Ender – Step by Step

I haven’t posted here since my initial post, and that’s honestly because A) I love blogging, and B) I got in a bit over my head with it. Since I can only really effectively run one blog, I’m planning to condense everything and move it all here.

Anyway, I wanted to do a Step by Step of my painting process for “Ender”. This is mostly for me, though I hope you all enjoy it too. I always really love seeing the painting process an artist uses (hell sometimes I spend more time watching videos of people painting than actually painting myself)!

So, here we go!

First I started with some awful sketches to try and get a better idea of Ender’s shape. The top two I did first and are a mess. The bottom two are more true to Ender’s head and body shape.


Ender Sketches


Then I did a mockup painting of what I wanted my final painting to look like. I did this in photoshop using a photo my husband Eric had taken of Ender as reference.


Painting Mock Up


After doing a drawing and transferring that to the claybord, I got painting! I wanted the background to be messy and choppy, so I experimented with dry brushing and tried to keep things more loose and free in style.


The Beginning

Then, reverting to my old ways of painting, I jumped right in and started detailing the face. At some point I got tired of that, and painted the transmitter. That came out so well that every time I almost gave up, I looked at that stupid transmitter for encouragement.



UGH. What? No. What even did I do? It becomes obvious after comparing to the ref that my painting is a MESS. The face/head is nothing like Ender. I really want this to be a likeness….


really awful

I try some minor tweaking to fix things. NOPE. STILL a mess. I begin to realize that I will have to re-draw and go back and entirely repaint his head and face.


still awful

I start first with trying to get the right angles and shape of his head. I get rid of the detail and block in simple patterns of color.



Once I’m happy with his face I start adding a bit more detail. Also his beak takes a lot of tweaking before it looks right. When I get tired of that, I throw down base colors for the rest of Ender, and the sparrow, and the post.



Here’s a close up of the repainting…



His beak here is a blob, I’m still trying to work out the shape better. But I’ve got everything roughed in at this point.


much better

Tweaking more. Still adjusting but back on track for getting Ender’s likeness in this painting. I add more to the others areas of the painting like the sparrow and the wood post.


more painting

Finally! Now I get to start on my favorite thing, details! I start detailing his face, getting things just the way I want…


detailing the face

Npw I start going detail crazy, literally working my way from Ender’s neck down to the bottom of the post. It’s still not super detailed, it’s a lot of paint blobs up close, but I wanted a more loose style for this one.


still more painting

And done! All that’s left to do is sign it!



Here is the final photographed painting! Which also happens to be available in my online store as a print! http://lindsayvadams.storenvy.com/

Feel free to check it out! And thanks for reading!


final image!


The MDHA Waterfowl Stamp Contest

So yesterday was the MDHA (Michigan Duck Hunters Association) Waterfowl Stamp Contest. This was my first duck stamp competition and I was very excited to have entered.

Duck stamps are incredibly important to conservation. The Federal Duck Stamp currently sells for about $25. 98 cents of every dollar goes towards buying wetlands for conservation. These have allowed waterfowl populations to flourish. But not just waterfowl, there are many species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and plants that make up the wetlands and all receive benefits from the duck stamp.

While there is a federal stamp chosen every year, there are also several states that have their own stamp as well as the federal. These are usually required purchases for hunting licenses, but many birders will support them as well.

In January or February I decided to try and enter the Michigan contest. After several months of work I had a “finished” product ready to ship off.

Judging tool place last night and while I did not make the top 4 (I wasn’t really expecting too) I was very happy to have had the chance to participate. One of my friends took 3rd place which was also very exciting.

This was my entry. I think its an ok start, but I know there will be more duck stamps in the future and I’m hopeful that I will improve enough to be some real competition.


For more information on the federal duck stamp, or how you can help conserve waterfowl, check out this page here: http://www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp.php

The Mind of an Artist

So for those of you who don’t know I’ve recently gotten into duck paintings. There are a couple of reasons behind this, and I’ll save most of that for anther post.

All you need to know is that they’re typically done for stamp contests, and they’re realistic style paintings that feature specific species of waterfowl.

I recently just submitted a painting (my first realism type painting) for the Michigan Waterfowl Stamp Contest, which will take place on August 1st, so you will hear more about the stamps from me around then.

For now I just wanted to give some brief background.


Currently I’m working on a painting of a drake wood duck. This piece is not for a competition and is more just for fun for myself.

Here is the drawing that was then transferred to claybord to be painted.


I had a break in some school work the other weekend, so I had a few hours to myself to sit down and paint. I laid down some basic colors, and then it became time for the more detailed stuff.

I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing, until I realized it was going to be harder than I thought. I was discussing things later with another artist who said they had a very similar thinking pattern when doing art.

Here is a snippet from my conversation with the artist, to give you some insight into my thoughts at the time.

Okay, I’m going to paint for a bit and then see what [artist] thinks. Hmm..green, okay, I can do this. Mix the green. What? WHAT IS THIS?! This green doesn’t look anything like the green in the picture? What do I do? Why did this happen? Who am I? What is the meaning of life?! I should ask [artist] for help! No, I need to figure this out. I can’t expect them to hold my hand for every little problem. I need to problem solve. Ok, so this green looks darker and more….green! Ok…add more blue! Hm…this is closer..maybe I can do this! Yes, okay, this green looks ok for the darker parts. I’ll get those painted in and see where I’m at. Ok. Not awful. Now I’ll put in the darker blue, and some of the purple and gold. Ok, they’re there but faint. Good. I can work up to the brighter colors later. Now I need a break. Oh hey, the eye. Yeah! Oh crap, I have to mix this weird pink/orange color! And the eye is so TINY. Argh! Okay, breathe……

What is the point of this post? Mostly as a friendly nudge that we all panic and think we’re not doing a good job with art. We all have freak out moments for sure! Just keep your chin up and push through! At the very least it’s a learning process, at the best you get something really great out of it, that you might not have achieved had you just quit earlier.

Here is my painting after 3 hours.

11805720_10205877551112618_1937169117_nIt still has a long way to go, but it’s coming a long and starting to take shape now. I can see where it’s going at least.

As an artist, what kind of crazy thoughts do you have while painting? If you’re not an artist but an art appreciator do you find it surprising that we go through so many emotions while painting?

Hello world!

Hi everyone! Some of you may know me, some may not. So I’ll do a brief little intro here as my first post before I get into the good stuff a la blog.

So Hi! I’m Lindsay. Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a hand in many different creative ventures. I spent a lot of my time as a kid drawing animals, mostly birds and pokemon, and as I got older I transitioned more into writing. I segwayed back into art as a teenager, and now I both write and do arts in my free time.

Most of my art is 2D and wildlife/fantasy based. I’m currently practicing realism (if you see my previous works you’ll likely noticed how very cartoony things are). I’ve also just recently started trying out for some of the state duck stamp contests. I’m hoping one day to start trying for the federal.

In other aspects of my life, I was always a huge animal person, so I decided from a young age to be a vet. When that didn’t pan out I turned to zoology to be a zookeeper. After graduating I got my first full time keeper position and worked there for two years before realizing some very important things. I love animals, but I didn’t so much like working with them. It made all the pets I had at home more of a chore….

So I decided to go back to school more recently and pursue a different route, one that wouldn’t stifle my love of animals. This career choice led me to the Digital Animation and Visual Effects school. At the DAVE school I’m studying lots of cool things, from modeling to animation, compositing and VFX. This is slightly more art based in nature, so it plays off my love of creation but it’s different enough from my 2D art that I do not feel overwhelmed by art.

This blog with follow my journey through school and beyond, as well as explore my WIPS, painting process, and whatever else I find of interest to discuss. This blog is not intended to teach anyone, this is simply my way of sharing what I’ve learned with the world, and whoever might sit still long enough to read all of this. If you happen to learn things from this blog, wonderful. If you try my methods and find they’re not for you, that is ok as well. As my instructors have pointed out several times, it doesn’t matter how you get the results, so long as they work for you.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to the journey.