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.

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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.

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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:

http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/10/why-procrastinators-procrastinate.html

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!’

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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!