Frigg, Queen of Asgard


Today I was working on this drawing of Frigg, the queen of Asgard.  She's married to Odin and both of them sit at times on the high seat and look out over the universe.

Here I've drawn her spinning the clouds (one of her pastimes, using her special distaff -- a thing used for spinning wool normally).

I struggled a bit with this one, and drew a different version first that I scrapped.  No, you may not see it.  I am 100% happier with this version.

Today's drawing: an 8-Legged Challenge


Here's the drawing I was working on mainly today.  This is Sleipnir, Odin's 8-legged horse.  Fun fact, Loki is actually his mother.  From this time that he shape-shifted into the form of a mare.

I was looking forward to this drawing because I really like drawing horses.  But very challenging to try to make eight legs on a horse "look right."

Just gotta figure out the background pattern on this one...

Odin drawing


Quick update: here's the drawing I was working on today -- Odin, obvs.  He has a lot of creatures associated with him (his two wolves, his two ravens, his eight-legged horse, etc.), but I decided to just focus on his ravens that bring him all the doings of the world (gossip!).  Behind you see his fancy throne, and just a general Norse pattern in the background.  I really like the composition on this one.

:)

Draw, draw, draw





So here's an update on how my project has been going.  At this early-ish stage, I'm just working on the drawings, not the paintings yet.

It's been wonderful getting to spend such extended time at my drawing board!

I started out by revisiting the pieces that I had already done a lot of work on (see previous posts) and seeing if I could improve them.  I did the most work, I think, on changing some things for my Freyja picture (below you'll see reference photos for her hand that I took of myself), but I've also totally changed the figure on the Thor picture.  The other changes were a little more minor.

Above you'll see a photo of a new one I'm working on for the Norse goddes, Nott (Thor's grandma).  She rides along the sky to bring night to the world every day.  I'm excited to get to put a cool horse in this one.

I'm itching to do some dragons, so maybe I'll work on that creature next.  I'm still deciding if I'm going to do Nidhogg (the dragon who perpetually gnaws on the roots of the world tree), or Jormungandr a.k.a. the Midgard Serpent (the sea serpent who encircles the world)

Well, off to draw some more!

This summer is going to be THE BEST


Well, I have some exciting news that I needed to share!  I'm going to be spending the summer completely focused on my Norse Mythology series.

Normally I teach during the summer as well, working for a sort of kids art day-camp that OCSA runs that lasts 8 weeks.  I've dreamed of being able to take the summer off from teaching and just work on my art.  That dream has come true thanks to a grant I was chosen for!  The school I teach at during the normal school year, Orange Co. School of the Arts, for the first time offered two creative enrichment grants for teachers.  I was so excited to be chosen and I'm using the money to live on (since I'm technically a part-time teacher I don't get paid during the summer) so I can just be in my studio all summer.

My grant proposal outlined this Norse Mythology series that I've been working on here and there for the past year or so -- as seen in some of my previous posts.  My goal is to complete 13 finished digital paintings for this series.  This will reinvigorate my portfolio, as well as providing works for a gallery exhibit of some kind, and maybe even merchandising usage (cards, calendar, etc?)

The above photo is from my little studio set-up at my place.  I have a make-shift light table that's my drawing surface.  I start from actual drawings that will then be scanned to create digital paintings in Photoshop using my Wacom Intuos 4 tablet.

As I get rolling I am starting with honing and in some cases reworking the images I had already had going.  Then on to some of the new images.  My deadline isn't actually until January, but of course I plan to do the bulk of the work during this free & clear work time over the summer.

I'm trying to surround myself with lots of helpful inspiration related to the project and am finding Pinterest boards to be super helpful.  I plan on spending some time watching and learning from some YouTubes of digital artists that I like demo-ing paintings.  I'd love to hear any one else's suggestions too.

Another view of England


I enjoyed revisiting my England trip with that quick painting of those sheep grazing, so I'm following it up with another.

I took a bit longer on this one since it was more complicated, picking away at it here and there when I had some time.  It's 9x12 in. and done in acrylic.

This week I'm on spring break for OCSA where I teach art.  At the beginning of the week I was able to take a little trip up north to Solvang, CA.  Very pretty wine country type of place.  Got some wonderful photos up there that could turn into some artwork too perhaps.  It was wonderfully relaxing.

I think I'll be turning my attention back to the Norse mythology series I was working on earlier now though.  Solvang helped inspire me since it was originally a Danish settlement and has many nods to Danish Viking stuff.

memories of England


"Grazing in Stratford-Upon-Avon"

Here's something a little different for me.  This is a painting a did the other day to donate for a fundraising auction.

The scene is from a photo I snapped when I visited England in the summer of 2011.  This shot was in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare's hometown.

The painting is just 8 x 10" and done in acrylic.  Tried to keep it loose and not "noodle around" with it too much, as my CSUF plein-air painting instructor, Cliff Cramp, used to say :)

Sketching at the Huntington Library



Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays getting rolling :)  I took a break from the developing craziness by visiting Huntington Library & Gardens in Pasadena today and doing some sketching amid the gorgeous setting.

I treated myself to a membership this year and have been keeping a small sketchbook set aside for whenever I go there.  The sculptures are what seem to pull my focus whenever I'm there...  of which there are so many beautiful ones.  Had fun with these today, and found myself keeping a nice, loose line :)

Frost Giant in the works...



Here's another one I've got going for the Norse series.  I decided to switch away from the main god characters, and work on one of the "lower" tier characters: a Frost Giant, or "Jotun."

I'm using straightforward standing type poses for the main characters, but I'm breaking away from that for characters like this and various creatures that I'll do, I think.

I do want to continue with using Norse-style decorative shapes in the background though.  Haven't figured out how I'll work that in with this one yet...

In other news, my teaching starts up again next week.  I've had the last two weeks off and have enjoyed lots of inspiration time!  Got a few preliminary meetings to get things rolling this week, and then classes start next week.  I'll be teaching my usual Animal Drawing & Figure Drawing classes.

I can get pretty stressed at the beginning of the semester with my schedule shifting up, but I'll be doing my best to keep up this stuff :)

And now... Thor!

So here is a long-time-coming follow up to the Freya piece that I posted a while back--which I have been painting on actually.  I had a tremendously busy summer.  My summer teaching schedule is actually more rigorous than the regular school year.  But now I've been able to actually get back to this Norse stuff I'm excited about.

I have a little grouping of thumbnail sketches for the different Norse characters that I'm going to do paintings of and I hope I can start to gain some momentum in rolling the designs out.  Here's the thumbnail that developed into the above finished Thor drawing:
I really like how my very manly Thor (I mean, come on, it's THOR!) came out, but it took a while to design the background shapes.  The two animals in the background are the billy goats that pull his special chariot.

Not sure which of the drawings I should work on next.  Perhaps Odin.  Or one of the creatures like Fenris the wolf...

Vikings on my mind


Well, yes, I have been kind of getting excited about Norse mythology & Viking stuff lately.  Though this drawing could almost have evolved off of that last Celtic dragon & warrior little piece I posted previously :)

But it does seem that Viking culture is getting some attention these days: the new VIKINGS tv show on the History Channel, the Thor movie sequel coming out...  I've centered some illustrations on Norse mythology in the past, but it's been quite a while and I would like to tackle the genre again.  It will be interesting to contrast what I did back then with what I produce now.

I do plan to paint the above drawing digitally, but I thought I would show the drawing by itself first.  The figure is meant to be the goddess Freya.  She is seen as one of the preeminent goddesses and is associated with many things including love, beauty, gold, & war.  She is linked to the valkyrie warrior maidens, of whom she leads half of their number (Odin gets the other half).  I picture her here in her warrior capacity.

Here's an illustration from that Norse mythology series I did way back when (in graduate school).  I painted in oil over inked lines.


Anybody else appreciating Norse mythology these days?

P.S. I noticed that this makes my 100th blog post!  (congratulates self--feel free to join in :) )

Ahh, Myths... like dragons!


This week's Illustration Friday challenge (from illustrationfriday.com) was "Myth."  Couldn't let that one pass me by!  Plus, I had extra time this week because my teaching is mostly on break for Finals week.  Yes!

First off, I knew I wanted to do something with dragons.  Then I felt like I wanted to do something Celtic knotwork-ish.  Sketched around and came up with this fun little image.  Thought it would be fun to have a lady warrior challenging the beast.  I did the color and texture in a way that echoes the Book of Kells.  The technique was pencil sketch scanned and then colored in Photoshop.


How do you picture "new"?

I guess "when it rains, it pours" because here's another new little posting!  This is a digital painting I did this week in response to an illustration prompt from the blog "Illustration Friday".  Illustration Friday is a great blog that provides a prompt every week on Friday (how did you guess?).  This week's prompt was "New", in honor of the New Year beginning.  I sat down with my sketchbook and wasn't sure what I was going to do with that, but found myself doodling this morning/flower image.  I guess "new" makes me think of a new day, and new things growing.

To finish it I scanned my pencil drawing and painted it digitally.  I played with painting it in Corel Painter first, but went with Photoshop in the end, using my Wacom tablet.

portraits


Thought I'd post a couple of sketches while I was thinking about it.  These are from the last figure drawing class I taught before Xmas break.  I demo'ed that day (let myself draw) and focused on portraits of 2 awesome student models that I borrowed from other conservatories.  This guy above is named Mars.  Appropriate!  The guy below is Dmitri.  I couldn't help feeling like Dmitri came straight from the woodland realm of Mirkwood!  (The Hobbit on my brain)  Thankfully, Dmitri was pleased when I told him he looked like a Tolkien elf extra :)  Both portraits were done with conte' crayon in about an hour (each).

Honoring The Hobbit and the New Year

Well, it's just about time for New Year's resolutions, and resolving art stuff is always at the top of my list!  To whet the appetite for my planned year of making more good art stuff (I didn't say I was resolving to use better grammar), here's the Hobbit bookplate that I made in response to the release of The Hobbit movie (part one!).  I printed them onto adhesive paper and gave them out with some of my Christmas cards.  Do people actually use bookplates?  Who knows.  (snarky comments received about being a Kindle user: 1)  But bookplates are pretty :)

Lola sketches



Here's some sketches I did the other week of a very cute bulldog named "Lola" that a friend owns.  She was doing mostly napping as you can see (it was a warm afternoon after all).

On the second page you can see where I did a skeleton analysis of her, trying to figure out how her bones were positioned.

She was super sweet and I just wanted to take her home :)

a published lady :)

Yesterday I received a copy of the book that I contributed two illustrations for back in September.  Woo Hoo!  I've had a few other small things published, but this is the first time I've been able to see my work printed in a physical book (versus game cards, digital pdf downloads, etc.) so it feels really special :)

The book is an informational reference guide regarding the temple of the Israelites as described in the Old Testament of the Bible.  Rose Publishing releases products for the religious market and was my client for the job.  I posted a shot of the finished pieces back in a September post here.  And here's me holding the book open to my page.
Well, onward and upward.  The weather is sunny and warm here in Cali (I'm so thankful to live here) and next week we'll get our extra hour of daylight back again.  I'm ready to push forward and re-double my efforts with my art.

p.s. You can order your copy of the Rose Guide to the Temple here.

:)

Wolpertinger!

No, it's not a Jackalope.  But close.  Did a sketch this week of this mythical creature said to reside in Germany for my animal drawing class. Part rabbit, part bird, part snake, and part deer. It's called a "wolpertinger."  Yes, a "wolpertinger." (please find a way to insert that into casual conversation this week)

Fun.

:)

my new website's up :)


Hey all,
  So it took a little longer than I expected, but my newly refurbished website is now up!  It's always been just long enough since the last time that I updated it, that I've just about forgotten everything about how to build a website :)
  Anyway, it's actually pretty similar to the old one, but I've added a bunch more content.

  I hope you people enjoy it! :

Updated website coming...


Here's a snap-shot of what I've been working on lately.  I'm updating my website.  I'm excited to be adding a bunch more content, including a sketchbook page as you can see there.

My website name has changed as well.  It wasn't by choice.  Long story short, someone bought up my name when it expired and there's now a junk website up at caranilsen.com.  I spent some time trying to resolve the problem, but in the end I had to just get a new domain name.  Sooo, my website is now at www.caranilsenart.com.  It's still my old website right now, but I look forward to uploading my updated version real soon!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and is now enjoying getting into the holiday spirit!  I've got my Christmas tree up :)  How about you?