art, drawing, illustration, inspiration, sketching, WiPs

30 Animals Challenge: Days 8-14

So this challenge took a little longer than I anticipated, but I did finish (I’m going to slowly upload the results over the next few days) and I’m so glad I gave this challenge a go. Not only is it so nice to look back through the sketchbook and see so many pages filled over a relatively short space of time, but it was really fun to play with different media knowing it didn’t matter if it didn’t work out as I intended. On top of that it was so good to be able to sketch animals I wouldn’t necessarily be able to fit into my other work, and into the bargain it gave me a better understanding of animal anatomy too!

So first up, here’s days 8-14, featuring dogs, hares, hedgehogs, monkeys, hummingbirds, lizards and badgers!

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If you’d like to see the drawings from this challenge, and the most recent stuff from my sketchbook, you can check out my instagram page here: Rowena James Illustration

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art, drawing, illustration, inspiration, sketching

Old Projects, New Projects and a Kick of Motivation

So once again I seem to have found myself in that end of project blues. You know, that feeling when you’ve been working on a project for so long, any spare moment you have, you’re working on it, and then even when you’re not working on it, you’re thinking about it. Literally, all the time. And then suddenly, you’re almost done, and your brain’s like ‘whoa, hang on a second, what the heck am I meant to do now? I’m staring into this black hole of nothingness, come on, you’ve got to give me something!‘ Anyone else get that? Or at least know what I’m going on about? It’s annoying right?

I have to say this isn’t the first time this has happened. It’s happened pretty much every project since university. Except at uni there was always another project round the corner to get me going again. But now it’s all just me.

Buuuuut, I have a cunning plan to try and kickstart my brain before it falls too far into the black hole of nothingness. I tried and failed with Inktober again this year (I’m going for next year as 3rd time lucky), so to make up for that, I’m going to give myself a new challenge. It suddenly hit me as I was flipping through some old sketchbooks earlier, searching for inspiration. And I came across this:

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I did this sketch over 3 years ago when I was trying to fill up a sketchbook to take to my interview for my art foundation course. Along with this sketch were a load of other animal drawings, and I suddenly realised something- whenever I’ve had a motivational slump, and for whatever reason can’t figure out what to do next, animals always seem to get me drawing again.

So, for my new challenge, I’m going to try and draw a different animal for the next 30 days (I already have a mental list of some of the animals I want to try and draw, but if anyone has any suggestions please let me know!) I also want to try not to use the same media for 2 days running. Basically I want to experiment, but I also want to get my productivity going again. They don’t have to be big or complex pieces (actually I really seem to struggle with just staying simple, so the simpler the better), but mostly I just need something to make me sit down and draw (it’s weird, you wouldn’t think it would be so hard to do something you love!) But I’m hoping this will be the kick I need. And hey, it might even be a useful starting point for some character development and a new project!

As a starting point I’ve got these sketches below, which I did when we visited an animal park over the summer. It was so refreshing to draw from life because I didn’t have any other option but to draw quickly (hence I stuck with the rhinos for quite a while!) and everything felt a lot more natural (I always fall victim to over-working my drawings, trying to make them ‘perfect’ and often lose some of the original character and energy of the drawings) so I guess the images I’ve got here is kind of what I’m going to be aiming for with my sketches over the next 30 days. Although, if I feel the urge to develop an image into something a bit more finished, I don’t know if I’ll be able to say no…

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(Okay, so this last one was drawn from one of the photos when I got home, but doing some preliminary sketches from life first really helped).

Right, let’s do this!

art, drawing, illustration, inspiration, sketching

Lake District Travel Journal & Inktober

So over the past 3 months or so I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of sketching every day (which technically I have been doing, as part of my continuing effort to turn my illustrations into something I could actually call a ‘job’), but it turns out going away sends my brain into a ‘yes-I-can-draw-for-fun-for-no-particular-reason’ kind of overdrive. (Which is how I ended up filling up a whole sketchbook over the course of a 2 week holiday in france in the summer- a level of drawing productivity I’ve never quite achieved before.)

So it was that when I went into the art shop just before we came away this week I bought myself a new travel sketchbook (more in hope than expectation) but 2 days in and it already seems to be working. Well, it could be the sketchbook, (an A6 thing of beauty with open flat pages, a super soft black velour cover, elastic to keep it closed, little pockets and a place for a pen…ok, ok, I admit, I have a thing for new sketchbooks, but come on, I can’t be the only one, right?!) 

Sorry, back to the point- my sudden sketching addiction could be down to wanting to use the sketchbook, or it could have something to do with the super inspiring landscapes, architecture and pretty much everything that makes up the Lake District. 
Either way (and this really was the point of the post, honest!) over the course of the next week I’m hoping to make the most of my drawing bug and gather as many sketches as I can (and unlike the last sketchbook, I’ll try to post as much as I can on here). 

Finally, having completely missed Inktober last year, and coming to the party a bit late this year I’m going to try and get in as many ink sketches as I can. So, here you go, these are the first 6 scribbly sketches from my first 2 days up here (5 ink and 1 sneaky pencil sketch):

art, digital art, illustration, inspiration, Uncategorized

On A Roll

So it looks like I’ve finally caught some kind of ‘super-productive-producing-art’ kind of bug. Now I know it’s quality over quantity, but for the last year or so I’ve really struggled to create something without over thinking it and spending weeks working on it. Again, I know this can be useful, but working in that way I didn’t feel like I was progressing and learning new skills as quickly as I would like.

So last weekend I had a look through some of my old photos (well, old as in maybe 3 years old?!) and it suddenly hit me; I’ve been desperately trying to create scenes based on my imagination and I just wasn’t getting anywhere. Because I was lacking the initial inspiration that has always kickstarted my art. And looking back at some of the original scenes that made me pick up my camera and shoot, I found that inspiration coming back, with the added bonus of a ready made scene (with  composition and lighting decisions already made), which meant that all I had to focus on, was painting.

Anyway, enough waffle, here’s what I managed to come up with:

Thirlmere finished

art, digital art, drawing, illustration, inspiration, Uncategorized

Latest WiP- fantasy landscape painting

So continuing my digitally painting journey I’ve decided to have a go at my first landscape painting. Over 10 years of being far too snap-happy has meant I’ve gathered a huge amount of reference images (it’s almost like I knew they’d come in handy some day!)

I still have a long way to go but I’m having so much fun with it-particularly learning new techniques (this tutorial was really helpful for the grass: http://ehkindred.deviantart.com/art/Painting-Grass-the-Lazy-Way-330837080 ). Next up to learn, waterfalls, lakes and rivers!

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art, digital art, drawing, illustration, inspiration

From WiPs to Final Piece

When I’m working on a painting or drawing, whether digital or traditional, I always find it fascinating watching the image evolve, so I thought I’d include some WiP images of from my last piece. It’s funny because through all the groundwork, building up the image, not a lot seemed to change, and it was only putting in the lighting and ‘special effects’ right at the end, which was pretty much the smallest change, yet the one that really pulled the image together into something a bit more presentable!

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art, digital art, drawing, illustration, inspiration

Harry Potter Book Night

So I don’t know how many of you know but a couple of days ago  (Thursday 4th Feb) it was the second Harry Potter Book Night, an occasion created by Bloomsbury last year, with events held in libraries and bookshops up and down the country meant to inspire a new generation of readers with the Harry Potter series.

Now I was lucky enough to be just the right age when the first book was originally published (I was 9 at the time) which meant that as every subsequent book came out I was roughly the same age as Harry, Ron and Hermione. For me this made the stories extra special (and possibly even a little bit more real), and re-reading the books again now, especially the earlier books, always takes me back to feeling like I’m 10 or 11 again. So now every time I read the books I get hit by the same sense of wonder and imagination as I did all those years ago.

The difference now is, as soon as I get a whiff of inspiration, I feel like I have to capture it in some way; it makes me want to draw. And the thing with Harry Potter Book Night is, working in a library I’ve had the chance to be involved in 2 Book Night events now and through some of the work I’ve done for displays, it’s given me the opportunity to go back to the books through new eyes. More specifically, since I’ve spent a serious amount of time drawing and making over the last few years, I’ve had the chance to be inspired by the magical world of Harry Potter all over again, but this time through my new illustrator eyes (if that’s actually thing).

So, after all that preamble, these are 2 of the digital paintings that I created for the event* (and also because having re-read the Chamber of Secrets I suddenly really really really wanted to paint a basilisk, and a phoenix, and a flying car, and…well actually all the magical stuff described in the books because it just inspires something in me. But on this occasion I had to restrain my self…

Chamber finished

Photoshop and intuos 4 pen & tablet

Flying Car finished

The background is a photograph I took in northern Scotland, but the rest is painted as above. I should also probably explain- there’s obviously no-one driving the car, but that’s because this was designed as a photo opportunity where the windscreen area was cut-out and the kids stood behind so it looked like they were driving the car.