Thursday, December 29, 2016

What will 2017 bring?

Wow. 2016, I am glad you are almost over. Not that I wait for the end of the year to make the resolutions and changes I want to make, but it does represent a nice psychic psychic re-set button. This is a time to think about how the year went, and how we want it to go next year. So, whats coming in 2017? I have no idea, but here are a few things I am proposing to myself:
1.) LESS CONVENTIONS. since 2010, I have been running at full steam ahead with an average of 14 cons a year, plus many many involvements with art shows and art events. Its been great, I've made many friends, gathered like minded art enthusiasts, and did some fantastic networking. However, I'm burned out in several ways - Mainly in that I don't feel I can effectively create heartfelt and meaningful art with the weight of trying to make enough money to cover all the convention expenses (booth fees, hotel, gas, food, restocking prints, etc etc)  I'm left with little time to really explore the innermost reaches of my mind - which is where my art comes from in the first place. Don't worry, I'm not going cold turkey, I am still signed up for a few, but I'm going to be doing some major cutbacks.

2.) MORE PERSONAL TRAVEL. If I can afford it, I need to travel more (for non-convention reasons). I've been craving a trip to a deserty area for years. Earlier this year my Uncle in AZ. passed away. I had not seen him in several years. I had been wanting to visit, but he passed before I could make that happen. I regret this. I don't want to add more regrets.
I also envisioned myself as a traveler when I was younger. I am not living up to my own childhood expectations and I need to at least TRY to appease the high ambitions of my inner child.

3.) BETTER ART. -- As implied earlier about conventions, I don't think I'm living up to my potential as an artist. I feel as if I have been coasting along, doing what was necessary to stay afloat. I admit, I have made some great progress, and have come out with a few killer pieces this year. I don't think the rest of the work I do is bad - to say that would be to insult those who own my work! But I do feel I'm missing a piece to my puzzle and I must go find it.

4.) READ MORE  -- I barely read anything this year due to being busy, and not using my extra time wisely. This could also double as "Less social media". However, I have been diving into a lot of podcasts - its like reading with my ears instead of my eyes. My eyes have been busy.

5.) WRITE MORE -- It feels good to write, and I need to stretch my storytelling skills. Lately I have been listening to "The Moth" - my new favorite podcast about anyone and everyone telling their personal stories. This is inspiring me to get more into storytelling. Both to revive my memories and not loose the stories from my past, but I would also like to flesh out stories for the miscellany in my mind, and give those visual characters meaning.

(Note: I also posted this on facebook)
My next post will be a recap of 2016.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

How Lydia paints a cat portrait

Greetings Friends and fiends!

I thought I'd share my process on painting a cat portrait. It was done with bic pen, acrylic, and colored pencil. 

I was commissioned recently to paint a portrait of someone's beloved feline, who is unfortunately not long for this world. He requested a halo and clouds. This same awesome person has previously commissioned me for cat portraits including tentacles and non-euclidean architecture, so I added some strange flying sea jelly monsters because it fits this client and his loving pets.


 First I lay in some quick paint to represent the body of the cat. This is purely intuitive. I let me eyes and brain do a quick calculation on composition. Its ok if its not perfect, as the details will be sorted out later. I choose a mid-range color close to main body of the cat.

Next I use BIC PEN to draw the contours of the figure. I calculate in my mind as I go, being careful to about measuring elements in relation to each other. As a teacher I almost cringe at the thought of my students doing the same thing. Ha!! Any corrections can be made in the painting stage, so I don't stress if I have a few re-drawn edges. 
Adding a background really helps to solidify the figure of the cat, and covers the excess paint that was outside the edge of the drawing. 

Above I've added some darker coloring to the fur, and made the ears pink. I like to start with mid-range to darker colors, so I can add in the highlights on top, - this also creates depth in areas where I only add some light.  I also added clouds to the background. 
 Here I've completed the eyes, added some striping and some lighter areas of fur.
Now I've spent more time on the markings of the fur, and re-established the darker stripes.
My favorite stage!! I've added the COLORED PENCIL. Notice how the dark paint allows the lighter colored marks to show more boldly. I've found that ~drawing~ the fur in with colored pencil feels a lot more natural and spontaneous than trying to paint the fur.   (btw, most of the whiskers are thin strips of paint - the white colored pencil wouldn't have shown up as consistently bright white)
I also added the halo to this stage. Mainly yellow ocher - and its somewhat translucent.

And Finally! The finished piece! I added detail to the background: Some fluffy clouds up front in colored pencil, and I drew in some creatures with the bic pen - I kept them translucent to keep them in the realm of imaginary. To the halo, I added a white strip in the center, let it dry, and went over the white with bright yellow to give it that bright highlight.

Below is a closeup comparison of the face before and after colored pencil, as well as another slim layer of acrylic paint.

And there we go! I hope this helps to shed some light (and not shed fur) on my process for painting animals. This is by no means my only method of working (animals aren't even the bulk of my work!) but it is my preferred method for getting lifelike qualities in creatures.

Thank you! please feel free to share portraits you've done of animals in the thread. 

Also, if you would like me to paint your own beloved animal, please contact me though email for a quote. 
lydiaburris (at) 
Portraits start at $75 and go up. I also paint humans, manipulated faces, other animals, and plenty of other you-name-it-requests. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Cycle Repeats, almost

Well now!! I had written a new blog post last week, but didn't finish it. I re-read my last post from ~too long ago~ only to realize I had expressed nearly the exact feelings of complacent anxieties and unfulfilled self promises, only in different words.
Wow. This is one of the longer cocoon-gestation-periods I've experienced.

I feel that I'm starting to come out of this cocoon phase, but I'm still soft, I'm not sure what I am yet, and most of my appendages are still stuck in this transitional death-sac.

I did do some travel.
I spent new years in Florida with family, and it was amazing.

Then I had a little adventure in California, and it was amazing. I stayed with some friends in Claremont - while my guy David had his own adventure filling in on guitar for the band URN.

It was a fulfilling experience, and a great opportunity to do our own things.
I got to see some California friends, did some networking, and developed a very strong NEED to get out of Indiana.
This however has not sated my cravings, it has only made them stronger!  It has made me realize how much I need to be in a different environment, with a different routine and a different focus. A new chapter is approaching and I am excited for it.

In the meantime, I'm creating art daily, and staying in the creative mindset. I'm not revealing any plans, that would be dangerous. I gotta keep the magic alive right now by keeping it covered and hidden from the wind. This is a delicate but hot flame. I'll see you later when its a roaring bonfire.

Much love, stay creative friends.

 ~~ I discovered myself Undiscovered, and uncovered myself Undercover ~~

Thursday, September 24, 2015


I can't believe my last blog post was in MAY. And before that... DECEMBER.
Dang. I am super slacking when it comes to sharing more than a quick quip on status-update-social-sites. .....

 Well. I crave going deeper... but have hit a sort of  "this-all-seems-a-bit-pointless" syndrome, and a case of the "I-wish-I-was-having-the-type-of-adventures-I-had-when-I-was-in-college" wistfulness.

Even as I write this, I have an undeniable urge to just delete all this and go to bed. No one wants to hear this, no one should hear this. My brain doubts should remain secret from the public. My problems aren't even big enough to warrant sharing. But I'm not going to delete this... I don't think.

Man, the brain worms (doubt and self sabotage) have been getting fat the past few months. I wonder if this is depression. I smile in public, and I mean it. Its not a mask. Or is it? See... I'm floating in a sea of pointless self questioning and uncertain wants. If I try to dig at the root of this undefinable quivering uncomfortable vibration, I feel the sting of tears on the edges of my being. And yet I even nag at myself for feeling this way - I have so much to be thankful for. I have shelter with wood floors and almost a place for everything, an art studio downtown, I have a loving partner (who'm I just celebrated being with for 8 years! We spent the day watching parody kung fu movies) I have art, I have tons of cool stuff, and I have a part time job I really like.

But.... perhaps... the things that define me, that have defined me in the past seem to have dissipated.
I do not feel as free. I traveled so much when I was in college, and it FEELS like I travel all the time now, but its all to the inside of convention centers and hotels. I never really see the PLACES I travel to. And my art... and me as an artist.... have lost purpose. I am floating in space, surrounded by pretty colors and shapes, but nothing to grasp onto, nothing seems solid.

I need an adventure - not travel for the commercial side of my art business, but I need a good soul searching adventure.

I also need to eat better sometimes, and exercise, and spend less time on the computer. And maybe collaborators and co-conspirators. I need people to tap me on the shoulder and remind me to do art, or challenge me to an art duel.
Sometimes I feel like an appreciation-operated machine - when I get good attention or when someone buys art, I get that joyful rush. But I've sorta forgotten how to generate that rush on my own.

My boat is teetering on the sea of lethergy. Help me avoid rowing into the swamps of sadness. Also, make sure I don't fall into the bog of eternal stench... that doesn't seem to be a danger at this point, but I might as well cover all my movie-quote bases. Apparently there is a Sea of Possibilities in the Never Ending Story. That could be a good place to take my boat... so long as the NOTHING isn't threatening to wipe me away.

OH DEAR. Maybe this feeling *IS* the Nothing! The 'evil' from my MOST WATCHED CHILDHOOD MOVIE is coming to haunt me! I'm at the point in my life where I have to do battle with those untouchable demons of depression, lack of interest, and drive to care.
NO WONDER my 'new' car is named Falkor. SEE???? Falkor will save me with a meaningful life ROAD TRIP, where I will encounter the princess (my inner child) and give her a new name
. AHH!!! I think I need to go read some Joseph Campbell. The hero's journey. Its time to get myself out of this dank cavern and be reborn.

See, journals really are a great thing for self dialogue and finding answers.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Arthropods with Attitude

Life is (again) travelling too fast for me to attempt recording it in words. Even less so for words gone public. But here is an attempt, because sharing is what's for dinner. Wait, no, that was veggie burgers. Veggie burgers were dinner. I'm rambling. Let me post a few pics.

This is a wee different from my tree people and crazy creations... but drawing from a source sometimes refreshes my brain. I am also exploring a childhood obsession - as I once wanted to be an entomologist. (Being an artist was always a given. There was no choice there, besides, I thought EVERYONE was automatically an artist anyway and that it didn't really count as a solo aspect of a career. Not that I didn't think it was a real job, I just assumed art was a part of every picture. Always. Ok, maybe I should save that thought for another day.)

Here are some bug pictures I've done so far.

("I'm too sexy" and "Woo Hoo!" both are 4"x6" acrylic and colored pencil)

 These are the first ones I did and had them hanging in the studio. The word bubbles get my giddy giggly, and I'm having too much fun. The abstract backgrounds let me play, and the illusionary realism gives me a chance to hone in and practice the skills I fought so hard learn. Its refreshing in so many ways. I told another artist that I wanted to turn it into a series, but that I often had trouble staying with one thing. She then did a very good thing and CHALLENGED ME to create 100 bugs before the next openhouse event (April 2016) I accept this challenge. I may change styles a bit, and I might include some critters beyond the bug spectrum, but I will do it! I'll try to put a bit of humor in most of them.

By the way, the 'Woo-Hoo' butterfly sold at the openhouse, and the purchase came with a very touching story, and served in part as a memorial to someone special. No greater gift can be given than knowing my art can serve such a high and beautiful purpose. 

("The Wild One" 5"x7" acrylic and colored pencil)

The pill bug was next, and has also sold. Again, the purchase came with a story, something that touched the buyer on a personal level, and inspired a grand conversation about critter obsession in kids, inside jokes and banana slugs. *GRIN!*

 ("Hey Buddy" and "Io Moth, Ready for Takeoff" - both 5"x7" First is ink, watercolor and acrylic, second is acrylic and colored pencil )

These two were the most recent. I learned not to try and think of what I want the creatures to say while still in bed early in the morning. I swear it took me 30 minutes to land on a phrase. I came up with too many choices!! I gotta remember to keep that part loose and spontaneous.


SO, what inspired this Series? 
Many things led up to it, but the most direct inspiration came from making this little painting here:

("Meep" 2.5"x3.5" acrylic and colored pencil) 

I was vending at Horrorhound Weekend in Cincinnati in March of this year (2015). I had been chatting with Terrance Zdunich (creator/writer/actor in Repo the Genetic Opera and Devil's Carnival) If you are a fan, you probably know he likes hissing cockroaches and features them in his "Molting" comic (its awesome, go check it out) I happened to be doodling on a tiny piece of paper when he came by. Jokingly, he said he wanted to see me paint some cockroaches. So, I did, and then gave it to him. Its usually the unexpected prompts that spin me in a new direction. In fact, it was a commission to paint cats last year that led me to this style of abstract+realism with acrylic and colored pencil. 

I hope I can keep the groove going. Don't hesitate to poke at me and demand to see more.  

And of course, the ones that havn't sold yet are available. 

p.s. Don't worry, I'm not giving up the other weird art stuff, I'm STILL working on tree people and surreal abstractions of the mind and heart. I've got plague trees and surreal portraits in the works RIGHT NOW! In my next post, I'll give an update on all that stuff. Along with other new things I'm playing with, like fabric and drawing with the sewing machine. I'm so... scattered, but I'm FREAKING IN LOVE with being an artist right now. I've accepted that I'm not a single style kind of gal. Let variety BE my style. Now I just need someone else to figure out how to put it all to good use!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Snail Mail My Mannequin!

My Mannequin "Brunhildegard" has hijacked my website for her own purposes: to reach out to the world in an attempt at snail mail communication. If you like weird snail mail and want to participate in a fun project, please send her something through the post - she'll share it and write back!!

See the website she created for herself, with the address of my studio where she lives:

I can attempt to copy what she wrote on the site below.

"Hi. My name is Brunhildegard. I live in the studio of Lydia Burris. I live a secret life she doesn't know much about. I don't know too many humans, but I have a keen insight to the other denizens of the imagination world. I'd love to share gossip from the other world, but I'm better at snail mail. If you are so inclined, please correspond with me via Lydia's public studio address.

Lydia Burris
212 West 10th Street,
suite A-250
Indianapolis, IN 46202

I and my strange friends would love to hear from you. Feel free to share with your crazy snail-mail friends. I may start to write about my experiences if things get interesting."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Magic Spells Vs Alchemy, commissions vs private art exploration

On the subject of art commissions
 (Aka: Art for someone else) 
VERSUS private artistic exploration.


Commissions are like very specific complex magic spells. It takes a lot of energy and knowledge and
mental strength to cast a really good magic spell. It also takes time to build up the magic, to draw strength from the energy in the surroundings. Once it has been cast, one cannot just turn around and immediately cast another equally complex magic spell. The caster has to rest and recuperate.

This is a metaphor for art commissions. I do enjoy them and they challenge me to become better and to expand my abilities. On the other side, it takes a LOT of mental power, and they leave me feeling drained. Sometimes its a lot more exhausting to cast magic in the service of another. I used to think that the more commissions I do, the easier and quicker they would go. This is not the case. If anything, it takes me LONGER to do them know, because my abilities have gotten more


When I am in the studio creating work for myself, it is like alchemy. I am experimenting with  materials and observing results. I become obsessed with the nature of exploration and uncovering unknown combinations. This can also get very complex and interesting, but it is not nearly as draining. When I am being an 'alchemist' all day, I can go to bed exhausted but excited, with more questions on my tongue than when I began.
I invite others to view some of my alchemical meanderings, but I do not wish to reveal all of my notes with my peers, as I feel I am building toward a new discovery, and I don't want to spoil the surprise. I have works in progress that I've not shared yet because I'd love to have a show of completely new and UNSEEN work sometime in 2015.
Alchemy is mysterious and revealing all at the same time.

In 2015, I think I want to focus more on 'Alchemy' and less on 'Spell Casting'. My own projects and experiments are calling to my heart and I need to give them the proper time and attention, in order to be a great wizard. 

P.S. For those who commission me: I truly do appreciate the enthusiasm and support. I will not stop taking commissions, I will just be more selective. I have enjoyed each one I've done in 2014, but I (along with about 20 other creatives I've talked to) want change.

Transformation is in the air, and its time we spread our wings.