Friday, May 16, 2008
I will attempt to deal with what I call the Squidward Principle, of which I believe most of us have been through at one point in our life...however it seems to be much more prevalent today and to last longer periods...some never getting out of it.
Squidward...great artist, 1st Chair Clarinet player, above all lifeforms on the planet...But the reality is much different and I will focus on one particular area that seems to be at the forefront. The Clarinet. Squidward plays it and does so horribly...and really doesn't see how bad he is...To him, the rest of the world just hasn't tuned their ears to his greatness...So when you see him practicing you have to understand that he really isn't practicing at all! He THINKS he has already arrived and needs no practice...He is playing for the benefit of the world and for himself to rejoice in his melodious sonnets...so he makes the same mistakes over and over...and is a cashier at a fast food restaurant. (NOT that there's anything wrong with that.)
Note that Squidward isn't really playing this instrument as a hobby. We can all have 'hobbies' with varying degree of capability and do it just for enjoyment's sake...but he has dreams of making a full-fledged living (and being an aristocrat it is indeed a high standard of living to uphold) playing the clarinet. If Sir Squidward might take the time to not only listen to critiques but also to self-analyze, who knows where his potential might lie...or perhaps he stinks at the clarinet because he just doesn't have the fingers for it...
So how does that relate to the Squidward Principle. Many times I have seen artists refuse constructive criticism that would help them grow as an artist and they limit their own progress because they are sure they have already arrived. When they do things it is not with the focused intent of challenging themselves, working on areas of weakness and hoping to get better, but they are already the best and the rest of the world needs glasses. Criticism results in an emotional torrent of one sort or the other. Or perhaps there isn't a true understanding of how the 'system' works and they think the world will instantly conform to them. If they want to sit at the table watching Oprah, eating Ho-Ho's, and do medical illustration using poorly rendered stick figures then someone will HAVE to hire them because they want to be hired.
Real World Story #1. (One of my favorites on myself I must say). In college during my freshman year a teacher gave me a grade I didn't feel I deserved...unleash the hounds!!! While I didn't go to her and raise all kinds of chaos as some did (there were students that would throw verbal tantrums, sobbing at times, people running out of the room throwing things, curling up in the fetal position in the corner, quitting the college, etc) I privately stewed but told myself I was going to adhere and listen and see what happened. 2nd year in college as I got better I looked back on my freshman work and during mixed critiques with freshman when tempers flared I would brake out a piece of pooh work (and not the Disney character variety) and say, "Yeah, I used to defend this too." I'm always thankful for the teachers that stopped me in my tracks and said "LOOK at what you are doing and ANALYZE the reality of your work". I'm equally thankful for the teachers that let me know the difference between a hobby, a career, and how to play up to strengths while working on areas I stunk at...as well as avoiding areas I had no shot at being able to do. To think I wanted to fly commercial aircraft with no sense of physics, not able to do exceptionally deep math, topped off by the world's worst fear of flying. Thank my 1st year graphic design teacher for not having a 747 parked in your roof right about now...
Real World Story #2. (Probably told elsewhere on this site). In a class we were required to submit design projects of our own devising every two weeks. One student never liked their grade and went so far as to have their parents lobbying for their grade to be changed. It was of utmost importance that they maintained a 4.0...apparently it was of lesser importance to have a good portfolio...teachers would often relent and just give the grade because it wasn't worth the hassle. Guess what the person is doing now...Cashier...and can't understand why they can't get a job in the field for which they have not one, but TWO degrees. And the parents? Well the student made a 4.0, it doesn't make any sense to them either.
The artists that I have seen grow and be successful are the ones that broke out of the Squidward Principle early. Sure, as artists sometimes it stings a little to get critiqued. But it usually takes about two seconds of seeing some of my favorite artists to realize I myself have a lot of room to grow. Compliments are great, but an open valid discussion of both strengths AND weaknesses is priceless and vital.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
I believe very much in the creative process. It is great sometimes to sit down and doodle and just throw something down...but if the inkling of an idea is there that initial idea or drawing can be refined and much improved upon. And in real life it helps to get things right for the client as well as to make changes from certain points...as well as avoiding costly mistakes. So even 'fun relaxing drawing/painting/modeling' is often a spring board to a great project that can be refined.
As mentioned previously, I had decided to do a Godzilla pic because my son enjoys him so much adn I do pics for their school every year. At the bowling alley between frames (I have a paltry 133 average and shoot anywhere from a 205 to an 90 depending on what crazy back or gym soreness issues I am dealing with the night of...in case you were wondering just how bad I sucked...)I was doodling on the back of a flyer with an intitial pic I had in my head. I had originally wanted to do a painting in Photoshop since it had been a while since I had done that technique. I still have it pictured in my mind...but after seeing Chris Leavens turtle I decided to go Vector. Originally I wanted to have Godzilla fighting Ghidora...and if you don't know who that is...well I probably don't blame you. I did several small sketches trying to figure the layout out.
From these sketches I tried to do a bigger rough and get a feel for what the characters were going to look like. I had reference pics but wanted to update the looks of the monsters. What fun is it to just copy a picture someone else has already done verbatim?
After sketching this out I started looking through some reference pics and saw a still from the original Godzilla where he had a train hanging out of his mouth. At that point I decided to hearken back to the original less cheese filled story lines.
So I decided on adding in more of original feel with Zeros and a train being pulled apart. Since this was still a rough I tried to balance out being detailed enough to know what was going on but also to realize I had to fix some things in the next step...particularly the muzzle. The original Godzilla and many designs there after tended to blend facial characteristics of dinosaurs with canine or feline features. If you look at a lot of Eastern dragon drawings they have such notable characteristics so it seems to make sense that this 'dragon' would also retain that. I however wanted to push more into the traditional dinosaur look. As stated in an earlier post, it isn't always easy to walk the balance of taking a well-known design and changing it enough to be different but no so much that it alienates the fan base...the American Godzilla was a neat design but was too far off and caused a lot of waves.
After I had decided the rough was okay I had to decide if I wanted to redraw the items or do a quicker approach. Being time is short at this point of the year I went for the quick. I placed a large piece of tracing paper over the fairly decent rough and made refinements as needed. At this point I began questioning if I wanted to just do a graphite rendering and not mess with the vector side of things...I think nothing beats a great graphite drawing and this started to have a nice feel to it...But it had been so long since I had created a more finished vector piece I decided to stick with it...but a graphite rendering will be done someday...maybe...if I get the 30,000 other things done...
Once the rendering was done I collected reference pictures for both the train and planes. It took a lot of searching to get a plane at the right angle (since I didn't have a model laying around) and a student brought in a train that I could modify while doing the drawing. One thing I am painfully slow at is anything mechanical. It takes me forever to get the detailing correct and is much less forgiving if an angle is off or a line is wrong. Because I was going to be doing this in the vector program I took pictures at the correct angle and planned on just using them with not doing too much in the way of pencil work.
I'm not a big fan of tracing things and mostly refuse to do it...but on occasion you have to do what you have to do. What does bother me if it is a regular practice because it really hurts drawing skills...and if you have little to no drawing skills tracing everything won't make you a better artist...if you're not careful all you will be is a hack...and I see people 'progress' from tracing reference photos to eventually downright stealing other people's art work with little to no changes and claiming it as their own...and we all know how we feel about that...
After my daily visit to Drawn.ca I ran across a great stress breaker (and do I need one every chance I can get lately) from Dave at livejournal where you are supposed to draw your teen self or if you are a teen the future you...Kind of like Rugrats All Grown Up...or if you remember the dreaded Mork and Mindy days when Jonathan Winters hatched as an old man and the Orkians aged in reverse...
So here it is with all the vital self-deprecation I could muster:
1990 5 Feet 10 inches 135 Pounds 17 Years Old
1. The Spur Hair: While playing Jaws (at the age of 5 not 17) I fell down a flight of concrete stairs backwards...the resulting stitches give me a bit of an Alfalfa effect at times...
2. The Kind-of-Mullet: I deny I had one but there is one picture...I had my hair cutter tell me it was okay because I had a long neck...which resulted in great nicknames by my friends such as Snake Man or Giraffe Boy...but at least I still don't have it like some of them...and I never got it permed like some others I know...
3. The Glove: A pair was always kept handy because of....
4. The Possum Postal Service: You and three friends would find road kill...preferably possums...and deliver them at night to your friend's mailbox...and they had to be your legit friends so there wasn't any real trouble...it wasn't mean like mailbox baseball...you always knew who the driver was the next day by the mark left by the possum that was flapping against the side of your vehicle.
5. The Neon Orange Florida Gators Shirt: Apparently I was ahead of the curve with all the championships they have won recently...maybe they should play someone other than THE Ohio State that might actually give them a game...
6. The Reason I Didn't Wear Shorts Back Then: Chicken legs...
7. The Notebook: Always handy to draw with...there were several hundred drawings done of teachers and the like...of course I always did my work and graduated with a 3.0 GPA...hampered by Algebra II...new notebooks had to be guarded very carefully as we would draw quick bad pictures on every page of anyone's notebook that was foolish enough to be left unguarded.
8. Converse: The shoe of choice...until British Knights came out...Nike wasn't in the picture so much at the time.
2008 5 feet 11 3/4 inches 175 Pounds 35 Years Old
9. The Hair: I still have the occasional Alfalfa...but at least, unlike my brothers or many other people in my age group, I have managed to keep my own hair.
10. The Goatee: I've traded my mullet for this??? But only because I still can't grow a real beard...and I have a lot of gray in it...which people in my age group with bad hairlines often point out. But it and my official 'collared shirt teacher wear' helps to hide my neck issues apparently, because I have to point it out for people to make fun of me.
11. No Glove: Now me and my kids are official snake hunters. We leave the dead animals alone and go for stuff that can fight back. And what self-respecting big game hunter uses a glove? Except that one time because the snake was a bit crazed.
12. Drawing Book: Absolutely have to have something to draw in or on...especially in meetings or college classes...which drives some people crazy because they think I'm not paying attention. My GPA is considerably higher for college...no Algebra II...
13.Drawing Pens/Pencils: I always have a couple in my pockets...but to date no problems with injury.
14: The Reason I STILL Don't Hardly Ever Wear Shorts: There was a lot of marching in the army but it didn't do anything for building muscles in my legs.
15. The Socks: They are either really ugly dress socks or white...which doesn't work with dress pants supposedly...but I say don't be peeking at my ankles...and all of my ugly dress socks are mismatched somehow at this point so white often wins out...
Saturday, May 03, 2008
(click to enlarge)
It took me a while to piece it together as time permitted, but I finally 'finished' the piece. (I have some small items to take care of for printing and might make some other small adjustments). Chris Leavens' awesome Saguaro Tortoise was the inspiration for doing the item in a vector program. One thing I enjoy seeing from other artists is their process from start to finish. I'll show the process on this later, but I urge other artists to show the process they go through to get to a finished piece. It provides great insight, shows the importance of proper planning, and can be a great teaching/learning experience. Often some of the best discussion have arisen on other artist blogs when they show how they got from point A to point Z.
KelMurphy just posted a sample of her process for an upcoming book...check it out!