Sunday, December 14, 2008

Queen Victoria Miniature - Finish

Here the finished Victoria miniature, for Laurie. I have to remember, when working on these paintings, that they will only be 30 x 40 mm large. I really get into rendering little bits here and there, mostly because I really enjoy portrait painting, but you can't even see that stuff when the piece of jewelry is complete!

The oval version of this is just a preview, not the final setting. The original Victoria painting has quite a lot of head room, which I want to include in the new one, though perhaps not quite so much room. I left the bottom part of the painting merely suggested (and missing buttons!) because I knew I would be cropping most of it out. It looks like I'll need to add another button in there, though :-P

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Queen Victoria Miniature - In Progress

This painting has been commissioned by the wonderful woman who plays Queen Victoria at the SF Dickens Faire, Laurie Tavan. I was asked to "combine" the photo reference of her with this existing historical portrait of Victoria. I'm posting the first color sketch where you can see my outline, and also where I am in terms of progress. It is possible that I will be changing Laurie's dress to resemble the historical portrait, as well as adding the braid -- these things are yet to be determined.

The original painting, at least in this digitized form, has a distinctly green appearance which I am not including in the new portrait. I want to maintain the watercolor-on-porcelain texture you see in the background, and will need to work on it a little more later. The danger with this portrait is rendering TOO much, getting it too smooth. Laurie has a remarkably smooth complexion, and I cannot change her face too much or else it will not resemble her, so I will need to add in the painterly detail to her hair and gown.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rosie & Tosh Portrait Progress

I spent a good chunk of time today adding Rosie into the picture, and I got fairly far on rendering her as well, whereas Tosh still has a ways to go.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Pet Portraits for Christmas

I've been working on a couple pet portraits for Christmas gifts -- one for a lovely little lady with a great big black horse, the other for my dad.

I already posted about Bernie, but here's a slight revision. He was looking kindof cartoony before, and it's not all that different, but I lightened the background and worked a bit on his jaw.

This second one is of our family's two hunting dogs, Rosie and Tosh. The yellow lab is Tosh, going along nicely, and Rosie has yet to be added, but you can see the spot for her. I'm thinking this one is going to be pretty large, and I'll want to do some hand painted details, sign it, and varnish it before matting and framing for Christmas.

Friday, December 05, 2008


A Christmas gift portrait of "Bernie," the former stallion. Blocked in in Photoshop using the lovely canvas texture brush, then worked in Corel Painter, leaving some of the canvas to show through, and working with a very "hairy" brush.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I Couldn't Resist...

This is just too much fun. Has anyone played the board game "Settlers of Catan?" It's CRAZY fun -- anyway, my brother has the game; we have his puppy's favorite toy (Mr. Buffalo). It's a RANSOM!

Photoshop Actions

I have discovered Actions, those lovely filter effects that other people make to enable photo-editing novices such as myself to create awesomeness. Here are two that turned out really the click of a button. This last one is just for fun - Jehan did such a lovely "dirty polaroid" image on his site that I wanted to try it -- you can see his HERE.

New LRI logos!

I've been needing to create a self-contained logo for Lauren Reeser Illustration for awhile now, and here it is! I originally had two more windmills in the circle, but it seemed like too much. Also, instead of putting the windmill smack center, I left it off to the side. I like the negative space it creates. Maybe this is actually a REALLY BAD logo and type design according to "real" graphic designers, but I like it! I hand-kerned the letters, and edited some of the letter shapes. I'll probably update my website with the new banners sometime soon.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bad Self Portrait

This is a terrible self portrait, but a good exercise. I set up "bad" lighting conditions - a spot light somewhere behind me, some ambient light from the kitchen, a candle (no real light there), all behind me, so the majority of my face with kindof one tone and dark and difficult to see. I used the color picker and just smooshed color all over the canvas. It actually ended decent from the way it was going before (I looked like a zombie)! All my self portraits look this way, with this kindof "I'm going to kill you" feel to them, even though I am really a nice person! Maybe my soul is black as tar and it's coming out in my paint sketches? Hahaha.
If you click on the image you get a super-huge version, and when you look at just little pieces of it it actually looks quite nice, thoughg the whole thing doesn't work AT ALL.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Painterly Landscape

I wanted to paint something loose and vibrant, without much pre-planning. I just want to GO, and was inspired by some really great landscape color sketches I've been seeing on random art blogs. I know Corel's real-media effects are infinite, and I've been wanting to try out as many different brushes and whatnots as I could. This was my "experiment" painting that ended up being something actually kindof nice. Hooray for the natural beauty of the Badlands :-)

Click on the image to see a super-huge version that shows all the brush stuff.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jacob Cass - Just Creative Design

I want to take a moment to profile Jacob Cass of, a graphic design blog choc full o' great articles and tips on design. Most of you (and me) are on the more illustrative side of design, but that is not to say that we should not learn about what makes great typography, etc.

The reason I am so enamored with Jacob Cass right now is because he is 20 years old, an incredibly successful graphic designer in Australia, a savvy and influential blogger, and a good-looking Aussie to boot! He's not even out of college yet and already has so many terrific examples in his portfolio, and accomplishments under his belt.

I urge you all to visit his site: This fellow is an inspiration!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Large Purple Queen - in progress

I have a wonderful job to paint Deborah, the amazing actress who portrays Queen Elizabeth I at nearly all the Northern Cali Renaissance Faires. I took photo reference at Folsom, which I have just gotten to and began to digest. A lot of digesting involved here. What an enormous challenge this portrait is and will be. She is wearing a gold gauze veil which will need to be re-interpreted on the black background (reference has a brown wood background), as well as a whole lot o' purple velvet encrusted with jewels and pearls. Myriad jewels and pearls, and these are the elements that will define the bodice and separate it from the sleeves. I am heightening the highlights of the purple velvet, to give it more form and definition, and I had to skinny poor Elizabeth up a little, as was absolutely customary and expected in the actual Elizabeth's portraits! Primarily I did this because the angle at which Deb was sitting, and the angle from which I took the picture, made the bodice look much larger than it actually is. She also has hanging sleeves that in this sitting position sortof just meld with the bodice. I trimmed off the right side, sitting her up a little straighter, and I will need to reinterpret the pearls, jewels, and piccadills on that side. I may also lower the neckline, again because of the angle of the picture. It seems like it needs to be lower.

So much work to do on this one. It will be quite some time before the lay-in phase is complete and I can begin rendering.

Edit: I just realized it looks like she is giving us a thumbs up! She is holding a long strand of pearls, actually, but I may attempt to make her hand look a little more graceful and posed in the finished painting, lol.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter Belgian

Edit: I noticed and changed a couple hard lines one this painting, posting here the revised version, a little softer through the chest and some of the face. If you click on the above image, you can also see the huge version, with all the pretty brushwork.

I like this one -- it's got a different feel from the others. More light, less snow, more shadow on the ground. A little movement, but not much, and a fuller frame. As I mentioned, I did this one entirely using the pastel brushes in Painter, and have included a detail to look at the pretty marky-marks :-).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Winter Belgian - In Progress

I started this one in digi-pastel, and began developing the pastel instead of switching the oil. I like both feels -- this one is chunkier and depends a lot of light, I think. I run the risk of overworking things and having them feel mushy if I over-oil them, I think -- the Clydesdale suffers from this a bit. So I'm going to keep this card strictly pastel, and bring in some of the watercolor crystal brush for the dappled underside, at the end. I think I may also play up the drama with a warmer golden color to contrast with the blue background -- why not?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Winter Percheron

Another "Winter Horse" painting complete. I didn't like the green for the halter -- the painting needed more warm contrast, and something about this wintry blue and bold red together makes me think of Christmas :-).
I used the incredible watercolor crystal brush for the dapple grey spots. I can't imagine anything working better! This brush was created by Erin Middendorf, but I have no idea where the download is posted for it (go ask her, it's worth it!). I think you could also create your own with a little work.
What's next in the Winter Horse series? Maybe a Fjord, or a Belgian -- I'm missing that most recognized draught horse, as well as a Shire, so perhaps I'll do those two next.

This and all the other Winter Horse cards are available at

Friday, November 14, 2008

Winter Percheron - In Progress

So, a series! I think I like this one the best of the three so far. I love dapple gray percherons, their conformation and power. This piece doesn't have the action I thought I originally wanted in all of these, but I like the variety. I wanted this to be a strong "in your face" kind of pose. The feet will not be visible in the final, and you can see I still have work to do on the front legs and head. Then onto the dapples! The best part! I'm looking forward to using the watercolor crystal brush for that, though I doubt it'll solve everything, so I'll probably need to get in there and work out the dapples by hand too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Winter Clydesdale

Finished this one at the library tonight -- I don't get internet there, so I really have no choice but to paint. It's really a wonderful alternative to sitting at home with all the temptations of doing something besides what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm showing a detail of the painting too, since I'm in love with Corel Painter and love looking at these brushstrokes.

The next in the series is a percheron, dapple gray, which I think will be a cool painting with this snowy foggy effect. Plus I'm itching to use these watercolor salt brushes a little more. Should be fun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pendragon Portrait - Done?

I think he's about done! What do you all think? I like that some parts of this are left a little looser, while other parts are very rendered. I don't want to overwork it. I'm thinking about developing some "antique varnish cracking" filters to use. Could be fun.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Christmastime Cuteness

I've caught Christmas fever from making Christmas art in November. I can't help it! I was so in love with the graphic design and illustration of Bath & Body Work's winter line of lotions that I was inspired to make this cute little landscape. It felt empty without a cute little snowbird, so I added him in and I think it makes the whole picture :-). I think I might like this better if each color were textured, so it looked like cutout fabric and paper. Perhaps I'll work on that and make a Christmas card out of it. For now, this vector illustration is on, and will hopefully generate some pennies :-).

Friesian Holiday Goodness

Who doesn't love Friesian horses running through the snow?

I'm putting this image up for sale, like, everywhere...

Greeting Cards at

Posters, mugs, t-shirts, other stuff at

Portraits - More WIPs

Oh the amazing things to do without paint...I am in love with Corel Painter X. I usually block in a lot of these in Photoshop, then take them into Painter and render render render. "Pendragon" has a ways to go - he's got a LOT of buckles and things on his costume, not to mention that hand, and I want to work more on his face and the beard obviously. "Ron" is a miniature, so he's actually almost done, hooray! It's all shapes, shapes, simple shapes.

Monday, November 03, 2008

"Toni" - Miniature In Prog, pt 2.

Here's the progress on one of the miniature portrait commissions, from Folsom Faire. I posted the underpainting last, and after some major paint-surgery, I finally got the proportion of this lovely lady's face correct. Toni has a very unique look that needs to be spot-on in her miniature, so I am paying particular attention to the eyes and lips. This painting is shown way larger than its finished size, which will be 30 x 40 mm.

Friesian - In Progress

This is an underpainting for a "holiday friesian." He'll be charging through the snow, and be decorated with a red halter and maybe some jingle bells and holly in his mane...things like that. It won't scream "CHRISTMAS!" but it will be wintry and pretty :-).

Cross-posted from Sketch of the Horse.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Miniatures In Progress

I'm working on several little paintings all at once, to keep my eyeballs fresh and not overwork any one of them. I also do this so I have a decent start on everything, as I find that starting is sometimes the hardest part.

These are two miniatures in progress. The little girl is nearly done. The painting is a combination of Corel Painter and Photoshop, which I find to be a very effective partnership. The second painting is an underpainting, done in Photoshop, with my most beloved rough canvas brush. I find that when I block in everything with this brush in Photoshop, I don't get caught up in the little details as quickly. I can then take it into Corel and begin to render, and finally finish off the super-fine details (particularly in the face) back in the 'Shop.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pendragon WIP pt. 2

I took this portrait into Corel and have been working on rendering bits and pieces of it, primarily the face, hat, and parts of the costume. Our friend here has a lot of buckles and sparkly things hanging off him (not included as of yet), plus his fantastic dragon-headed staff, which will all be fun to work in as I go along.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Portraits Galore... Pendragon WIP

Last week was L'Elizabeth R.'s last Renaissance Faire of the 2008 season, in Folsom, CA. We did amazingly well, and came home with about 10 commissions to work on over the winter! Most of them are miniatures, which is fantastic, since I love doing them, and we also have one fully painted portrait of this fellow here, Henry Pendragon. This is the underpainting, and I haven't taken it into Corel Painter yet, but it's already going very well. Oh the joy of shooting my own photo reference! This fellow was so very kind and patient with us over our incredibly busy weekend, not to mention what a great subject to paint! So here is the first work-in-progress. More to come later....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stock Heraldry

Who wants a royalty-free coat-of-arms? hehe, get it? :-D

I've been looking at the "most downloaded" files on the Vectorstock website, and finding that cool swirlies and heraldry are still the top, most beloved downloads, and the people making that cool stuff are getting all the money (well, the small amounts of money that thousands of $0.30 downloads amounts to.) So I am now on a quest to create hundreds of stock files, which I am sure I will find useful along the way, as well, and might possibly someday figure out how to put on other stock sites like iStockPhoto or Shutterstock, both which seem somehow more difficult to use. The idea is that they get more traffic, which equals more downloads and more pennies for me, though I will not be having an exclusive on one site or another, so I will not get the best rate, that being 25cents instead of 30cents. See? But I've been running into troubles with trying to upload stuff, so I will keep working on it in the future. And keep working on stock! It's fun, and I don't feel like I am completely wasting my time. I can use the stock images for t-shirts (cafepress) and greeting cards (, which may also generate me some passive income pennies.

J is of a mind that I just need to create more More MORE. Sounds familiar - DRAW DRAW DRAW, right Sheldon? He's right, so I am honing my skills in all things, from painting to vector illustration to costuming. I must be saleable in many areas for this whole freelance things to work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Horses and Stock

I've set up a new blog recently called "Sketch of the Horse," where I will be putting all my horsey sketches and paintings. Never fear, though, for I will put them here as well! This is an in-progress horsey paint sketch, to work more with Corel Painter, and have some stuff to put on the new SotH blog (I'm on a webring now; I have more of an obligation!).
Also, some stock illustration. I've been doing bunches of totally random stuff. Whatever pops into my mind. In taking a look at the "most downloaded" examples, though, I see a lot of this heraldry/design elements kind of stuff. It's useful, for sure! So I jumped on the "wings&banners&swirls OH MY!" bandwagon and made some of my own. Kindof fun :-). The one with the deer is a vintagey label thing...see? completely random. But hey, if two people have downloaded my page of horsey silhouettes, and I have made $0.60, then maybe they will like my other things as well :-). If for some reason you want to buy my vector stock illustrations, they're on

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Knights of A - Beltain Progress

So I've been going back and forth between Photoshop and Painter, which I think is pretty nifty. I've also been exploring more brushes in Painter (there are a millions!) and finding things that work better for me, for the effects I want to acheive. For instance, using the "oils" instead of "artist oils" is a lot easier, and also using "oil pastel" and various hardness/softness settings is working out really well. Sure, this painting is taking me longer than usual, but I feel so satisfied with using this new program to acheive pretty unbelievably real effects :-).

Monday, October 06, 2008

Knights of A - Beltain, Work-in-Prog

Ok, control and speed in Corel Painter isn't all that great at this point, and though I love love love the oil painting effects I'm getting, I found myself already over-rendering things. I like the rough, broken color effects, but for this particular application I need a more detailed approach. So...I imported back into Photoshop and got the painting "back on track." I'm thinking I take it back into Painter again and touch up the horse with the lovely oily brush, since it works so nicely for that shiny equine coat I'm always going for. Anyway, here's an in-progress. I changed the background a lot, as you can see, and am trying to add more drama, less weird purple light. :-)

Knights of A - The Headless Horseman

So here is the final for the Blue Knight on "Duke" the belgian draft. Beautious! Up next is "Beltain," from a lovely photo taken by Katrina Markham, the Knights of A's photographer. Thanks to JP Balmet, I've caught the "real media brush" bug, or the strong desire to make my digital painting look, well, not digital. JP does amazing things with brushes in Photoshop, and he gave me a few tips, but I still can't seem to match the incredible brushes in Corel Painter. Originally with this new painting I meant to just get the backround in using some nice oily flat brushes in Painter, and then come back into Photoshop to do the subject, but after messing around in Painter for long enough I began to get the hang of how the brushes work. It's a whole different philosophy than Photoshop, and takes quite a lot of getting used to (my first attempt to work in Painter, 6 months ago or so, failed miserably and I got frustrated), but I am just awed by how realistic and beautiful the "paint" looks and feels. At some point I might take this image back into Photoshop, but I'm going to take it as far as I can in Painter first. Yes, it'll be a different "style" and "media" than the previous two Knights of Avalon paintings, but variety is the spice of life :-). Both methods are painterly, which is the whole point...this one is just moreso.