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Hey All!  As some of you know, I've been tutoring via skype for some time, but this winter I'm expanding into the REAL LIVE WORLD of teaching classes!  For the month of December, I'll be doing a trial and seeing if this is a tenable arrangement, so I get to teach WHATEVER THE HECK I FEEL LIKE. 

So I wanted to A) let those among you who are Bostonians know this was going on, and B) ask you for feedback.  What classes would you be most interested in taking?  Have you taught/attended independent arts classes before and you have suggestions or anything?  What days/times would you be most likely to go to?  All RIGHT!

P.S. this IS connected to the group studio project, I'll let you guys know more details when it's for sure, but basically cross your fingers for me!
So this is a thing!…  

So.  Your friendly neighborhood Auntie Toerning is going to step in for a second here.  Firstly, I think it's very groovy and awesome that DA is establishing their own marketplace.  It's a scary world out there of work for hire and it's totally awesome that DA artists now have this stepping stool to practice professional habits in the same way that we practice artistic skills!


I would like to take a moment to discuss the rates here.  I was just exploring quickly, and saw on the navigation on the left "price," and, like every other human on the planet, clicked on the most expensive first, thinking to myself "wow, good for DA to promote work that costs $1,000!" and wanting to see what that work would be.

Well.  Boy was I wrong.  In fact the prices are organized by Points.  Remember when you were a kid, and the dog peed on the Monopoly box, and so you drew dollar signs on a bunch of scraps of paper and used that for the money?  Points bear more resemblance to those scraps than to actual currency.

Quick conversion here: 1-29 points category?  (prices are organized in ascending categories.)  One Honest American Dollar is about 80 points.  Meaning the entire 1-29 points category is work for under a single dollar.  UNDER A SINGLE DOLLAR.  On the other end of the scale (not really,) the highest category is 1,000+ points.  1,000 points is, pardon my math, about $12.50.  This is not the maximum an artist can charge, no not at all, but it IS the HIGHEST CATEGORY, meaning it's setting a precedent and boundaries that no one's going to want to exceed.

Let me reiterate.  The most DA is suggesting you pay for a commission is $12.50.

If this system works for you, if it gives you joy and you are producing work and getting paid and being happy, there is NOTHING wrong with that, I mean that completely honestly.  If it works, that is fantastic.  I just needed to state for the record, for the sake of my conscience, that I think DA has a responsibility to its artists to set an example.  This is going to be the first encounter with art as a commodity for a lot of artists, and it is going to give them ideas about how this works and teach them habits and every other thing.  And I think that the example being set is, frankly, shameful.

I'm not going to go into a lecture about pricing your art.  I just wanted to have a "let's be real" moment.  My inner goddess of indignant vitriol is satisfied. 

Be safe; be happy; get money; get paid.
SPECIAL GUEST STAR (against his knowledge) IS :iconandrew-ross-maclean:

You guys know when I get really excited about art geekery, I JUST CAN'T KEEP IT IN.  I also feel like composition is a really hard thing to learn, and all you can really do is try to learn "what is good" in composition, and then try to find examples until you can recognize it.  In addition, composition for comics is extra hard because you have to worry about the overall flow of the page as well as the composition of each individual panel.

So I was doing my spring cleaning of my message center and came on some new comic pages he uploaded, all of which are awesome, but take a particular look at this one: Head Lopper page 3 by Andrew-Ross-MacLean

This page is AMAZING.  I started watching this guy for his slick style and stayed for his crazy composition skills, and this page makes a particularly good example because his work is so clean and straight-forward, there's not a lot of noodling to distract from the motion lines.

1- We read left to right (thanks to MikeMoroney for pointing out my idiot type-o there,) and then up to down, so we start in the upper righthand corner here.  The hills shoot us right into that ship, tallest thing on the horizon, first focal point.

2- Little rock trail creates a path for us to go between the sea (extreme background) to the castle, (middle ground), and then the line of the bird picks it right up.

3- Line of the beak and back of the bird, up and around that wing with the considerate curved negative space behind the back wing.  Also, the bird is flying right>left, if it were the other way around, our natural inclination would be to follow it right off the page.

4- Strong diagonal is the main shape of the bird.  Shoots your eye right down to the second row.

5- Here's where it gets sexy.  Little moments of low-contrast details keep your eye interested and get you right into that upper left-hand corner again, where

6- Sharp diagonal line directs you into the next panel.  Shadow lying scientifically impossibly on the two walls that make a corner?  Doesn't matter if no-one questions it because it looks so right.  Also worth mentioning that ll the lines of the walls and windows in panel 2 are slightly warped to the right to help keep us going forward.  

7- Line is continued in the netting, again, low contrast and interesting detail as opposed to strong contrast which would indicate important content like in

8- Back with the bird, amazing action line up and over.

9- Line of wall and line of shadow funnel energy into that sword grip.  THAT'S A GRIP.  

10- Contrast of the light arm provides the direction.  Once again, down and over.  Panels at the end of a line can't keep going off to the right- that just falls off the page and takes you out of the flow.

11- All the rope lines continue that trajectory.  They're only unparallel for the sake of interest.  As with the cobwebs in 5, and the netting in 6, he's using repetitive objects to guide your eye and provide interest but at the same time demonstrating it's not something you really need to spend a lot of time with.

12- BIRD.  It's literally an arrow in the direction your eye is moving.

13- Prow (or whatever) hijacks the flow, reinforced by the hills and the negative shape of sky.

14- Simple diagonal shadow line like in panels 2&4 showing you where to go.  That finger has just come DOWN on that wick.

That's just the first pass look.  Obviously, you have to stray from this path to see a lot of what's going on, but if you feel like taking the time and looking at all the details, you'll find his page still works on every level.  For instance, on panel two, you need to get down to that sword and candle.  If you do so, you'll follow those warped window and wall lines down, where the sword stops you, and redirects you to the candle on the table.  Then that horizontal patch of light that it's in, and the up-and-to-the-right markings on the table guide you right into that netting on panel 3.  So hot.
This is something I've been thinking a lot about.  The fact of the matter is, as much as it's awesome, I don't work my best from home.  I want to be able to "go to work" in the morning, see people, do my thing, and then come home.  There are too many complications and distractions working from home, and too few opportunities to participate in the world as a human being.  And I know of co-working spaces, to be sure there are loads of options in San Francisco, but having visited a bunch of them, there aren't any just right.  I've always had a fantasy of starting a shared studio space, a small one, not a big vaulty warehouse style thing, maybe a half-dozen or like 8 people, not necessarily illustrators just self-proclaimed "nerds."  I love the idea of coming to work and seeing my (sort-of) co-workers, and then getting to "get down to business" with work that really matters to me.  We could have a little kitchenette, and a hangout area, and could ask each other if this-or-that comic sequence makes sense, or do you have an extra eraser, and have movie nights and stuff.  

Okay but the point of this isn't to go off on my weird fantasy thing.  I've always stopped myself from looking with any actual intent because the amount of effort into the "businessy" direction intimidates me terribly, and it's not like I have this huge untapped wealth of time (not to mention funds) right now to get something like this going.  So there are two sides one of which is: "Leela this is a fantasy, you don't have time for this nonsense."  The other is "Leela you are 22 and have more optimism and energy than you ever will again.  Probably this is the PERFECT time and frankly you've been having a streak of luck so why the hell not just look into it?"

The actual point is to ask you guys about your thoughts, experiences, opinions on shared working spaces.  For those of you who have worked in a shared studio or co-working space- what was good/bad?  Would it have been better/worse if it were specifically marketed to designers and other creatives?  For people who already work from home- is this an option you would consider?  Could imagine yourself enjoying?  Knowing that the usual going rate for a dedicated desk in a co-working space is between $425-500 a month, (in San Francisco, anyway, and trust me I also find this absurd,) what can you see yourself actually able to pay?  And while I'm at it, is there anyone in San Francisco who is looking for just such an opportunity?  

Can't say anything will come of this, alls I know is it's been on my mind and I value the input I can get from you all, so I might as well ask!!!
<edit> THANK YOU ALL for your amazing comments!!! I had no idea so many of you were going to be so enthusiastic!  I am going to close responses now, and give myself a chance to thoroughly read every comment.  It's been an absolute treat reading them so far -- not only is it fun to read effusive compliments, but I LOVE hearing your personal stories about Harry Potter.  Makes me SO HAPPY!!!  I'll let you know by note if you have won a drawing- and I will do my best to get back to all of your lovely comments!  </edit>

I sold some drawings earlier this year, and hearing feedback from the people who bought them and even in some cases seeing photos of the art on their walls made me so damn happy.  I have a bunch of old Harry Potter drawings sitting around which I can't sell without feeling like a horrible person, so I'm going to do a giveaway!  

The Drawings!

Corresponding drawings can all be seen in my gallery - Hermione's Specialty by toerning ...your mother's eyes. by toerning After it's all over by toerning Sirius- by toerning Patronus by toerning Erised by toerning

I really dislike first-come-first-serve scenarios, though, and my main motivation is to find these guys nice, loving homes where they will be looked at instead of mouldering away in my flat files.  

SO!  If you're interested, here's how we do: leave me a response here on this journal with the piece (or pieces whatever just give me an order of preference) that you want.  Tell me who it's going to, if it's a gift, or show me the spot where you're going to put it, or show me the frame you're going to put it in, tell me why you want it, whatever, just show me what the deal is!  I'll send the drawing to the person who seems most excited and has a place to put it!

Let's say we have till 6:00 PM Pacific time tomorrow, May 1, then I'll close the comments.  That's a nice chunk of time.

p.s. I want to make sure these aren't going to get bent/lost/traumatized in the mail, so it would be great if you would be willing to contribute a bit to packing/shipping costs via paypal.  Since the whole point of this is a giveaway I'm not going to require it, but it would definitely help me out!  Also, international peeps welcome!
First, a bit of housekeeping.  You can skip this part haha

I'm honestly posting this journal to get my previous one off my front page.  The more I think about it, the angrier I get, and unlike plenty of my fellow fans, getting mad when I think about Korra is definitely NOT what I want.  I want to be excited and inspired.  Please feel free to keep commenting on it and stuff, and I will try to get around to answering all your insightful comments, but for right now, my mantra is "I cannot change people" and I need a little distance.  For the record- nothing bad has happened, everything is fine, I'm just trying to get the sour taste out of my mouth and clear up some of my bad juju so I can keep making fun fanarts!

SO!  On a WAY MORE FUN note!

Check out this amazing article from Muddy Colors regular Greg Manchess- Here!  

When I saw this article when it first came out, I skimmed over it and promptly forgot about it cause it was basically a summary of my entire illustration education.  And then I realized...THIS IS LITERALLY A SUMMARY OF MY ENTIRE ILLUSTRATION EDUCATION!

So seriously, come and get it!  Cause this guy is not only a great painter, he is a really good teacher.  I just re-read the whole thing again to try to find something to elaborate on, but he pretty much sums it all up!

Also, as always, wishing you all well.  Especially since I'm cranky today, I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have an awesome group of intelligent, positive, and supportive watchers on DA.  I seriously love you guys.
I was talking with a friend about how some fandoms are super fun to be a part of.  And some...not so much.  I regret to say, as much as I love Korra, it's not a particularly fun fandom for me.  Neither was Avatar.  (They're FAR from the only fandoms that suffer from the problems I'm going to be "talking" (word-vomiting) about, but they're the ones I've had the most experience with.)

Fandom has become a dirty word.  I have literally been accused of participating in fandom.  Wait, accused of what?  For me, the whole idea of "fandom" can be summed up in one word: excitement.  Man, I love getting excited about shit.  And I LOVE talking to other people who are excited about shit!  And then our excitement spirals around each other's and then we make awesome creations with that extreme excitement.  EXCITEMENT-BENDING!  This is what happens EVERY time I post a fanart, and I can feel your guys's excitement coming through the...internet-waves.  Those are real.  And it makes me want to create more.  That's how my excitement manifests -- in creation.  

So it's shocking and upsetting to me how many people spend their excitement energy propagating negativity.  Shipping wars, (WTF?!) whitewashing indignation, and even petty disapproval of artists' excitement (preoccupation, obsession, whatever lol) really upset me.  I understand, particularly with the whitewashing issue, that this is a piece of a greater social issue and that raising awareness is pretty important.  However, I'm not convinced that the kind of negativity that's frequently celebrated in fandom is really the best solution.  Are there any blogs that are dedicated to fan images of Korra that have the "right" skin-tone?  Even if there are, they are outshined utterly by negative ones.  

These comics.  <edit> I've been having links issues.  Hold on a sec while I figure this out...! </edit> Here and here

One represents the artist's standpoint, and one represents the critic's standpoint, and both are sadly fairly accurate of the kind of behavior that goes on constantly in fandom.  And yet no one has created a comic in which both parties explain their points of view and grow to understand where each other is coming from in a cool-headed mature fashion?  I don't really want to participate in the wider debate that features those comics so I'm not going to make my own, but if I did, it would go like this:

So you've done some fanart of Korra but her skin seems too light.  WHAT DO YOU DO?

This is "behaving like human adults."

"Hey, artist.  It seems like you've drawn Korra's skin lighter than it is in the show.  Whitewashing is a pretty important issue for me, so I wanted to let you know that I noticed this and it lessened my enjoyment of the picture."

"Hey, critic.  You're right, it is lighter than it is in the show.  I guess that issue wasn't on my mind when I was drawing this picture.  Thanks for bringing it to my attention."

...That's it.  Comic's over.  We don't need an asshole example.

Instead, both of these comics come from parties who KNOW that THEY ARE RIGHT, and the other one is WRONG.  And this is far from exclusively a race issue.  The entitlement and indignation of a "wronged" fan is frequently expressed for things like wrong costuming, unconvincing likeness, anatomical flaws, the characters being the wrong age, *cough*inappropriatebodyhair*cough*, or any number of complaints.  

One example of this persistent negativity in fandom is the widely accepted misuse of the word "though."  

If I had a nickel for every time someone ended a comment with "still a nice pic though." I would ...okay well to be fair probably it would only cover last month's unpaid utilities.  Maybe a semi-nice dinner.  But you see my point.  "Though" implies that there's a substantial flaw with the piece which prevents it from being, all told, "good."  But the thing is, the comments that usually end like this don't usually really have a critique.  They're usually like "he looks a lot older than in the show" or "I thought this was the other brother at first!"  

So then, why the "though?"  These are...not bad things.  You're right.  I draw them all looking a lot older than they look in the show.  I'm not trying to hide that.  And, yeah, you're right.  I draw Bolin looking SUPER different than he does in the show.  In fact, if I didn't state that it was him, you probably wouldn't know it.  And you're right.  I have drawn Korra's skin lighter than it is in the show.  I am not trying to hide ANY of these things for you.  I mean, there it is, right in front of you.  100% airtight proof that he looks about 10 years older than he does in the show.  I drew it like that.  So why would I stand next to my piece and get pissed off when you point out the choices I've made?

9 times out of 10, when I respond to comments that contain some form of criticism, the commenter is surprised that I acknowledge the perceived flaw and don't get pissy and defensive about it.  And on the (not-infrequent) occasions when I've confronted the commenter about their less-than-helpful wording which was overly aggressive or insulting, they usually reveal that they were anticipating me to either pretend the comment wasn't made, or get, you guessed it, pissy and defensive, and that they were compensating for my expected reaction by being overly forceful.  

And on multiple occasions, I've had some really lovely interactions with people which have started out accusatory and combative, and then when they realized I wasn't going to engage them that way, we both got over it and simply talked about the issue, whether it was whitewashing, anatomical inaccuracy, or premature shipping.  On all of these occasions I know for a fact we've both come away feeling not only neutral about the exchange, but POSITIVE and feeling sappy gooey warmth towards mankind that we could have such a civil and helpful conversation.  

I cherish these interactions.  It shows me that the fandom is NOT made up of ignorant butt-hurt children, rather, people who have accepted a certain code of conduct based on the assumption that the other party is going to get pissy and defensive.  People who are completely capable of having a sincere conversation about an issue when presented with the chance, it's just that we're so USED to handling it with negativity.  

"Though" is one such example of propagating a standard of negativity without thinking about what it means.  To the "though"-ers:  I'm not trying to call you out.  I know that you're not trying to be negative or insulting, and that the "though" doesn't come from malice.  All I'm trying to say is that "though" is, by definition, stating that you have pointed out a flaw in the work.  It is putting a negative spin on something that needs not be negative.

And to the artists: a lot of the "ending the perpetuation of negativity" responsibility lies with us.  Sure, sometimes commenters are prematurely combative, but if you the artist have a history of getting defensive then there's no wonder.  You created the piece, so accept their associations, even if it's a critique, and even if it's just "that looks like my cousin Gary!  I hate him!"  One critique doesn't mean you have to change it, or shy away from drawing it again.  However, if 20 different individuals say that it looks like their hated cousin Gary, then you can "feel out" if it bothers you that this association limits the enjoyment of the piece for so many people.  It doesn't have to.  But if it does, then maybe it's time to tweak the piece, or adjust your process for the next one.

Well.  This journal has visited the farthest corners of the map of what could possibly be considered a "point."  All I mean is, this negativity, it's everywhere and we are desensitized to it.  Even the small things that we don't bat an eye at, like saying "though" at the end of a comment, are a symptom of the overall unquestioned code of negativity in fandom.  If you have read any of my other preachy journals you will notice that I am merely applying my standard soapboxes of "positivity is more helpful than negativity" and "think about what you say" to the concept of fandom, but I still think it's worth saying.
Hey guys-

So I frequently come to you for help and I SO INFREQUENTLY repay it haha.  BUT!  Today I have two exciting tidbits, both in response to prior "HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME" journals.

First: the Watching You script!  The last one is debunked, but here is a wonderful snazzy new one.  Dev_User_Inf by Dediggefedde  Basically this is a script that tells you when another deviant is watching you.  Very very helpful.

Second: the suit book!  Thank you :iconjonbronx: !!!  It is called "Garment Construction: Jacket and Pants" and it's by John Watkiss.  The book is sadly out of print, but if you, like me, were in it to find the artist, I strongly suggest you take a minute to familiarize yourself with his work.  It's fantastic.

Thanks as always for all your help everyone; hope these resources can be helpful to some of you!

<edit> couldn't get the link to work right unless I put it without anything after it?  Weird.  Here it is!…
A while ago I saw this book about drawing...suits?  Men's suit jackets and the like?  It was by some comics guy whose name I am trying to remember.  That is the key.  I mean, I love some good suit porn, but the point is I'm trying to remember that artist.  You guys know who I'm talking about?  Thanks in advance!
I went to the De Young museum today with my mom having no idea what was actually in it and ended up spending a good hour in a room with a couple of Sargents.  I don't know if this nerdery will interest anyone but me, but you guys seemed pretty excited about that Adam Hughes observation I made so here's another of my rambling thought processes!

One of the paintings was this one-… which I never really took the time to examine before.  I admired the colors and general mood but, as always, seeing a painting in person is quite a different experience.  His bright, not-quite-white highlights are slapped on chunkily and they come out quite far from the canvas.  And they "pop" in a way no highlight has any right to- they're super juicy and effective.

When I got up really close, (this is a totally unjustified flight of fancy here guys) it looked as though he had waited for the highlights to entirely dry, and then had used a translucent layer of some sepia color, probably with lindseed oil or similar medium, and literally wiped it over the highlighted areas.  Where they were raised, they were not effected, but it gave a negative halo around the edges of the highlights.  

So, without any actual science to back this up, Sargent's (wildly fantasized) technique, is based off a natural phenomenon of vision.  Where there is an edge of a bright object against dark, our eyes/brain heighten the contrast right at the border.  So right where they meet, the bright looks brighter and the dark looks darker.  This sounds totally nuts but I swear it's true, look at a white piece of paper on a dark cloth and you'll see what I mean.  Knowing this to be the case, Sargent sharpened those highlights using a super simple, super self-conscious (in the best way) post-production technique.  Basically, Photoshop.

Now, I don't have any immediate plans to get back into oil paintings, but I gotta say, regardless of your medium, that is pretty darn cool.

<edit> Here's something cool!  The knowledgeable alexandergras points out that this phenomenon is called "Lateral Inhibition" and you can read up on it here!… </edit>
Hey guys, I know for a lot of you graduation is coming up super fast, and it seems completely absurd that it's been almost a year ago since I was in that boat.  I well remember the two options presented to me:

1) Get a studio job.  Preferably close to home.
2) Move back in with my parents.  Possibly get a day job or something.

I just wanted to remind ...whoever is reading this... that there are about a gazillion alternatives.  In fact, any possible train of actions you can conceive of is an option.  It's hard to think of options not presented to you as options, but you really can go anywhere and do anything.  This is the only time in our lives when we don't have any greater obligations- we don't have a wife and kids to provide for, no company that would collapse without us, our bodies can handle sleeping on a springy old couch for a while.  This is EXACTLY when you should take a gigantic risk because the only thing you actually NEED to "make it work" is perseverance and optimism.  (I'm not going to lie, a pair of devoted and generous parents doesn't hurt while you make the transition, and for the record I know times are tough but at least ASK them before you assume that they wouldn't help you out with money stuff for a while.)

I'm an absolute mess, and I'm only about 50% self-sufficient, but that proportion is growing every month and so is my confidence and the one thing I've NEVER doubted is that jumping on a plane to the other side of the country the day after graduation was exactly the right choice for me.

Pep talk over.  I just wanted to get my 2 cents in there since I'm certain it's on a lot of y'all's minds.  Best of luck!
Just a quickie today because I saw something that made me smile!

I love it when artists post the lineart and then the finished piece.  In the case of this drawing, the lines are charming and well-executed, but don't particularly give the impression of a finished piece.  They are clearly one part of a considered process.

Overstreet Catwoman Lineart by AdamHughes  Overstreet Catwoman by AdamHughes

A lot of the time, lines are used as a description of exclusively form and the things that can be conveyed that way, composition, expression, etc.  Then, when we color, we begin to consider things like mood and lighting.  I've been thinking a lot about how to describe light with line while working on the recent ink drawings, and so I had a particular "squee" moment when I noticed this lovely spot of consideration in Hughes' drawing-

Look at the color version at the shadow behind Selina- the shape of it, and compare it to the line version.  Despite there being very little detail in the wall behind her, he took care to put a greater line weight and detail in between the rocks where they would be in shadow.  Also the tread of her boot makes me happy in the same way- he knew it would be snow crusted and so didn't waste brushstrokes describing the unnecessary silhouette of the boot.

So cool.  Yeah, planning!
It's been quite a while since I wrote a preachy "THINK ABOUT YO' ART"-type journal, and some of my newer watchers may not know that this is a particular(ly annoying) habit of mine.  This is a subject I've had on my mind for quite some time for a number of reasons, and it's recently coalesced into a semi-soluble form so here we go.  (As an aside- this journal does have some recycled ideas from a previous post of mine, but obviously I hadn't really said everything I wanted to on the subject.)

It's no mystery that I love this website.  I came in at the tail end of the pre-critique wonder years, when the internet discovered and exploited that, yes, we don't always produce the highest quality art here.  There's a lot of unpleasantness directed towards DeviantArt.  At RISD, I made a point to never mention that I had an account here, because of the looks of disgust I would get haha and people would think about me differently.  It was something to be ridiculed over.  

I honestly think we're entering a new phase, though.  There are a lot of professional artists joining up on DA, recognizing it for a fantastic way to interact with other people in a language we all speak.  It's a combination of a portfolio website and Facebook, and it's ahead of its time and it's fantastic.  I no longer hide from anyone that I am a very active member here, and every single honest-to-god work offer I've gotten has come directly from my connections on this site.

However, like I said, I think we're entering a new phase, and I have some thoughts.

If you're a creative person and you have a facebook, you have undoubtedly read Ira Glass's poignant quote about taste.  If you need a refresher:


"What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take awhile. It's normal to take awhile. You've just gotta fight your way through."

God bless you, Ira Glass.  I mean, the man works in radio and speaks well for a living, so nothing I can say after that is going to be quite as affecting.  Acknowledging everything he's just said and after meditating on if for months, I've got to say that I don't entirely agree with him.  I don't think anything he's said is incorrect, but I do believe that there's another side, which he didn't really get to: taste development.  

"Taste Level" is one of those phrases bandied about in art school and no one can really put their finger on it but they know it's something we're all aiming for.  

Shall we take a look at what I considered my "best to date" 5 years ago?  best of 2006 by toerning

You know that "Draw This Again!" meme?  Those honest to god alarm me.  If I were to "draw this again" with the piece I posted above, the right panel would be empty, because I no longer believe it's worth drawing.  Not to get down on the subject matter or anyone who likes it.  

I could easily say this ditty: Ardee's Getting Crunk by toerning is a recent and very similar piece.  Lurchy posture, focus on pretty lady, lots of hair, lack of explicit storyline, indulgence in the media.  The thing is, that drawing was done in an hour, and almost not shared at all because it is so far from the level of finish I usually require from myself.  That purple drawing, on the other hand, I slaved over for DAYS.  DAYS.  And it was my MASTERPIECE.  

I'm trying to say I'm not immune. I obviously maintain plenty of the same visual fetishes that I had 5 years ago.  However.  I no longer think "pretty lady, big hair" merits an illustration, I now recognize that those are simple aesthetic soft spots of mine, in which I allow myself to indulge every once in a while when, for instance, I'm on vacation.  And there are certain items of questionable taste I'll NEVER grow out of: Fanart, cleavage, backlighting.  God knows I work them in whenever possible.

The thing is, I have yet to see a "Draw This Again!" meme that makes any notable changes to composition, content, or impact of the work.  Is a person's ability to draw more convincing clothing folds or a more roguish grin evidence of what they have accomplished in their last two+ years of artistic development?  This is a matter of taste, and we are limiting ourselves.

Defenders of DeviantArt (such as myself) like to say that we encourage each other to improve, but it is my opinion that we also perpetuate bad habits and insulate ourselves against real-world standards.  Taste is a big deal.  And as a community, we don't have the best taste.  We allow ourselves to draw sketchbooks full of faces and measure our improvement by how many times we had to erase the eyelashes before they looked right.  We balk at the idea of considering composition, of learning color theory, of trying to put story into our works, because it's a vast and unfamiliar ocean and it's comfy here in the shade of the DA umbrella.  We convince ourselves we don't WANT to do that stuff, anyway, this is just for fun, and if we wanted to do complete illustrations, we would!

Well maybe this is true and I don't mean to criticize hobbyists, and obviously I used to follow this exact code of conduct, but even those of us who are genuinely content to just practice running poses or angry faces should accept that there is a greater standard of taste outside of DA and we are willfully shutting it out.

Taste Level is the doorway through which we peek at every Skill aspect.  DeviantArt has programmed us to see Expression, Posing, and Media through the tiny crack in between the door and the frame and to think that's all that's there.  But if we were to open that door, there is just so much more behind it.  Skill is only one part of artistic development.  Yes, skill encompasses technique, anatomy, expression, composition, value, narrative, anything else you can think of.  But without Taste, we would ignore all of that in favor of a really stellar pair of eyebrows.  

I don't want to close with any aggressive demands like "it's time to man up" or whatever, but now you know my thoughts, and I'm looking forward to hearing anything you guys have to say.  Thanks for reading.
Last year I did some art for the Spera anthology, ( as a bit of fun, thoroughly trying the nerves of the ever-magnanimous gyroscope  

I recently got the final product in the mail and was utterly stunned by the quality of this neat little volume.  PICS!
spera 1 by toerning  Really beautifully designed, fantastically bound, just really high quality that I was not expecting.
spera 2 by toerning  SO MANY amazing artists contributed.
spera 3 by toerning  Printing quality is absurdly good- beautiful rich colors on a matte stock that makes them all velvety and yummmmm.
spera 4 by toerning  The lining might literally be my favorite part.

Convinced?  Get you some easy peasy on Amazon!…
It's come to my attention that a bunch of people seem to be under the impression I am a man.  This is not actually the case.  I just wanted to get this out there, cause I've had quite a few interactions with really mortified people who have found out I'm a lady and think I'm going to be pissed.    

I am not pissed!  Actually, I think it's totally awesome.  I am about as average a straight white female as you can find, and I think that the fact that my work says something so different from who I am physically is a huge achievement and compliment.  So I'm going to keep drawing boobs, and you can keep calling me "dude."  Deal?
As many of you have noticed, I don't really share my sketches.  It's not part of the process for me.  I don't think this is something I particularly want to change, but if you are curious, you can check out the February Daily Draw I'm participating in this year-… the most part I think I'm going to be working on a couple of comic projects I've had floating around hither and thither.

I've been meaning to do a daily drawing challenge for years but seemed to never get around to it.  I have no reason not to now so huzzah!  See you there!

p.s. still accepting commissions.…
You know I was thinking this morning, and while I've certainly accepted commissions from people on this site, I don't know that I've ever outright told y'all that I do that.  I do.  

Email me at LeelaWagnerArt (at) if you're interested.  I request that you actually send me some info about what you're looking for in your email, instead of "can you draw me something?"  Obviously, yes.  Price will be negotiated on a one-to-one basis.

Thanks for all the recent support, and welcome, new watchers!
Hey guys-

Thanks everyone for your help with the scanner.  We got an Epson Perfection v600 and I'm pretty pumped.

New question:  I have a bunch of fan art lineart around mostly HP and HTTYD and I feel bad because it's just sorta hanging around in my flat files collecting dust and I'd like to sell it, but I'm not sure what the legal implications are of selling fan-art?  Does anyone know?  I mean, I know everyone does it, but it makes me uncomfortable and I'd like to make sure I'm not screwing myself accidentally, you know?

Also...Ebay?  Etsy?  Here?  Dunno...  

Well, that's my answer.  That's too bad, since most of my original work doesn't have "originals" in the same way my ink fanart does, but the world keeps turning haha

Thanks for the help!
Hey guys, just a few bits of this and that to take care of:

First of all I AM still tutoring, and accepting new people.  If you've emailed me in the last few days and haven't heard back, it's because I'm dealing with the swamp of minutia I created for myself over vacation, and I will get back to you.  To those of you waiting on the pre-paid value lesson or the video of your session, that's also coming, I'm converting the videos into a mailable format.  Thanks for your patience!

More importantly, I am faced with a crisis: my scanner up and quit on my 2 days ago.  I had a quaint Epson Perfection 4490, which was kinda small but served all my needs very well and was really good with color, and I never had to educate myself on scanners.  To get it repaired will without a doubt cost more than it would be to just get a new one, so I'm wondering what trusty (and way more importantly, AFFORDABLE) models you guys have?  Thanks!
First of all, thanks to everyone who came last Sunday for the group session- there were definitely some kinks in the beginning, but in general it went super well and I had so much fun working with you all!  

I would love to make the sessions a semi-regular thing and so this Sunday I'll be doing another one, this time with a specific subject: Value.  We'll talk about local and atmospheric values, making a solid value structure, and we'll most definitely get into some lighting effects as well.

Unfortunately, one of the things that did not go so well last week was Skype, so this week we're going to to straight to livestream.  I'll still be talking and you guys can still ask questions through chat, and lag be damned!  (If this goes well enough, I may buy a subscription and have an ad-free channel.)

If you're interested in hearing me talk at great lengths and with many tangents about one of my favorite subjects, please send $10 via paypal to LWagner (at)  I'll send you a confirmation email containing the link to the livestream.  

So.  This Sunday, the 18th, 12:00 PM, Pacific time.  (I know some people from across the pond were interested but the timing was difficult last week, so I'm moving it forward.)


p.s. I still haven't decided what's the least pretentious name for this.  Class, obviously not.  But "Group Session" makes it sound like I'm your psychologist!  "Targeted Knowledge Dispensation Events?"  "Art Parties?"  Whatever.  

OOPS bummer, not enough people signed up for this week so I'm not going to do a live session.  That's okay, we're still figuring out the best way to handle this: next up, video tutorial you can buy and watch at your leisure?  Hmmm...I'll keep you posted!