Amica Map

Just before the holidays this past December I was commissioned by a friend to illustrate a map as a Christmas present for her father who is a fantasy author. I absolutely had a blast cleaning up his map and making it more epic. I hope it was the perfect Christmas gift.

Original map

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The revised map

(The world, its locations & names are copyright © Richard S. Tuttle.)

2014 in Review

This year has been full of travel and art making. I wanted to reflect on the progress I've made as an artist and share with you some of what I consider the highlights.

January

Traveled to Indonesia . An important and emotional trip since I had not been back to my childhood country since graduating high school in 2006.

February

Tokyo had an epic snowfall of 22 centimeters (8.6 inches), a record for Japan, and myself, as I can't recall living in a place that's had as much snow.

March - April

I began completing several memorable paintings, most notably these in order of when I painted them, along with "Ramen", the latest addition to my Siamese illustrations.

And we enjoy our first cherry blossom season in the land of the rising sun. So many beautiful blossoms on every street!

May - June - July

Anson leaves for his third deployment and I slip into painting and pole dance to cope. The longer we do this Navy thing, the longer we're parted, the more difficult it becomes to say goodbye each time.

In June I begin my second 12-week session of Noah's Art Camp. In late 2013, when this whole painting "thing" started I began with Noah's Art Camp. It set me in a direction that allowed me to study on my own and fostered a creative environment, one that led to all the paintings you've seen this year.

August - September

Anson returns home from his deployment for a short while. On September 9th we climb Mt Fuji. I am so proud of this man for being my climbing buddy, encouraging me all the way and even carrying my light load of water and snacks. The challenge of climbing 5,000ft of rough volcanic terrain in 3 hours time is an accomplishment I'm proud to claim! While it may be late this is a blog post I intend to publish!

I complete my first Indiegogo campaign in August, a cat calendar of 12 new siamese illustrations. Being my first crowd-funded project it was a challenge and I learned so much from it!

October

This month was full of preparations for two art shows, the NEX Fall Bazaar and an upcoming Design Festa. I also complete "Wise One" and "Pool of Stars".

November

Design Festa is the first weekend in November and my mother flies here to visit. She gets some wonderful shots at the show and we spend lots of time sewing here at home. To end the month I fly to Bali for my first Bali Illustration Workshop. It's hard to summarize all that I learned there but to be sure it was a huge step for me in improving as an artist.

December

Since returning I finish a little sketch "Bamboo & Tea". Anson returns from deployment, we get a GoPro and all is well in the world!

Till next year! Here's to more painting and shared explorations of the world!

A New Year, A New Look

I wanted to kick off this new year with a refreshed website. I'm always looking for ways to streamline my content, make it more visible and enjoyable to browse. I've made the leap from my previous Wordpress self-hosted platform to a Squarespace one and am loving it so far. After a year of painting I've decided that something to simplify my life was in order. This did the trick!

With this new space I'm excited to be introducing for the first time a limited selection of signed prints for sale. Many of you I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person at a show and so have never had the opportunity to sign a print for you. Now I can! Along with a signature, the prints I'm offering are of the highest quality I've found. They're printed with archival inks on wonderfully thick somerset velvet paper and will last for years and years to come. Trust me, I'm as excited about the printing as you are!

Enjoy browsing!

New Artwork - Bamboo & Tea

Just a quick post to share with you my newest piece, "Bamboo & Tea". It was sort of a quick warmup piece. After returning from my adventures in Bali (blog post on Bali coming later) I didn't want to lose my momentum gained from such an amazing experience so I jumped right into a piece from my sketchbook. There isn't much to say about it. I love linework just as much as painting sometimes.

November Events & October Wrapup

I just got back from a wonderful spontaneous trip to Guam to visit Anson. My first visit to the island and I loved it. Unfortunately it rained the days I was there. We spent a day driving around the island exploring and I could not believe how much of it resembles where I grew up in Papua (Indonesia). It is now November and I realize the month of October really flew by. It's hard to believe it's really over. But I have been looking forward to this month for quite a while now and for many reasons...

  1. It's one month closer to having my love home again. I miss my guy.
  2. My mom is visiting all the way from Florida. I hope our colder Japanese weather isn't a shock. We plan to return to one of my favorite activities with her, quilting!
  3. Design Festa is this month, November 8th and 9th. If you're in the area this is one of the last chances I will have to share my work here in Japan.Design Festa is a biannual international art event featuring any style or medium of art. And it's huge! There will be 3,300 booths this year with 11,000 exhibitors. I will be selling prints of my work so stop by my booth, C-146. Held November 8th & 9th, 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM at the Tokyo Big Sight West Hall Central
  4. In the middle of the month I'll be headed to Bali for my first Bali Illustration workshop with so many amazing artists. It's a very small workshop with only 30 students so I'm really looking forward to the one-on-one time with the instructors. I still have yet to select which 3 portfolio pieces to bring for critique. Speaking of portfolio pieces, have you seen my latest?

So much going on and I still have so much to do. Currently have several painting videos on hold, waiting for me to edit and add an audio track of some sort for you. I love sharing the process behind each of my paintings so you should see some more posts soon regarding the ones I've skipped.

NEX Fall Bazaar Setup & Calendar Prints

Tomorrow is a big day! I spent the better part of Wednesday and Thursday preparing prints, frames and extras for the NEX Fall Bazaar. Today was setup, I'm so incredibly pleased with how it looks, and tomorrow morning it begins! I realize now that I should have been mentioning the show earlier (and not the night before) but I've been swamped and really there isn't much I can do about it now. :)

If you're in the area and thinking about coming consider arriving early. I imagine a lot of the good stuff will probably be gone by Sunday afternoon and I would hate for you to miss out. Event times can be found here.

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If you've been following along on the Cat Calendar project you'll already know that they've been printed and are just waiting for next week to be shipped! I'm really happy with how they turned out. The size is perfect for over a desk or near the kitchen. You'll have to let me know where you hang yours.

A long & slow process...

...Of getting back into painting. I took a little bit of hiatus from painting to travel back to the US last month. Since returning it's taken a bit of time to get back up to speed but I'm happy to announce that I've finished not one but two paintings in the last few days. This first painting currently lacks a name and so I would love your input and thoughts. Leave your ideas here on my blog in the comments. Edit: You will (I hope) be happy to hear that I have decided to title it "Anticipation". Thank you to all of you that left suggestions on Facebook!

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Staircase3-naomi vandoren web-800

Art Camp – Week 2 & 3

The past two weeks have flown by since I started Noah's Art Camp. Here are some highlights for you. First, week two was about sketching daily so we did lots of sketchbook work. It's something I'm happy to say I've kept doing since in some form. Week three was about perspective and studying our surroundings. I'm already familiar with perspective and don't find it terribly intimidating but it was great to pick up some tips and practice more. And at the end of this post I've got a treat for you, a sneak peak at two of my paintings in progress. Enjoy!

Week 2

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Week 3

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 Work-in-Progress Paintings

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Art Camp - Week 1

This past month I've re-enrolled in Noah's Art Camp. Some of you may remember that I signed up for it last year in November. That was when I mark the beginning of this painting journey. This time around the set up is completely different with a dedicated forum for all of us to participate in discussions, critique or casual art chat. So far it is a wonderful upgrade from using Facebook. Our first week of homework was very fun and enjoyable however it began when Anson departed so balancing homework and staying distracted and sane is a bit difficult. Here's what I published to my sketchbook on tumblr with a bit of commentary. I hope that you find this interesting.

This first set of drawings are abstract shape studies. The original painting is left, center is the line work and filled in, and last just the line work. For all of these I worked upside-down.

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Abstract-Shapes1-Naomi-VanDoren
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Next is a cast study drawing by Charle Bargue. I would love to do an actual cast drawing someday but they're quite expensive.

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Master study drawings. I skipped ahead on the painting "A Maiden in Contemplation" because I felt like it was too simple. I may do more of these as I think there is a lot to learn by drawing a painting or drawing a master drawing. For all of these I rely on a few guide lines to assist in accuracy. I like to guess at the placement of the lines and then double check. I also work with rather straight lines first. Rather than attempting a curve I break it down into a few straight angles that I then round out.

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Sea Lilly - Digital Painting

In my continued pursuit of improving my figure drawing I decided to paint a full figure in my latest painting. To add to the challenge she isn't exactly human but a mermaid.

While my original idea included the bottom of a boat for scale I was able to achieve it without one.

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With the help of some feedback from you on facebook I was able to select the color I went with. If you want to be apart of my creation process next time be sure to add my page to your notifications (under "like", "get notifications"). And here are the results! I spent about a week and a half working on and off with this one which is much longer than I usually do. I've been sort of stuck as of late and this just happened to be the painting that I was working on at the time. I will be posting separately the timelapse video for this one. Stay tuned!

 

Hansel & Gretel - Digital Painting

Thumbnails

For the last week I've been working on a painting for ImagineFx's monthly contest, this month themed "fairy tales". (Entries close on the 30th where finished pieces will then be voted on and can be found here on ImagineFx's forums.) With your help via Facebook I have a nice list of stories to pick from and ended up deciding on Hansel & Gretel. I picked their tale because it was very recognizable once simplified into a single painted scene and didn't require an explanation with it. Using your suggestions as topics I see this piece as a starting point for more fairy tale paintings.

Color Thumbnails

As always I started off with some messy thumbnails. I'm finding that I'm not so afraid to make bad art when they're small and very little time has been invested in them. I just think with the brush initially and work out the details down the road.

Indonesia Travel Tips

January 26th, 2014 Today is our last day in Bali before headed back to Japan, and we're trying hard not to think about the fact that our vacation is almost over. We were up pretty late last night chatting about anything and everything, so we slept in some this morning. We ate our first breakfast outside the hotel (the buffet breakfast here was included in the price, so we made good use of it), and chose a pancake place here in Kuta called Flapjaks. Naomi had bananas foster waffles, and I had barbecue chicken pancakes. Both very tasty, and quite affordable.

We did some shopping at one of the open-air markets near the beach here, and Naomi wrapped up her shopping list for Indonesia with some batik fabric, a woven table cloth, and a few more pairs of "happy pants", both for herself and as gifts for some friends.

Now we're back in our room, enjoying the sound of the fountain, the warmth of a shady courtyard, and the creativity that seems to happen so easily here. Not much else in the way of plans today, except possibly some more market browsing for anything that catches the eye, and also a planned meet-up with a friend of Naomi's from high school that works at a hotel here in Bali.

Since there's not much more narrative for today, and since this is, in fact, a travel blog, I'll include some travel tips for Indonesia that we learned over the last two weeks.

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1. Tourist visa: travelers from many countries are eligible for a visa-on-arrival (VOA), which is some cases (such as ours) can be purchased at the ticket counter of the departing airport. The cost was $25 each in cash, and was quick and easy. On the plane over we filled out our customs declaration card and immigration papers (less than 10 minutes), and we were all set when we arrived in Jakarta. The visa is good for 30 days, and renewable for another 30 with a couple days of paperwork at a local immigration office. There are fines and possible jail time for overstaying your visa, so if you want to extend, make sure you do it early to avoid any hassles.

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2a. Transportation in Sentani: this was somewhat limited, unless you know people. We ended up renting a Kijang (small SUV) from the guest house we stayed at for two days, and borrowed a friend's motorcycle for another two. There were car rental places in town, but we never checked for rates or what type of vehicles were available. In town, there are just heaps of taxis for getting from one side to the other, and very cheap. The fare is 3,000 rupiah (about $0.30), and to get one just look for a white mini-bus and wave at them from the side of the road. They'll stop, and you tell them where you want to get off. Pay at the end. Tipping is optional and not at all expected. Another possibility if you want to go somewhere off the main road is an ojek, or motorbike taxi. You'll see these guys standing around their bikes at many intersections. Tell them where you want to go, climb on the back seat, and away you go. Ask for the fare upfront, and pay when you get off.

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2b. Transportation in Bali: you have a few different options here. There's the Bali Taksi company, in nice-looking blue cars, that will drive you around town for a modest price ($5 from the airport to our hotel). It's not the cheapest form of transportation, but it is pretty easy. They cruise around downtown Kuta and honk at tourists to get their attention. Just make eye contact or wave, and they'll stop on the side to pick you up. Most speak pretty good English and are very familiar with all the usual places tourists want to go. Another option is to hire a driver for a day. I don't have any specific recommendations here, but your hotel staff will be able to set you up with one. They typically run between $50 and $60 for the entire day, and will be at your disposal. This is better for longer trips out of town when you don't want the hassel of driving and navigating yourself, or you plan on doing a lot of shopping and want to make sure you have space to carry it all. You can also rent a car and do  your own driving, but I don't have specifics on the price for that. I'd guess somewhere in the $20 to $30 a day range. The option we chose here in Bali was to rent motorbikes, and I'd have to say this is by far the funnest way to see Bali, if you're comfortable driving, don't mind getting lost, are able to cope with crazy traffic, and like stopping often to see the sights, take pictures, or browse the many shops and markets.Again, there's places all over Kuta renting bikes, and you'll see the signs out everywhere. We paid 70,000 rupiah (about $6) per day for ours. You technically need an international driver's license, but we weren'tasked about it, and I'm told that a valid license from most other countries will suffice even if you're pulled over for something. We paid up front for ours, didn't have to leave a deposit or our passport or anything (although I've heard some places ask for that), and had a great experience with it. Be warned, however, that the gas tank will likely be absolutely empty when you get it. Make sure to buy some gas from a local shopkeeper before you try going too far. Unless you're lucky enough to find an actual gas station, you'll be buying it out of one-liter alcohol bottles for around 7,000 rupiah a liter. Even on our back-road trip to Ubud, we saw these places everywhere, so don't worry too much about running out of gas. They're easy to spot since the bottles are lined up out front of the store on a wooden rack. No English required to purchase. Just point and use your fingers to show how many you want.

3. Food: especially in Bali, there are simply a million places to eat at. Don't get stuck eating just at your hotel. Go out and try new places. Your options range from Irish pubs to Indian restaurants to pizza joints, to Japanese ramen, to traditional Indonesian foodwrapped in a banana leaf and newspaper for take-out. Be adventurous, explore, and remember that just about everything here is absolutely delicious. If you find you don't like what you're eating, it was probably so cheap that you can just move on to another place and find something that suits you better. Local favorites are "nasi goreng" (fried rice, often with a fried egg on top and some sides), "mie goreng" (fried noodles with chicken or beef, also with a fried egg), "pisang goreng" (deep fried bananas, often found at little road-side food stands or being sold off the back of a motorbike), "rendang" (slow cooked beef in a coconut stew served over rice with spicy "sambal") and "soto ayam" (mildly spicy chicken and glass-noodle soup). Most menus are either in English, or are bi-lingual, especially around tourist areas like Kuta and Ubud. If you're not sure what something is, just ask. There's almost certainly at least one person who speaksEnglish that can help you out.

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4. Shopping: there's a whole range of shopping places in Bali, from Polo and Chanel to little off-street shops (tokos) and open-air markets. In the smaller places, haggling is OK, but the prices are usually so cheap that you might feel bad trying to get it even lower. You'll typically get great deals if you buy more than one item from a shop, as they like to offer "special price" if you show an interest in multiple items. We found Ubud to be more expensive that Kuta, with a very similar selection of items. If you're looking for something a bit different than what's offered, and have the time, ask if they can make exactly what you want. Most people are very helpful and will do a lot to make a sale. For more specialty items, ask around at your hotel or in any shop, and you'll probably be pointed in the right direction.

There's a lot more I could share, but this is already getting long, and half the fun is exploring for yourself. If you're at all hesitant about vacationing or visiting here, just remember that very, very many people speak at least some English, are super friendly and helpful, and will go out of their way to make your stay pleasant. Remember to return the favor with smiles, tips (when appropriate), and spending a few extra minutes to chat with those who help you out. Many people want to practice their English with a native speaker, and if you're willing to engage with them, you'll have a great time and enrich your understanding of this beautiful country and its people.

If you have any specific questions, leave them in a comment and we'll do our best to answer from our experience here.

Read about our trip!

Forest Queen - Digital Painting

I’m preparing yet again for another event this weekend, April 12-13th. In preparation I’ve been madly working on new artwork for you. My newest is this one, “Forest Queen”.

As always I started from a black-n-white thumbnail, though this time I didn’t create a batch like I usually do but quickly decided on the composition and moved into adding color. Noah’s Art Camp has gotten me into that wonderful habit. The color pallet was inspired my some of Eyvind Earle’s work.

Early thumbnails

Kilgogh Art Exhibition & "Humble Beginnings", a New Digital Painting

 

This past weekend I had the pleasure of participating in Kilgogh, an art exhibition & wine tasting event on Friday followed by an all day festival Saturday. The event takes place in my in-laws small town of Kilgore, Texas. This is the second year it has been held and the first year that they have also had the Saturday festival. For the exhibition each artist was asked to submit a new piece of artwork with the theme of “Expressions of Kilgore”, to be interpreted by each however one would like. The submitted artwork would then be judged and auctioned off, the proceeds going towards the town and the restoration of some beautiful historic theaters. If you’re curious about the town here is a bit of background on it and lots of images to place yourself there.

I was asked by the Kilgore News Herald (link to their photos of the events) to write up how I create my art and so I’ve included my process for you to read here as well.

In preparation for the event I began painting a new painting, now titled “Humble Beginnings”. Like most of my paintings I begin with a word list, or free association list, jotting down ideas as they come. Words like “oil derricks”, “city of stars” and “historic” were only a few of the dozens that came to mind. Having captured Kilgore in photographs and visited several times I already had a feel for what I wanted to create.

Once I’ve immersed myself in word ideas I move on to thumbnailing, the fun part. Working in Photoshop I start in back & white and convert all of my ideas into mini paintings. The point is to get out as many of those ideas as possible and in as much variety. You can’t go wrong here and so I don’t hold back. Here are some examples of my thumbnails.

Anson’s mom was here at the time I began working. We spent several relaxing days together while Anson was at work, me painting while she read and caught up on many emails. With her help I was able to choose a thumbnail. Once chosen I still like to work very small. Sometimes this may mean working with a small file or with a larger one but zoomed out. This keeps me focused on the larger picture without getting in to the details too quickly. I add color to my mini painting and proceed from there.

The process of painting just happens as most of the work has already been done in creating the thumbnail. I build up the image gradually, starting with very big brush strokes and working equally all over the canvas. Brush strokes fall in place a lot like they would with real paints and I often mix paints on the canvas for that same effect. As I mentioned before I use Photoshop and an Intuos 5 tablet to paint. Painting digitally has just come naturally. In high school I began experimenting in Photoshop, manipulating and combining images to create realistic works of art and gradually became more interested in illustrations and painting as well. As recent as last year I’ve taken up painting full time and more seriously.

Once finished and printed here in Japan it was brought back with Anson’s mom. She carried it back along with several dozen other prints for the show. There she framed it and had it submitted.

My sister-in-laws Aimee & Mariah represented me there for both days. They did such a wonderful job of setting up and selling. I found out that I had been chosen for best in show while on the train up to Tokyo for a show here the same day. Quite the busy day and a great way to start it too!

Reunion at the Gates of Heaven - Digital Painting

Late last night I finished what was then an untitled painting. I’m so pleased with it. It’s not because I think it’s amazing or something crazy like that (I do enjoy looking at my work) but because in it I can see tangible results from the time I’ve put towards painting in the last 6 months or so. I’m improving, sometimes slowly and others fast. I look at this piece and can say, “yes, I’m getting better at this.” and that is satisfying.

I hope you enjoy viewing this as much as I enjoyed painting it. On to thumbnailing my next painting!

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Reunion at the Gates of Heaven  |  Print