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Quarterly Art Dispatch: a look back at Q1, 2021. 🎨

5 April 2021 - Reading time: 7 minutes

In Dispatch #5 I laid out my Big Art Goals for 2021; amongst other things, I said I'd write a reflection on my progress and accomplishments every quarter this year.  Well, April is here, so it's time for the first Quarterly Art Dispatch.

Art I made

Early in this quarter (around Dispatch #6), I set myself a goal of firstly finishing an illustration a week, and then upped the goal to two illustrations a week.  I've always struggled to finish the creative projects that I start, so this goal helped me to organize my workflow and pace myself in order to finish work.  It also taught some good creative mindsets, eg. finishing a "good enough" piece is better than trying to grind out perfection.

For the most part I met my goal of finishing one illustration per week, and at one point was able to increase it to two illustrations.  So I know my pace and capacity!

Illustrations finished this quarter. I've drawn a lot more than this, but these are the "finished pieces".

Transept 2021 art exhibit was definitely the highlight this quarter.  I tracked my progress in Dispatches #9-12, and reflected at length about it in this blog post.  Though the process was a bit stressful at times, on the whole it was a great learning experience -- and much fun as well!

The Transept pieces are definitely my best set of drawings for Q1.

My main "study art" has been the Drawabox (DaB) dynamic sketching & constructional drawing program.  I learned a rudimentary version of constructional drawing I was a kid, so DaB is helping to build up my spatial understanding and existing art techniques.  But a lot of the adjacent skills that this course introduces -- distinguishing types of shadows (form vs cast), how to draw textures -- ended up being very applicable to my current art.

I'm continuing with Drawabox as my primary "study".  What's more, the Discord server has been a very encouraging art community!

Drawing plants and insects construction for Drawabox.

I also did Figuary 2021, got a ton of gesture drawing practice, and also learned a few figure drawing techniques as well.  With these quick gestures (30 seconds to 5 minutes per figure) I was able to practise simplifying figures to fundamental flow lines, and loosen up to achieve more dynamism to my linework.  I posted some Figuary gestures in Dispatches #10, #11, and #12.

My favourite gesture from Figuary, Day 12.

Things I learned

Apart from art studies, I was practising some other techniques in my fun art.

My major goal this quarter was to move beyond mere linework and the representational character drawing that I've always created, to something more illustrative -- figures set on a background/environment, with consideration for scene composition, lighting, and shading techniques.  I was already experimenting with shading and composing illustrations in my fun art, when Transept 2021 came along.  Well, practice time was over: I had to use whatever existing skills I had to produce exhibit-worthy art!

The practical experience was good, but there's a lot I still need to learn about image composition and illustration techniques.  Currently I don't have the capacity to study it formally, but I will do so eventually -- maybe through a course and/or doing masters studies on my own.

The Art Life

I've finally gotten an art habit down and integrated it into my daily lifestyle.  Sundays are my day off (Sabbath) but otherwise, I'm drawing every day.

One of the best things that happened this quarter was meeting a drawing buddy.  As I was getting to know other artists on the Drawabox Discord server, one of them reached out to me.  We both have similar art skill levels, and currently we're meeting every day (online) for at least a couple hours to make progress on our own art.  Peer support is so necessary in creative endeavours, so I appreciate this drawing buddy and the accountability and encouragement we give to each other.

Currently, my RL situation means I have plenty of time every day to do at least a couple hours of art.  When circumstances change this habit will have to shift.  I wonder how I'll manage...

What's next

Q2 is going to be about character design, and moving into digital art.

I'm currently doing character design of a concept art-ish sort, mentioned in last Dispatch #15.  Transept 2021 compelled me to develop a process to brainstorm really high-concept themes, and then translate those themes into visual design and illustration.  I wanted to practice that kind of ideation again with some original characters (both old ones and new ones), so I'm planning to continue in this character design process for a while.

Apart from this, I'm planning to devote all of Q2 to learning the basics of digital art.  Traditional drawing is all well and good and what I've been doing most of my life, but I want to upskill into digital art and learn the contemporary tools.  Amongst other things, I want to eventually learn the basics of colour theory, as this is something I've never learned and have no artistic concept about.  Digital art seems like a way to learn how to use colour in art without having to delve into traditional painting and tools.

This has been a very productive and eventful Q1.  I hope to continue this progress and goodness into Q2.

Thanks for reading this Quarterly edition of the Art Dispatch!

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