Saturday, January 18, 2014

To be a better artist, stop thinking...and start working!

I have spent a good part of my time trying to figure out how I want to draw, how I want to paint, how I want to market, and how I want to do just about anything with my art. I have spent so much time reading and studying that I've caused myself to stress more about my methods then about actually doing the work. I don't have the luxury of quitting my full-time NON-art job just yet so that means I'm going to have to schedule time to get my stuff done. I do have a few major projects in the works so what I'm doing so far is working I just need to stop thinking and start doing.

I was quite upset with myself a few weeks ago because I hit a creative block (is there a such thing?) and just couldn't seem to move past it. I was thinking too much. I was stressing about what method would be right, what approach I needed to take, and what goal I needed to reach before I could call myself an artist. This bummed me out. Then it made me mad. Then I became sad. Then, I took a break from anything and everything and it hit me. Stop stressing about getting there and just start working. How do I expect to even become happy with my art when I'm not even working on any art to begin with?

I'm in awe of so many artists but I often forget that it took them hours, days, months, even years to get to the point that I'm in awe of. If I want to get there I need to commit the time and energy it takes to get there. That being said I need to stop typing and start drawing.

Here's my latest little guy and proof that I stopped thinking...and started doing!

Happy drawing!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Being an artist and playing video games.

I love playing video games. At one point I could get lost playing video games. I remember me and my husband losing 8 hours playing Zelda: Ocarina of Time in a single sitting. For me it was the best game ever. Then the massive multiplayer online games caught my eye and lost hours turned into days. This was before college and before maturity kicked in. This seems to be another lifetime. We are a gaming family. My two boys, myself, and my husband all enjoy spending time together blasting away zombies or getting that little Italian plumber to the end so he can be told the princess is in yet another castle. We all want to get our sorcerers/warriors to the max level so we can have the best gear to be able to rock it out in the PVP/PVE world only to die and do it all over again. The problem with all of that is my love for my art outranks my love for playing games. My art is my passion. My characters and my layouts all need work and time to grow and that means I have to dedicate enough time to make it happen. That means going into the studio and sketching out my ideas, re-sketching my ideas, looking up references, re-sketching some more, researching techniques, and ultimately working towards a finish line. That doesn’t mean getting my chair in front of the TV after dinner and playing games until bed time. Those games are created by designers and artists that have put their time in. If I want people to enjoy my work, I have to put the time in too. If I’m serious about my art I have to be serious about the work and time devoted to it. I want to be a better artist and I want my work to show that I’m in it for the long haul. That only comes with time. Hard work, lots of hours, and time. I love being an artist.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I practice my way.

Practice. Practice. Practice. Right, I get that. We all get that. But how do you practice? What do you mean how? You just do it. No I understand but how? You just pick up your pencil and you draw? So do I draw tons of trees? Will drawing tons of trees make me better at drawing faces, and monkeys, and buildings? Why can no one ever answer this question? Eventually I figured it out. One of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to figure out as an artist is how to practice. Professors in school, tutorials, instruction books, forums, friends, everyone and everything related to getting better at art will tell you to practice. Ok, well just doing the work itself isn’t enough. It’s not, at least not for me. For me that there has to be a purpose and if I’m going to practice I have to figure out what it is I’m going to practice. I can pick up a pencil and just get to work but what am I working on? What is my plan? What is my purpose? Do I know where my weaknesses are? I listened to all of my professors when they said to practice but it didn’t take long for me to get frustrated because I didn’t know what to practice. I don’t know if that was a fault of my professors because they didn’t give me the answer I was looking for or if I wasn’t asking the right questions because I didn’t know the right questions. Either way I knew I was missing something. I knew I needed to practice because I knew my skill was lacking but what did I need to practice on? What was I missing? I’ve asked this question of many people with different artistic backgrounds and no one has ever given me the answer that made it make sense. I am not kidding when I say I am constantly reading, studying, and drooling over artists that inspire me. Ok maybe not drooling but close. I don’t ever want to copy the brilliance of another artist but I do want to always strive to produce their quality of work and beyond if possible. The question I have to ask myself all the time is what is it about their work that always brings me back? Is it the colors, the line work, the environment, or is it something else altogether? That required some study. Once I figured out what it was about their work that intrigued me, the more prepared I was to start practicing. In my research one of the most important things I found out was practicing is different for everyone. My strengths and weaknesses are going to be different from the next person so my steps to improving will have to be different as well. My weaknesses, I soon realized were I don’t know the fundamentals of all things art related. That meant I had to essentially start from the beginning. I had to learn the things that other artists probably already know which is fine but that meant I might have a tougher start. This is something I had to accept. I was and still am behind but that doesn’t mean I can’t catch up. We all learn differently so it stands to reason that we all might have to practice differently. They don’t teach you that in art school. If they did I missed it. My approach now is to find the gap between my work and the artists that I admire and work on bridging that gap. If it’s a beautiful face and I know I can’t draw an awesome face then faces are what I’ll work on. I’ll practice drawing faces. I’ll draw face after face after face until I get more comfortable with faces. Then I’ll draw more faces. Eventually I’ll get to a point where I’m beginning to be content with my work. That will require practice. Knowing what to practice will be what sets me apart from the artist I was yesterday and the artist I’m hungry to be tomorrow. Now I get it. I really do need to practice...but I need to do it my way.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New year. Same goals. New process.

At the beginning of December I said I was going to start fresh. And I did. I created a new website, new blog, cleared out some of my old funky work from school and replaced it with some new pieces, and now I'm working on doing that again. This past year was tough for many reasons but one of the main reasons was I put a lot of pressure on myself. I put pressure on myself to be successful right out of the gate and that just wasn't the case. It's not the case for anybody. I've always had goals and dreams which is a good thing but they haven't always been realistic. Goals are great as long as they are something that you can reach within time. 

I thought I needed to be working in freelance gigs straight out of college, not working my regular job anymore, and being able to roll from my bed to my studio on a daily basis. WRONG! I forgot that I still had work to do. I forgot that I was green in so many areas and the things I wanted to do with my art I just wasn't ready for. I'm still preparing. I'm still learning. I'm okay with that. 

I graduated from college with a degree in animation and design. Those fundamentals are great and I'm quite proud of them. However, I have no basis for illustration or even art for that matter. I had no idea about tint, shading, composition, perspective, hue, get the idea. So what did I do? I panicked. Surprise! Once I got over the initial shock of the fact I didn't know anything about the basics I realized it was time to learn. So I got to work. I started taking notes, reading, studying, and learning as much as I could to make me a better artist. I have a long way to go but there is something to be said for studying outside of the school atmosphere. There is so much about illustration and the mechanics of it all that I just didn't know. But I will. In time. And then I'll study even more. 

I have an image in my head of the type of artist I want to be and one day that image will become my reality. Until then I have to study, I have to listen, I have to learn what it means to appreciate art. I already eat, sleep, and breathe art styles of all different types but I don't fully appreciate it. I love art and everything that is involved but I don't appreciate it. To be able to connect to your work you have to appreciate the process. I'm not there yet but the fact that I know I'm not there yet means I'm going in the right direction. 

One pencil stroke at a time. I'll get there.