My Top 25 Favorite Book List:

I have always loved to read and have found that reading has a way of sparking my imagination and keeping artist block at bay. Because of this I’m almost always reading a few books at a time. The following books are my top favorite books of all time and hold a soft spot in my heart. Check them out below and share what your favorite books are. Do we have any similar ones?

12 reasons Why I Love Her by Jamie S. Rich & Joelle Jones51VHj3XdRfL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

1984 by George Orwell71DgPQAEnFL

As I lay Dying by William Faulkner91B2XZKrFcL

Batman: Arkham Asylum – A Serious House on Serious Earth by Dave McKean81-ZMm0az2L

Blindness by Jose Saramago81M-+NQDCfL

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller61k33tU1CaL

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradburyfahrenheit-451-book-cover1

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchettwylie beckert goal - Copy

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesMTI4ODM1OTU4NDIxNDQwNTIy

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2013-12-23 00:36:22Z | |

Memory and Dream by Charles DeLintmemorydream_tor

Physics of the Dead by Luke Smitherd71dDJHncRkL

Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan{870CC3D6-7904-493F-9FBE-9CD802757571}Img100

Slog’s Dad by David Almond and Dave McKean9781406331394

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plathbelljar

The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven11886210

The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. KiernanDrowning_Girl_book_cover

The Farthest Away Mountain by Lynne Reid Bankssusaeta2010-lynne-reid-banks-the-farthest-away-mountain-445511-MLU20552038803_012016-F

The Gemma Doyle Trillogy by Libba BrayGemma-Doyle-Trilogy

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten BoomThe-Hiding-Place-cover


The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turnerqt series

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegutthe_sirens-of_titan

What the Dead Fear by Lea Ryanwhat-the-dead-fear-wasteland-cover

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi9780330522380White is for Witching_4

Inspirational Artists – The High School Years

In December I wrote four posts on artists that have been inspirational to me as of late. This post I’m going to focus on artists that got me started creating in the first place.

Gustave Courbet


Self-portrait (The Desperate Man), c. 1843–45, Oil

This self portrait was what initially got me started trying to depict deeper emotions and auras in my art. I discovered this painting in an art magazine my freshman year of high school (2004!) and instantly fell in love. The painting spoke to me and I wanted to figure out how to make art that could reach the viewer and communicate as well as this one did. This painting really shaped my art focus for my high school years and probably contributed to my love for darker art.


Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham

The Old Woman in the Wood, 1917, Watercolor and ink

We are going to go old school when talking about this image. I used this image for my Myspace background and coded a personalized profile around this image. That’s how much I loved this image. When I first saw it I was stunned by the color scheme, the lineart, and character interaction of this piece. It still causes me to catch my breath when I see it. This piece definitely helped inspire my love of line art and whimsical themes in my artwork.


Amanda Turnage

An_Apple_for_Fey_by_ArmadaRyuAn Apple for Fey, 2008, pen, watercolor and white ink.

I found this artist on deviantart and saved this image in my “inspiration” folder to reference it down the line. I loved the limited color scheme, something I’m still working on perfecting, and the way that this artist’s style was so loose yet so detailed at the same time. The use of red tones in this piece still impresses me to this day.


Bao Pham


Leafy, 2009, Digital

Bao Pham was one of the first digital artists that I discovered. Her work was so detailed, lively, and realistic that I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I loved her smooth shading and crazy amounts of texture and detail that brought her creations to life. I had tinkered with creating my own creatures and her art inspired me to push for a more realistic look by better understanding lighting, textures, and movement.


Thumbnails for the Win

This week’s post is a follow up from last week about focusing on improving my style. I originally had wanted to work on a bunch of pieces and see where they took me but ultimately I decided to place my focus on one piece. I pushed myself with this piece by adding in a detailed background, something I’ve never been comfortable with nor have I focused on improving on in the past. I’ve also gone back to work on my love of details and the human anatomy with this latest piece.

Below is a step by step guide to how this piece progressed:

As usual, when I’m searching for an idea I’ll take to pinterest for inspiration. When I found the image below I instantly fell in love with it. I could see this image turning into some sea squid woman and I couldn’t wait to start working on the piece. I loved the movement and lighting in the original photograph so I knew this fit within my goals for this week’s piece.IMG_3952


I started off by sketching some thumbnails. I typically skip this step but I’ve been pushing to start working with the fundamentals of art and have been attempting to do thumbnails now before starting a new piece. I wanted to get the proportions and composition perfectly prepared for my final image so doing a thumbnail sketch would definitely save me a lot of time and effot. Below is the first sketch that I did. I wasn’t pleased with the composition, the figure didn’t have room to breathe and was pretty squished within the page, so I decided to try again.


Below is my second sketch. I made the figure smaller and fixed the composition of the piece. I felt that the image was still a bit boring with it just containing the figure so I added a jar around the figure, as if she were a pet fish, and an idea sprang to mind. IMG_8565


Seeing this mersquid in a jar reminded me of specimen jars and how much I’ve always loved them. I decided to try a new composition with a bunch of fantasy hybrids stuck in variously sized jars all placed on a shelf. The thumbnail below is what I eventually came up with. This is one reason that thumbnails are so important. Without sketching out the piece a few times I would have ended up with a poorly composed piece that was a lot less creative than this one. My idea was allowed to grow because I took the time to figure it out and I was saved the time of correcting the piece over and over again because I had already done that in a smaller, less detailed piece.



As you can see by my sketchbook page below, I only did three thumbnails. Technically I should have done a bunch more before moving on but I was too excited to get started so I jumped right in. This would end up causing some problems so I definitely learned my lesson on this one. The-Collector-Series-blogLauren-Crest-IMG_8560


Getting the jars and figures on the paper was harder than expected since the format of my thumbnails above tended to be a bit wider than my final paper format. This is one reason why having multiple thumbnails of a final piece is super important. With some maneuvering, and taking more time that I should have, I got the basic line art down. The composition could be better but that’s what I get for only drawing three thumbnails.


My next step was to decide whether to use powdered graphite or to hand shade this piece. I decided against the powdered graphite for this one and get back to my roots of hand shading. I didn’t have enough references for the powdered graphite to really work well and I don’t have the experience that I’d like with it to start such a detailed piece. So jumped in head first with a 3h, 2h, hb, 2b, and 5b pencil. After a few hours we can see progress.



This is where this piece is at thus far. More details to the figures and shading have been added and the creatures in the remaining jars have been decided upon.


I should have the final drawn image finished by Wednesday at the latest. After that I’ll be deciding on a color scheme and will be starting the digital coloring. 🙂 I’m super excited about this piece thus far and am super pumped to see where it goes from here!

Let me know what you think!

Inspirational Artist: Lenka Simeckova

Lenka Simeckova is an artist I discovered when I was most frustrated with my style. I knew I was missing something but wasn’t sure what it was. As I was surfing through Facebook I found her page and immediately fell in love with her work and regained a passion for creating art once more.  Read more

Inspirational Artist: Rovina Cai

This week my post will be  Rovina Cai. Rovina is a relatively new artist discovery for me and one that has been absolutely wonderful. Her art has reminded me of why I fell in love with illustration and creating art in the first place. Her use of lines and mark making allow the stories she illustrates to vibrate with life. Read more

Inspirational Artist: Wenqing Yan

Another artist that has been a huge inspiration for my work, especially as of late, is Wenqing Yan. I’ve been following Wenging for years as well. Her individual art pieces were stunning but it was her comics and illustrated stories were what really caught my eye. I followed her art through her comics 1000 words, Knight, and now Fisheye Placebo. Read more

On Critique and Praise

I’ve always been a fan of Ray Bradbury. He is one of my top 20, maybe even top 10, authors (and considering my “to read” list is over 200 books long, that is high praise). He has provided a lot of brilliant information and insight to the world. This quote in particular stuck with me. “You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”

Read more