Rachel – Quick Sketch

April 26th, 2016

This is a quick sketch of Rachel. She was a recent model at the open drawing sessions held by Kawartha Arts Network.

Rachel - quick sketch - M-JKelley 2016

The poses range in time from one minute to 25 minutes. A portrait sketch like this would be closer to the five-minute mark.

I have worked on some long drawings over the years, but really there is nothing more fun or more interesting — even with its flaws — than that of a 5 minute portrait sketch with simple materials, such as newsprint and charcoal.

I’ll tell you what I like about this sketch. From a technical point of view, her nose is dead on. It is straight with a short curve to meet the philtrum. I also like the weight of her left eyebrow and how it helps to frame the eye. More than that, however, is the intensity of her dark gaze, which creates her true likeness as a woman of youth and spirit.

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Georgian Bay Watersnake #Inktober

October 21st, 2015

I was happily swimming off a Killbear Provincial Park rock this August when a friendly camper lady said, “Um, hey, you might want to know that there is a snake in the water.”

Ya, I think I would like to know that. And upon hearing that, I scrambled ever so ungracefully out of the lake and safely onto dry land. I was told that the snake in question was a small fox snake and that it wouldn’t hurt me and that it was probably more scared than I was. I doubt that.

So the other morning I was lying in bed, not quick to get up…but I had to get up, so I just pictured me in the lake with a watersnake swimming towards me. And that was it, I was out of bed.

And so of course that morning’s drawing was of my version of a watersnake. Happy #Inktober!

 

GeorgianBayWatersnake_M-J-Kelley-2015

Georgian Bay Watersnake (pencil/ink) by M-J Kelley 2015

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Two cows ‘K? #Inktober –

October 11th, 2015

My grandparents had a dairy farm when I was growing up. They had Holsteins. When I was young I thought they had 1000’s of cows, but I read recently that the average dairy farm in Canada milks 73 cows. So I guess they didn’t have 1000’s of cows. Regardless, I always thought they were beautiful and still do. They are super fun to draw if you can get the shape of the head correct – but actually I think that is true of anything you draw.

So in honour of #Inktober …. here are Two Cows ‘K? I don’t know what they are doing. I don’t think they do either.

Two Cows K by M-JKelley 2015 Inktober

Two Cows, ‘K? (pencil/ink) by M-J Kelley 2015

In addition, here is a formal pencil drawing I drew a few years ago.

Melody the Cow (graphite) - M-J Kelley Studio

Melody the Cow (pencil) by M-J Kelley

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#Inktober – Four ‘cans better than Tucans

October 10th, 2015

In honour of #Inktober … a couple of Tucans just hanging out.

Tucans_M-JKelley2015_400_2 #Inktober

Four ‘cans Better Than Two Cans (pencil/ink) – M-J Kelley 2015

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Drawing Turbulence

August 14th, 2015

On my recent return flight from San Francisco, I experienced the worst turbulence. I had my sketchbook out at the time and decided just to keep on drawing – just to see what would happen.

Turbulence (graphite) by M-JKelley2015

Turbulence (graphite) by M-J Kelley 2015

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Fringe Postcard Art

June 25th, 2015

Recently a good friend called and asked if I would help her by designing her Kansas City Fringe Festival performance art postcard. She asked if I would modify one of my paintings, Pectin.

Pectin (gouache) by M-J Kelley

Pectin (gouache) by M-J Kelley

She wanted something simple. To have the cherry magically transformed into a heart. And so I did that using Photoshop’s transform – warp tool. Then I cleaned it up with the eraser and the clone/stamp tool.

Pectin Fringe postcard M-J Kelley

I selected Blackadder ITC as the main title font which suited her performance piece and used a sans serif Open Sans for the information. I set everything up to her printer’s request including trim and bleed marks and pdf proofs.

Pectin Fringe postcard back M-J Kelley

And I made her a poster as well.

Pectin Fringe poster M-J Kelley

Jamie picked them up at the printer today and said they were beautiful. Glad to help. Good luck with your Fringe performance, Jamie!

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Fish Glue, Clamps and Wood

March 6th, 2015

My brother Greg owns Greg Kelley Conservation Services. He works with old wood – primarily antique furniture. He does not do restoration. Instead he does meticulous repairs on old wooden objects and keeps them looking their age. And that is conservation.

I always thought that our practices were quite different. He saws. I draw. He uses fish glue, clamps and wood. I use canvas, gesso and paint. But sometimes we share the same materials, tools and language. And that is what has happened recently.

Greg needed some help in his workshop. Originally he thought to hire another conservator. As it turns out, an artist with materials knowledge and a sense of detail and humour was what he needed.

So now I work at my brother’s workshop three days a week. And now in addition to gesso and paint, I use fish glue, clamps and wood. And it’s fun!

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Best New Thing in My World: Adobe Illustrator

January 9th, 2015

The summer and fall of 2014 were obviously not spent writing in my blog (sorry I will try to do better this year). Instead they were spent thinking and learning. I spent a lot of my time thinking about what I want to do with all that I know and came up with how much I still needed to learn. Funny that.

From all that thinking I came up with two things in particular that I wanted to do. First, I wanted to rebrand my web business and change it up a bit and the second was to work on a web comic.

Both needed websites and artwork. More precisely, vectorized digital artwork.

So how does a drawing in my sketchbook become a vectorized logo? Adobe Illustrator.

Three Loud Crows sketchbook M-J Kelley_2015

Sketchbook drawing of web services logo for Three Loud Crows

So I drew my new logo for my web services business Three Loud Crows in my sketchbook. Then I scanned the image into Adobe Photoshop, changed the colour mode to grayscale and cleaned it up. Enter, Adobe Illustrator … I placed the logo onto new artboard, image traced it, and painted it.

Final logo for Three Loud Crows web services business – M-J Kelley (digital artwork 2014)

Final logo for Three Loud Crows web services business – M-J Kelley (digital artwork 2014)

Et voilà! Vectorized digital artwork. It’s a big piece that fits nicely into the puzzle of what I’ll be working on this year.

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My Journey into Sheridan College’s Computer Animation Grad Program

April 26th, 2014

The last eight months have been somewhat grueling. I was in the Computer Animation Graduate Program at Sheridan College. Wow, that was challenging. Learning how to make an animated film is not for the faint of heart. You have to really want to do it and not for the possibility of a job or money or fame – just that you really want to do it.

My reason was that I really wanted to learn how to make my sketchbook characters come to life and to tell their stories. And I did just that with a Toad.

Toad (pencil/sketchbook) by M-J Kelley 2014

Toad (pencil/sketchbook) by M-J Kelley 2014

But first came the learning of software…3D (Maya), rendering (Vray), sculpting (Mudbox), compositing (After Effects) – just to name a few.

If I had known anything about animation, virtual sculpting, compositing, editing, or rendering prior to the program, my life would have been immediately better. Instead, I had to learn all of that in addition to modeling, UV layouts, lighting, texturing, shading, cameras, rigging, etc.

My first three months I was way behind. It wasn’t because I didn’t work hard. It was because there was just so much to learn and the language was different – pipeline, UVs, IK handles, CVs, dope sheet, anisotropic, etc. By December, I began to catch up and that was because of storyboarding. Pencil and paper, I knew how to do. And that gave me just enough time to really focus on rigging and animating and so before I left for the holidays I was on track.

When I came back, the very best smartest thing I did was I focused on my Toad’s animation. My story has 34 scenes – which is a lot of for a 1:42 minute film. That means it has jump cuts and a lot of those isn’t always good. So working on the animation, meant I also worked on the timing, the cuts, the camera angles, which in turn improved the telling of my story. All the same, that was a painful ten weeks. My animation isn’t perfect, but I became a much better animator for having worked that hard for that long on all of those scenes.

I pretty much stayed on track that is until I hit “how to texture the terrain” bump, which was really more like running headlong into a brick wall. There are a lot of different ways to do it and I really wanted to use image projection offered by Mudbox. I really wanted that to work…but it didn’t, which meant I lost a huge amount of time. And you just can’t lose time on this project. So I had to come up with another procedure which made me spin my wheels for a bit. Eventually I bought a bunch of very expensive high-res rock images and used Maya’s planar projection mapping, created a Vray sand shader, and finished it off with Maya’s Paint Effects — all in the nick of time so I could keep up with the film’s impending deadline. Deadlines are good. They are so very helpful for sorting out what is important and what is not.

My film is finished. And yet there is still so much to do. But it tells a story pleasantly and effectively and that was my goal.

Two days ago was Industry Day. It is where you show your film to the animation industry. I have mixed feelings about Industry Day. I wanted to take home a richer experience than I did. But that would be hard to do, because the last eight months were the rich experience. How could anything much top making one’s own character come to life? Well actually today could. Because I am ready to start a new film…I’m going to flip through my sketchbooks and find just the right character and just the right story and start again…

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Drawing: Head in Hands

August 12th, 2013

Head in Hands (charcoal) by M-J Kelley 2013

Head in Hands (charcoal) by M-J Kelley 2013

I draw a lot of hands. I like the complexity and individuality of them. And you either get them right, or you don’t.

Hands are best drawn when you understand their underlying anatomy. I start a hand drawing with very light and simple geometrics. I move through the drawing as if I were trying to put “ducks in a row” – a lot of back and forth – gauging of values and adding hits of contrast here and there.

And though all of that happens rather seamlessly, I do make sure to pay close attention to one other little thing…the space between the pinky and the fourth finger — because it is larger than you think and getting it right makes all the difference.

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