Sunday, November 10, 2013
Hi art friends! As you can see, I have a broken elbow. Got it from skating with the kids! Luckily, not my drawing arm. And as you can see, I've made myself a rest for my arm, cause I've gotta reach those hot keys! The hard thing for me right now is typing. So unfortunately there will not be any epic blog posts here in the next few weeks. Perhaps I will still post a couple image oriented posts. We'll see.
In the mean time, keep drawing, and keep reaching for your dreams! Find things to be grateful for. I am really grateful I can still draw!
Stay in touch! I'll still do some tweeting (short and sweet) and facebooking. I hope to be back in the full swing of blogging in December!
Print shop: www.society6.com/shawnajctenney
Friday, November 01, 2013
This is a screen shot of the Rosie The Reindeer Kickstarter from this morning! Rosie the Reindeer is a book I illustrated about 3 years ago for self publishing author Chantell Taylor. The book was never published because of lack of funds. Earlier in October, Chantell started a Kickstarter. I helped promote the project. Much to my amazement the project has funded! The project only has a few hours to go, so if you still want a chance to get your guaranteed copy of Rosie the Reindeer, jump in and back the project. I want to thank everyone who has helped back this project. It will be wonderful to finally see the book published since I worked so hard on it! Feeling grateful!
Here is the link to the project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1755207840/rosie-the-reindeer
Monday, October 14, 2013
|This day was really not going well for poor Brunhilda.|
Here is another illustration from my personal book project!
Stay tuned, I am going to make a little Youtube video explaining my process on this. When I asked for some questions a little while ago, a couple people said they want to know a little bit more about my process, so I will try and get that done soon.
Fun fact! A couple weeks ago, I got a Yiynova MSP19U tablet monitor. I LOVE it!!! It's so much easier to get accurate lines with this than my old Wacom Bamboo stylus. I would highly recommend this to anyone especially if you are wanting to use something very close to a cintiq, but don't want to have to pay the money. (Link below).
Thursday, October 03, 2013
Another sneak peek into my personal book project!
Friday, September 20, 2013
|Black and White thumbnail|
|Tight Pencil Drawing|
|Black and White Study|
Here's a piece I did for a book I wrote and am illustrating, process to finish! More to come soon!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Me at age 16. My obsession: ballet.
Although my life was ballet at the time (literally- I had class and rehearsals 5-6 days a week), just a couple years later, I decided to turn my focus on art...for quite a few reasons, which I won't go into here.
But being in ballet taught be a lot more than just how to dance.
It taught be how to be a stronger and more determined person.
It taught me to work hard.
It taught be to be passionate about the art I make.
It taught me how to turn dreams into reality.
Here are 8 life-long lessons I took from ballet, and which now help me is pursuing my dreams as an illustrator.
1. Smile and keep your head up, even if you can't breath, and your toes are bleeding.There were times in ballet class when I was so out of breath, I just wanted to pass out on the floor. I would take off my pointe shoes to find bloody toes.
But if you want the big parts in ballet, it's all about deceiving the audience. We were always told to smile to the audience, no matter how tired we were, and make it look fun and light and easy so the audience could enjoy the performance.
This piece of advice is good for us artists especially as we need to be marketing ourselves through social media. In your online presence, be positive. No one is going to want to follow someone who is always complaining or acting unprofessional online. And since social media is so public, art directors will see your negativity too, and won't want to hire you.
2. Warm up and stretch every day.Every day in ballet class we started at the barre with plies (sort of like graceful squats), then moved into foot exercises and then into bigger leg exercises. If you weren't there for warm-ups, then you had to sit out and watch class. You were weren't allowed to participate. For dancers, warm ups at the barre help train the body to move the feet, legs and arms in the correct forms and to hold the body properly and balance before dancing in the "centre" of the room.
This is something we artists need to remember. We need to remember to warm up. We need to be sketching every day. This not only helps us train our muscles for better drawing, but it also helps us come up with ideas we can use in future illustrations.
Another important part of warm up is learning from others. Spend a little time each day reading an art book or blog or absorbing a good picture book or looking at somebody's online portfolio. Studying old masters will teach you so much about how to structure your own art. You will soon start to discover what you like and what it is that makes good art and what makes bad art.
3. Rehearsal are where the mistakes happen.The point of rehearsal is to learn the dance steps and perfect them. No one will be able to do the dance combination perfectly the first time. Which is why we have rehearsal. If you're going to fall, do it at rehearsal. Learn from your mistakes and make it better every time.
Sometimes artist forget that we need rehearsal. Start with thumbnails. Make all your mistakes there. Keep sketching until you get it right. Do black and white and color studies. It's good and okay to make mistakes during this "art rehearsal." Then when you paint your final painting, it will be a beautiful performance. No one has to see all the mistakes you made to get there. But don't be afraid of making those mistakes- a lot of them. You'll never have a good performance without all the practice!
4. Good critiques and bad critiques.I had lots of different teachers in my ballet classes. In fact, sometimes I had a different teacher every day of the week. I had one teacher that was really really nice and sweet. In fact, sometimes too nice. Sometimes I wished that she would give me some constructive criticism. I wanted to know what I was doing wrong in order to improve.
On the other hand I had some teachers that were always negative. It was good for me to know what I was doing wrong, but also hard if I never knew that I was doing anything right. One teacher in particular was always so negative with me all the time, that I started to give up. I felt like everything I could do nothing right in her eyes. My attitude started to be, "why try at all if I do everything wrong?"
It is important to give a good balance of good constructive criticism and positive reinforcement when critiquing another artist's art. Sometimes industry professionals and teachers give beginners all negative feedback without being constructive. Sadly, this leads a lot of these beginners to quit. On the other hand, some people are afraid to give any sort of constructive criticism at all, and don't help the artist at all to improve. If we are to grow as artists, we need to both give and take a healthy balance of both positive reinforcement and constructive criticism and to take it all with a grain of salt.
5. When you break your knee, don't give up. Fight your way back to the top.It was November. I was 15 years old getting ready to be in The Nutcracker the following month. I finally had some roles I was excited about! I would be in the Chinese dance, part of the Snow corps de ballet, and- my favorite- The Mouse King!
One day in class I was practicing on the side. All of a sudden, my knee made a sickening crack and I fell to the floor in pain. I later found that I had torn cartilage in my knee and would need to have surgery.
I was terribly disappointed that I would not get to dance in the Nutcracker. It was hard for me to watch other dancers do the parts I had worked so hard for. I lost all of my muscle in my right quad since I was unable to bend my knee for quite a while. I had to do lots of physical therapy. It was a really hard time in my life.
I had to work my way back up to the level I was on before. I decided to take the lower classes as I was not able to bend my knee all the way and needed to be careful. I worked the rest of the year in the lower classes, and at the end of the year, my teacher told me I had to stay in the lower class.
So I stayed in the lower class for a whole other year. It was hard and very humbling for me. But I learned some things on the way. I learned to work harder and be more determined. I learned to be more humble. In the end I think I came out a better dancer because I wanted it more.
I often feel this way in today's art market. The market has changed, and broken and changed. I have been working on trying to get into the trade market for 8 years. But things break, and I have to be humble and change plans and work harder. I think when things finally work out, things will be all the better. And I hope I can help and inspire others on the way.
So my advice to you: When things break in this unpredictable market, don't give up. Change your plans and work harder. Sometimes doing it the longer and harder way, will make your art richer and deeper, and the end result will be even better than if you had gotten there the easy and fast way.
6. You've got to add your own flare, or you will always be casted as part of the "corps de ballet."It takes many dancers to make up a ballet. The corps de ballet is the large group that dances together in the back ground. Corps de ballet literally means the body of the ballet. The corps de ballet is an important part of the ballet. It is important to dance exactly like everyone else in the big group. Everyone is to dance together as one body. The corps de ballet is good background scenery.
But the person we want to watch is the prima ballerina. She got there by not only having good skills, but also by adding her own flare and emotions to her work.
In art, sure, you can spend all your time copying another person's style, but you are not going to be noticed. People will see that your work is not original. Your will start getting noticed when you start add your own style and emotions to your work. People will know when your work is not genuine, when you are only doing what art directors tell you to do or trying to copy someone else. Take time for personal projects and do the kind of art that comes from your heart, and you will start to get noticed.
7. Keep dancing, even when your teacher refuses to acknowledge you existence.After my knee injury, as I mentioned before, I had to work myself slowly back to the level I was at before my injury. I had one teacher in particular that decided to absolutely ignore me. That means refused to acknowledge my existence. He never spoke my name, he never even looked at me. He did not even think it was worth his time to give me constructive criticism to and tell me what I was doing wrong or right. He simply ignored me.
There was too things I could do at that point. I could have completely given up in despair, or I could work hard...dang hard and make him notice me.
So I went home and cried in frustration, and then I started working. I started working as hard as I could. I started practicing the combinations or balancing on the side of the room when it wasn't my turn. I started lifting weights and gaining my strength. I saved up all my money and went to ballet camp. It wasn't my time to shine yet, but kept practicing and not giving up. When I came back the next year, the teacher started noticing me. In fact, he started putting me in solo roles.
This is the same with art directors and getting work in illustration. If everyone is ignoring your work, then you start working as hard as you can. Do personal projects. Take classes. Read books. Draw every day. Blog. Just work as hard as you can, until you start getting noticed. And one day, you will start getting the lead roles in the art world.
8. If you fall, stand right back up and keep going.I was 18 years old. I was the soloist for Dance of the Hours in the ballet Coppelia. I had worked hard in rehearsal and perfected the dance. This was the night when all my friends from high school came to see me. I was leading the corps de ballet in a series of turns across the floor. As I was leading the third group of dancers, I somehow went for a double pirouette, and ended up flat on my bum...right in the middle of the performance, right in the middle of the stage.
Did I stay there flat on my bum? No. I got right up and finished the dance even though I was shaken up. After the performance, a particularly rude person came back stage and actually laughed at me. Yes, this is a true story. I had two choices. I could stay flat on my bum and listen to the laughing, or I could get up and ignore the ridicule and keep dancing and learn from what happened. I chose the latter.
Many times in art we fall. People might laugh at us or tell us that we aren't going to amount to anything. Maybe these people are people who are close to us. Maybe these people tell us we can never make a living with art. You can listen to the laughing and give up, or you can move on, and prove them wrong. You can stay flat on your back, or you get back up and work harder than you ever have before.
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
I designed this "art supply" robot for a friend. Here are also a bunch of the preliminary idea sketches. The idea was to have a robot with a part or parts made out of art supplies. My favorite ideas were the ones that either involved a paint tube or an air brush. I ended up using the air brush idea for the final. I liked the idea because the robot is not only a robot, but he is also the bottle of paint for the air brush. This was tons of fun! I love being inventive, and I hope to become better at it with even more practice!
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
As promised, here's the video of how I made my maquette out of wire, aluminum foil, and Sculpey (oven bake clay)! Now I can use this maquette of my character for reference of lighting and angles. You should make one too, and tell me about it!
Thursday, August 15, 2013
As Seth Godin would put it in his book Linchpin- this is "thrashing." It's important to thrash (or do all the exploring, bad work, and planning) at the beginning of the project or you will be doing bad thrashing at the end of your project (with bad results). Thrashing at the beginning will make everything much better in the long run. How will you know if you have the best solutions unless you explore many of them?
Above is what I finally came up with for my characters. I decided to make Sculpey maquettes of the characters to use for reference- lighting and angles etc. The proportions are not exact, but it gives me a good reference anyway. I will probably paint them soon. I am also going to post a video soon of how I made them. I also started doing some color studies of the main character- Brunhilda. This is so much fun, I am loving this!
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
|Chris Oatley at the Salt Lake Art Institute.|
|My first attempt at being Cake Boss. Lol!|
|Jessie Kate Patterson, Scott Wiser, Chris Oatley and me. |
Oatley Academy meet-up at the art museum!
If you, reader, get the opportunity to take a class from the Oatley Academy, I encourage you to do so. Your art and life will be changed for the better.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Something I've learned this year from my concept artist friends, is not to be afraid to draw and draw and draw- and work things out in thumbnails first. I have always drawn thumbnails, but before this year, I felt like it was waisting my time if I didn't figure things out in the first or second thumbnail. Now I know that I'm waisting my time if I don't try out more options. It's so encouraging and empowering to know that you don't have to get it right the first time- in fact you shouldn't!
The fun thing (and maybe a very challenging thing) about making a picture book, especially if it is your own personal project, is that the illustrator has to put an entire production together. As the illustrator, you have to be the character designer, the background designer, the color designer, the painter and the director all rolled up into one. All this stuff takes a lot of people in a movie production. But with a picture book, it's all you. Once you send things off the the publisher, things are a little more collaborative, but still, it's a lot of work on the illustrators part.
It's a fun challenge to take on, and coming up with lots of ideas and thumbnails in the beginning stages will help your project be a lot more successful! It's like real house shopping. How do you know you have the right house unless you look at a bunch before you make your choice?
Monday, July 29, 2013
Drawing and drawing and drawing. Sometimes you just have to sketch and sketch and sketch until the character feels right. I feel like I am just starting to learn how to draw good characters. There is so much I don't know and need to learn! Fake it 'till you make it...right? I just keep drawing. I'm trying to find a good fit for some characters I am working on for a children's book manuscript I have written. I hope to start narrowing it down soon, but for now I'm just trying to discover the right look by using as many different shapes as I can. This is only a few of the drawings I have done. I love the freedom of knowing you don't have to get it right the first time. And working on a personal project helps me have more passion for what I am doing! Just keep drawing, just keep drawing!
Thursday, July 18, 2013
I recently asked for questions and tutorial requests on my blog. I'll start with Joanne's question. Joanne says:
"I have been looking into the multitude of reputable online classes for illustrators, but am having trouble deciding. How did you go about choosing Oatley Academy, and how can an illustrator get the most for their money from a course like this?"
Thanks for the question, Joanne. Last fall I took Painting Drama 1 from Chris Oatley at the Oatley Academy. I am now taking The Art of Personal Projects from Cory Godbey at The Lampost Guild. Each is a very different and unique experience, but both are a wonderful opportunity to learn from one of the top industry professionals.
Always A Student...
First, let me say that there is a huge variety of classes being offered. I think many of these classes could benefit any artist. Even if you have been an illustrator for years. Maybe you think since you graduated with a BFA in illustration 10 years ago, and you have been working in the industry ever since, you don't need to take any more classes. Well, my friend, I believe every artist should always be a student. There is so much you can learn from another artist. Whether it be taking one of these amazing classes, or learning from the masters, or reading art books. We should always be trying to learn more, no matter where we are in our careers. Never before have we had these kind of opportunities- to take amazing art classes from some of the best in the industry. But with the internet, it's possible!
How do you choose who to take classes from and which classes to take? All the different online art schools are always offering different classes at different times. So what do you want to learn and when do you have time to take a class? You may feel that you don't ever have time to take a class because you are so busy working on freelance work, or you are busy with a day job. But try and make time to take a class. It will be well worth it.
Who should you take classes from? Look at who is teaching classes. Do they produce amazing work? Are they inspiring to you, not only through their artwork, but also through their communication skills? Do the things they say resonate with you? Why did I choose to take my first online class from Chris Oatley? Well because I knew him through his podcasts and blog posts. He always inspired me. He made me want to be a better artist. So when he offered his first class, I knew that I wanted to learn from Chris. I wanted to take a class from Cory Godbey because he always produces amazing artwork. I bought one of his personal project books a while back, and I appreciated that he took time to personalize the book just for me. He always inspires me with the personal projects he produces.
A Lesson in Social Media...
This is also a lesson in social media, my friends. Always be giving. Always take time to inspire. Always produce great artwork, and publish it. I take classes from these people because I've already learned a lot from them, and I know they will be good teachers in a class setting. So if you see a class being offered, but you are not sure if you should take it or not, start following the teacher on his/her blog. Do they produce good artwork, and are the things they say inspiring to you? Then they will probably be a great teacher also!
How to Get Your Money's Worth
How can you get the most for your money from one of these classes? Work hard. Work dang hard. Put your heart and soul into learning. Do the work. Finish the work. If you get discouraged, don't give up. If you put in the work, you will grow leaps and bounds as an artist.
New Opportunities for Everyone
Something I've learned from talking to Chris Oatley and also Will Terry and Jake Parker, who just started a school, The School of Storytelling, is that they are all amazed at how many people are interested in these online classes, and how many countries from around the world are represented. A lot of people from around the world are hungry for this knowledge that comes from these industry pros. A lot of people around the world have never had many opportunities to receive good art education before, and now the internet has opened a whole new world for them. I hope you, my fellow artists, will see what a wonderful opportunity this is for you, and take advantage of a great illustration class out there!
Here's a Few Illustration Schools to Check Out!
List of just a few illustration schools, that are either taught by good reputable artists that I know, or have been recommended to me by fellow illustrators/concept artists:
Oatley Academy of Concept Art and Design
School of Visual Storytelling
The Lamp Post Guild
Concept Design Academy
Drawing Tutorials Online
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Thank you so much to my five friends- Lucy Elliot, Luda Kiperberg, Joanne Roberts, Meedy, and John Calvin- who entered the drawing for a free print! I really appreciate your questions and suggestions for videos, and I will try to answer all of them. The videos may take some time, but I promise to try and get to all of them. I stuck all the names in the bag and randomly picked out a name to win a free signed 11x 14 print. And the winner is...
But wait, there's more! Since there was only 5 entries, I decided to send a signed 8 x 10 print to ALL OF YOU (including Meedy- you can pick out a second print). Thank you so much for your participation, I really appreciate it! To get your print, please send your name and physical address to me at my email which is shawna(dot)tenney(at)gmail(dot)com. Then tell me which print you would like. It can be any of the ones seen above, or you can request a print of any of the illustrations on my website and I will let you know if that particular illustration is available for print. Please try to get me this information by the beginning of next week as I would like to send the prints out as soon as possible, and all in one trip if possible. Thanks my friends, for being awesome!
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Hello friends far and near! I would like to make more video tutorials and blog posts to help you and answer any questions you might have. Do you have questions about the children's book publishing industry? About how making a children's book works? About Photoshop techniques? About my process? Is there someone you would like to see me interview? Ask me anything!
If you ask me a questions in the comments of this post, you will automatically be entered into a drawing for a free 11 x 14 signed print! Have your questions to me by midnight on Wednesday July 10th to be entered into the drawing. The winner of the drawing may choose from any of the prints seen above, or any other of my illustrations. Feel free to ask me questions here any time and I will see if I can answer them for you! Pass the word on to other artists who might be interested! Also, if you want to ask me a question, but aren't interested in being part of the drawing for the print, let me know. Happy summer, everyone!
Monday, June 24, 2013
If you ever go to Denver Comic Con, you should...
Geek out with your hubby (if you should have one)...
Meditate under a giant blue bear's bum...
Meet your teacher, friend and mentor, Chris Oatley in person...
Hang out with some awesome artists at The Oatley Academy of Concept Art and Design booth...
Play a random blue piano in the middle of the street...
Check out all the fabulous costumes (and some not so fabulous costumes)...
Wear a monicle while talking with your friend AJ Nazarro- it will increase your IQ 50%...
Check out all the nerdy things, like the build your own Star Wars Droid station...
Get some geekilicious pictures with cartoon characters you used to watch when you were 4 years old...
Hang out with Chris Oatley at the kids art station...
Maybe record a mini-podcast with Chris, while you're at it...
Eat exotic food with Warren Tenney at Little India...
Hang with good friends like Ian Johnston at the Hardrock Cafe...
And check out the Denver Chalk Art festival!