Opening reception photos are up!

Photos from the opening reception are up! Thank you to all for coming! The show is up until January 22, 2016 so you still have time to see it at the Titan Student Union of CSUFullerton! Special thanks to Dorte (my mentor), Jason Meintjes (printer), Jime (photographer) and Leah (partner) for your support and encouragement throughout this journey. 

Click here to see opening reception photos!

Prints, website re-do, etc. etc. Get it done!

Been very busy getting ready for the Dec. 5 opening to exhibit for my Norse Mythology works. I know it will all come together, but so much to do still.

I'm excited to announce that I'm getting ready to upload my newly overhauled website! The url will be the same:, but it will be MUCH better. It currently has the problem of being "frozen in time" from 6 or 7 years ago when I built it. It was not user-friendly for editing, and then the program I used to make it became obsolete several years ago. Oops.

I built the new one using Squarespace and I think it will be pretty easy to keep current. I'll also have nifty stuff like a store where people can buy prints, etc. Exciting.

Well, many other little things to take care of this week, then the fun of the show opening at CSUF's Titan Student Union Atrium Gallery 4-7pm this Saturday 12/5.

:) :)

Official Show flyer -- the show's getting closer!

I'm proud to post my official announcement for my art show featuring all this Norse mythology artwork I've been working on!
The show's going to be at my alma mater, California State University, Fullerton, where I got my MFA in Illustration way back in '02. So excited!

I'm in the home stretch now and am finishing up the final in this series, #12, which is Baldr. I spent last week finishing up Nidhoggr and am excited about how it turned out. Here's a snippet:

I plan to have a few items for sale featuring this series of artwork also -- prints, calendar, & perhaps a couple of other small things. Some of that is going to be down-to-the-wire so we'll see.

Feeling excited though. :)

Monday Blog: A little about my illustration influences

I'm continuing work on my Norse illustrations (just finished --I think-- "Loki" and am in the midst of "Nidhoggr, the great dragon"), but I thought I'd go in a different direction for my blog post this week.

Thought I would share something about my illustration influences and aesthetic. I look at a LOT of art/illustration as I'm always wanting to feed myself visually with what I'm trying to get to in my own work. I find Pinterest SUPER helpful for this. Here's a screenshot of my illustration board I keep:
It's called "Golden Age & Beyond" and I use the screen name "Nara Cilsen", in case you are interested in following it. At last count I have 518 pins of awesome illustration art that I'm into.

So I'm generally always looking at various art & illustrators and making new discoveries, but there are three "golden age" illustrators that are always in the back of my mind as my "core" influences:
N.C. Wyeth
Arthur Rackham
Maxfield Parrish

It's probably because these are the three artists that kind of blew my mind when I first started out as an art student. I suppose they set the tone for me that I've never gotten over. Some examples:
Maxfield Parrish - "Griselda"
Maxfield Parrish - "Enchanted Prince"
NC Wyeth - "The Black Arrow"
N.C. Wyeth - "Sentry"
Arthur Rackham - "Wotan furiously pursuing Brünnhilde"
Arthur Rackham - "Brünhilde with her horse"
Probably Arthur Rackham is the only influence that is apparent in my stuff. I definitely tend to go more for line and subtle color and value, more than the thick, chunky painterly sort of stuff of N.C. Wyeth. And I don't do the slick, clean, and vibrant color thing that Maxfield Parrish does. But there it is, that is what is at the back of my mind when I'm drawing and painting my stuff. I always WANT to bring in more of the thick, painterly & vibrant coloring of those artists... maybe I'll get closer to that someday :)

Monday Post: Baldr drawing + Loki in progress

"Loki" in progress...
Happy Monday and here's some of what I've got going. Currently I'm working on Loki's painting. I'm feeling a little behind on this one, but I'm excited about getting that tree to look really good :) I mentioned the story behind this image when I posted the drawing, but the quick version is that Loki is getting some mistletoe to use to kill the beloved god, Baldr.

Speaking of Baldr...

Here's my thumbnail and finished drawing for the Baldr painting:

Baldr is a son of Odin & Frigg, the brother of Thor, and is the god of light and purity. He also has the greatest ship ever built (!) called Hringhorni AND the most beautiful of all halls, Breidablik.

New painting: Nott, bringer of night

Here's a painting I finished the about a week ago of Nótt, who is night personified. I have also included the initial thumbnail drawing for the completed painting.

Nott rides across the sky bringing the night with her hair and cape made of darkness and stars. Her skin is dark, and she rides her horse, Hrímfaxi, from whose mane the dew falls. In relation to the Norse godhead, she is actually Thor's grandmother. Day is personified in her son, Dagr.

I posted the sketch for this one a while ago, so I'm glad to finally share the final version of this one. I really enjoyed the horse on this one 'cause I love cool horses!

Troubleshooting Norse gods

Today I'm posting one that I was doing some fixing up on over the weekend. This is Skadi (pronounced SKA-thee). She is actually a jötunn which is like a Norse giantess, but there's a lot of overlap with the attributes and powers of the regular Norse gods. Anyway, she is basically a goddess associated with skiing, bowhunting, winter, and mountains.

I posted the drawing of just her figure some time ago, but here's the complete drawing, as well as a snippet of the completed painting.

It's harder to tell with the cropped figure, but I was having some size issues with the original drawing because the proportions looked a little off. In Photoshop I reduced the size of the head somewhat (after I had already painted it), and lowered the right arm a little. Something I had to do a lot of little picking at to make everything go well together after changing those size areas a little. Anyway, I feel like it looks more proper now.

I've also been completing Nott, goddess that brings the night to the sky, so I'll probably post something from that next Monday.


another drawing & exhibit date announcement

So here's another one in the works. I've been looking over my stuff and trying to post things that I haven't really shown yet. I actually tweeted this one out a while ago, but I so rarely tweet (not really my thing) that I'm assuming very few saw it.

I'll start painting this one pretty soon, but I'm finishing up Nott and Skadi at the moment.

This nefarious looking character is my depiction of Loki. Here he's working on one of his more dastardly deeds, when he caused the MOST BELOVEDEST god, Baldr, to be killed.

Loki, what a jerk.

He found out that mistletoe, of all things, was the only thing in heaven & earth that no one had remembered to get to swear not to harm the beloved Baldr. Sooo, he got some mistletoe and handed it to this nice blind god, Hodr, and helped him to throw it at Baldr. Baldr was playing a fun game where everybody threw things at him which couldn't harm him because "everything" had sworn not to hurt him. Whoops. Yeah, that went bad.

In other news, here's my save-the-date for the exhibit for this Norse series:
I posted this the other day on Facebook, but just in case someone didn't see it there... Be there if you can!

More work, and Exhibit Announcement

This lil' art blog has been shockingly silent, but I'm making a commitment to get some regular Monday posts going, so here we go!

First, I now have show dates for the exhibit of my Norse mythology series -- Woo Hoo! It'll be in December and I'll post a Save-the-Date very soon.

Second, I do have several pieces of new work so I'm posting two of those pieces today.  They've been done for a little while, but I was glancing through my Facebook posts, etc. and I don't think I've posted these yet.

They are Fenrir, the monstrous wolf child of Loki, and Hrímnir, a legendary frost giant. I like showing the progression from first thumbnail image idea to completed work, so I'm including those thumbnails here for you to see:

I'm very excited about this work and definitely excited about having the exhibit for it.


Sleipnir again.

Here's the latest.  Had fun working on this one over my Thanksgiving break.  Here is Sleipnir, Odin's 8-legged horse.  I posted a different take on painting this one some months ago, but I'm much happier with this version.

I was able to enjoy gorgeous surroundings as inspiration while I worked, as I spent Thanksgiving week up in King's Canyon National Park next to Sequoia trees.  I felt like I was in Lothlorien :)

Next up, I'm back to painting on my Frost Giant drawing, previously shown.  Also never quite finished Freyja, so need to complete her painting.

I'm very much looking forward to some extended (and much needed) art work time when teaching lets up for Christmas break!

Odin and Frigg

Finished (I think) Frigg today.  Here she is putting clouds in the sky using her magical distaff.  See previous post of the unfinished version.  Same with Odin -- here's the completed version.

I think I'll be working on one of the creatures next.  I need to go back and re-work Sleipnir, since I hadn't quite settled on my style for this series back when I first painted that one.  Though I also haven't finished Freyja so that one is also on the back burner.

Anyway, I'm very happy with how these are coming out.  I feel like I'm getting better with my painting and just hope to get a-goin' on having more of them done.


In the news...

Hey, so that newspaper article for the Signal Tribune with me as the artist spotlight was put out today :D

I'm trying not to let it go to my head, but...

An unfortunate event, getting some press & Odin-in-progress

Well, hello again!  As a teacher, the new school year getting rolling has REALLY kept me busy.  I also had quite an unfortunate event kick things off -- my MacBook got stolen while I was at school on the first day of conservatory teaching :(  I did have anti-theft software installed, but I haven't been able to track it.  More importantly, I did have cloud back-up of my hard drive data through Backblaze -- yay!  So glad I had my computer files backed up.  That includes these Norse digital paintings!  I was able to set myself up again on my partner's 2011 MacBook that wasn't really getting used that much.  Phew.  A crummy thing to happen, but it could have been an even bigger disaster.

Anyway, that whole experience put a crimp in my workflow for a bit... but I feel like I'm getting back on track.  Been working on the Odin painting, as you can see above.

I also was able to get recommended through my mentor, Dorte Christjansen, for an artist profile for The Signal Tribune, a local paper!  The Signal Tribune serves the city of Signal Hill, which is very unique as it is completely contained by the larger city of Long Beach, where I reside.  The interview, including images of my work, is scheduled for the Oct. 3 edition.  Yay!

Okee doke, back to work.

I think we're getting somewhere.

Been a little absent lately -- the school year is gearing up so I'm prepping for teaching (this coming Tuesday, ahhh!), and just before that I did a bit of vacationing (got to finally see the Grand Canyon!).

Sooo, getting my groove back with my Norse series.  Perhaps the time away was just what I needed because I feel like I've made a break-through in painting my drawings.  Above you'll see a new painted version of Thor.  I really ended up going in a different direction that my initial experiment with the painting of Sleipnir.  I liked that one, but still didn't quite feel like I had really nailed it yet.  I'm feeling a lot better with this version.  Looking forward to continuing this style of coloring to the other drawings.


Still drawing too

Here's some of the latest I've been up to.  The bottom image is Frigg, Queen of Asgard, which I had posted a previous version of before.  I did a little more work on her to make her look a bit more "queenly", as well as adding the background pattern in.  She is spinning the clouds using her magical distaff.

At top is a new one, Skadi, who is the Norse goddess of hunting and skiing.  Having quite got the background worked out for that one yet...

I do hope to switch back to more painting soon, but I feel like these pesky remaining drawings are hanging over my head! :)  I still sure am having a lot of fun on them.

Starting to paint at last...

I haven't actually finished all of my 13 drawings yet, but the big ol' part II to these pictures, the painting, has been looming over my head so I went ahead and got started.  The drawings are complete (I think!) for 7 of them, so I'm taking some time to get at least a handful of them rolling with the painting aspect.  2 more of the drawings are done except for the background patterns.  That leaves 3 more drawings that are just practically a glimmer in my eye at this point :)

Argh, painting is very... challenging for me :)  Confession: I'm more comfortable with lines than with color and value.  So I am really welcoming this series so that I can get more faster and more better (yes, I know that's not grammatically correct) at painting!  Right now, because I'm at the beginning stages of painting these, I'm still figuring out some of my decisions about my style and technique that will be affecting all of them.

I am scanning my drawings at 600 dpi and painting in Photoshop CS6 if anyone is wondering :)