The nice thing about milestones is that they don’t indicate any kind of ending, but rather a mark along the way to a destination. So nothing here is finished, but simply one state has passed on to another.
A while back I saw this (taken with a grain of salt humorous) graph made up about what it’s like to be an artist.
I couldn’t appreciate stage 1-3 because I started out working with realism and not cartoons, but the gist of it I can understand quite well. Especially the constant cycle of studying, assimilating, producing, and becoming dissatisfied. That frustration and dissatisfaction can be intense. I hit that mid-January with the Star Wars-themed fanart commission “Lucida”.
I was really excited about this piece as I worked on it. The perspective, the composition, the figure, everything. But when it finally came together at the end, I felt let down. I couldn’t put my finger on why, exactly. It was all “good”. I asked for feedback here and there and the tweaks were minor. It just wasn’t where I wanted it to be or exactly what I wanted it to be. I’m still not sure why, though I think it’s a successful and very cool piece nevertheless.
I went into my next fanart commission with this intense desire to get right what I didn’t quite get in the last one. I wasn’t even sure what those things were. Maybe I just thought a little more, or got lucky, or something finally clicked into place. At any rate, I was FINALLY happy with a total picture. Well, 98% happy. I wasn’t happy with her head. But everything else – the colors, the setting, the lighting – I was just thrilled with. And that doesn’t happen for me very often at all.
So I went from total frustration to total elation within about a week and a half. It was a milestone. And a huge burst in confidence, just to know that at least once – just once! – I was able to get a character in an environment and make it feel “real”. Now the mark is that high – and beyond – for every subsequent piece I create.
Very refreshing after two intensive digital paintings, I finished part 3 of my current drawing commission and remodeled da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man for a personal trainer. I don’t know about anyone else, but even approaching copying a da Vinci is incredibly intimidating for me. I spent one whole day just figuring out the geometry of the proportions until I really understood it. And I did so many studies that I think I finally know what a leg is shaped like now, thank goodness. Four legs every time! What was Leo thinking??
As much as I liked how this turned out (especially using the pastel dust from my pencils on the edges) I was unhappy with his head, too!
I followed through on one of my new year’s plans and got my first master-copy finished, of Pierre-Paul Prud’hon’s gorgeous Empress Josephine. The actual painting is one of those huge, wall-covering things, so taming it down to an 8″x10″ or so, and rendering it in pencil, was a bit of a challenge. I ended up working on it over 18 sessions, usually between 30 and 50 minutes at a time, carefully drawing it out then filling it in with my tiny .05mm lead. It took 12 hours all together, which doesn’t seem very long now that I think about it.
I really enjoyed it and already have the next one picked out and taped up to start tomorrow – Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid.” I chose something a little simpler because February is a short month!
Josephine’s head gave me a little trouble, too (sense a theme here?) so I’ve added another exercise to my daily stuff (still working on Loomis, though it’s tedious) drawing a random portrait in 30 minutes every day. It took me 4 or 5 to figure out how much time I needed to get a good block-in, and how much time I should limit myself to in order to get an expressive finish. I’m hoping by repeating the same steps with different faces every day I’ll get a handle on the basic planes that make everyone’s face, and also the relationship of the head to the neck and the neck to the body. I’ve had trouble attaching heads to bodies for years, and I’m tired of it!
I’d love to work in another exercise drawing standing figures to help with some issues I’m having regarding balance and weight of said figures, but the schedule is getting a little full, and I do have work to do!
This month I’ll be starting a new private commission that’s very unique (more info to come) as well as drawing THE LARGEST DRAWING I HAVE EVER DRAWN. I’m not even sure how big it will be yet. But it will be very, very big.
Also! That standing desk thing has gone very well. I got used to working at the computer with it without much trouble, and I tend to move around A LOT. So it’s not just standing there while my feet get sore. I’ve got a folded-up yoga mat to stand on for that, but I’ve found most of the time I’m moving enough my slippers keep my feet pretty happy. If I really need to concentrate and hone in on something with great care, I’ll sit on a stool. The stool also comes in handy for evenings playing WoW or Star Wars: TOR, especially when I get sleepy. The only drawback I’ve found is that I can’t flop down to play PC games when I’m headachy or really tired because it’s just too unpleasant to stand or sit on the stool. Not a bad thing, really, as it’s more helpful for the headache to watch a movie or something.
The BONUS has been that I’ve dropped 5 pounds in January without too much struggle, which is fantastic for me. I’m exercising and watching what I eat, too, but it’s never quite been so easy! Hopefully it’ll all keep up for the next month!