Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pencil Mileage

"You just need more mileage"

I confess, for a time last semester I came to resent that phrase.

I guess I should clarify what mileage is (for those of you who don't know). When I talk about mileage, I'm not talking about car mileage; I'm talking about pencil mileage. It's a pretty simple concept when you think about it; the more you draw the better your skills get.

But for me that concept hasn't been as simple as I thought it would be. I would get to a point in the day where I wanted to draw, but then there would always be something stopping me. I was too afraid of making a mistake, even if it was in my private sketchbook. I was also afraid of what people would think about my work, even if I knew they'd never see it.

That insecurity extended beyond my private sketching and into my schoolwork. It was almost like I didn't want to do any sketching because I figured that I'd never really improve as much as I wanted to, or as much as I thought I was.

It wasn't until the end of last semester that I really came to terms with the importance of mileage. I have heard some people say that we all have 200,000 bad drawings in us. The important thing is having the discipline and courage to get passed those 200,000 bad drawings.

I know that there are other people who are facing the same problems that I still struggle with. It's almost like we suffer for our art, because there seems to be a constant internal struggle going on. Always wondering if what we're doing is correct or if people will like our work; it's not a fun way to spend time.

But the thing I had to realize is that you have to move on, not dwell on your insecurities. Honestly, there are only two possibilities from sketching more.
       1) You get better.
       2) You stay the same.
Your drawing can't get worse if you keep at it; you can't fall off the first floor.

So now I see that as difficult as it can be to conquer the blank page. If you really want to produce better art, then yes, you need more mileage.

More Artwork

Here's some more of my work. This time, it's stuff from last semester:

It was this project that made me consider going in to layout. It was incredibly difficult to get all of the perspective correct, but it was also really fun at the same time. The environment is set in a 1950s city and I pride myself on the fact that everything in this picture is period correct, down to the little hats that I added in one of the windows.

 My strongest painting last semester.
 My first illustration assignment. We had to design something based on the word "home".
 Second illustration assignment. This one was based off "danger"
 This was the first time that I really worked with graphite. We had to combine two things that wouldn't be combined together in nature. I chose my dog and my laptop.
And finally, this is the illustration that I am most proud of. It is based off of the word "miniscule". This started out as a traditional painting, but then at the last minute (really twenty-four hours before it was due) I decided to turn it into a digital painting.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Artist-A Review

"I won't talk! I won't say a word!"

The Artist, recently the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, is the first silent film to be released in about 80 years. The first time I saw clips of this movie, I knew it was something that I wanted to see. It has a lot of my favorite things in it: old Hollywood, 1920s clothes, and a compelling story. I went to the movie not knowing what to expect (I have never seen a feature length silent film) and left it completely moved.

The Artist tells the story of George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin), a silent film star, and his very rocky transition from silent films to "talkies". Along the way, he comes to be friends, and then lovers (it is a romance after all) with Peppy Miller (played by the adorable Berenice Bejo) an up an coming "America's Sweetheart" type of actress who has no problems with the transition to talkies. In the story, George's life is thrown into turmoil when his studio head (John Goodman) drops him because silent films are no longer the thing that people want to see. And George will have no part in sound films, which he (like so many actors of his day) considers a fad. After attempting to make one last silent film, which happens to open the same day as one of Peppy's films AND the 1929 Stock Market Crash, George is bankrupt and slowly drinking himself to death. It's only when Peppy, along with his faithful valet Clifton (James Cromwell), help him to let go of his pride that he is able to turn his life around.

Part of the reason that the story moved me so much was the performances by the actors. Jean Dujardin recieved a well deserved Oscar for Best Actor for his role. The fact that George is so stubborn might have made him a very unlikeable character, but with Dujardin's interpretation of the character, we see his stubbornness is really only a mask that hides his fear of being unwanted by his public.

Berenice Bejo is absolutely adorable as Peppy, she and Dujardin have amazing chemistry. The performances of the entire cast are amplified because of the absence of song. They have to be very genuine in their actions because their actions are the only things that tell the story.

One of the most unexpected surprises of this movie is the interesting way they used sound. Back in the days of silent film, sound effects were only achieved through music and for the most part this is done (composed by Ludovic Bource). However, there is a dream sequence where George is facing his fears of about talkies. He puts down a brandy glass and is surprised to hear the sound of it hitting the table; he hears his dog bark; dancers laugh at him; a feather drops--and George can't utter one sound. One of the most impressive sections of this movie.

This film gives the audience a peek at one of the most difficult transitions in Hollywood's history. It also leaves the audience with an interesting question--how much do we torment ourselves just because we can't let go of our pride?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Artwork as a recent graduate.

I decided that the first art I was going to post would be some of my old stuff from my time at junior college (spring 2011):

 Learning one-point perspective (free-hand)
 We had to design a house and since I've always loved old-fashioned things, it seemed natural for me to design an old-fashioned house.
 This one wasn't an assignment. I was sitting listening to a lecture one day and just started doodling on my newsprint paper. After a few minutes it started to look like a weird mountain range so I decided to render it, cut it out and place it on a toned piece of 18x24. One of more creative and freeing things I've ever done.
This isn't actually a picture of me (even if I did look similar to that when I had my hair in a bob). One of the more successful renderings I've done recently. This picture was a part of our final project where we had to create two pieces that fit together.  A lot of other people just chose to do two portraits or two still life drawings, but I thought it would be cool to create something that might be found in a set of a movie.
This was the second half of that project. I'm happy to say that every piece of furniture in this is period correct for the 1920s (yeah, I'm a bit of a history nerd...)
 The usual still life of drawing glass objects on a background. Not as difficult as I thought it would be.
 This is one of my all time favorite pieces. I am really proud of the attention I paid to the details, in the hair and shirt especially. This went on to win Best in Division at our county fair last summer.
I don't really have much to say about this except it's a pretty good still life.


My New Blog

I've been thinking about starting a blog for a couple of months now and why not? It gives me a great place for me to let my artwork be seen by everyone. So, here it is, the first post of Ealaín Anam. I get it, the title of this blog is probably a little unexpected (and unpronounceable).  Actually,  Ealaín Anam (pronounced ya-lin AH-nem) is Gaelic for "art soul". For a while now, I have been interested in titling things with Gaelic names (never mind that I don't speak a word of it...) in tribute to my Irish heritage.

So why choose this particular phrase for a title? I spent a while pouring over Gaelic translations to find something poetic, but 'art' and soul' always seemed to fit the best.

I think art soul says something about me. Since I'm a really shy person, my art is one of the only ways that I can really express myself without hindrance (yeah, I know that's an old cliche but it really is true). I think that if you really consider yourself to be an artist, there's something that has to come from the deepest part of you. For me, I believe that God has put a fire in me to create art; it's a bit like what Eric Lidell said:

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I can feel his presence."

Well, I don't pretend that I'm fast, or even that I like to run...but I've always thought that quote says something about other things. All I have to do is say "he also made me an artist. And when I create I can feel his presence".

That's the force that drives me to create. When I really get in to a project, I feel great, like I'm doing the thing that I was meant to do. My art and my soul are two things that become intertwined. I don't think I could separate one from the other, and I think that's how it should be.