Creative Process – How I Steal Ideas – Part II

A recap from Part I: 

Step 1: Brainstorm
Step 2: Research and Collect

Now to reveal the real magician’s secrets!

Step 3: Dissect & Rebuild

This sounds a little bit like Dr. Frankenstein, and in some ways it is!  Once I get a good collection to work from, I start to pick apart what I like and piece them together in order to actualize my vision.

Just a few of reference pictures and how I use them in my painting

Step 4: Sketch

Now, I sketch all those bits and pieces together taking proportion into account, making alterations along the way so everything fits together smoothly instead of looking like a photo collage.  Unfortunately, I forgot to keep the sketch of this current project, so here is an example of one of my earlier works, before and after:

The Gardener - Sketch to Finished Piece

You can see I did a lot of cutting and pasting of roses, rearranging them until the fit nicely around the figure.  One of the benefits of digital painting is that you can move bits around half-way through completion.

Step 5: Start Painting

There’s this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people. It’s called Imposter Syndrome… It means that you feel like a phony, like you’re just winging it, that you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing.

Guess what?  None of us do.  – Austin Kleon

It’s true.  I have no clue what I’m doing, and there is no sense pretending like I do.  But, it seems to be working for me so far.  I am completely self-taught.  I just dabbled with a few brushes and stuck with what worked.  I am sure… no, positive… that I have picked up some bad habits; so I hesitate to give you any impressions that I know the right way to do things. I just do my thing.

Because I skipped the sketch of my current project, I will share with you the work in progress to date, so you can see how all the dissecting and rebuilding comes together as an original piece of art.  Here it is; a premature unveiling of “Hunter’s Moon:”

Hunter's Moon - A work in progress

There is still a lot of work to be done on this piece.  Her hand, mask, feather accent and the front of her shirt are still incomplete.  Obviously, her owl companion needs to be painted.  I haven’t even sketched the background yet.  All in all, I am pretty pleased with the progress so far.  I’ll be sure to post her again as soon as she is finished.

Last but not least, I want to take the opportunity to share with you a great article and resource for aspiring artists of any medium.  You may have noticed how I have intertwined my blog with quotes by Austin Kleon from his inspirational blog, How to Steal Like an Artist and 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me.  This is a must read!  In fact, I might just have to buy his book!

My Own Art History – Part II

I’m back to bore you with more of my old drawings.  I’ll share with you some of my high-school projects as well as some more milestone art projects.  Here we go!

Late 90’s

Rearing Horse
Rearing Horse – 1996
Colt – 1996

About age 12, I bought a book called How To Draw Horses by Carrie Snyder. I’m not sure what prompted me to get this book. I never went through a horse phase like many of my pre-teen friends.  I remember posters of horses and unicorns all over their bedrooms. I never understood the fascination; I was still obsessing with dinosaurs, I guess.  I do remember thinking horses were challenging to draw.  The horses were another artistic milestone when I really started to look at shadow and shape; horses have a lot of muscle to define.


Beast – 1996
Simba Sketch
Simba – 1996

I started the 8th Grade in 1996.  I went through a bit of a Disney phase between 1995-1997.  I thought it would be pretty cool if I could be an animator for Disney when I grew up (you know…if I wasn’t going to get to be a Paleontologist), so I filled entire sketchbooks with Disney characters to get in some practice.

Dinosaurs - High School

Dinosaurs - 1998

This image (right) was too large to scan, so I took a photograph.  I completed this one for art class in Grade 9.  Yet another image to feed my dino-addiction.

The 00’s

Angel - 2001

Angel - 2001






In my senior high school years, I started moving away from dinosaurs and started to discover fantasy art. I drew the Angel on the left from a Magic: The Gathering card.  The original burned in a house fire.  I am so glad I still have this digital copy.

Ent - 2002

Ent - 2002


The picture on the right, The Ent, is a huge milestone for me.  It is still unfinished, and will probably remain so.  The reason this incomplete drawing is so important to me is that it is the first drawing I ever did completely out of my head with no reference image whatsoever. I came back from the theatre after watching Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and I was inspired.  I grabbed my sketchbook and this is what I came up with. My confidence as an artist grew 10 sizes that day.


I am not sure I completed, or even started anything between 2002 and 2010.  The reason being that life, responsibilities and university took over and I no longer found the time.  After some major life decisions in 2009 – tough, but positive changes that led to a newly discovered sense of happiness and confidence, I picked up my pencils once again. I took a stab at digital art after being inspired by my sister to try a new medium, and I liked what came out of it.  I am so fortunate to have the support of my family and friends.  I have said before that I really have to discipline myself when it comes to my artwork, and their support helps keep me motivated.

My Own Art History – Part I

I thought it would be fun to go back and time and dig out some of my old, OLD art works and share some of the art stages and phases I went through from childhood to present day.


The ’80s

The earliest “Ah-ha!” artist moment I can remember was probably in preschool.  I was tracing images from my Mickey Mouse colouring book when it suddenly hit me that connecting different lines of different sizes and shapes in the right place can make beautiful pictures.  If you are off by even a little bit, it changes the whole image; therefore, precision was important. I started to notice length and distance and proportion.  Once this serendipitous epiphany struck me, I began testing my theory by drawing the images in the colouring book free-hand.  At 4 or 5 years old, those drawings were obviously far from perfect, but I knew I had the right idea.  I remember being able to recognize that I made his nose too small, or one arm too skinny.  I could erase, try again and gauge improvement.

Early 90’s

Leaping DeerLeaping Deer – 1990
River Bear

River Bear - 1990

In 1990, I was 7 years old. I borrowed a book from the library called Drawing From Nature by Jim Arnosky.  This was this book that inspired the images you see above.  I don’t remember anyone ever explaining shadow or perspective to me.  I just copied what I saw from the book.


Bear - '90/'91

Around the age 7 or 8 I took drawing lessons from a family acquaintance.  I learned about some tools of the trade and tricks and tips for using photo references.  The bear you see above is the result of those lessons.


T-Rex - 1994

Dinosaur - ?

Like a lot of children in 1993 (the year Jurassic Park was released in theatres), I began an obsession with dinosaurs, only my obsession lasted nearly 7 years.  I collected books and toys… studied taxonomy… for fun!… glued myself to every documentary I could gain access to… I was a complete and utter dino-nerd.  Studying them was going to be my career of choice until I got a shocking dose of reality in senior high: I hated science class!  

That crisis left me with only a year to re-plan my life-long plan and a portfolio of dinosaur art, which I will share more of next week.