Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Confession of an Inktober Quitter

I made it a little over half way through Inktober. And then I quit.

It wasn't one of those "petering out" events, where I just got tired of the activity and didn't make time to do it. In fact, I actually drew more during the second half of Inktober than I did in the beginning.

Just not in ink.

And why? Because I discovered, via the Inktober challenge to draw something in ink every day, that I am not very good at making finished pieces in ink. I really only like it for the sake of hashing out a thumbnail idea. It's actually great for that, because something about sketching quickly in ink prevents me from noodling unnecessary details into the concept stage. But when it comes to finished pieces that I really feel good about, pencil is my medium of choice. It just is. It's my first love.

 Now, it's not that people didn't appreciate the ink drawings I was doing, even while I was struggling to do them. In fact, the Asian-inspired villain I drew got the most "likes" of any Inktober drawing I offered up.

But the further I got into the process, the more I really wanted to sink my teeth in making something finished. And the more I tried to finish pieces in ink, the worse they got.

My awesome writers' group was super encouraging when I posted, for their eyes only, something I considered a failure. None of them reacted with the old "Not everything is a masterpiece," but with "I don't see why you hate this drawing." So at least I know I don't churn out total garbage, even on my worst days. At least not in the eyes of the casual viewer.

But the pleasure in drawing was ebbing and it was becoming a chore. I needed to pick up the pencils again. And so, with a couple weeks of the challenge to go, I put the pens away and got my assortment of Prismacolor pencils back out, ranging from 6H (super hard lead--I don't think I've actually used the pencil. It just makes score marks in my paper) to 4B (creamy-soft lead.) And drawing was a pleasure again.

This Vinyanel and Veranna drawing was the first to sneak back in and remind me of my passion for pencil. From there, I decided to dig into something meatier, which yielded a pretty dynamic piece of interior art for an upcoming short story release.

Speaking of which, another tool set I wandered into during my truancy from Inktober was the world of digital art. I am a complete noob to this area,so my efforts here are fledgling, but I think I'm learning fast. And more importantly for me at this stage of my art journey, working on the digital art never felt like a chore. It was more: "Can I drink another cup of coffee and keep going on this, because I really want to! No, I will hate myself at work in the morning if I do that."

So, I hope you aren't too disappointed in me as an Inktober dropout. But if I'm making art that isn't a commission, I think I owe it to myself to spend my time on images that bring me joy.




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Artwork in the Pipeline

Inktober continues here in my world, and it's been a fun and therapeutic exercise to "take requests" in making artwork. No real musing today, just a sampling of the projects that have come out of the process.
From the start, multiple people chimed in with dragon requests, so I found a day where I could put more than 10 minutes into the drawing before I did one. Granted, a drawing like this, you could noodle for hours and hours--but hours are something in short supply right now, so this 25 minute drawing is where it landed.
This octopus is part of an ongoing collaborative project that I hope to get some traction on soon. Yes, an octopus composer is a pretty ridiculous premise--but I bet it's not one that's overdone, right?
This final image, which is not part of the Inktober challenge, but has been in process during this time, has been the subject of much consternation for me. I took a leap into a minimalist, stylistic experiment. As with all experiments, they either tend to be genius or failures. This one, though the image has some nice qualities, is landing on the "failure" side of the line and will likely just be filed away with the "stuff I played around with but will never grow beyond that."

What is art if not a learning experience? Sometimes it just a takes a few total strangers to be absolutely straight with you, and that's ok.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Inktober as a Remedy to the Mid-Life Crisis

I think it’s pretty safe to say that I am having a legitimate mid-life crisis. It feels so cliché, so true to form, I have an immediate knee-jerk reaction to the notion. But really—given life expectancy in this day and age, I am indeed facing the count of my years to come likely being fewer than those I have lived, and it’s a sobering prospect. I’ve been doing a lot of self-examination about where I am in life, what I’ve done with the time I’ve already passed (and sometimes squandered, especially the 10 years I got to stay home with my kids) and what I’m going to do with those that remain.

One of the main conclusions I’ve come to is that I am going to spend more time going forward drawing. Since I left the animation industry in February of 2000, I have mostly neglected this skill area. I have a long list of excuses I could trot out if I wanted, but at the end of the day, excuses only
keep you in the place you’re apologizing for being, so I’m not giving that list any air time.

One of the external motivators I’ve latched onto in an effort to do more drawing is to participate in Inktober. The challenge is simple: do a drawing, in ink, every day, all month.