Student Spotlight- Brenda Lyons

Friday, March 6, 2009

This time we are very proud to shine the Student Spotlight on MFA candidate Brenda Lyons. Brenda will be doing her thesis next quarter, so we wanted to be sure to show off her beautiful work before she leaves us . Brenda has an affinity for all things avian, as you will see, and her thesis pays tribute to Birds of Prey and their historic and cultural relationship with man. She will me mounting her show along with other MFA candidates Goñi Montes, Heather Elder, and Yossaya Aisiri in the spring.
So, here's a bit about Brenda and the wonderful work she's been doing.
1. Where are you from?
I grew up in Manchester, Connecticut: a place where three inches of snow is considered a 'dusting.'
2. Where have you been to school?
I received a Bachelor of Art in studio art and a minor in writing at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. I also attended the National University of Ireland - Galway for a semester in 2006.
3. What attracted you to Illustration?
I've always loved drawing things based on stories. When I was a kid, I would read and imagine and wanted to see, physically, what those things in my imagination looked like. In order to bring them to life, I would draw them. As I got older, my inspiration turned from 'drawing stuff for fun' to 'creating detailed illustrations based on ideas.' It wasn't until my last year of undergraduate school that I came to the realization that I wanted to be an illustrator.
4. Who are your biggest influences?
John James Audubon has been my biggest influence ever since I first saw his paintings in elementary school. I remember going to the library every day and sitting there, looking through the enormous books filled with full-color pages of his bird paintings. Even now I am inspired by his birds that have such elegant personality. Peter Parnall is another illustrator, though not very well-known, who influenced me though his detailed pen-and-ink birds of prey. The work of Arthur Rackham, Robert Bateman and Susan Seddon-Boulet also inspire me.
5. If you weren’t studying illustration at SCAD, what would you likely be doing?
I’ve loved birds my entire life, and my original dream throughout my childhood and into high school was to be an ornithologist and raptor rehabilitator. If I wasn’t studying illustration, I may have ended up with a degree studying birds. Though I ended up choosing illustration instead of ornithology, I still may end up rehabilitating birds of prey one day.
6. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Ah, 'spare time.' Actually, when it comes to my spare time, I enjoy painting. I love illustration, which is why I'm studying it at SCAD. Most of my personal work is bird and fantasy-based, so when I'm not working on assignments, I'm working on my own art. I send to a few fantasy convention art shows, so doing that takes a lot of time (cutting mats and backing board, framing, bagging prints, filling out forms, shipping, designing business cards/signs). As for non-art related activities, I enjoy hiking, exploring, and archery. Sadly, there are no archery ranges in Atlanta, so I haven't been able to practice for a while.
7. What is something that most people don’t know about you?
In Montana I originally majored in equestrian studies. I spent my freshman year of undergraduate school riding and training horses. It wasn't until I realized getting stepped on and bucked around wasn't really my passion that I switched my major to art. I can actually say that I've walked into a restaurant with spurs jingling on my boots, that I've been on a runaway, galloping horse, and watched the sun set behind the mountains while in the saddle.
8. What would your dream job/client be and why?
My absolute dream job would be to create whimsical bird illustrations for a client who loves flowing, colorful birds, because that's what I love to do! I would also love to be hired to study and illustrate birds of prey - perhaps to create a book based on the species in my own style. To be able to study birds of prey up close would be more of a dream come true than a 'job.' Teaching college-level illustration is also something I would love to do; in fact I'm not picky when it comes to location, and I'd be willing and enthusiastic to travel around the globe to teach.
9. What’s your typical process for creating your artwork (technique, media, etc)?
My media of choice is watercolor, though I also use acrylic, ink, colored pencil, marker, and scratchboard. Recently, I've been experimenting with ink or graphite shading under my watercolor, and for now I have settled on a light graphite drawing with watercolor and touches of white gouache where I want more cloudiness or opacity. I used to work on Strathmore Illustration Board, but after discovering the vibrancy of color and control of pigment that comes with watercolor paper, I switched to Arches cold-press watercolor paper. I stretch my paper on sheet of masonite to prevent buckling, and usually work in many, many layers of watercolor.
10. Sum up your personal philosophy in 25 words or less.
Never take yourself so seriously that you won’t run after an ice-cream truck when it passes you on a hot summer day.


Jay said...

Congrats Brenda! Your work looks great!

Angela Sasser said...

So glad to see a spotlight on someone I know. Keep an eye on this gal. She's always full of surprises and is more determined than any person I know. We will see her name in the headlines one day, I'm sure:)

Miss Petra said...

All of you guys are so amazing, you're lucky you got such a good talent. (my favorite.)