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? 😉

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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!

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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Rapunzel – WIP 1

I’m working on a couple of things simultaneously right now, but one of my current projects is taking the fairy tale Rapunzel and updating it into an urban fantasy setting. Mostly that means I get to draw lots of hair. Luckily, that is okay by me. 😉

Here are some in-progress pictures.

Like all drawings (ought to a least…), it started with thumnails. A few years ago I took an online class from Chris Oatly called Painting Drama I; the main thing I took away was the importance of strong composition and structure and (you guessed it) thumbnails!

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And here’s the sketch I built off of it. As you can see, I made some composition changes along the way.

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But a thumbnail and a sketch do not a painting make. So on to the inking stage! I am lucky enough to have a Monoprice light table that two dear friends got for me last Christmas. It rocks, is ultra thin, and makes tracing your work from pencil (or in this case sharpie…) sketch to final inks a breeze. My previous set up involved a Tupperware box, a broken lamp, and a scanner bed duct-taped over it covered in tracing paper. Let’s just say this was an upgrade.

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And finally, the stage I’m currently in: painting.

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