Playing to Get Work Done

sketchbook00001In my last post I discussed how Juicy Ink’s 30 Day Sketchbook Challenge inspired me to stop the excuses and start working in my sketchbook again. This was kind of important to me in finally letting myself do some ugly drawings– which is a problem I’ve had since before art school.

In my mind, I want everything to be beautiful, and if it doesn’t meet a certain criteria in my head, I just stop working on the piece. Now while there is some kind of argument in being efficient and leaving a piece before working it into the ground attempting to get it to work, I have been so hesitant to make anything not “beautiful” that I’ve stayed in a very comfortable box of always using the same materials (which I am very familiar with) and using the same techniques over and over and over, and you can see why part of the reason I was having art block was that I was stuck very much in a rut. Juicy Ink’s videos showed me a way to get out of that by getting out of that comfort zone by trying to approach materials with a different perspective.

Before my art block hit me very hard, I was playing with toned paper, as I saw a slew of artists I admire starting to use it for sketches. I didn’t get very far experimenting with it then, but I liked the idea of toned paper– so I took that idea, drug out an ooooooooooold pack of Prismacolor markers (some of which were gelatinous, which was very gross), and made some toned paper of my own in my Moleskine sketchbook. The markers bled like crazy, but I didn’t care. I wanted to play, and if that meant I was going to make a mess, then so be it! And thus a punk Sailor Moon was born.

And the thing is, it didn’t matter to me that the anatomy was whacked as anything– or that I squished so many things onto the paper making everything even more wonky. I had fun. Not only did I have fun, I felt inspired. Which was not something I had felt in a long time.

 

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Taking that inspiration and rolling with it, the very next day I used the same technique on the very next page, this time in yellow marker (the only other marker that was working well), and basically drained it covering one and a half pages with it. And just started drawing. It takes me so long to just draw, I loved how quickly I could just leap into getting an idea down and putting it to paper. Normally, this is such a struggle for me, I will waste hours trying to think of how to pose something before I even touch the pencil to paper. This was game changing. I started playing more, experimenting with pencil and colored pencil to see what it would look like instead of inks– on the yellow it looked amazing— and then decided to see what would happen if I used my white gel pen, and boom! I got a great three tone technique that I could accent with colors.

 

I finally found the thing that clicked.

 

But, as I mentioned, the markers were solidifying, so continuing to make pictures like this using the Prismacolor markers wasn’t really an option. But really, those markers were almost 15 years old. I’m amazed they made it that long. Using my Copic were out, because coloring large swatches of color are very good ways of killing Copic Sketch markers in a hurry.

Enter Copic Wides.

 

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I love these markers so much. They are the perfect color palette for me, and they are so versatile in what they can do.

I’m not sure why I like this technique, but it gets me drawing without fussing. It might be the patterns that just emerge in the block of color? When I make a solid swatch of color, there just isn’t any of the blank page hesitation that I usually struggle with– and it might be something so simple as that, but it has really helped me. I’ve started to play with the shapes in the marks that are made and suddenly, I have an idea for a drawing. So instead of waiting days/weeks to open my sketchbook until I have a perfect idea to sketch, I’m opening my sketchbook daily and playing with colors and shapes until I have an idea. And really, I think some of this experimentation has lead to stronger work then I have done in recent months.

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I’m still trying to figure out how I can hone the technique into a finished piece, as the solid color swatches give the drawings a rough, unfinished, feel to them, but I love the raw energy that the marker strokes lend to anything I draw on top. I need to work with it more, push a little further, but I feel as if I have made a real breakthrough here. I might finally be finding my artist’s voice in all of this experimentation.

 

 

In Which There is An Age of Dragon

inquisitzcolor-1For those of you who don’t follow me on social media, or have had the displeasure of talking to me in the last… oh three months, then you are aware that I have become a tad obsessed with the video game series Dragon Age. It started with my bestie getting really excited about the release of Inquisition back in November, to which clueless me, was like “What’s Dragon Age?” and thus, the rabbit hole was opened and I  ended up marathoning all three games within a two month span. Yes, a two month span.

The nice thing about dumping all these hours into a game series, is it’s been really inspiring for me on the art and writing front, as I have become totally enraptured with the universe. I secretly want to become part of the BioWare development team for the fourth or fifth game, but haha yeah that will never happen, so I draw silly things that are fannish to fill my time or something. I dunno! Anyway, a few weeks ago, I threw up a request for Inquisitor screengrabs, and the same bestie was like “OH DO MINE!” so I broke out my Copics which have been long neglected and tries to get my stiff drawing muscles warm again. I’m not super happy with the outcome, and will have to do another one for her in the future. I tried using some “marker paper” by Strathmore, and it was a nightmare. It didn’t hold the ink, everything bled, and the linework transferred terribly. But it was a good experiment, I guess? I know not to use that paper for this kind of thing again.

 

My second experiment went much better:

 

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reference pic from Senshi Stock

 

My initial idea was to try the Copic markers on charcoal paper, but they bleed like a mo-fo on the paper. Then I remembered a set of charcoal colored pencils I picked up when I got home back in August. What proceeded was a risky experiment with the colored charcoal and very light shades of Warm Grey Copics, in an attempt to blend them together and give a kind of light touch to the drawing. I’m really happy with the outcome, and need to take the experimenting further, methinks. Maybe next time, with watercolors, or using very light shades of Copic markers.

I’m also trying to work on my inks, to get the delicate, yet energetic vibe my pencils have– because with the thick thinks I’ve been doing for the last few years has really started to bum me out. I really like my pencils, and then I ruin it with inks. When I watercolor, it doesn’t matter because I can use my pencils as linework, but Copics BLEED the lead like anything, so I need to figure out some way to approach linework when I intend to color with Copic markers. Right now I’m trying to use a much MUCH thinner pen then I have since before I started at SCAD, and trying to be as light as possible with it, instead of barring down like I do with my brush pens.

What do you think? Is this linework better than some of my previous inked sketches?

New Format!

14.06.13-001Hello and welcome from the past!

I am writing this in the past to tell the future that the site is back up and running! Break over, and things will get back to normal as usual on Sunday. If you’re reading this blog on the site, then you’ll notice that everything is different! If you’re reading on a RSS, then go to the site and look around! There is a spiffy new format which I just adore. I finally broke down and put some money into it, instead of torturing myself trying to get the WP code to do things myself.

Was it the lazy way? Maybe. Was it the efficient way? You bet. Because I can now stop wasting my time fooling with the WP code and get back to the important stuff, like creating new art. By this time, everything should be up and running perfectly, so take a look around the site. There’s no new art yet (sorry), but there is new organization, and some things that I have been meaning to put up, but had been waiting until a new format was finished (like the Western AU project and a page dedicated to illoLifeRPG). There are a few little behind the scenes things that need to be tended to, but that won’t impede on the site experience– and can be done in small  chunks (and might be held off until I am back in the States).

Speaking of which! June 6th was the official marker point for me having only two months left in Japan! Time has flown by, and as much as I am sad to go, I am so happy to be going home, I can’t even express it. To have a bed again. And air conditioning. And Sonic’s Cherry Limeades. Priorities man. Priorities. These last two months will be crazy, but I’m going to make it a priority to keep updating things on the blog, even if I have to write from the past again, like I am doing now. Also once I am back in the States, I’m going to be looking into a few affiliates programs, so fair warning that some small advertisements are coming. But like seriously small ones. I can’t stand lots of ads, so I wouldn’t ask my readers to stand them either. I’m also eying Patreon, but I do not think I am ready for that quite yet.

So, to review: New site; regular updates start up again on Sunday; I’ll be back in the States in August; I am a fool for Sonic Limeades; and I’m looking into affiliate programs.

Onward!!