Exhibitions Going on Now

Man, this has been a major week! I now have my art in two locations at the same time! :)

Until the last week of May, you can see "Daisy #2" at CoCA (find out how to get there when you click here) and 9 of my charcoal pieces (including "Daisy #2") at Freshy's Coffee (the West Seattle location). Also, when you drop by Freshy's you'll get to see some beautiful paintings by Eva Lu

Below are snapshots I took at both locations ...

First Thursday opening reception at CoCA

First Thursday opening reception at CoCA

At Freshy's Coffee in West Seattle

At Freshy's Coffee in West Seattle

Also, check this out! This is the catalog CoCA had printed for the exhibition.

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Anyway, I hope you'll be able to stop by at either or both places before May comes to a close. And, if/when you do, let me know what you think!

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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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.

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 ...

It's All in the Eyes

Originally posted on January 8, 2016.

Lately, I've noticed a pattern in my drawings (which I assume you've already noticed by now): I usually end up drawing close-up portraits of young women who are not smiling (and if they are smiling it's barely noticeable). They wear intense expressions especially around the eyes, which is the facial feature I focus on the most while I draw. Each time I come across this realization, I ask myself why it's true.

The only possible answer I can think of is this: I identify myself somehow with each of these women, in obvious and not so obvious ways. In obvious terms, I am a young female. When I dive deeper into analysis, I decide I am a vessel full of emotions, usually intense ones (both positive and negative). And, I have always believed that a person's eyes speak volumes including my own (I've been told time and time again that I have no capacity for a poker face and that therefore one can see what I'm feeling especially by looking at my eyes).

I guess, as it turns out, while I am drawing and wondering what the young women are possibly thinking, I am also reflecting on myself and what my own thoughts are. And, I guess that's part of being an artist: figuring out who you really are and how you relate to the world around you. This isn't to say I think this is the only purpose of being an artist as I believe other purposes include breaking the rules (like what society deems as "art"), sharing stories and, simply, expressing what you're feeling in the moment you're creating the art.

What are your thoughts? What do you think is the main purpose of making art? Do you believe there is only one major reason to be an artist?

Signing off,

Shirene

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?