April 5th through 15th, 2020

So, I think bi-monthly sounds like a good schedule for right now. It’s a massive step up from maybe once every three or four years, but still seems manageable.

I spent a lot of the time since my last post metaphorically banging my head against a wall (and honestly, some of the time before I just forced myself to make that post. I think I had called it quits on the most recent of those images while it was still March). I’d open up Sketchbook Pro, scratch out a handful of thumbnails for random things— usually spaceships because #StayHomeAndDrawSpaceships was trending on Twitter, and I was still in the Star Wars mood— and just get frustrated and call it quits.

Meanwhile, I was watching the political mess developing and trying to formulate some of my political thoughts into something that could fit in a tweet (because every so often I somehow get it into my head that I can write something on social media like the woman form that Onion article and get everyone to think like me and thus solve all our problems) when it hit me that I could make my overwhelming verbosity into a single Tweet if it was just a picture of my words, made more appealing by being spoken by a funny little creature.

Ultimately, I never showed, or even inked his full speech bubble. Without some serious revisions to the text, I realized it could be misconstrued as making a case for violent vigilantism, which I really didn’t want. But, this random little doodle (who will someday get a catchier name that “Skull-faced Crow Demon Thing”) did remind me of how useful I sometimes find it in my own sketchbooks to write tough advice in speech bubbles coming from horrible little monsters. There’s a freeing detachment that comes from putting a horrid little face to these sorts of things. “Maybe,” I thought, that could be useful to other people.”

Cue my new pie-in-the-sky idea:

It would be a blank journal where each page has one or two weird little monsters with blank speech bubbles emerging from them. Maybe the floating sword is just going to tell you your grocery list for next week, but the giant worm with a mouth full of eyes may have some very salient points about your relationship troubles. I haven’t gone too far on this idea, just sketching out the first page of what will presumably be a lot of monster designs.

As an example, this demon-snake here is advising me to get a handle on painting techniques with copies (“studies” might have been a better word choice there. Oops…). I’ve been reading James Gurney’s Imaginative Realism* lately, and there’s a bit in the early sections about copying the masters, which seemed like a good idea, especially during the pandemic with little opportunity to go hang around in parks or cafes or find open figure drawing sessions for life drawing practice. At least I’ve got a bunch of artbooks and old magazines I can draw from (as well as the entire internet).

I spend this evening on a study of this young lady from the March/April 2016 issue of Afar, photographed by Landon Nordeman for the article “Pay Pal”. After struggling a lot the past couple days with a full-color study of a portrait from a different article, I opted for monochrome with this one and with less of a focus on blending, which has simply never made sense to me in digital painting no matter how many times I watch other people do it. Hard-edged segments of color (well, value) aren’t half-bad though.

I guess I can add “Figure out how colors display differently on different screens and whether I need to adjust settings to better accommodate that” to the list of things I need to learn in my attempts to get better at this whole digital painting thing. The light yellow background to that painting is basically indistinguishable from the white, and half the sketch is just gone. Yeesh.

* My reading list in terms of art re-education has so far included Austin Kleon’s trilogy: Steal Like an Artist, Show Your Work, and Keep Going as well as James Gurney’s instructional books: I started with Imaginative Realism and have Color and Light on deck.

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