30 Animals Challenge: Days 4-7

Well, I’m still going! Although I’m having far more fun doing it than I’m sure I should be (The first 3 days I managed each set of drawings in about an hour, the last few days…well, let’s just say they took a little longer…) I’m really enjoying experimenting with different media and I’ve found myself thinking a lot more about which medium to pare up with each animal (so far I’ve found fluffy animals much easier in pencil, and animals with more form/interesting shapes more suited to pen or ink), but then maybe mixing up some unexpected animal/media combinations could be my next challenge!

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Day Four – Golden Eagle in ink. I think this has been my favourite to do so far- I went straight in with the ink and although I started off a bit cautious it felt really good to just do it, knowing I wouldn’t need to go back over it again and again, trying to correct things that probably didn’t need correcting!

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Day Five – Foxes in watercolour pencils. I’ve decided I kind of love watercolour pencils, if only for the ability to lay down a mix of colours, before going in with the water and watching it all blend together.

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Day Six – Bears in ink and watercolour. So basically this was just an excuse to watch Planet Earth again…And draw some bears dancing with trees. I love these guys.

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Day Seven – Ibex in ink. More Planet Earth inspired drawing- here I learnt that if you have too much ink on your pen and hold it over your paper, it will leave ink drops…

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Northern Lights over Skogafoss

So I posted a working version of this image a couple of weeks ago: waterfall without aurora

but I was really struggling to figure out how to finish it off. But after working on a couple of other landscapes I  started to get a few more ideas, so I came back to this and re-worked it slightly and came up with this:

Waterfall 6

I’m still not entirely sure if it’s worked- I have a feeling the lighting might be slightly out, but I at least feel like I’ve done all I can with it for the moment and can finally leave it and move onto something else. That said I want to learn as much as I can from it to apply to future works, so if anyone’s got any thoughts I’d be keen to hear them!

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

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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Work in progress – Gecko

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I said I’d post this when it’s finished but that could be a little while yet, so here you go. Coloured pencils, well over 10 hours so far, which is the longest I have spent on one piece for a long while. Inspired by my recent trip to Lizio Insectarium.

Finding Inspiration When You Least Expect It

Poete Ferrailleur

It’s an interesting thing, inspiration. How do you even start to define it? I guess it can mean many things, but in the context of this post I’m thinking of it as that spark of an idea, that something that makes you think, or fills you with an overwhelming sense of…something. You don’t necessarily know what it is, but you desperately want to hang onto it. That makes perfect sense to everyone, right? No? Just bear with me for a minute (if you’re so inclined).

So, I don’t know about anybody else, but I always seem to find inspiration when I least expect it. And then when I’m desperately searching for it, it runs off and hides. You know that feeling? Like you’ve been trying to work on something all day, and yet it gets to 10 o’clock at night and you’ve got nothing. So you decide to give up for the day, go run a bath, and no sooner have you dipped your big toe in the water then *BOOM* you’ve got it! You know that one? Or maybe you go out on a day trip, no idea exactly what to expect, and all of a sudden you feel it. That feeling. Which is where the idea for this post came about.

Last week I came on holiday to Brittany (which aside from a dodgy internet connection has been lovely, and as you’re about to find out, pretty useful). Now before I came away I’d been desperately trying to come up with the ideas and motivation to work on the projects I’d set myself (see previous posts). Suffice to say things weren’t going exactly as planned and having thunk myself into a black hole I’d pretty much given up on the idea. And so as we set off on the ferry last Saturday my brain gradually began to clear of thinking thoughts, and by Tuesday, having spent 3 days chilling/over heating, I think it’s fair to say my mind was completely empty. Which is crucial to what follows.

On Tuesday we went to two places: The Insectarium in Lizio, and the nearby Poete Ferrailleur (http://www.poeteferrailleur.com/). Whenever I go somewhere new I always take my camera, just in case, but I often find it’s a thin line between taking photos because of some sort of self imposed obligation (because I have my camera and who knows, the photos may be useful in the future), and because I feel genuinely moved to capture something. As I was walking around these places on both occasions I started off taking almost documentary type photos, but the longer the visit went on, the more I ‘got into’ the place, and began to feel something I’ve been waiting for for a good few months now; I felt inspired. And I started to think. What was it that was actually inspiring me? And what was it inspiring me to do? While I couldn’t (and still can’t) be entirely sure about the answer to either of these questions, I did discover something which set of off a huge firework display inside my head.

I figured out that the thing that fires pretty much all of my work is the want, even the need, to recreate the things I see around me. And so to feel that inspiration which fuels my motivation, I need to see things that I want to recreate. The stuff that gets me excited and makes me reach for my camera or pencil. Now I realise this probably isn’t the most profound idea and has probably been written a hundred times over in a far more eloquent way, but I did come to terms with one other thing during this lightbulb moment; as much as  I want to capture these things through drawing, I know that my first reaction will always be to reach for my camera. Over the last few years I’ve been making a concerted effort to capture more through drawing, feeling wary of taking too many photos, and while photos are no substitute for the real thing, I’ve finally figured out that they’ve been my way of capturing the things that inspire me, a subconscious way of trying to bottle my inspiration, ready to be unleashed and used later.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, congratulations, and thank you. But what was the point of it, I pretend I hear you say? Well essentially this is my way of saying you will probably be seeing a lot more photos on this blog than I originally thought, alongside the drawings and other work. As a starting I will be sharing some of the other things that have inspired me on my trip. And last but not least I want to finish where I started; inspiration can come from anywhere, and often when you least expect it, but sometimes in order to see it, you just need to stop thinking and look the other way.

Procrastination: The Monkey and the Panic Monster

Okay, so as I kind of expected at some point (although I was hoping I’d last slightly longer than 2 weeks), I have slightly let my beautiful time plan get away from me, as evidenced by my lack of intended posting last week. And not for the first time, I really don’t know what happened. But I do think this article helps sum things up pretty nicely:

Why Procrastinators Procrastinate

Now obviously I’m not trying to encourage procrastination into my working world (even if it does take the shape of a cute monkey) but what I have discovered (after many years practice) is that sometimes you need that time off to give you that shot of panic when you realise you haven’t done the things you were meant to do, and it’s that wake up call that kicks you into action. Perversely I’ve even found that I’ve done some of my best work when I’ve been in this state, because my mind suddenly clears out all of the superfluous stuff and I’m just left with the focus.

So, my parting thought (before I tell the monkey where to go and get back on track) is, yep, I definitely need the Panic Monster now and again, but when he does come round and give me a gentle prod/massive whack round the head, there’s no point actually panicking and going round and round in that feedback loop of ‘why didn’t I do this sooner,’ ‘if only I hadn’t done this, this and this, I wouldn’t be in this state now.’ The best thing I’ve found I can do is to welcome the Panic Monster in, give him a small embrace and calmly say ‘thank you for joining me today, now you go and put the kettle on, and I’ll get to work. Let’s do this!’

Putting Inspiration into Action

Right, so last week I was busy trying to put together all my ideas for things to have a go at and, shock horror, I actually managed it! (The threat of this blog is clearly working already). So, I don’t know about you, but for me the best bit about coming up with ideas, is just that- the ideas- you know, that feeling you get when you actually have an idea and feel super excited to carry it out? That’s it, you’re inspired…and it feels awesome. But…a lot of the time, perhaps more times than it should, that’s as far as it ever gets. Well for me anyway. I don’t want to speak for anyone else but I know that more often than not I’ll have a whole bunch of ideas, I’ll write them down before I forget them, make some kind of mental note that I’ll carry them out as soon as I have time and…that’s it. Nothing ever happens. Well, until now… Last year at college we were shown a video featuring a lecture by John Cleese about the creative process (there’s an annotation of the lecture here–> http://genius.com/John-cleese-lecture-on-creativity-annotated), and the thing that struck me the most was the idea that when we’re trying to be creative we have two modes that we work in- the first is the bit where we generate ideas and play around with them; this is the open mode (and the fun bit). The second mode is the closed mode. This is when we focus down and actually put the ideas into action (the serious bit). And for me this is the bit that always gets me; when I’m not really in the mood to ‘work’ and just want to have fun, switching from the open to the closed mode is very difficult. And the consequence? Everything I’ve mentioned above. Now I know I’ve waffled on about this a bit, but the point I wanted to make was, as I mentioned in my last post, I finally had an idea of how to combat this, and this week, I actually did it. So without further ado, I’d like to present you my time plan: Timeplan To Get Stuff Done Okay, I realise it doesn’t look like much, but what I’ve basically done here is pick out my favourite 4 ideas from the giant list I started off with, and I’ve given myself a time frame to work to. So now (and I promise this is the last time I go on about it) instead of sitting at my desk wondering what the heck I’m going to do, or where I’m going to start with my giant list, I have one simple brief, which I’ve broken down even further into specific action points. Boom, open mode now has a focus, and when I get up/get home from work, I know exactly what I’m supposed to be working on. Result! PS. For anyone remotely organised or efficiently minded this was probably the most obvious idea in the world, and to be fair you’re probably right. But when you’re daydreaming around in your own little world, you’d be amazed how un-obvious the obvious actually is!