Applying what I’ve learned in art

25 05 2012

It never really crossed my mind that some day all the art reading, color theory, composition, etc. was going to be useful in an applied setting other than a canvas. Well, I found that when you  need to decorate, art theory comes in quite handy. I did part of my baby’s room decoration following some lessons learned from critique I got from awesome people, and recently I applied some of that knowledge to decorating for my baby’s first birthday.

The first thing I did was to pick a theme, which helped me to define a palette. As we all know the palette can make or ruin the piece by enhancing the mood or by clashing with it. Since Ignacio loves pandas, we chose a panda party and based the colors on that concept, also because it is preferable to focus on a few colors than being all over the place we decided on black and white (panda), green for bamboo and red as contrast. After some discussing with artist friends I noticed that dark green was very Christmasy so I went for a kiwi green, which is also brighter and neutralized a bit the black.
Next step: decide location. We have the blessing of living in a good apartment complex that has a lovely park with a gazebo for us to enjoy, so we decided that the gazebo was going to be our central spot. And then we had to think of the decorations themselves… being on a budget made the choice simple: cheap stuff. You can get a lot of balloons for close to nothing and we also got a few paper fans (at $2/5 pieces) the rest was food 🙂

Decorating the trees with paper fans.

Balloons and paper fans made for a fun yet cheap decoration.

Keeping a black, white, red and green theme. The white was amply provided by the gazebo itself.

Panda cupcakes! Cream cheese for the icing, chocolate melts, chocolate chips for the nose and store bought sugar eyes.

I kept the last cupcake plain and added one red candle.

The inside of the gazebo. We finished the look with a black and white table cloth.

Some flowers to add life!

Interview with Greg Lightner

25 05 2012

Greg did you attend art school?
No, but I was one of 200 high school students who went to the Pennsylvania’s Governor School for the Arts. Much like Face off, I had to audition (in this case, submit artwork). From there I had to go through rounds of interviews and  do a drawing in front of the judges. Also like Face Off, I didn’t really do art for anything but self gratification. I didn’t even have my first art class in school until that year (1993) when I was selected to attend the Governor’s School. I guess I have always been good at art without realizing that i was good at it (if that makes sense).

Image (c) Greg Lightner

What attracted you of being a make up artist?
My love of Halloween mostly. I have always tried to outdo everyone when it came to dressing up and doing makeup. Making a career out of it is just icing on the cake. Really it is just another canvas, another form of expression, but it’s 3D much like sculpture, except alive. I like that aspect of it, turning fantasy into reality and making something exist that doesn’t (to my knowledge) in the natural world.

How did you end up working as a make up artist?
Professionally, I began in 2008 as a makeup artist for Kennywood Park’s Phantom Fright Nights (their annual haunted attraction). I began working there at the insistence of my boyfriend at the time. He knew I enjoyed Halloween and thought it would be fun for me (he worked there as a scareactor). So I interviewed for a makeup position, but got placed as a scareactor the first year (2007). I would do my and his makeup each night. Then people began noticing my work, and I started doing others in my haunt as well. Then I was noticed by the makeup supervisor and asked to assist them as well. The next year I was hired exclusively to do makeup. It was there that I truly began learning and honing my skill.

What is with all the zombies?
Haha. Well Pittsburghers LOVE their zombies! My portfolio is FILLED with them because of Kennywood, and also because of the annual zombie events they hold in Pittsburgh. I typically get hired for two things in Pittsburgh: beauty makeup (weddings, formals, social engagements) and zombies. I’m actually over zombies right now. I want to do more fantasy-related characters. Right now I am obsessing over these tree people I designed.

Can you explain in general lines for our readers what goes into creating art like this?
It all starts with an idea, a concept. Then itypically sketch and doodle and flesh it out. Often giving it a background and a reason for looking the way it does, wearing the clothes (if any)

Art (c) Greg Lightner

that it wears, etc. Giving it a life before I bring it to life. Once I am satisfied with the concept. I begin sculpting it on a form (whether this be a mannequin or a casting I did of the person who is ultimately going to wear the prosthetics). The tricky part there is figuring out how it will work with the human body, where the seams will be, how the prosthetic will be applied, etc. Once I am satisfied, I have to make a mold of the sculpture, which entails pouring a plaster-lke substance on the sculpture so i can make a negative impression of it (this process destroys the sculpture, so you only get one shot at this). Once I have the negative mold, I pour the prosthetic’s medium into it (this can be anything really, I typically use latex or gelatin though more financial reasons). Then you place the original positive that you sculpted on (the mannequin or actor’s casting) into the negative mold and clamp it shut. This will conform the prosthetic to the original cast, ensuring that you get a seamless appliance when it dries. From there it’s simply removing the prosthetic, trimming where needed and painting and applying it to the actor.

You were selected to be at Face Off, what did you take home from that experience?
I had two goals going in: to meet others in the industry and to get publicity so I can make this my full time job. Winning would have been great, but I wasn’t deluding myself in thinking I could win, especially after seeing some of the looks during our final audition. These are truly gifted artists and I was proud just to make it to the top 40, cause (again) I didn’t believe I was that good, but they thought different. After the show, I have a very close set of friends in the industry (most of the cast from season 2 and some of the cast from season 1 even), and I have began getting noticed and asked to do demos and sell my work (I don’t have any “official jobs” yet, but I am staying positive that they will be coming). Right now it’s mainly press for the show and doing publicity tours while trying to promote myself as an artist.

Photo (c) Brett-Patrick Jenkins

What would be your dream job?
Either to work under a master makeup artist that I admire (such as Wayne Toth, Greg Nicotero, Robert Kurtzman, to name a few), or to work for the haunt industry, whether in a shop or as a full time designer and manufacturer of products for the industry. Movies are okay, but they can be exhausting! However, they make the big bucks and get all the glory of seeing it on the screen (haunters get to see their work live, which offers a certain level of satisfaction, but it’s not everlasting like film is).

Where can our readers find your work?
I’m all over the internet now! Haha. I really only update my Facebook page. I need to get a website going, but that’s one more thing that i don’t have the time for right now. My official Facebook address is (I used to call myself under that name, but since deleted it because everyone knows me from the show now, not by my former studio).

When Faerywitch tags

8 05 2012

Work done with Joana Bromley’s work, A tube for free at PSP Tube Stop

When Lisa started the collaborative kits we decided to have some fun ourselves and started “When artists tag” which is us, the artists, using the work we do for the kits to do tags. This is not only good fun but also gives us some insight into what goes on for making tubes, which is good for it helps you be closer to the taggers, imo. So here are some of the tags I made! I really like the one done with Joanna’s work, but of course, the tube is fantastic, containing 11 layers and it is up for free in PSP Tube Stop! What a great gift to the community!



My first tag done with the Weekend in Paris collaborative kit.





Interview with Lisa Cree

2 05 2012

Lisa, can you tell us something about your background as an artist?
I never had any formal training in art, although I was quite talented all my life, I never pursued it as an education because I saw art as a freedom of expression and didn’t see the logic in being told what to paint and how to paint it. I learned a lot about art techniques and history from my local library.

All art (c) Lisa Cree.

You have a very peculiar style, how did it evolve?
I think that a big part of my style comes from a need to depict a certain element in something that I see or imagine and I find beautiful. For instance, eyes are the worst for me… a person is looking to the side, and logically, the eye should be ¾ of the size that it normally would be. I can’t let that eye go! I have to try and squeeze the whole eye into the portrait anyway! Legs too… they have to be super curvy, hair, unable to draw a straight hair, and outlines, I can’t seem to just leave a line to the imagination, it must be drawn and so it goes on. We end up with a sort of medieval look from the centuries before people had a clue about perspective. I can’t shake it, hard as I try sometimes.

All artists have other artists that they admire, who do you draw your inspiration from?
One of my biggest influences is video game art, the small details, the atmosphere, the exaggeration of physical traits. If I had to pick specific artists, I would say that my friends are the biggest influence I have… I have been lucky enough through social networking to meet a lot of great fantasy artists and each of them will influence me in one way or the other. I find that rather than looking at someone who has found their artistic style or niche is less interesting that joining others who are still en route.

What is the reaction of people to your style? Do you find you cater to a niche?
A lot of people like my style, but I don’t think I have a niche. My art seems to touch all kinds of people. When I ask my close friends about which pieces they like, it’s often very hit and miss…some of my pieces touch them and some they do not like at all. It seems to be the same with everyone.

What challenges and advantages there are to be an artist in France?
I really couldn’t say there are many advantages for an artist in France. I’m quite surprised, as when I didn’t live here I imagined it to be the artistic capital of the world, with so many of the greats having spent their time here
The good materials are very hard to come by here, like copic markers, and prismacolour pencils, micron pens, Daniel Smith Watercolours, things like that you have to have them shipped over and I end up having to buy almost everything from Ebay and paying a lot of shipping…

All art (c) Lisa Cree.

…and the taxes! They don’t like the little guy to be self-employed here lol! I pay a large percentage as a sole proprietor then again in personal income taxes, and am unable to claim my materials or even my postage costs.
Art is very traditional over here, they seem to like still lives, landscapes and portraits, so there is not a lot of support for fantasy art, and when I have to explain what I do, I usually end up just saying “I paint fairies”.

How do you juggle art and motherhood?
When my son was younger, I used to work a lot while he slept, or when he was playing on his own with his cars but now he has grown up to be quite the little artist himself so sometimes he works right along side. For example, sometimes we’ll both draw the same thing, or use the same paints and paint together (I think I am the only mother crazy enough to give her 6 year old her best paints and pens to play with hehe). He even has his own micron pens, prismacolor pencils and a few copic markers… a real pro 😉 I sometimes even set up the laptop next to me when I am working digitally and he has a little graphic tablet that he uses with gimp.

I often draw in the living room while the family is watching a film, I’ll sit there and sketch; which is why you don’t see a lot of paintings from me at the moment… I do what the situation allows.

It’s not making the time to do art that I find the challenge, more being able to switch off and have some real dedicated time with my family.

Tell us about your many artistic endeavors.

My first professional artworks were portraits which I did part time in my mid twenties, but my full-time job soon took too much of my time for me to pursue that… the money was never enough for me to live solely from the portraits and I also found that people wanted an exact copy of a picture rather than an artistic interpretation which was kind of off putting.

All art (c) Lisa Cree.

When my son was born, as I gave up my work to care for him, he was quite a good sleeper, so it gave me some time to continue a part time career at home during nap-time J My husband and I decided to make a jungle themed video game together and I learned to make 3D animations for that, little “sprites” of a monkey running and jumping, explosions, jungle animals walking and attacking… that sort of thing. It took a lot of time to learn to do everything myself, the modeling, texturing, rigging, animating and rendering… about two years in total.

After that project was finished, I started trying to sell my works on Ebay, and found ACEOs. I created a lot of those in a semi-abstract style in all sorts of mediums.

I’m not sure how I made it into fantasy art… it’s been something that was always there. I had books about fantasy art, and was very big on video games, but for a long time I never considered that I could do it myself. I think it was my friendship with Katerina Koukiotis which got me to cross over. I had met her because I very much admired her portraiture work, and as she is a fantasy artist too, I guess it gave me the courage to try.

What are Tubes? And what is PSP Tubes Stop?
The best way to describe tubes are to make reference to paper scrapbooking… you cut images out of magazines, pictures whatever and stick them in a book. Tubes are digital “cut outs”… we take an image and remove the background, so that it can be used in another setting. Some people have been doing digital scrapbooking for many years now and it is amazing what they create.

The PSP Tube Stop is a website that I created to sell the tubes of fellow fantasy artists. I started to create my own tubes when I was licensed with another company and when they closed, I wanted to continue as it was something that I enjoyed doing. It’s very satisfying to take an existing work of art and create a way for others to interpret it in their way.

I also wanted to create a licensing company which caters for the artist. Knowing what it is like to be on the artist’s side, I try to create the environment that I would have liked to have had when I licensed my work.

How do you coordinate all those artists?
I have a background as a programmer, and have created a website and database that helps a lot with the co-ordination.

Do you realize that you do organize a lot of things for the artists and you give back to the community a lot? What motivates you?
I try to give back as much as I can. This community has given me so much so I feel like I owe it. When I first met with the fantasy artists that I know, I was suffering from depression, had no work and no hope for my professional future. Fantasy Art and the artistic community have given me my pride and my health back.

All art (c) Lisa Cree.

One thing that motivates me is the tremendous amount of talent and work that I see and the relative lack of opportunity there is to show it, to get it seen. I say relative, because we are living in a digital age, people are always on facebook, in forums, google… connected to something somewhere and there are many opportunities to get seen and to market artworks and yet there are only a select few who manage to get seen regularly and make a decent living. Eventually I would like to use my programming/web skills to help artists with this.

Where can our readers find your work?