Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Winter Break

It's a few days after xmas, and I've been enjoying winter break and taking some time to create artwork for loved ones for the holidays, as well as taking much-needed downtime. I've been getting back in the habit of doing my arm exercises for physical therapy and am already feeling better because of them. 

About a week and a half ago I moved out of the house I have rented a room in for the past three-and-a-half years, which made me very sad as I loved my Sellwood neighborhood, but my housemates needed the space for the arrival of their new baby, Charlie, who will be born any day now. I am gifting them some gouache pieces on wood for Charlie's room, which will be circus/animal-themed:

I have found a new apartment to live in with a roommate, and hopefully we will move in within the next few weeks. It's in SE Portland and I'm so so so glad we found an accessible place in the area of town we both wanted. And it's along two major bus lines and near two grocery stores.

Until then I am thankfully able to crash at my parents' house for a few weeks, until the apartment is ready (they are completely refurbishing it so when we move in it will be a completely brand-new interior).  It's a ways out which is frustrating as I am not near a bus and therefore dependent on others for transportation, but I also needed the downtime.

School starts back up the 17th, and I will have four classes: thesis and thesis writing, then two small independent studies that I was granted special permission to do (usually the limit is one per student per semester).

Healthwise I seem to be pretty stable and have successfully tapered completely off of Prednisone, so my body can function somewhat normally again. Although it saved my life, Prednisone is a terrible drug and not only does it have lots of icky side effects, it's really wreaks havoc on the body. I feel much better knowing I am putting one less chemical into my body on a daily basis. 

I take down my show at Palio on the 31st, and I have sold eight paintings in all so far. I received notice that someone bought all four of my Day of the Dead paintings, and I couldn't be happier about it. I've been saving up some money and plan to purchase a Wacom tablet within the next few days. I can do so many things with my art with a tablet and I'm totally excited to start experimenting more with one.

Until next time,

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finals, finally.

My show opening at Palio (at 1996 SE Ladd, a lovely little dessert and espresso shop) went amazingly well, and the show will hang until the end of December if anybody wants to go check it out but didn't make the opening night.

One more meeting of each class, and I am finished for the semester.
My thesis book project was approved for next semester, and I will begin crafting it when I go back to classes in mid-January. My last semester of college, finally. I've had a few setbacks, but I'm going to graduate.
For my painting class I've completed four 9x15 ink and gouache pieces from reference photos I took at Occupy Portland:

For my advanced drawing class, I've been exploring ways to visually depict the body, particularly in a state of illness, without literally drawing the human figure:

(Both are gouache and ink on arches coldpress paper)
Last but not least, the most realized piece I have come up with so far in preparation for my thesis book project. A self-portrait, hand-lettering, gouache layers, and cut up pieces of one of my MRI reports from back in December of 2010:

I plan to put more of my thesis progress on this blog. Stay tuned for more, and thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


("Michelle Bachman", gouache, 9"x12", 2011 © Amanda Russel)
School's been going as well as it can be. Besides constantly plugging along on my thesis so I can propose during the first week of December, I've been getting to do some fun stuff like this Michelle Bachmann portrait (an exercise in anthropomorphism for my Illustration Painting Techniques class.)

I have my first solo show coming up! I am very excited about it. It will be the evening (around seven, though the exact time is not yet nailed down) at Palio Dessert and Espresso House, 1996 SE Ladd in Portland. I will mostly be hanging new gouache pieces, but will also include some less recent, smaller ink pieces. Everything will be for sale, so come on by!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stills and Thesis

I had my midterm review for my thesis last week, and everything seems to be going swimmingly. I'm leaning in the direction of a book of some sort, more illustration-heavy than text-heavy, about my experiences with lupus and acute transverse myelitis over the past nearly eleven months.
It is going to involve a lot of visual metaphor, as I don't want it to be overly reliant on narrative or a literal interpretation. I want it to be able to be read in any order. Rather than reiterate my story from beginning to present, I want each page as well as the entire book to leave a lasting impression, because lasting impressions are how all the memories have manifested themselves as my own experience.
I also want to create artwork that could be interpreted as a wide variety of human experiences with hardship. I don't want my book to be read as simply a self-obsessed memoir; rather I want to take what I've experienced and weave it into something that is more widely accessible. Although what has happened in my life indeed brings a unique perspective, which I plan on utilizing to further the goals of my artwork, I want the end product I come up with to speak of universality. As example, one does not have to have been in a crippling auto accident or in chronic pain to appreciate the art of Frida Kahlo.

I've also gotten to paint some more film stills for my illustration painting class. Here's one that took me hours and hours despite its smallish size (9"x12"), but I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I took the color scheme from a still from Hedwig and the Angry Inch and applied it to Daisies. Here's the result:

("Fashion Parade," gouache, 2011 © Amanda Russel)

Monday, September 5, 2011

And so... my Thesis year begins.

I've been to all my fall classes once now. Two studio classes and my thesis classes, so I have a heavy workload ahead of me. Luckily I am also assigned a studio, where I will be able to get said workload done and store the piles of supplies and papers that will undoubtedly amass.

I'm continuing to work on this overarching project of stills from Daisies; here is my favorite sketch for the next one:
(all images © Amanda Russel 2011)
It's got a very different palette from the last one I completed, which is what I like visually about the movie: the colors switch all the time and there are countless different moods created.
I've got control of the art board at the Sellwood New Seasons April of 2012, so by then I hope to have at least six large stills that I can display as a set. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Classes and Finished "Daisies" Still

(© 2011 Amanda Russel)
(Untitled; 18"x24", gouache on canvas)
In other news, classes start tomorrow. I'm taking 13 credits this fall and then 6 in the spring, bringing my undergrad career and thesis year to a close.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Social Networking On the Brain

I received an email from the Commonwealth Club of California asking my permission to use one of my images, an editorial piece from class I had up on my flickr. I told them yes, granted I was given credit.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"bird deaths" (a pair with "wake up")

("Bird Deaths" © 2011 Amanda Russel)
(ink, gouache, mod podge and newsprint strips on canvas)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Out of classes for the summer!

Look for more frequent updates!
(sharpie on watercolor paper )
2011 © Amanda Russel

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

("Real Purdy Mouth," ballpoint pen and ink, copyright 2011)

I've been drawing a lot of portraits and trying to sharpen my skills at rendering the human skeleton and form.  I've been looking at a lot of old anatomical illustrations, especially of skeletons and of religious imagery. I've been drawing a lot of Virgin Mary portraits, for whatever reason. I'm thinking of getting another Virgin Mary tattoo, actually. Of an older, more Latin-inspired style, with three eyes- two on one side, one on the other. 

On the life front, I have moved back into my own place and room, and I am continuing to go to school.
On the health front, I am continuing to frequent the hospital to various doctors' appointments, and to receive both monthly chemotherapy and, more recently, plasmapheresis treatments. So far, nothing has made much of a difference, and I am still paralyzed from about an inch above my bellybutton down.  I continue not to give up hope that I will regain at least partial feeling and mobility at some point.

("Shot My Feet," colored pencil, 2011 copyright Amanda Russel)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What I'm currently working on:

(From a screenshot I took of Lady Gaga's new video, "Born This Way")
(gouache and micron pen)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Taste this, it's terrible"

I am making progress on my poetry book. Here is what I've got in terms of the illustrations so far:
("Brushing my teeth")
("December 3, 2010)"
("A haiku")
(All images copyright Amanda Russel, 2011)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Progress, Frida, and Some More Sketchbook Stuff

Currently working on this for a composition class; it's slow and frustrating, but it's headed in the right direction. Gouache on canvas.

I am continuing to draw inspiration from Frida Kahlo, which led me to do these colored pencil and gouache portraits:

And, here are a few recent samples from my neverending sketchbook. Someday I plan to compile all the artwork I've done based on screenshots from Vera Chytilov√°'s 1966 film Daisies

(all images copyright Amanda Russel,  2011)

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Wake Up"

I finally finished it!

"Wake Up," ink, gouache and newspaper on canvas.
(copyright 2011 Amanda Russel)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I am no longer in the hospital, as of two weeks ago!
Aside from some portraits, I have still been busy filling my sketchbook.
("Spinal," graphite and ink on paper, copyright 2011 Amanda Russel)
(copyright 2011 Amanda Russel)
(copyright 2011 Amanda Russel)

I've been writing poems, for my Narrative Image class- I was able to get an incomplete and turn in my final project late, due to my illness. My proposed final project was a book of poems, written and illustrated by me.
 I've been through a lot in the past month and I've been attempting to work through some of it via poetry, but it's a slow and sometimes overwhelming process. The first image in this post- "spinal"- is something I think I'm going to use for my book. It needs more work, but I think it might make a good cover. 

I've also got to re-learn how to bookbind. I would like to handmake this poetry book.