Tuesday, September 30, 2014

SmART School Week 4

Whoops, I'm writing about last week's class literally while sitting in this week's class.

So what I brought to class last week was more prepwork, gearing up for the jump to paint.

I'd done that set of color studies for the mid-week critique, and gotten some good feedback from Rebecca about how I was losing my value structure in pursuit of these colors I had in my head. The solo study was done larger, so I could zone in a little more on what I was trying to do. I also got the drawing on the board and scrubbed in a value study.


I also brought something completely different into class!

This has nothing to do with Belle Dame Sans Merci. But that weekend previous, as I was sitting in a lecture at Illuxcon on September 20th, I got an email enquiry about doing a cover for an ebook release of a book. The enquirer was the book's author, Elizabeth Bear, and the deadline for the cover going live was October 4th.

I did thumbnails that day and got one approved, and did my drawing on the day after I returned from Allentown, and I brought it to class because I had gone from nothing to a final drawing in less than four days and just knew the panic was affecting my judgement. 

I'm going to make a separate post about the process of this cover, but I just want to say that I could have wept with gratitude over the critique I got. I went from a drawing that is a bunch of poor decisions stitched together awkwardly, with a figure who was just miles away from the mark, to.... well, I'm sitting here with a finished painting waiting for one last critique round, aren't I? :D

Monday, September 22, 2014

SmART School Week 3

You know when is the best time to post about a class? The night before the next one, just at midnight.


I ran myself into a bit of a corner this week. I needed the full, finished drawing for Rebecca, which meant I needed a full model shoot... which I couldn't rangle until that Friday. That Friday was also the opening for the Spectrum exhibit at the Society of Illustrators, and then Saturday was Art Out Loud, and then Sunday and Monday I had work. So I had a bit of a sprint at the end!

Here's the photo comp that I put together and projected onto my paper, as the base for the drawing:

Beautiful, right? Haha... anyway. About 90% of that comes from my own photos, with the tree in there from my sketch, and the skirt composited from a couple of different images. No armor on the lower figure, and the wrong legs, both of which I referenced separately because it was honestly easier at that point.

Here's the final drawing that I took to class!

I was seriously expecting to get killed this week, since here was where I needed to have solved every inch of the image in preparation for the painting. Instead, this is the paintover I got:

This class is forcing me to come to terms with the fact that I'm operating at a level where I should be trusting myself. I will never get it perfect, but after three consecutive weeks of critique that involves things being pushed, not fixed, I need to start sitting down each time to work without the nagging anxiety in the back of my head that maybe it's all been a fluke and this is the day it stops. It's not just SmART School that's giving me this push to change my outlook - the IMC supports it, as does this past weekend at Illuxcon.

I definitely am still in a position where I have a whoooole lot to learn, but you know, I'm no longer a college student making college student work. I have a vision and a voice that I'm developing, I have definite technical strengths that I am gaining more and more confidence in tapping into, and my weaknesses are being worked on with each new piece.

Though, I mean, it's not like it's ever going to be not humbling to have Rebecca Guay have minimal crit for a drawing of mine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

SmART School Week 2

The run up to week two saw me kind of miserable - not because of overall miserableness, or because I was disappointed in the thumb chosen, but because all I had to bring in was one sketch. I mean, it was all I was supposed to bring in, but it just din't seem like enough. I whined to my long-suffering roommates on this very subject for the entire process of drawing this.

I was braced to apologize for my lack of work... but then class came and actually Rebecca loved it. (My notes for class included, "!!!" in several different spots.) There wasn't a lot of critique to give (??!) because, as Rebecca said, the final drawing was where she was going to nail me to the wall over every detail, whereas the sketch was only really good to show my composition, value, and gesture. 

Here's her paintover, with some noodling with the idea of a translucent dress. All I basically have to fix are some gestures that can be made better, and some tangents.

Let me tell you, I was kind of taken aback. I'm a few years past the bad artistic self-regard issues I had from college, but it still leaves me a bit bewildered to present a sketch I think of as a sad minimum and receive praise, encouragement, and minimal things to fix. Next to some of those !!!s were ???s, haha.

(I also brought some studies to class. The dress ones were kind of worthless, but the armor was definitely worthwhile.)

My drawing is due tomorrow. Let's see how that goes, yeah?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

SmART School Week 1

Well, my next class is in two days, so clearly now is the time to talk about the first class? Hah.

I was in the middle of a crash during my run-up and preparation, which was crap timing. I still got everything I wanted done, though: full thumb set, four thumbs picked, enlarged, and cleaned up, one picked and sketched out tighter, and some color studies put together.

Having been to the IMC three times, Rebecca knows who I am and who I want to be as an artist. It was really interesting to watch her process of getting to know the students who were new to her - the project that she'd assigned to them was brilliant for the purpose, and gave a lot of insight into the individuals - but I was really gratified when she was able to just jump into working on my piece.

Essentially, the thumb I'd picked was undoable without having my actual model sit on an actual horse. It was disappointing - I'd really fallen in love with the gesture - but I need to be more aware of the actual contraints I have in the way I work. We went with number 4 as the alternate, and she pointed out things that I should know, like, pick one character to halo, and, the shape of things is incredibly important when using silhouettes.

Here's the paintover.

This is a not-very-good writeup of a class that actually went for about 3 and a half hours, I know. Partially at fault is how long it took me to get around to writing things down; partially, the lessons from this week were things about care and deliberateness that are hard to talk about at length because it really is all about getting a feel for visual rhythm, and putting in the time to make it speak.

Mostly, though, I find it hard to be enthusiastic at the moment because I'm frustrated that I have to stay at sketch- and study-phase until I can align my schedule with my models' and get a real shoot together. I waaaaant to paaaaint, but that's probably two weeks off at the earliest ):