Children portraits

18 10 2013

I’ve never been a fan of just portraits, I like art that has a twist to it, a bit of fantasy, a lot of beauty… but I have to admit that I am working on portraits at the moment, and I am enjoying myself so much!
It all started when I was thinking of what to give my mom for mother’s day (in Argentina we celebrate it in October) and since it is usually a struggle to find her a present followed by a fight (you needn’t buy anything, don’t spend money…! etc.) I thought that giving her a portrait of her grandsons would be a better idea than buying her something. I am not very confident in my realism skills, especially working traditional, so I went for something a little unusual, a bit modern. I liked them so much that I made a set for my mother in law, and then an idea started to form in my head.

Portraits of my boys that I made for my mother.

Portraits of my boys that I made for my mother (I really need to learn to photograph art).

I actually had missed doing traditional art, and here I was working on paper, with a brush, with pigment (for me traditional art is a sensuous experience), actually relaxing while working; and I thought that every mom should have a portrait of her children if she so wants. I worked out a fast and easy technique so I could offer this kind of art for a very affordable fee in my neighbourhood (anybody that saves me the stress of shipping art gets a discounted rate from me!), suggesting it to be purchased as a present for grandparents who say that they have it all already, and it was a hit. A lot of moms asked for portraits, some of them multiple copies to give to grandparents and keep one for themselves, one of them even left a special empty spot in a photo wall she was making to hang her son’s portrait! They started thanking me for providing “such a great service”! I have very few times felt so loved as an artist as in the last two weeks.

This is being a great experience for me as an artist, I love sitting with my tools, drawing, painting, and thinking that one happy mother is waiting for a portrait of her child that I will have the honor to paint.

I still have slots for these to be ready for Christmas, so if you are thinking of commissioning one, please drop me a line, I will be happy to talk with you about it.


18 09 2013

My dad was visiting one day and we were talking about not much really when the topic of Tchaikovsky came up, and how he was dislike by his colleagues. We are all big fans in my family, I am not in love with his ballet pieces, but I am with his concerts. We were talking about the Violin Concerto, which is my mom’s favourite, and he said something like “He was not liked because that it is his only concert!” to what I immediately replied “No, dad, he did write other concerts, I have a beautiful rendition of his Piano Concerto!”. He then said (and I don’t know if this is a true fact) “Well, but you know…. That is the only one that he composed out of inspiration, the others were commissions”. I chuckled and answered “You have no idea how inspired I feel when I have a big pay check in my bank account.” He smiled “Yeah, me too”.

Sadly, there is a pervasive idea that the artist is only happy and truly a creative genius when is doing personal pieces, when there is no money involved, as if the Muse was prostituted to the client for money. I think I have written about this before, but nobody can deny the creative and technical genius of Michael Angelo and Leonardo however they too were paid to make some of their most memorable pieces. Not wanting to compare myself with any of the masters, I do find inspiration not so much in the money that I am being paid but in the challenge of bringing to realization the idea of the client, getting involved in the conversation that takes part when I am trying to get into their minds and be their hands to create a unique piece. Actually, I could say that some of my best pieces have been commissions. And while the payment does not necessarily inspire me in itself, it gives me the drive I need to keep going until completion instead of abandoning the work because I have another great idea, because I have n agreement to honor. I guess the money helps the over inspired artist to keep focused.

A nice outcome

20 08 2013

How many times do we get an email saying “I love this piece, can I use it for *insert reason here*”. I got one of such emails last year around December, and like many times before I rolled my eyes, most especially because it was for promotional and or commercial purposes. I have the habit, however, of not leaving unanswered emails and of incessantly try to educate people, I assume most people are not trying to take advantage of the artist but are under the wrong impression that we will work for free because ah, la boheme! This idea is spread by the popular culture and, sadly, many artists themselves…. As if accepting money was prostitution.

So I promptly and politely explained that art is my livelihood, and having to care for two children I really can’t afford not charging for it. But if they wanted they could commission me to work for them. I was surprised when a mail did follow up, very honestly expressing their disappointment at not being allowed to use the Crow Triskele for free but willing to hear about me working for them. Soon we were going back and forth about possible ideas but there was a lack of enthusiasm from their part, they really loved the original piece as it was.


A much better and professional looking image for them.

After a few emails and a good night sleep it finally occurred to me that if they liked the piece as it was then I could refine it, since the original was little more than an advanced draft and very old. My main concern was that the piece they liked is one I offer as a tattoo for free and it is my most popular piece, which brings me business, therefore I was reluctant to let it go. So we decided that I was going to rework the piece to refine it, and that we were going to share commercial rights while I still could continue to offer it as a free tattoo.

Lessons learned :

Do not disregard possible commercial opportunities. While most of the times these kind of mails lead to nothing, this one time not only I got a commission out of it but also I got to forge a positive and amiable relationship with my client.

Be honest but polite. Explain art is your income, people can understand that. Keep the sarcasm to yourself, it is not professional.  Expect honesty in return and respect it, this is a possible client, respect is fundamental in your relationship.

Be willing to find a creative solution to keep both parties happy. You might find out that a little thinking can solve a conflict where a flat “I’m sorry, but no” seems the only answer at the beginning.

Remember that a happy client is a returning costumer and can refer you to others, do your best to offer the best quality possible.

So busy!

13 08 2013

I keep thinking I want to post about my ongoing projects, however I not only am busy working on those projects and therefore not having time to blog about them, but since they are in progress I cannot show them yet. Nevertheless keep finding myself wanting to share with you guys the stuff I am working on! I want to show you all so much!

I guess I could blog about some past projects, I do have one I want to tell you about, which has been finished soon before Santiago was born and I found it to be a great learning experience from a business point of view, but I guess I will have to wait a bit to tell you about it, since I need to go work on my newest project which is wedding stationery… who would have thought I was going to do anything like that! So off I am now to try to learn about that kind of design…. see you all later!


Old sketch, but fits the wedding theme 🙂

What is up to in my art life right now.

16 10 2012

… Or, what direction I am taking.

I actually think about this quite a bit, where am I going with my art and what I am doing to be where I want to be in the future?

I came to US in 2003 as a grad student and my contract with the Immigration Service was that I was not allowed to work except for the university. I wanted to get my art career started but I really did not want to get in trouble, so I waited until I graduated in 2008 to start doing art commercially. In the mean time, I just tried to learn as much as possible. In May 2008 I graduated and soon after that I started looking for commissions, at the beginning they were small, and even when I knew it is not the best to sell your work for cheap I did not feel I had the level I needed to charge what my friends were charging. This has changed over the years as I am more confident in my skills and I actually have improved a lot.  For a couple of years things worked out really nice, and I was happy to see an increase in pricing and costumer traffic, I did not need to be so active searching for the commissions, because people were actually coming to me! Which left me more time for the artwork itself.

My main job right now. This image was created for the Fortnight challenge at the Sweet Sketch Club:

But then in May 2011 I had my first child, and I decided to be a stay at home mom. Let me make the distinction between “work at home mom” and “stay at home mom”. I have made my main job to take care of and educate my boy, which means that everything else is secondary, this has put art in the back burner. Now, it does not mean that I am not doing art anymore, it means that it has turned into a “When the baby is sleeping or playing alone” deal, which makes time for art much more limited.

I still am open for commissions, but I only consider those that I can do with a relaxed time frame, and I am not actively looking for them. I do not commit myself to tight deadlines because I don’t know if I can reach them and I consider professionalism a very high priority in my work. In the mean time I am doing what I did almost ten years ago: learn as much as I can. I learn different now, I work different now, and I am trying to experiment a lot with my work, aiming for specific goals in palette and compositions.

Also, my priority right now is to keep a strong presence in the art world and even increase it as much as possible. I am working on this blog, started an art Facebook page, I am participating in a couple of collective blogs, and I am licensing my work to PSP Tubes Stop, and hopefully soon another company. Except this blog, all this started this year, as I decided that if I am not going to be doing commissions I better do something to keep mine and other people’s mind engaged with my work. I think the worse you can do in this highly networking era is just to vanish.

February next year everything may change, since a new baby will arrive to our lives, but I will reevaluate then what to do and how to face it. For right now, I am going to keep up at solidifying my work as much as possible.

Art, nudity and children

4 06 2012

I am not a prude, I never was and I doubt’ I’ll ever be. Though most of the ladies in my work are dressed, I do from time to time work on a nude, which is normally artistic and non sexual… I really am not into sexual art, though my mom says my art is very erotic.

However, when I was working on my last project “The Most Beautiful Rose”, a nude portrait of the delightful Roser Portella, and I had my little one year old sitting on my lap I had to stop for a moment and ask myself “Do I want him to grow surrounded by nudity?” Especially in this society in which nudity is synonym of porn, or “explicit sex” as I read in some news not too long ago. What kind of consequence would it bring to have a little kid seeing artistic nudity?

See, the thing is that I was raised by two Catholic parents, very traditional and modest. And I grew up with full access to my parent’s library which was well stocked with art books, many of them containing nudity. In our home, artistic nudity was not only something that was OK, it was something to be admired. I remember my mom talking about Michael Angelo’s David, talking in awe about the detail in the arms, the veins, the tension that you could see in the muscles along his limbs. I remember looking at Dali’s Leda, the swan and Gala about to embrace, her skin looking white as marble. I studied over and again Botticelli Birth of Venus, always wondering why her toes were not up the quality of the rest of her body, and kind of laughing at the mild (and sometimes not so mild) cellulite you would find in the Renaissance bodies.

And through seeing nudity as something beautiful we grew to appreciate our own bodies. We learned to respect our own bodies. Nudity was not seen as sexual by me growing up. Nudity could be just a way to appreciate creation, God’s work, nature, whatever you want to call it. Neither my sister or I grew to be sluts, or sexually messed up, or too prude to see our own naked reflection.We are two healthy adult women, and in my case, though my mom was (surprisingly) shocked the first time I drew nipples when I was about 14 (“Oh, how not appropriate for a Catholic school girl!”), I learned to appreciate the human body as a work of art, and I enjoy to draw it and take up the challenge of transmitting its beauty and vitality in so imperfect of a medium as watercolors or Photoshop.

As to the question “Do I want my child to grow surrounded by nudity?” Most certainly. And I want him to learn how beautiful we are, and how there are appropriate moments for nudity and other moments that are not, and that we respect our own bodies and those of other people, and that nudity is not porn, and that you can admire someone’s body without it sexually arousing you. And I hope that he will grow up to be a well adjusted adult, appreciating the human body as much as I do.

Goddess of Earth Creation

17 04 2012

For my Goddesses of Creation project I started working on the five images at the same time, to try to keep consistency as much as possible, but as usual, I ended up focusing more on one image, less on the other, finding a direction for some images sooner than others, so I did not end up working simultaneously on them. The Earth Goddess was the second to be finished.

Landscape references

To make her more akin to the Earth, I wanted her to be solidly grounded so I did not give it a sense of dynamism or levity, also I wanted her to be pregnant, to give an idea of fullness and fertility, of lush life. This idea was received very gladly by David and Mamiko, and I must confess I also felt very connected to it since I myself was going through pregnancy. For this project I had multiple references I had shot myself on my pass by Kawai’i, the garden island, and I took advantage to study the palette of many of my photos. Because of the iron in the earth and because of the flowers natural to the island, there is a lot of red, my clients also wanted quartz crystals which were to be amber, we went with a predominantly green, amber and red composition.

Palette study.

One of the themes that kept coming once and again during our correspondence was to have a sort of supernatural light ambiance, I thought of using a halo behind her head, that can read as her being the source but also the sun rising in the distance. Having never portrayed backlight (at least successfully) I knew I needed a lot of referencing for this to work. So off I went to the web to hunt down for backlit heads, hair, fabric, skin…

Earth Goddess references, did I mention I do a lot of research for my paintings?

So once the references were gathered I started painting the landscape, suggesting the light from the center and behind the figure. The mountains slope, the plants, rocks and crystals all point toward the goddess, making this a very simple yet effective composition. I also tried to keep cohesion through the use of the little red flowers on the ground, dress and hair.

As I start refining the image and adding details, I also soften the lines, I do this by locking the pixels on the line layer and passing a round brush set to transparency (20-25%) and painting over the lines with the color adjacent in the figure. This will make the image more dynamic.

I do leave notes to myself when I am too tired to go on but I am afraid to forget what I need to do next 🙂

Then it is just a matter of detailing some more, adding the last touches and sending the file to the clients for revision.