Welcome to the new realm of colored pencil art
Go behind the scenes with a career artist at the start of her career
View works-in-progress and read about the techniques and tools used by artist Christina Langman

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is there an appropriate title for this? If so, I don't know what it is...

Those of you still patient enough to be following my blog - thank you so much for your continued support. I intend to reward that support in the near future by adding more art related content. However, I feel like this small and to-the-point post is required to update those of you curious as to what's going on in my personal life.

I have been through some pretty major and life altering changes the past few months, and this is why my art has taken a back burner for much of that time. I have separated from my husband of four years, and have moved from Regina, Saskatchewan, to Calgary, Alberta (which I have always considered "home"). I am just finally getting set up in my new place, complete with a little corner of my bachelor-style basement suite dedicated as "art studio space". Obviously there is a lot of emotional and personal issues being dealt with on a daily basis, but that is besides the point, and not at all the direction I'm going with this post. The point, as far as I'm concerned, is that for the first time in a long time, I feel inspired and motivated, even if I'm not quite acting on it yet. I'm looking forward to creating more new works, and hope to further my career here in Calgary, where the art scene is quite a bit more thriving than in Regina. I appreciate your patience with me while I update all sorts of things both here on my blog and on my personal website. New artwork will be posted soon!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Miniature "Zebra Muzzle" - FINISHED!

And here it is! Completely finished. Obviously, I'm a bit behind my goal of one miniature every two weeks... and I do plan on rectifying that situation, just not any time soon! I've been consumed with a number of other tasks, mostly related to creating the website and program for the NOAO Show coming up in April. On top of that, I am panicking to get the last few things done for the RFA show this weekend. And, last but not least, I've been SO VERY SICK for over a week now! But of course, that's enough of all that. This zebra muzzle was a lot of fun, and it's the first image I've done that didn't incorporate an eye in the scene. It was a unique challenge, and I'm happy with the result. I had a lot of fun completing this one!

Miniature "Zebra Muzzle" - WIP 4

Well I know it's been a while, but I've finally put pencil to paper again on the zebra muzzle. Of course, it's because I have a deadline - the piece is registered to be entered in the RFA show this weekend! And now, it's complete, and ready to be scanned to be turned into prints, which will hopefully get done just in time to put it in a frame for the art show. Here's the various steps, in order, since the last post. I'm not going to write much about each one - they speak for themselves. The next post will have the finished image.

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Regard" - WIP 1

Tonight was my first night working on "Regard", and I am starting with the background. Surprisingly, I am finding that settling into the motions of the blurry-tree-background is quite natural, even though it's been months and months (maybe a year even...) since I last worked on this part of the background on "Focus". I'm using the same colors as I did in "Focus" as well, hoping to have the pieces turn out as a nice matching pair. I can already tell that it won't be a problem at all. There are quite a few differences between this picture and "Focus", but I am looking forward to the new challenges. I know it's not much to look at right now, but here are the initial stages:

This image shows... well... nothing really! You can see the frisket which I've applied to the section of the picture that has the snow, rocks, and cougar. This is due to the error of NOT doing this for "Focus" - resulting in the area being smudged quite excessively, which made it next to impossible to create white snow. This time I'm prepared, and using my air-brushing frisket I think I managed to cover everything important. When I'm done the background this plastic will peel off and let me work on nice clean paper.

I've zoomed in for the in-progress photos, as I figured it was pointless to view it as a tiny little inch on your screen. This is the top left corner of the image, above the ridge of snow and rocks. This stage is first layers of color, pre-burnishing.

This is one tiny section completed! Burnished and detailed, although the detail part of it is somewhat lacking, seeing as it's a blurry background. I'll post more soon, I assure you. I'd like to work on this piece almost exclusively for as long as I can.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"Regard" - The Beginning

Well, it's officially the start of the next "big" project. I realize I haven't finished the zebra muzzle yet, but my goal is to work on each piece alternating - so as to not get burnt out working too hard on either of them. It would be nice if I could continue producing miniatures while I work on "Regard" as well. This, for those of you who didn't already know, is the companion piece to "Focus", commissioned by the same owners who already have "Focus" hanging in their home. The overall size will be 15" x 21", the same size as "Focus". Ideally, they will be the same tones as well, permitting them to be framed identically and displayed as a pair. Here is the reference photo I will be working from, courtesy of Grambo Photography. Their photography is amazing, and without them I would certainly not be at the same point in my career.

This photo is incredibly inspiring, and I'm excited to be finished. Yup - you heard it correctly, I'm excited to be FINISHED. But that's months away... I officially started, tonight, by prepping the hot-press paper I use, getting the poster frame ready to protect it during the progress, taping off edges, and all of that. It's tedious, but the anticipation is like adrenaline. So here I sit, across the room from a giant sheet of blank, white paper... just staring back at me. It's daunting. Almost crippling, really, and I know those first pencil strokes are going to feel like minor heart palpitations. Yet at the same time, it will feel great to "get the show on the road" so-to-speak. It's been a long time in the making, and will likely be a long journey to the finish line, but I'm glad to have you few dedicated readers along for the ride!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A new way to advertise?

I, like many many people out there in cyberspace, am a Facebook addict. Thankfully, not to the point that I have a million distracting apps on my profile and spend hours a day on there, but I like it as a networking and keeping-tabs-on-people sort of thing. However, I really never advertised or even mentioned my artwork on the site, other than just posting my website under the appropriate section in my profile. So lately I've been noticing people becoming "fans" of musicians and artists, and I was thinking - "Hey - how do people become a fan of me?" and I found my answer. Now there's a way to become an official fan of Big Cat Art by Christina Langman! Visit the Big Cat Art Fan Page on Facebook and show your support by becoming a fan! Please - don't make me resort to begging. The longer I stare at that bleak statement "There are no fans" the more sad I get...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Miniature "Zebra Muzzle" - WIP 3

So, another four hours has passed while working on the zebra, and I must say that although I knew that doing a short-haired animal like this would be time consuming, it's even more labor intensive than I thought it would be. It's fun, even though it's a lot of time. I find that long hairs are easier, as you can use longer and faster pencil strokes to fill an area in. I'm still enjoying this project, and each day that passes I'm even more excited to see it finished. And not just to "get it over with" - I'm actually excited to see the results. The following five pictures are the in-progress scans from tonight's work.

I'm actually really enjoying the challenge of doing the wrinkles in the soft skin on the zebra's muzzle. I'll admit there are parts that I'm not looking forward to, but ultimately it all has to be done eventually, but there's no point in putting it off just because it seems challenging, right?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What's on the TV?

I realized that I've neglected indicating what I've been watching on the TV mounted in my art studio. Not that anyone really cares, but I figured I'd take a moment to share what I've been watching in the past month or so. Usually it's TV shows, like The Simpsons, Futurama, King of the Hill, Family Guy, etc. that can be easily watched as many times as you like without requiring much attention. I never watch something "new" - because if I were to watch something new, it would actually distract me from my work. At the same time, I never watch nothing at all - it's just not the same without some kind of background noise - and music or radio doesn't cut it for me.

Lately, I've been going through my husband's extensive movie collection and watching all of the comedy movies that I've a) seen before, b) remember enough to not want to watch attentively, c) and like enough to watch again, or forgot how much I didn't like it and therefore choose to watch it again. I'm finding a lot that fall into category c. And so, here's the list, alphabetically by title in the comedy genre, of the movies I've watched in the past month and a bit:

50 First Dates
American Pie
American Pie 2
American Wedding
The Animal
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me
Austin Powers in Goldmember
Big Daddy
Can't Hardly Wait
Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo
Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
Dude, Where's my Car?
The Family Man
Finding Nemo
Freaky Friday
Grosse Pointe Blank
Dumb and Dumber
Happy Gilmore
The Hot Chick
Ice Age
The Incredibles
Josie and the Pussycats
Kate and Leopold
Legally Blonde
Little Nicky
Mars Attacks!
The Mask
Me, Myself & Irene
Mean Girls
Meet the Parents
Monsters, Inc.
My Best Friend's Wedding
Mystery Men
Napoleon Dynamite
Never Been Kissed
A Night at the Roxbury
Not Another Teen Movie
Old School
Orange County
Road Trip
Scary Movie
Scary Movie 2

I want to point out that I have no say in how these movies are classified. Please - no comments screaming "The Family Man is NOT a comedy! It's a drama! AHHH!!!" or anything similar to that. My husband has his system for filing, which I often disagree with and get into petty movie genre arguments about - so really - just don't worry about it. :) I'll be moving onto Sci-Fi/Fantasy next, after the sixteen or so that I have left in comedy.

Miniature "Zebra Muzzle" - WIP 2

I've put in another 3 hours or so on this piece, starting with the side of the face, underside of the jaw. I have to admit that I really didn't know where to start on this muzzle... usually a project has an obvious "start-point" that I can work from, but this one I really had to think about before deciding to start where I did. Also, I typically like working in small sections, completely finishing each section before moving on, as you've seen in my previous works. However, I'm approaching a point on this piece where the rest of the muzzle is mostly a smooth continuous shade, meaning working in tiny quilt-like sections isn't ideal. The next bit of progress will likely be a larger piece done all at once, which I tend to find overwhelming! However, I must say that I'm happy with how this piece is going, and it's a fun project to work on.

This is the start, and already it's noticeable how crisp and detailed the foreground is compared to the background.

This step shows some of the first layer work, before burnishing.

This image and the following one are completed sections of the face, in the order I worked on them.

I think the detailed stripes and skin look a little out of place without the rest of the image, but I really think it's starting to come together.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Miniature "Zebra Muzzle" - WIP 1

Here are the first few in-progress photos from the "Zebra Muzzle" miniature. They show the progress from the first five minutes right up until about 4:30AM, approximately 5 hours after I started. The background is now complete, and I'm ready to start working on the actual muzzle. I'm excited for how this background will look once the crisp details of the foreground are there for contrast. The backgrounds tend to look pretty boring and blurry without anything for that depth of field. I'm already having a lot of fun with this project!
The photo above shows the picture with only black so far, in rough strokes for the first layer.

Added to the black above is some color, which will get burnished by the grey in the next stages.

This and all the following images show the burnishing of the background. This involves using a grey pencil (in this case french and warm grey both in 20%) and pushing incredibly hard onto the paper, working in tiny circular motions to blend the previous layers of color together. As necessary I add some more dark or light into the burnishing as I go.

And now on to the best part - the detailed foreground!

The next miniature is...

A unique one, to say the least! This may be a first... a miniature artwork that does not actually have an eye anywhere on it. This newest miniature, just started tonight, is a zebra muzzle. The photo was taken by me at the Calgary Zoo, and this zebra was an excellent subject. I have so many great photos of this zebra, including the photo that inspired "Eye to Eye Pt. 2". When I was looking through my photos for a new miniature to work on, this one of the zebra's soft fuzzy muzzle and light-catching whiskers caught my eye. And, it gives me another chance to work on the very blurred background so I am well prepared to tackle my next huge cougar project, "Regard". Here is my reference photo:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Miniature "Moses" - FINISHED!

Here's the finished product! "Eye of Moses the Serval" - colored pencils, 5" x 5". It took approximately 20 hours to complete.

I am quite liking this size to work with... it's proving to be popular with the public as well, which is always nice. They are small enough that they don't take months to finish - meaning if I am working on one that I end up not liking, I'm not in it for the long haul! This is also the first time I've used my new all-in-one scanner/printer for uploading pictures. I'm not sure if it's better than the camera, but it certainly means less Photoshop work to make them all look the same for the blog. Perhaps if I tweak some of the settings, the scans would come through a little better. I'm happy with how this piece turned out, and I don't really think the scan does it justice. Now to plan the next miniature, and the start of "Regard", the companion cougar project to "Focus".

Miniature "Moses" - WIP 4

Well - I know it's been a while, but I've got new pictures for the "Moses" miniature. It's finished! This post will have the work in progress pictures, and the next post will have the final picture. Here are the scans in order, since the last post.

All of this progress happened from about midnight to about 3:30AM this morning (now). So, obviously, I'm drifting back towards a night schedule... which I'll talk about more in a separate post. See the next post for the finished "Moses" miniature!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A bit on goals, and achieving them...

For those of you paying attention and following closely enough to note the date - it's now January 18th, and I have yet to finish a miniature piece. This is not at all how I wanted the first two weeks of my "one miniature completed every two weeks" goal to go! So I felt it required some discussion. Obviously, I had jury duty, and took some time out to do my taxes and such, but as someone who considers themselves a "professional" this should not affect me meeting my goals.

One way I intend to deal with this, rather than getting frustrated and simply give up on my goal, is to plan to make up for it in some way. In this instance, I can make up for it by creating more than my goal in the upcoming weeks. I am days away from finishing my "Moses" miniature, and that will count as my first miniature completed in 2009 (even though it was started in 2008). Once that is completed, I can immediately start another one, with intentions to finish it in a week. If I have two miniatures finished by the end of January, I have still met my goal - in a roundabout way.

I also want to mention some of the things I've been working on behind the scenes. Although I haven't been physically working on art, I have been making a lot of progress on the business side of things. I now have a complete and working spreadsheet to track my income, expenses, inventory, etc. which I created from scratch. I am proud of it, and each time I make a purchase or a sale, I look forward to entering it into my spreadsheet. Additionally, I am changing e-mail clients to streamline how I handle business contacts. The new system will allow me to have a full contact list and address book for all of my business clients, which I feel is important. No longer will I have to find an old message from someone so I can hit "reply" just to send them a new message! All of this takes time, of course, but as time consuming as it is, it's extremely important to me. On top of all that - I am sneaking closer to the day when I can unveil the new shopping cart on my website - something a long time in the making, and an exciting development for me from a business perspective. While these things are keeping me busy, it may look like I'm not accomplishing anything, but I want to stress that I am extremely happy with how productive I've been lately - even if I have nothing artistic I can show you!

Jury Duty Excitement!

For those of you who read the Regina Leader-Post, you may already know the story, but I definitely want to share what I can about my experience as a juror. Obviously - I can't discuss what happened in the jury room, or conversations that took place among us jurors, but anything that happened in the court room is public knowledge (as any of you could have attended the proceedings). Basically, in this case, there were two charges of break-and-enter with intent to commit an indictable offense, as well as possession of a stolen vehicle, and evading police with said stolen vehicle. The main case the defense was putting forth was a lack of evidence connecting the accused to the crimes and the vehicle, as he was apprehended after numerous police followed tracks through snow and there was ample (the defense's opinion) time for the actual criminal to get away. The accused was, perhaps, at the wrong place at the wrong time. One of the main discussion points was the fact that no glass was ever found on the accused - whether on his clothing, in his boots, etc. Imagine for me now, the shock (that's the only way to describe it - and even then it sounds like such an understatement) when the jury discovers GLASS SHARDS in the boots which were exhibited for evidence. That's correct - we found glass shards in the boots that the accused was wearing when arrested. Being the foreperson of the jury, it was my duty to write a note to the judge as that was our means of communication with him. Seeing as we had a court reporter present, my note was actually published in the newspaper! It said "We found glass in the boot!" followed by "(What can we do!??!)" as well as stating that none of us touched the glass - and we had put the glass shards into an envelope, which I sealed, and labeled for the judge. Both my note and the sealed envelope were then exhibited for the proceedings, but we were (of course) instructed by the judge to disregard the glass when deliberating, simply due to the lack of continuity - anyone could have placed that glass there, and in order to be valid evidence, the original investigation would have had to discover that glass - and I fully understand that. We also had no evidence that the glass was from any of the crimes we were hearing about.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed having the experience of being on a jury. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event (unless I get selected again, of course!) and unlike most people who dread jury duty, I quite enjoyed the break from my normal routine, and would gladly do it again. It was quite the adventure!

And so, I guess it's back to my normal routine!

Monday, January 12, 2009

An interesting excuse for a lack of production

Well I think this certainly tops the list as interesting reasons why I didn't get any work done today... I went for juror selection duty today! And, shocker of all shockers - I was selected to be on a jury! Starting tomorrow. Yes. Tomorrow. Way for the government to give us some notice to get our affairs in order huh? Luckily for me, there's not much to "get in order" other than making sure my car will get me there and back each day. I may be relying on bus transport for a couple days - I don't think my car will start after being parked in minus 26 all day behind the courthouse. But that's what I get for driving an old beater car I guess. So obviously, I may not be getting very much art done the next few days... the trial is supposed to be over by Friday, but I'll keep you posted. Perhaps we'll even get sequestered over the weekend? I'm excited to experience the whole adventure of jury duty though, and it is something I've wanted to do for a long time, so I'm excited. I'll post again after it's all over!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Tax Time

Well I did in fact finish my taxes by 4AM. Actually - it was 2:30AM. Not bad I must say! I've learned a TON of stuff about self-employment taxes, that's for sure. Even now, I'm not a hundred percent sure I'm doing things exactly right, but I am well on my way. And - I am very happy with my spreadsheet work that resulted in a massive workbook to sort and calculate all of my income and expenses as the year progresses. It's a little comforting knowing I won't have to go through this same level of stress and headache next year, as I'll be much more organized come that time. So I guess it's time to get back to some "real" work now! First on the list is to finish the miniature I am currently working on, which shouldn't take long. And next will be starting the companion piece to "Focus"!

Tax Time...

Just so everyone knows what I am up to... it's time to do my taxes for 2008. Yay. I am so very enthused about that. Basically, I have always been filing taxes as a dependent of my husband, in which we fill out how much I have made (incredibly minimal) and life goes on. No expenses, paperwork, etc. Very simple. However, as I've recently been taking steps towards becoming a registered business, with properly filed business taxes, 2008 was the year to start. Of course, I didn't really start and keep records like I should have. Don't get me wrong, I had piles of receipts and I have my bank records and PayPal history all printed out, but my goodness... just looking through the small-business tax guide was giving me heart palpitations.

The good news? I have spend endless hours at my computer working towards having an efficient and streamlined filing system. I love working with Excel and spreadsheet calculations, and have essentially created a filing system that I can use on a daily basis to track income, expenses, capital cost allowances, etc. It is based very closely on the actual tax forms, so my hope is that next year (January of 2010) I can just enter a few numbers and hit submit, and taxes will be done!

I really do like being an organized person, but at the same time, I am a horrible procrastinator. Usually the two of those do not go hand in hand. And so, one of my main goals for this year (please note: NOT a "New Year's Resolution" - I hate that phrase and the connotations that go along with it) is to be more organized with my business, and I feel like I'm well on my way!

So although I'm not putting colored pencils to paper, I am still very much busy on my art business. Currently (yes, at 12:00AM) I am watching American Pie (all three movies in a row, likely!) on my TV, and entering info into tax forms. With luck I might be done by 4AM.