Friday, 8 August 2014

An Inspiring Journal for an Aspiring Illustrator


That is the only word (expression?) which came to mind after reading illustrator Holli Conger's journal which she wrote 10 years ago in 2004- the same year I began my own journey through secondary school. It seems such a long time ago now! Well, I guess it was.

The journal entry which she wrote was titled 'Becoming an Illustrator: One girl's journey to doing what she loves'. I stumbled across this article after completing several searches in Google to find out how to become an illustrator. This stemmed from anxieties and losing faith in my abilities to ever make a career of illustration; it never seemed practical.

Consisting of 12 parts, Conger explains her ups and down throughout a year of making it to become a successful illustrator. In her journal entries, she includes marketing strategies, portfolio building and ways to get her name out there as a creative. Reading through, it was clear that the journey Conger undertook was genuine and passionate, and never once did she give up on her dream.

I cannot reflect on how brilliant it was to read all 12 journal entries (I was hooked after the first one) as it is something that should be appreciated whilst reading it yourself. However, I can say that after the final entry, my mood and general attitude towards illustration as a career had become more positive. It was truly inspiring to learn how one illustrator found success even through negative, unmotivated times, and with a bit of determination and effort a dream can definitely come true!

I will definitely rethink my attitude towards my dream and begin taking the necessary steps to become a successful illustrator myself.


Thanks for reading!


Read the journal entries yourself here

Find the work of Holli Conger on her website here

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Contacting Artist: Sharon Tiernan

Home is always pleasant and I wish I could visit more, though being at University has meant I cannot come back as often as I'd like. Bridlington, East Yorkshire, is where I call home and there is nothing nicer than being beside the seaside in an English summer. There are also other perks of visiting, and that is the local art scene; this is where I found the beautiful and technically brilliant work of Sharon Tiernan in a gallery in the centre of town.


As soon as I saw her work I had a desire to know more! Therefore, this is how Tiernan responded after I contacted her: 

"Hello Carla.
Thank you for your kind words. 
I don't mind you writing about my work in your blog, and don't mind you using my images.
I have included some of my Personal Statement, as follows:

Sharon Tiernan
Born: Scarborough 1979
Trained: (First Class BA Hons) University of York.
(MA Painting) University of Hull.
Currently works as an artist and tutor of art.

I have a solid grounding in the arts and have a First Class BA Honours degree and Master of Arts degree in Painting. I have exhibited previously in London and Leeds; but have mainly spent the last few years concentrating on passing on my knowledge of the arts through teaching others. I currently teach art and photography in a local Secondary School (full time). I have a studio in Scarborough, which tends to get used mainly on Saturdays and during the school holidays, but occasionally if I am feeling energetic then I will do a couple of hours after work.

This body of work comprises of an eclectic mix of images, demonstrating wide and varied interests. I see painting as problem solving; like a challenge and enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone. I am interested in the physical act of painting, particularly Realist painting, Trompe L’Oeil and photorealist painting. I have a love of painting for its own sake.The physical act of painting is a meditative act which enables you to ‘see’ and appreciate the beauty which surrounds us, which we often take for granted. It is essential for me when acquainting myself with a subject, to aim for accuracy and realism within my work. Usually when I am painting, something within the image will have captured my interest and intrigued me, whether it be the texture of fur or feathers, or simply the composition within the image. I tend to work from photographs and have a keen interest in photography, but on occasions I will work from direct observation if the subject permits.

The method I use is to lightly sketch out the image, and then block in the tones using brown under-painting. At this stage the under-painting enables me to correct the shape and look at the composition within the images without getting too involved with the fine detail. I tend to build the colour up within the painting using lots of layers, and gradually use smaller and smaller brushes to work into the image (using cross hatching and hatching techniques). I also glaze into the images with acrylic gloss medium to give a richer depth to the colour.

As for my recent inspiration: I had a brush with cancer in 2013 and consequently had 9 months away from the easle due to chemo treatment etc (it was frustrating not to be able to paint - the worst bit about the experience). Even during treatment when I could venture out; I still thought about my art and took my camera with me to record images for potential paintings... e.g. the squirrels within the exhibition were taken from photos I shot of them at this time. Little things such as feeding the ducks and squirrels became highly important and meaningful, and gave me a lot of upliftment and pleasure. As soon as I was able to get back into the studio, I began to transcribe the source material I had gathered, and recreate the images which had meant so much to me during treatment, in paint. Since getting the 'All Clear', I have been back in the studio with a vengence making up for lost time! It certainly increases your passion and desire to paint when that is taken from you. 

Hope that this helps?

Yours Sincerely
Sharon Tiernan"

I couldn't be happier with Tiernan's response. It is honest and genuine, really expressing the artist's journey as a painter. Her skills in painting are completely perfect, capturing the vivid tones and textures in the subjects of her work. The detail in the pieces is defined and it is clear how much time and passion goes into each one. Tiernan's recent experiences have only enhanced her love of the arts making each piece even more special.

Personally, with my love of animals and nature, the subjects of Tiernan's paintings are what drew me to her work, although I could not ignore the skill and precision in every piece. Her story only gives the paintings more depth and meaning, instantly connecting with the viewer on a more personal level. I certainly will be looking out for more of her work!

Thanks for reading,