Posted in Agonist Aunt, Agonist Aunt Letters, artists, FYI, nonfiction, Tips and Hacks

Dear Agonist Aunt: Ideas Overload, Fleshing Out Characters

Welcome to our Agonist Aunt’s desk. She’s here to help out all creatives who may be struggling with getting started, finding inspiration, dealing with blocks and whatnots in the whole creative process or getting a project complete. Agonist Aunt does not currently answer career or love-themed letters.

This week, Agonist Aunt advises a creative who’s got too many ideas and a writer who’s looking for the real character behind those Character Sheets. Much gratitude to these two souls for sharing their difficulties that so many of us can relate to.

To write to Agonist Aunt, scroll to the end of the post and fill in the form. Only three letters at most will be chosen each week.

Disclaimer: Agonist Aunt is only a sounding board. Her reply is for your entertainment and enlightenment only. Follow any suggestion at your own discretion and own it for yourself. Agonist Aunt accepts no liability and no credit in any event.

Dear Agonist Aunt,
How Do I Focus On Just One?
For my writing and artwork, one of my problems is that there are just unlimited possibilities of what to do, and I freeze up trying to decide on one. How do I focus in on one thing, the more limited the better probably? Limits seem to expand the creative possibilities, but in a manageable way.
Thanks.
Nine Tailed Foxe

Dear Nine-Tailed Foxe
Temporary ditch diverging possibilities in favour of merging possibilities.
I hate to admit I suffer from a similar problem to your own. Yes, it does lead to paralysis and procrastination, or feeling that you’ve scattered your energies too much. I have two approaches to this problem. Choose one that works best for you at the time.
Work on two or three projects simultaneously. This lengthens the time of completion for each project considerably, but also stops the other procrastinator monster, the dreaded creative block, popping up. For those bursts of creativity (or inspirons as Pratchett termed them) that intrude upon your concentration, file them in a notebook, sketchbook or other note-system. Personally, I like keeping a small notebook handy and jotting down notes or making indecipherable sketches/drawings that lead to later creative surges or inspiration for challenging parts of projects much later…sometimes years later.
Another method is to take similar or complementary (or even contrasting) ideas and use them as elements in your current or other project. This way you get to explore your current passion without losing time or getting too distracted by ‘new’, shiny ideas. I find this way great to grow as a creative and to change my style into one that’s more distinctive—more me!

I pulled a card for you and it’s Achievement. During contemplation of all these awesome ideas and ways to utilise them, it’s important to focus on what you wish to achieve with them, or how they’ll contribute to your overall achievement. Some ideas are just for fun, and you don’t need to do an in-depth exploration of them all, especially if they’re costing you too much time and energy and setting your almost complete or half-way through projects even further behind. Keep that sketchbook/notebook handy or even a character who doesn’t quite fit into you current works on file. Some ideas also need the right time to fully blossom and serve their purpose. In the meantime, you can achieve much more with your time in merging workable ideas or using them as new elements.
Wishing you more clarity, focus and achievement
Agonist Aunt

Dear Agonist Aunt,
How do I find my character’s voice?
Having a fair amount of experience crafting plots and building worlds, the one area where I still stumble most is in moving my original characters beyond a set of traits on a Character Sheet so that they can become a living, breathing person on the page.
BB Wonkycandle

Dear BB Wonkycandle
Tune in, drop out, and observe your character.
Before we get to the crux, let me congratulate you on your attention to crafting plots. Many’s a well-told story that’s sabotaged by a degenerating plot as the story continues.
Ah, yes, Character Sheets. While they make you feel terribly productive, they often only give you a clinical look at your character. To get a more visceral and rounded look at characters, you need to drop your pen/keyboard (or at least set them aside), get a nice cup of tea/coffee/tipple of choice, and find a comfy seat. Now, close your eyes and imagine your character in a scene of your story. If you see your plot like a movie, press the pause button. What is their expression in that scene? How are they feeling at that point? How are they standing? DO NOT WRITE DOWN A THING. Just KNOW this about your character. Carry on noticing your character through the scene. The way they move, the way they speak, their facial expressions. DO NOT TRY TO MAKE THEM FIT TO YOUR PLOT IF THEY ARE BEHAVING DIFFERENT TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Characters dictate, enhance or emerge with plots. They are not fully formed and we do not fully know them until the end…sometimes never. Let yourself discover your characters as you would a new acquaintance or friend.

If you have trouble visualising your character so minutely, you might want to try casting your favourite/least favourite actor in their role—a great way to justify binge-watching if you need it. Now you have a template for their facial expressions and physical movement, and it should be easy to imagine them playing out the scene in your plot.
I also find dialogue and ‘hearing’ the character’s speech very helpful in revealing aspects of them: their accent, their choice of words, their verbal tics and their silences. All of these can be far more indicative of their inner workings and foreshadow their strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, having a ‘character song’—one which typifies them in some way can also conjure them up almost instantly. For example, in the movie Bunrako, music was used to enhance each character’s nature without dialogue, but it told us so much about them in that moment. Play this song/music when you write about them.

I pulled a card for you, and it’s Empathy. I think it sums up wonderfully what we’ve been talking about. The illustration even has an ear on it, so ‘hear’ your character speak and hear what they’re feeling and how they choose to reveal (or hide) themselves in that moment. Only then is it time to pick up your pen (or keyboard) and let them interact with your plot.
May all your relationships with your characters be long, fruitful and full of empathy.
Agonist Aunt

Looking for last week’s letters? Find them here.

Write to Agonist Aunt. Fill in the form below.

Posted in Agonist Aunt, Agonist Aunt Letters, artists, FYI, mind body soul, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Agonist Aunt: Stuck Indoors, Serial Crunch, Overload

Welcome to our Agonist Aunt’s desk. She’s here to help out all creatives who may be struggling with getting started, finding inspiration, dealing with blocks and whatnots in the whole creative process or getting a project completed. Agonist Aunt does not currently answer career or love themed letters.

To start this column off, Agonist Aunt has accepted one letter from Leenna, and two fictitious letters from archetypes who could have written in on a whim. The letters are from an outdoor artist (or street artist), a writer working on a new serial, and a person who’s overwhelmed by the prospect of starting any creative project.

To write to Agonist Aunt, scroll to the end of the post and fill in the form. Only three letters at most will be chosen each week.

Disclaimer: Agonist Aunt is only a sounding board. Her reply is for your entertainment and enlightenment only. Follow any suggestion at your own discretion and own it for yourself. Agonist Aunt accepts no liability and no credit in any event.

Dear Agonist Aunt
Help Me Out Of This Rat Sink (ink/rink)
The world has been my canvas and this quarantine thing is gotten to me so badly that I’ve lost my m/use. I create metaphors with bats to highlight humanity’s and our planet’s plight and self-sabotaging tendencies. But being stuck at home, with no natural canvas (the outdoors), I feel my creativity and sense of self being flushed down the toilet.
And yes, I’m sick of bats and rats. Any suggestions of getting me out of this rat-sinkhole.
Yours
I’m-not-B, man

Dear I’m-not-B, man
How about exploring Meta-Fur?
All this indoorsy stuff is getting to most of us, but the silver-lining is it allows us to explore our inner worlds and discover new sources of inspiration. Perhaps, your blank canvas could be your world to create meta-furs and explore meta-fursics—a fusion or diffusion of images and visualisation of what you’d like the world to look like (for humans, animals, or every living thing) when you do return to the outside. Just because you’re ‘in here’, doesn’t mean your art can’t be ‘out there’, if you see what I mean.
I’ve pulled a card for you and this was the message: Inspiration reversed. I immediately thought of inverted inspiration or expectation…I take this as a clarification to ‘look within’ for your inspiration—to your imagination. Rather than reflecting back to the world your truth, shine a new vision to provide inspiration to others.
Wishing you happy and bright new visions
Agonist Aunt

Dear Agonist Aunt
Which Way Do I Go With This Character?
I have this just introduced a character in a new serial I’m writing. At first, I thought she might be the hero’s love interest, and then I thought I’m writing a serial (my first) and not a novel. So, now I’m thinking she could be the secondary character who also carries part of the story. Problem is, I don’t yet have much of an idea what the story is yet, as I’ve just started the serial. My question is two-fold: Is it too early to introduce the love interest, and any suggestions on where I could go with my serial?
Any help would be much appreciated!
Yours sincerely
Character Crunch Time

Dear Character Crunch Time
Map Time, First.
I’ve not written a full serial myself, but it looks like you need a plan. Before you write much further, I suggest you get a large sheet of paper (A3 or A2) and two A4 sheets, some markers of different colours and pens of different colours. Then, I suggest you start at one end (or the top) of the first A4 and start jotting down your ideas for your series. Continue onto the second A4. Stick the A4s together (sellotape works well, this isn’t a piece of art, yet), and taking one coloured marker trace a logical (or most exciting—preferably both) path through your ideas linking characters, events and locations. Then take another marker (different colour, please) and number the plot threads in a progression building up into a grand finale. It’s okay if you don’t have a finale, only your plots must be building into something bigger. Use another page (s) to make more notes.
Then take the large sheet and beginning with your Number One plot, transcribe the basic pointers into your episodes/parts using different coloured pens for characters, locations, etc.
You should have a workable poster-sized map to work on your serial now.
As for your character question, trace their part through the series or see where they might fit in best.
It may seem like a lot of work to figure out what to do with your character, but at least you’ve got a workable map for your serial. Feel free to change it as it goes along. The best maps are always updated often.
I pulled a card for you and the message is: Control. This is what you need to exercise over your serial, and I think this map will give you that.
Wishing you and your characters find your ways in an adventurous and fun fashion
Agonist Aunt

Dear Agonist Aunt
Where To Start This Creative Life?
I’m a new creative. Not new to creative thinking, per se, but to producing creative things like crafts and painted works and writing and all that good stuff. I’ve recently finally gotten some time to get into producing creative stuff, but I don’t know where to start. I’ve gotten a whole truckload of Amazon goodies from paintbrushes and canvasses to baking and decorating utensils to a brand new mug that says “I write therefore I am’, but I get intimidated just by looking it all and thinking of all the things I’d like to do.
How do you suggest I get started?
Sadly
Overwhelmed and Intimidated

Dear Overwhelmed and Intimidated
Start With A Word
Some believe everything ever created was done so by the power of a word, so you may want to try that first. Write a word on a piece of paper, or paint it on a blank canvas. Don’t over-think it. Write it big or small, fancy or scribbled, untidy or super-neat. It doesn’t matter. Neither does the word. I don’t suggest supercalifragillisticexpialidocious, though. Just saying. Next, take another colour and write another word, or swirl the brush around, or draw swirls and twirls. Then take a step back and decide if you’re going to go all Jackson Pollack on it or do something intricate and dainty instead.
Most important of all—the most vital part to creating creative work—is to have fun. So, have fun!
I pulled a card for you and its message is Power. This is a card of intuition, and as well as one which I see as being esoteric in nature. If you have esoteric interests, you may want to start off by drawing/painting or engraving your favourite symbol on your canvas/a piece of wood/some clay. But most of all follow your intuition and see where it takes you. Still, don’t forget to have fun!
Wishing you lots of fun and exploration
Agonist Aunt

Posted in artists, FYI, Interview, Limelight, Uncategorized

In The Limelight: Cat Leonard

Cat Leonard artist quote colors

I’ve been a fan of Cat Leonard and her work since 2015 when she illustrated a work of mine for SciPhi Journal. I fell in love with her bold style, which is so reminiscent of the Aussie Outback for me. More so, I adore her animal portraits, too, with their unusual perspectives. I must admit her portraits of people often leave me feeling conflicted. I feel she captures something beyond their mere image, beyond what most people might see—an emotion or attitude they may not admit to when first meeting you!
Though Cat agreed to an interview some time ago, it’s taken this long for us to make this happen. Life and interesting things have been coming along! I’m glad Cat managed to make some time for my questions before her next commission and workshop. Here’s how it went.

Book cover SciPhi Journal Issue 5 artist Cat Leonard

I love your cyan and orange/yellow signature paintings. How did you get into that combination?
Hmmmm…what would those colours be in my pallet? Cobalt turquoise, Cadmium orange light, Nickel yellow, Australian salmon gum…
I tend to think about colour in terms of what they are next to, because colours look their best when you can see other colours at the same time. Like pink is my favourite colour but only when I can see yellow at the same time, and because certain colours work next to specific other colours I tend to group them like that in my paintings. So, when I get out pink I also get out yellow, which is why I regularly choose my “signature” colour combinations.

Quote Cat Leonard artist painting animals
Cat Leonard Sovereign Fowl catleonardart.com
Sovereign Fowl

Your pet and animal portraits are magnificent. Do you prefer them to your portraits of people? If so, why?
Animals are quicker to paint than people, and I can really let loose with paint, colour and wild marks when painting fur, feathers and, say…the wrinkled skin of a chicken’s head. Also, I enjoy painting old people with wrinkles and age spots, and can tackle them in a similar way, but young smooth skin, especially children and babies, and candid poses at a distance where I don’t see marks, wrinkles or spots in the skin, such as full figurative work, for me is more challenging. But I’ve been learning oils and glazing so that’s slowly changing as I play with that medium.

Llama by Cat Leonard catleonardart.com

So, I’ve often wondered, just how long does it take you to paint the animal portraits? Do you now have a kind of system for getting them done to a deadline?
If I’ve got a deadline I can paint them quicker. I once had a deadline of a day, so I told myself I could do it and painted a glorious pig overnight. I didn’t think about it and I just painted; knew the formulae from a previous painting and used that.
I can re-paint my paintings a lot quicker than new ones and some commissions ask for those.

Horse and rooster art by Cat Leonard catleonardart.com

You’ve had an unusual series a few years ago which featured animals juxtaposed with text—old books and newspapers, I think it was. Do you enjoy mixing media and the seeming incongruous, or was that an experimental phase?
I love mixed media and I do work this way still today. Often the back of my work has interesting pages torn out of books stuck on them with the title of the work painted next to or on them (a little surprise for the buyer). But that body of work was inspired by a photographer/poet, and I worked with them on several projects over several years.


Quote Cat Leonard book cover creation

Tell us a little about your book and story illustrations. Do you still work on them?
Mainly I do covers, and at the moment I illustrate the covers for Francis Porretto. I’m commissioned to do my 6th cover for him. He sends me chapters to read and from those I conceive a visual.

Book cover The Wise And The Mad by Francis W Porretto artist Cat Leonard catleonardart.com

It’s quite a responsibility creating a book cover because it gives the first impressions of the book, so you’ve gotta say something about the story, make it intriguing but not give anything important away and not create a visual that will direct the imagination away from what’s described in the story—like you don’t want to present a character from the story that doesn’t do that character justice.

St Michael by Cat Leonard catleonardart.com
St Micheal

You’ve also shared some religious icon-inspired pieces. Is that a path you’d like to explore further?
Yes, religious art does interest me, especially Christian liturgical art. Being Catholic myself, having grown up in a large catholic family, I feel that I haven’t quite found my feet in this genre yet, but I’ve certainly dabbled and painted St Michael by request three times, and Monsignor Ian Dempsey and Philip Wilson when he was archbishop of Adelaide, the passion of Christ and the resurrection and the Mother of God three times, and some other stuff. The most recent St Michael was an interesting experience where I kind of re-interpreted Guido Reni’s famous painting St Michael Defeats Satan, and I used a familiar process I often use where I take a messed up canvas and then draw him out through the mess as I pull together the marks—like bringing him forward through the mess of postmodernism. It was most enjoyable.

Oil painting by Cat Leonard catleonardart.com
Oil painting

The South Australian Fine Arts scene seems quite healthy, and I reckon you get commissions from all across the country. So, are you working on expanding your presence abroad, too, by working with international commissions?
I do get commissions from all over the place, but most are from Adelaide.
It’s a standard question I ask these days with commissions: “Are you from Adelaide?” Because I’ve gotta consider the options for painting things that are suitable to post or the shipping fees are ridiculously expensive, so I would prefer to send a small work or one I can take off the frame and roll up and it gets re-framed at their end.

As for the future, any predictions on what we can expect from Cat Leonard, Fine Artist
and experimenter?
Well, I’m learning how to properly teach others the craft—I do already give painting workshops, but now I’ve joined a small team of art tutors at Splashout Studios and am being taught how to teach by an expert, so that’s quite a learning curve for me, extremely confronting and challenging but so very enjoyable as I see the fruits of my efforts unfold…

Montage of art by Cat Leonard catleonardart.com
Works of Cat Leonard

About Cat Leonard

Cat Leonard artist selfie

I am an artist, painter of portraits, contester of postmodernism and proverbial blunderer. I declare through my craft that perfection is the perfect amount of imperfection, that there are moments of organic messiness in beauty when it is arranged correctly, and that is what I strive to achieve in my paintings, an ordered chaos.
Since 2010, I’ve been building up my art business. Painting commissioned paintings, Illustrating covers for books by various authors, exhibiting in galleries, selling products on-line and teaching workshops and tutorials in schools. I also mentor for Year 11 and 12 students who are interested in pursuing the fine arts as a career.

Find Cat online
website: catleonardart.com
Facebook

Posted in artists, design, Interview, Limelight, mock covers, Photos

In the Limelight: Laszlo Zakarias

Laszlo Zakarias became my new GD Hero (Graphic Design Hero) when he designed the book cover for my soon-to-released series for Fiction Vortex and Fictionite. The brief for the artwork had a particular request I thought would be hard to manage. But Laszlo succeeded so well, and exceeded my expectations of the cover so much, that I absolutely had to look at more of his work! And ask him a few questions. I know you’ll be just as delighted with him as I am 😀

 

You design book covers, illustrations and Photoshop art. Can you tell us why these projects interest you?
I’ve always been interested in reality—especially in changing the reality somehow. I worked as a video editor for more than 10 years, which was a way to modify the objective raw material to produce emotions, and thoughts, in a viewer’s mind. Later I found this possibility on other platforms too, like drawing illustrations and modifying photography, and I found this very-very exciting 🙂

As for the book covers: I read a lot. I was in love with book covers since I was a child, so it was only a matter of time to bring together these three (or four) things: the books, the illustrations, design, and me.

What did you most like about working on The Quest For The Wholly Pale fantasy cover?
Making the photo!

Coming soon to the Wizards in Space Storyverse from Fiction Vortex and Fictionite.

I was searching for the right photo for the cover, the one I imagined, but didn’t find anything quite similar to what I had in mind. So I decided to shoot the photo myself, of myself. I put the cover together in my head, then I set up a little studio in my living room, found some old sheet, took a paper and a pen in my hands as place-holders for the paper roll and the wand, and shot a few photographs. It was really fun.

Your brief for the The Wholly Pale had a strange request: a man’s six-fingered hand. It’s a difficult detail to get right, but you did it beautifully! Can you tell us a little about how you did it?
Yeah, fortunately I have six fingers on my left hand, so I just took the photo and that’s it.
No, just kidding. It wasn’t as hard as it seems to be. I just duplicated the little finger and made it look like part of the hand.

Have you had other book or illustration requests which had you thinking ‘out the box’? Can you tell us about one or two of them?
Yes, I like those requests. I don’t really like to make the same thing twice, or something similar to other works. There are a few styles I like and use repeatedly, but I like it most when I can try out something new.

I love visual metaphors, associations, and telling stories with visual elements, so if I have freedom in my work, I usually work with these. Though these are not book covers (yet), here are a few examples.

You’ve done other covers for Fiction Vortex: Gridiron and FuturePunk. These two covers have a different look and feel to your other FV covers. Do you prefer working on a special Laszlo look, or do you think of yourself as a design chameleon?
I don’t think that there would be a special style that could be called my own, and that’s not my goal. The FuturePunk cover was made with 3D software which I just learned to make the cover.

For the Gridiron cover I looked through the internet to learn something about these Aztec-style tattoos and drew them myself. I like to use different styles. It’s much more exciting for me if I can find the right style for the actual task.

Your other work is also fascinating. I love your musical typographical art. What gave you the idea to create them, and how do you choose the songs to use?
I saw this typographic art somewhere, and loved it. I did some quick research and experimented a lot. Then I found out how it goes and started to make these. I only choose songs I love, and which have a special meaning for me.

 

There’s lots of fun stuff on your website, like the illustrated quotes and your photography. Do you ever get to sleep, or are you permanently hooked into your machine while drinking coffee? 😀
I quit coffee a few years ago, so I sleep well 🙂 But seriously, yep, I’m trying to spend my time being healthy. I work, sleep, eat, do sports, meet people; so I try to keep a balance between doing and experiencing.

 

About Laszlo from tsg.pictures
I’m Laszlo Zakarias, a Hungary-based freelancer graphic designer. I studied IT but never worked as an IT guy, but have decades of experience in video-editing, photography and graphic design. I’m interested in movies and screen-writing, books, photography (as a hobby), and especially in philosophy—philosophy as a practical science—even if it sounds strange :). I think of Earth as a living being, and humanity as the part of this one big living thing.

Find Laszlo and his work

website

Facebook

Behance

Posted in artists, design, FYI, Limelight

In the Limelight: Afrikartworx/Sana Desai-Raftopoulos

I first came across Sana’s designs on the Redbubble Group on FB. I fell in love with her fun, bright designs of creatures—marine, of the veld, and of the air. A fellow South African, Sana’s got years of design experience (and life experience) so I thought I’d ask a few questions and share some of her work with you. Enjoy!

 

Leopard Zig-zag Border

You cut your teeth in fashion design. How did you transition into graphic design?
It was never a transition for me as I always incorporated graphics into my designs: I designed textile prints as well as prints for placement printing on clothing.
Although I would never describe myself as a graphic designer, as it really is a field on its own.

Do you miss fashion design? Would you re-enter that field again?
I don’t really miss the fashion industry as it has changed so much during my career. Thanks to Redbubble, though, I am able to do fashion, home décor and other design spheres.

You use a variety of mediums: sketching, illustration and digital art. Which do you prefer? Has it always been this way?
I just LOVE experimenting with various mediums, I prefer digital! Although when I need some stress release I turn back to drawing.
I started with hand drawn and painting, I only learnt computers in 2006.

 

Contemporary Identity Africa

 

If I had to describe your work at the moment, I’d call use terms like ‘whimsical’, innocent’, ‘fun’. What, so far, has been your favourite description of your work?
A poem which I use with afrikartworx is:
“Designed with sparks from the new and unexpected,
From imagination and reality,
With LOVE, WIT and INDIVIDUALITY.”
I would also like to use words like Afrocentric, contemporary, urban, and decoloniality.

 

Mosaic Whale Ocean Wave

 

I love you marine collection, so joyful and full of energy. Where do you get the inspiration for things like Whale?
Coming from Cape Town, of course I have two oceans and spend lots of time there for regeneration and inspiration. I am also influenced by many cultures, Africa, India, Japan, China, too much to mention actually.

 

Big Bee

 

Works like ‘BEE 141 HONEYCOMB’ and ‘PANGOLIN 133 IN A PATCH’ also seem inspired by nature. Is there a special place you visit when the creativity wanes?
Yes! Nature of course, we have to highlight the plight of our environment especially for the generations still to come who may never see some of our beautiful creatures….Climate change is our biggest threat.

As a designer, I tend to play around until I find a variation I like. Are you the same when it comes to variations, or do you have very specific plans and ideas before hand?
There is no one formula that works in art. No piece evolves the same. I doodle, I draw, and if I can teach anyone anything it’s the importance of variation, it stretches the creative imagination and can take you to places you may never go.

Tell us more about Afrikartworx. How did it come about?
I was retrenched and needed to re-invent myself. I did what I do naturally and created Afrikartworx. I felt a need to highlight Africa, with a more modern brush. I never liked the blank faces in African art, depicting no identity. The fact that there are new lines depicting beauty in this new age. My life has also always been influenced by politics due to my dad and his circle of friends (who were P.A.C.) in London.

 

Mosaic Seahorse Light Ocean

 

And the future? Which direction would you like to go in next?
I am helping a fellow artist Walter Chinoda (a sculptor/artist living in the diaspora). He has a stall in Franschoek. “Art and Sculpture Collide”.
You can support him on the following links:
https://www.facebook.com/chinoda.africanart/
https://www.zazzle.com/chinoda
I will continue to work on the pods that I belong to and hopefully one day a large chain will see and understand my vision and buy my goods… Yes I will continue to dream!

About Sana

My name is Sana Desai-Raftopoulos. My History is deeply embedded in that of my Fathe,r Ebrahim Desai (a political exile), and my Mother Janie (a talented seamstress/designer) who both played their part in influencing my passions in life. I grew up in England (London).
My loves are Fashion, art, stationery, music, dance, and film.
I am a Mother of two boys, grandmother of two, and wife, married to renowned Academic (in the region and internationally) Professor Brian Raftopoulos.
I believe in Local promotion will then equal job opportunities and growth. We need to celebrate our ART, MUSIC, FILM, Writers, PHOTOGRAPHY, MIXED MEDIA, PERFOMANCE, FASHION, STYLISTS etc. AS AFRICA
After working in the fashion industry for well over 30 years, I am continuing my journey as an artist/ entrepreneur.

Find Sana

https://www.facebook.com/afrikartworx
https://www.redbubble.com/people/sana90
https://shopvida.com/collections/afrikartworx
https://www.zazzle.com/afrikartworx
http://designers.printedvillage.com/members/afrikartworx/
https://hellopretty.co.za/afrikartworx
https://www.instagram.com/afrikartworx/?hl=en

Posted in artists, Interview, Limelight, quotes, Uncategorized

Limelight Interview: Jessica Matteliano

Jessica Matteliano quote texture

I’ve known Jessica Matteliano as a writer for a while now. I was also excited to discover her work as an aist. If you have a fascination for portraiture, both animal and human, you’ll definitely want to have a look at Jessica’s lively work.
And here we have Jessica Matteliano In The Limelight!

In the Limelight Jessica Matteliano artist

You have a great eye for expression and portraiture. How did you discover this ability?
Thank you! I believe that art, no matter what medium, is a means of expression. It could be an internal feeling that must be transposed onto paper, or an external force to communicate a message. The face, especially the eyes, is what humans are initially drawn to look at. Because whether you consider it a euphemism or truth, the eyes are the windows to the soul. I began drawing as a young child, and my first subjects were strictly animals, mainly horses. Even from then, I desired to capture the soul inside the eyes. In the eyes is where a portrait comes alive. Until the eyes have the effect I’m looking for, the painting will not be complete.

20090906_rita matteliano
Debonnaire – I typically paint portraits, but this pose of Rita Hayworth caught my eye and I had to capture her graceful beauty.

I adore your noirish Classic Hollywood Portraits. Tell us about them.
In an age where everything is sensual and risqué, I am drawn to the classic Hollywood portraits that showcased a more modest and classy beauty. A number of years back, I decided to begin a series of these talented and classic faces due to the fact that much of my generation, and younger ones, aren’t aware of these names or faces; by painting them, while bringing color to their timeless eyes, I would hope to bring them the attention that they still deserve, to bring admirers back to another time of nostalgia and enigmatic sophistication.

And the pet portraits? Tell us about those too.
During my early years until around the age of 17, I refused to paint humans. My few attempts at painting them back then were never up to my par, so I “boycotted” the human figure altogether from my sketchbooks and portfolios. My main focus during those early years were mainly horses and wild animals. With the help of friends and family, I began receiving commissions for dog portraits, mostly in the pastel and pencil medium. It’s a hard niche to get into as there are so many talented pet portrait artists out there in all mediums. All my commissioned work is strictly by word of mouth, and it’s a subject I still very much enjoy.

I’m amazed by your animal illustrations. They are so vibrant and full of energy…The chameleon’s eyes, and there’s all the wonderful horses too! How long does a work like the chameleon or a single horse take you?
As mentioned before, horses were my main art subject from young. A horse piece requires much less time to complete than an unusual subject like the chameleon, or a bird, etc. It’s all about texture. The more detailed (furry, feathery, or scaly) the texture, the longer it will take me.

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Basilisk Lizard – One of my favorites! I was doing a study on lizards, and their eyes intrigued me. I was hoping to discover a shortcut method for painting scales, but I have yet to find one!

I have a tendency to underestimate the length of time it will take to complete a drawing. Without the background, a full-body horse in motion (colored) will take me around 5-8 hours. Something more detailed, such as a reptile or bird, can take twice as long, if not more. Due to external circumstances, it usually takes me a few nights to complete a painting.

I was fortunate to come across your tutorial on creating portraits in Photoshop and picked up a few tips myself. Will you be doing more tutorials or running a workshop in the future, perhaps?
I’m glad they were helpful! I enjoyed creating those tutorials as I love helping others improve and learn. Part of the fun of looking at other people’s artwork is discovering their tips and tricks and adapting them to your own style. I haven’t created a tutorial as of late, only because I feel that there is already so much out there, how could I possibly offer something “new?” I’m afraid I don’t have the time or means to run a workshop at the moment, but if someone requested a tutorial from me in the future, I would most certainly oblige!

Jessica Matteliano quote part of fun

You draw inspiration from a wide range of cultures (for example there’s a rune prominent on one Asian-looking character’s hair accessory) and from the natural world too. I know you’re a fan of Pinterest. Can you tell us a little about your creative process/es?
Much of my inspiration comes from other images, whether it be a photograph or a painting – hence, the ever-growing number of pins on my Pinterest account! Every image has a mood, and oftentimes that mood will connect with what I’m currently feeling. My fantasy portraits tend to reflect a theme, such as the Ihwaz painting. I wanted to portray a symbol of what I was feeling at the time (“The path is hard and lonely and there is no end to sight”). I recall being inspired by headdresses and wanting to create a portrait with a headdress. Ihwaz is Rune number 13 and symbolizes the yew tree (Yggdrasil), as well as symbolizing magic and the archer’s bow.

Anyway, when a certain image strikes me, I will take it and transform it into my own vision. Oftentimes, it’s nothing more than wanting to accentuate the movement and grace of a horse mid-stride, to bring out the way the sun makes the dappling shine along its musculature. My writing follows a similar method where I am inspired by another work of art and my mind uses it as a launching pad to create my own version.

I knew you first as a writer. Do you find your art feeding your writing and vice versa?
Not necessarily. As a full-time wife and mother, part-time worker, and full-time freelancer, it’s hard to be able to let my creativity flow the way I’d like it to. I have to compartmentalize much of my art and writing projects in order to be productive. I hate to sound like a clichéd artist, but creativity needs time to grow and bloom. That being the case, my writing and artwork are separate entities, though I’m hoping that one day I will be able to merge the two together!

So here’s what I’m finding difficult: finding a balance between designing and writing, and expressing my creativity vs working on projects which might actually pay! Any advice for me and others like me?
Prioritize! My family comes first, paying jobs come second, and personal projects third. With my busy schedule, nearly all of my personal endeavors are stuck in the wayside. Figure out what is most important to you, which leads me to my second point: organization is imperative! When an idea does strike me, whether it’s writing or art-related, I jot them down in an idea journal (bullet journal, in my case). Inspiration to paint a particular drawing come and go, but writing tends to be more mechanical for me. I enjoy figuring out the details, so writing down new ideas works best for me.

I spend the daytime hours working or taking care of my home (cooking, cleaning, schooling, errands, etc.), and after dinner, I begin working on my freelance projects. If I’m ahead of schedule, I’ll instead spend time on my personal writing projects. I do mandate myself at least one night off during the week for my personal projects because stress does build up after 5-6 consecutive nights of staring at the computer screen!

Jessica Matteliano quote compartmentalise productive

You’ve worked on a wide range of projects: gaming, calendars, commissioned private portraiture…and there’s the writing projects too. What new venture are you excited about for the future?
I’m currently working on two paid art projects, as well as a commissioned pencil sketch. And right, not to mention my personal two writing projects that are subject to the regular work load! I’ve just completed one novella and am currently in the editing process, and I’m excited to begin research for the second novella! I’m anticipating writing content for the game art project I’m currently working on.

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Danaway Flashjack – My favorite horse painting. Dappling and texture really make a painting come alive, and the golds and lavender hues in this horse are stunning.

Thank you so much for interviewing me! It was such a pleasure and I am truly honored to be a part of your wonderful blog!

And thank you, Jessica, for taking the time from your crazy schedule to answer these questions and share your work with us.

About Jessica Matteliano:

Jessica Matteliano (2)I’ve been sketching since single digits and began digital painting in my late teen years. Around the age of eleven, I began focusing on detail and accuracy and discovered that art was something worth pursuing. Pencil sketches and digital paintings are the preferred medium, and wildlife and portraits are my preferred subjects.
Writing fiction vies for my attention. If I’m not painting, I am writing (or reading!). I began writing in my single digits as well, and my life since my teen years are filled with writing and art projects.
Now at age 30, with a family of my own and life responsibilities, my free time is spent alternating between writing and painting.

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