Spring Review

Instead of doing year long resolutions, I decided that I want to just keep reviewing my progress and setting new goals every few months. So, here’s a spring review! I wanted to do quarterly reviews, but I was abroad, so it’s late, and I don’t know the equivalent word for every ‘third’ of the year… (later: the word is tertiary!) Anyway, I’m still working on a lot of the things I posted in my most recent blog entry, so this shouldn’t be a super long post.

Side note which most of you probably know already: my blog is generally just me rambling, psyching myself up for art and giving myself to do lists, which is probably not of interest to many, but if anyone does enjoy it, I am glad 🙂

Since the end of last year I had been finding it a bit difficult to feel okay about painting/working on art skills, possibly because I put too much pressure on myself to do so, perhaps that caused my brain to associate it all with negative feelings?

Originally I had been using a spreadsheet to note down how long I spent on drawing/learning 3d etc. to get an idea of how much time I was dedicating to art. After about three months it began to feel a bit too much like a chore – this could have been due to work/life situation rather than the actual task itself – so I switched to a simple ‘did you draw today? Y/N’ spreadsheet. I made sure to keep drawing every day even when I felt really bad about it… but I decided to transition off of using the spreadsheet for the time being. Maybe the spreadsheet will make a comeback in future.

I think through continuing to draw every day and allowing myself to sometimes just noodle and explore, without any worry of what the finished image will look like, has helped me to overcome the weird anxiety I felt earlier in the year about art.

In August I took up learning to knit, which I think was because I felt bad about art. I used to knit more than I drew (ashamedly – not because knitting is bad, but because I should focus on art). Fortunately I have managed to shift the balance so that I can become much more engrossed in art and reluctant to stop painting.

I’m not sure if this experience constitutes art block, what do you think? Has anyone else had trouble with this? I hope I don’t struggle like this again although I’m sure it will happen again during my art life! In order to try make this blog post not totally self serving and navel-gazing, what are some solutions that you’ve come across?

I think the solutions I’ll be employing (should it happen again) are:

  • Putting less pressure on yourself
  • Experimenting with new media
  • Drawing things you’ve not tried before and not worrying about the results
  • Listening to gently motivating art (and non art) speakers on youtube (e.g. Bobby Chiu, Chris Oatley and Anthony Jones)
  • Just start drawing – even if it’s just one line, and seeing where you go from there
  • Even if you’re feeling like you are not doing well drawing, or don’t want to, during non-drawing life, observe the world around you and consider how light hits things, how different shapes/forms interact, how certain materials work with light differently, etc. and consider how this could be incorporated into your art
  • Learn about how other artists approach problems – e.g. through gumroad tutorials and free art stream videos on youtube – robot pencil have a bunch of videos on there offering loads of tips, also Sara Tepes shares a lot of info

Well, “art block”/art anxieties aside, things have been improving, and so let’s get on with the review of Jan-Apr 2017!

  • I started working part time and painting (and resting/organising/crafting) part time
  • I took on a new commission which is in the field of work I want to do and will hopefully work nicely for my portfolio
  • I decided that I do actually want to be a concept artist and that I should focus and stay determined no matter what (although to be fair I spend about 50% of my time having crises of faith – I will still keep drawing and pushing forward centimetre by centimetre)
  • I worked on some ambitious pieces which I feel pushed my skills further – still a long way to go, but progress has been made and I have learned from most if not all longer pieces that I’ve been working on
  • My friends at dirty casuals and I worked on the Odyssey Jam, a game jam based on Homer’s Odyssey. We made a 2D visual novel style game using the free engine Renpy, and I spent most of the time frantically sketching out backgrounds and messy looking characters. I had to leave the jam early due to my trip abroad but I feel like I learned a good deal and got to do stuff I don’t normally do (read: environments)
  • I went to Japan for two weeks which was inspiring art-wise, I drew almost every day (some days were a bit difficult – I’ll try keep up the every day thing though!) although a lot of my sketchbook bits were a real mess! Just playing around scribbling really
  • A couple of friends and I are thinking of going to the Industry Workshops in London this year – in September. My friend went last year and said it was amazing so I would really like to go and see what I can learn from it, and I’m sure it will motivate me further. If you’re going too, let us know!

I know this is a pretty wordy blog post and for an artist there are suspiciously NO images here – haha. If you’re interested you can actually see what I’ve been getting on with through my tumblr, which is the most up to date social media of mine. I’ve been meaning to update my Instagram and keep that up to date too, so that’ll come soon I hope! I also have my artstation portfolio, which admittedly has an assortment of generalist stuff on it since that was what my previous job entailed, but through the projects mentioned here and in the previous blog post, I’m working to update and replace a lot of the bits on there.

Well! I’m going to go after writing this mammoth post. I hope there was something of interest or use to you all at least somewhere peppered in this text! If not, well, it was a good exercise for me to write. I have work 4-6pm and then the cinema; I’m happy to say that part of me is sad I won’t be drawing during the time I’m at the cinema, but I am also looking forward to seeing my friends; and the film might be inspiring!

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Annihilation

Hi friends,

I’ve been reading a book called Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. I don’t know how to define it by genre, but it seems to be sort of scifi and ‘spec fic’… I’m really enjoying it and I want to recommend it!

“The book describes a team of four (a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor) who set out into an area known as Area X. The area is abandoned and cut off from the rest of civilization. They are the 12th expedition. The other expeditions have been fraught with disappearances, suicides, aggressive cancers, and mental trauma.” – Wikipedia

You might know that I struggle with my art because I have lots of ideas yet end up just drawing my generic figures and portraits. But with this book, I can imagine all kinds of scenes/compositions and I want to draw them! So, I started.

fan art drawing in sketchbook from a book by jeff vandermeer, annihilation. sketch of woman standing in the middle of a campsite

colour fanart of book by jeff vandermeer called annihilation. woman standing in the dark in the rain, in a campsite, looking upwards

Also, I listened to Florence + the Machine’s song Landscape which also reminded me of the scenery and personality of the main character. There’s also a lighthouse featured in the book.

Well, today’s is a short post, hope you like the wip. I want to paint it more. Just wanted to get the composition down this evening. See you soon and if you’re interested please definitely read the book and let me know what you think! Or recommend some books to me 🙂

Elysia

Paris visit

Dear all,

I returned from Paris last night, so I thought I’d write a little bit about what I got up to and about the museums. My friend and I went to Paris from Tuesday to Friday and we packed a lot into the trip. He’d not been to Paris before, so we tried to go to all of the sights. Briefly: we went to Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, MusĂ©e d’Orsay, Champs-ElysĂ©es/Arc du Triomphe, MusĂ©e du Louvre, Tour Eiffel, a Melody Gardot concert and the Pompidou (although we didn’t go inside). We had to get up at 7am each day to make sure we could go to all these places, so I’m quite tired now that I’m back.

angel of death painting

by Carlos Schwabe (1866-1926)

I’ll talk quickly about  the MusĂ©e d’Orsay. We found out when we got there that it was free entry for EU passport holders between ages 18-25. So that’s a really good reason to go if you ever get the chance. If you don’t fit those conditions there are other concessions prices as well. And if not, it’s 9 euros so still not too expensive. Currently there’s an exhibition on called L’ange du bizarre which features loads of artworks from the ‘dark romanticism’ movement (I didn’t really know anything about it and had only heard of romanticism anyway), including work from symbolists and surrealists, too. It was a massive collection of works, by artists such as Hans Bellmer (one of my favourites), Dali, Goya, Ernst, Fuseli, etc. along with screenings/excerpts of films such as Frankenstein, a Hitchcock film (can’t remember which one!), part of Buñuel/Dali’s eyeball slicing film (Un Chien Andalou) and various other dark/occult inspired films.

hans bellmer

by Hans Bellmer

I was mostly just really happy to see another exhibition which felt relevant to my own work. It was also very informative and there were a lot of interesting descriptions and introductions to be read. I was also surprised to see Hans Bellmer’s work in an exhibition, because I’ve not seen his work except for scouring through bad jpegs online.

When we went to the Louvre, we did not get in for free but it was worth it all the same. When I got in, I went looking for the Asian arts room but wandered through European sculpture for a short while, then ended up in the Islamic arts section, which I stayed in for the remainder of my time (with a brief trip to the shop to see if they had any sketchbooks for sale – yes, I did not bring my sketchbook. A mistake). I learned about calligraphy and bookbinding while watching the interactive computer screen things dotted around. I looked at lots of pots, bits of armour, gravestones, etc.

from http://www.al-islam.org because we couldn’t take any photos in the Louvre

It was really interesting and when it was time to go I wandered in the direction of the Mona Lisa but then decided to leave it and wait until my next visit, because it was quite busy and I didn’t feel very impassioned about seeing it. I will probably return to Paris in a couple of years’ time, so I will hopefully be able to spend a full day in the Louvre. But before going to France again I’d like to visit Japan again! Or Korea… of course all of these things cost a lot of money, and my trip this week was really expensive (although we managed to budget well, Paris is an expensive place). So I will try to save some more money over the next few years. 

I also want to mention briefly that when we were walking to the Eiffel Tower, I found the Japanese culture centre. It had a really nice book shop, a mini gallery, a lady playing classical music on a grand piano, a library and a tea house (which was by appointment over). We spent max. 20 minutes there and I didn’t buy anything because I didn’t have enough money to spend on books, but it was lovely and I hope I can go there again when I eventually visit again. Luckily we have the Japan Centre in the UK anyway.

I think I’ll stop writing now but I’ll leave you all with the start of a big drawing I am doing, probably to put in the postgraduate exhibition (in a month’s time) as I have been given a little extra space to fill up.

WIP in biro

WIP in biro