ramblings in between

The Art of Sharon Samples

Artist Interview: Bronwyn Coffeen

April 29, 2014 by sharon samples | 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.

This gallery contains 7 photos

We could have been friends, now where’s my stuff? [a Veronica Mars Kickstarter confessional]

March 18, 2014 by Sharon | 0 comments


[Update 4.29.14: I've since received a link to the movie, t-shirt, and poster. Still waiting on the shipment of the DVDs.]

The Veronica Mars Movie Project is definitely a momentous event. It was the highest funded film project in Kickstarter’s history. Fans were lauded for the success, showing the studio powers-that-be that the viewers know what they want are are willing to support it.

I am one of those supporters.

Veronica Mars was a show that I was always aware of, figured I would enjoy, but never got around to actually watching. My sister started watched the series kept urging me to watch it. To date, I have only seen one episode of the show. Still, when I saw a post on tumblr advertising the Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter, I immediately forwarded the information to my sister. I told her I’d be willing to go half on it with her, and I planned on catching up on the show by the time the movie came out.

I do recall seeing all the rewards and having an inkling that there may be problems when it came to fulfilling the rewards of the pledgees. But I thought (possibly naively) that since this was being supported by a major studio and people experienced in the television biz, that they would have all their ducks in a row. Or they would learn a really hard lesson. Anyway, I was confident about getting what I paid for.


As an official Backer of the project, I received frequent email updates about the production of the movie and the status of the rewards. I recall getting an email a few months back saying when the t-shirts would be shipping. I waited with anticipation for something to come in the mail. Time passed and nothing came, but I forgot easily forgot about it, as I got caught up in the goings on of everyday life. I was more expectant of receiving my Lizzie Bennet Diaries DVD, anyway.

As the release date for the movie neared, though, I began to pay more attention to those emails. My sister was eager to see the movie. After informing her that we would be receiving a download link to the movie on March 14, the release date, she decided to host a little “viewing party” at her home.

I received an email update with information on how the movie links would be distributed. The instructions were as follows:



You will receive an email with a digital download code and instructions TOMORROW, March 14. The email with your code will provide more complete details about your download, including instructions on how to redeem it and start watching.

I waited anxiously to receive the link. The company was supposed to send out test emails before the sending out the actual link to make sure that the email addresses worked. I never received any of these.

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Hello, March.

March 11, 2014 by sharon samples | 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 samples | 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.

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September 21, 2013
by sharon samples


Let me try to be better and post more frequently than every 3 months.

There was that awesome moment when my art was featured in the demo reel by Pemberley Digital submitted for consideration of the Primetime Emmy Awards. The whole thing is so surreal, but I’m honored to be a part of such an incredible fandom for the little web series that could.

You can see a brief clip of my art in the embedded video below.

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