Brandy Heinrich: Art & Illustration

Got No Time to Take a Picture...

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...I'll remember someday.

I just got back from a brief holiday in points farther north. It was quite lovely, and relaxing. It's nice to be reminded that seasons are an actual occurrence in other parts of the world. Everything was so lush and cool, and there were flowers in bloom everywhere. The best word I have to describe it would be verdant.

I love the interplay between the light and the shadows in the woods...

I love the interplay between the light and the shadows in the woods...

The creek was very high from all of the recent Spring rains.

The creek was very high from all of the recent Spring rains.

I wish I could have captured the fragrance of these flowers - it was incredible.

I wish I could have captured the fragrance of these flowers - it was incredible.

Days of rain and roses.

Days of rain and roses.

...and endless azaleas in bloom.

...and endless azaleas in bloom.

Some of the most fantastical mushrooms I've ever encountered.

Some of the most fantastical mushrooms I've ever encountered.

Now I'll focus on creating and pursuing some opportunities for the next few weeks. I gained my third Patreon subscriber this morning, and sent an inquiry for a local artists call. It's a hectic time of year at my day job, and it's a challenge to stay focused right now, but I'll do what I can. My aim is to publish a new post once a week, now. I'll schedule them between Friday and Sunday as my schedule will allow, and try to remain consistent.

Up next: I review some of the art books in my growing collection.


Miscellania

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You and I, we're pioneers

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It's alive! It's aliiiiiive!

Patreon! It's a thing! I know there are probably A LOT of questions about how Patreon works, so let me break some of it down for you:

  • Q: What is Patreon used for?
    A: Patreon is a funding platform for creators, makers, musicians, artists, and storytellers of all kinds to share their work with a community of patrons who help support that creative work. Sort of like Kickstarter, but for sustainable fundraising over a longer period of time and not necessarily associated with a specific project or campaign.
     
  • Q: How do I become a patron on Patreon?
    A: You can sign up right from my account by clicking the Become a Patron button on the right side of the screen OR by clicking on any of the reward tiers right underneath it. You will be asked to add a credit card or Paypal account. My rewards are set up as monthly contributions, so you will be charged one time each month of $1, $3, or $5, depending on the reward level you choose. (Patreon has a simple guide to walk you through the steps.)
     
  • Q: What do I get for my financial contribution?
    A: Every Patreon is set up a little a little differently. In my case, I'm asking for contributions to help pay for higher grade art supplies, and later I may be able to use contributions to participate in art calls and events, as well as expanding to better audio/video equipment and software to record process videos. In return, all patrons will receive access to exclusive content I will only be sharing on that platform, including discussions of process, how I come up with ideas, and the opportunity to see progress images before anyone else, for starters. I will also send out an initial welcome package to every patron who signs up, regardless of the support tier they choose. Second and third level supporters will receive physical art in the mail. In the beginning, if I don't have many patrons at those levels, all tier 2 and 3 patrons will get mail, once a month (schedule TBD).
     
  • Q: If I don't want to sign up to be a patron with Patreon, are there other ways to support you?
    A: Of course! The easiest thing is to share my stuff! You can share posts from my Facebook page or my website at any time. That will help me reach more people, which is really important. If you have any pieces of my art that you love, let people know, and send them my way. Let them know that I have prints for sale on Society6 and Redbubble (the direct links to those shops are on the About section on my website). You can also choose to contribute to my supply and art-book collections by sending me items from my Amazon wish list. Whatever you choose to do to help with this effort is greatly appreciated, from encouraging words to actual financial contributions - it's all meaningful and helps keep me motivated.

So now that I've made this leap, the next steps are to start posting updates on Patreon and work on making some graphics for myself, like banners and buttons to use for cross-promotion. I have a tendency to do things in reverse - launch the thing and then work out formatting, structure, and all of those elements that help make it all cohesive and less like a slapdash attempt. I'm likely going to mirror this post there as an FAQ overview. I'm open for feedback and ideas for additional tiers in the $5 - $10 per month range, so let me know what you think.

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by and thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last couple of years. I literally couldn't have done this without some of you. I may get discouraged sometimes and have occasional visits by the Fraud Police, but you give me encouragement and sometimes the kick in the ass I need to keep going.



want to light a fire/but I can't get a spark

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"Where the magic happens"

"Where the magic happens"

Wow. It's been over half a year since I posted an update here. Well. Let's fix that, then. It's been an eventful few months. Since that last post in October, I've participated in my first public exhibit (and sold my first painting to a non-family member!), took part in a public juried show at a local gallery, had a few pieces on display in some spaces, and tried my hand at an outdoor market. I've received some commission requests and sold a few items here and there - there are pieces sporting my initials from Connecticut to Oregon and from Canada to Florida. But I've kind of hit a lull right now in my motivation to make art to sell. Part of it is upcoming travel that will make projects a little difficult to tackle, so I've decided to focus on drawing for fun and working more on some fundamentals of composition. Expect lots of photos of terrible hand drawings and messy watercolor studies, and with the themed months of "Mermay" and "Junicorn" maybe I'll be self-indulgent and do mermaid and unicorn sketches.

Plus, in the meantime, I have too many little illustrations and mixed-media pieces that I didn't sell at the market that are taking up space, so I'm going to go through and offer a lot of things for sale. The other thing I've decided to look at is creating some collage and different mixed-media pieces. I have a collection of bits and pieces (what people call "ephemera"), as well as a painting that I'm planning on incorporating a 3-dimensional element in. And there are the commissions I haven't finished that I should also be working on. So it's not like I don't have ideas. I always have plenty of those. Motivation and energy and follow-through are where I bottom out.

A possible topic for my next post may be social media: where to find me, what to expect, how it works...and doesn't. In the meantime, catch me over on Facebook, and taking pictures of food on Instagram.

Lyrics from 'Less Than Zero' by K.Flay

outside the door, the weather is clear and unfailing

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Fall finally made an appearance here in Big Swampy. Surely it won't last, but it's been really lovely for a few days. Great for morning walks and sitting outside with a book in the afternoon. 

I've been promising to discuss the subject of art materials, and so I think I'll take a few minutes to give an introduction on that topic that I may expand on later. There are a ton of resources out there on this subject, so I encourage you to do some research for yourself. Perspectives are varied and often conflicting. Personally, I don't really get too serious about the difference between "student grade" and "artist grade" supplies. Buy what you can afford, and as you can afford higher quality products, work your way up, finding which ones you actually prefer in the process of learning and creating. As a general rule, artist grade is better quality - such as richer, more opaque pigments in paints, better constructed brushes that won't shed bristles or fray too quickly, and sturdier ground materials like watercolor paper and gallery-wrapped canvas. Better quality generally translates to higher price points. 

An example of "student grade" and "artist grade" acrylic paint compared side by side to demonstrate better opacity in artist-level supplies 

An example of "student grade" and "artist grade" acrylic paint compared side by side to demonstrate better opacity in artist-level supplies 

Because artist grade supplies are usually much more expensive, I tend to mix my various supplies, so that I'm using the less expensive materials for certain elements, and saving the costlier supplies for when I really need to use them. I may do a watercolor wash using the free sample I got from the art store on a good quality paper, and use the artist level paints for the main subject matter. And when I find things on sale, I try to stock up. I also experiment a lot, seeing what works and what fails. It's okay to make mistakes. Sometimes mistakes are successes that haven't been fully realized yet. If something isn't working, step away and do something else. Come back to that project later with a fresh perspective. It's when I push myself to finish something that I'm the least satisfied with the result. 

I recently replaced the stylized alligator I had painted on this mini canvas with a fun little mushroom, and I'm very happy I went back and reworked that painting  that I didn't like instead of throwing the canvas in the garbage! (I throw away A LOT of failed attempts.)

I recently replaced the stylized alligator I had painted on this mini canvas with a fun little mushroom, and I'm very happy I went back and reworked that painting  that I didn't like instead of throwing the canvas in the garbage! (I throw away A LOT of failed attempts.)

I don't have many favorite brands or a go-to drawing pencil. Since I didn't go to art school, I never learned a lot of the techniques or rules that many professional artists swear by. In a way, I think that is somewhat liberating, since I don't have to use the "correct" pencil for sketching if I want to do something different. Personally, I'm more comfortable drawing than painting. A pencil is an orderly thing - solid and straightforward. A brush has a mind of it's own sometimes. (There was a great post on the Muddy Colors blog that touched on that recently, so now I know I'm not alone in thinking paintbrushes are tricksy and false.) I've pushed myself to get more involved in practicing beyond drawing as a way to develop, artistically, because it's easy to get into a comfort zone that regresses into a rut. Once that happens, predictability becomes an issue. I've seen artists who use the same techniques over and over, and focus only on the same subject matter, to the point that I can almost anticipate the elements that will show up in a piece before I see it. So, for me, the answer is to constantly push my own self-imposed boundaries. Sometimes I really surprise myself. 

My preferred media (the materials used to make the art I create) are graphite pencil, charcoal pencil, watercolor and acrylic paint, and ink. For the support (the surface material), I use a variety of different papers or a pre-stretched, wrapped, and primed canvas, or even wood panels. The surface will dictate whether I'm working in dry media (pencils, charcoal, certain pastels) or wet (paint and loose inks), and vice versa. Your support materials need to be able to stand up to what you are using to draw or paint. Watercolor pain will completely destroy standard drawing paper, for example. For ink I prefer markers and brush pens, but I'll use loose ink as well. I'll very often combine some or even all of these elements together. I'll also use a variety of thinning or thickening media, top coats, and other materials to add texture and other elements, and from time to time I've even been known to add actual glitter to a painting. I love the shiny stuff. People have frequently asked me why I don't use oil paint. The answer is that I am incredibly impatient, and the drying time necessary for oils is pretty much impossible for me to handle. Then there is the fact that oil paint has to be thinned with a solvent, which can be pretty caustic. Since I don't have a designated space in which to paint, I don't want to risk spilling something like turpentine all over my kitchen table. Maybe someday if I get anything resembling studio space, I might try expanding to oil paints, but for now I'll continue to practice with acrylics. 

So, what's the best place to buy your supplies, from artist level all the way up to pro? Good question. And the answer is...anywhere you find them. I'm not trying to be flip, here. There really are endless options for supplies. You can use online retailers like Amazon, Opus, or Jerry's Artarama. If you have a local art and craft store, they can be great for beginners to find inexpensive materials. Of course, larger national retailers such as Blick are a lot of fun to shop, and if you have any local independent professional art supply stores, definitely check those out as well. Most manufacturers like Golden Paints have websites where supplies can be purchased directly. Another option that is budget-friendly is artist swaps and sidewalk sales. Sometimes artists are looking to get rid of excess supplies that are taking up space, and will apply considerable discounts just to get rid of stuff. Honestly, in collage work you don't even have to *buy* supplies - you use whatever you have sitting around, from scrap paper and ribbon to spray paint and buttons to playing cards to old greeting cards. 

But really the point is that it isn't so much about what you're using as what you yourself are creating. Art is subjective, as we all know. And the definition of "best supplies" is just as subjective. Use what you can afford to start out with. Practice. Play. Experiment. Make things! 


Lyric from 'We Could Be Arsonists' by Loquat

Just one more chapter, our book won't close

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If you're following these posts on the regular - or if you know me in life - you'll know I've been feeling some kind of blue here lately. It can be hard to deal with not making the inroads in your endeavors that you work really hard for. It can be easy to let failures and frustrations weigh you down to the point of slowing any momentum to a creep that eventually, if allowed, will result in a dead stop. After some recent opportunities didn't present themselves the way I had really hyped myself into hoping for, I got caught up in a doubt-spiral. I think I've managed to mostly pull myself out of the whirling vortex of suck at this point, although I can still feel it's pull. I shook off as much of the disappointment as I could and have attempted to move forward by making myself work. That's really the only way to do it. And with October on the way, there will be an opportunity to throw myself into the art challenges that have become really popular across all of the sharing platforms. Among some of the biggest are Inktober, started by jake Parker in 2009, which presents daily themes that get shared all over the place, especially on Instagram, and Month of Fear, which has been going since 2013 and features artists working on themed subjects all month. There is also Drawlloween, which I just discovered this year, and seems less cohesive than the other two - I've seen multiple versions of the theme calendar for that one. I probably will pick and choose themes from that list if I participate (using the version posted by pop-surrealist artist Mab Graves on Instagram, if you are on there and want to check it out.) Of course, October is a very busy month for me, with social plans, a wedding, a niece's birthday, and a week-long mini-vacation packed in there on top of *everything else* (day job and everyday life!), so I probably won't be as productive as I think I'll be. But I'll definitely give it my best effort. Next up: how to choose supplies and what happens when you make a spectacular mistake. 

 

*Lyrics from 'Matches to Paper Dolls' by Dessa