Shrink-e-dinks….nostalgia from the 80’s

This past December I decided to take my work and create pins and earrings.  The question was how to do this.  I found something from my childhood that I always loved to create with, Shrink-e-dinks.  Yes, those plastic sheets you could paint, color or draw on, cut out and then pop in the oven to watch them shrink into a hard plastic.

I remember creating Disney Christmas ornaments from kits that my parents would get for my sister and I.  Those snowy Saturday afternoons where mom and dad needed to keep Karen and I busy….Boy, those were the days.

Well, I found the Shrink-e-dink material and decided, WHY NOT!

First off, I started actually drawing out images and then coloring them in.  This took a long time for each image but once shrunk down they looked really cool.  I used a variety of media including colored pencils, alcohol markers, and inks.

I then did a little more exploring on the art supply websites and found Shrink-e-dink material that you can send through an ink jet printer.  Hallelujah!!!!  This was so much easier. So, I started to look through my sketchbook and computer and found lots of images that I created to print out.  The results were great and the items were and are some of my most popular sellers.

Take a look for yourself here as I have some items still for sale.  Just contact me via messenger in Facebook or you can email at banasiakart@yahoo.com.

Next up, a review of the Epcot® International Festival of the Arts:  Disney has art classes and workshops? Who new they were so artist friendly?  Stay tuned.

Inktober….

It’s 2017 and I decided to do INKtober.  Well, as the month started, I started at a very eager pace.  The prompt list from Jake Parker’s website was a good list that I had decided to theme out.  My purpose was to keep it within the fantasy/sci-fi/adventure movies and TV shows that everyone was familiar with.  The movie series I had picked to sketch from were from Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit and Game of Thrones series.  I matched characters or scenes with the definition of the word either as a true representation of the meaning or an underlying meaning of the word.

Week one went very well but slow.  It was actually pretty easy to sit down and sketch and ink out one drawing the first couple days.  I planned to not go over 2 hours per sketch and inking.  This went well for the first five days.

BB-8 for the “SWIFTest” little astro mech in the galaxy.
Anakin “DIVIDED” between his light and dark sides.
Draught of Living Death as the perfect “POISON“.
The Grindylow that lives “UNDERWATER“.
Frodo and Sam’s “LONG” road to Modor.
Longclaw, the “SWORD” of Jon Snow.
SHY” Ginny Weasley glancing from behind Molly’s sweater

On the sixth day I hit a bit of a bump in the road. When “SWORD” as the sixth word came up, my first thought was “Longclaw” from Game of Thrones.  Pretty easy, you might think, but as you can see in the photo, I used up almost all of my micron on the cross-hatching.  So, this one sketch, keep me going for about two evenings.  I did catch up two days later by finishing week one’s words and starting on week 2.

This is when my world turned upside down.  Between artwork and regular work, I was propelled into a whirlwind of evenings not being able to sketch a full 2 hours.  Some of my sketching and inking was fast or mediocre from what I can really do and it shows.  I started to fall behind on daily sketching as well.  I did tell myself to just keep going and if I was behind, I was behind as long as I got through as many words as I could.

The second weeks of words were actually done over the rest of the month.

“One-quarter potion” growled the “CROOKED” Unkar Plutt.
The “SCREECH” from the beloved Hedwig.
Hagrid merrily dancing with the “GIGANTIC” Madame Maxine.
RUN” Gendry, run.
Lord Commander Snow “SHATTERED” one of the ice kings.
Smaug’s lair is “TEEMING” with gold.
Princess Leia, “FIERCE” — enough said!

I must confess, that I do like a good challenge but I have to make sure that I have the time to complete the challenge.  I was only able to finish 10 words within the month of October but I started words 11 and 12 and plan to continue to draw out the rest of the words until Fan-Art February starts.  I may just continue from the themes that I am using now and you can follow my progress on Instagram at @banasiakart.  😛

Next up cougar portrait in pastel:  A how-to explanation of how I created a cougar portrait in pastel.  Stay tuned.

Sketchbook Projects, part 1

Sketchbook Project 2016

This is my fourth year participating in the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project. Opportunities in art don’t come very often, but something like this is an opportunity that all artists should take advantage of.

I came across this project by chance while checking out one of the other artist sites I follow on Facebook.  It started out with my first sketchbook titled “A simple place called…” I wasn’t to sure of what I wanted to sketch so I started sketching what I encounter on a daily basis at work (the museum).

The idea for my second book came from my many adventures to the Atlantic coast. See, I’m a beach comber. I like to collect shells so “Wandering shell” was developed from my shell hoarding habit, lol.  I decided to take one shell and have it travel, wander around, throughout the entire sketchbook.

Cover of "Familiar friends" for the Sketchbook Project 2016.

Cover of “Familiar friends” for the Sketchbook Project 2016.

This past year in 2016, was different. I wanted to create my sketchbook around my knowledge of mammals, particularly carnivores.  If you have ever been to the Field Museum, you would have ventured to the back area behind the bird hall and wandered into what is called Carnivore Corner.  This is when “Familiar Friends in our ‘backyard'” was started.

There are so many mounts in the carnivore room, I had to figure out what would be the best representation for the theme I picked. That is when the idea of sketching just North American species came to be.  All I needed to do was see how many NA carnivore mounts we had on display and then choose which ones to focus on.

Wolf, grey fox, raccoon, coati, grizzley, black bear, fisher, cougar, lynx, bobcat, jaguar.

After figuring out what species I was going to sketch, the illustrating began.  First, dogs and their relatives…..canids, procynids, ursids, mustelids…then cats and their relatives….felids.  The wolf and grey fox were no brainers. I added the kit fox to thee list as it shows diversity throughout North America. Then a raccoon and coati for the procynids.  Black and grizzley bears were representing the ursids.

There are many more species but as I only had so many pages to fill for the project I had to narrow my choices to the best representation of carnivores that roam our North American “backyard”.

My 2017 sketchbook is purchased and I have looked at this years themes.  Some time in the future I will post and tell you what 2017’s book is all about.

back-cover

Nigel, the Brown pelican – Part 2

Nigel is back and finally finished!

In my last post about the brown pelican, Nigel (yes, after the pelican from Finding Nemo), I wrote about how I started to create this illustration: drawing the outline, shading and color decisions, and starting detail.  This post touches on the rest of detail and making decisions about whether or not to add extra bold details using a different media (ink) which is different from the main illustration.

Below, is where I left off on the last post.  I finished up the face, head and neck and started a light coat of color on the rest of the body and feet.

Nigel with head and neck completed. Light color on the rest of the body and feet.

Usually, I love to take a drawing like this and just add all my detail at once when using colored pencils that have a color range of 132.  However, this illustration I am using the Derwent 24 colored drawing pencil set.  As I have said on the last post and the Snowy Owl post, this limited amount of pencils has forced me to be more creative with how I add the colors, since the range of colors happen to be of a natural toned palette.  That is right, no bright colors like red or yellow.  That is why you should never challenge me when it comes to anything artistic, LOL.  I will sometimes, yet maybe, kind of, always prevail, LOL.  😉

A month ago, I met with all my other fellow artists from the Artist at the field group and decided to spend the entire day at the museum to finish this illustration.  Um, just for people who are not from Chicago, the month of February was free month at the Field Museum.  It was just a tad crowded!

So, I started adding my shadows and blending the colors for the back and wing.  What is nice about doing the feathers on a water bound bird is that they are matted down; that means, they are not fluffy and you cannot see nor distinguish the individual feathers on the body.  I am in heaven just thinking about it.  What you do see are the patterns and the color breaks.  This is basically where I started on that busy Saturday.  Adding the color breaks which are the shadows and lighter areas of the plumage.

The first part of adding shadows plays like a slow song; you have a slow and mellow beginning, a building of suspense in the middle, and a big crescendo in the end. So for the pelican, I first added the base color which is the layer you want to see through the entire area. Then, I started to add more reflective colors that will compliment the base color which enhances the detail which was the final layer added.

Now, on to Nigel’s back.  Using all the same techniques and procedures, I went through and finished the pelican’s back and then proceeded the finish the wing.

Once I had the all the color done on the body, it was time to start on the feet.  I was one my way home with this one as I added more and more color to the webbed little feet.  Knowing that I had just two feet left made me feel elated at getting the colored pencil part of the piece finished on that Saturday.

So, as I finished the feet I realized this is it.  Nigel, the brown pelican is done!

Finished brown pelican.

Finished brown pelican.

Finished piece next to the mount at the museum.

Finished piece next to the mount at the museum.

Until my next post, CHEERS everyone!

Nigel, the Brown pelican – Part 1

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… Nah, it’s just a brown pelican named Nigel.

In my last post, I talked about some goals I had and one of them was to finish artwork I started last year (and the year before, and the year before that, and so on).  Well, the brown pelican will be the first colored pencil that I should get done.  This is the first of two posts that I will write about the progression of this bird illustration.

Six months ago, I started adding color to the brown pelican drawing I did last year at this time.  And yes, I have decided to name this pelican — he shall be called Nigel (of Finding Nemo fame).  Nigel resides in the Field Museum’s North American Bird Hall exhibit (photo below).  I decided to use the same pencils I used on the Snowy Owl; Derwent colored drawing pencils which are a non-wax based pencil with a smooth, creamy texture (read aloud sultry commercial voice, LOL).  Although, some people thought I was crazy for using something that only has 24 colors in it’s color range, I found it to be very calming knowing I didn’t have to search for the perfect colors.  I was able to just use the 24 I had and mix them to get the tones of what the snowy owl showed on the mount.

Okay, enough of that.  Back to Nigel, the little brown pelican.  I started with the outline.  I used an aqua green colored matte board as my ground.  I have come to love working on matte board and have also found that I can seek out matte board scraps at any art, craft, or hobby shops framing department.  More likely it’s just an unhealthy relationship with matte board that I crave when I go to these stores.  But back to the matte board.  I like the durability of it the most; it stands up to erasing, is hard to bend and just looks really nice.  For any dark colored board or paper, I use a white pencil and this drawing was no exception.  So, now the best thing I did was just to start the sketch, then I moved onto my regular routine of “measuring, crawling, measuring, crawling” to get the portrait just right.

Drawing the brown pelican in the exhibit with the pelican mount.

Drawing the brown pelican in the exhibit with the pelican mount.

Yes, that is a six inch pink dinosaur ruler I use to line out my drawing.

Once I finished the outline, I started adding color.  I am using that same color range of 24 colored pencils which is a limited palette but I like the challenge of layering the colors to achieve the final result.  I started with a thin, light layer of color over almost the whole sketch.  I like to look for colors that you would not naturally see within the subject for that reflective effect when more colors are added on top.  This is what the underlying layer is used for in all my illustrations; those unusual colors that you may not see in the object become incorporated into the picture to not only enhance what you see but create that visual life-like feel to the animal.

The part that I like the best is detail.  DETAIL, DETAIL, DETAIL! SAY IT WITH ME: I love doing detail work! Details sum up everything that I have done so far into the finite finishings that will make the piece worthwhile in all my effort.  😉

So, with this glorifying statement of how I LOVE doing detail work, Nigel has become one of my favorite birds to work on.  I started the detail by slowly adding more color to fill in the shaded and lighter areas of the pelican.  For any other piece, I would normally work over the whole thing during this process.  However, the elongated dimensions of the pelican make it a bit daunting so I decided to start at the top and work my way down.  I cannot stress enough, the detail is always the best part because this is where the drawing and underlying colors come together.

IMG_20141018_134140248

Detail started on the head and beak.

So, I will leave you now until I finish the piece within the next month.  I hope you all enjoyed this post and also learned a little something about the drawing process (and how much I LOVE detail work, LOL).  Until next time, CHEERS!

Coming in Part 2:  How on earth does Nigel the brown pelican look so realistic?  It’s all about the proportions, color and DETAIL!  Stay tuned.

“Yes, I do have another job to pay the bills…”

…is the answer I am constantly telling people when they ask me if I “make lots of money selling my art”.

It has always been a pain in the $%# to describe how many and what types of jobs I have and why I have them.  I actually have two other jobs besides the “full time” job of being an artist.  For this post, however, I will focus on only one of my jobs, the one I spend the most time at outside of my studio.  I’ll tell you more about my other job in a later post.

So, back to the main job.  Well, most people think when they see me on Saturdays in the exhibit halls at the Field Museum or at an opening night event or selling my art in a fine arts fair, that I must get to draw and paint all day and everyday.  Well, hate to tell you all but “I do have another job to pay the bills”.

Drawing a great grey owl portrait in chunky charcoal at The Field Museum.

Drawing a great grey owl portrait in chunky charcoal.

Don’t get me wrong. I would never and do not ever complain about my job because, unlike others, I LOVE and ENJOY what I do and where I work.  I have this job to pay the bills so I can buy more art supplies in order to fulfill “MY CREATIVE PASSION” in the studio.  It amazes me when people tell me to just sell my artwork.  Yeah right. Sorry people, but it is not that easy.  First, you need the audience that likes your work.  Second, and I can’t stress this enough, I will not create something that I do not feel passionate about.  “PHEW”…there, I said it.  I do not think that it is an artists’ “job or responsibility” to create what the masses expect them to do (unless of course it is a contract job).   We artists become artists to express ourselves in what we like to create.

So, back to my main job outside my studio work.  For all those people who ask  “so, what do you do?”.  Well, I usually answer “a research assistant “.  Yeah, I know. Kind of boring, right? WRONG! I usually then get the question of “what kind of research do you do” or “do you get to use your talent as a researcher”. YES! This is the best part of describing what I do at my job to others. For me, this is were the descriptive fun begins.

Most of my day is using my artistic talent. Now, don’t get the wrong idea that this woman gets to draw all day.  Nope, I do not illustrate everyday, but I do get to use my vast knowledge of photography (YEAH!), Photoshop and photo manipulation with many of the images I take myself.  Yes, I do it all at my job (artistic wise).  I photograph specimens, manipulate and prepare those photos, create maps, graphs, and tables for publications and yes, I do illustrate specimens, too.

My Computer and desk where I do all my Photoshop work.  Photo manipulation of a Crocidura skull specimen.

My computer and desk where I do all my Photoshop work. Photo manipulation of a Crocidura skull specimen.

Crocidura monax specimen under a camera lucida microscope with the illustration on the right.

Crocidura monax specimen under a camera lucida microscope with the illustration on the right.

I’m one of the lucky ones in the scientific/natural illustration world to be employed as a research assistant where I work.  I do get to use my artistic talent in some form everyday. Most importantly, as an artist where I work, it is one of the best places to draw and paint because it is a “very artist friendly” environment.  And the best part is, they pay me to use my artistic talent EVERYDAY!  So, yes, it is just “A JOB”, but it is one of the best and most exciting jobs I have ever had were I get to use my artistic talent and knowledge in the creation of images, graphics, and illustrations for publications and websites.  And sometimes, I don’t mind bringing my work home with me.  🙂

Rhinolophus illustration on a light table.  Stipling on vellum from a graphite drawing.

Rhinolophus sp. illustration on a light table. Stippling on vellum from a graphite drawing.

Quote 1

“i draw the exhibit,
therefore,
i become the exhibit”

 — Rebe Banasiak —

New adventures in video! OOOOoooooo!

Video Adventures 1

So I found this video on my computer that my cousin Melissa shot (for some odd reason) of me coloring in the snowy owls face.  Even though it is only 12 second long, it shows how I slowly layer color to create the texture of the feathers on the face.  Hopefully, I will be able to show more videos of me drawing and painting in the future.  The video is on my Facebook page at this link,

mini-Video 1 – Snowy owl tidbits

or you can just go to my Facebook page Banasiak Art Galleryand click on the “Videos” tab to see the first of many videos to come.

Adding color to the Snowy owl's face creating the texture of the feathers.

Adding color to the Snowy owl’s face creating the texture of the feathers. Photo by Melissa Wagner.

Chilly air, warm studio…

The Chicago freezing temperatures have closed where I work for the past two days so I have been in the studio catching up on some painting.

Hope, Mexican grey wolf, ink on clayboard, 18x24"

Hope, Mexican grey wolf, ink on clayboard, 18×24″

I started this painting from a photo of mine of Hope, one of the Mexican grey wolves from Brookfield Zoo.  Wolves have always been some of my favorite animals to draw and paint and now that I have been able to get some wonderful shots of Brookfields pack, I have been creating sketches, illustrations, and paintings this past year.  I am hoping that over the next week I can finish this painting so I can move onto the next piece that has to be finished. Hopefully, my little helper (Stephanie the cat) doesn’t distract me and get in the way.  😉

Stephanie the cat, my little studio helper.

Stephanie the cat, my little studio helper.