work just snuck up on me. Plus, I sprained my (non-dominant) wrist pretty badly about an hour before my first exam, so it has been pretty much unusable since late April.

In fact, my mom had to come to England from America for the first time to help me.  I had to move out of my student housing, and there was no way I could have done it all one-handed.  (Thanks Mom <3) burgess-park-pigeons-lake

We took a break from packing to visit the beautiful Burgess Park in South London.

BUT the good news is that I learned a lot about how to balance my studies, interests, and personal care in a healthy way.  Moving forward I can try to find a mid-ground between my contrasting workaholic tendencies and procrastination habits.

Especially now that I’m back home and my wrist is on the mend, I’m super excited about getting back to work on my art and writing.

Happily, that starts this Tuesday with a consistent posting schedule.  From then on, at least for the summer, you can expect a blog every Tuesday and Saturday.  If anything changes, I’ll make sure to post on Twitter what’s up.

Thanks to a new webcam mount, you’ll be getting more videos on my YouTube, too.  While many will be speed draws about my creation process, I also have some new art projects and challenges in store.  Whether they’re cheap art supplies, models, or more, you can look forward to seeing a bigger variety in my videos.

To prepare, I’ve been inking a lot of the sketches I started in-between studying for tests.  I’ve also been settling back into my workspace (a.k.a. a desk and some nice shelves in my bedroom), and taking stock of all the supplies its collected over time.  I kept finding all these art products I had meant to use both personally and for content on here.  This summer will be a lot of fun as I finally have time to use and write about them!

So in short, you can now expect regularly scheduled blogs this summer, including resources, my art, and reviews of art books and products.  Those you can expect to see every Tuesday and Saturday, with the former being more stories and review type blogs, while the latter will usually be art that I create.  On my YouTube channel I plan to have one video a week on that art, with sometimes an extra one (depending on Tuesday’s content).  If you subscribe and click the notification bell, YouTube should tell you every time a new video comes out.

Thanks for coming on this journey with me!

It’s that time of year again where people don their wigs and cloaks in the name of candy and celebration. But don’t think you have to be a vampire, witch, or mummy again. For those of you artistically inclined, here’s nine costumes no one will see coming.

The Mona Lisa

mona-lisa-costume

Feel like semi-smiling this Halloween? Frame yourself as Da Vinci’s famous lady for all those photo ops. It seems like this would be somewhat easy to make.  Get creative and paint your own canvas or foam board, and cut a hole for your debated facial expression. Or just buy one here (but you’ll also need a wig).

Pop Art Come to Life

An ever-popular idea among beauty Youtubers and Pinterest(ers?), this Roy Lichtenstein-inspired look requires a bit of time and know-how. The concept of drawing line art and shading on yourself is a creative one, and I imagine hard to achieve successfully. But if you pull it off, you’ll be the talk of any Halloween party. And if makeup isn’t your thing, you can always terrify everyone around you with this nightmarish version. [Read on for an art makeup that’s not so difficult!]

The Creepy Art Teacher

creepy-art-teacher-shirt

For those wanting a subtle artistic presence, you can never go wrong with a graphic tee. Depending on exactly how much effort you want to put in, this simple shirt gives the flexibility of whatever look you’re going for, be it the creepiness of a zombie, ghoul, you name it. The creators of this design have them available for a variety of occupations as well. (Low-key group costumes, perhaps?) There are many variants on this ‘Halloween Art Teacher’ theme, so be sure to look around.

Bob Ross

bob-ross-costume

Embrace happy little accidents with this rather simple but beloved costume. All you need is the wig/beard combo with a paint set, along with jeans and a button up shirt, and you’re all set to “beat the devil” out of some paintbrushes. Now go paint some happy little trees.

Be the Canvas

bob-ross-canvas-costume

Love Bob Ross but don’t like fake beards? Take things one step further and become his painting. I couldn’t believe this was real when I first saw it, but here it is: the opportunity to be your own happy landscape.

Make One of those Bizarrely Abstract, Artistic Statements No One Really Understands

disappearing-paint-man-costume

Is art separate from the artist, or are they the same? Is the canvas the artist, or the artist the canvas?  …Anyways, among the more, er, odd options, you could go abstract with this “disappearing man” suit. But hey, if spandex and paint are your thing then go for it. If anonymity is something you’re looking for this Halloween, this get-up provides that as well—despite the lack of breathing room.

24 Crayons in a Box

24-set-of-crayons-costume

Go back to kindergarten with this 24 set of crayons. With this costume you rule the box, and show everyone who loved art as a kid. With the rainbow assortment and yellow box, you’re sure to also evoke nostalgia from those around you.

The Crayon of Your Choice

blue-crayon-costume

Individualize yourself as a single Crayola color in this artsy (and dorky in the best way possible) get-up. Going with a group of like-minded friends? This one makes for a fun group costume, as everyone can pick a different color.

A Picasso Original

Morph into an early 20th century painting with some simple makeup.  Picasso is most known for his asymmetrical take on the human form, as well as his eclectic choice of colors. Thankfully for those in costumes, that means it’s not too difficult to pass as one of his paintings come to life. Simply take reference from his great works, or put your own creative spin on it like the girl in this video. And when it comes to mistakes, chances are misplaced or oddly drawn lines will only add to the effect.

 

Take this list as a means of inspiration. There are countless artworks, artists, and art supplies begging to be turned into costumes. Well, maybe not begging, but they’d make for fantastic and memorable looks all the same.  Happy Halloween!

[All of the pictures in this blog post are from Amazon, and belong to their respective owners]

I’m very proud to share with you that I have been accepted to my dream school! King’s College London is an amazing place to get an education, not to mention I’ll be living in London. When I first visited the city in 2010, I knew I wanted to live there someday– and now it’s really happening.

King's Self Portrait

A self-portrait 🙂

So what does this mean for you?  Starting this month (September), I’ll be able to bring you so much more content. Expect museum visits, urban sketching, and much more fun art history. I also will look for art groups, or ‘societies’ as they’re sometimes called there, so I can share with you a variety of artwork.

Studying Classics and English in London is going to be one of the biggest adventures of my life. I look forward to sharing that journey with you and giving you access to what it’s like to be an artist there. Stay tuned!

Is there anything in particular you’d like to see me cover in London? For example, a specific artwork or site you would want to see pictures, art, and maybe a video of. Let me know in the comments!

It’s amazing how just one event can bring so many people together. And what better than an incredible astronomical one?

There was a partial eclipse where I live, and to celebrate my mom hosted a party/class for our local homeschool group. My brother and I helped with think of eclipse-themed deserts, while my mom tried to simplify her physics explanations to better suit the kids. (While she doesn’t work as a physicist now, she uses her degree to teach these classes to our group.)

She also found a neat and simple eclipse craft. Besides the pin-hole viewers, kids could also make their own total solar eclipse. The idea is simple: you trace a circle stencil onto a colored piece of paper, and then use a white drawing tool to draw the ‘light halo’ of the total eclipse.

solar-eclipse-craft

For mine, I used my Strathmore gray paper and a white soft pastel. But any construction paper and white chalk will work. It was pretty fun loosely coloring the light rays.

As for the actual eclipse, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was an amazing experience and a great day spent with friends and family. I don’t claim to be a great photographer (although I have some cool photos on my Redbubble shop), but I did get some pictures I like. For Instagram, I put together a little collage:

solar eclipse collage

The dark images in the collage were taken through the special (and coveted) eclipse glasses. It started as an experiment, and happily it allowed my phone camera to see the moon’s crossing.

Now what I’m super excited for is 2024. That’s when another total eclipse crosses America, and I intend on being where totality is. It’s sure to be a once in a lifetime opportunity!

 

Have you ever seen an eclipse? Or would you like to? Let me know below!

I’m happy to introduce the most recent free line art for you! Today’s star is Ariel, specifically from the Part of Your World Reprise.  Like I mention in the video, I love that song (though to be fair, I love practically every Little Mermaid song). Especially from the Broadway musical.

Anyways…I ended up really happy with this drawing, mostly because of the coloring. While I hope you’ll download this line art and put your own spin on it, here are generally the Copic colors I used:

(Without thinking I started cleaning up my markers before writing down exactly which colors I had out. The ones I’m not sure about have a little ‘?’.)

Hair: R59, R39, R46

Skin: E000, E00, E01

Eyes: B41, B45, B39

Shells: BV04, BV08

Tail: ?

Fin: G00

Rocks: W3, E18, E99, E39?

Ocean: BG72, BG75, BG78

Clouds: G00, W5, W7, BG72, BG75, B39

 

To clarify from the video, I used the clouds as a way to tie everything together.  As you can see from the list, I used colors from her fin, eyes, and the ocean unify the different elements. Because her hair, shell, and tail colors are solely used on their respective aspects, they stand out against the background.

In hindsight, I would have made Ariel’s pose more dynamic. She’s a little stiff, but I hope you’ll still like her. You can find Ariel and my other free coloring pages here, or on the navigation bar above. If you share on Twitter or Instagram be sure to tag me (@ZeldaCroft). I’d love to see your coloring!

 

Do you want to color Ariel? What other coloring pages would you like to see? Let me know in the comments!

Street art. Exhibitions. Art shows. Any situation where the public can see (and comment) on your art can be intimidating—at least it would be for me. But it can also be incredibly motivating.

Last month I wrote about the Big Bicycle Project, a cool challenge from the Kimball Jenkins School of Art. The concept was for local artists to reinvent—you guessed it—a bike into a work of art. The sculptures were then displayed on Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire. (You can read more about the project and see some of the sculptures here.)

It’s amazing how creative and diverse the artists’ works are. You can tell just how much thought and care went into each sculpture. And I’m happy to announce that this month’s featured artist can give us a glimpse into what it was like to make and display one of them.

Meet Althea Barton

althea-barton-photo

What did you think when you heard about the bicycle challenge?  Have you participated in similar projects before?

A: I loved the idea of ordinary people using a commonplace object like a bicycle to create unique works of public art. And for me, having an interesting project with a deadline is a great motivator. I’ve taken art classes, shown some work in student art exhibits, and once sold a painting of a fire station to a Manhattan fire chief, but I’d never done a sculpture project like this one before.

fearless-and-bullish-1

What was the inspiration behind your sculpture?

A: I was inspired by the controversy over the Fearless Girl statue that had been placed opposite the Charging Bull on Wall Street in NYC. Fearless Girl is a beautiful statue, and I was interested in how it engaged people in a dialogue about power.

My work had two parts: Fearless, the bull moose (since this is NH), and Bullish, a small pink bike with a lot of spunky details like bells and tassels. They were standing side by side. I don’t see why we can’t all be fearless and bullish and pull together. Unfortunately, Bullish went missing early on. Her sister may show up at some point…

fearless-and-bullish-2

I’m sorry to hear about Bullish. Were there any particular challenges you had or lessons you’ve learned in creating your artwork?

A: Welding is intense, amazing, and fun! My son and I learned basic welding at Manchester Makerspace, where the people were very supportive and encouraging.

What is it like to have your sculptures displayed in such a public place like Main Street?  Were you nervous to have such a large audience, or was it more exciting?

A: It was very motivating to know the sculptures would be displayed on Main Street. It kept me striving.

Is there anything you’d like to say to artists thinking about being a part of an exhibition?

A: Go for it!

Lastly, do you have a website or social media where people can follow your upcoming work?

A: Not a personal one, though you can follow the Big Bicycle Project at www.kimballjenkins.com. Thanks for your interest—enjoy your art!

Thank you so much Althea!

You can find Althea’s and the other artists’ sculptures on Main Street through November. It’s been said that Kimball-Jenkins has plans for future exhibitions, and I’ll be sure to let you know what they are when I hear about them.

And who knows? After hearing what Althea had to say, I’m summoning the courage and getting excited about potentially participating in a future challenge.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

What’s good for both the environment and the art world? Upcycling. Also known as ‘creative reuse’, it’s a trend from the 1990’s that’s still going strong today. The idea is to repurpose something run down into something new and often beautiful or useful (or both).

A current exhibition by the Kimball-Jenkins School of Art, sponsored by the Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Garden, in Concord, New Hampshire involves just that. Locals artist were invited to contribute a sculpture made from a bicycle. This could mean decorating an existing bike, or breaking one down into a brand new creation.

(I want to add that I actually went to a couple summer camps at Kimball-Jenkins when I was a kid. I remember it was a lot of fun, and I left the Fantasy Art week with a six-foot long, winged dragon I had made out of cardboard. It was really encouraging to create in an atmosphere that promoted imagination.)

Starting in May, all of the finished sculptures were put on display along Concord’s North and South Main Street. If you’ve never been, it’s a beautiful, historic place to walk and shop, and the new art additions only add to the splendor.

One of my favorite pictures I’ve taken on Main Street.

Click through the slideshow below to see some of the sculptures:

As peaceful as Main Street is, some of the displays weren’t left undisturbed. Sadly, two objects went missing: Fearless’s pink tricycle companion, Bullish, as well as an aardvark stuffed animal from the golden bike’s basket.

Nevertheless, the sculptures are beautifully creative. I love how diverse the concepts are. Not just the appealing visual aspect, but also how resourceful some of the artists were in repurposing bicycles into new piece of art. I heard that some participants learned skills like blacksmithing in order to make their sculpture.

If you find yourself near Main Street and in the mood for a nice walk, I highly encourage you to take a stroll past these upcycled works of art. They’ll be lining the street through this November. But Kimball-Jenkins has said more exhibitions are to come, so be sure to stay tuned! If you’d like to read more about the project and the School of Art at Kimball-Jenkins Estate, you can visit their website here.

Which bikes were your favorites?  Have you ever participated in a project like this? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

It’s no secret how loved Copic markers are by artists, or that they originated in Japan. But did you know that the name ‘Copic’ comes from their ties to copy machines?

In celebration of Copic’s 30th anniversary, a creative team in partnership with Imagination International Incorporated (iii), the exclusive North American distributer for Copic markers, has put together a particularly interesting blog post. Featured is art made for the celebration by two Japanese artists: Mr. Kubonouchi and Mr. Fukuda. There are also pretty lengthy interviews with each of them, linked in their names to the left.

Without further ado, here are some of the highlights.

Copics were originally called Speedry Markers

Back in the day, graphic designers needed to color printed copies for their work. Izumiya, a Japanese company, partnered with Magic Marker Corporation to make Speedry in 1969. The concept was to sell the 150 colors alongside Izumiya’s copier machine distribution. However, the ink of the printed images would smudge when drawn over with markers.

Interestingly, Mr. Fukuda describes in his interview what it was like to use those first Speedry markers. Prior to that, he had used poster paint, which was a limited and timely product.

Flash forward to 1987, and Izumiya released the first 71 Copic markers. Now known as the Classic model, they aimed to fix one problem: smudgy toner. Hence their name: Copic markers to use with copiers.

Mr. Fukuda commented that Copic “improved efficiency of [his] work dramatically since it has an organized color number system and fast-drying ink”. Mr. Kubonouchi, who also had used ‘troublesome’ paint to color with, found that the brush nib and variety of colors helped him in creating his art. [Side note: Mr. Kubonouchi’s interview is in Japanese, so for better or worse I’m relying on Google Translate for his ‘quote’.]

copic-architecture

Colors were added for expanding markets

Two years after their inception, the color number was doubled when 71 more colors were added to “serve a particular need of architectural design and figure painting.” Only three years after that, another 72 colors were made. This time, it was to cater to the markers’ use in fashion and environmental design.

After Izumiya became the .Too Corporation, the famous Sketch model was released in 1993. Over the the next few years, mulitliners and the airbrush system were created to accompany the marker line. Ciaos were introduced as well, providing a slightly cheaper option for beginners.

Copics have only continued to grow in popularity since. Beyond professional concept designers, the early 2000’s saw many colors added to match the needs of manga artists. The markers also found an audience overseas, and new colors were created for artists in the United States.

The last new marker colors were created in 2012, “to meet the needs of craft market in the US.”  Multiliners continue to evolve, with “elegant pink” and lavender having been added to the lineup in 2014 and 2016, respectively. While not included on the official timeline, 2014 was also when the limited edition 25th anniversary marker sets were released.

iii provides free resources for using Copics

Like the 30th anniversary post, iii puts out a lot of marker-oriented content. One of my favorite things about their website is the iii-Academy, an original manga made with Copics about Copics. Through fun lessons, mangakas Alisa Caves and Chihiro Howe’s comic teaches about using the markers, their accessories, and drawing in general. The characters are fun and the stories comical. You should check it out here!

There are other tutorials as well, often from guest artists. Covering graphic design to weather rendering, the lessons can be quite inspiring and educational.  Of course, if you’re looking for tutorial books or DVDs, iii sells those in their store. (I’ve never read or seen them, so I can’t recommend them. Personally, I think you could find the same information for free from online artists, but if you don’t mind the price having those resources could be helpful.)

Happy anniversary Copics!