click click – 18-12-12

Welcome to click click, the sporadic review of what I find worth clicking on the internet.

derick melander 2

These installations by artist Derick Melander appeal to the finicky folder in me, as well as being an interesting survey of the range of colours that clothing is available in.

derick melander 1


Constant karma…

Microsoft Fresh Paint – portfolio 2

Over the course of eight shifts at the airport using the Fresh Paint application at the Windows 8 booth, I created about 80 illustrations. Some took me just a few minutes, some took a few hours. I was very curious to see how I approached the project compared to the other artists on the project. The other artists all came from the same agency and have backgrounds creating corporate murals, street graffiti and classical portraiture. Those dudes (they’re all dudes) can spend all day on a single composition. Some of their work is very impressive as a result. I guess I have a much shorter attention span.

fresh paint 15

The truth is, I get competitive. As the program’s token agency-free girl-artist, I wanted to produce beautiful work that was very different than the others, and prove I could master the Fresh Paint program and bend it to my will. Above all, I wanted to make the most of all the drawing time, and produce something I could be proud of. Since I had free reign to draw whatever I wished, reviewing the work now is a journey through various tangents, subjects and techniques that reflect my interests and my exploration through the program’s possibilities. This selection represents the best 10%, by my estimation.

fresh paint 14

These first two are the result of looking for a glitch in the program to exploit, an intention I stated after the first week. I found a janky digital brush tool, which was so busted it couldn’t draw a smooth line, and I loaded it with 3 colours of paint. Then I would twist the brush as a I drew it across the screen which would make it skip and create involuntary jags. This way I could create a random, rhythmic pattern that would be wholly unique to the Fresh Paint program and the touchscreen technology. Artificial life!

fresh paint 13

This silhouette came from a request by one of the kids in the booth, who said she liked Victorian fashions. I’ve been using silhouettes quite a bit over the course of this project. Silhouettes bypass the necessity of assigning an ethnicity to every figure, as well as allowing me to avoid creating facial features in low resolution.

This one turned out so well, and of course I have a deep obsession with historical fashion silhouettes. This successful drawing inspired a whole series from which the next four come in order of creation.

fresh paint 12

I leaped back and forth between elegant historical female silhouettes and punk rock. At the time it was just a stream of consciousness to keep me interested in the process, but of course on reflection the juxtaposition is kind of fun.

fresh paint 11

The sketch below is inspired by Johnny Rotten, especially his unhinged, glaring eyeballs. I was a bit unhinged myself on this day, feeling rotten and high on cold medication, getting tired of trying to keep myself together. These little punk rock interludes are probably the most expressive Fresh Paintings of all, letting slip a sense of the creative exhaustion that is inevitable after 50+ hours of coming up with ideas and rendering them.

fresh paint 10


By the end of the series, I was finally getting a handle on how to make the Fresh Paint program actually appear painterly. I was working quickly and deliberately with a greater level of confidence, and I could almost make it seem as if I had used actual paint.

fresh paint 9

The last few images were, appropriately, very simple. As with any medium, achieving a successful loose composition with just a few elements is far more challenging than doing a very tight rendering. By this time, I could just let Fresh Paint be Fresh Paint.

fresh paint 8

Thanks so much to Microsoft, everyone at Black Chalk Marketing, Caroline Shaheed and all of the wonderful young event workers I shared this experience with.

Microsoft Fresh Paint – portfolio 1

Last week, I spent four days at Toronto Pearson International Airport, sketching on a touchscreen at the Microsoft Windows 8 booth. This gave me enough time to complete a significant body of work – between 6 to 12 illustrations per day, from which I’ve selected a handful of what I feel were the most successful images.

At first I felt a bit nervous about this project – would I be able to adapt my illustration style to the Fresh Paint program? It is a bit of a high-pressure situation to be performing your art in front of a captive audience. Once I started though, it became apparent that this challenge was going to be a lot of fun. Not only do I get to share the booth with a bunch of young, enthusiastic event workers, but at the same time I’m taking a bit of a crash course in digital drawing.

The idea behind Windows 8 is that it’s an operating system you can do a bit of everything on – work or play, as they say. As such, the Fresh Paint application is not a specialist, professional program with an overwhelming plethora of tools and options. It’s a straight-forward, simple toy with two basic options – either pastel or paint. It has a visual interface that is so easy – it was fascinating to watch both children and elderly folks in the airport figure out the program within mere moments.

That said, as a professional illustrator who is used to working with extremely versatile, complex software, adapting to the limitations of Fresh Paint required a shift in attitude. Although the programmers have done a great job creating a simulacrum of wet and dry media, knowing how to use paint doesn’t mean you know how to use Fresh Paint. Like every medium, it requires thought and strategy to use to its best advantage.

Using Fresh Paint is like a game. There are several available effects I can use – how can I combine these effects to create a composition? The canvas is low-resolution and landscape-oriented, which doesn’t adapt well to my usual style of figure illustration – so what is the creative solution to that?

There is this idea that digital art is by its very nature is slick and facile – I don’t believe that it has to be, although of course mine is by virtue of its subject. There is certainly a tendency to perfect and polish an image until it loses all sense of humanity. It is an interesting creative conundrum to attempt to allow an element of wrongness into a digital illustration. The oxymoron of deliberate spontaneity.

So over the course of this project, the concept of the “New Aesthetic” has been on my mind. When creating work using watercolour, part of the art is letting the unpredictability of the materials play a role in the work. Whereas when using a computer program, everything is predictable – brushes are always the same shape and angle, edges react with other edges using the same set of data every time. So the only way to introduce a sense of artificial life into a digital image is to find a glitch in the program, and exploit that glitch in a purposeful way.

At the end of the week, they’re just a bunch of simple, superficial images I’ve created. Yet, I’m quite excited by them. I’m going to be doing another four days, so next week there will be a second portfolio, and maybe some more thoughts, too.


paper doll – Tulisa for Stylist

This was a fun little project – a paper doll inspired by X Factor judge Tulisa with some of her best dresses from this season’s show for Stylist. Guess what? You can download her for free, print her off, cut her out and dress her up while you watch the big finale.


Microsoft Fresh Paint at Toronto Pearson International Airport

One of the things I love about being a fashion illustrator is unexpected, unusual gigs. This week and next, I’m going to be hanging out at the Microsoft Windows 8 booth at Toronto Pearson International Airport, fingerpainting on a touchscreen easel using Fresh Paint, the updated version of that classic program we all know and love, MS Paint.

Fresh Paint takes advantage of the touchscreen technology, you can use your finger to blend and swirl colours, similar to the way pastels or paint work, but without the mess. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with it – I’ll have enough time to create a fairly substantial body of work, and I’m planning on focusing on beauty and hair illustrations. I’ll post the best ones here next week.

Thanks to Microsoft for an opportunity to try something new and fun! If you’re flying in or out of Toronto and you see me, please say hey!