April Exhibition - Painting No. 1 ... and No. 2!

It felt almost like an eternity, but I finally finished my first painting for the April exhibit! To be exact, I finished it at 8 a.m. today despite having gone to bed at 1 a.m. the night before (I’m an intense early bird even when I don’t want to be).

And, before starting on my second painting, I needed to take a pause. In the midst of the craziness of trying to prepare a total of six large pieces over just a couple of weeks while working full-time, I had to remind myself to enjoy this time of fully using the right side of my brain.

So, I took some hygge time to myself, enjoying a mug of coffee while watching the steam rise from the cozy mug and watching my two adorable little cousins play in the backyard. If you don’t know what hygge means, it’s an amazing concept I live by (read exactly what it means here).

 

Okay, on to Painting No. 2! I decided to go for the same image as in Painting No. 1 except I used the colors of Elliott Bay Brewery’s logo: beige and red.

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And so, that is where I am right now with the second painting. I still need to add a second or third layer of red paint followed by the touch-ups with the beige paint, then I should be done by the end of the day tomorrow! Stay tuned …

Yep, I Totally Framed Her

This may be a sort of minor update, but I was so excited about it I just had to share! 
Today, I framed my "Daisy #2" piece that's going to be featured at the CoCA gallery this May. It looks so much more like an official art piece now ... though I still have to take off the annoying cardboard corners. I'll be leaving this task to the framing experts at Michael's, simply because I don't trust myself to do it without accidentally ruining the frame.

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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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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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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.

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.

Gaining Strength Through Drawing

Originally posted on September 4, 2016.

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Today, I decided to try something new: drawing a portrait where the subject's eyes aren't the main focus. Pretty much all my other portraits have the woman's eyes open and directed near or at the viewer, but this time I wanted to have the eyes diverted.

It's almost like what they say about the five senses where if one is blocked then the other four gain strength. After choosing to block most of my concentration from the eyes, that focus gravitated toward the woman's other facial features. I even ended up spending more time on shading. The original photo barely had any shadows, and I wanted to make my drawing a more intense version.

Also, I diverted a bit from my general drawing routine in terms of the music I listen to. I went for something fierce to hopefully bring out more emotion in my piece, and I ended up going with a Kimbra playlist. I hadn't listened to her in awhile and always loved her style! Below is the music video of one of my favorite Kimbra tracks. Enjoy!

One Woman, One Voice

Originally posted on August 28, 2016.

When you look at these two images side by side, it's obvious one is straight up the zoomed-in version of the other. But, if you were only observing one of the two on its own, you'd probably come up with a different interpretation.

This was the idea I explored while drawing the above piece. I didn't want to copy the original photo (which I found thanks to Google search); I tried to think of a way to illustrate the same woman in a new perspective. Thus, the close-up drawing.

The eyes have always been my favorite facial feature to draw just because here I have the freedom to add as much intensity as I want in the person's expression (which always turns out to be a lot). Surprisingly, I also found that for this specific picture I could add intensity through the eyebrows. Something about this woman's eyebrows made me think I could use them to make her face bolder, more attention grabbing.

The woman in the image on the right has stopped in the middle of an outdoor stroll to wonder where she's going next (literally and figuratively), looking to the viewer for some sort of possible guidance. The woman on the left, however, is in deep thought, too deep to even realize there is a viewer. She's withdrawn from any outside influences or voices and is focusing on the internal, relying on her voice and her voice alone to tell her where she's headed next.

Dance the Night Away

Originally posted on August 26, 2016.

Last night, I decided to divert a bit from my usual style of portrait drawing. Instead of zooming in on and making sure to carve every facial feature of a woman's face, I focused on drawing the whole body. I also told myself not to spend more than five minutes on each piece. And, of course, I only drew dancers. :)

In case you didn't already know, I. Love. Dance. I've also always been fascinated in general by the human figure, whether I'm watching someone perform a modern dance piece or catching sight of a Bernini sculpture, dramatic movement and muscle and all. Thus, even though I didn't spend that much time on the above pieces, I put most of my energy into detailing the dancers' muscle tones. I wanted to accentuate the power and contagious energy that a person can carry within them, which shows through movement, especially dance.

Dancer

Originally posted on June 21, 2016.

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The above photo is my latest work. It's the first time maybe in years that I've used charcoal and oil pastel in a single piece. Oh, and I have my adorable 7-year-old cousin to thank for generously lending me his oil pastel set. He's an angel. :)

As per usual, I had grabbed a picture that caught my eye after typing something along the lines of "portrait photography" in Google search. But, this time I chose to draw a figure instead of a face. Also, I decide to create a portrait of a woman facing away from the viewer rather than toward the viewer. I was generally faithful to the original photo of the dancer ... except for the fact that I completely removed her dance partner. I wanted the woman to be alone to give the piece an air of solitude -- not in a negative way, but in the sense of one facing inward, toward your own thoughts instead of focusing on all things outside yourself. Basically, I wanted to focus on the internal versus the external. I partly chose to think this way while drawing because generally I see dance as a profound way of expressing oneself, of deciding who you want to be and how to portray that through movement.

Do you modify original images as you draw or paint? If so, to what degree? What things inspire you to do this?

Another Case of the Unfinished

Originally posted on April 26, 2016.

So, the above drawing was my second attempt at doing the whole half-winging-it-half-being-faithful-to-the-original-photograph thing, except in this case I winged not actually finishing the drawing.
This might have partially come from how I've been listening to a lot of Nirvana lately (specifically the MTV Unplugged in New York album, if you must know) and how I've had a lot of necessarily and unnecessarily stressful things turning over in my mind. Thus, my artistic style became more aggressive, rushed and borderline sloppy.

Usually, when I veer away from my usual artistic style like this I give myself major guilt trips, but this time I'm fine with the change. The different mindset allowed me to explore a different way of creating art. I also like how it added a bit more of variety to my range of pieces.

Do you rely on being in a certain state of mind for when you draw/paint/etc.?

Just Do It

Originally posted on March 13, 2016.

Have you ever found yourself tired of hearing your voice going on and on inside your head, and you just have the urge to think less and do more? As someone who tends to overthink, I end up in this situation from time to time, and it feels liberating when I let myself go and allow things to happen on their own. I do this letting go particularly in drawing, which I guess in a way classifies drawing as a form of therapy for me.

Last weekend, after finishing my latest piece (see in previous blog post), I decided to draw without thinking. I thought it would be a good way to take a break from all the concentration and energy I put into the last portrait, and I went on Google images to find a picture of a figure rather than just a face (which I usually do). As soon as I found my image, I told myself to complete the figure drawing as quickly as I could. I didn't even put time into finding the right music to play on Spotify to fit whatever mood I was in (which, again, I usually do) -- I just went for it.

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Even though it's not the most neat or finished looking drawing, it fits the idea of drawing from spontaneity and impulse.... And, before I end up getting deep into Art History and writing an essay-long blog post talking about artists like Jackson Pollock, I'm going to stop writing. :)

First Attempt, Results

Originally posted on March 10, 2016.

Hello, All!
My apologies for the weeks spent not writing a blog post... This apology not only goes out to you readers but also to the blog itself (because, yes, part of me believes this beautiful thing I created is a living thing that shouldn't be neglected). I hope you can forgive me.

Anyway, I thought I'd update you since the previous blog post and tell you that I tried the whole half-being-faithful-to-the-original-portrait-photo-half-winging-it thing! I had taken a photo of a beautiful woman from Google search and drawn her face to resemble as closely as possible how she actually looked in that photo. Then, for a couple of weeks, I let that face sit in my sketchbook as I waited for inspiration to strike that would allow me to complete the drawing. 

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Finally, one day I forced myself to draw the rest of the portrait simply because I didn't like that I was basically postponing finishing the piece. Shortly after, I learned that I lost the original photo and could no longer find it on Google images (this taught me to always save whatever photo I'm drawing from instead of assuming it would always be one search away). This was when I decided to just "wing it." I had the woman's hair, neck and hat left to draw, so I went for it. Here is how it turned out:

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I wish I could show you the original photo so you would know how much I winged it in this drawing! What I can tell you is that in the original photo, the woman's hair is pulled up in some sort of loose bun as there is much more shadowing in the neck area. For my drawing, I decided to let her hair down partly because I just love drawing hair this way and I thought the waves would frame her angular face really well. I also chose to lessen the shadow in her neck region so that the eye would wander in that area instead of just focusing on the face.

So, there you have it! Let me know what you think. I would love to hear any feedback you might have that I can perhaps use in my next attempt at half-being-faithful-to-the-original-portrait-half-winging-it. :)

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