Personal Challenge: Complementary palette.

22 10 2012

My return to drawing is marked by a piece drawn for the Enchanted Visions‘ October theme: Spooky Eyes. This is the first piece I made for the deadline, yay! 😀

I wanted to keep exploring my Personal Challenge list, and having recently seen a post by Dan dos Santos, and having always been very inspired by the great palettes that Chris Malidore uses, I decided to go for a complementary color scheme. I have to admit that blue/orange is a duo that works really well, and though it’s been overdone, since the theme was centered around eyes and I am mostly into real flesh colored beings, I went for it.

Spooky Eyes (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2012

For this project I wanted the eyes to pop a lot, so I used not only the complementary blue to all that orange in the skin and hair, but I also played with the lightness and saturation to make the eyes the focal point, by using a very light blue for the eyes and darker, less saturated oranges for the rest of the image, it is easy to focus on the eyes. One more thing I tried to play with in this image was to use a more textured skin, I’ve been trying to improve my skin tones, which I think I am doing (though there is a long way to go still!) but so fat I’ve never really been happy with the textures of my skin. This time it looks a little better. I think there is a lot to improve and I hope to some day find the delicate balance between subtlety and texture. As my first try with this technique, I guess I’ll have to settle in order not to neglect my other projects.

I might actually revisit the complementary colors topic. I actually envisioned something more eye catching like this, but Chris’s mastery of values is far beyond mine for right now 😉

So, how my list is looking like?

Limited (Circe)
Complementary (Spooky Eyes)
Secondary (Enchanted Visions)
Split complementary

Big group of people
one point perspective
two points perspective

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).

Pittsburgh’s Confluence

28 07 2010

Last weekend I went to Pittsburgh’s Confluence, a sci-fi, fantasy and horror convention. The setting was a hotel near the airport and it was a small but nice venue. It is not flashy at all but the organization seemed to me to be very clean and sleek, which is a plus.

double-tree hotel sculpture (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

I visited the dealer’s room, where you can find books and books and more books for the most part *By the way I found just by chance a wonderful book about oriental art that I promptly bought as a reference source. It was so cheap too!* The tables are $150 for the whole weekend and since there is not a lot of room for the dealers you should put your application a year in advance! Besides books they had some CD’s, jewelry, a few crafts and more books. I seriously did not see people buying much, maybe because at that time they had panels going on, though.

On the other hand they have the art show. In the art show they had all kinds of things, arts and crafts, from excellent quality to badly rendered poser dolls, but for the most part the quality was good. The show if free and agenting is allowed (artists friends *hint hint*!), there is no fee for art that is for sale and there is a $2 for art that is not for sale, the conventions keeps a commission of what is sold. If a certain piece has more than one bid during the art show it later goes to an auction on Sunday afternoon.

I did not have much time to spend at Confluence, mainly because life keeps going and I had laundry evening and had to get the house ready since I have guests coming over soon. But they do have really good guests and great speakers. I went to see only one talk about storytelling and I was all fired up wanting to go back to college and take some literature classes! 🙂

I think next year I will give the art show a try. The accept originals, limited edition prints and embellished prints (signed), so I think I’ll give it a go, especially since there is no loss if I don’t sell anything. My biggest criticism to the organization is that I have been trying to contact them for several months (I think since January) and I had to get myself to the convention to actually talk to somebody and get some answers.

Monster Bash 2010

29 06 2010

Busy weekend! As I mentioned before the weekend of 24-27 was quite busy convention-wise  and on Saturday we headed to Monster bash (I skipped one event in Ohio because I was exhausted by Sunday and I wanted no more!).

Monster Bash takes place in Butler, in the Days Inn on route 8. The interest of this convention is exclusively horror, with a special emphasis on old-vintage horror movies. It is the perfect place to find an old and hard to find movie from the ’20s or your unique collectible figurines and meet stars of classic horror films.

Monster Bash 2010-One of the several vendors rooms. (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

The vendors take over most of the ground floor of the hotel, spread between convention rooms, lobby and dining room. There is a room in which they carry talks and show movies, there is a bar/pub in the hotel that you can go to (win!) but it was so cold!! (Boo!), and there is a little food stand that has a small variety of breakfast, lunch and snacks food. The environment is most definitely familiar, very friendly and pleasant, with people in normal every day clothes having fun reminiscing about old movies, talking to scream queens and waiting to get into the small theater room.

Is Monster Bash right for me? Not at all. Its niche is very well defined and it is narrow: Horror, with emphasis on old horror films. No fantasy in itself at all. Is Monster Bash right for you? Maybe so, if you have a good horror stock. Be warned, though, that there is no artist alley and vendors have to pay $200 to get in. But if you are an artist you might do very well, since I saw very few artists and only one good one.

Things I loved: They pass cereal and milk around in the morning during the first movie. They have a huge cake that they share in the afternoon. They have a priest coming over on Sunday morning (a horror fan himself) to give mass, and it is open to all denominations. They have movies outside at night drive-in style. Bewbies!!! horror-girls show their cleavage! All this makes for a great and fun environment.

Things that could be improved: MOAR room! I understand that the con has been gathering in the same place for a long time and they have a relationship with the hotel but frankly there are more people who can be accommodated comfortably, especially in the theater room. We had to leave without watching the War of the Worlds because there was such a lot of people that we couldn’t fit in the room. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to separate the talks from the movies instead of having them all in the same room. If there were a couple of things offered at the same time, maybe the crowd would take care of itself and the space problem would be solved.

And just because it is fun, take a look at the trailer they made!

Keep motivated! Short term goals.

4 05 2009

My husband and I are both Ph.D.’s in biology, so we know a lot about long term goals and long term commitment. However, those 5-6 years goals were very well defined in our life and made it easy to focus: I need to pass this test, I need and A in this class, I need to learn this technique, I need to have this experiment done by next month, I need to defend the thesis in April. Now we have both graduated and we were talking about the lack of directionality that comes with the freedom of just going to work. He confessed to me that he needs short term goals to feel that he is going somewhere.

I agree. I am the same. While I am happy not to have to stress out about thesis deadlines, in art I set some short term

Coyrighted image. All rights belong to Constanza Ehrenhaus.

Copyrighted image. All rights belong to Constanza Ehrenhaus.

goals to achieve what I want and get myself motivated. I find that saying “I need to improve composition” is not enough for me to really focus on studying composition. Now saying “My next image will have a focal point following the rule of thirds” makes it easier for me to get it done.

I also find that I can keep myself more motivated to finish a piece when I have a deadline. Challenges and competitions are really good for that. Often times I take part in challenges that I know I have no chance of winning, just because knowing that I have to have the image done for a certain date will not allow me to get side tracked. And as much as I like to draw to myself, I think I get the better results with those kind of works in which I am a little restricted by topic and I have to push myself to get the work done on time.

For example, take the image above. This image was created for a contest on Addictive Hobby called Monsters and Nightmares. My objectives for this piece were to work on folds, improve storytelling and not having the main character dead center in the canvas. I think that it came up pretty good and it gave my art a push in the right direction.

Now I am working on a commissioned piece. My objectives are to work with the rule of thirds, improve values (Thank you Karyn!) and work out perspective with a full background. For my next piece values and a nice character design will be involved.

What keeps you motivated and how do you set up your goals? If you have any tips that you would like to share, I listen.

Bringing the Muse back home.

10 04 2009

Last month was a bad one for my art. Real life took over and it overwhelmed the Muse, which just left me. So there was no art done. Doodles yes, but nothing really serious was started nor finished. Until now.

succubus-copy2-web1I decided that if I wanted my muse back I needed to actively bring her, so I embarked in a series of projects all at once! On one hand I am working on a piece for the contest Monsters and Nightmares over Addictive Hobby the good news are that they have extended the deadline so I can push really hard and get mine done. It is still in process, but if you have comments and critiques, please tell me.

The other thing I got into is this super fun group project for the Character of the Week challenge at Concept Art. I am working with Meredith Dillman, Karyn Lewis and Mythmaker. We are currently defining the characters that we have to illustrate (6 in total) and expanding the briefs that we were given. Soon we will start sketching and painting. And I will post more when we have something that we can show.

One more thing I’m working on is on illustrating a tale for Dargonzine. I am really thrilled about this, since it will require me to puch myself to develop new skills.

And as a silly side story, when I told my husband, all sad, that my muse had left me he looked less than pleased and asked me “And who is your muse!?” to which I could only laugh and explain him that in my case it is not a flesh and bone human being.

And before I go, let me remind you that Amazing Events #003 has been released, it features my art and art by many other talented artist. Also, I am listening to Nijna Mountain podcasts, which are a fun way of learning about the professional environment and challenges in art, go listen to one, you will get hooked!