In a digital agency of thriving, young professionals, I stood at my desk and squinted to read the tiny font on the screen in front of me. Gathering my composure to keep up with production, I copied and pasted another ticket number into a new folder, and started a new HTML file.
Oh great, another email marketing campaign rush. Are all of the necessary assets attached to the ticket? What was the campaign name again? Which template did the client want to use? God, I hope this isn’t a custom email.
Around me is chatter of the usual sort. Most people seem to be complaining about a salesperson they are working with who isn’t doing their job correctly. Other people are laughing about some kind of nostalgic reverie or inside joke which did not involve me. I’ve always felt so out of the loop when laughter consumed the space.
The place where I work is a large, open concept building with exposed beams, and low hanging day lights. The walls are bright orange, and there are couches, and a mural wall for Baltimore. There are many plasma screen T.V.s hanging on the walls streaming with news and entertainment from different channels. I feel lucky to have a job with a nice environment, but as with any job, there are drawbacks.
The drawbacks begin with the hierarchy of the organization. I have been working there for six years, and have figured out late in the game that certain people play “favorites”. I have been doing the same entry level, bitch work for the entire time I’ve been with the company. Well, the workflow has changed, and different techniques have been learned, but it is basically the same level of work. I realize that it is my fault that I have not progressed much because I seldom speak up for myself, since I am very painfully shy. As a result, my co-workers see me as the underdog, and don’t respect me as much as a newcomer. Whenever it is anyone’s birthday, my co-workers decorate that person’s desk and give them a proper celebration. I mentioned it was my birthday last year near the end of the day because no one said anything to me about it, and one person threw a streamer and said “Happy Birthday”. The same person was nice enough to bring in cupcakes for me the next day, but no one would eat any. It made me feel like I was not appreciated.
If I were to do something different to better myself in my current position it would be to assert myself more, and to stop taking things personally.
Lately, I have been fine tuning my art focus from traditional painting to more of a digital approach, using the following tools of the trade: Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and interactive canvases, such as http://www.onemotion.com/flash/sketch-paint/.
Below are a few of the sketches as well as an experimental multimedia digital collage I have been working on lately.
“Chicken Mask” digital drawing
For Valentine’s Day, a few months ago, my colleagues handed out Valentines. The one I received was a dog eye mask. I based this chicken mask off of that idea because I thought it was cute and might be fun to comp later on as a festival mask.
For a visual, here is the aftermath from Valentine’s Day 2017, just to recap and give you an idea of what kind of amazing folks I work with. Yes, we are all adults… I think.
You will see above, there is a Grumpy Cat Valentine in there. It even came with a temporary tattoo of Grumpy Cat, himself!
The following two drawings were done using references to abstract bronze sculptures.
“Shhh” digital drawing
“Man Playing Violin” digital drawing
Last but not least, is a mixed media digital collage that I had started working on a few months ago.
The image on the left is before, and the image on the right is after adding detail to the leaves, and cutting the shape of the “Free Fallin'” black background area to be scalloped like the leaves around it.
Here is what I did:
The images were taken from various search results from a Google image search for “leaves.” Each leaf I chose from the photos was isolated and set to separate layers using Photoshop. The magenta leaf with electric periwinkle lines was created by adjusting the color balance in Photoshop. I achieved a color pop effect by selecting the color and brushing it on at a semi-transparent opacity where the most profound veins in the leaf would be.
InDesign was used to set the typography (though I could have used Photoshop or Illustrator just as well). Once the desired look was achieved, I saved it as a .eps file, and exported it to Photoshop.
Finally, using the interactive sketching website listed (http://www.onemotion.com/flash/sketch-paint/), I embellished the leaves by outlining them in a hue a tint lighter than its actual color, and traced the lines in some leaves for added emphasis.
Disclaimer: Although this post might not directly show art or design work, I believe that it is relevant to include in this sketchbook blog because it shows my thought process. With art, and even more so with design, it is vastly more important to be able to communicate complex ideas visually and have a strong concept, than it is to merely show a pretty image.
Consider that everyone has a story. Try to refrain from judging someone, until you’ve heard their story. It might seem easier to use stereotypes and prejudices in order to classify someone, or to try to justify their actions solely by their cultural heritage or ethnicity. We need to remove ourselves from doing this. Race, religion, social class and culture are just variables within groups of people, not constants. While a portion of stereotypes do hold some truth, not everyone fits the script. Like I’ve said before, “it’s time to pull off the labels,” as a psych nurse once told me. Listen first, judge later (at your own discretion). Our country needs to listen to its people, and unite for the common welfare of society, instead of worrying about capital gains for big corporations, and what brands each other is wearing/using, etc. We need to encourage critical thinking and not be afraid to voice our concerns and opinions in an open, public forum, or social network.
What do you value more? Your health, sanity and home, or the expansion of big corporations, and building walls to prevent Mexicans from getting jobs in America? I think Trump needs to hear from the lower and middle class citizens. We were all immigrants once, albeit a few generations ago. Most of us want the same basic needs: food, shelter, clothing; and decent and affordable health care. Yes, there will likely be the advent of more jobs available within certain fields when big businesses expand; but what about those of us who are on a fixed income, or suffering from a disability that prevents us from obtaining a job? Or what if someone is experiencing an emergency or loss?
I think the president needs to consider government assistance and occupational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities or to those who are experiencing financial hardship. I also think student loans need to have lower interest rates. We need a better insurance policy for the country, or at least a flex savings account for emergencies and student loan forgiveness. If individuals put away emergency funds each paycheck, the government should do the same thing for its health care and educational system. After all, this is our democracy. Voting isn’t the only thing we can do to improve our situation.
Here is where I would like to share my thought process behind the works I post. This is a work in progress which will include concepts, ideas for future art and design work, as well as reflections on my current status and ideas for how to improve.
A few weeks ago, I started researching “Historical Ellicott City” for a watercolor painting I was working on for my aunt, who lives there. I later emailed or Facebook messaged a couple site owners to see if I had permission to use their photographs as inspiration for this piece, and to include their images online with credit along with my finished painting.
The following photograph from mainstreetmaryland.org served as my main point of reference for the painting:
Runner up inspiration for the clock in Ellicott City, thanks to Michael Allen:
Here are my results:
Photographed in my aunt’s house, I framed it in 16″ x 20″ frame with an 11″ x 14″ mat window:
As part of a thank you for the gift of the heartfelt painting, my aunt took me to the location where the original photograph had been taken, which I had referred to as my main inspiration. We walked into a coffee shop in downtown Ellicott City, which also had an art studio inside, and she showed one of the shop owners my work from a photo she had taken on her cell phone. The shop owner liked it and said she could see it hanging in their storefront window. I am not getting my hopes up too high though. I do enjoy seeing the reactions of others when they see my finished artwork.
Moving forward, I’ve decided to expand on the concept of architectural landscape watercolor painting in several vantage points, following my aunt’s suggestion. I might consider freelance in the near future, possibly presenting my work to more Ellicott City craft stores, galleries, etc. More to come. ☀🎨🏰
Digital painting of poinsettias, done in the Christmas spirit.
Today, I was doing some research for a painting I am going to create for my aunt. She lives in Ellicott City, and her specs were to create a “…nature type abstract for Ellicott City. Greens, greys, whites, black OR a beach theme. Whatever you do, we will love.”
As much as I loved the beach images, I felt that the city landscape, with its colonial architecture, cobblestone pathways, and beautiful gardens, provided more depth and detail. I wanted a challenge. So I delved into this iconic landscape photograph of Ellicott City’s Firehouse Museum.
Here is how my small scale (no more than 6″ x 4″) painting turned out:
Thank you for looking. I am going to work on a beach scene next, in hopes that it will help narrow down my focus for what I will end up giving my aunt. Note: This is not a Christmas present. It is more like a family appreciation or belated house-warming gift to add to their interior decor of their Ellicott City home.
November was a busy time for me with the holidays quickly approaching, and a mini vacation for Thanksgiving. During that time, I did one watercolor painting, and two digital drawings, below.