ramblings in between

the art + life of sharon samples

flaunt your fangirl – pixel & print commission

December 3, 2014 by Sharon | 0 comments

A few months ago I was commission by Lauren of doodlebug design (the most adorable hand-carved stamps ever) to create some characters for Pixel & Print, the 3D-printing company that she runs with her husband Daniel.

Lauren designs the jewelry part of of the brand, which features pop-culture inspired earrings. She wanted illustrations that would reflect and appeal to the fangirls toward whom their products were geared. She specifically wanted girls in costumes (cosplay), and we discussed the characters that she had in mind. Once that was settled, I pretty much had free reign in what to create. So it was a lot of fun coming up with these images.

Everything was drawn out in pencil and then inked traditionally with Sakura Pigma Micron Pens and India ink. Then I scanned in the finished drawing and colored it digitally using Adobe Photoshop.

digital illustration of girl cosplaying as leia organa

digital illustration of girl cosplaying as a star trek officer

digital illustration of girl cosplaying as batgirl

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Paper & The Big Draw

August 8, 2014 by Sharon | 1 Comment


You remember when I said I was going to update my blog at least once a week? No. Well, maybe once a month would have been a better goal. Still, neither one of those happened. I will try to do better.

Last night I attended the preview of the Paper & The Big Draw exhibits at the Mobile Museum of Art. I had received notice of the event via the museum’s email newsletter. Every Thursday, the museum has free admission. They host special events in the evening in a feature called Museum Nights. Of course, I was excited to see this exhibit because I really liked the drawing featured in the preview image. There is some very stunning work in this show. My favorite piece was this massive illustration of a tiger drawn by Paper Frank.

After the show, I was looking through Mobile Museum of Art’s Instagram, and Paper Frank was featured. I discovered, that he’s a tattoo artist at City of Ink in Atlanta. Melvin Todd, a former schoolmate of mine (we attended middle school at the same time—he was in 6th grade when I was in 8th, and he was talented even then), also works at City of Ink. So, it would have been cool if I had realized this beforehand and stayed around to possibly chat with Paper Frank.

Attendees were invited to draw right on the museum wall. I could not pass up that opportunity. I was photographed and interview by a news crew. I don’t know if that part will be broadcast in the final cut of the segment, but it was cool all the same. I created a rather nice drawing.


[As I was creating this entry, my mom called me to tell me that she did, in fact, see me on the news this morning. Thankfully, it was just the segment of me drawing, not talking. :)]

Check out the video below.

Artist Interview: Bronwyn Coffeen

April 29, 2014 by Sharon | 0 comments

Bronwyn Coffeen is a freelance Graphic Artist and Illustrator based in Mobile, AL. I first became aware of her work after seeing an illustration she did for the Press-Register. It was quite different than anything art that I had seen before in that paper—a whimsical illustration for an article about the local Renaissance Faire. I looked her up online, and that’s where the art!stalking began.

I met her by chance at Arts Alive in 2009, where she was sharing a booth with a friend (who made adorable crochet animals). I bought one of her prints (the koi pictured below). We traded cards and kept in touch over the years. In addition to be a talented artist, Bronwyn is super cool, gracious, and has amazing hair. Her recent projects include the gallery “Ten by Ten: The Decameron” at the Mobile Arts Council, as well as Senior Creative Director for ACCESS Magazine.

Bronwyn was kind enough to take time from her projects and planning of her impending nuptials to answer a few questions about her craft, art school, and her beverage of choice.


Why art? Is it something you’ve always wanted to pursue? When did you know that this was what you wanted to do for a living? I owe it to my parents who always had a writing utensil and appropriate drawing surface on hand for me while I was growing up! I just knew I always enjoyed it, and found it entrancing to take a cartoon drawing, or photo that caught my eye, and recreate it by freehand. I guess those are the early stages of being self-taught! When my folks and I went to Disney World in the late 80’s, I remember visiting the Animation Studio and being amazed that the characters are drawn so many times in a second, in the manner to have them come to life on screen! Right there I said that this is what I want to do – create art.

Describe your artistic process from inception to completion. I’m sure like most artists, sometimes it’s a color or an object that sparks the itch to create. I’ll use Adobe Photoshop to use a reference photo I took and and see what composition will work best, then I’ll either sketch on the printout of the composition or digitally draw on the photo using my Wacom tablet. This is all to get a rough before I proceed with the final. On either paper or canvas, I’ll lightly draw out the general shapes of the objects I will paint, just to use as a guide. Then I’ll freehand draw or paint the rest of the process.

What are your go-to tools of the trade? Digitally, I love my Adobe Creative Suite and 14-year-old Wacom tablet. Traditional medium-wise, I get into phases. Oil and acrylic on canvas and masonite – applied with either brush or palette knife – and pastels are my favorite mediums. Recently, I picked up the palette knife my grandfather long ago used, and found that technique fun. This produced two paintings, which are in tribute to that grandfather I never knew. This past year, I tried mixed media collage for the crafty aspect of it. This included acrylic painted on top of magazine cutouts, all adhered to a wooden gallery-wrapped style board. Magazine layouts appeals to my love of graphics and typography, so I gather up inspiring layouts, either by buying magazines or finding some on Pinterest! There are a few piles of magazines in my studio now.

I know that you work in both digital and traditional media. Do you prefer one over the other? For me, it matters on what kind of commission I’m working on. If a commission ultimately needs to be digitized, such as for a book or magazine, I’ll work exclusively with Adobe Creative Suite. What’s great with Adobe Illustrator is recreating the look of traditional media, so the option is there if the client wants a traditional look, not a vector style. But, I will admit, there is NOTHING like holding a tube of paint and the brush, a Turquoise pencil if there needs to be a drawing down on sketchbook and paint pushed against canvas. I have to take a break from digital and go traditional – it’s a cycle!


Who are your artistic influences? I had a few before attending college, but once exposed to so many other inspired artists at college, I have a HUGE list of influencers. This includes Peter de Sève (character designer for Ice Age, others animations), Norman Rockwell (for his expressive depiction of humanism through sorrow or happiness), and John Singer Sergent (excellent painting execution, understanding of texture and light, especially his Madame X).

What themes do you pursue? Fantastical, mysterious, but sometimes light and free like a simple plein-air painting or still life. Most of my pieces involve some sort of nature in it, whether it’s an animal or foliage. Or food, to serve the foodie in me! autumn trees

Why owls? ;) Birds represent freedom – they can fly anywhere they want to go! Flying at the drop of a hat would be my choice of super power. They’re great expressionists with their colors, feather and flight movements. But owls speak to me more than any other avian. They prefer to work behind the scenes in the dark, are active at night like me when I’m more awake and amped to create artwork, and they like to survey and watch before they act. I’m rarely a compulsive person. Remember the bookmark in the 80’s with a bespectacled owl sitting with a pile of books? I love reading, too

If your art were a movie, what would it be?  What Dreams May Come

Having attended a prestigious art school, what do you feel are the pros and cons to formal art education versus being self-taught?
Pros: Connections! You would be able to talk to the visiting industry leaders from various companies. They, as well as the teachers, inform you what creative and professional skills you would need to succeed in whatever creative industry you’re interested in. They are there to help. You can get a good kind of rush and drive by attending class with other like-minded creatives and the support group that can be born there – unless you thrive by working alone in a studio, Sure, there’s competition, but that can be a GOOD thing!

Cons: Most likely, it’ll cost you $$$ to attend an “art” school, versus going at it alone. But art supplies are generally expensive, based on the kind of medium, but sometimes it is worth getting the more expensive brand. Another con is that employment is not guaranteed when you graduate. Based on my experience with college life and looking back after graduating, I believe it is worth going to art school because I was given a lot of information, and was able to get on my feet and make a LIFE with creating art.

What’s the best lesson you learned in school? Even though some of my teachers said that I would develop a signature “style” after studying at Ringling, that didn’t work with me, and I became OK with it. I tried forcing myself into trying to create one style, and that’s never how it should be – tt should flourish naturally. Instead, I found that I was happy creating different styles, and I use that to cater to even more clients’ needs. I keep a few general themes throughout my work, but the style varies.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming artists? Not everyone is going to give you even a glance if you approach them with your artwork. Don’t take this to heart. You wouldn’t want to work with them anyway with their attitude, right? Don’t be afraid to try something new, just like Picasso! Or worry that it won’t sell or nobody would want your artwork. There are even more outlets to sell your work, especially online, than what was available when I graduated college in 2005. People want and NEED artwork.


What is your dream project? Even though I LOVE freelancing, that was a dream project in itself, another dream is to work on a major animation film with other creatives, like Dreamwork’s How To Train Your Dragon. That would make me die happily. The job title? Lead Character Designer. It’s on my to-do list!

What keeps you motivated? The “Aha!” moment when a piece totally comes together. Sometimes the “happy accident” appears on the canvas. Something one-of-a-kind was just born because I took the time to nurture it. Colors and emotions. When people are also drawn to my work. (Thank you, Sharon!).

What’s currently on your playlist? Spotify! Three Dog Night, UNKLE, Arcade Fire, Metallica, The Horrors, Deadmau5, Muse, and David Bowie :)

Coffee or tea? Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea, with local honey!

Follow Brownyn online:
portfolio | blog | twitter | facebook | instagrampinterest | deviantART

Images (c) Bronwyn Coffeen and Sharon Samples.

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Hello, March.

March 11, 2014 by Sharon | 0 comments

Finally an update.

I had grand plans for awesome new content and features, beginning the month of February. As you can see, we’re halfway through March (where does the year go?), and that has yet to occur. There’s still time, though, and it’s always good to have goals to keep me moving forward.

Today I’m doing the hipster thing, wearing a truly vintage shirt. It belonged to my dad and it’s from the 1982 Fiesta Run in Pensacola, FL. Back then, he was into jogging (before it was cool, to hear him tell it), so I guess the apple hasn’t fallen far.

On top of that, I’m blogging from a cafe. It was needed though. Since my niece was born, it’s been difficult to get a quiet moment to focus on things. I easily get distracted with being ask to hold her and/or watch her while someone goes and does something or the other.

And she indeed needs to be watched, because that baby is quite precocious and love to “explore” her surroundings.

So…about the plans for my blog. Hopefully, within the next week, I will start posting Featured Artist Interviews. Over the past year-and-a-half, I’ve met many amazing artists, and I’m eager to share their worth with you.

I also plan on doing a Throwback Thursday: Art Edition. I started doing this on my Instagram, occasionally posting images of old art, especially when I didn’t have an old photo available. I might do this in conjunction with a version of the Draw This Again Meme, in which you take a piece of old art and redraw it, making use of your current and improved artistic skills.

As always, I will keep posting art. Here’s a Rule 63 Robin Hood that I did for @sketch_dailies.

robin hood

Bad Art Is Good Art: Always Room for Improvement

December 10, 2013 by Sharon | 0 comments

Reposted from tumblr.

This idea was originated by ivorylungs.

The purpose of this meme is to encourage younger artists to continue to improve. But it can also work for older folks like me. ;)

To be honest, I never thought about giving up on art. Doing art was something that was just a part of my life, and my parents encouraged my talent, never discouraged it. But it wasn’t until I got to my junior year of high school, when I was considering what career path to pursue in college, that I had to make the decision on whether or not to pursue art as an actual profession.

So drawing has never really been a chore for me. However, as I progressed in developing my artistic talent, there were many moments of frustration, of things not turning out exactly as I pictured, and that’s still something with which a struggle to this day.


August 1996—Spring 1997: I was about 14 years old when I got “serious” about my art. The piece on the right is something I drew of my characters Adriana and Amber, referencing the poses from catalogs. Sometime between then and the next year, I discovered art on the internet and I began reading comic books. This led to me to learn how to stylize my art.

After high school, I went to college, earned a BFA in Graphic Design with a minor in Photography. I had to take a butt-load of art and art history classes. I didn’t take any illustration classes, but I did take figure drawing (LOVED IT) and perceptual drawing classes.

So, if when people ask me if I have formal art training, the answer is “yes,” but I was drawing long before that. Drawing is a talent, but it’s also a skill that needs to be developed and cultivated. The only way to get better at it is to do it.

View the pictures →

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