Shamrock Faeries: Experimenting with different techniques

13 03 2012

One of the things that I always feel I need to improve is values. Not only I think this but it has been brought to my attention by numerous great artists that I consider my mentors in a way, as Chris Malidore or Karyn Lewis Bonfiglio, and each time they mention it I have to agree completely with them. This it not to say that I don’t feel I have improved much over the years, I have been putting a lot of work into it and I think it shows if you compare my work when I just got started showing my work around the interwebz.

Many great artists, as Henning Ludvigsen work with a technique that involves first working the image in grayscale and solve the values in that phase, and then lay color on top of it. This way the image is strong first and then you can worry about color once you have no worries about the foundation of values, which is what basically makes a good painting. I have seen this technique used over and again and I have tried it a few times unsuccessfully. Somehow the idea of repainting the whole thing in color once you had painted it in grayscale eluded me, how would this be logical at all? How do you keep the underlying values?

As many times happens to me I finally got it by looking at tutorials for the umpteenth time and I realized that you do not cover what has already been painted completely. You use the transparent layers that Photoshop lets you use for you to keep the values below. I wish I remembered who made the tut that made me understand this, I remember she used the base values layer, then an overlay layer for defining light sources and general mood, and then a multiply layer to finish up details with a normal layer. So I decided to try my hand at it doing a Saint Patrick’s themed image.

The thing is that I get terribly bored doing this. What I actually love is the process of painting, and while I have to give you that the values of this little piece are rather good for me, the process itself was rather painful and totally not worth it. By the time I was done sort of refining the base layer I was so ready to be done with it! I kept working with the following transparent layers on top but my heart was not in it anymore, as you can tell. I guess that I will have to keep using the Saturation layer to check the values every once in a while when I paint straight in color, which is what I really enjoy doing, because if I cannot enjoy it, what is the point?

Have you tried this technique before? Is there anything I am missing?

Tattoos and current progress.

11 07 2009

Hi there people!

God Nouveau

God Nouveau (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

I have been working almost exclusively in a couple of tattoos this last week. They were commissioned and had one of my favourite themes, which is the pagan gods. It was very rewarding to work on them, and my client was wonderful, she knew very well what she wanted and gave me very clear instructions, but at the same time she trusted my artistic ideas to bring her vision to life. I am very excited for her, these will be her first tattoos, and I really hope the tattoo shop does an excellent job on her.


Goddess Nouveau (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

Since I have designed a few tattoos I decided to open a new page in my blog dedicated to them so you can see them all together. Some of them are freebies, some of them are not, so please, make sure that if you want any of them on you they have not been commissioned by someone else. I am open for tattoo commissions, so if you would like me to work with you on designing one just contact me at faerywitchart(at)

In the meanwhile I have been working on a couple of pieces, one that is finished and uploaded to my gallery, the goddess Criede who was created for a contest on Addictive Hobby with theme Scottish Myths. Criede is the goddess of women and faeries, and it was an excuse to paint yet another celtic knot. I love knots and I really would like to learn to make them without having to rely so heavily on existent references, so I need to practice 😉

WIP (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

WIP (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus

On the other hand I am working on a piece that I’ve been toying with for many months (over a year?) and that has been evolving nicely.  The objective in this piece is composition aided with color, so I found some inspiration in the wonderful Cris Malidore who really know how to use complimentary colors to make the images pop. I hope I can achieve at least half of what he does 🙂

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!