Archive | December, 2009

Preston Blair inspired drawing, part 11

30 Dec

I think it is important if you try some of the drawings by Preston Blair, that you avoid copying directly from the illustration. Even if the result isn’t as stunning as the original, I think you learn most by using your drawing based on the original and try to make a new version that gives a better impression.

Preston Blair inspired drawing, part 11

The idea is to learn how volumes behave when in motion, and also how to construct a strong pose. For that, a notebook with preprinted baselines for writing is ideal. You can’t be precious about your art, because it is unusable for publication. This means it is about the process, the technical aspect of drawing, just the thing you want in a notebook.

Let the precious artwork be for sketchbooks, which seem to be used more for exposition than for exploratory sketches, rough drawings rather than sketches that show something about how the artist struggled with the subject.

I guess most people don’t want any awareness of that struggle, but rather see a finished work, or something that is on its way to become a finished work, that was created without effort. It strengthens the romantic view most have of artists, that of one who conjures up an image out of nowhere.

That is all.

What does it take to get better?

30 Dec

With the year 2010 closing in, many of us think of things they want to get better at in the new year. So I wondered what things should be done to improve oneself, especially if you think of yourself as an artist, more specifically a visual artist or illustrator.

Here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

To put yourself in the correct mindset, watch these two videos from TED. Watching those always gets me all juiced up about creating something, even though the talks are somewhat motivational and philosophical.

Scott McCloud – Understanding Comics

Adam Savage – Obsessions

I also did some soul searching, trying to figure out what I have learned in the past year. Many thanks go to Jerzy Drozd and Mark Rudolph of the Art & Story podcast for giving me creative ideas and inspiring me to keep going with my creative pursuits.

Generally speaking, you need an able body, an inquisitive mind and sacrifice some of your free time to improve yourself. It is basically creating the circumstances and then do the work.

But what do you need to concentrate on, specifically for something creative? You make something where there was nothing before. How do you do that, what should you be concentrating on? What should be your guiding principle?

In illustration, the artist rearranges simple forms, puts them in a pattern and joins them to convey a message. My idea of a guiding principle in the case of illustration is to think things through before you start actually creating. What you should be thinking of is how to keep things interesting, so people will spend time with your work, rather than glancing over it. The best way I can think of is to use contrast. Not just light and dark, but on all levels, sharp and fuzzy, warm and cold, exact and ambiguous, happy and sad, etc.

You should get obsessed with contrast, learn the principles, break loose of them and play with alternatives, things you would not expect. Work things through, edit, re-edit. Obsession fuels your passion for the arts, keeps you focused.

However, set yourself limits, especially time limits, because there is never enough time. Working within those limits forces you to be succinct, to only give an impression of what was in your head, just enough to get the mind of the observer trying to complete the image. Your image should be open-ended, though give enough clues to avoid misinterpretation. What can I leave out, what should be put in?

Since most things we do are applied, theory should be treated equally, acquire enough knowledge to enable you to start a project, and if it was not enough, or the wrong kind of knowledge, seek more or better knowledge. Acquiring knowledge should never become a goal in itself, though, unless you want to become very academic and only think about doing instead of actually doing. The clocks keeps ticking, tick-tock.

This learn-as-you-go principle prevents that you spend too much time on things that will not make it into the finished piece. It is very akin of just in time (JIT) or keep it simple stupid (KISS). Don’t be naive about your art and craft, but don’t over-complicate either. Keep it balanced, work in short cycles, after which you evaluate what your weaknesses are and what you need to improve.

I can only hope 2010 will be an excellent year and will exceed your expectations. Have a good one.

That is all.

Rabbit in my notebook

28 Dec

I decided to start using a notebook to keep notes and collect sketches. I think that is important, because capturing ideas is perhaps the most important think an artist can do.

Rabbit in my notebook

On the other hand, never underestimate the power of forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is often corrected by the brain through imagination, meaning that your sketches become less prosaic and more poetic. Shorthand and abstraction are the hallmarks of good art.

That is all.

Rabbit in the grass

27 Dec

I saw this photo on Flickr which I used to make this drawing. The original was done in pencil on paper, and the coloring was done with Pixelmator.

Rabbit in the grass

That is all.

Happy holidays

24 Dec

I guess this is someone’s favorite rabbit, which I used to create this sketch. The photo was found on Flickr and I’ve used it to improve my drawing skills.

Rabbit shot

Those skills have improved in the year 2009, so much so, that I’m somewhat confident that in 2010 I could be doing something like illustration work. I still need to develop and fine tune my sense of storytelling for that. So, that illustration work is more likely to be in the second half of 2010.

I’ve also seen a steady growth of the number of visitors to my humble weblog on Some of them seem to be regular visitors, which is heart warming. As always, most visitors come through Google search and probably visit only once.

Getting attention and keeping it is a hard thing, with so much competition from other bloggers and official websites of old media companies. I’m (unofficially) around 180 unique visitors per day, and would like to grow that number considerably. That would require even more unique content and probably something serialized. We will see.

Happy holidays, everyone and my best wishes for the New Year, and the new decade (although one could argue the new decade starts in 2011, because the first year was the year one, and not the year zero).

That is all.