June 29, 2014

Now Accepting Orders for Watercolor Portraits!

I'm back! And what have I been up to? I moved back home, to Oakland!
"Rainbow over Lake Merritt" by flickr user Daniel Ramirez

And something new: I've been painting portraits.
(click to zoom)
The first portrait is entitled “Refuge.” The sitter, Janice, is depicted nestled under a cozy afghan, protected by her little white guard dog, Coda. Janice told me that when she lived in the snowy midwest, she would start knitting a blanket at the beginning of summer and be done with it just in time for winter. This image captivated me and led to this portrait.

(click to zoom)
The second portrait is of Q, a dear friend's baby, in celebration of his first birthday. Q is a very happy baby and I wanted to capture his infectious joy in this painting.

I am now accepting orders for portraits (both humans and pets). 
They make wonderful gifts for the holidays, and to commemorate milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries, retirement, marriages, and births. I prefer to work from both sketches and photographs, so it helps if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area—if not, just contact me, and I'll see if we can work together. I prefer to interview the subject to get a feel for their personality and life experiences. Portraits take 4-8 weeks to complete. 

I'd love to answer any of your questions, so please email me at jess@jessjakus.com

July 6, 2013

Character Design: The Passive Aggressive Psychotherapist

I was asked to design a character for a mobile phone app. The character is an unsympathetic psychotherapist. The player asks the therapist a question, and the therapist replies with a snarky, condescending answer—sort of like a Magic Eight Ball with attitude.

Having met with the client to get a clear picture of the character's personality, I came up with this first round of sketches (click any images to zoom):

It was decided that the final character should look a little more angular and “cold” (think ice queen). And, amusingly, she would have a little dog. Here are a few more designs I came up with:

And here is the final character design:

In this app, there is the option to slap the therapist and her glasses fly off her face. But don't worry, no therapists were harmed in the making of this drawing!

It was really fun to pull out my inks for this project. I want to get a Niji Waterbrush and a Noodler and incorporate more ink into my sketchbook.

June 21, 2013

People Who Sketch People

People at the beach:  

Some quick figure sketches:

An oldie but goody: A live band sketched at a club (with some bonus doodles and philosophizing):

(Click on any image to zoom in).

I know some people are reading a few of my posts now.  Hi!  If you feel moved to, I really welcome your comments.

I have a few projects, big and small, in the works.

I am experimenting with mailings to promote my illustration business.  As a freelancer without a rep or agent, I have to be my own salesperson.  That can seem daunting, but the good news is there isn't one right way to promote oneself.  I'll be making occasional updates on what works for me and what doesn't.

May 5, 2013

A Color Changing Mug, with Sketches

In February an acquaintance hired me to design a coffee mug (a color changing coffee mug!) for his coffee shop. My art was focused then on the local wildlife of Santa Cruz, and his logo is a sea otter holding a coffee mug. He wanted a design that was colorful and bright, which is exactly the kind of art that I love to make. I am also very interested in working with local businesses, so all in all, I felt blessed to have this opportunity.

I sent him the following first round of sketches:

My client loved the underwater scene, but there was one issue: The coffee shop is surfer-themed, and he wanted a surfing theme for the coffee mug. Santa Cruz boasts legendary surf spots; surfers come from all over to compete and ride the waves. While everyone in my upstate New York hometown grew up playing soccer or baseball, in Santa Cruz the kids grow up surfing (and skateboarding, and riding dirt bikes). Surfing is in their blood.

So although I liked the underwater scene I had to scrap that idea and create a new batch of surfer-themed sketches. I got loads of inspiration from this surfing art Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=surf+art

And came up with these ideas:

Now the issue was how to give everything a local vibe. I thought of Steamer Lane, one of Santa Cruz's popular surf spots. Surrounded by cliffs, it is located near a very cute red brick lighthouse. There is nothing more thrilling than walking along West Cliff Drive and watching the surfers as the sun sets in dazzling hues. The ocean waves turn every color of the rainbow. So I tried to capture that moment and those colors in this final design:

Click to zoom.

I am waiting for the coffee mugs to get printed up, and I'll try to post pics here when that happens. I hope this mug will be one of those cherished mugs that is a mainstay of morning coffee long after the ink has chipped away.

January 21, 2013

Keep It Simple, Stupid

"Baby Otter" watercolor and graphite on paper.  Click to zoom. Copyright 2012 Jess Jakus All Rights Reserved.
Here is a little painting I made as a gift for a friend's new baby. I wanted to give her something other than baby clothes. Her bathroom walls are painted lavender, and that made an impression on me. Imagine growing up in a house with lavender walls!

For a painting commission last year, I visited the client's house to get a sense of the space, and it informed the palette of that painting. The result was a piece of art that fit very naturally in the space. I hope this painting will achieve a similar result.

I have been researching sea otters for another project, so that current passion also went into this painting.

From start to finish this painting took three days: One day to sketch, and two to revise the sketch, transfer it to watercolor paper, and paint it. Ideally I prefer a little more time to complete a project, so the time constraint was a challenge. As usual, I had to let go of my inclination to overdo things. I stood in front of the mostly-finished painting at one in the morning, contemplating whether or not it was really “done.” My partner had good advice: “If you're really not sure whether or not it is done, it is probably done.” AKA: Keep it simple, stupid.