April Exhibition Facebook Page Is Officially Up!

If you are an avid Facebook user, this is a quick note to let you lovely people know that I’ve just created the official Facebook event page for my April exhibition, which will be taking place at the Elliott Bay Brewery in Burien, WA. :)

https://www.facebook.com/events/2268654260017536/

And, I will end this short and sweet blog post with a small preview of what my brand-new paintings will look like …

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Exhibition(s) Announcement

So, 2019 is already off to an exciting start! I got confirmation a few days ago that my art will be hanging at two locations in the next few months, and I’m so excited I literally cannot even. Here’s the general info …

April 2019: My acrylic paintings will be at Elliott Bay Brewing Company in Burien, WA. Something extra exciting about this exhibition is not only will I recreate my 4 x 4” pieces in larger scale but I also plan to do a piece specifically for the brewery.

June 2019: It is yet to be determined whether it’ll be the paintings, portraits or both on display, but during the month of June I will have my artwork hung at Third Culture Coffee in Old Bellevue.


Also, I plan to try and organize opening receptions for these exhibitions. I will post deets on them as they come in. In the meantime, stay tuned for lots of behind-the-scenes posts I’ll be sharing! :)

End of an Era ... Sort Of

As of tomorrow, my art will no longer be hung at the CoCA gallery or Freshy's Coffee. It's truly been a wonderful and surreal experience showcasing my work in these venues, and I am so grateful I that had those opportunities.

When it comes to trying to get your artwork hung in public places, I've found that it requires being super proactive and persistent. I've had so many cases where I contacted a venue several times (of course I would leave some breathing room in between messages because obviously I don't want to seem like a crazy person) and never heard back. But, it's one of those things where if you notice something isn't working out or going anywhere, you just have to move forward and look out for your next possible opportunity. 

I look forward to getting my art hung in more places hopefully soon! I will keep all you lovely artists and art lovers out there updated for the next time you can see my portraits on display. :)

Exhibition at the Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA)

Exhibition at the Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA)

Exhibition at Freshy's Coffee in West Seattle

Exhibition at Freshy's Coffee in West Seattle

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Guess What? My Art will be in a gallery this May!

I have a major announcement: My piece "Daisy #2" (below) will be featured in an art gallery exhibition this May! Specifically, the gallery is CoCA (Center on Contemporary Art), located in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle. As someone who had two amazing internships and volunteers there, I feel super proud to have my work be in its space and I couldn't be more thrilled!

Click here to read details on the exhibition and be sure to mark your calendars for the opening reception, May 3rd, 6-9 p.m.! :)

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Song of the Week

What's my top song of this week, you ask? Well, here it is:

Song of the Week: "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!

Lately, I've found myself playing the song over and over as it acts like an instant mood booster. I've also noticed that it helps me get into my creative mode, but not in the way you'd expect. I don't mean creative in the usual sense of doing something artsy like drawing or dancing -- I personally believe creativity not only can exist in the artsy way but also while you're doing everyday, non-artsy tasks. Every morning, for instance, I wash my face, put on antioxidant serum, rub on my daily moisturizer and facial oil and then add on my makeup. With certain random songs like "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," I've been able to get in the zone and actually enjoy doing what is usually seen as totally mundane ... And I did not expect to share part of my morning routine in detail with you, but there you go. :)

Song of the Week

I'm trying out this new thing where I share "Song of the Week" posts. Music has always been an important part of my life and also one of my must-haves for when I'm creating my artwork. I thought I'd share whatever particular songs have helped me get "in the zone" while art making, and also it's always fun in general to talk about good music!

What songs get you in the zone when you want to get creative? Here's one of my top choices ...


SONG OF THE WEEK: "Desperado" by Rihanna

Back when I spent most of my free time choreographing at the Velocity Dance Center (in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle), I would often find myself overthinking every move I came up with. The song let me loosen up, lose the fear of doing a "wrong" move and just go with the flow. Out of that came some of the dance moves I was most proud of that were part of a performance I did sometime last year.

It turns out the song has had a similar effect when it comes to my drawing process. I tend to get too cautious and worry I'm going to do a "wrong" stroke that's going to ruin the whole sketch, and the song (among other songs from the same Rihanna album) has helped me get out of my head, really focus and lose the fear of making mistakes. Besides, awhile ago I had decided to force myself to make any drawing mistakes look like they were done on purpose, so it all seems to be working out so far. :)

Exhibition Update: Opening Night Details

 

As you already know, my artwork (including the below portrait titled "Hope") will be on display at Freshy’s in West Seattle during the month of May. But, it’s also important to know that May 1 is opening night! Be sure to drop by between 6 and 8:30 p.m. to enjoy some art and delicious beer. :)

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Iranian & Inspired

This was probably because I had spent the last few days reading all about the protests going on lately in Iran, but when I drew my latest portrait this morning I found that the girl looked very Iranian. I had specifically been reading about Vida Movahed and the other "Girls of Enghelab Street," women who have protested the headscarf by each publicly taking hers off and waving it in the air to the crowd. All I could think about was how incredibly brave these women were and I suppose that sort of came through as I was drawing the portrait.

Stay tuned for when I add an Adobe Illustrator-esque touch to the piece ...

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Exhibition in May 2018!

Happy Friday, fellow art lovers!

I am thrilled to announce that I will be showcasing my work at Freshy's (the West Seattle location) during the month of May! Expect to see some of my favorite charcoal pieces as well as a few of the reworked versions I did recently on Illustrator. Not only that, but you'll also have the pleasure of seeing some great pieces by Eva Lu. Stay tuned for details about the exhibition, but for now I've shared a quick preview below. Also, please help spread the word by sharing this blog post on your social media page(s) and/or by sharing the Facebook event page I've created. 

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Rebranding Coming Soon

Hey guys!
I wanted you to know that pretty soon I'll be giving my brand and website a big makeover. This may or may not include changing Black & White by Shirene to a different name. I'm super excited and a little nervous ... and it might partly be because I have at least a hundred business cards with my current brand name printed on them and I wonder how much it would/will cost to print new ones. 

Anyway, stay tuned for the new version of my website! :)

 

With love,

Shirene

A Pop of Color

Last night, I gave it another go at taking one of my charcoal portraits and adding effects and color to it. This time, I did it to "The Gaze" (you can see the original charcoal piece below). I decided to go simple rather than adding lots of color (like when I added pink and green to "Daisy"). Let me know what you think! :)

"The Gaze" (the original piece)

"The Gaze" (the original piece)

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Black & White ... & Red

This past weekend, I experimented a little more with my "Daisy" piece on Illustrator with my Intuos graphic tablet. Being the type of person who always likes to mix things up, I tried for something completely different from what I've done for my previous versions of "Daisy" -- I added some Farsi and a splash of red on top of the black and white portrait. Also, instead of my usual Spotify playlist I decided to give it a go at listening to Anna Faris' podcast (it's called Anna Faris Is Unqualified and it's super funny and entertaining).

Anyway, my illustration turned out like this ...

"Hope" (2018)

"Hope" (2018)

Fun fact: Because the last time I made a real attempt at writing in Farsi was during the Saturday morning Farsi classes I took in sixth grade, it ended up being quite the challenge to master writing what you see above. I think it took me about 20 or so tries to make it look somewhat decent.

Anyway, I hope you like this more intense version of "Daisy." Or, if you don't like it, I'm fine with that as well. As long as the picture is causing some sort of strong reaction, I'm happy.

Getting in Touch With My Inner Leslie Knope

For years, my precious charcoal drawings were sitting in my sketchbook, waiting to be released from their mini prison. Today, I finally set them free. 

If you know me, you know I get a lot of joy from organizing and doing other super productive things. I like to think of myself as a less intense version of Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation. So, not only did I finally rip the cherished pages from my sketchbook but I also slid each piece in a plastic sleeve and put all the sketches in a (really cute) binder in chronological order. 

Thanks to my inner Leslie, a cup of coffee and a trip I had made the day before to Michaels (where I try not to go more than once a week ... #addict), I was able to get all of this done in a flash. Also, I can't stand how adorable the binder is; I go crazy for coral and simply the act of resting my eyes on the gold pattern makes me happy.

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Basically, it feels damn good to be organized especially when it concerns something you truly care about. Plus, it's a lot of fun.

Finding Inspiration

Sometimes, whether it's at the end of a work day or after I've drawn several portraits on a Saturday, my brain feels fried. That's when I know I need to take a break and look for inspiration. I always rely on this to recharge my brain and help propel me toward making more drawings. 

By looking for inspiration, I of course mean scrolling through Instagram (I'm obsessed) for any artsy images or specifically looking through Instagram profiles of artists I admire (some of whom are below). You'll notice right away that all the artists here have styles and media completely different from mine. Looking at their pieces feels super refreshing for my brain after it has focused so much for so long solely on charcoal and paper.

I included just one image per artist in this post but I definitely encourage you to see more of their work on their websites (or Instagram pages if you're like me) if you want to be inspired as well. :)


KELLY BEEMAN
(Fun fact: I have this image as my desktop photo at home and at work!)

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DONNA ADI
(As an artist and coffee fanatic, I very closely identified with this specific piece.)

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Watermelon Daisy

If you read my last blog post, you're already aware of my latest obsession: my new Wacom Intuos Pro tablet. 
This past week, I've used the tablet to add color to my latest charcoal portrait (see below). I didn't add any filters on top unlike what I did for the first piece; I just added the green in the background and various shades of pink and red on the lips. Along the way, I somehow ended up with this watermelon theme. It was totally unintentional, but I don't mind it. :)

"Daisy" (2018)

"Daisy" (2018)

"Watermelon Daisy" (2018)

"Watermelon Daisy" (2018)

Stay tuned for more versions I plan on making of the same drawing. I might keep the same colors in there and add filters on top to make the charcoal strokes darker and more intense.

Blast From My Past

This past week, my Wacom Intuos Pro came in the mail and it felt like Christmas morning. After getting the hang of using the tablet and pen with my laptop, I decided to revamp a charcoal portrait I had done back in high school that was based on a Burberry magazine ad.

It took awhile to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with the drawing, and at the same time I had to try to figure out how to solve the problem of the picture not being of the best quality. It was slightly pixelated and blurry. Below is the first result of reworking the portrait on Illustrator.

Decided on a whim to title this "Women in Motion"

Decided on a whim to title this "Women in Motion"

Not only was this fun because I did it all while blasting Katy Perry and Britney Spears on Spotify, but it also felt great to work more freely with tablet and pen. And, I then made a second version of the portrait ...

Big surprise, but this is titled "Women in Motion #2"

Big surprise, but this is titled "Women in Motion #2"

Overall, I enjoyed adding lots of texture to the charcoal piece (which I thought helped solve the pixelated-look problem) and more texture on top of that with the bright illustrations. Stay tuned for when I make more versions ...

Pablo Picasso, Take the Wheel

Originally posted on December 19, 2015.

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Usually, when it has come to the steps of drawing a piece, posting it on the home page of my site and listening to people's reactions, I've found it all exciting. I'm always fascinated by how people can have totally different interpretations about one drawing. This morning, however, I decided to take on a refreshing approach: I decided to draw purely for the sake of drawing... which led to the picture you see here.

Specifically, I wanted to try drawing without mentally preparing myself for people's opinions. I didn't want to think about the moment where I reveal my piece to the public, to eyes other than my own. Also, I wanted to focus on the experiment of speed drawing since I usually take my time when I draw.

So, here is my finished piece (above). It may not be much (one eye is slightly above the other, the nose is too wide...) and it may not look like the previous pieces I've done, but it's something I created.

I'd like to finish this blog post with a quote from one of my favorite artists:

"Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon." ~Pablo Picasso

Drawing Like Nat King Cole and The Strokes

Originally posted on December 9, 2015.

When I go about drawing my charcoal portraits, I do so in one particular pattern.
I will Google search "black and white portrait photography" for inspiration and see whatever catches my attention. Specifically, I will look for any photos where I feel like the subject is holding a lot of emotion inside. I will also search for images where I know I can create lots of shadow in the drawings. For example, I ran into this photo for my latest piece:

Photo by Malte Pietschmann

Photo by Malte Pietschmann

I found this photo very striking. The woman's eyes are locked on the audience in an intense stare, and they seem to be the focal point of the image. I could barely take my own eyes off of hers.

Aside from Google searching, I will blast a particular Spotify playlist on my phone where I get lost in the music. The tracks are mostly ones that I've barely heard on the radio or that I know not a lot of people are familiar with (at least I assume). I'm not sure why, but these things help me get absorbed in the songs.
In order to keep myself alert and focused on my drawings, I'll have the playlist alternate between super mellow and fast-paced songs. For example, Nat King Cole's "Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good to You" will play followed by "Machu Picchu" by The Strokes.

Once I have the subject chosen and the music playing, there is no stopping me -- well, except for my adorable little cousins who will sometimes drop by my room to see what I'm working on.

When I'm done, I like to take a step back and take in what I've just created. There's something amazing about turning a piece of paper into a person who comes alive through the sheet. Also, I enjoy the process where I internalize what's in the picture from Google and make it into something of my own. In what resulted below, I ended up softening the woman's stare and adding a bit of a smile to her mouth.

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Now, I like to turn over this one-sided (oops) conversation to you.
What do you do when you go about creating your art? Do you have a set routine or do you like to mix things up?