Its 2014 Time…

Well this was certainly a productive and distinct milestone of a year! Quite the eclectic mix of brilliant things and less than brilliant things happening in and around my practice. I thought I’d compile them all into a big ol’ blog post of good parts of 2013 and the mistakes I have made that I can *hopefully* learn from.

Well first off, I feel I’ve improved much more during 2013 than in 2012, I’ve pushed myself outside my comfort zone from a digital point of view just that little bit more with areas like lighting and depth of field communication. I’ve also found myself building a rather nice preset of brushes that had a far looser approach to mark making, removing the control and precision that can often be a downfall for digital work.
I used to work with just the basic, preinstalled round brush and rely on the pressure sensitivity and opacity to create tone and values, but now I use a triangle brush far more often or angled brushes with plenty of texture and roughness to them.
This has allowed me to explore far more subjects and a far more diverse range of ideas in my digital work. I’ve slowly but surely started to play around with environment and background, something I’ve been pretty much hiding from for.. well forever. Its definitely on my list of ‘things I need to do lots of during 2014’.
Below are some examples of using new brushes and playing with depth and composition.

I’ve also been building my professional practice and presence greatly during 2013. I’ve finally launched a website for myself, my Facebook page has continued to grow, this blog has been hugely useful and I’ve had a nice steady stream of commissions over the last few months! I’ve found maintaining an online presence for my illustration pretty damn fun, actually. Its a cheap, quick and easy way to get publicity as well as feedback and crit from other professionals. On certain online platforms, the atmosphere seems more relaxed so professionals will often be more willing to talk to the noobs like me and many others about our work and their work. Its been massively useful. Kind of like spying on professionals you really respect but… legal.

Another success was remembering how much I enjoy a good, simple graphite drawing. This basic skill had been kind of lost amongst digital work and university project work over the last few months, which is a shame because its really very fun to do. So with the help of my tutors and advice from peers, I drove my latest project in a direction that would allow me to follow the traditional route for a change. I really liked the aesthetic value that the traditional mediums added to the final outcome, despite it not quite being as successful as I had hoped it would be. I can see graphite and other textured, try materials like charcoals, playing a significant role in BA8 after seeing how well they worked in BA7.

I also finally found the joy in observational drawing! It took me a long time to figure out how people found drawing from observation a fun pass time, but now thats I’ve practiced enough and have got good enough to be happy with quick drawings, I’ve found the fun in it. Plenty of ‘people-creeping’ around coffee shops and spying on folk walking around Norwich. I’ve yet to do extended observational drawings of my surroundings rather than the people I see, which is something I’ll work on a bit more during 2014.

Its also that one, single, perfect time of year to launch a new mini project for myself to keep creatively active each day. Starting from January 1st, I’ve begun making a sketch a day, no particular theme or subject, just getting something I fancy doodling down on paper.
I’ve found this works well as a sort of visual journal of my life over these days of the year. I upload each sketch onto my Tumblr page and write a short description about why I chose to draw that particular subject matter on that particular day, I reckon looking back at it all at the end of the year could be a really interesting experience! Its definitely more fun than keeping a 14 year old style diary… Below are the sketches I’ve done thus far:

Follow the link above to my Tumblr page to read the descriptions for each drawing so they make a wee bit more sense.

So, lots planned, learnt and launched for this year and last…

but I thought I’d do a quick rundown on the things I really need to do more of or work on for this coming year… 

  • Don’t you DARE stop practicing and drawing constantly. Draw for fun, draw because you have to, draw for projects or for passing time or for observation… Just keep doing it.
  • Stride out of my comfort zone like I own the damn place. I have to do more…
    • Environments
    • Male figures/portraits
    • Anatomy studies
    • Atmosphere focussed images (digital and traditional)
    • Type – research and experiment more before dumping some text onto my drawings
    • Thumbnails and storyboards
    • Larger scale drawings
    • Screen/mono/lino print
  • Take better advantage of university; I’m only there for a few more months, I need to use the hell out of the facilities and tutors, its going to feel horrible not having that all at my disposal when I leave so make the most of it now.
  • Read more. Reference, fiction, classics, anything. Just input more text and less TV series.
  • Maintain my online promo and presence. Its been dead fun doing it throughout last year, no reason to stop now, especially since it’s starting to pick up.
  • Grow some balls and actually enter more competitions. Even if you don’t win anything; they know your name now.
  • Contact some people. Now is the time to email and contact agencies, established artists, alumni and other professionals in my industry. Steal their knowledge!
  • Work on earning some real money from my practice. I already earn from commissions but they aren’t flowing in fast enough or pricy enough to keep my rent paid and bills up to date in order to stay living in Norwich post-grad; something I really want to do.
  • (non-industry related …) Work harder at my exercise and kung-fu. You have two years to earn that black belt, do it well and with discipline.

With the right balance of keeping my brain focussed and happy, I can achieve all of these and more. If other people can do it, why the hell can’t I?

Bring on 2014.


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