Saturday, August 4, 2012


Just a few sketches that I liked.  The circus horse was inspired by my dear friend, Emily Davis, who recently did a circus horse of her own.  Circus subject mater is so fun!  There is no over the top in the big top. :)  The girl in the corner is the drawing on watercolor paper that I'm going to paint.  It was meant for last week's Illustration Friday topic, lonely.  It's an interesting feeling to reflect on, because it seems like most of the time, even though we can't tell, we're the one holding the trowel.  I've recently been trying to learn about myself and make changes so I can be a happier person.  Loneliness hasn't really been my main struggle, but it's the same basic story.  You develop bad habits or attitudes, which lead to actions and feelings that build a wall.  Taking it down and keeping it down takes time and effort. Then the tricky part is not picking up the trowel again and falling back into old patterns.  A bit of a personal work in progress story to go with some work in progress illustration.  Fitting.

What do you think about the sketches?  My hubby, Jamin, got a kick out of the house pet circus sketch.    Any comments on the lonely drawing before I get into watercolor would be great!  I'm planning to put wooded boards over her brick box and have some light sneaking in through the cracks, despite her best efforts.  I just haven't decided what direction the boards should run along the roof, and what direction the light should be coming in at to get just the right mood.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

IF: Refresh

This is my take on the Illustration Friday topic of Refresh.  It's about time I posted something new.  It feels great to get something ready for IF.  I did it in about three hours, so I don't feel like it's something I'd call finished.  But I do feel like it was a good exercise and practice.  It feels so good to sneak in some illustrating!!  Even though it's not truely finished, and there are still things that I would refine, how do you think it could be better?  Even if it seems obvious?

I also tried a saturation adjustment to see if I liked it better.  I think I like the contrast of saturation in the first one that emphasizes the heat.  Then the contrast of temperature in the cools bring you to the glass of water.  What do you think?

Thanks for looking and hopefully there will be more to come!

Saturday, April 28, 2012


I helped make the High School graduation announcements for the two beautiful exchange students that live with us.  They were so fun to do.  Very refreshing and fulfilling.  It's nice working creatively with photos every so often.  Most of the work is already done for you; color, value, lighting, proportion, likeness, etc.  It's all just fun finishing and composition work.  I also liked flexing my meager graphic design muscles working with the text.  I like how they turned out.

With Caty's announcement I had complete creative freedom because I made it while she was at school as a surprise.  She loves it, and so do I.

 With Sharon's announcement, she first wanted me to just do the back of the announcement because it was just text and she saw what all I did with Caty's.  She had a version of the front similar to what you see.  She wanted the back to match up with her original front.  But after she saw the finished back we decided to let me re-do the front in the same basic design so it matched up with the back.  She's very happy with it too.  I learned some things about photo editing and practiced some photoshop techniques. Those decorative scalloped edges are just a brush I made.  I felt cool. :)

So... really fun and refreshing!  How much could one charge for making announcements for wedding, high school, college announcements?  :D

Thursday, April 26, 2012

IF: Height + Watercolor

I usually center the images in my blog posts, but with such an extreme vertical format, this seemed a little more appropriate.

I did this little watercolor piece while one of the exchange students that is living with Jamin's family was doing her art homework in watercolor.  Her photo reference inspired me and I had a scrap of long watercolor paper from something, so it worked out great!  It was so great to work with my watercolors again!  It only took me 30min tops to do, but it was so much fun and therapeutic.

Purely watercolor!

IF: Return

This Illustration Friday topic was awhile ago, but I took it as an opportunity to do a few little studies to try a technique where you paint a painting in guache, really THICK.

Then comes the scary part... you pour waterproof ink ALL OVER IT and let it DRY!  It's a pretty freaky process.  Oh, I forgot to mention that you leave all the areas that you want to be black free of guache so the ink will adhere to the working surface rather than the paint, like everywhere else.

Then comes the Magic part!  You run tap water over the whole thing and the ink will fleck off of the painting wherever there is thick paint.  The magic of this process is in the nature of guache paint.  Because it reactivates when there is wet medium, or water, over it the ink on the paint sloughs of as the top layer of the guache painting reactivates.

You can do an entire finished painting underneath or more of an underpainting to set the stage for the finished product.  This is kind of what I did.  I did a rough, simple underpainting, did the guache-ink wash off technique, then did some refining in Photoshop. It was a really fun little painting.  It was even more fun because Jamin, my husband, and I listened to "A Princess of Mars" the first book of the John Carter of Mars series, from  We've had a lot of fun listening to them.

Before this happy resolution to this painting came a few "learning experiences."

Experience 1

This one was going to be a cute little painting, but it was not meant to be.  The paper of my illustration board was rubbing off before the ink was.  Confusing....

Experience 2

Same story, the ink wasn't magically washing off, so I stopped to preserve what I could.

After awhile I was able to carefully scrape off a lot of the ink, but it's still in process.  I learned that the problem was the ink I was using.  It was ACRYLIC ink.  Big, bad no no in the ink off process.  I'm not entirely sure why, but ye be warned!  Higgins india waterproof ink is the stuff to use.  It has been time tested by many in my acquaintance and they swear by it for this technique.  It worked on my 3rd Experience, so it made a believer out of me. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Excerpts from a Lithuanian Fairy Tale: The Queen of Serpents

It has been a wonderful experience working on this project and I'm excited to continue working on it until it is finished in it's entirety, not just excerpts.  Thank you to all of my friends, peers, teachers, and family who have supported me and helped me along the way.  My second greatest thanks goes to my wonderful, loving, awe inspiring husband, Jamin.  Surely his support and help in innumerable ways have kept me afloat and able to have made it this far.  The process of finishing will be slower because I'll be shifting my full time occupation from college to kids after graduation.  Illustration will go on, but on a slower, smaller scale.

My greatest thanks goes to my Heavenly Father, my Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.  I know that my meager efforts with my weaknesses and short comings have been magnified far beyond anywhere I could have carried myself under my own strength.  I testify of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know it has the power to heal, change, comfort, strengthen, and so much more.

My name is Shara Mills.  This is my finished BFA project, and I'm a Mormon.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Figure Drawings

I'm in an illustrative figure drawing class.  It's been so much fun!  It's been great exploration and it's so liberating to draw, express, and experiment with the lines, proportions, gestures and everything.  The models and costumes have been great.  It's so wonderful to work from such fantastic reference.  Our class has also started a blog to post the pictures we take in class for reference later on.  If you'd like to be inspired and work from some great reference, you can check it out here,   My favorite drawing I turned in before I took a picture.  It's a finished drawing I refined out of the fourth drawing in this list.  It was just such a great pose and gesture for me.  I hope you enjoy. 

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