Downtown Redlands Art Walk Recap

It was my first time exhibiting at the Downtown Redlands Art Walk last Sunday. I didn’t know what to expect, so I went with a light set up, including miniature framed artwork and a couple different printed items.

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By my side were some excellent artists who were kind enough to join me on the sidewalk in front of Bricks and Birch. Even with just the four of us, we represented a range of materials and approaches, from fine art landscapes to caricature to digital illustration. You can peruse more of Alan’s and Noel’s work on their respective websites.

Later in the day, we encountered some strong winds and even a few raindrops that materialized from an unknown source. We improvised with our displays, moving things around to prevent paintings from becoming airborne. As the weather worsened, we packed up most of our items. At that point, I still had a digital painting demo to perform and knew the show must go on! With the help of Natalie and Holly, we moved my monitor, laptop, and precious goods indoors so that I could continue.

The coffee shop owners were very generous with this change of events. It was great to catch the eye of a few curious customers with my demo and brought more attention to the work I had up on the wall. Speaking of which, my little print gallery is still up this week, so if you’re in town, you can stop by Bricks and Birch for your morning coffee and see the display!

Overall, it was a pretty crazy day of unknowns and maybe less foot traffic than I had expected. However, I was able to hold rich conversations with the handful of friends and strangers who visited. The pizza was pretty dang good too.

In recent news, we have changed from a 3-week to a 4-week schedule for our completed triptychs. This will allow us to continue creating quality work for you to enjoy! We will have an extra week for news and progress updates, so you can still expect some interesting content while you wait for the next release.

Mermaid Memories

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Candice’s work-in-progress.

Let’s shuffle aside the various tunes from The Little Mermaid queuing up in your mind right now (or is that just me?) and dive in for a closer look at our most recent triptych, The Fisherman’s Bride. Spoilers ahead, so please check that out first if you missed it!

This triptych was instigated by our artist Candice, who provided an open-ended visual prompt in the form of her merwoman portrait, accompanied by the title. Therefore Holly and I had a lot of freedom in how we chose to interpret it–cue the brainstorming whirlwind! Before I moved forward with the music, I wanted a general idea of theme and tone for the forthcoming story, so Holly and I had several chats over the good ol’ interwebs to deviously mastermind a new drama  swap musings on “who is this character?”, and “what story does she want to tell?”

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Illustration by Edmund Dulac for Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.

The main thread we unraveled from our conversations was an interest in diverting expectations. From the fairy tale classics to their Disney adaptations, stories involving mermaids often revolve around their transformation into humans, and the resulting emotional and inter(mer?)personal conflict. We contemplated inverting the traditional mermaid-to-human scenario and projected several variations along those lines: perhaps the fisherman’s bride is actually a human, preparing for her transformation into a merwoman? Holly decided to explore the possibilities of her human protagonist visiting a fish market and suddenly being overwhelmed by visions of the sea and underwater life. Funnily enough, the narrative worked out to parallel a kind of aftermath of the classic fairy tale route, since the fisherman reveals in the ending that Francisca was regaining memories of her life under the sea, not merely hallucinating. It’s bittersweet and I love it (I didn’t see the ending until the night before we posted), and it just goes to show that you never know where the story will take its author!

© Copyright 2015 Corbis CorporationWhy all this talk of story in a music-focused post? Well, as I’ve mentioned already, narrative plays an integral role in my approach to composition, especially when considering shape/structure, dramatic progression, and emotional development. Not only does it inspire me creatively to discuss story ideas–especially with Holly!–but it was important to establish an emotional space for this triptych music before plunging in blindly. Even though we didn’t have all the fine details hashed out for this particular narrative, we did know that it was going to be a little more light-hearted than our past works. While the music I eventually wrote doesn’t encompass the entire progression of the story, I do feel it nicely complements the discovery of the golden kelp forest, with a sense of anticipation and even playfulness.

Triptych Trip: LA Times Festival of Books

The Triptych trio braved the elements and public transportation to get the scoop on the 2016 LA Times Festival of Books. What transpired on our visit?

First things first. We brought along some hipster square Triptych business cards:

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Natalie and I took the Metrolink–a first for me, but well worth the $10 ticket that took us to Los Angeles Union Station and back home. With no traffic or parking concerns and the ability to chat casually, it makes me wonder why I haven’t used it before! A free shuttle bus took us from Union Station to the USC campus where the festival was held.

There were quite a few lectures scheduled throughout the day. I used most of my time to browse the booths and found a few independent publishers to talk with. At lunchtime, we were graced with the presence of a plethora of food trucks. After a serious consideration of my options, I went with a Jogasaki sushi burrito. Later in the afternoon, I attended a talk with authors Cecelia Ahern, Susan Dennard, Cindy Pon, Elissa Sussman. They discussed their latest novels and how they develop their fantastical, but realistic worlds.

I amassed quite a bounty of items from the festival. Some of my favorite items included an adorable bear print by concept artist and illustrator David Colman, some crazy postcards from Anomaly Productions with high-tech augmented reality capabilities (via mobile app), and an amazing magazine called Color Ink Book

Coloring books are all the rage nowadays, but because so many people are jumping on the bandwagon, you see a variety of quality levels and content limited to what “sells”. You don’t see much on the grotesque/monster spectrum, but really, who wouldn’t want to color intestines and blood vessels? Color Ink Book is work of art and activity book rolled into one.

Even with the rain and the peril of a few soggy books, the LA Times Festival of Books was a successful venture! From my standpoint, the festival could invest more in attracting commercial artists to encourage more community between themselves, publishers, and authors. Despite this shortcoming, books remained the highlight, as they should be.

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The Fisherman’s Bride

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Every townsperson in Alta Bay knew of Francisca, the fisherman’s wife.  But not much at all was known about her.  The townspeople would say she had large, wide-set eyes that would avoid other people’s and a demure smile.  That she was a quiet woman with no enemies but no real friends either.  Every so often, someone might make a remark to her or about her, but she was easily forgettable, living in the unpainted cottage at the edge of town, keeping to herself most of the time while her husband spent early mornings fishing beyond the bay for the best catch.

“It’s nice to have some time to yourself though, isn’t it?” the baker’s wife asked her one day at the market, an attempt at friendly conversation.  “Or do you get lonely?”

Francisca responded with a smile and said she didn’t mind either way.  But the questions lingered with her, following close behind as she left the bakery.  She didn’t like going into town without her husband.  When he was with her, she could always walk a half-step behind him, letting him clear the way through the crowd, happy to hide in his broad shadow.

But this morning the fisherman was out at sea.

Reluctantly, Francisca joined Market Street’s bustle, the townsfolk with their bundles and baskets, the creaking horse-drawn carts, the caged chickens’ clucking, the butcher swatting at flies while he haggled with the blacksmith’s son over a pound of pork.  The cluster of people was always the worst part about going to the market, and she prayed no one would stop her for a chat.  Please, if I can just leave, just get home…  No more people, no more questions.  Francisca was never asked a lot of questions, other than the price and variety of that day’s catch when she and her husband sold fish at the dock three times a week, and for that she was grateful.  Perhaps a quiet presence gave the impression of a quiet mind, but just like the waves reaching up the rocks and the sandy shoreline by her cottage, her thoughts never settled.

Downtown Redlands Art Walk

If you’re looking to get out of the house for a breath of fresh air and fresh art, the Downtown Redlands Art Walk is coming up this month on April 24. The event is relatively new, but hosts a large number of local artists and small businesses who will be displaying their wares on the sidewalks in the downtown area of Redlands, California. It takes place from 12pm-6pm–perfect for an afternoon stroll.

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I will be having a small booth at the Art Walk with some bookmarks, prints, and other goodies for sale. Bricks and Birch is generously letting me use their space, so you will be able to see some additional prints up inside their shop. From 4pm-6pm I will be running a digital painting demo., which is a great time for you to stop by if you have any questions about my process!

More details about the Art Walk can be found on their Facebook Page. And don’t forget about the LA Times Festival of Books happening this weekend! Aside from books, there will be some incredible guest speakers, live music, and art all around the USC campus! If you plan on going, you can play Where’s Waldo and look for the Triptych trio. We will have very legible logos on our shirts. We’d love to meet you, so say ‘hi’ if you see us there!

Essence of a Fish

Last year I made a series of portraits in traditional media that were thoroughly enjoyable to create. The process involved interpreting some staple fantasy characters, including what you might call a fishier version of a mermaid.

FantasyPortraits1000HThe main reason I am revisiting this portrait relates to my health in the long-term. As I have been putting in more and more hours of digital painting, I have found too many issues with nerve and muscle pain in my hands and shoulders. Even with an ergonomic standing desk, these issues persist. I never find these problems with a physical paint brush, which has the positive health benefit of relaxing the hand and building muscle strength in the whole arm. So moving forward, I am going to try out acrylic paints to see how closely I can recreate my digital process both in technique and workflow. Digital media will still be involved, but I would like to rely on it less, especially for personal projects.

With regards to developing the aforementioned mermaid portrait, let me introduce you to the Red Gurnard. red-gurnard-nz-fish-species

To improve upon my illustration, I am focusing on one fish. This gives me the opportunity to add specific, but relevant details to the portrait. I arrived at the Red Gurnard after first thinking of where my character would live. I then researched exactly what fish were found in that region, one of which is this magical fish. It has such a big, expressive face and weird little feelers aside from the wing-like pectoral fins. The Red Gurnard is both beautiful and bizarre, which sums up perfectly the essence of my character. With this fish as reference, I went in and made some digital changes on top of my original portrait drawing.

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The biggest change is on the body where I have substituted the fin-like appendages for something closer to the feelers of a Red Gurnard. I also added a pearl necklace befitting of an almost-human aquatic female. On the right side of the above image is the (rough) lineart I drew after making my digital edits, which I printed out and transferred onto the illustration board where the final painting will take place.

What story will this character conjure in the minds of my collaborators? Find out next Tuesday!