Wednesday, December 28, 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 ~~