Oh, Wow - The Sktchy Blog

Oh, Wow

The Sktchy Blog

Meet Tiffany S. Davanzo

Tiffany is sharing video tips with Sktchy subscribers throughout October. Learn more


What's your background?

I'm originally from Missouri, but have lived all over the US and am now happily settled in East Tennessee near the Smoky Mountains.

I think I've always wanted to be an artist. I took my first art class at age 3 and was fortunate enough to have a talented uncle who encouraged and painted with me when he visited.


An interest in science and medicine led me to the niche field of medical and biological art. I have a BFA in Illustration and a Masters degree in Art as Applied to Anatomy from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

For the past dozen years I have been working for myself as a certified medical illustrator at Slaybaugh Studios. Most of my work is for anatomy and medical textbooks, surgical journals or patient education materials (like those charts you see in your doctor's office).


What's your medium of choice when you're creating art?

I've been working digitally for quite a while now. Originally I switched from traditional media to digital because it helped speed up my work flow, but once I started using a Cintiq tablet and iPad Pro I began to enjoy it for finer art pieces as well.

I love the ability to create something that looks traditional like a pastel or charcoal or watercolor while still having that "undo" option. My favorite programs for work are Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop but a few months ago I discovered Procreate and have been using it exclusively for my Sktchy portraits. I still make sure I do at least one traditional oil, watercolor or pastel piece a year, and I'm never far from my beloved fine point sharpies and graphite pencils.


How did you build your creative habit?

Because I'm fortunate enough to have a creative job, I usually get to draw everyday. I don't however get to pick what I'm drawing. Illustrating the brain for several weeks on end can be mind numbing (forgive the pun) so finding time to draw for pleasure is a must.

For many years all I was able to manage was one oil painting or pastel portrait a year. Recently though I've been inspired by several of my artistic friends who have taken on the challenge of daily drawings.

This led me to Sktchy and to push myself to find more time to draw for myself. Now I start my mornings with a cup of coffee and my iPad, and then carve out some time at the end of the day to relax and sketch as well.

Another thing I like to do is self-assigned challenges. Pushing myself to illustrate something I've never drawn before keeps me motivated and feeds that need for discovery and self improvement.


When you find yourself in a creative rut, how do you get out of it?

I walk away. When I get frustrated with a drawing, the best thing I can do is get some space. I find that an hour or a few days does wonders, and when I return to it I see things in a new light and usually know exactly how to handle whatever was holding me back.

Plus I tend to "draw" in my sleep, so a good's night rest helps me work through ideas in my head. Unfortunately I don't always have the luxury of time to work things out- so when I'm up against a deadline, I skip to the dessert.

I like to save my favorite parts of a digital painting for the end. So if I'm frustrated, allowing myself to work on "the dessert" or something I love helps. Highlights, eyes, hair, deep dramatic shadows, an unexpected background...anything that helps refine an area of the painting and helps me visualize the end result.

Allowing myself to see the finished paintings potential is great motivation for working through the less interesting parts.


Which of your recent Sktchy artworks most expresses who you are now as an artist?

There is definitely a little bit of me in each piece, but "Father of Girls" is probably the most representative of what I love about being an artist. Freezing a moment in time, capturing a likeness or expression, having fun with color and painting a portrait that tells a story.

I get a great sense of satisfaction from making art that speaks to the viewer and hopefully makes them feel as good as I did while I was creating it.

Get the Sktchy iPhone app to join Tiffany on Sktchy, and subscribe in-app to learn drawing tips from her. Learn more.