Monday, February 8, 2016

REVIEW || ImagineFX | Issue 131 - February 2016

ART "Man's Road" by Alyssa Winans
"Man's Road" by Alyssa Winans

My first time thumbing through ImagineFX Issue 131, I was excited to discover Amit Dutta's work (p. 12) in the FXpose section!  I have been following Amit for a little over a year on Deviant Art, and was shocked at the time to learned he was only just launching his art career!  It's a huge encouragement and inspiration to see the now three year into it artist have a prominent feature in ImagineFX!  (Hope that will be me someday soon!  That is once I get my new portfolio going.)  You can also find Amit on Deviant Art and Facebook.  I also enjoyed seeing the highly stylized illustrative work of Alyssa Winans (p. 8) featured in FXpose as well.

Reading the letters to the editor section (p. 30), I am super excited to know that IFX plans to have an issue on career advice and best schools to attend in the future.  It will be nice to have a comprehensive source to refer to, can't wait for that issue!  In the Workshops section, I highly enjoyed reading about tips and tricks for card art with Laura Sava (p. 78): especially the tips on composition, detailing on metal and painting skin.

Short review today, again since I am primarily a stay at home mom, I'm only picking out the most relevant or visually interesting articles.

Friday, February 5, 2016

REVIEW || ImagineFX | Issue 129 - Christmas 2015

Art for graphic novel, Toraidhe, by Aaron McBride
Art for graphic novel, Toraidhe, by Aaron McBride

ImagineFX Issue 129 had quite a few articles that I was drawn too and left me with some great advice, ideas and inspiration. In the article, "Become A Pro in 10,000 Hours," (pp. 20-23) I enjoyed reading comments on the 10,000 hour theory from various artists. Daniel Tyka described the sacrifice it takes to put in that much time into growing as an artist and how it can aversely affect everything from relationships and social life to your body. He also said that the theory works, but it must have structure and time management, starting with the basics before jumping into something that might overwhelm you.

Character artist Jose Alves recommended a strict regiment of drawing a couple hours every day on paper. You have to learn to accept mistakes because there is no ctrl+z option so you become bolder and embrace risks. Starting a habit takes motivation, but the good news he says is that after a while it becomes so routine that you start to crave it. One thing he warns about is to always be a student desiring to learn more, because "...[once] you feel your an expert your progress will stop." Fine artist Rebecca Guay says " need to be fully present and focused, not just mindlessly drawing away in your sketchbook," and that you must constantly be looking for what needs improvement, otherwise 10,000 hours will mean nothing. Tom recommends choosing the most relevant topics to work from and break them down into and manageable categories, he also recommends getting up early to get a head start on learning while fresh. Winona Nelson said that you have to invest in down time to stay sane, refresh the body, and oil creative gears.

In this months Artist in Residence (pp. 24-25), Darren Yeow confesses that other than sketching on paper he only uses digital mediums to keep his space cleaner. He keeps reference books and inspiration handy on a bookshelf; since he didn't go to art school he says they represent his education. Being a mom, I LOVE that he includes in his studio a jar of nature objects his toddler gifted to him as well as a photo of his pregnant wife, "to remind [him] of what's important." I applaud him so much, since from history I have read many unfortunate biographies of famous artists where being a talented artist and a family man don't always go hand in hand.

Enjoyed the interview with Aaron McBride (40), especially hearing about how even he, a famous artist, has a star struck reaction when meeting another famous artist he admires (specifically Raphael Lacoste) for the first time.  I also LOVED seeing the preliminary illustrations for a personal project, a graphic novel, Toraidhe.  which I am interested in learning more about.  Aaron shared a great art tip too: put details only where the audience will be looking, be your own editor.

Lastly I enjoyed learning how to create a production painting of a Star Wars inspired scene with Feng Zhu (p. 83).  Some tips gleaned were starting off with a short description from a script and then answering "The Five W's" (who, what, when, where, and why,") imagining yourself inside the picture itself to identify areas of interest that require the most detail, and tips on understanding how reflections work on different surfaces.

REVIEW || ImagineFX | Issue 128 - December 2016

Spark by Anna Steinbauer
Spark by Anna Steinbauer

In Imagine FX Issue 128 I only read the two most visually appealing articles to save on time.  I enjoyed the in depth tutorial by Anna Steinbauer (p. 66) on painting a female knight and witch in the woods based on a film she enjoyed as a child, Fantaghiro.  There were so many wonderful tips on painting process I will have to go back to re-read and try out later.  Loved her pro secret (one I must implement it into my own workflow) to make a list of all the finishing steps and details to complete a painting so you can be more efficient and know what's ahead.  Also Anna recommended taking eye brakes or lowering the brightness of the screen to minimize the harm stairing at a bright computer screen can cause.  Lastly, the shortcuts and three resource brushes were great tips/additions!

I also enjoyed the quick tutorial on designing a game environment for Assassins Creed Syndicate by Tony Zhou Shou (p. 72).  I liked getting a look into the environment design process, where the main idea was to establish the mood/atmosphere and reinforce art direction.  The romantic moonlighting and backlight character were striking and a refreshing use of lighting.  He had many great tips I will have to go back and review, one of which was easily checking values by using a black layer set to saturation mode.  The downloadable smoke/fog brush looks like it would be an awesome tool.

Lots of great comic art, resources, and articles too for those who are wondering, but it's not really my thing.  I tend to gravitate more towards dramatic paintings.

Claire Wendling Interview Notes

Claire Wendling Interview Notes

Claire Wendling Interview with Bobby Chiu | Schoolism

I just finished my first week of "365 Days of Sketching Challenge," where I was doing studies of Claire Wendling, a talented French illustrator living in Angouleme.  I decided watching this interview would be a great way to end the week, it has been on my list for a while and I finally took some time to watch it during my son's afternoon nap.  Out of curiosity, and for anyone else wondering, I did a quick Google search for "How old is Claire Wendling?" and found out she is 48 years old this year.  After watching the interview, I realized it couldn't be more perfect to watch at this time when I am making goals and working on my own path back to art, because she had a point in her life where she had to do the same thing.  I found out we share other things in common as well (which I am sure many other artists are familiar with): a shy childhood, love of animals, unsure where career path would go, struggled with math.  More personally, we also share a common struggle, to get back on our feet after an illness, and dealing with a recovery period.  For me, after my illness I had an added challenge of adjusting to motherhood.  I am so thankful that Claire shared about her illness and recovery.  I feel comforted to know someone who went through the same thing, but always wish no one would ever have to go through it.  I have a deep understanding where she was at that time, and deeply empathize with the challenging thoughts she expressed about living with illness, some of which I catalogued below.  I remember telling my husband, before I heard this interview, the same thing about not being able to draw/create was like loosing a leg, but he didn't believe me until I showed him this interview.  I can honestly say it is by the grace of God that I am back on my feet again.  Of course, I must say I love hearing from Claire also because she is a female artist too!

Below are some of my favorite encouragements, quotes & tips gleaned from the interview, enjoy!

. . . . . . .

- "When you are young you are full of a lot of envy, because you have to learn everything."  When you are old you have to invent something new and be better than the day before.

- First subject remembered drawing: dog on a chalk board, small pelican figurine

- First frustration: could visualize, but not draw a crocodile.

- Draws from memory first, then checks anatomy and ideas in books afterward to check what went wrong and to correct.  Forces working with brain first, to create instead of copy.

- Career Direction:  comic book collaboration with a writer friend (6-8 years), film art at Warner Brothers, personal art books published.

- Career Gap & Eventual Recovery:  home sick and alone in US so moved back to Angouleme stopped drawing for three years mostly because life full of pain and fear.

Claire:  "I didn't know why I was drawing, I didn't know how to draw, and I didn't know why I wanted to draw.  For one year I couldn't think, I couldn't watch T.V.  I realized after that was like loosing an arm or a leg, I missed something a capacity, an ability.  Before I was saying I don't need to draw for living, if I don't draw I can live, that's not so important, but it's weird it's like something is missing, something is not beating inside you anymore.  It's like you're not truthful.  I was not useful anymore for myself.  I don't need to draw everyday, I know that... but if I can't, I know something is broken inside me."

She became so sick at one point wasn't sure if would live or die.  "Every night I was going to bed saying, tomorrow will be better.  For three years I had problems, I had pain, and I was fed up...I didn't want to know."  

Healing: after two weeks in the hospital.

Bobby:  "And when you found out that you are coming back, you're going to live, everything is great again or starting to become great.  What about your art?"

Claire:  "It's not like that...before you had accepted you were going to die, so you have to allow yourself to live again."

"And so I tried to draw again, quite soon, I was afraid at first because I had forgotten so much.  I had lost three years...but you know people were telling me, you know, "drawing is like a bicycle you don't forget it."  Okay yeah, but you can fall off.  So I tried hard to remember why I was drawing.  It was so important to me.  And how to draw anyway."

Bobby:  "So you gave yourself some goals."

Claire:  "It took me a few months to adjust...a friend told me if you don't know what to draw, be your own client.  So I asked myself to draw every day on a single theme."  She picked fairies, because she already knew them.  "Every day I was at my after day I could experience pleasure again, so that was great, that was really great."

. . . . . . .

Monday, February 1, 2016

365 Days of Sketching Challenge

Sketchbook of Mary Highstreet - Studies after Claire Wendling

Yep, I'm crazy.  I just started a

365 Days of Sketching Challenge
(Here's my loose schedule.)

I have wanted to start a daily sketching habit, but it just hasn't been happening.  I thought this sketch-a-day challenge would motivate me to actually follow through with it!  I have seen other artists do it before and it is encouraging to see that merely from day 1 to day 30, they have improved tremendously already!

The ideas in the article, How to Do a Sketch 356 or Sketch-a-Day Challenge, were very helpful to get started.  I loved one tip in particular that I decided to use: have a theme for each week.  I think having a theme rather than one idea every day helps to keep things flowing, connected, and not to mention a lot less mental work.  At first, to build my skills and confidence, I plan to do studies of other artists and draw my way through some sketching books.  After I feel stronger with a pencil, I'll mix it up with some drawing from life or reference too.

As a bonus, I thought it would be fun to give myself some rewards with each milestone for extra motivation!  I am thinking some new drawing supplies or an art book might be a good idea.  365 days is a long time after all, so it seems that rewarding each milestone will give me small goals to look forward to!  I'll be posting one sketch from each week on Instagram if you want to see some of my progress.  Feel free to join me on this journey too!

Although any single pencil or pen and any kind of paper will do just fine to start, here are my materials of choice:

Moleskin Sketchbook (240 Plain Notebook Pages, 8.5 x 5.5)
2H, HB 2B, 4B, 6B Pencil, Staedtler Brand
Mechanical Pencil, .5 size lead
Fine Point Ink Pens, Staedtler or Faber Castel Brand 
(I'd like to try some more and different pens later on too!)
Pencil Sharpener

Let the games begin (and the skills improve)!