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Weekly Art Dispatch, No. 6 🎨

17 January 2021 - Reading time: 6 minutes

This week posed a few challenges where I learned to establish some new steps in my drawing process -- and had to deal with more mind games.

But first... For Christmas I received a gift card to a local artist supplies store, just in time to replenish my supplies.

Trying out a Tombow 2.5mm clicker-eraser, and drawing pads instead of ring-bound sketchbooks; the Fabriano paper looks delicious.  I definitely overpaid for the Staedtler sandpaper stick, but my pencils (which I sharpen with a scalpel blade) now have smooth sides!

Fun Art

My drawing process has slowed down significantly since I started thinking more about image composition.  There are a lot more parts of a picture to consider, more photo/image references to gather, more places where I have to pause to make thumbnails/sketches and figure out my process.

In an effort to maintain momentum, not get overly bogged down in references and sketching, and to stay focused on finishing work, I've set myself a goal of drawing and finishing two art pieces every week: one big illustration, and one lighter smaller work.  I'll report on progress in the next few Dispatches.

This week's two pieces:

Revisiting and updating one of my old art concepts.  A lizard sitting on a dodecahedron has somehow always been associated with "Vega draws pictures" in my mind.  This might reappear as a generic artsy banner around on my website.

The bigger project: fanart for Anthem (sci-fi, multiplayer, shooter video game created by BioWare).

Tassyn, the Corvus agent/spy.  She's an NPC in the main storyline of Anthem.

This was my first time doing the first full cycle of thumbnailing/concepting, gathering references, then iterating on my drawing workflow to a complete image.  I already have a process for character drawings and sketches, but have to iterate more for a complete illustration.  Craft-wise, I was mostly working on overall image composition, visual symbols, and values (shadows/lighting).

Process animation.

Hopefully this will be the first in a series of Anthem fanart illustrations.

Study Art

I was partway through Lesson 3 of Draw A Box when I put it on hold to redo L1-L2 for official critique.  I wrapped up L3 this week so I'm now back on track with the course.  I have a few weeks of downtime before submitting L3 for official critique, so in the meantime, it's back to Brent Eviston's "Introduction to Shading" course, and maybe some more studies on drawing human heads.

Lesson 3 of DaB is "Applying Construction[al Drawing] to Plants".  I like how this succulent turned out.

The Artist Life

Drawing the Tassyn fanart took about five days.  I was elated when I finished the piece, but when that high wore off, I started seeing all the mistakes and shortcomings.  All that good feeling diminished and I ended up being unhappy about how everything looked, wanting to consign the piece to art oblivion and never look at it again.

But I don't think this is the right way to think about my art, especially when the critique is turning into intense self-criticism.  Yes, there are a lot of mistakes, I have a lot to learn, and I don't like how it looks now.  But I was upping my workflow game and figuring out several new drawing concepts and tools to use.  I nearly botched the drawing when I redrew Tassyn's head a couple times (see the process animation), but I recovered my footing and managed to get her physical proportions right, although her likeness is nowhere close to the video-game character.  Recovering from near-disaster was a big accomplishment.  And I achieved my personal deadline too!

Ultimately, the work is finished, and to the best of my abilities. That's enough reason to accept it for what it is.  It's good enough.

I'd been feeling good about my art progress for some weeks now, so this was a good time to learn (again) how to handle the "bad art" feeling and bounce back from it into a constructive growth mindset.  I'm more cognizant of my negative thought patterns nowadays, so my antidote to this bad-art feeling is to harness that frustration and roll straight out of finishing the old work into starting the next new work.  I've already thumbnailed the next illustration for the Anthem fanart series, so it's time to get up out of the mopey hole and keep going.

Topics for next week: two more finished art pieces, and progress on study art.

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