Friday, March 21, 2014


Quick poster studies:

using marbled paper as inspiration I've made a few quick compositions for fun.
I'm pretty happy with how they came out. I may even print a few for my desk at work!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Manchester Residency

I'm writing this post from a studio on the first floor of a row house in outskirts of Manchester, England.

I applied and was accepted to the artist residency, Artfunkl, in Manchester just a few months ago. It was either here or a fish town in northern Iceland with a population of 500 people. As much as that sounds like an experience to be had... just to be had, I figured this was a little more practical.

The point of this residency is to build a body of painted work. The original plan was to continue the animal paintings but when I couldn't transport the paintings I've already started I thought this might be a good time to start and finish some ideas and designs I've been interested in lately.

My brother and I started a line of design work under the name KOIVU. We recently released a women's line of tshirts and sweatshirts for Ghostly International. We also made some tshirts simply for ourselves and are selling them on our site: This is definitely a subject that deserves a post all on it's own but will have to wait till later

Anyways this design aesthetic we've been after is quite abstract and in many ways kind of cartoony. Our main influences have been euro interior designs from the early 90's, a little bit of Lichtenstein's more obscure work, clean geometric forms, bold colors or entirely pastel palettes, messy textures and patterns, and illustrative styles from companies like Lazy Oaf, Quiet Life, and Nike. And as much as these styles have informed apparel designs it also is an influence to fine art. It brings attention to the necessity of things that DON'T make sense in a world where we must constantly make sense of, bring practicality to, and justify our actions, our plans, and our lives.

The concept is very playful and light-hearted.  In many ways the concept begins to bring out our childish side and the aesthetic looks this way to us. There isn't much depth - the focus is saturated in the visual content and the absurdness in the pairings. There isn't clear context. There isn't even a set dimension because both 2D and 3D-realism are used.

To begin I made hundreds of sketches. After deciding on some compositions that I found pleasing to the eye I began stretching my canvases and preparing the surfaces for paint.

Next I began working. Some pieces are painted on wood, some on canvas, a few on paper and even one on glass.

Here is the progression of a painting on wood panel:

Next is the process of painting on a pane of glass - which was then layered on top of a painted wood panel:

A 3rd wood panel and it's progress:

Next is the progress of an oil painting on canvas. This painting is still in process and is my second largest piece at the moment:

And lastly I began to make some paintings using a different technique entirely. It only takes a few minutes to create these paintings but each one can be a real hit or miss. I've found it takes many fails to produce a few great pieces so I've only made about 2 of these that I really like. I hope to create a few more if possible before the show.

The 2 above are the two successes that I will put in the show. The work below is an example of a piece I used to test different techniques with the palette knife. As you can see there are a few spots that are really exciting while others that simply look like a terrible mistake.

Love this particular area of the painting.

Anyways I still have about 2 weeks to finish up these works and a few more so stay tuned for the next and last post about my residency!

mARTyna - ha... I know, never again.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

An End and a Beginning!

The Tiger painting is finished! I know you were all skeptical (even I was) but the day has come and the painting is as done is it could ever be - I'm elated!

With the finish of the first painting in this series I had a burst of motivation and have applied to 4 artist residencies! My intention is to get into a residency to be able to work on this series some more. To basically cage myself into a studio to make SURE I get at LEAST one more painting out of this series.

You guys may not realize this but this is a very critical juncture! I have finished many first paintings of many series - I have finished NO second paintings of ANY of my series. I NEED TO CONTINUE.

So with 4 applications in and no one else to make sure I do the rest of the series but myself I decided to jump right into the next painting - residency or no residency! (It's going to be at least a month before I hear back from any of these residencies.)

With that being said HERE are the first stages of my next painting! HIPPOS!

What you're not seeing before this is the digital drawing process that basically brings me to the composition you see here. Once I have it the way I want it on the computer I project it on to the canvas and trace it from there.

This is the base color being applied and the flat background color which I'm afraid might be darker than I intended - I might go over it! MAUVE.

Anyways I'm so proud to be putting out this post. The tiger painting may be the piece of work I'm most proud of!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tiger Progress

Just wanted to fill you in on the Tiger Painting!

The progression for this has gone from very fast to slow to nill to PICKED UP AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT pace. After planning out the painting it took a few weeks to gather up all the right supplies ie. canvas, projector, paint... and then as soon as everything had fallen into place I began the initial image placement: 
drawing from the projected image...

image skeleton is painted as well as solid background...

soon after that the base color was being applied to the image which is always a very exciting part because this is when you can begin to see your painting start to look like its final self - even if in a very simple form. 

But after all of the base color was layed down things began to slow down and stop. This is very common occurance in ALL my painting processes. I don't know why but this is a point where I usually lose interest! Maybe because it looks like a shittier version of the end product and I'm underwhelmed by it? I think so.

So in the mean time I took up a temporary job with the Ann Arbor Art Fair. For 3 months I didn't even touch this painting and it sat by it's lonesome in my room waiting for it's creator to take pity on it. 

So then about a week ago the Art Fair finally happened, it was a huge success (something I'll probably talk about in a later post) and I finally started thinking about my painting again. I picked up my brush and in one sitting tackled the girls face. It felt awesome! She looked better than I could have imagined and then I just started working on the painting everyday. So it's been a week now and so much has progressed and we are close to the end.

I don't want to show you the whole thing right before the end but in this clip you can see the progress really picking up. It's super exciting!

Thanks for the drop in!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Animal Series: Tigers!

So... I think I'm finally doing it. I've settled on an idea I'd like to make into a series. I think I will stay interested in this idea long enough to do a few paintings. I have the base-frame/the skeleton of the first painting ready to be a filled realized piece of work!

The idea stems from some very real, very old interests of mine - animals and the female human form. I used to think I was going to be a veterinarian before 3rd grade. When the subject of female forms are mixed with nature I automatically assume an Art Nouveau influence but of course my style will look quite modern so perhaps I will call this Art Nouveau Contemporized. 

This first painting has been sketched and sketched again to the point where I have a very finalized looking drawing that I now need to be transfered to canvas. I think the best way to do it would be to trace from a projector.

I'm leaving photos here of my process up to this point!


A. is the first sketch I made - the Idea Sketch. This sketch is a very rough sketch just so that I can physically see my idea on paper - maybe play around with the layout but basically to get it out of my head and saved in physical form.

B. is the Practical Sketch. I move on to this stage to start putting the idea into working form. I need to think of my canvas size and shape and change my composition accordingly. I start to look at potential positions for the tigers and the expression on the girls face.

After the practical sketch I can start looking for tiger photos that full-fill the positions I'd like represented. I use photos because in this particular style I'd like to stay true to life in the proportions. The stylization I will add will play around more with the colors and how the painting is actually painted.


The girls face was also very important. I thought maybe at first that she would look very innocent and affectionate like the tigers around her but then I decided that that girl is NOT sweet and shy - she's hanging out with a load of TIGERS! She is bold and maybe even a little threatening because of the power she holds in having such predatorial friends.

This is the stage the drawing is at now. I have some pretty great ideas for coloring that I'm excited to execute.

Some other animals I'm thinking of including in my series are:
American Bison
The Common Hippo
and the Cyprian Wild Sheep

all these animals happen to be endangered which may or may not remain a theme within the series!
If you have any suggestions for animals let me know!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


So if you haven't already heard, Martyna's been bouncing around a bit. I was on the west coast recently - meeting up with people from McSweeneys in San Francisco as well as visiting a friend in Portland, OR.

The west was a great break from what I've become very familiar with in the MIDwest and east coast. I'm back in Michigan with new projects in hand. I am going to be working with McSweeneys continually from a distance with small promotional material. It's one of the best gigs I've had in a while because I pretty much have full creative reign over each project and I love McSweeneys!

I'm posting the process for one of the fliers I made for them. Enjoy!

I had the idea for the flier before I even started. I imagined the quirky individuals that like McSweeneys and tried to personify the literary quirkiness in these two characters reading the poems. The event is a reading and most of the items read will be poems. The excitement in a Reading is the interpretation and performance of the people reading. Because really everyone can read a poem but the joy of hearing someone else read it is their ability to express the words they read physically and also their difference in interpretation from your own.

The drawings aren't based on anyone in particular and were drawn straight from my head. I call the girl Sally and the guy... Rick... or John. But of course, please feel free to name them how you like.

I'm really happy with the final version. 

*A quick doodle from sitting at the McSweeney office.

Friday, November 2, 2012

New Sketches! New style.

As hoped when I bought this sketchbook, I've started doing fuller drawings - more finalized. I've also been trying to play with a more surreal feeling /  creepy / uneasy subject matter. Less cute stuff.