3DValley Featured 2D Artist for October 2007 – Gina Pitkanen or for you all probably better known as RavnHeart. Gina is an artist from Finland where she works as an independent artist together with her husband Janne Pitkanen. Gina started as a traditional artist but switched seven years ago to digital painting and currently all her works are done with use of Adobe Photoshop and an Intous A4 tablet. Read the interview below to get to know Gina and her work a bit better.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit about yourself: Who you are and what you do in your daily life?
Gina: I am Gina Pitkanen aka Ravnheart. I am 38 and from the US but I have been living in Finland for the last 4 years. I married Janne Pitkanen aka ToxicAngel and moved here. We have also formed a company together called Inferi Art, this is a portfolio of our professional work. Since coming here I have found a inner peace and my work advanced to a higher level. Most people think that my nick name stands for having a black heart, this is not what my nick name stands for. I am part Cherokee Indian and really love ravens. So my nick name stands for having the heart of a Raven 🙂
Christa: Which software packages and/or traditional tools do you use for your artwork?
Gina: I used to work mainly with charcoal traditional materials then I started working with pastels on suede doing portraits. I moved to doing digital art several years ago and now use Photoshop for all my 2D work and Poser for my 3D work.
Christa: Do you remember the first time you knew you wanted to be an artist?
Gina: Since I could hold a pen I was always doodling. The first time I knew I wanted to be an artist I was in 3rd grade. I will never forget it, I was sitting in class and it hit me that all I wanted to be was an artist. I even drew pictures for the class to use to color on 🙂
Christa: Did you attend a formal art school?
Gina: No, I never did attend a formal art school, though I did have some fantastic teachers that saw I was a little more advanced and worked with me on the side to advance my skills. My last High School teacher I had (Mrs. Mckelevy) was fantastic in helping me really advance with portraits.
Christa: Can you tell us a bit of the way you work on your art?
Gina: Actually I am in the process of writing a tutorial on painting portraits and this includes photo realistic painting. When I start on a painting, I first sketch out the image and then, using a mid tone color, paint in the whole area. I then paint in the general shadows on the image. After getting the general shadows I add in the highlights. This gives a good base for the image. I then start adding the details for the shadows and then the highlights. I do this for the face first then the clothing, finally moving to the hair. The last thing I do is the background on the image.
Christa: Do you have a favorite piece of your own artwork and if so why?
Gina: Hmm, that’s a hard one. I think I am like most artists, very critical of my own art. Usually after finishing it I see all the flaws in it. There are several images that have special meanings for me. The Nightwish portraits (Highest Hopes inner Booklet) which was my first work of a CD. For the Sake of Revenge (Sonata Arctica) CD cover and even went gold. Arctic Beauty because it was published in Exotique 2. Though each image I paint has some sort of special meaning to me. So really each one is special in its own way.
Marco – Nightwish
Christa: Who or what would you describe as having the most influences on your work/ style?
Gina: First I would have to say my husband Janne Pitkanen aka ToxicAngel 🙂 He has been a huge influence and a wonderful teacher. Others would be Lee Bogle, Maija, Vallejo, Luis Royo, and many others. Great art is always enjoyable to view.
Christa: Is there a painting or illustration out there in the world you wish you had painted/ created?
Gina: Hehhe oh yeah, any fantastic image I see 🙂
Christa: What is your goal as an artist?
Gina: To be more well known for my artwork 🙂
Christa: How important is your online portfolio for you as an artist?
Gina: My website has been amazing to bring my art to so many people around the world. Thanks to Janne (ToxicAngel) who created my beautiful website, I have a place to share my art and photos. Over the years I have been doing digital art I have noticed more and more visitors to my site. Thanks to this I have been approached by various clients and fans about my work. I am now also doing photo shoots for Bands here in Finland since showing my photos online.
Christa: When browsing you online gallery I noticed that you paint mainly human characters and animals. Is there a special reason for this?
Gina: I think that is because I paint what I really enjoy. I have always loved drawing faces and especially the eyes. To see an eye come to life by painting it is always very enjoyable. I am also a huge animal lover and I am very soft hearted.
Christa: The colors in your art work always look very rich and warm. Can you tell us some more about the way you choose the colors?
Gina: I have always been attracted to deep rich colors. I try and pick colors that I find eye catching and that I enjoy myself.
Christa: Your skin and hair are also always looking perfect. Do you use a special technique or custom brushes to paint skin and hair?
Gina: Actually I use the default brushes in Photoshop and use a wacom tablet. I had lots of practice painting skin when I used pastels which I think helped a lot, also ToxicAngel taught me so much when painting hair.
Christa: On your website you also show your 3D art and photography. Do you prefer to use on above another sometimes and if so why?
Gina: It really depends on my mood at the time 🙂 Though of all of them I prefer 2D art, there is so much more enjoyment in painting 2D images.
Christa: Can you name a career highlight?
Gina: My first cover for a CD and DVD for Sonata Arctica. That was a really exciting moment for me 🙂
Christa: Can you tell us where you are currently working on?
Gina: Right now I am working on a tutorial on how I paint my portraits which includes photo realism. A few months ago myself and my husband finished a huge project for Nightwish, for the CD Poet and the Pendulum.
Christa: Do have tips for beginning digital artists?
Gina: Practice, practice, practice 🙂 Don’t be afraid to try new things.
Christa: Besides 2Dvalley.com, which other graphic sites do you visit regularly?
Gina: I also spend A lot of time at Renderosity.
Christa: Is their something you can’t work without?
Gina: Oh yeah! I must have Dr Pepper, music or audio books, and my best tool ever, my Intuos 2 A4 tablet 🙂
Christa: What do you do when you are not working or creating something?
Gina: Well it really depends on the mood I’m in, though one of my favorite pastimes is video games 😛
Christa: Thanks for your time and the interview Gina!