January is over, which means my experiment has come to an end.
In January, I indulged myself, deciding on a whim what I’d work on that day without regard to the future or past. That was the idea, at least. Of course, mentally, it wasn’t that simple, and there’s quite a bit of backstory to this experiment that I won’t go into. I learned a couple of things. For example, I was having the most fun and happy when I was doing the Pirate Zombie Snails. Also, music plays a huge role in my life. I want to share the things I like, music, illustration, design, art, comics, books, and whatever else; because there’s happiness in the appreciation and sharing of the creativity of others. Unfortunately, I can’t use this blog to simply share all the things I want to share or do so in the most convenient way for myself or others(no youtube-embeds for example, because of GDPR concerns. I can’t upload other people’s artwork here, because I would be breaking copyrights, etc.)
I also noticed that while I am content in the moment, forcing myself to deliver daily art posts here meant that I did not follow motivations to do longer form explorations. The rigidity I set upon myself of drawing every day and posting art every Monday-Friday started to feel oppressive towards the end of the month.
I will continue with self-indulgence for now, but I will likely post less because I want to work on some things more extensively. Whether or not they bare any fruit worth sharing, I don’t know. In February, I will also focus on learning a bit more. Workshops, courses, more experiments.
At this point, I don’t know where this will lead. Even if I recover fully, I don’t think things will go back to how they were. The way I work will change.
Sometimes I wish I could just settle for a “look” for the stuff that I create. But it’s just not going to happen I guess. I’m still exploring how images can look utilizing lineart and “coloring inside the lines” and I never like what I do long enough to make it a distinct thing.
The week before I was doing some erotic drawings. This time unfortunately I didn’t like the cleanliness of smoothed, pixel-perfect lines and crisp cell-shaded coloring. To alter that impression the first thing I tried was to simply throw a paper texture on top and add some noise. This time such quick fixes only added to my annoyance. So I modified one of my favorite sketching brushes to look like a little broken bleeding pen nip and restarted my drawing from there. I did a couple more drawings using that brush, experimenting with different methods of coloring them, the length of my strokes, whether or not to use it with lazy nezumi/photoshop stroke smoothing, and then let it sit for a few days.
This week I decided to pick up the exploration but instead of drawing naked woman I decided to go for a fantasy scene. I didn’t use any brush smoothing and instead of making designed marks and lines I decided to “doodle” a lot of the linear details. I looked at Moebius art, Lorenzo de Felici, Sergio Toppi, Mark Nelson, Jonathan Edwards, Jorge Zaffino, Ashley Wood – not that it shows. I painted the background using brushes from Dice Tsutsumi, Greg Rutkowski and Justin Gerard because I wanted “texture”.
While I enjoyed it while I was doing it, I’m now already thinking that it’s too random. Not designed enough. The line thickness is too uniform. The perspective is too boring, the scattering of the details too equal. The coloring seems to be in limbo between full flat color an volume based painting.
On to the next thing I guess. The learning continues.
It’s been a rough week or two. The image text is a bit deceptive though, I’ve been struggling not so much with doing something new but rather with falling back into bad habits. I let other people’s agendas, perceptions, and perspectives cloud my own mind.
I want to see if I can build something of my own. Create art that makes people smile and makes the world a little bit of a friendlier place, even if just for a few minutes. And earn a living with it. But what happened slowly since I left KARAKTER and more so in the past two weeks since I ended my “take it easy -vacation period” is that I let other people tell me that I won’t be able to earn money with my own art, that thus I should do something different. >> Oh it’s nice art, but I would never pay for that. <<, >>There’s no money in making people happy. … <<. That I’m such a good freelance artist, why would I not want to join their project? There’s a team that needs art direction, why not take it over since I obviously don’t have anything better lined up? I should do monsters, I should do character skins, do Riot-style, do mobile, women 50+ target audience, serious cute realism stylized military casual ….. Because I can do all of those things, other people want me to do those things and thus I should do them.
Which led to me doing “preemptive commissioned” portfolio work. Every morning I got up with the goal of creating another artwork that would catch attention and get me commission work. I was working feverishly, manically. I was doing work for unknown internet people that I had no interest in myself and I wasn’t even getting paid for it. I tunnel-visioned towards “You’re only worth something if the next artwork you do is something cool that other artists and game companies will like”. Read that again. “You’re only worth something if … other (people) will like”. I’m so thankful that through therapy, personal training, coaching, and a lot of work on my part I have learned to catch myself before slipping too far down this spiral. Those steps down are so familiar though, I walked this path so often, so many times. That dark place is still far easier to get to and feel at home than to believe in me and let myself feel happy.
I need to find a way to keep my own ideas in focus, to not let myself be distracted by other people so easily. Maybe physical whiteboards or something.
Coincidentally, it’s suicide prevention week in the USA. As good a time as any to reach out to the people around you and ask how they’re doing.
On Monday afternoon we had to suddenly say goodbye to our best friend, Elmo. Elmo was not the smartest cookie in the jar, but he was the sweetest. His sense of smell wasn’t worth much, but his imagination must have been glorious because he would create pools of drool long before he ever came close to finding whatever treat we had misplaced for him. And while we taught him silly things like “Sit”, “Paw”, “Wait”, and “Search” he taught us important skills like patience, attentiveness, appreciation for the joy of the moment and seemingly endless love. Elmo and I broke two chairs together, we decimated hundreds of amazon cardboards, spent at least an hour every Sunday afternoon possible napping together. There never was a vegetable that he could not intimidate into submission and we could not put together a puzzle for him that he was not able to solve through a deliberate, energetic pounce. We spent hundreds of euros on dog-toys and in the end his favorite one was an Ikea-bag. He was a goofball, he was amazing, he was lovely. He saved my life when I was at my darkest place earlier this year. I will miss the morning tummy-rubs, his midday reminders to us that there is no need for a clock because he knows when it is time to give him his food. I will miss his snoring, his derpy expressions, his huffs and puffs and his warmth against my feet when he was sleeping under my table while I was working. I will never get the chance again to turn my head and see him snuggled up to Maike on the couch. I miss him so much and there is a huge emptiness now where there was security he gave us through his presence in our lives. I often asked you “Who is a good boy”. I’m glad I told you just as often “You are the very best boy”. Thank you Elmo, for all the moments, all the memories, all the joy you gave us. Thank you for your love. You will forever be the very best boy.
Partly because I thought it might be interesting, partly for self-therapeutic reasons I created an “influence-map”. These artists did and continue to influence my own artistic development.
While doing this overview I realized that none of the cool conceptart.org artists had any lasting impact on me. I have some collections from that time, but I never turn to them when I need to rekindle my interest in art. Similarly, I appreciate a lot of traditional artists like Menzel, Sorolla, Sargent’s Watercolors, Repin, Alma-Tadema, Waterhouse, etc. but it’s “just” appreciation. On the other hand, less surprising is that artists like Henrik Fetz, Torsten Wolber, Igino and Roberto Freire who’ve helped me learn and grow in many ways continue to inspire me not only with the works that I got saved on my hard drive but with their current work as well.
It also shows that I don’t look at concept art (for movies or games) to be inspired, I prefer illustration. I appreciate the craftsmanship and the thinking behind concept art, but when I look to be motivated, I turn to interesting compositions, color-choices, interpretation, reduction & abstraction, storytelling.
Finally, even this condensed influence-map (my initial set was double what I collected here) shows that the stylistic inconsistency in my personal sketches comes from the variety of artists that inspire me.
This was an interesting exercise and while it left me with a few questions to work through in my head, it also helped me feel something positive about art again and motivated me to do art.