1) Please tell us a little about yourself first.
Well my name is Susan McKivergan, and I am a Digital Artist, more specifically a "mixed media" artist. I am a married stay at home mom to a 20 month old and an 11yr old. I spend most of my free time on my computers creating art or playing a game. I like to help people with digital art questions, and I have been on dA since early 2004.
2) How did you start out with art? Which was the first (digital) medium you used and why this one?
I started out with traditional art. I have always been interested in drawing and painting since I was a little girl. In my early 20s I attended college in Florida and majored in Fine Arts, obtaining 2yrs towards my BA. In 2003 I became more interested in computers and computer RPG games, which lead me to fanart, which ultimately lead me to photoshop and beyond. Within a year of starting fanart I found dA and that opened a whole new world with the amount of resources that I could find. I stumbled onto some really impressive photomanipulations and instantly went looking for stocks! From there everything just sort of took off, I realized there are just so many possibilities with photos, 3d elements, painting, etc. and I was instantly addicted, and can honestly say that I am still addicted to this form of art.
3) What prompted you to venture beyond this medium?
One word, computers, well maybe computers and the doors they can open for an artist like myself. When I realized what I could do on my computer in a program like photoshop, I was hooked forever!
4) What does Mixed Media mean to you?
When I think of "Mixed Media" in the digital sense I think of the process of creating a work using more than one form of creation. Take for example a photomanip, you are using photos and maybe some textures and/or brushes. Well take that photomanip and throw in some digital hand painting and now you have mixed more than one medium to create your work. Another example would be mixing photographs with 3d elements. Any mixture of more than one the digital mediums results in a mixed media artwork. I may do all of my work in photoshop sometimes, but its the mediums you use that will still make it "mixed". I do a lot of 3d renders using Poser 6 and Vue, and then whip out my Wacom and add in lots of hand painting. For me personally this medium provides me with lots of options and possibilities to create exactly what I want to create.
5) Which media did you use for your deviation The Whimsy Cats? Why did you choose these specifically and which part of the deviation is what?
For this image I first opened up Poser 6 and played around with a new character pack for the 3d model Aiko 3. I chose to use some clothing models and hair models as a base/guideline for the actual painting I knew I would later be doing on her. I don't normally render with proper lighting for the work, or even bother rendering at the highest setting because I know I will be painting over it all and changing lots of things. I use it more for a base for my image. I choose to do it this way because I love Poser, and it makes poses a lot easier for me.
The figure and the cheetah were first rendered as stated above. I then open them in photoshop and start thinking about backgrounds and details. Normally I make a basic background and throw in the characters and see where it takes me. With this one I had a photo of a forest in the back for a guide/reference. Over the photo I painted my own trees and it took off from there. I used a 3d reference for some of the floor tile placement. I used a cheetah texture over the figure, hand painted the trees/lights/wings, and hand painted all the lighting effects.
6) Do you have any tips regarding the use of several media in ones art is there something one should keep in mind when combining the art forms?
Take a look around the digital galleries and get a feel for what you want to create. Download trial versions of 3d programs if you are interested in those and see if its something you feel you could learn. Thinking in 2d is quite different than thinking 3d. Trying photomanips is a good place to start. It was a natural progression for me to go from photomanipulation to adding digital painting, and for a long time I used just my mouse! You should keep in mind that sometimes blending between painting and 3d or really any of the mediums isn't always easy. For me personally I like my images to appear to have the same feel through out.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions.