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All Past Featured Artists

Featured Artist of the Month

Blazing Black Mage

Our spotlight this month goes to Blazing Black Mage, an artist whose creative career has been shaped and defined in large part by her membership here at the TLKFAA for the past six years, carrying her from youth into adulthood, and her art from the simplistic and rough to a level that will impress any observer. She has honed her skills tirelessly and with unquenchable enthusiasm, understanding how much work is involved in excelling and just how worthwhile the journey is once she does. The results, quite simply, speak for themselves.
Aaah! Oh my gosh ya'll, so many feels right here. ;A;

I'm so happy, I literally squealed with glee when I saw the e-mail! I seriously thought I was dreaming. I don't really even know what to say though...I guess I could start off by thanking Brian for this lovely site that's become like a home away from home, and gave us all the chance to come together through something we all loved. I'm sure without this site I wouldn't have gotten very far in my artwork without all of the support and inspiration of the friendly community and great friends I've made here. Also I'd like to thank my very best of friends here that have stuck with me through everything and have pushed me and inspired me to keep going; ~Suka~, Fluffybunny, N'kira, and JaquiChan, and everyone else that I've come to know and love. <3

When I first stumbled upon TLKFAA the first thing I saw was the May 2006 Artist of the Month, KassyNaVerdis, and I was immediately captivated by her Stained Glass lion picture and I thought "Wow! I hope I can get this good someday!" and then I went on to thinking that TLKFAA was a journal-blog site that had articles on Disney Animators, and they would show off their artwork and picks for "AotM". Haha, yeah, that idea of mine didn't last long once I figured out it was a full on art site, imagine how happy I was when my Mother finally figured out how to turn a picture into a JPEG so I could upload to this site! Thanks Mom! So many people here have inspired me immensely when I joined and started uploading...and still do! Fabulous artists like KassyNaVerdis, Dille, Endless Night, Astrocat, Not_Quite_Normal, Tima..the list goes on! A lot of these artists are what shaped what I do today, especially the species artists, if it wasn't for Fluffybunny and ~Suka~ I wouldn't have all of my creatures and my Worlds of the Areon/Tales from Loraynzia/Triuncona Dreams stories would never have existed.

For the newer artists I can only say this: Don't give up your passion, no matter what anyone says. Keep working hard, style, anatomy, colour balance, everything doesn't happen overnight, you have to keep persevering in your artwork, and over time it will come to you. :) Don't try to force a style, trust me, I do it all the time, it just makes it harder to be confident in your artwork when your style won't do what you want it to. Back in Middle School there used to be a group of boys and girls that would always criticize and make fun of my artwork, because all I used to draw was The Lion King, and it was the movie I loved the most. All the beautiful artwork in it, the scenery, the music, the characters, everything was amazing, yet to all the Middle School kids..."You like a baby movie hahaha! And all you draw is dumb little lions!" Yeah, never listen to those kinds of people, keep drawing for YOU!

I never really got back into my artwork until I was fourteen, when my Grandmother died, ever since then...I just had this push to start drawing again, if not for me but for my Grandma, so I hope I make you proud Grandma. ;A; <3

Thanks again so much ya'll, I can't even begin to express how much this means to me and how grateful I am to have all of your support. I love ya'll! <3

Looking at the pictures showcased here, you'd probably never guess that Blazing Black Mage's TLKFAA career—back when it got started in 2006—began with a series of rough colored-pencil doodles, a collection that she has since categorized in a folder called "Old And Gross".

This dismissive name does her art a disservice, though. It also might inadvertently cause interested fans to skip looking at Blazing Black Mage's earliest uploads; and considering what a treasure trove of inspiration they represent for up-and-coming new artists, that's a terrible shame.

The fact is, as Blazing Black Mage so ably demonstrates, that artistic skill and accomplishment is something that's within the reach of just about anyone who commits the time and the dedication to get there. It's a discipline and a body of learning, just like anything you might absorb from experienced teachers, and in the hands of someone who's taken the time to learn how these skills can be applied, they become tools just like any others, able to be wielded to wonderful effect.

Blazing Black Mage's newest pieces are so beautiful, in fact, that they should serve to inspire dozens of new artists in her wake. Her grasp of feline anatomy (and that of many other kinds of creatures, as can be seen in her wide-ranging DeviantArt gallery) is profound and innate; at a quick glance you can tell right away from her characters' rounded, solid-feeling physical forms that she "feels" each figure in a very real, three-dimensional sense. They have definite weight and movement. They have moods and emotions. Not only do many of them exhibit an energetic, "comic" kind of vitality as they move through her constructed scenes, other pieces display a really breathtaking sense for visual design and stylization—a whole new discipline that many accomplished animators never quite achieve. It's this latter skill that contributes to the careers of character designers, who are rarer and more valuable in the world of animation than one might think.

To this day, Blazing Black Mage continues to work in sketches and line-art, though now she's added Sketcher and digital tablets to her toolset. These skills, though, now merely underlie a rich portfolio of capabilities that she brings to bear in her fully rendered, vividly colored pieces, so many of which intriguingly combine pencil sketches with digital coloring in a wonderfully vibrant hybrid style reminiscent of Disney artists' concept pieces. She's continuing to experiment and explore the outer reaches of her skills, but she's also honing her core with every new piece, and each time she does so it becomes more effortless and her abilities more obvious.

If this is how far she's come after six years, we can only imagine how far she'll go in future years as she takes her art to ever higher levels. Congratulations to Blazing Black Mage, and good luck! There's no doubt at all that your Grandma would be tremendously proud.

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