Sunday, January 4, 2015

Playing Chicken

Last time I posted, I shared the little goat I drew from a tutorial by STEVE HARPSTER.  I was scrolling through watching some more of his videos, and in one of them he mentioned a few artists on YouTube that really inspired him.  

One of the people he mentioned was WILL TERRELL, who is an amazing cartoonist...I had actually seen (and pinned with glee) some of Will Terrell's work previously on Pinterest without realizing it.  He's got a series of videos on his YouTube channel called "People Sketching" that I just fell in love with.  In the videos, he adds color to his sketches and while talking about some of the things he's learned as an artist.  They're not really how-to videos (although you can learn A LOT from watching what he does), but more about the mental aspect of creating art...for instance, how to be a better student (because you should never stop learning) or overcoming excuses.  I've learned a lot from him!

One of the things that really stuck out in my mind from watching his videos (and I can't remember which video it was...sorry about that) was him talking about getting to a certain point in your art, and then kind of getting you hit a plateau...where you're good at one thing and it becomes your fallback.  It becomes hard to take risks because you feel so confident that you can make something "good" if you just stick with what you know.  But when you do that, you never make any progress.  

I thought it was really interesting because this guy is an awesome artist!  He makes really interesting characters...he's somebody that I wish I had the skill and talent from his pinky finger...but he's quick to say that there are people better than he is and that he REALLY wants to progress in his art and keep learning.

He also talked about his personal understanding that art takes time.  To paraphrase him, it takes ten years to become a doctor, and so he figured it would take him ten years to become an artist.  If you want to be good at something, you have to put in the time and effort and keep working at it. I completely appreciated his view on that!  I've only been doing the artsy thing for two or three years, and I've learned a lot and made some really good exciting it will be to see what I can do in another seven years!

What I've learned so far from Will's videos is that I use faces as my fallback.  I've kind of realized that on my own this past year, but those videos really made it hit home.  If I want to get better at art, I have to push myself...whether it's in doing my faces or if it's branching out and doing other things.  I find that if I make something and it turns out pretty good, I don't want to push it any further for fear that I mess it've heard me say that before.  What I should be doing is to constantly take that extra step, add those extra details, spend that extra fifteen minutes.  Because that's where the improvement is at!

So what I've decided is that, for Journal 52 and Documented Life, this will be the year of non-faces.  I might let one or two sneak in, especially if that happens to be one of the prompts, but I want at least 90% of these two journals to be something other than human faces.  I really want to stretch my creative muscles into new areas...and faces are my safe place.  I want to work on being ok with an ugly page in the name of progress!


The first prompt for JOURNAL 52 this year is "Pathways" and here's what I came up with:

NOT a face!

I'd like to learn more about perspective this year...I'd like to be able to create a halfway decent landscape-type scene.  I'd also like to remember that the principles of light and shading pertain to everything...not just faces.  I'm super guilty (I see it in the above spread) of 'forgetting' things I should know when I'm making something other than a face.  Despite the somewhat glaring errors I see in the page above, I do like it...I just think this is a fine example of one of those instances where I should have pushed it a little further.


DOCUMENTED LIFE (DLP) has had some changes this year...I'm interested to see how DLP will continue to play out in 2015!

The theme for January is The blank page and how to face it.
The art challenge is "Book Paper" and the prompt is "Be your own goalkeeper."

Here's what I came up with:

"Hey chick, make a choice!"

This year for DLP I have a Canson Mixed Media journal to work in.  I'd have liked another Dylusions journal, but they got extremely hard to come by, so I figured I'd make do with what I already had.  Because the Canson journal is spiral bound, I thought I would deconstruct it...that way, I'll always have a flat surface to work on and the middle bits that are usually obstructed by the binding will be more a part of the image instead of a very noticeable white space.  I'll be reconstructing the journal as I go, so at the end of the year, all my pages will be in order and back on the binding.  I'm keeping everything nice and neat and together in a big Ziploc bag.  

Chicken faces don't count...

Another thing that Will Terrell mentioned in one of his videos was that, when creating your own character it's good to have about 15-20 reference photos and to sketch each of those reference photos.  Holy crap-eroni!  That's a lot of sketching!  I do understand why that's important...he actually discusses it...and it would be good practice.  

However, in the case of the above chicken, I did not do that...he's a one-off chicken.  I did sketch him from a photo, which you can see on my Pinterest board called "For Your Reference".  I think his chicken head came out fairly well, and I think I got the fluffiness of the under-the-tail-feathers area to come across pretty well.  I'm glad that I colored him in the reddish tones instead of the black and grays that the reference chicken is colored.  I wish I had done his feet a little differently in the placement though, and the chest area isn't quite right either...

Overall, not bad for a one-off chicken...but I do wonder what I could have accomplished if I would have done those scads of sketches.  How much would I improve if I did a study for every piece I want to make?  

I suppose that I've been thinking very deeply about artistic improvement so far today, because I just now noticed that my shirt is on inside-out.  That's fairly telling, isn't it?


I did manage to do a little more studio cleaning this weekend.  I'm still not done, but it keeps looking better and better in here.  The main thing that's left is to go through all my extra papers (I have at least ten or twelve zip lock bags full of various smidgens) and do an honest assessment of what I'll actually use versus things I kept because I am a crazy paper hoarder.  

I always end up remembering that I have a certain piece of ephemera that would be perfect for the thing I'm working on at the time...and then not being able to find that perfect scrap for hours because of the terrifying amount of garbage papers I have to sort through to find it.  

The fact that I've already gone through five or six bags of stuff and at least that many file folders and managed to whittle it to one bag and one file folder without throwing away anything I  would EVER actually use should tell you the extent of my hoarding.  

I'm thinking/hoping I can manage to whittle what's left down to two or three bags without throwing away anything I'll miss...but I do believe that's a task for another day, because I'm very ready to laze about for the rest of today.

Sorry for the extra long post...I must have been in a talking mood.  All cleaning, no lazing, makes Amy a very talky girl...


  1. love the chicken crossing the road great idea..I too an joining in this year..its new to me though as havent done previous years

  2. I love the chicken! That's definitely a lot sketches he recommends, but it's good to sketch!

  3. I like both of your paintings! I think it's good to push yourself and try new things too. Blessings to you in the new year!

  4. Great start to your year with your sketches. Will is great and a very nice guy. I'm hoping to improve some of my own skills as well and one is perspective. Happy New Year!

  5. your pages are really well done, nice work!

  6. I LOVE that chicken!! I think you did an awesome job :D I also love your take on the Pathways prompt.
    I am going to look at the youtubers you recommend for drawing practice and would like to share a chap I found - Shoo Rayner - on the right of his home page you will see, 'drawstuffrealeaasy' which is another of his channels. I drew a number of things a few weeks ago that I was so chuffed with, using his instruction. (step by step is perfect for me), so I hope you give his work a look at too.
    I like the sound of your organisation; I tried that early last year; got real tidy but am ashamed to say it's out of hand again *sigh* Hey-ho, there's plenty time to start again, lol
    Have a great week :o)


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