Patreon!

If you’re on my mailing list, you already got this news, but…. I’m starting a Patreon for my art!

For those unfamiliar, Patreon is a site artists and creators of every variety use to fund their work. In my case, this means helping me switch to part time work at my day job, so I can spend an extra day a week on art.

My Patreon page will be a place to get all sorts of art sneak peeks of larger projects I’m working on (like Boneflower!), reviews I do of art supplies and other fun things, and a great place to get some neat rewards for supporting me, too, like monthly or quarterly signed art print postcards.

Got your interest piqued?

Check it out!

https://www.patreon.com/clairewhitmore

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I’d love to see you over there. 🙂

Thanks!

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Dover Publications Poetry Illustrations… Sneak Peak!

Hello folks,

Fall is… falling. The dark weather has me in a big of a funk, and the recent rainy, cloudy days on top of already short ones has me missing summer mightily. But c’est la vie.

I’ve spent September and October working on a series of illustrations for an upcoming poetry collection by Dover Publications, and despite the oncoming winter blues, I’m stoked about it. You should be, too, as it’s a collection of classic women poets and some of their best work to boot.

It’ll be coming out in February and will contain 25 black and white illustrations for select poems done by yours truly. I’ll make sure to post and let you know the details when it’s out!

Here’s a sneak preview of a few of the illustrations, just for you. 🙂

 

 

 

The Quiet Delight in Having Fun

I’ve been a little quiet these last few weeks. Part of the reason is that my delightful, endlessly rewarding and challenging project, “CC:Otherworlds” ended. And I took a little bit of time to recover from it– for all that I loved the snot out of it, it was a year long project with very little room for error, and we shipped every single fortnight without delay or issue, a thing I’m exceptionally proud of!

The other reason I’ve been quiet is… that I’m taking a little time to reevaluate the way I approach some of my art.

I’ve been doing a lot of projects. Projects I’m proud of! I just finished up CC:Otherworlds, I’m starting the process of revamping this website and updating the art in the portfolio, I’m working on a short comic, “Boneflower,” and I have a half dozen other project ideas in the wings. These are all lovely, beautiful, amazing things I’m excited to be working on.

But they’re also all projects.

In this day of instagram and blog posts and newsletters… it’s no longer natural to make things that aren’t for immediate consumption– I post sketches to my instagram regularly, and show my process here as well as there, because it’s enjoyable to do so! I love sharing my work. But that also means that I feel an (internal) sense of pressure to make all these aspects of art-making ‘pretty’ and easy to digest. Sometimes art is UGLY, guys. Sometimes it’s so, so ugly. And it doesn’t work out right. And it’s uncomfortable.

I’m forgetting how to do art just for me. Art that’s utterly, unquestionably, unselfconsciously exploratory. And that scares the snot out of me.

So I’m going to make some ugly, ugly shit. 🙂

In fact, I have an entire notebook now, that I call my “Ugly Secret Art” notebook. I even painted that across the cover. Even that part of it is ugly! This is my place to draw whatever random doodles I want, scribble, paint with my thumbs, and do collage.

And I’m not going to share it with you.

😉

Scandalous, right?

Don’t worry, my projects haven’t gone away (in fact, Boneflower is completely storyboarded, now, and I’m going to begin the drawing and inking phases in October, and I’m working on an exciting illustration project I’ll be able to tell you more about in October, too). But I am taking September at a slower pace. I want to make sure art always and forever remains FUN. 😀

So join me on this quest for fun! Pick a notebook out, make it special and secret, and make some god damned ugly art!

Mobile Art Rig

Now that I’ve gotten the taste for plein air painting, I’m starting to refine my technique for going on the adventures themselves. The first time I went out, two weekends ago, I had to stuff my entire pochade box into my backpack– it worked, but it wasn’t elegant, and it made biking a bit uncomfortable as the whole thing was knobby.

This past weekend I went out on Saturday, and I got a little smarter about it. I borrowed my roommate’s fancier bike side-bag– one of those lovely clip-on types. The entire pochade box fits in, which means I don’t have to bring a backpack at all– much more pleasant biking!

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This was in Tenny Park in Madison. I hunkered down in the dwindling shade to paint a neat stone bridge. The painting itself wasn’t a particularly amazing result, but every time I go out, I feel like I learn something. And if that’s not fantastic, I don’t know what is.

Do I plan on going back out next weekend? Why yes, yes I do. 🙂

And From the Motherboard Ashes… (An Art Computer is Born!)

You may recall in my last post that my computer decided to give up the ghost.  It is still dead, and did not magically return from beyond the grave.

Remember, too, that pile of boxes containing computer parts…?

(Pictured: a cute case, the motherboard, the CPU, the power supply, a 120 SSD hard drive, 16 gigs of RAM, a box of speakers, and a keyboard and mouse.)

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That turned into this:

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(Pictured: a half-filled computer case, with the motherboard, CPU, and other fiddly bits still outside the case)

Which eventually turned into a computer!

Several friends and youtube videos were consulted as I started putting together a computer for the first time, and I would have been sunk without them. But other than the learning curve, once you get going it’s not bad. It’s shocking (or not, rather, as I went to great lengths to avoid static electricity that might fry the delicate components during this!) that you can put together a computer with nothing more than a screw driver!

Attempt #1 at building a computer… was a failure. Lights and fans were a go, but no life once plugged into a monitor, and I began wondering if I’d made a horrible mistake by undertaking this plan. Computers are fussy little things, and when they don’t work, it’s hard to tell if it’s because something’s unplugged somewhere, or because you fried the CPU!

So I put it away for the day and took it apart and tried again the next day.

Luckily, attempt #2 the following night (during, I might add, a thunderstorm*) was a home run. 🙂

Check it out!

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(Pictured: a computer with the sides and top of the case still pulled off, but fully functional)

That, right there, is a working computer. 🙂

As of this morning, said cute little box of wires and plastic and metal (and cords. So many cords) is running Windows 10 and has my CS6 version of Photoshop installed and running like a dream.

Despite some worries and concerns and a few minor hiccups, operation Build a New Art Computer has (so far) been a total success. I have a computer with 16 gigs of RAM, ready to take on any Photoshop file I throw at it.

I can’t wait to dig in again. I’ve been without an art computer for 2 weeks now, and have missed it.I love drawing by hand and painting with traditional media, but sometimes the answer is to have as many options at your disposal as possible.

PS,

There’s going to be a 3rd installation to this story, very likely in the next week or so, about a very cool piece of technology I’m planning on acquiring…

Curious?

Stay tuned!

PPS,

This entry wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the cat assistance I was rendered during this build. Curious Georgia loves new things to explore with her entire body, and this computer was no different. In addition to my quest to make sure I was safely discharging static electricity before touching any of the components, I also quested– endlessly and fruitlessly– to remove stray cat hairs. 😉

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(Pictured: A cat doing what cats do best: sitting on things you don’t really want them to be sitting on)

Footnote:

* Thunderstorm, new life… is it any surprise I named the computer Frankie? 😉

Bad Luck Comes in Threes (Or, the Saga of the Fried Computer)

Know that saying, that bad luck comes in threes? I’ve decided it’s true. I had two car-related instances of bad luck (a tire needed replacing, and then while waiting to get that fixed, my car was broken into and a window smashed!) and then the real kicker– my trusty iMac of nearly 6 years went to sleep and didn’t wake up.

(If you are on my monthly newsletter, you already got that piece of information.)

Unlucky me, right?

Well, I’m an annoying optimist.

With the sad demise of one machine (and nearly 6 years for a computer isn’t a bad run) brings the opportunity for the birth of another. And because I’d semi-recently backed up my computer, I’m fairly certain I only lost around 2 weeks of work. (I’ll know for sure what the damage is when the new machine is up and running.)

I use a computer for art quite a lot, so I really feel the push to get a solution in place so I don’t fall behind on my commitments to people. In the interim, several extremely kind art friends are helping me format things so I can keep up with CC:Otherworlds.

The options were these: buy a refurbished iMac and be up and running with Photoshop within a few days. This option was tempting, because it was the low-risk solution. I know how to do art on Macs, and they’re the industry “standard” for artists. But they’re also extremely expensive, even refurbished. Yes it would be fast and easy, but sometimes that’s not the right long-term decision.

So I started looking at option #2… building a PC that meets my needs exactly. AKA I don’t need a crazy fancy graphics card, because I don’t play very many PC games (Yes, I know they’re great. Maybe someday when I have more time!) but I do need loads of RAM so I can open and run smoothly my enormous Photoshop files. Luckily I have several delightful friends who have built PCs of their own, and were able to hold my hand through the process of selecting parts.

Meanwhile, I’m about 80% confident I’ll be able to get my version of Photoshop running on a PC, and vaguely hopeful about some other software that might be able to carry over. But there is definitely a level of risk here. Things might not go the way I plan, and it’s not going to be an easy or smooth transition… and the hard part (actually building the computer) is yet to come…

😉

Stay tuned for the exciting next piece of this saga, as I turn this collection of boxes into (fingers crossed) a functioning art PC…

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A Game of 20 Questions…

Or maybe not 20. But some questions, nonetheless!

While I was talking about my most recent CC:Otherworlds illustration, and mentioning that I go about things a bit backwards from a lot of artists, starting in Photoshop and ending in traditional media, a friend recently asked me for an explanation of my typical art process. I thought I’d share some of the answers. 🙂

These examples are from my most recent CC:Otherworlds illustration. The prompt for that fortnight (#13) was “Unravel.”

  1. I typically start out with a really rough thumbnail sketch done in pencil or ink. And by rough, I mean *rough.* Things things ain’t pretty. Example: IMG_20170301_061620
  2. This little sketchy stage doesn’t last too long, though. Next, I bring the entire thing into Photoshop. I don’t usually even bother to scan my doodle– a cell phone pic works just fine, since I’m not interested in preserving any of its ~beauty~ just its rough content.
  3. Once in Photoshop, I rough-out a layout and composition. This doesn’t need to be perfect, but the ‘big ideas’ need to be hashed out. Where will the figures be? What is at the center? What aspects of “flow” are in place to make sure the viewer sees what I want them to see when they look at it? Also in this phase I do some color studies, and get a general feel for what direction I’ll take the painting once I do it for real. A thing that is sometimes confusing is that all of this? Just prep work. None of this will be in the final painting. Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 7.46.41 PM
  4. But now I have to get this entirely digital image… and make it into a traditional media painting! That means transferring it onto paper… It’s not as complicated as it seems. 🙂 I just print off the line drawing at the correct scale, and tape it to the back of my watercolor paper of choice (in this case, a hotpress 140lb paper that’s lovely and smooth) and trace over my computer sketch with pencil.
  5.  After that, it’s just a matter of painting. For this piece I used watercolors and colored pencils. IMG_20170309_061625
  6. And here’s the final painting! CCO13 - Unravel Final

Do you have any questions about my general process, or how I do things? Let me know! I LOVE answering questions and talking about art. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

The Birth of a Dream… (book)

(Forgive the punny title. I couldn’t help myself.)

The Dreambook project is something I’ve had brewing on my (plentiful) artistic back burners for quite awhile now. I’m excited to share that the beginning stages of it are finally coming together!

Back up there, Claire. Dreambook? Say what now?

You heard right! I am the frequent recipient of extremely bizarre, often cinematic, weirdly poetic dreams. They’re not dreams about lost locker combinations, or missed buses. They’re dreams about oceans tides pulling and pushing us towards certain physical destinations, about men lost in alternate universes calling for help through radios, about dragons lurking inside all of us waiting to claw themselves free…

I’ve always known I wanted to do a project based on some of my choicer dreams, but for a long time I wasn’t sure what format. Several dreams I wrote down as short stories. And while they were interesting, they lacked the visual element that is so important to the dreams themselves.

Thus… Dreambook.

Dreambook itself is still a long ways out from being a completed thing (more on THAT later!) But what I’m working on right now is a demo, if you will. A single dream put into one of the several types of formats I would use for the book, to showcase what Dreambook can be. That is what I’m working on right now, and what (soon, hopefully) I’ll be able to share with you!

Want to see my progress so far?

This was my first ever storyboard for the specific dream I’ll be using in the demo (informally called Dragon Scales for the moment):

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But a few images do not a story make. So I began to break out more and more, creating a plan for a 6-8 page comic.

A little more work in trusty Photoshop now leaves me with a rough layout and plan of attack!

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That leaves me with what’s left: both the fun and the hard part… making the above ‘plan’ into a finished piece.

Despite the clean lines and gray scale of the sketches above, that will not be the look of the final product. My current plan is to use loose pencil lines, watercolor, and gouache, to create an otherworldly, mysterious, and somewhat sinister look, similar to my original test.

If you are curious about my progress on this project, make sure to check out my instagram feed – seeclairedraw. I post there 2-3 times per week.

Thanks for reading!

Life Drawing

I recently signed up for a life drawing class. Well, session is more accurate– it’s much more about spending time with your art and learning from drawing a figure than it is about instruction.

I used to go to drop in life drawing sessions back when I lived in Minnesota, but since moving to Madison (nearly four years ago, ouch) I’d fallen entirely out of the habit.

Nothing like a fresh year to correct that. 🙂

This class is put on by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Continuing Education Department, and is one of several art classes they offer.

Here’s some of the results of my last 3 weeks attending. Some are more successful than others… but that’s half the point. How else do you learn? 🙂

It’s a Bony Tale…

My go-to medium has been, for the last several years, watercolor and ink. Sometimes it’s watercolor and graphite, and sometimes lately I’ve been playing with gouache, too. But I’ve become a bit predictable.

Which meant it was time to shake things up.

I busted out my oil set (dusted off, more like…) and got to work on something with several components that seriously pushed me out of my comfort zone. The final painting is oil on board, with gold leaf accents. I haven’t touched any of that in years.

But before I got that far, I had to figure out a plan. In this case, the piece is a gift for my mom, who broke her humerus arm bone in a nasty spot last April. I wanted to paint that bone for her in a semi-medieval-inspired style of painting (smooth oil on board) but with gold where the break was… somewhat like the Japanese pottery tradition, where cracks are in-filled with gold, not just repairing a break, but making it beautiful. 

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My original sketch (made with watercolor pencils on paper) served as my rough template and guide. From there, I sketched out my plan of attack on my final surface — a piece of plywood with several layers of gesso applied as a base.

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With my rough-in determined, I started painting with oils. They are a fun, slippery, strange medium, and I’m determined to play with them more! None of my brushes were soft enough to achieve the silky-smooth finish (and that vaguely macabre, medieval look) I was looking for, so I actually went over the original brush strokes with two of my makeup brushes. Weird, but it worked!

Oil paints take up to a week to fully dry, so I played the waiting game before I was able to put on the gold leaf. Once it was ready, I placed white acrylic paint in the places I wanted the gold leaf to end up with a stucco texture, and used a gold ink as a base. Then, I applied the gold leaf.

And this is the end of this painting’s story! Once it cures for a few weeks I’ll give it its final touch: a layer of varnish, and then delivery to its recipient.

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