Sculpted Paper 1: Creating a Basic Sculpted Paper Relief now LIVE!!!

Sculpted Paper 1: Creating a Basic Sculpted Paper Relief now LIVE!!!

My new class, Sculpted Paper 1: Creating a Based Sculpted Paper Relief is now live on Skillshare. Click on the link and get two months free membership on them. Oh, and while you’re there, don’t forget to join my class! At least click the link. It’s free to watch the introduction.

I’d rather clean the house than tape and edit myself on video. But I did have fun preparing the title screens for each of my lessons. Here’s a peek below.

Eclipse Magazine Cover for CLICK

Eclipse Magazine Cover for CLICK

After working 18 years for the Carus/Cricket Media Group, I finally received my first cover gig! Yay! It’s for the July/August 2017 cover for CLICK magazine.

Eclipse Watching

Eclipse Cover Process

Here’s a little walk-through of how I created it. I usually start by bringing the layout provided into Photoshop. They wanted a variety of people and families viewing the eclipse – safely, of course – some close-up, some a little further away. I sketch my different elements separately and arrange them on the layout in Photoshop. When I think it’s good, I email the sketch to the client. Sometimes they want lots of changes, sometimes only a few. Then I print out my sketch to my working size, usually 125%.

By the way, I always leave a generous bleed around my images, typically one inch all around. It gives the client more flexability on how they use the image. In this case I couldn’t stand cutting people off at the ankles so I went a little further and added feet.

From there I start working on the individual components, including the background.

Every assignment presents its own challenge. For this one, the client wanted to be sure I caught the characteristics of the eclipse’s corona and sun flares, particularly the fuzzy and random aspect of them. While I could have cut those shapes out, they would have had a hard edge. I talked to my art director about how best to do that. I briefly thought about inserting little LED lights behind the black shape – I had done something similar before – but quickly put that idea on the back burner as it would require the expertise of my husband, who I already burden with too many other requests. No, I had to rely on myself and my burgeoning stash of paper.

Crafters, particularly quilters, will understand the theory of saving something because ‘you might find a use for it someday’. Way deep in a little used drawer of exotic papers I found my answer. Not only did I find a couple sheets of white rice paper but also this wonderful red orange paper with thick fibers.

I started by tracing the correct size circle on the backside. Then I went over the line with a brush and water, continuing the process until the water soaked through. Then I pulled and teased the excess paper away from the circle leaving a beautiful fuzzy edge. The thick red paper was harder to rip away but that was good. The thick fibers left would be perfect for the sun flares.

With the last of my elements completely, I glued it together and brought it to the photographer.

The first photo is how it was photographed with the color bars for color correcting. Notice the blue lines I added in Photoshop. This is how it was supposed to be cropped according to the sketch I had submitted. The second photo is the cropped image. If you look at the final cover though, they panned out and used some of my bleed. It gave them more room to add their little characters that run throughout the whole magazine. I like how they added the drop shadow to make them look like they belonged.

CATS in HATS Exhibits

CATS in HATS Exhibits

Cats in Hats Exhibits

Recently I was honored to be included in an exhibit celebrating the forthcoming  Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. It was held at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, part of the Springfield Museums.

From there the exhibit moved on to the R. Michelson Gallery in Northampton, MA. where my art shared wall space with the likes of Jerry and Brian Pinkney, Mo Willems, Ruth Sanderson, Dr. Seuss and so many other great arists.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, my Go, Cat. Go! piece won the Award for Creative Excellence in Illustration at New Hampshire Creative Club’s 29th Annual Show! Woohoo! Here are my two pieces that were included in all the exhibits:611a6536

Go, Cat. Go!

19 x 14 x 2 in

I was not read to as a child because my mother hated to read. But she did the next best thing. In kindergarten she signed me up for the Dr. Seuss Book Club. I so looked forward to those two books that arrived in the mail every month. One of my favorites was Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman. This is my tribute to P.D. Eastman, and Dr. Seuss and his wonderful book club that gave me so many happy memories as a child. I still have every one of my Dr. Seuss book club books and hope to share them with grandchildren one day.d16c6dd0The Great Catsby

14x20x2 in

I’ve always loved the poem “The Song of the Jellicles” by T. S. Elliot:

Jellicle Cats come out to-night
Jellicle Cats come one come all:
The Jellicle Moon is shining bright –
Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball.

I picture this ball taking place amidst the glitz and glam of the 1920’s. And who is more quintessential to the 20’s than Gatsby. In my art, I imagine the Great Catsby attending the Jellicle Ball.

To read more about each exhibit, click the link below.

October 4, 2016–April 30, 2017
D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts

June 2017
R. Michelson Galleries

June 2017
New Hampshire Creative Club

100 Day Project – Hand Lettering – Week 4

Here’s my week 4 roundup. I joined a couple lettering challenges for August in which the illustrator in me couldn’t resist illustrating as well as lettering. I’m not sure what I was thinking signing up for two! You can follow my journey on Twitter or Instagram @sculptedpaper, or check my weekly roundup here.

100 Day Project – Hand Lettering – Week 3

I’m a little late with my week 3 contributions to my 100 day challenge of hand lettering but here they are. You can follow my journey on Twitter or Instagram @sculptedpaper, or check my weekly roundup here.

100 Day Project – Hand Lettering – Week 2

Here’s a roundup on week 2 of my 100 day challenge. You can follow my journey on Twitter or Instagram @sculptedpaper, or check my weekly roundup here.


Exhibit – Cats in Hats

Go Cat, Go!

Go Cat, Go!

I am extremely honored to be included in an upcoming Cats in Hats Exhibition to be hosted by the Springfield Museums at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts (Springfield, MA) from October 4, 2016-April 30, 2017, timed to coincide with the opening of The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum.

Can I tell you how much this exhibit means to me?

I don’t recall my mother reading to me as a child. It’s not that she couldn’t read, she just didn’t like to. She didn’t enjoy it. But she did the next best thing. In kindergarten she signed me up for the Dr. Seuss Book Club. Every month I looked forward to those two books that arrived in the mail . This was my introduction to literature; it ignited my passion for reading and art. In fact, I don’t recall reading any other books as a child, except my Dr. Seuss Book Club books.

The Great Catsby

The Great Catsby

Here’s a sneak peak at the two piece I’ll be exhibiting. You’ll have to go to the museum to see the whole image!

Opening Reception for artists, their guests, and museum members will be on Thursday, October 13, 2016 from 5-7. Museum will provide refreshments.

The museum will also be holding a Dr. Seuss Birthday event on March 4, 2017. Check the museum website for more details later.

Cats in Hats Exhibit

October 4, 2016–April 30, 2017
D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts
21 Edwards Street
Springfield, MA 01103
Sunday: 11–5
Monday–Saturday: 10–5

100 Day Project – Hand Lettering – Week 1

Like many of my artist and illustrator friends, I’ve taken up the 100 Day Project. I was particularly inspired by Shirley Ng-Benitez’s sweet sketches and Sarah Lynne Reul’s funny sketches on photographs.

I would love to be better at hand lettering so that’s what I chose. You can follow my journey on Twitter or Instagram @sculptedpaper, or I’ll post a weekly roundup here.

Do you have a 100 Day Project you’re working on? If so, post it in the comments.

Plein Air Monday

© 2014 Denise Ortakales We were back in Meredith, NH this week, at the tippity-top of some mountain. With nearly a 360 degree view it was hard to choose. The panorama view above was close to 180 degrees (the woman to the left was actually sitting behind me.) You can see Lake Winnipesaukee in the distance. Views of Lake Waukewan and Squam Lake were behind us.

© 2014 Denise OrtakalesThis week I brought colored pencils and promised myself I wouldn’t get all caught up in the details. I cracked open yet another new sketchbook, a Strathmore Tan-Toned, leather-bound book with some good paper for sketching. I quickly sketched what I wanted, then moved to the shade before I fried my brain. I have to say, I was digging the colored pencils. I tried to stay loose and just keep it about the marks. The fun part was that the pencils were quite soft, almost melting in the sun which helped to lay down the color quickly. It also meant they wore down quicker. I worked as fast as I could but people kept packing up early. There was a lovely breeze but perhaps the bugs were being a little pesty. The woman behind me and myself were the only ones that stuck it out. And this is what I got done.

© 2014 Denise Ortakales I brought it home and worked some more. I added some water-soluble pencils (without water.) That set had better colors for getting those grays in the background. In the end, I was pretty happy with the paper and media. The paper, though smooth, held quite a few layers of wax though perhaps the sun helped with that!

Watercolor Wednesday

Finally, I wasn’t sure what to do for the last class of the season. I dug around the supply closet and found these maroon boots. When I was a girl and had to shine my shoes of the same color, the shoe polish was called ‘Oxblood’. I was so pleased with how the limited color palette came out on my last still life that I decided to do a monochrome.

© 2014 Denise OrtakalesI knew just the color, too. (WARNING: more gushing about Daniel Smith Watercolors ahead) I had recently picked up a tube of Piemontite Genuine from DS, a granulating yummy color with tones of umber, alizarin crimson and carmine. I happened to bring a pad of Strathmore w/c toned paper (called Neptune maybe?). There was a lovely pink sheet that I knew would be perfect with the Piemontite. So voila! A study in Pink and Oxblood!