Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Malden Sketch Group

Being out of school, I needed to find a figure drawing group. I found Malden Sketch Group that has figure drawing at the community building in Malden. To be honest, I didn’t have high expectation for the place. I imaged a bunch of amateur artists, who don’t know what they are doing. I thought for sure there will not be a special light directed on a model.

How wrong I was! The people are very serious, mostly about 20-30 years older than me, but well, who cares. They draw well and they organize different painting/drawing related events. And yes, there is a light directed on the model. Everything is so well organized and the place is much nicer than any art school painting studio. And it’s only 10 minutes from my home.

I’m determined to get way better in figure drawing and I think I already see improvement in the last few months. I always try to keep in mind what Jon Foster (Illustration Academy instructor) answered to my question whether his drawing ability improved after art school. He said something along the lines that he improved tons after he graduated. If a person has an interest in drawing/painting, they will constantly improve.

SketchCrawl Sketches

Last Saturday I attended the SketchCrawl session in Cambridge. SketchCrawl happens on the same day (once in 3 months or so) all over the world. It’s a pretty interesting event. I met some nice people and we had a fun time sketching at the cafes and bars, talking and laughing.

Our last destination was a bar in Cambridge. I was pleasantly surprised that people really respond and appreciate you doing your fast doodles. I was asked by some guys to sketch them and while doing that I met some more fun people who were curious to see me draw. We talked about drawing and painting, writing and all that artistic stuff.

Anyway, it was fun to see how excited people are to see you draw and I think my husband Ben and I made some new friends at that bar. How strange…

Illustration Academy figure drawings

These are 15-20 minute poses done in Prismacolor NuPastel

Sunday, September 20, 2009



Head Scarf



Biker. Portsmouth, NH

Chessplayers in the water



Something I saw in Cambridge

Oh, the sketchbook…

Ok. SKETCHBOOK. I dreaded the word for years. I could never understand the purpose of the sketchbook. Sketches for assignments made sense, but sketchbook…
Many times, I started sketchbooks and abandoned them after just a few pages because I didn’t know what to draw and, frankly, I don’t like drawing with a pencil on a white paper.

Then I came to the Academy. Students were sketching constantly, at the demos, lectures, studios, outside, inside, even in a bar or at the beach. I saw the most beautiful sketchbooks of our instructors and students. NONE of them were pencil drawings on white paper. People were so creative with the materials they used, the way they drew or painted, what and why they sketched what they sketched. And for the first time I was completely convinced that keeping a sketchbook does matter for all sorts of reasons: to keep improving your skills, put your ideas on paper, experiment with the media, find your personal voice, find out what you like and don’t like to draw. One book that I found very useful and inspirational in this whole sketchbook business is “An Illustrated Life” by Danny Gregory. The tipping point for me was the fact that you can PAINT in you sketchbook, you can experiment with COLOR, and you can even cover up a sketch with paint if you really don’t like it. That changed everything.

After I came back from the Academy my husband and I were in the process of moving to a new place and my life revolved around packing and unpacking for a while. I didn’t have a proper studio, so I decided to spend some time just drawing and painting anything that I came across and that interested me. For weeks I did nothing but drew in my sketchbook with no particular goal or assignment in mind. What a change!

My sketchbook images are all over the place. I haven’t figured out yet what should be in a sketchbook, how finished it should look, how realistic/unrealistic/doodly stuff should be. I’ll get there, though!

Illustration Academy, Summer 2009

As I have already mentioned, Illustration Academy was a very challenging and life changing experience as an illustrator. I think the best part of the program is that we were constantly together, students and instructors, learning something new every hour of the day by watching the demonstrations, listening to the presentations, paying attention to what other students are doing, asking questions, giving answers, etc. I felt that my knowledge and skills stepped onto a whole new level while at the Illustration Academy.

We were encouraged by pretty much every single instructor to experiment with mixing media and try to come up with the perfect formula for yourself, a method of painting or drawing that you’ll never find in the instruction books. I’m still trying to figure out this formula, but while at the Illustration Academy, I tried something different and came up with some surprising results.

Big Fish

I consider “Big Fish” a break through to a different level of picture making for me. In my opinion, it is better than my previous work in terms of composition, color, level of finish, etc. It’s done on a watercolor paper with a brown pencil value drawing + watercolor + antique white watercolor (which makes it gouache). The best part is that every instructor brought a bit of his or her own knowledge and advice to this piece and helped me to get to this next level. Thank you my Academy instructors!!!

MassArt work

While at MassArt, I tried to experiment with different media as much as possible: watercolor, gouache, acrylic, scratchboard and even 3-D (sculptural) illustration.

3-D illustration was very experimental and time consuming. There were a lot of things I had to learn and research on my own about sculpting, building the sets for the backgrounds, lighting and photography. 3-D illustration doesn’t exist until you get a really good photograph. It might take hours and hours to get that perfect (or almost perfect) shot. Even though people seem to respond to 3-D illustration, I don’t think this is for me. Yes, I agree that the results are interesting and unusual, but there are so many things that are not there.

With 2-D illustration (paintings) I can have more dynamic compositions, more mature and sophisticated color and the incomparable experience of painting, creating the world on a flat piece of paper. There is something about painting that gives me the biggest satisfaction. While working a project, when I finally get to the color studies and painting (after spending hours on thumbnails and sketches), I feel the most engaged and fulfilled.

At MassArt I settled on gouache as my medium of choice, though I was not completely happy with the results.

Image for NEAFA (New England Arts for Animals) 2010 calendar

"Weekly Dig" cover, December 2008

Winner of 2009 MassArt All School Show in Illustration Department

Consumerland: Overeating

Consumerland: Overexposure to Advertising

Consumerland: Overmedicating

Let’s get started.

My name is Katia Wish. I'm originally from Belarus and moved to the USA at the age of 19. 19 is a curious age to move to a foreign country, because you are old enough to already have your views, values, outlook on the work and, obviously, an accent. At the same time, you are young enough to get used to a new culture and way of life, and to form new views and opinions.

I received an Illustration degree from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in May 2009. Before coming to MassArt I had a vague understanding of what illustration is, which is probably the case for the majority of the population. As soon as I started my degree and learned about different opportunities in illustration and looked at the work of various illustrators, I fell in love with illustration and everything that has to do with it. I am grateful to my instructors for believing in me and pushing me to work hard.

A week after graduating MassArt I headed to Sarasota, Florida to attend the Illustration Academy. It was an excellent time to immerse myself in this absolutely intense and beautiful seven-week program. Thanks to my instructors at MassArt I had enough knowledge and experience not to be completely shocked and overwhelmed at the Academy. Nevertheless, the Illustration Academy was one of the most intense, rewarding, soul-crushing and soul-saving experiences of my illustration life. The instructors and the students I met there are extremely inspiring and hardworking group of people.

Whoever you are, thank you for checking out my blog and going on this sketchblog journey with me. I’ll try to post new stuff on a regular basis.