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Sylvia L. Armitstead is a 26 year old artist from the United States. She has created a variety of gorgeous works in both traditional and digital mediums. Check out her online gallery to see her creative works which range from an ink splashed horse to original character designs that are intended to be used in future projects.
ToonariPost (TP): How and when did you first start practicing your art (are you traditionally trained or self-taught)?
Sylvia L. Armitstead (SLA): You could definitely say its a little of both. I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon and was highly encouraged by my parents, grandparents and godparents to continue my art, as well as by a few begrudging teachers throughout my school years when they would find my sketches all over my homework.
In college, I attended Central Washington University and graduated with a fine arts degree specializing in drawing and jewelry/metal works.
TP: What mediums do you use for your art work? Which is your favorite and why?
SLA: While I work with everything from markers, colored pencil, watercolor, acrylics, graphite, inks, and even dabbling in digital, my favorite is definitely colored pencils. They are smooth flowing, you can get anything from very light color to very very dense and vibrant color. Colored pencils are also great for mixing with other media such as watercolors and markers to help enhance their colors further.
TP: What piece of your work is your favorite and why? Which one are you most proud of?
SLA: Oh goodness, you don’t make these questions easy do you? Over the last year I have really buckled down and started to push myself harder. Trying to gain more from my works and really trying to push the envelop in what I can develop. At the moment, one of my favorites would be: “Dawn Rider“.
Done in India ink with quill and brush, this piece was done in under an hour, but brought SO much to life with nothing but ink and water. The way that the ink flowed and seemed to almost take on a life of its own really added to the energy that this piece portrays. Horses have always been a bit of a bane with my art.
They have a rather complex anatomy and until this piece I hadn’t ever felt like I was able to do the creature justice. This piece was a huge breakthrough in not only my confidence, but the understanding of a medium, and the “conquering” of a challenge that has been in my art for years.
As for ones I am most proud of here is a small list:
-”Spirit Within my Soul”
This last one took me the better portion of a month and is still to date what I consider to be my best digital piece.
TP: When you first started did you ever hit any bumps in your art process. How did you overcome them?
SLA: Depends on what one would consider a bump. I’ve always had a hard time getting through art blocks when I get them, but it’s always also been a matter of scribbling through them. Sure, that may mean I go through half a ream of printer paper in drawings that look like sideways piles of poo, but eventually something beautiful comes out of all of it again.
The other “art bump” I guess you could say I am currently “struggling” with would be the want of being a better digital artist, but not quite being able to wrap my head around on how to do “painterly” in digital form. As to overcoming it, I learn by watching people work. I have a queue of tutorial videos lined up along with a rather large pot of tea and honey to help get me through. Hopefully within a year I will have scribbled through this block and will be creating a comic!
TP: What sort of story ideas or characters do you have in mind for this comic?
SLA: There are actually a few I’m looking at doing. One involves a world much like our own in terms of flora, but has an entire host of new fauna. Mainly it consists of three factions, the Lenzier’s, the Carpaskin’s and a trade species that are known as Fawnkiren. There is also the High Draconic Council, and magic that encompasses all the world and the creatures in it. However, the magic is sentient and chooses who it bonds with.
There’s “Tripocalypse”, a story taking place on earth about a thousand or so years in the future, most people lost track of years and stopped caring. Once again there are three factions, the Mountain Holders, the City Walkers, and the Sky Lords. The Sky Lords have stolen all the books, and any and all traces of knowledge from the old world.
Thus keeping the rest of the world in a lower state of civilization. The Mountain Holders in particular have gone back to farming and mining, while the City Walkers cling to any trace of technology left including firepower from what guns they can scrap together and build. The Sky Lords, however, actually live in airships. You’ll hear more about them once the story gets running.
The last that I keep going back and forth on is “Blood Moon”, still very much a working title. Involving Werewolves in the Seattle area and a power struggle that spans the entire North West. This one I started after being accepted into Central Washington University, and being of the general opinion that far too much happens in New York, and not nearly enough happens around Seattle.
TP: What made you decide to create a comic once you have a better hold on making art digitally? Could you also do a comic with traditional mediums?
SLA: I could definitely do the comic traditionally. I think that I have a certain apprehension in doing so as I have been in an amazing time of flux and relearning a lot of my craft. Hence the overall achievements I’ve been able to make with both over the past year.
Why I would like to do a comic digitally is it will force me to not only get more for less in terms of detail and overall shading (if I was working traditionally there would likely be a LOT more detail, something that I get stuck in with traditional work) which is something I need to get used to being able to do digitally.
There are also certain programs digitally that I would like to try to use such as, http://manga.smithmicro.com/ that would greatly aid me in creating a comic digitally. I also really want to learn the process of how to work with some of these programs. Especially as I could likely scan something traditionally and input it into the digital program. Sort of blend the two media together. Not entirely sure just yet.
In short, I think some of what’s holding me back at this point is a bit of healthy fear and how big of a project a comic actually is.