We’re starting out pretty easy. I had begun the 15-Day Drawing Challenge, courtesy of Amanda Wright (Wit & Whistle), about 5 days ago. So I’m on #6, “A Word.” I posted a page out of my sketchbook from a couple of the first ones below. This one is due on TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4th.
#15DayDrawingChallenge – THE CHALLENGE! Draw these things: 1. a pattern 2. an animal 3. your favorite thing to wear 4. something you found on the ground outside 5. recipe instructions 6. a word 7. an insect 8. a cross section 9. an animal doing something only humans can do 10. something in a jar 11. a diagram 12. something you’re afraid of 13. a plant 14. your favorite food 15. something microscopic
I found it on Pinterest, and you can follow my personal Pinterest page HERE. You’ll probably be seeing most of my photo inspiration being pinned before I post them here 😉
Here’s a book cover that I had done as a favor (something I don’t recommend on ANY level, even if the commissioner is your bestest friends in the whole world):
The author of The Veil Wars never got back in touch with me concerning this piece, so I can assume he didn’t care for it and doesn’t want it. So you guys get to see it! I had stopped working on it in anticipation of hearing back from him, so it’s incomplete. But I might as well stick it up here since I don’t see me ever picking it up again. And look! I can do contemporary soldiers, too!
Regardless of its never being used, this was still a valuable experience in trying to meet the expectations of a client that I’ve never met before (who also lives across the country). Hearing his requests, sharing reference images, drawing sketches and getting feedback on them, then diving into creating an illustration that could more than likely be rejected. It was definitely a valuable experience, if not a waste of some stressful days.
This Summer’s New Paintings:
Besides that, I had forgotten to share my latest time-lapse watercolor piece on here:
This is a long one, but it’s also a very detailed painting. You can jump around and skip the areas that get tedious.
Here’s the painting:
This one was FUN to work on. It’s appeared in one show this summer already (won Honorable Mention), and I’m still waiting to see if it makes it into the Beyond Crayons and Fingerpainting show at B2 Gallery (it’s my last year to of being young enough to enter!). It is currently hanging at my studio/workplace gallery, Uncorked Canvas, which is literally right upstairs from B2 since this August.
Here’s another little watercolor I messed around with (my first attempt on 300 lb watercolor paper, which is actually quite a chore to work with!):
Otherwise, I can say that I have been very unproductive this summer. With school being over, I suddenly don’t have the day-to-day lectures that used to give me a huge amount of time to draw during. I realized after sitting through a meeting this last week, wherein I started drawing feverishly in my sketchpad, that my productivity had been entirely dependent on boredom (plus, I concentrate better during boring lectures when I’m absent-mindedly scribbling). My passion for art has not diminished, but I’ve lost the daily habitual time and place to create, and I haven’t formed new habits for creating yet. Which is really the definition of an unprofessional artist.
When I start creating, the passion is enkindled and I can create and imagine new pieces like no one’s business. But, if I put off feeding that passion for too long, that imagination and ability to create diminishes. “Discipline will set you free,” is a quote by a musical artist that has really stuck with me. That, and the knowledge that inspiration begets inspiration. You don’t run out of imagination or exhaust your skill, but instead, the more you create, the more you are capable of creating. Those truths, realized through experience, have really struck me recently.
Professional artists are scheduled, and know that self-discipline is the only way to success. I can’t remember where exactly I read the article that says it, but one of the traits of an unprofessional artist is the habit of waiting for inspiration to strike before sitting down to draw something, which is the endless, unproductive circle that I’m stuck in right now. I can say, after taking a long break from creating any major pieces, that the fear of failure is actually holding me back, too (and the longer I wait, the more I’m sure of failure). I’ve never had that problem, and I didn’t realize what the issue was before now. And fear of any kind is the lamest reason to put off succeeding or growing as a person or professional. So screw that! I welcome failure! If growth must come at the cost of losing a few pieces of paper and a couple of ounces of paint, then bring it on! Because the step that comes directly beyond that failed piece of art is a lesson in how not to fail the next time.
First off, let’s get the semantics out of the way: talent can mean an innate gift, and a person can be talented with special abilities (gained through time or otherwise). I have felt through the years that people – when complimenting me, which I very much appreciate – use the term “talent” interchangeably, and somewhat dismissively towards the labor that has been put towards gaining my abilities in art.
I was not born with my skills. Shocking, I know, but have you seen what all two-year-olds draw? Non of it is necessarily museum-worthy.
I drew this when I was roughly 5 years old. And I was so proud of it that I gave it to my mom. Hardly something I would describe as being the work of a future artist, if I may be so bold.
So, the reason that I point this out is because I want you all to realize that very few people are born with innate talent. Those who are are called prodigies, and I am not one of them.
For the skills that I possess, I worked for. My talent, if I have any in terms of natural aptitude, is in being critical of my work; of being willing to try to make every piece of art better than the last in some way or another. Every element of my artwork has been pushed through trial and error over a long time. I just recently began to trust my skills at drawing, only because my muscle–memory finally adopted the methods that I have been practicing and drilling for years. You know that whole brain-hand-connection thing? It’s something you have to practice into yourself. Same with archery, surgery, instruments, etc. The capability to make your hands do what your brain tells them to. It’s a skill.
Because I know that people with no innate talent can become decent or amazing at art, I wish people would stop saying “Man, I wish that I could draw.” I’ve heard that so many times, and it’s frustrating for me because no matter how much I say, “You can; anyone can,” people dismiss it like artists are some unattainable master-class of people. My job at Uncorked Canvas – wherein I teach people who are non-artists how to create a piece of art – tells me, without a doubt, that anyone can pick up a brush and create something. There have now been studies that tell you what I and every artists will tell you: Decide you want it more than you don’t, and work at it. You have to want it. You have to want it so bad that you will work through the times in practicing that you hate art. You have to spend hours every week studying artists that you love, artists that you hate, and you have to borrow and steal elements from all of them. You have to draw still-lifes and people and bugs and things that you don’t care about. And it will not happen over night. It will take years. And, once those years are over, you will realize how much you still suck, but you will love it so much that you will be overjoyed at the idea of pushing yourself harder. Put simply, “If you’re stuck on stick figures, the good news, according to researchers at the University College London, is that people can improve…with practice (HuffingtonPost.com 1).”
I started out like everyone else. I am not innately gifted, but I am passionate, and willing to fail. I have spent so many years staring at art online that I probably don’t even have room in my brain for an original idea, but in place of that I have inspiration from thousands of pieces of art. I have drawn since I was young, and I haven’t stopped drawing because I find so much joy in creating. But I can’t say that I’m anywhere near the skill-level that I want to be. I’m pushing through from sheer determination to see where the talents God has given me will take me. And I can tell you from experience that there are many phases in becoming an artist – most of them are in ditches where you are sure that you are incapable of creating something even halfway decent. You’ll know if your passion outweighs your impatience if you push through those moments: you have to dig your way out and paint with mud until you reach the surface. It’s awful, but so worth it. And don’t let your age dictate your limitations – I’ve met women who started painting after retirement because they suddenly had time, and their skills outstrip me. Sometimes age just means you can practice smarter.
And, just so that the world knows, the only reason I am an artist today – the only reason that I pushed through – was the encouragement that I received from my parents and friends. And, once the internet came around, the encouragement I received from YOU.
(Please read the comments section for some other thoughts)
Some new things I’ve been working on (i.e. things I’ve been doing during lectures). These are the doodles from my sketchbook. All graphite on bristol paper.
This isn’t quite finished, but it’s close enough. No matter how much this may look like it, this was not actually inspired by Twilight. I don’t mind if you imagine that these are the characters, but they were originally intended to characters from one of my own stories 🙂
My dad and sister (also a sample of simple portrait work I can do from photos or real-life).