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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img_20160730_215027

(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!

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art, digital art, drawing, illustration, WiPs

Fantasy Landscape WiP continued

Slowly making progress on this one, although thinking I may need to take the sky back a few steps as it’s beginning to feel a little over worked. Although that could just be because I’ve been looking at it for too long…If anyone’s got any thoughts I’d be glad to hear them!

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.46.37

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.57.14

 

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.

inspiration

Finding inspiration in reptiles

IMG_0689 converted landscape-13IMG_0658 converted-10As I think I mentioned in a previous post, when we were in France a couple of weeks ago we visited an Insectarium, and one of the creatures I didn’t realise they had there were geckos and lizards. I’ve never really thought too much about them in the past, particIMG_0647 converted-9ularly when looking for animals to draw- I’ve always gone with the more fluffy varieties, the sort you would probably call traditionally cute. But after 5 minutes or so of watching these little guys, I found myself hooked. I don’t know what it was exactly, whether it was the way they moved around, keeping an eye on me at all times, or their slightly ungainly interactions with each other, or just the details of their bodies up close…I just found myself wanting to learn more about them, to study them, to draw them. I was, I guess, inspired! The day we got back from the Insectarium I started sketching around some of these images, and I just loved exploring something different. There’s definitely a challenge to them, but at the same time it’s nice to be able to see a clear structure, and also not to have to draw fur! The final piece I worked on was a colour pencil sketch (again something I wouldn’t normally do) of the gecko at the top, and I’ll be posting it as soon as it’s finished.IMG_0741 converted B&W 2-15

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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!’

drawing, illustration, sketching

Week One – Rusty

Rusty B&W

Rusty 1

Right, so my mission for this week was to start my Rusty project, and, I’ve surprised myself again- I’ve actually done what I was intending! By the way in case you were wondering, Rusty is my dog (see above), I haven’t quite branched off into metal work yet…although, I’m sure it could be quite fun to draw…

Anyway, I started trying to sketch him from life, which was a mission in itself- he doesn’t stay still. I managed to get a few sweeping lines which just about suggest the form of a dog…if you piece them altogether. But I’m sure this collection of disembodied body parts will come in very handy at some point.

So in order to get a few more drawings that resembled something more like I was intending I took a load of quick photos on my phone while playing fetch with his ball (which required a heck of a lot of concentration and co-ordination to make sure I chucked the right thing…)

Having successfully managed that I gave myself the target of filling a double-page spread in my A3 sketchbook of quick sketches, using at least 3 different media. And I have to say, I’m actually pretty happy with the outcome (also see above).

My aim with these was not to get caught up too much in the details but rather try and capture the form and sense of movement that was there while we were playing. I particularly liked the freedom of the brush and ink, and surprised myself with the charcoal pencil, as this isn’t something I’ve really used that much-it was just something I found lying at the bottom of my pencil case.

So, for next week, I need to do more sketches (both from life and photos) to try and build up a strong reference base showing a range of different angles and movements, which should prove very useful as a starting point for a character design, which is the other thing I want to start doodling around this week. Although the coming drawings might start to be more detailed and more anatomically correct than the drawings this week I don’t want to lose the freedom and movement that these have. So that is my challenge!