Acrylic Painting

I’ve been experimenting with acrylics, because there is something about acrylics that really appeals to me. Watercolor is fun, but there’s a certain type of wantonness about watercolor painting that connects me more with the abstract and random. I feel like I connect with different mediums in very diverse ways; pencil drawings lead me toward realism, pastels lead me to cartoonish pieces, watercolor to the free-flowing and abstract, and acrylics with a deep seated type of sentiment.

Acrylics draw out my darker thoughts and feelings, which exhibit themselves into my work. I started the painting that is in the title photo of this post, and I felt like I could really connect with it. It’s far from complete; the main subject has yet to be added, and of course the finer details of the water, sky, and beach are still missing. I think, though, that the viewer can ascertain the frame of mind and the world that I came from while working on this painting. The painting was inspired by a photo that a husband/wife photography team took, (visit their page here) though my interpretation is darker and lonelier.

How do different mediums affect you?

Tutorials

I’ve been pretty slack with adding tutorials – I know it. I’ve been so busy with my full-time job and commissions that I just haven’t gotten there yet.

My intentions over the next few weeks are to do some more tutorials, including:

  • how to draw a simple rose
  • How to draw animal hair/fur
  • Whisker techniques
  • How to draw feathers

I think the tutorials will be fun to do, and hopefully they’ll be helpful to many people who are starting out.

More to come soon!

 

 

Finishing a Drawing

Some people find it difficult to figure out where to start with a drawing, while others (like me) have a hard time finishing one. Both problems can be super frustrating, but both problems are equally simple to solve; just get the job done. Start somewhere, shade something. Work on it piece by piece until it comes together.

imag0804.jpg

I’d never show someone my millions of sketchbooks. They are so full of half-assed sketches and experiments that they look like piles of garbage. That garbage, though, is my inspiration. Those books are evidence of the hours and hours I’ve dedicated to practicing this craft.

imag0815.jpg

A partially finished drawing is nowhere near as satisfying as a finished work. It holds so much potential and promise, but it’s just like a giant ball of potential energy; it needs to be made kinetic to become useful. It becomes something to be proud of. There is nothing worse than walking away from something that should be great, if only given the chance.

imag0833_1.jpg

Sometimes it’s necessary to walk away from something that just isn’t working… but don’t make a habit of it.

What Should I Draw?

This is a question that comes up constantly in art communities on Google+ and Tumblr.  Sometimes it’s a cry for attention, but sometimes it’s a legitimate question.  Maybe the artist is a beginner and doesn’t know where to find inspiration, or perhaps the artist is bored of his/her niche and wants to try something new. 

Whatever the case, drawing inspiration can be found literally anywhere.  In an earlier post, I wrote about learning to see, and noticing the subtle details that make our visual world what it is.  This means practicing angles and curves, and to practice drawing only what can be seen – not what can’t be seen.

This approach doesn’t work for everyone, though, because a lot of people love instant gratification.  They want to draw a masterpiece right away – forget about practicing!  I myself tend to be guilty of this habit; I want to see a finished product that I can be proud of.  I don’t want to see random angles and circles! 

So.  How to find inspiration?

Here are some ideas:

1) Look out your window and draw what you see.  A tree, a building, a courtyard… Anything!

2) If you’re at work, draw something that’s on your desk, or draw your coat that’s hanging on the back of the door.

imag0762.jpg

3) Look online for inspiration – but remember to respect copyright.  Google your favourite animal or character and try to draw it.

wp-1452103047880.jpeg

4) Draw a bottle or crumpled up piece of paper – these are classic practice items.

wp-1452103020976.jpeg wp-1452103015374.jpeg

5) Make some random scribbles on a piece of paper, look away for a few minutes, then go back and see what you can create from those scribbles.  This is another classic exercise, but a little more fun because it truly draws from your creative side.

These are all ways to find something to draw.  Find what piques your interest and get started!

Happy Customers!

In case you missed it, I’ve been hard at work completing my first charcoal portrait of a beautiful Great Dane named Draco.  Great Danes are known for their size, but also for their characteristic faces, which makes drawing their portraits both challenging and interesting.

wp-1452297710125.jpg
Draco

I dropped off Draco’s portrait this morning to his very pleased pet parents, who proudly show off their new piece of art!

 

Should I Use an Easel?

Ah, as you walk amongst the throngs of Parisian street artists, you see that some of them have easels nestled comfortably under their canvasses. Confusingly, you also see some artists who are using their laps, and let’s not forget the dreamers who are using artists’ board. Who is right?

Don’t bother trying to peak over someone’s shoulder in order to compare results; chances are, they’ll all be good.

Many mainstream artists will say that an easel is necessary to avoid losing the 3D-ness and to get caught up in the foreshortening of the drawing, and while that may be true for many, it’s not the case for everyone!

It takes some practice to get accustomed to using an easel, because there’s no longer anywhere to rest your drawing arm. The whole process can feel awkward and uncomfortable, but like many things, it gets easier the more you do it and get used to it.

I myself have an easel, but I don’t use it very often. I like to think of it as my travel companion; it comes out of its case mainly when I’m away from home, or sometimes I take it out to place finished works on it until I’ve decided what to do with everything.
In general, I use an artist’s board. It’s smaller than an easel, fits in a portfolio bag, and I can sit with it on my lap when I’m working. The downside, of course, is the horrendous posture that comes with hovering over the board.

imag0756_1_1.jpg
As you can see from the image of my unfinished drawing above, an art board can still be used effectively to achieve good results.

I also have, in my beloved art studio (a colorful room in my basement that contains only some shelves, yarn, and piles of art supplies), a glass art desk that tilts. It’s much more posture friendly, while still allowing me to comfortably tilt my work. It’s a fantastic thing to have, but definitely bigger and pricier than an easel or board.

My point is that what you use is up to you. Don’t knock anything until you’ve tried it a few times; something as subtle as your drawing support could make a world of difference to your end product.

Trying Different Mediums

Art is like anything else where the ground is unfamiliar.  People get skittish and don’t want to attempt something new in case of failure.

But guess what.

You will fail.  If you’re smart, you’ll try again.  If you’re really smart, you’ll keep trying until you get it right.  There will be no prouder moment in your life.

imag0732.jpg

I drew this Final Fantasy X character way back when I first started drawing, and I really thought that she was the bees knees.  Even now, many years later, I look at this drawing with a sense of satisfaction.

Is it the best drawing?  Hell no!  Could I do a ton better now if I were to redraw it?  Absolutely.  That’s not the point, though.  The point is that I decided to pick up the pencil and give it a try, and the result at the time was way better than I could have hoped to achieve.  This drawing inspired me to continue and to move on to greater things.

imag0736.jpg

Only today I decided that I wanted to give pencil pastels a shot.  Believe me when I tell you that I hate failure just as much as anyone else, but what did I have to lose?  A few bucks on the pastels, but I’d have them no matter what, so I can always try again later.  The image above was just some messing around that I did to get a feeling for the pastels.  I wanted to see how they’d blend, how they’d cling to the paper.  I got cocky and decided to try for a masterpiece.

imag0735_1.jpg

Say hello to Masterpiece.  Meow.  Not quite (or at all) what I hoped for, but hey, it was my first time attempting to use this medium!  With some practice and a ton of luck, I think I’ll eventually be able to make something out of these demon pencils, and that’ll be a moment that will equal the satisfaction that I achieved from that Final Fantasy character.  I’m looking forward to it.

Tracing

Dun dun dun… One of the more evil topics.

Is tracing ever good? Is it effective? Should I trace?

Maybe, not really, and probably not.

Tracing an image doesn’t do a lot for you. Of course you’ll have the outline, which is always fun, but you won’t gain any experience in drawing, and tracing developes hard lines that are difficult to work with. If your aim is to get photographic perfection in your drawing, it will save you a ton of time to just take a photo of your subject.

Tracing is a good technique for silhouettes, but that’s all I can really do to give tracing any credit. Silhouettes are a comment type of art that can be applied to pencil, pastel, and painted works.

So. What if you just want to have a copy of the outline so that you can practice shading?
I say to draw the outline a couple times to practice accuracy and to learn to keep a steady hand, then you can decide what you want from there. You can trace if you’re using crappy paper; you can use carbon paper if you press very lightly as to prevent hard, non-erasable lines; you could just photocopy your line art and accept that there will be impossible lines to deal with.

Some people claim to learn a lot from tracing; I say that you’ll learn a lot more from actually drawing.

Celebrity Portraits – Advantages and Disadvantages

Unfortunately, I don’t have a portrait to post here to accompany this, because I don’t generally do celebrity portraits!  That’s not to say that there aren’t advantages to doing celebrity portraits if you’re a half-decent artist, because there are tons of perks!

Observe:

  1. People recognize celebrity faces.  If you accomplish a good portrait of a celebrity that everyone can recognize, your art will speak volumes of your talent!
  2. There are TONS of photos of celebrities all over the internet, so reference materials are easy to come by.
  3. A lot of people collect celebrity art!  This can be very advantageous for you, however….

The Cons

  1. Copyright issues!  It’s not illegal in Canada to draw a celebrity portrait and sell it; however, you must hold copyright to the original image!  If you’re commissioned, the person who commissions the artist must hold copyright, at the very least.  This means that if the artist or the client didn’t actually take the photo, the image cannot be sold by either.
  2. If you suck as an artist, a celebrity portrait will showcase the level of suckage.
  3. Let’s face it – celebrity portraits are crazily overdone.

Perhaps I will be inspired to do a celebrity portrait in the near future to accompany this post, but for now, I’ll just leave that one be.

Step-by-Steps

If you follow a lot of amateur artists online, you’ve probably seen this drawing a lot.

imag0729.jpg

I drew that particular set of lips, but it’s certainly not my design.  Why is everyone drawing this particular mouth, or some variation of it?

The answer is easy – a Mark Crilley instruction video!

Videos are a good resource to learn from, even though I’m not a huge fan in general, but it’s important to keep in mind that thousands of other people are seeing the same video, and at least a few hundred will attempt the step-by-step.  It’s not a bad thing for practice, but don’t try to market off the results of watching that video.  As I already said, other people are posting the exact same thing!

The experience is valuable, but don’t forget that nothing is more valuable than finding your own way to learn what works and what doesn’t.