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Jacqui Oakley 2013
Even though I paint for a living, I still enjoy doing larger scale or more experimental work for art shows. It’s a good excuse to rediscover one’s enjoyment of making art, which sometimes can be forgotten when it becomes part of a daily routine (I know, shame on me). After exhibits I always learn something that I bring back to my illustration work, whether it’s a slightly new technique or subject matter or it’s purely a re-energizment.
This winter I was lucky to be in two art shows where I took the opportunity to try something a little different from my usual work and create some 3D pieces. I wanted to create pieces that forced me to not rely on my usual skills and would stretch my typical boundaries. I also wanted to do art that was a little more physical and get away from my studio table, so why not cardboard masks, I thought?
Below you’ll find some of my process for these cardboard critters which will be hanging up guarding my other paintings until the end of February at De Facto at Mulberry (193 James St. North, Hamilton, Ontario). Such a lovely gallery–thanks so much to Oliver and Ella for inviting me to show my work there. Here’s my third mask of the series, “The Boar” and the fourth mask ‘The Fox”.
I was surprised that the process for these wasn’t too arduous (aside from the occasional glue gun burn). I didn’t do sketches beforehand but just printed out a few low res photos of the creatures I intended to capture. I wanted to wing it for a change and see (good or bad) what would result. In my usual illustration work I’m so precise in working out sketches beforehand that with this project I wanted to feel a little freer. If these masks turned out to be aberrations, the experiments could be thrown in the garbage with no one the wiser. I had enough paintings to show anyway! Albeit a bit cheesy, I think feeling no pressure really helped open up those creative flows. Who would have thought those motivational speakers were right?
So without further ado, here are some process shots of the boar, where I built up the frame with chunks of corrugated cardboard (the cardboard came thanks to Jamie’s vinyl shopping addiction and their packaging). Then I would cut out random shapes and see where they could fit. I wanted to go for a very elongated shape and keep his mouth open which was a bit tricky to figure out at first. Luckily with additive work like this you can just keep building layers until it looks right.
I told you I wanted to get out of the studio. Here I am on the floor of my living room while Star Trek films play in the background. It was a fun day, and I got to wear track-pants all day which is always an added bonus.
The later stage was with gluing down finer bits of chip board which flex nicely into hair or fur and can add a lot more textural contrast and rhythm to the piece. They also covered up the messier glue parts and hid and refined the chunkier corrugated cardboard parts. I did still want to maintain a fragmented look though, since I think it’s more visually interesting. It’s hard not to overwork these and lose that construction-like quality.
As in my painting work, I wanted to to capture a strong personality in the face which is trickier to do when the eyes are wholes and I can’t paint in an expression. Instead I relied on tweaking the shapes around the eyes and the brows to try and portray an old brooding personality. I hope this comes across.
Here’s the start of the fox piece. As you can see they each started out like strange alien heads. With this one I really wanted to add a different sort of personality than the boar. I wanted to face to be stretched horizontally and to process a certain sort of mischievousness–this is a fox, afterall.
I was surprised to find that working out the facets of the fox’s face came fairly naturally (I’m going to regret saying this down the road when I try and do a trickier face, aren’t I?). Through my paintings I think I’ve trained myself to break down facets and levels of anatomy. This definitely helped with visualizing and building up the 3D planes of the faces. The more refined hair paper pieces felt like the final touches of a painting that I usually add with ink and a fine brush. Funny how similar this project was in some ways to my regular work.
So, hopefully I’ll find time between moving to our new house, illustration work and teaching to do some new masks. I’ll pop up the process for some of the other masks soon too.
I really have felt re-inspired from this process and feel so lucky to have the opportunity to show these pieces. I’m thinking about going a lot larger next time. Any suggestions?
2012 has been a year of welcomed surprises. My work was pushed a new direction I couldn’t have imagined with book illustration. I was excited to have a chance to work on my first children’s book Lighting Our World for Kids Can Press and especially thrilled to illustrate huge Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes collections for Amazon and get a chance to work with the talented Book Designers. Definitely a year full of challenges and business but it was a huge and welcome learning experience.
Another surprising thing was being contacted by people who had my art tattooed on them. What an incredible compliment and something I would have never had expected to happen. Below, here’s Mike Baker’s bird tattoo by Vancouver’s Cohen Floch. You can check out Floch’s work on his site and newer work on his Tumblr. I have to say, He really did such a remarkable job capturing the line work and I really like it just in black.
Late last year I was contacted by Fabi Liedmeier from Germany who kindly asked permission to use my lion artwork as a tattoo for himself. Little did I know he was actually going to tattoo the lion over his own chest with just the aid of a mirror! Luckily he filmed it – check out the video below and see his blog for more of his work. he only just started tattooing within the last year and is making big strides. He definitely isn’t afraid of a challenge! I believe colour is going to be added to this bad boy at a later date.
I’m sure he’ll move onto the colour soon and when he does I’ll pop up a newer image. Another piece recently started by Fabi was taken from my Dreaming illustration which I think is coming along quite nicely.
A few years ago my friends Hilda Rasula and Daryl Brook wanted anchor tattoos to celebrate their wedding and my husband Jamie and I were very honored to be asked to create their anchors. I cannot take credit for the tattoo, which was done by Adam Kliss at Art and Soul Tattoos, just for the illustration he cleverly adapted it from.
You should check out my lovely friend Hilda Rasula‘s work and say hello to her on Twitter. She is a freelance motion picture editor based in Los Angeles. Recently she’s been doing some assistant editing on David Fincher’s episodes of House of Cards for Netflix. Also, she was the editor for the short film Caine’s Arcade, about an enterprising boy in East LA who built his own arcade out of cardboard. If you haven’t seen it yet this film is truly inspiring. It’s been viewed 7 million times online, and has raised over $200K for Caine’s scholarship fund. I feel so lucky to have such talented friends around me. They keep me on my toes.
Here’s Daryl’s piece designed by Jamie Lawson. Don’t they make a nice pair?
My tattoo is not a piece of my own art but an combination of old peony engravings and was done by the brilliant Derek Lewis at Hartless in Toronto. If you’re in the Toronto area I’d totally recommend going to him. He’s done work on many of my friends, including my husband, Jamie‘s gorgeously detailed piece below on the left. I’ve also included a newer piece by Derek on the right.
I do not normally design tattoos for people usually only my close friends. A tattoo artist has a much better idea about how line-work and form will wrap nicely around a body’s curves. It is an art form that astounds me and I don’t think I could ever have the guts to do something permanent on someone. Lately I’ve been really inspired by black line-work tattoos and a few months I came across Liam Sparkes from London, UK. Really think he’s doing something so interesting looking with being inspired by Medieval Wood Cut prints.
Also, Thomas Hopper’s work blows my mind. Such detail, unique use of symbols and what an eye for composition. One day….
I was recently asked to illustrate ‘fire’ for Maria Keehan at Smithsonian Magazine. What a fantastic job! Since this is an opener on various stories all relating to fire, I had to make these flames complement all the pieces and so not seem too dangerous – pink always helps with this. So here’s some of my process work. Hope you like it.
Here’s some of my various sketches….
…and the two that I sent to Maria. The 2nd one was chosen and then the painting fun began.
Here’s some layers of acrylic paint…
Here’s the final published piece. Thanks Maria!
It’s Nook’s 2nd annual Holiday Sale, and I’m happy to announce I’ll be there with my prints and the work of Toronto’s best illustrators. It’s a great chance to buy art gifts for the holidays or just to drop by and say hello to all of us. Nook is located at 156 Augusta Avenue, Toronto ON, M5T 2L4 in Toronto’s Kensington Market. It’s a great collective which brings together all types of commercial artists with inspiring classes and events and with the goal of fostering collaboration and community. Be sure to check out their upcoming events and talks. We’re so lucky to have this in our community. A big shout out to Julia Breckenreid for all the work she does here.
Mark your calendars please, this a great opportunity to find a perfect, original gift – whether it’s original art, prints, objects or ephemera. Here’s the great line-up!
Tracy Walker – Marco Cibola – Claire Manning – Martha Chan – Melissa Verge
Carl Wiens – Jen Hsieh – Kyle Reed – Katy Dockrill – Rob Collinet – Jacqui Oakley
Jennifer Prior – Courtney Wotherspoon – Dave Murray – Carey Sookocheff
Julia Breckenreid – Jody Hewgill – Kagan McLeod – Ben Shannon – Derek Wuenschirs
Cinders McLeod – Kathryn Adams – Sandra Dionisi – Steve Wilson – Arv Slabosevicius
Thom Sevalrud – Clayton Hamner – Trio Magnus – Hyein Lee
I’m excited to announce that I’ll be doing my very first Hamilton solo show at De Facto at Mulberry (193 James Street South, Hamilton) in a few weeks. The opening night for this show will be the day before the Hamilton Art Crawl, Thursday December 13th, so we can beat the crowds. It will run from 7pm-11pm. Hope you can make it out!
Bestiary: A compendium of curious creatures, alive; dead & in-between, portrayed in paint to captivate & cultivate.
Jacqui Oakley’s work pairs loose ink brushstrokes with explosive colour combos, and intricate detail. See a collection of her illustration and art work from the past few years opening at De Facto at Mulberry on Thursday December 13th and running through to mid-February. Large limited prints and smaller 8×10″ prints will be available for sale.