Ever wondered about the artists drawing those fantastic pieces of fanart you reblog on Tumblr or favorite on deviantArt? Here’s your chance to get behind the scenes with these artists who bring your favorite characters alive.
Jeni Kubicek has wanted to be an artist since she was 5, but started being serious around age 14. She didn’t take lessons or classes but instead drew what she loved and drew inspiration from other artists. She was homeschooled K-12 then instead of going to college, Jeni traveled the world, worked and continued to learn about art. Since then she got married and worked numerous jobs. She now works from home as a freelance artist. Her fanart features various books and series, including Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
What is it about the authors’ writing that inspired your art?
That is a hard question! It depends really. Sometimes a scene will affect me for some reason and I just have to paint it. It’s how I work through the emotions caused by the book. Which is why most of my fanart tends to be darker, sadder scenes instead of the happy ones. I do try and occasionally paint a ‘happy’ scene but most of the time it’s just me expressing how I felt about what I read.
Are there any other influences you like to use in your art?
Sometimes I’ll actually look up other fanart from the same novel just to see what’s out there and how other artists have approached it. I also love listening to film scores while I read or draw, it’s amazing what emotions music can add. If there is a movie of a book I always try to read the book before seeing the movie. Once I see the movie it always influences what I draw and I like to be inspired by the book first. But inevitably movie influences sneak in.
What was your favorite reaction you’ve received?
Oh gosh! I can’t pick one favorite one! I love it when I do a pretty emotional piece (for me at least) and someone else gets emotional, as well. The way I get my ‘feelings’ out after reading is to paint. It’s how I work through it. So when someone else responds to my work in a similar way, it’s great. It’s like, “I’m not the only one to get worked up or moved by this!’.
What’s your process? What type of medium or art programs do you use or prefer?
First, I finish the book and then I immediately start sketching. Otherwise I’ll forget the ideas I had while reading! Sometimes if I have an amazing idea halfway through, I’ll write it down in a notebook. Then depending on how the sketches turn out, I’ll pick one to turn into a painting. I pencil it out, get the lines nice and clean, then add gouache (a type of paint). When I’m done with the gouache I usually add ink, I always feel like a piece is finished once the lines are inked in.
While I love the ‘watercolor’ look, I actually don’t use watercolor! I use gouache. For some reason I love the feel of it SO much better than watercolors.
Do you have any tools you like to work with?
I do love my gum eraser!! I am pretty low maintenance with my brushes and pencils. I think I still have a few brushes that I got for 5 bucks in high school. Whatever works!
How do you know when you’ve completed your piece or decide when to share it online?
I actually take a picture of it! I’ll take a quick snapshot, look at the piece and if I’m happy with it on camera I know it’s done. It’s amazing how many flaws you’ll see when you take a picture of a painting, or hold it up to a mirror. Sometimes you just need a different perspective! Or I’ll just show it to my brother in law, and if he has nothing to say, it’s done! And when I know a piece is done, I can’t wait to put it up online! I want to see what people think as soon as possible.
What is your proudest piece of work?
Right now I am most proud of “The Silver Doe”. It’s acrylic, which I never illustrate with, so to achieve an illustrative painting with such an unfamiliar medium was quite an accomplishment for me. And it’s huge!! 24 by 36! And it’s one of those paintings where it actually did turn out exactly how I saw it in my mind. That doesn’t happen too often! And I got a Daily Deviation on Deviantart.
Are there any themes or surprises you’ve noticed come up in your work?
Actually yes, I think I have a ‘sad’ theme running through my work. I didn’t notice for the longest time, it was actually my mom who said, “You never draw people smiling. Your art is not very happy.” One reason is because of what I said earlier, that it was me working through the emotions of the book and they weren’t usually happy ones. Another reason was quite simple! I have trouble drawing smiles! It’s definitely a weakness I have and I need to work on them.
Do you have anything fun you are working on or would like to do someday?
I’m two months away from having my first baby so right now it’s mostly stuff I could hang in her nursery. So I’m having fun with that of course As far as someday? I have so many ideas that I would like to do! Some of them I’ve had for years, but I really will get them done. Eventually.
What kind of advice or insight would you give to other artists?
Always paint what you are passionate about! And practice.
What encouraged you to share your fan art?
First it was my friends’ reactions and excitement to what I had drawn. Then I learned about deviantArt and joined there, And oh my goodness! It was so encouraging to see what people had to say!! It just made me want to do more and more fan art.