improvement

Forest Studies

In the interest of Improvement™ I’ve been warming up with little forest studies on the mornings that I’m working digitally. For one thing I was getting bored and frustrated with quick sketching human figures, and for another Wyrdhope has a lot of forest backgrounds, and I wanted to expand my mental library of woodland to make drawing them more interesting.

All of these were done in about 20-25 minutes, using my own vast library of Blurry And Poorly Lit Photographs of English Forests as reference. Some were done manually choosing colours, more were done by colour picking from the photograph. This process both gave me a bigger palette to work from in the future when painting forests, and also allowed me to focus on the act of painting, rather than agonising over getting the correct colours first.

What I’m looking for in each one is the quickest way to transfer what I see and feel from the photograph into a painting. I have a tendency, as pretty much anyone would agree, to overthink things. And painting forests is a nightmare for this – I look and can’t see the proverbial wood for the linguistical trees. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with thoughts like ‘There are how many leaves in this photo?’ and ‘I didn’t know that many shades of green and greenish brown even existed’. Doing these studies has forced me to loosen up and look for ways to speed up the process. Most of which has been getting to grips with the many brushes I have installed in photoshop that I avoid using because I have my favourites, dammit, and I like my comfort zone. But using a mix of pre-made leaf and tree brushes, alongside my faourite Kyle T Webster chunky chalk and soft watercolour, has really turned out some results I’m quite happy with.

The top four in this post are my earlier studies, the lower four more recent – the one I chose to feature is one I painted yesterday, and I think shows how much just these few minutes a day have helped me improve. Doing these has made me excited for the time when I get to paint forests again in Wyrdhope (for the unaware, the most recent pages have all been set inside, which is a nightmare and I hate it, even though it’s forcing me to get better at drawing interiors.)

So the forest warmups will continue, at least until I get bored and frustrated and switch to something else!

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Reflections & Expectations

So, 2017 huh? That sure was a…uh…a year. But let’s ignore the world stage for a bit and focus on me, because I’m a narcissist. Things actually went relatively well, I made some art, learned some stuff, had some fun. Let’s have a look back, shall we?

Year In Art Summary

I made more progress between May and December of this year than I did in the whole of 2016 and I entirely put it down to quitting retail and working on my improvement full-time. I still have a lot of things I want to work on and get better at, which is what 2018 is all about, baby.

And since everyone does it at this time of year, here’s  my 2018 art goals:

  • Finish one painting a month
  • Complete the next 2 chapters of Wyrdhope
  • Add daily sketching into my routine
  • Spend more quality time with projects, rather than getting caught up with quantity
  • Promote myself more
  • Work the things I need to improve on into sketching and projects, rather than keeping studying seperate from actual work

I try to keep my New Years goals fairly broad and allow room for interpretation and modification as the year goes on (apart from like, finishing more of Wyrdhope. That’s non-negotiable at this point). In line with one of them – focusing on quality time rather than quantity – I may end up posting less to the blog. There’ll still be at least one post a month, I can guarantee that, and there will likely be more happening on my sketch blog – in line with the ‘sketch daily’ goal. But towards the end of 2017 I found I was worrying more about completing enough work to fill out a blog schedule than actually concentrating on just making the best work that I could which is…not a way to live your life.

Aside from art goals I also have a bunch of other personal goals I’m working towards and, hyper-organised list-maker that I am, I’m super pumped to get started. Bring it on, 2018. I’m so ready.