I have a number of pieces to post from the last few months but I figured I’d start with this pet portrait. This one will probably be revisited in the near future with more hands on access to the model.
This piece was finished a while back but I missed posting it. It wasn’t until I started a new illustration for these characters and went looking for my previous image that I realized my mistake.
These two are from my pathfinder campaign, Frigh the gnome druid and her animal companion Babou (named as much for Archer as Dali).
So it’s been around five months since I last posted. In my defense a person crawled out of me three months ago, making work take a back seat. But Inktober is an excellent motivator to get back into the swing of things.
I’m not very good at quick ink drawings so the one per day goal isn’t something I’ve ever been able to do. I make up for it by working on longer pieces each day, such as these:
I did manage one quick drawing in a single day though. I’ve been working silhouettes into a couple different pieces lately and I’ve really liked the effect. I’m thinking I need to keep exploring this motif.
Pattern and texture are two of my favorite things to experiment with so when I needed a break from some larger projects this was the result. I wanted to combine different styles of pattern so I started playing with Celtic knotwork and Indian mandalas.
I normally have at least one “breather” project going at a time. It’s something I fiddle with whenever my main project has hit a brick wall and I need to switch gears for a while. This is the most recent one, it’s been slowly moving forward for about six months and I’m putting a fork in it.
It’s not really anything specific, just experimenting with elements from a bunch of previous projects in a smaller format (this is 5″ by 7″).
This is a larger reworking of an earlier piece.
December was a very rough month that I’m still recovering from but I was finally able to finish a piece that has been sitting in my to be done pile since November.
This piece started life as a sketch from a figure drawing session dedicated to trans or genderfluid models. This particular pose was so moving that I got permission from the models to turn it into a finished piece. I did take some liberties since I only had a black and white sketch and couldn’t remember the precise hair colors or skin tones (and of course the seal tail) but the heart of the pose is intact.
This one has been in the works for a while, and gone through a few iterations behind the scenes. I feel like it’s a spiritual successor to the Dullahan series, which is fitting considering the characters from each are closely linked.
I had a grand scheme to post some new finished work this week. But a busy week running around San Francisco was followed by my one-year-old niece sniffling in my general direction and now I’m down for the count.
I did get the opportunity to visit some excellent museums though. The De Young Museum was first with some really nice American works, followed by the Legion of Honor which had an excellent “British works on paper” exhibit up. The most fascinating thing about that collection, beyond getting to see the kind of works that aren’t put on display too often due to fragility, was the number of studies shown alongside the finished works. We also visited some aquariums, a science museum and several other attractions but those two museums were the highlight of the trip for me.
The benefit of having several half finished pieces at any given time is that every now and then you get to post ALL THE THINGS! This is one of those weeks it seems.
This was in part a piece to challenge me to get more depth into my work. I wanted to forego the flat backgrounds and try for an actual landscape. Side note, it’s been a long time since I used the colored inks, will have to incorporate them more.
Cover art for the followup to “A Fairy-Tale Ending”. I could talk a little about the process on this one but the author has already done a more eloquent job than I probably could. I will say though that I had a lot of fun playing with having another dragon of the same species but different coloring and features.
There has long been a divide over the “best way” to learn. It’s natural, we want to defend our own choices and that means talking about why we didn’t go a different way which inevitably leads to someone on that different path defending their choice and now everyone is angry. But whatever choices you make about where you want to learn the consistency is that it’s not going to take you all the way. That’s because another person, be it a professor, author of a teaching book, podcaster or tutorial creator, can only show us the ways they have found to work and (hopefully) encourage further study. They can’t guide your personal development for the years and decades an artist will be developing their work and they won’t be an expert at absolutely everything so even if you have a sustained apprenticeship kind of situation they are not an exhaustive source. So it’s on us as students to build off of that foundation, seek out new sources of information and continue learning after we have completed the lessons.
So lets say you’ve come out the other side of whatever path you chose for your fundamentals and you now have a solid grasp on at least one approach to them. How can you continue to develop?
One approach is to continue seeking out new teachers in more complex subjects. You can start in on that with many formal programs which will offer specialized courses but they don’t have a monopoly. In my area there are a number of community centers which offer workshops on specialized techniques like encaustic and throwing on the wheel or concepts like storytelling and concept art. Individual artists will also often offer classes and workshops or have podcasts set up online where you can watch them work and get insight into different approaches.
If teachers aren’t your thing then consider peers. A group of artists at roughly the same stage can push each other to improve, bounce ideas off of one another and keep everyone working. They don’t all have to be visual artists either, I still have my writer friends critique my work and give me theirs for review. Even if someone doesn’t have any training in a field they can still give valuable feedback from the point of view of your audience.
On the subject of people outside your field, you can develop by looking for interest beyond the art world. A lot of new artists will hit a plateau after they have developed their fundamentals simply because they aren’t sure what to do once they don’t have specific assignments anymore. But if you start looking outside of art for subjects that fascinate you suddenly you have something you want to share and explore. Artistic technique is important but so is having something to share through your work. This is a great way to develop a strong and unique portfolio as well.
And finally develop you work by, well, working. Take small commission jobs and let the clients requirements push you in directions you weren’t expecting. If you did really well with strict assignments while learning this is a good way to preserve that atmosphere while branching out into your own style. /r/artstore is fairly good for that, they have a lot of smaller jobs wander through but there are a number of websites that also facilitate commissions. One huge benefit to doing this is it skips over the awkward “am I ready to start charging” phase that cripples a lot of new artists. The downside is you will probably get hosed by a few clients, it happens no matter where you are in your career though more frequently when you’re new. Read up on contracts and the industry if you want to go this route.
These are of course only the ways that I have used to develop after leaving school, I won’t pretend to have found them all. If none of these work then keep looking for your own way to develop after you’ve exhausted your lessons.
No idea if I’ll keep up with Inktober but for today I can at least post the progress on this piece. I’m planning a companion “hell” at the moment, though that will require more research and original content since Homura doesn’t have an equivalent scene that I’ve found. Perhaps the tea on the river scene can be incorporated though…
Since Inktober is beginning I figured it was only appropriate to post the first in a series I’m working on. This beetle design started life as a client sketch that was turned down a few years ago. I came across the original sketch recently and decided to work it up to completion. It’s borrowing a little from steampunk mechinations and a little from teacup detailing but is pushed no where near as far as I’m planning for the next few installments. This is going to be fun.
So it’s been a while since I posted work. The most recent finished piece is another in my series of reworking pieces originally done in non-archival media. The Moon is one of my favorite stories I’ve illustrated and one I’ve come back to several times so I really wanted a version I would be comfortable showing in a gallery. The original large piece was done in grayscale markers and digitally colored, this version is ink and watercolors.