Tag Archives: Falion

Interview with an Artist Q3: Capturing the Ghost of an Idea

Question 3

My vision for my character Falion was more a feeling than it was a concrete image.  I knew how to get that across in words, but not in image.  But as words are my medium, color and images are Liiga’s. Where I knew how to get you to feel Falion’s angst and world weariness in my novel, Liiga knew how to put that into his face.  It amazed me to see his transformation from a page of words to a canvas of color.  So I asked her how she did that magic.

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Question 3. How do you capture other people’s visions and get motivated to do someone else’s project?

The process of getting from an idea in someone else’s mind to a painting can be a little esoteric. I usually start by trying to capture the mood or essence of the character in the initial concept sketches, intentionally keeping them fast and loose. Once the client and myself are on the same page on the general feel of the thing, the details can be narrowed down further.

How smoothly this goes can be affected by a number of things, such as the description and references, if any, and how specific the client’s mental image of the desired painting is. Sometimes the provided materials can be scarce, while other times they can be too specific or abundant. There have been a few cases where so many symbolic elements were to be included that it was difficult to find a composition that did not omit any, but also didn’t dissolve under the clutter or impossible spatial relationships.

Solving these challenges is usually enough of a motivator in itself, though for me anything that comes with a need for shiny details, creative, surreal, or creepy things holds just a little extra charm.

Full interview will be available after the last of the selected questions has published on December 12.

Interview with an Artist Q2: Communication

Question 2

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We are literally on the same virtual page, and yet… alldayjokes.com

One of my fears for this project was communication.  I thought it would be difficult enough to get across what I wanted for this portrait under ideal circumstances. Add to that that I’ve been a production editor overseeing journals, a fast-paced environment, and worked with off-shore subcontractors. It hasn’t always gone well.  On this one project, I and an off-shore typesetter  were pushing deadline (what else is new in journals?).  When done, I emailed saying, “Great, we’re good to go.”  I then pushed it to the back of my mind and moved onto the next squeaky wheel.  Two weeks later, I get an email.  Do you want us to print this now?  ACK!  We scrambled and got it out…late.  Sigh. Thereafter, I tried to spot my idiomatic language use, but it’s hard to do that sometimes when these phrases are so second nature (see…second nature!).  But with Liiga, turns out my concerns were unfounded.  I found myself so comfortable working with her that I slipped into idiomatic language use.  Never threw her.  So I was curious as to how she knew English so well.

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Question 2.  I know you are from Latvia, but you have been very easy to “talk” to via email  How did you learn English so well?  Are cultural and language barriers ever an issue in working clients?   

In Latvia it is very common to study a few foreign languages at school, so I got an early start on learning English. This went on through high school, where I took the International Baccalaureate program, and a university that is popular with students from all three Baltic states so the studies were in English here, too. Of course the Internet has played a huge part in expanding my vocabulary, too, particularly when it comes to colloquialisms, and the amount of practice it provides while living in a country where English is not used on a day-to-day basis is invaluable.

There was also a certain element of need to learning it, as the digital medium is relatively new here, so to be able to learn how to draw better, I also had to learn how to speak English better—again, largely through the Internet.

At this point the language barriers usually aren’t much of an issue, unless you count the fact that I’m so very used to dealing with agreements in English that the last time I needed something art-related in Latvian, I had to sit and scratch my head for a while.

Full interview will be available after the last of the selected questions has published on December 12.

Interview with an Artist Q1: Liiga Smilshkalne

Question 1

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about hiring an artist to do a portrait.  I have so many other concerns: the writing (the finishing!), the critiquing, the editing, the proofing, the querying, the marketing, the production work, and the cover art.  This doesn’t even account for the day job or life in between all the cracks.  So why take time and money to bother with a portrait? After all, I can’t even use it for a cover if I go the self-publishing route since the only books that use portraits on the cover are dusty old tomes and biographies.

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The answer is that this was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my writing life. I got to meet my character in a way that felt solid.  The thrill of looking into his eyes for the first time had my mind churning into creative overdrive.  My brain had a new toy to obsess over.  My story, very well worn from my years of working it, fired up hot and vivid in my brain.  A section of text that I struggled with got easier to mold, to turn over, to play with until I found the right shape.  During the time the artist was sending me pictures, I threw out and rewrote the chapters on the escape from Cete Kellen…chapters that had bugged me for years but that always defeated me in hand-to-hand, er, hand-to-keyboard combat. This time, I won. In short, working with an artist to manifest my vision inspired me deeply.

I wanted to learn more about this process from the artist’s perspective so I interviewed her. Over the next couple of weeks, I will post the interview.  Perhaps you, too, will decide to follow your dreams from your written words to a painted picture, maybe even with Liiga Smilshkalne.

Question 1: Who is Liiga?

My name is Liiga, and I am from Latvia, where there may or may not be dragons. More specifically, I am from the country’s capital Riga, and the resemblance to my name is merely coincidental.

I started dabbling in painting pretty early in life, but it wasn’t until I discovered digital art and decided I absolutely need to know how all these people online had managed to create such wonderful, colorful paintings on this strange, new medium, that things got serious. Although I studied economics and business and afterwards political science in university, I never quite stopped drawing, until at some point I realized that what had initially been a hobby had turned into a job. So I’ve been pretty much continued along the same line ever since.

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New bucket list item: get to Latvia to see the dragons! Click the title link following to see the shy dragon in the clouds better. Divia by Liiga Smilshkalne


Full interview will be available after the last of the selected questions has published on December 12.