Archive for the ‘Illustration’ Category

Alphabet Action Pose

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Letter C - M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Letter C – M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Quick action poses just speak for themselves; energy, grace, motion. The one I have included here, I just love. I call it the “Letter C” because it simply looks like that.

This only encourages me to ask the models to pose for the whole alphabet. Maybe I will.

Quick Sketches: Hand and Foot

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

It’s fall and the local figurative drawing session has started back up…yay! Here are some quick sketches.

Hand Holding Arm of Chair by M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Hand Holding Arm of Chair by M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Underside of Foot by M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Underside of Foot by M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Watermelons in the Grass

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Watermelons in the Grass by M-J Kelley (pen and ink)

Watermelons in the Grass by M-J Kelley (pen and ink)

I quickly drew this when I was at a an art show in Sacramento, California. It was unbearably hot and everyone just seemed to move slowly through the thick air.

The pile of watermelons were lying quietly on the grass, undisturbed by anyone. They were a beacon of summer refreshment and an intriguing visual image – one that a Canadian doesn’t see very often. So here’s to summer and piles of refreshing watermelons!

The Magical Dance of Quick Sketches

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Image of M-J Kelley's quick sketch: Portrait of Emily (charcoal on kraft paper) 2012

Portrait of Emily by M-J Kelley 2012 (quick sketch/charcoal on kraft paper)

Every figurative drawing session that I have ever attended begins with quick sketches of the model. They range from 30 second to 3 minute sketches. For some, I think it’s a bit like an athlete stretching. This isn’t really the case for me. I try to be warmed up before I attend the session.

Instead, it is a bizarre combination of loose lines, accurate proportion and line quality — housed within these early sketches that tell me whether I will be drawing well or not. I am at that place as an artist. This is a great place to be.

My long-time friend Ken used to say that “drawing well was like magic dancing from your fingertips.” So right he was.

And that is what this image is for me — a quick sketch where all was right and the magic was dancing. The lines are loose, the line quality is good and the proportion is accurate.

And when it all comes together, as this sketch did, I get to do one more thing that makes what I do so special for me: I get to breathe life into it with an expression or a look.

Figure Drawing with Charcoal and Pastel

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Figure drawing of Emily (charcoal and pastel) by M-J Kelley 2012

Figure drawing was the basis of my art training and continues today as a way of keeping my skills sharp. It also happens to be my most favourite thing to do.

Both images are of the same model – Emily. I always bring with me a few sheets of smooth newsprint and a few sheets of Canson Ingres paper. I warm up with one-minute poses drawing them on newsprint and then switch to the Canson paper for the longer poses.

In addition to several charcoal pencils, I brought a few colourful pastels with me to this session. I intentionally brought odd colours. The blues are soft pastels and the orange-yellow is a hard pastel. Though both are pastels, each is extremely different to work with. The soft pastels are easily the most luxurious, but also the most difficult to work with. They “paint” the paper. You merely touch the pastel to the paper and a deep rich colour is left behind.

The poses are not very long so I really only have time to lay down a smattering of colour, but it is enough to bring out the idea of cool light or warm flesh.

Figure drawing of Emily (charcoal and pastel) by M-J Kelley 2012

New Year’s Fish

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

New Year's Fish (pencil, sketchbook) by M-J Kelley

It’s a new year, and I am happy to see it.

I filled up my old sketchbook in a somewhat timely manner so as to be able to start a fresh one on the first day of 2012. I even added a new pencil and eraser.

A blank page is hard enough, but the first blank page in a brand new sketchbook … well words like honour, reverence, trepidation come to mind. Still, you have to just dive in, and for some reason the phrase “sleeps with the fishes” drifted into my mind while I was drawing.

This, in and of itself, is why it is good to draw from your imagination. Because you never know what you might be thinking and to borrow from Joan Didion’s 1976 essay on Why I Write, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.”

Therefore, it is of no great surprise to me that I took a blind left turn only to end up drawing a sleepy fish instead of creating a Godfather-like-thug- whacking illustration. To be honest, I know myself well enough not only to trust those left turns, but also to count on them. It makes my life interesting and allows me to see my thoughts even when I begin with a starkly blank white page.

New painting: Stuffed Bunny Head on a Stick with Poison Mushroom Caps

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Stuffed Bunny Head on a Stick with Poison Mushroom Caps (detail, gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

What would ever make anyone draw, let alone paint such a thing? Experiences.

Stuffed Bunny Head on a Stick with Poison Mushroom Caps is about maintaining one’s goodness and humour in a toxic environment. How do we retain a level of childhood innocence when we are constantly barraged with the evils of the world? Bad events and bad people try to drive the innocence from us — sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. Creating illustrative images such as this one helps me to retain the sweetness of childhood.

This painting will be on display until February 13th at the Hangman Gallery (756 Queen St. E., Toronto). For more information on the show: Red Envelope Show: What’s Your Rabbit?

The Dreamcatcher

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Dream Catcher (gouache on board) by M-J Kelley

I begin my paintings with full drawings. In the long run it makes my life a lot easier than trying to sort out tonal or structural issues on the canvas. What I found interesting about The Dreamcatcher was that I drew it with no real image in mind and no in-depth knowledge of what a dreamcatcher was – other than the basic premise. It just kind of came to life. So when I showed a friend of mine the drawing, she said, “what colour are you painting the feather?” I said that I didn’t know. “Well,” she continued, “it means something.” Oh, ok. So off I went in search of the meaning of the coloured feathers.

What I discovered was it wasn’t so much the colour of the feathers, but from whom the feather came. So if a dreamcatcher had crane feathers, then it represented wisdom and knowledge. Feathers from a dove represented the offer of love. Based on the design of the feathers in my drawing, I realized that I drew feathers similar to a hawk or an eagle. Both birds represent protection.

Then I continued my research. I found out that the size of the “sacred hoop” is the size of the dreamcatcher’s maker’s left hand. And sure enough my painting’s hoop is the size of my left hand. There are other iconographical symbols in the piece that were created by accident, but interesting to point out. These would be the seven spokes or Seven Sister (Pleiades) which is the nearest star cluster to Earth, a hole for the spirit guide, and the added fact that the feather is not tied in a downward fashion. A feather tied upside down is for children – so the good dreams slide gently into the child while they are sleeping. It strikes me that this dreamcatcher was intended for adults.

When I actually figured out that I was drawing a dreamcatcher, I asked myself what would happen if a dream was caught and what would or should one do with it once it was caught. I think the feather design solved the mystery for me. Protect it.

Illustration Proposal

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

OAC Content Sample (graphite) by M-J Kelley

I recently submitted an illustration proposal for an arts booklet. Along with submitting past illustrations, I created this one specifically for the bid. I didn’t win the bid, but I really liked my proposal and also this illustration. This piece (though cropped) incorporates the various arts: dance (ballet shoes), theatre (tape marks), film (film reel), music (piano keys), and painting (canvas on easel).

Illustration Mailer

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

Horse (graphite) by M-J Kelley

“Horse” is a drawing I created for an illustration mailer that the Studio will be sending out next week.The image also includes a cowboy waiting for a ride. This mailer highlights the Studio’s line art capabilities for illustration and storyboarding. If you would like to receive a mailer, please feel free to contact me and I will add you to the Studio’s distribution list.