Archive for the ‘Artist’ Category

Georgian Bay Watersnake #Inktober

Wednesday, 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!



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

Drawing Turbulence

Friday, 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

Fish Glue, Clamps and Wood

Friday, 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!

Best New Thing in My World: Adobe Illustrator

Friday, 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.

My Journey into Sheridan College’s Computer Animation Grad Program

Saturday, 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…

Drawing: Head in Hands

Monday, 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.

Sketchbook Drawing: Precious Egg

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Precious Egg (graphite) by M-J Kelley 2013

Precious Egg (graphite) by M-J Kelley 2013

…from my sketchbook.

Drawing: A Simple Profile

Friday, April 5th, 2013

A Simple Profile by M-J Kelley 2013

A Simple Profile by M-J Kelley 2013

A simple figurative profile drawing made with smooth newsprint and charcoal – two of my most favourite materials to work with.

Attending Sheridan’s Computer Animation Graduate Program Fall 2013

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

About a month ago I decided to apply to Sheridan’s graduate program in Computer Animation.

It was time to meld my two worlds (art and IT) together. Both fields are undergoing major changes and I felt it was time for me to go in a new direction as well.

I kept it a secret for as long as I could (a few days) and then I told my mom. If you knew my mom you would know she is the type of person that is always there for her family and friends. And as expected she was over the top excited for me and asked to read about the program.

My mother is very thorough. She called me back and said “did you know there is a graduate school open house tonight? You should go.” Somehow I missed this. It is this kind of “no stone left unturned” that my mother is capable of. And for this I am grateful.

I attended the open house and I was able to meet with the CA program director. He was great. He answered all of my questions and told me about various aspects about the program. I asked him about the portfolio submission and what they were looking for. He said, “We want you to send us what you think is your best work.” He also added, “We are looking for artists.”

Not very often do you hear “we are looking for artists.” This was so welcomed. And so, with his advice in mind, I rigorously reviewed the program descriptions and requirements and began to prepare my submission.

It was hard to choose 20 of my favourite images for my portfolio because I have quite a few pieces that I like. But I started with a few traditional figurative works then added some animal drawings, cowboy illustration art, a landscape painting, some surreal art, a few sketchbook drawings and finished with one of my all-time favourites, Stuffed Bunny Head on a Stick with Poison Mushroom Caps.

In addition to my portfolio I had to write a 500 word answer to the question “Why are you applying to this program?” and submit a resume. My resume was the easiest to pull together. The 500 word essay took some time. But it came together nicely. It was simply the truth about when I started in the arts (20+ years ago) and how my journey has brought me to this decision. When I reviewed my submission it dawned on me how it was a cohesive package. Everything went together extremely well and told the same story.

So with everything pulled together I ventured to the post office. I sent it Xpresspost. It was to arrive Monday – just in time for the deadline. I tracked it. But it didn’t arrive. It didn’t arrive on Tuesday either. I was a bit beside myself. So I pulled together another submission package and drove it to Sheridan (2 hours away) and hand submitted it. I was a bit fearful that my submission would be too late at this point and so talked with the program administrator who was understanding and helpful. She said she thought my application had already been completed. She wondered if she had already received my earlier application. Both of us were a bit mystified. All the same I was relieved and began my return journey home.

Shortly after arriving home I checked online to see if my application was now “complete”. Instead it said, “ACCEPT YOUR OFER AND DISCOVER SHERIDAN!”

What? Again mystified. So I clicked on it and a big blue image said “Congratulations! … We are pleased to offer you admission to the following program(s): Computer Animation…Fall 2013”.

Such joy! And that is where I will be this fall!

Spring Art Classes: Drawing and Painting

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

This Sunday will mark the beginning of our spring drawing and painting classes.

Learn to Draw and Paint (ages 6-10) (1-2pm):

Discover the arts! Explore drawing and painting with a variety of techniques using pencil, crayons, pencil crayons, oil pastel and tempera paint. Each lesson will build upon the last, beginning with drawing simple shapes for image creation and continuing with the use of mixed-media painting and simple printmaking.

Art Fundamentals for Teens (ages 11-14) (2:30-4pm):

Explore the fundamentals of drawing and painting with a variety of techniques and materials using pencil, charcoal, conte, ink, watercolour and acrylic. Each lesson will build upon the last, beginning with simple shapes to create form. Students will learn simple perspective, how to draw from sight, basic composition and painting skills. Students will also be introduced to the elements and principles of design.

These classes held in room #3 in the Rosemount Community Center in Vaughan. For more information…