Pro Artist Spotlight: Karla Ortiz

Pro Artist Spotlight: Karla Ortiz

We asked Karla Ortiz - one of our amazing Pro Ambassadors - about the importance of drawing from life. Here's a little about Karla and some of her insights.

Karla is a highly versatile, award winning artist who has worked on a wide variety of awesome projects.

As a concept artist with over 10 years of professional experience, she's worked for Paragon Studios/NcSoft, Ubisoft, Kabam, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Marvel Film Studios and Universal Studios.

Karla most recently contributed important designs to the huge Marvel blockbuster Black Panther feature film which is in cinemas right now! You'll see some awesome work she did for the movie on her Instagram.

As an illustrator, she's created work for various high end clients including Wizards of the Coast, Ace Books and Tor Books. Karla has also provided cover work and art for various independent authors and toy makers.

As a fine artist her work has shown in the Studio Gallery SF, Thinkspace Art Gallery, Nucleus Gallery, Spoke Art Gallery, Hashimoto Contemporary and internationally at Galerie Arludik in Paris.

We are honored to have her representing our products.

Karla on 'drawing from life'

Whenever students ask what they should focus on to improve, we hear similar responses: “Anatomy, composition, color, light...“ and rightfully so!

These concepts are so pivotal to artistic development, but, there's one seldom mentioned practice that all artists of all skill ranges should engage in, and that is the constant study from life!

There is no greater teacher than honing your own observations of how the world visually behaves! There is no greater lesson on how light works, than painting outside and noticing the immense differences between morning light and afternoon light.

How on overcast days, light particles bounce around, and that’s why shadows tend to be diffused. How the eye focuses on objects and blurs everything at the peripherals.

While extraordinarily useful tools, you start to understand how a camera's ability to reproduce the world is limited - they flatten space and harden most edges. By creating from life, you begin to internalize vivid color variations that cameras simply cannot capture.

Cameras also cannot capture what you, a living breathing being, feels inside during those special, fleeting moments.

I think it's extremely important to lead a life full of rich and different experiences. You gain ideas and inspiration from this wondrous existence of ours when you meet with friends and have great adventures.

When you go outside and experience the beauty of a city, of a forest, of a mountain. You take all these experiences and bring it into your work. These experiences and how you process them are what makes your art unique and different from every other creative person on the planet.

It is so visually obvious (to me at least) when someone creates art in a vacuum because it’s often devoid of the subtleties that come from observation of life as it happens in real time around you.

I wish to suggest, rather than following the mantra “Shut up and get to work!”, I would say “Live, and then draw intensely!”

You are not some worker-drone that spits out art. You’re a human and an artist.

You have the capacity to learn and be brilliant, all while fully experiencing this short life that inspires us to create. 

Studying from life has been a time honored tradition for artists who wish to improve their craft, and for good reason. Those who wish to portray life and nature in a realistic manner need to understand it, learn it and observe it (similar to a scientist!). That’s why it's so important to get out of the confines of your usual workspace and paint what you see!

So grab your art tools and coat, then go outside to learn and create - and once you make something worthy, share it with those around you.

- Karla

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