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Art Prompt – January 2018

Happy New Year all! This prompt is not going to be a list. Instead, I thought doing something more in the spirit of new year resolutions was in order. December was a super hectic month. I did’t get as much art done as I would have liked. I did get 5 pages of thumbnails for my comic sketched out, and one page penciled. So there is that. I would like to get back into the habit of drawing every day. And that is what this resolution is about. So I have decided this month’s prompt is to do the Draw 100 Challenge. 

With this challenge you can pick any subject(s) you have weaknesses in and practice them until you get it right. Really tighten up your skills. Do it a little every day. For me this is going to involve drawing eyes until I get them right! Good luck and let’s fill up some sketchbooks. 

Diary of an Art Block

    I wanted to start off by saying thank you to the 336 subscribers to my blog. That’s more readers than I ever hoped to have, ever, and I’ve only had this up and running since August. That is extremely encouraging and makes me want to work my arse off making this site as interesting as possible.

Of course by the time I get this artwork done last night I get another subscriber first thing this morning. You are not forgotten 337! You all rock. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and amazing New Year. 

    This post is going to be a little long so grab a drink and a snack and lets get on with it. 

Art Block Freakin' Sucks

    Art blocks can come on for a whole host of reasons. For me personally, anxiety and depression are the usual culprits. This time though, I had some major fatigue that washed over me last Feb/Mar and just wasn’t letting up. It had been bugging me off and on for a couple of years. I always kinda wrote it off as having 3 kids at home 5 y/o and under- of course I’m tired! Not like this though, and whatever was going on with me, it was sending my anxiety through the roof.

   Through this experience, I managed to keep sketchbooking, at least some of the time. I was being pretty damn stubborn about not wanting to lose all of the hard work and money I had invested in art supplies and online art lessons. Seemed a waste to get frustrated and give it up (again). 

   I thought it might be interesting to make a post, showing my sketchbook work during this period. Kind of a demonstration of how stress, lack of motivation/energy, medication struggles etc. can affect work- making quality suffer or even grinding productivity to a halt.  

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Ok, so let’s back this all the way up to last July. My anxiety meds got upped- a lot, turning me into a neurotic zombie. When I could manage to force myself to draw something I couldn’t seem to summon the required brain power to judge angles, gradations of color or value, or line quality.

Before medication increase.
After medication increase.

   So I go back to my regular dosage, and things pretty much go back to me being my edgy cantankerous self. Arting continues as usual. I start making plans to work on my comic. During this time I take a sleep study to try to figure out why I am always exhausted.

    I do all kinds of little character doodles for my comic. When it comes right down to the final outcome I find it lacking. It needs punch. I needs marks and hatching and grit. All of these things I love to see in other peoples’ work, but when I try to do it….

I do fine until I start working on those areas of shadow, then it all goes to hell. My hatching skills lack a lot to be desired, so I end up going the other way and doing everything in washes, which generally looks, well, boring. 

   So this is the part where I  really start struggling with the block. Things aren’t going as planned and I’m really not sure where to go from here. All I know is I can’t ink to save my life and I really need to get a grip on it.  At least this time I decide to formulate a plan  of action instead of throwing in the towel. So I gather up a pile of comic books and art books of my favorite artists and start  copying their work as a study. 

So I’m having fun copying some work by Ashley Wood….

 

 

 

 

 

and some Jason Shawn Alexander….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

more Jason Shawn Alexander

   Alright, so I like Jason Shawn Alexander! Empty Zone kicks ass. 

    This basically keeps me pretty busy through most of September. I’m playing with some new brushes. I  found I really like Chinese calligraphy brushes. I’m getting more used to the stark look of black ink on white paper. I’m really trying hard to be ok with hatching and cross hatching- on faces especially. All this is going pretty well, except my anxiety is at crisis level for some reason. I started having panic attacks at the end of August and had several a week through September. I went back to see my shrink and they upped my meds again, but not as much. Things were seeming a little better. I was in better spirits and hyped about Inktober.

    The first week of Inktober was awesome! Despite the benefits of doing copywork, I really like to work on my own stuff. So for Inktober I wanted to take some of the things I learned in September and do some experimenting on my own work.

 

 

 

 

Jon Crosby of VAST

   

 

 

 

 

We lost a couple of icons. Tom Petty…

 

 

 

 

 

and Playboy mogul, Hugh Hefner.

    Then I wanted to work on my horror movies prompt list-

It
Nancy - The Craft

    Then my medication started catching up with me. Slowly I started getting this creeping “not give a shit” feeling. Again I got this weird can’t draw, or assess. I don’t even know what happens, or how that works. All I know is my work starts looking flat and fuzzy, totally lacking in detail and I can’t seem to fix it. Really I don’t even have the patience to fix it. It’s just weird. 

Silent Hill
Return of the Living Dead

So I go a few more days making other, ever increasingly disappointing sketches. I start painting them out with black gouache. A couple pages I go back and paint over with skulls. Yes, skulls. My bestest friends. When all else fails draw skulls!

Gouache
Ink

    Then my skulls start looking kinda meh….(and BTW what the hell is wrong with that crow!?)

By this point I am pretty frustrated. This art block really is becoming a thing and it is freakin’ winning. My general attitude about this…

Fuck a duck!

    Hi ho, hi ho, back to my shrink I go! Ok this meds thing is not working. Oh and btw, early in October I got a result from my sleep study – major obstructive sleep apnea. The good thing is they think they can fix me up with the aid of a CPAP machine (sexy!). But I have to wait 6 weeks to get the machine (crap!) People with anxiety and depression can often reduce or go of their meds. Armed with this info/ coupled with the fact that both of the meds I take contribute to sleep apnea, my shrink took the logical (radical!) step of taking me off my meds. I felt a kind of relief coupled with fear. I mean my anxiety is extreme with meds, so who knows what’s going to happen now. And the weaning off process begins….

    Well, first things first, I had to give up my sleep meds cold turkey. Not that I have an addiction problem with them, but without my sleep meds my other meds keep me awake all the time. Those meds I have to taper off  of.

    I revert back to copying from comic books. Black Monday Murders to be exact. I don’t have to think too hard about what to draw or where the ink is supposed to go. 

   I troop on for another week or so doing this. I don’t draw every day because I am pretty freakin’ tired by now. I’m glad when I can finally stop all the meds because I really want to be able to sleep. The sooner I’m off, the sooner they are out of my system. Careful what you wish for.  Now the real fun begins because there was an ugly withdrawal phase. Massive fatigue (yes it is possible to be even more tired when you are already exhausted!) and in my waking hours (sleeping 12-16 hours a day now) my moods are BLACK. 

   

 

At this point I can’t even focus anymore. I don’t draw most days. Then I feel really guilty about it. It feels like I’m giving up. Every few days i try to scribble something in my sketchbook, even if it’s little, even if it sucks.

I’m watching a lot of X Files and Bigfoot documentaries. No clue what that’s about. I’m diggin’ the X Files and kinda wonder why I never watched it when it was on tv.

 

 

I saw this girl outside and I thought she had kind of an interesting face. I tried to draw her from memory. Well that didn’t go as planned. I drew something that day. It counts.

I can’t focus enough to draw so I try to write a story. That doesn’t pan out either. Just can’t freakin’ think!

Here is my Bigfoot.  My husband despises conspiracy theories. I kinda like to annoy him with them sometimes so I can watch the vein in his forehead pulse. 

If I give him too many “facts” supporting the evidence of Bigfoot he really loses his shit. 

Somehow, in all of this, I have managed to keep a sense of humor. 

    This brings us to mid-November. Finally I get my CPAP machine!!! (super sexy!) My husband learned that peanut jokes cut both ways.  After a few nights of decent sleep, I start coming out of my fugue state. 

 

 

I also got my copy of Art of Jock, which was super inspiring. Ok my copy doesn’t do the original justice, but I drew something, so it counts.

I spent a day or two going back through my sketchbook and scribbling over pencil drawings I made, trying to make them look slightly less horrible. I think this exercise was mostly about saying I did something that day because I was still pretty damn tired for a few weeks. 

    I liked this cabin after I inked it. Not sure where it came from (if it is a copy or not.) I vaguely remember scribbling it in my book one day, then inked it weeks later.

I started watching videos on inking at Virtual Art Instructor and Alphonso Dunn’s videos on YouTube. He has a really good book out too. 

   

 

 

 

Finally the black ass mood I was in, for what seemed like an age, lifted and I sat down and drew something I was pretty pleased with.

   

 

 

 

A couple of days later I drew a bee. I also drew a few Christmas cards, but I sent them before I made copies to post…..because I’m slick like that. 

   

 

Lastly I drew this skull a few nights ago (yes it has taken me two days to write this post!).  Right now I am trying to get back in the habit of drawing every day…even if it’s little…even if it sucks.  I do see improvements along the way. I’m sure there are going to be plenty of hard days ahead. That’s cool. Struggle is progress. 

    The most important thing is I kept going. I have given up in the past and it always haunted me later. Still haunts me, in all honesty. How far would I be if I didn’t give up all those times? And yeah, there were many. So that’s why I wanted to share this post. Maybe it will encourage someone to keep going. Never give up!

December Art Prompts 2017

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Bah humbug! The Victorians had it right with their tradition of ghostly winter tales, such as Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol”. In reality, throughout history around the world, the dark days of winter have inspired some rather intriguing ghost stories, winter spirits and Christmas deities. Some are downright spooky. Others, at the very least, are the cantankerous cigarette smoking cousin of the modern North American Santa inspired by Coca-Cola. 

I have researched a short “Twelve Days of Christmas” list for you all to be inspired by in your sketchbook endeavors this month. I figured we could all do with a more relaxed pace since the holidays can be rather hectic. If you are unfamiliar with these creatures, please do a little Google search and familiarize yourselves with their backstories and descriptions. I hope you enjoy this list. Happy Holidays!

  1. Krampus
  2. Jolakotturinn “The Christmas Cat”
  3. Frau Perchta
  4. Pere Perchta
  5. Zwarte Piet (Black Pete)
  6. Mari Lwyd “The Christmas Zombie Horse”
  7. La Befana/ Baboushka
  8. Tomten
  9.  Belsnickel
  10. Gryla
  11. Knecht Ruprecht
  12. Hans Trapp

Developing Your Drawing Style

    Before I get to the main article I wanted to apologize for not being more active on the site lately. I have been having severe chronic fatigue issues that have sapped my energy to do anything at all, ultimately resulting in a big fat art block. My doctor finally found the issue- a severe sleep apnea. Average 32 breathing stops an hour- yikes! I just started treatment a few days ago and am now have 3 whole days behind me that I didn’t need to take a nap (or two or three). Today I actually felt like getting some art done and catching up on my blog. So here goes~

Finding Your Tribe

Scalped by Jock

    “Finding your tribe” was the term used in a recent workshop to describe finding those artists who influence you – or who you would like to influence you. This was a pretty refreshing concept for me because in art classes I took in the past allowing an artist’s style to influence you was a bad thing. Copying artwork was definitely frowned on. You needed to draw for years and wait patiently for the style fairy to arrive and imbue you with your own amazing uniqueness. Well let me tell you – that is complete and utter crap. Well, for the most part. At the very least, if you want to speed things up, you need to study and copy other artists’ work. 

    It has been said in order to understand our subjects we need to study them. The best way to study a subject is to draw it. Don’t believe me? Take a photo of a subject, then draw it from memory. Now draw a subject. Then attempt to redraw the same subject from memory. I guarantee you will retain information from the subject you drew in much greater detail.  In order to draw the art we want to draw we need to get inside the minds of the artists whose work we admire and define exactly what it is about it that we love. 

    As an exercise, collect works from 3-5 artists you really feel resonates with you/ is in a style that you want to draw like. From that selection of artists find 3-5 pieces of their work that are your absolute favorites. You can do this however you want. I have a Pinterest board of my picks. Because I like the way printed images look on paper, I also bought books and comic books containing my favorite artists’works. (Amazon loves me, my husband is kinda pissed though.)

    Study your images. Make notes about whatyou like about each image. See if you can find out how the images were produced. What media was used? Try to replicate the image. You can do this by copying it as closely as possible or just trying to get the essence of what it is about the image you really like. 

Steal Like an Artist

    You should never plagiarize another artist. If you post your copies someplace then make sure you credit the original artist – and never EVER sell your copied work. That being said this is where the hard work comes in. You still have plenty of drawing to do. All we are really doing here is putting all those ideas in your head about how you want your art to look into focus.

    Drawing is quite literally a map of your central nervous system and your body structure working in tandem. Couple that with your personal preferences and you will produce original artwork unless you are planning a career in art counterfeiting. Remember, you will be referencing several artist’s, not just one. As you are making studies you will see things, even in your absolute favorite artist’s work, that you want to change or improve. You start off asking yourself how would da Vinci draw a subject and over time transition into how you would draw a subject based on observations of da Vinci’s work. That is when you are truly on the path to creating your own style.  

November Art Prompt

It was a hard choice to decide what to draw this month. My initial choice was Victorian cemeteries but we just did Halloween right? So let’s do something off the horror path for a little while and go with fantasy creatures. So some of you might be wondering what some of these creatures look like. Here is a massive list of AD&D monster descriptions. Some have images accompanying. See if you can beat the reference illustrations. 

Graham Smith Marks: Volume 1 – Review

    I’m on this mission right now to collect all of the artbooks, comics, etc. from artists who really inspire me. ( I have a whole other post coming up about that subject.) For my birthday this year I decided to treat myself to something really special- Graham Smith’s Marks: Volume 1. This is my experience.

    I had my eye on this book for a while. I was trying to find a way to buy it here in Europe. After doing my homework I realized these are limited edition signed prints and available only directly from the artist. Well worth the $25 cost of the book. After several months of coveting I decided to shoot him an email and see if he would be willing to ship one my direction. 

    I got an email back pretty quick. Graham was more than willing to go out of his way to help me out. He made the trek over to the post office to check out international shipping costs. Not cheap- almost the price of the book. In all honesty I expected that and had already figured it into my budget. This is where it gets good though. He was kind enough to offer to put a little personalized doodle in the book for me if I decided to buy it, since it was my birthday and all. I almost tore my pocket off trying to bet my credit card out!

    I sent him a return email thanking him and took the opportunity to tell him how much I admired his art, blog and how I found the videos from his website to be very inspirational. In response this is what I got in the mail a few days later (fastest shipping ever!). 

 

 

 

I have always been a HUGE fan of mail art. I’ve sent them out before but this is the first one I have ever received. Getting a hand decorated package in the mail is super exciting. 

 

 

 

He included a stack of art cards which I did not expect. The big one is signed.They now grace the walls of my studio.

 

 

 

Signed cover page.

 

 

 

The really cool thing was finding this gem. Sure beats an email!   

    I am not comfortable showing internal pages of this book. There is, however, a very extensive bookflip on the shop page. If you are into expressive mark making, texture and grunge then you will love Graham’s artwork and I highly recommend his book. You get to be a supporter of the arts and get a collection of excellent artwork in your very own signed book.  If you would like to see the artist at work, check out his illustration process below. If you are looking for some inspiration his Sketchbook Fury series for Strathmore is a must see. I simply cannot say enough good things about this artist and his work.  

Art Prompt October 2017

    I know i cut it a little close. I do apologize. i like to give people some breathing room to prepare for the prompts. Especially since this month we will be watching tons of horror movies! Yes, thats right. Every day this month we will be drawing from a different horror movie. Feel free to substitute at will, but I hope you enjoy my selection. For those of you doing the Inktober challenge you can either make two drawings or why not try combining the two? Happy drawing!

Inktober 2017

    Inktober was created by  Jake Parker in 2009 as a means to create better drawing habits and improve his inking skills. After working on my second installment of The Pines I did a self critique and decided I was thrashing some pretty decent pencil work with some pretty atrocious inking. My solution is to join the thousands of artists worldwide who are going to partake in this year’s Inktober.  

    In order to get ready for Inktober I thought I would share some of my favorite ink supplies and where to get them – cheap. 

Pens

Graphic Pens

    I’m going to kick off this list with everybody’s favorite- the graphic pen.  I don’t personally use them that often but I know a lot of people do. Sometimes you just need one because no other tool will do and they can get really expensive. If I buy Pigma Microns in my local shop I spend about 4 euros each pen. Of course you need a few different sizes for varied line width. The end result is it gets expensive fast. 

    My solution, assuming you don’t need them right away, is mail order. The pens shown are a knock-off brand. The still write very well. The ink is waterproof. You can order a pack of 8 for $4.99 at this shop  on AliExpress.

    If you are a real stickler and need the real deal Pigma Microns you can pick those up on Ali as well at this shop , 7 pens for $8.00. One of the most awesome things about AliExpress is many of the sellers offer free shipping.

The pens on the left I am including because I like them just a little better than Microns. They are a brand called STA. They do everything a Micron does but the ink seems to last a little longer in these. You can pick them up for less than a dollar per pen

    I love these Stabilo pens.I don’t use them as often as I would like to. I like the fine liner (point 88 style) because they make sketchy lines when you fill in areas of color. I really want to incorporate more of that into my work.

    They come in a variety of colors and two different point styles-the 88 and 68. The 68 is a fatter marker looking tip. You can pick them up most places that sell stationary for about 2 euros a pen. Sometimes you can get them in 12 packs for less than 10 euros. 

Bamboo Dip Pens

I know everyone thinks of the crow quill variety when they think of dip pens. I suggest you give bamboo dip pens a try. They make really expressive marks and lines. Definitely not for control freaks as they do seem to have a mind of their own when it comes to line variation. They are excellent for drawing organic elements, animals and foliage. 

Depending on where you live and their availability you can pick these up anywhere from a few dollars a pen to “are you freaking serious?”. I prefer to make my own. You can pick up bamboo at your garden center or on Amazon. A bundle of it usually costs $5-$8 and will make many many pens. You can find vidoes on making these pens on Youtube , or if you have Skillshare check out Jen Dixon’s video

Gel Pens

    This pen is the reason I don’t use graphic pens more often. My secret weapon- the diamond head gel pen. As you can see this pen gets quite a lot of use. I love it because the ink is water resistant. If you don’t go too thick with the ink you can go over it with a wash of water and it won’t move. The other really super cool thing I love about this pen is that you can turn it on an angle and do some shading with it like a pencil. When I need a pen for drawing, this is the one I reach for. 

    You can lay hands on these pens cheap as chips here. As an added bonus you can buy refills for them and save even more money. This seller  offers the water resistant ink refills. Not all refills are created equal. I knew a lady who did awesome artwork with gel pens where she would wet and smear the ink. If you are into that kind of thing you can get the non-waterproof refills here.

Brushes

Water Brushes

    It seems like over the last few years everyone has jumped on the bandwagon of water brushes and brush pens. I combined the two by sticking my india ink in my water brushes. This way I can mix the ink to the darkness I want it and then label my brushes so I know which one is 100% ink and which is a 25% wash. The points on these say nice and sharp. I’ve had ink in them for some months now and if I keep the caps on they do not dry out.

    You can get them here in packs of 3 varied sizes (S,M,L) or buy them individually.

 

Chinese Calligraphy Brushes

    I bought these brushes on a whim a few years ago because I wanted to see what the hype was about natural hair brushes and I thought they looked cool. They are now among my favorite art tools. I love them for both inking (in a smaller variety) and watercolor. They hold a ton of water/paint/ink. The tips come to a fine sharp point when wet and are great for painting in details, while the same brush can be used to fill in large areas of color. You can find them easily at a range of prices by doing a search on AliExpress for “calligraphy brushes”.  I usually pay $1-$2 each.

Chinese Calligraphy Waterbrush

I don’t use these as a waterbrush though they do have the function of being filled with water. They do not have a cap so I don’t know how well they would hold ink -never tried. I am including them in my list because I like the brush quality just a little better than some of the calligraphy brushes out there. They seem to hold more water and have a sharper point. 

You can pick them up for $1 a brush at this shop. You get a choice of SML in white or brown brustles. Typically the brown bristles are stiffer with more snap than the white bristle brushes which are softer. 

Chinese Calligraphy Brushes - Small

   These are my absolute favorite for inking linework. I have tested out my fair share of small calligraphy brushes trying to find one that makes the finest most controlled marks and this one really does it for me. The lines they make are very expressive and don’t look like lines made by western paint brushes. I think you have to test them out to see what I mean. 

I bought them at this shop. Even with shipping they come out to about $1 per brush. Don’t let the name fool you they are not made from real wolf hair. It is actually a type of weasel called a “mouse wolf”. 

Riggers

    These brushes are on the shorter fatter end of the spectrum for rigger brushes. Unfortunately they shop that I bought these from no longer carries them. They are synthetic hair and make sharper straighter lines than Chinese calligraphy brushes. I guess you could say they are the crow quill of the brush world. I quite like them even though the marks they make have a bit of a sterile feel. If you are into crisp clean lines I would give these a go. Even though they are a generic brand, I paid a little more for these than my other brushes but they are worth it. I’m sure similar products can be found at just about and art supplier in just about every quality you can imagine. 

    So, that’s it for this post. I hope all of you get some enthusiasm for honing your inking skills. It should be fun to have a log of where your skill level was at the beginning of the month vs. where is ended up by the 31st. So happy inking and remember ——————->