Freeze Frame: Capturing Moments in Time

An artist’s lifelike portrayals take on new meaning via time and motion.

Connie Andrews’ portraits and sculptures often transcend time, telling a story within a story. “The passage of time is a theme I like to explore,” she explains. “I look for ways to tell a story of a few seconds, or even decades, in the context of a confined space—the way a person changes over the decades, or the movement of hands over a piece of work.”

With that in mind, she never takes a project at face value. Getting to the essence of her subject requires time and reflection, and it’s at the heart of her work. “If I were to just take a photograph and paint it as I see it, that would be pretty easy,” she notes. “To make it really touching and meaningful… I add to it and make it a piece of art.”

Layers of Meaning
A woman once came to Andrews shortly after her wedding, asking her to paint a portrait. She brought along a few photos—all striking, professional shots. “One of her favorites was of her and her husband dancing, with him spinning her around. It was really beautiful—I couldn’t improve on the photography,” Andrews explains. Using the photos for reference, she combined several shots to create “A Whirl of Their Own,” layering the couple’s movements to illustrate a range of motions—the bride and groom at different angles, her dress swirling around the scene. Read the rest here.

Ohn Mar Win’s Illustrated Recipes

They Draw & Cook is the internet’s largest collection of illustrated recipes created by artists from around the world. Founded by Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell, the site features more than 7,200 recipes, and it grows each day. They’ve since published more than a dozen books with recipes from the site, and one The Most Gorgeous Cookbook Ever, features 30 recipes by artist Ohn Mar Win. Swindell says, “We LOVE receiving illustrated recipes from Ohn Mar Win! Her illustrations always capture a mood and vibe that would be really hard to achieve with a photograph.”

Win who’s based in the UK, has been an illustrator and designer for 20 years. She teaches classes for Skillshare on drawing and watercolor techniques. Here, she shares five tips to help you get started on your own illustrated recipe.

  1. Research

Before beginning a project, I always collect lots of reference photos and create a mood board. This helps me to see many angles of the image—in this case, figs—and shows the variances in colors. I often use Pinterest for broad references, but if I need something more specific, I’ll use an image library like Shutterstock.

  1. Put it down on paper

Win: I always start with a hand-drawn sketch rendered in brush pen or black pen, which I scan and take into Photoshop for the texture. I find this method helps me keep the spontaneity of the sketch, which a lot of clients like. My best suggestion is just draw and draw and draw – that’s how I got good at food! It’s very important to observe actual food so you can translate your understanding of it in a recipe or piece of packaging.

  1. Establish the composition before drawing.

Win: I draw out the ingredients that I think I’ll need based on the layout I’ve chosen. Most of the time I follow the sketch layout, but sometimes I’ll rearrange the composition in Photoshop or Illustrator depending on what other elements I’m using.

 

  1. Follow basic lettering rules.

Win: I’m mindful of the lettering placement when I sketch out my rough. I also take a look at lettering sites like My Fonts to get a feel for what sort of lettering style would suit the vibe of my recipe.

Swindell notes, “The angle of the title and the mix of lettering styles help to make this composition so dynamic and engaging.”

  1. Color is key.

Win: I look very closely at foods and often seek out the nuances within them, especially if they are heirloom vegetables, which I love to paint or illustrate. You can do whatever you want when you’re creating for yourself, but clients may have their own ideas about how they want their foods to be colored based on the final product.

Swindell says, “The colors and stylization of the figs are pure magic. The colors almost sparkle against the dark rich background.”

“Figs are a super sexy fruit to draw because they are so curvy and lyrical. In truth, I think her illustrated version of the fig tart looks way more appetizing than the real thing,” Swindell notes.
“One of the best things about this recipe is the organization of the information. It’s super easy to know what ingredients you need and how to prepare the dish. It makes me want to make a Fig Tart. NOW!”

Lettering Tips for Beginners

Joanna Muñoz, founded Wink & Wonder in Los Angeles, Calif., in 2013, as a freelance creative outlet outside of her full-time job as a graphic designer. “I got engaged not long after starting out and my work suddenly shifted toward calligraphy/lettering, as I documented the process of creating stationery and signage for our wedding. Everything else just kind of fell into place from there,” Muñoz says. “I stumbled across the Goodtype Instagram feed and was hooked. I felt like I struck gold finding a really great community to be a part of.” She’s been busy working on hand-lettering projects ever since.

Here, she shares advice and techniques to help aspiring lettering artists get started and follow their passion.

 1. What tools are best for people just getting started in lettering?

I’m a big fan of using what you have at your disposal before going on a shopping spree. The reality is that tools can only take you so far. It’s consistent, mindful practice and learning the fundamentals that will help propel your work forward.

Pencils— I’ve experimented with tons of brands, but always fall back on a few favorite tools: My go-to pencil is the .5mm Alvin Draft-Matic Pencil – the lead is thin enough for precise lines but wears down with use and creates that same texture you get from traditional graphite pencils. Using mechanical pencils alleviates the need for sharpening. For erasing, I use a kneaded eraser as it’s mess-free and does a great job of getting rid of lines.

Pens— I mainly use the Tombow Fudenosuke Hard and Soft brush pens when I initially create a piece. The soft brush pen has plenty of flexibility for me to create thick and thin lines by applying or releasing pressure, while the hard brush pen offers a little more structure and rigidity. I also use Micron pens (mostly .005, .01 and Graphic) for refining lines, and a Sharpie Brush Tip marker for filling in big areas with black ink.

Paper— I love Moleskine grid notebooks for sketching ideas, Pocket Scout Books for lettering on the go and Canson Marker Paper when I need to create a final piece because it’s super smooth, bleed-proof when inking, and transparent enough to use with a guide underneath the page.

Are there certain warm-up exercises you do? 

If I’ve taken a longer break than usual, I typically jump-start my muscle memory by writing out the alphabet (in cursive) until the rhythm of the pen or pencil starts to feel natural again. Most days, I simpy start out with really loose sketches of a concept to warm up.

What basic techniques would you recommend for a beginner?

Learn the letterforms – Understanding the different elements of each letter – serifs/san-serifs, x-heights, ascenders/descenders, flourishes, etc. – and how they work together will really up your hand lettering game. If you’re drawn to script styles, learning basic calligraphy will do wonders for you as well.

Relax – Having a death grip on your pen/pencil and applying too much pressure will cause your hand to tire out faster and create forced lines and letterforms. Ease your grip and (literally) go with the flow.

Go big – Sketch your concepts out as a whole word or phrase, and don’t draw letter by letter in full detail. Sketching loosely and focusing on the bigger picture will help you determine the overall composition of your piece. It’s best to create several quick layouts and include all of your design elements to see what works best (or doesn’t), especially if you’re using a photo and incorporating lettering. Once you’re happy with the structure of a piece, you can move on to refining the details.

Contrast is key – When using brush pens, you’ll generally want to apply pressure on a downstroke to create thicker lines, and release pressure on an upstroke to create thin lines. The change in pen pressure will create varying line width and give your work some added dimension.

Where (or who) do you look for inspiration? 

Instagram is my social platform of choice for inspiration. I’m a huge fan of @Goodtype’s wonderfully curated and very diverse feed, where you can see artwork from concept to completion and in every medium imaginable. Founder, Brooke Robinson, also does a phenomenal job of showcasing new artists alongside well-known ones.

In terms of inspiration, Gemma O’Brien, Jennet Liaw, Becca Clason, Lauren Hom, Nick Misani, Noel Shiveley, Adé Hogue, Christopher Craig, and Danger Dust never cease to amaze me. Not only are they talented, but they all create pieces with an incredible attention to detail and have mastered a variety of lettering styles.

Do you have a practice project you would recommend for beginners?  

Lettering a quote is what most, if not all, letterers have done at one point or another… and I still do it when I can’t think of anything else to write. Inspirational quotes are overdone, so challenge yourself by doing something different. Why not try a phrase from your favorite television show, an uninspirational quote, or a pun for a fun twist?

The last few quotes I’ve lettered were based on the latest season of Game of Thrones. Not only was it super fun for me to draw, but it’s a topic that almost everyone can relate to and hopefully appreciates. Think about how many words and design elements you’ll need to draw and how you want it to fit on the page. Start with loose sketches and begin to refine once you’ve locked in a composition that works for your piece. Most of all, remember that exploring different ideas, tools, styles, and techniques is all part of the process. Have fun with it!

From Vacation to Vocation

It started in 2010 with a crate of figs, some fetuccine, butter and balsamic vinegar.  The next thing they knew, they had spawned a community of food and illustrations around the word. Salli S. Swindell and her brother Nate Padavick of Studio SSS—were on vacation.

“Nate was cooking fettuccine with figs in butter balsamic sauce—sounds amazing, right?” recall Salli.  “While he was cooking, I was at the counter drawing the crate of fresh figs and sipping wine. It was an ‘Aha!’ moment. Drawing food is fun! I told Nate we needed to find more food illustration jobs.”

They Draw and Cook first began as a printed book of illustrated recipes they’d give away to friends, family, and clients. Nate had the idea to invite other  friends to contribute to the book. Weeks and months passed. While awaiting one submission for the book,  Nate grew impatient. On a whim, he posted eight of the illustrated recipes to a blog he and Salli decided to brand They Draw and Cook.

Word spread. Others began submitting illustrated recipes. In a short time, they had hundreds. Then thousands: more than 250,000 follow the blog on Facebook; more than 40,000 follow it on Instagram. Schools are using these sites for classroom assignments. “Some of our finest illustrated recipes are from students attending MICA, CCAD, and SCAD,” adds Salli. “We welcome a range of styles and skill level, and especially like it when we see an artist improve their skills one recipe or map at a time.”

The site’s popularity has inspired Nate and Salli to think of fresh ideas to unite illustration and personal interests. The compiled a list of “They Draw and …” variations.  Nate’s love of travel includes an interest in map design. The brother and sister added a map feature to their site to enable visitors to find other illustrators around the world.  Then they created They Draw and Travel—a companion site that is just as fun as their food site.

Although these started as a whim, the sites take up quite a chunk of time each week. Salli manages the cooking site and Nate the travel site, and each spend 15 to 20 hours a week. With so much effort devoted to the sites, Nate and Salli try to offset the costs with sponsorships that won’t clutter the site, such as illustrated recipe contests. Salli explains, “In the past, companies such as Glad, Kraft, UPPERCASE magazine and The Food Network have sponsored contests and offered cash prizes of up to $5,000. Contests are super fun and create a ton of buzz. We don’t have any planned right now, but would love to! Anyone? Anyone?”

They also have published several books as offshoots of the sites that help pay for website development. Cookbooks ranging from cocktails, vegan, fig and holiday recipes are available on their online shop, and Nate just published his first illustrated map book, titled The Draw and Travel, 100 Illustrated Maps of American Places by Artists Around the World.

The best part about both sites is the collaborative nature and it has actually helped many artists secure new clients. “We’ve made so many new friends and have discovered new food and adventure with every recipe and map,” Salli explains. “What started out as a way for nine of us to meet a few new clients, turned into a way for thousands of artists to connect with art directors all around the world. Every week or so we hear from an artist telling us that they were contacted by an art director who spotted their work on one of our sites. It doesn’t get any better than that!”

But don’t be surprised to see amateur artists featured alongside pros on the sites. They only turn art away if it isn’t the correct size or format. “Quite a few schools use our sites for classroom assignments. Some of our finest illustrated recipes are from students attending MICA, CCAD and SCAD. We like the range of styles and skill level and we especially like when we see an artist improve their skills one recipe or map at a time!”

A Bearded Lady & A Hoarsefly Walk Into a Bar

Whoa, Nelly!
Zombies, Cannibals, and Blood Lust Bambie?
Abi Daniel  is Out There. Waaaay Out There.

Whether mixing inks at Bearded Lady print shop or crafting logos at Hoarsefly Design & Illustration, Abi Daniel is constantly refining and reimagining her creative output. You’d never know that illustrator/designer Abi Daniel started her career drawing zombies, wookies, and spaceships, as a concept artist at Sony Online Entertainment, as much of her work now has a broader, more ephemeral appeal.

After leaving Sony to find her own creative voice, she discovered that she really loved printmaking and etching. She eventually met and married designer Josh Chalmers in Austin, Texas, who runs Bearded Lady, a screen printing shop. She now helps him run the print shop and does client work under her moniker, Hoarsefly.

Daniel says that one of the many perks of running a print shop, includes collaborating with other local artists. “It’s a fantastic avenue to form relationships with creative peers, and it’s a busy, productive working environment. I’m continually surrounded by very talented people who are working hard on their projects, and are stoked about the process. It’s a very positive, energetic vibe, and I think that’s possibly one of the nicest things about my life these days,” she admits. In addition to hosting workshops, Bearded Lady also has a gallery space to display the works of local artists.

At Hoarsefly, clients primarily Daniel to design logos, t-shirts, posters, and packaging because of her unique, hand-crafted sensibilities. A recent project for Pint House Pizza in Austin, required her to create large, linework illustrations on wood paneling. She drew at full-scale, taping sheets of cover stock together and tacking them to the wall. “I got really big and gestural. It was refreshing to work that way … and oddly, fast,” Daniel says. She then photographed the different elements, and finalized the placement and overall layout in the computer, projecting the images on the wall. She then painted the two murals directly on the walls, each measuring 7 x 10 feet. Getting the lines and details just right, took her hours to complete.

Drawing for Graphic Design

When talking about drawing for graphic design projects, we’re very often talking about a digital process. We’re so used to sitting in front of our computers, plugging away at pixels in Photoshop and Illustrator, that we sometimes forget to step away, grab a pen or pencil, and just draw. Here, we provide six simple drawing practice exercises that revolve around drawing for graphic design. These were pulled from Timothy Samara’s book on that subject. Timothy teaches Graphic Design Fundamentals at CreativeLive and his exercises will help you get started, and hopefully, breathe new life into your work.

1. Positive/Negative

This study trains the eye to tell form from space and pick out different levels of value.

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1. Choose a simple object to draw. This can be just about anything you’ve got lying around: a cup of coffee, a pair of scissors, or a desk chair should do nicely.

2. Instead of trying to draw the object itself, draw the negative space that surrounds the object. Define the shape with contoured fields of color rather than lines.

3. Now the actual shape of the object should be defined, so go in and add details using pencil or a lighter charcoal to create different values. Add each level independently, beginning with shadows. In each iteration, increase the number of levels between black and white. See five more exercises, here.

Sketch a Doodle Do

Artist Gemma Correll‘s quirky worldview is captured in the pages of the thousands of sketchbooks she has always kept close at hand. A lifelong doodler, her sketches and musings have led to a successful career as an illustrator and cartoonist.

In grammar school, her teachers couldn’t stop her. “In school, teachers would give me old notebooks books to draw in to prevent me from doodling all over my classwork. At home, I filled old notebooks with stories and comics and illustrated diaries,” she says. The childhood habit became her life’s work, bringing smiles and inspiration to thousands.

Her work is narrative based, using humor and clever wordplay. An astute observer of the world around her, her doodle books for art book publisher Walter Foster include techniques and prompts to guide users. Ostensibly, the subject matter of her doodle books are about cats, dogs, book worms, foodies, fashionistas, and tree huggers—things dear to her.  Her pugs, Bella and Mr. Pickles, both are featured prominently in her doodle books and Daily Diaries. Read the rest of the article here.

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Five Drawing Books For People Who Don’t (Necessarily) Draw

It’s that time of year when it starts to get dark at 4:00 p.m., and the thought of starting a new project is more likely to incite a yawn than enthusiasm. Sometimes we just need a kick in the pants—or in this case, a good book or two to get those creative juices flowing. Step away from your monitor, pick up a pencil or pen, and have some fun with these drawing books from Quarto Books. Read the story here.

warhol change
An exercise from Salli S. Swindell’s new book, Change Your Life One Doodle at a Time.