Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year, New Project (Coincidence Only)

Let’s go back to the summer of 2011.  I originally thought I had written about what happened in between universities, but looks like I haven't.  Guess I know what my next topic will be.  Anyway - I had dropped out of my first school, came back home and was at somewhat of a loss as to what to do.  I applied to schools and was waiting on responses.  Of course, knowing that I had dropped out with only a year and a half of school under my belt, I couldn't bank of getting into the school I wanted.  But I kept my insecurities out of my mind.  There was no help in thinking “what if it all goes wrong?”.   Instead, I took the actions that gave me the best chance for things to go right.  

I was walking around with a friend and went to a nearby stationery and art supply store, one of the few outlets that supplemented what I identified in myself as a creative urge to make art.  At the time I didn’t know what I was doing.  I started writing, I started sketching, and I started playing guitar (since then, I’ve only continued two of the three).  I walked around this relatively bare store and only found one sketchbook.  It was a sketchbook intended for nature sketching, with the upper 2/3’s of the page left bare to sketch and the bottom third lined for notes.  I was working on some kind of graphic novel (which I talked about on this blog post) and thought it was perfect.  My images would go on top and the dialogue would follow on bottom.  I picked it up, but it looked a little strange.  There was some kind of stain on the book.  Not a big deal.  But wait, the edges looked frayed.  Damaged, even.  I checked the inside.  The first half of the book’s pages were warped.  I had no other appealing options so I asked the store owner if he had another sketchbook like this.  He said no, but he’d give it to me at 40% off.  Couldn't say no to a bargain! 

As of 12/27/13, I have finished my sketchbook.  I’ve sketched in it on and off (I have a lot of sketchbooks) but never have I actually finished one before.  It strangely feels like an accomplishment even though there’s nothing I’m actually achieving.  Still, it’s nice to see that, unlike my dust-gathering guitars, for the most part, I’ve done what I’ve set out to do. 
It’s funny.  I’ve mostly used this sketchbook to recreate sketches in the art books I have.  As you know, I have an almost-zero amount of formal art training/education, but since 2011 I’ve steadily bought various art books and IllustrationAge has all of the out of print Andrew Loomis books online.  Andrew Loomis was an artist who published a set of acclaimed art instruction books (even artists I contacted when I first started this venture suggested his books).  So I set out to basically copy every sketch and full drawing I saw.  My logic was that I’d ingest the techniques the art books recommended and find my own techniques in the recreation process.  I can’t confidently claim that it has worked, but I do feel more and more comfortable with my freehand sketching and my technical drawing skills and there’s little I can attribute that to outside of this mimicking what I saw.  Part of me feels like I should buy another damaged sketchbook, but I doubt I'd find another one.

More importantly, I would like to announce a new little daily project.  I want to go through this sketchbook, take a picture, and say a little something about it.  My memory might get jogged and it’ll be interesting to see not only my progress but remember how I made this and what my thought process was.  There is only one caveat – this will be done only through my twitter feed.  I don’t want to bog down by blog everyday with a picture and a bit of text for two reasons.  1) I don’t think I have enough time post on the blog and 2) I imagine what I have to say about every page is about 120 characters or less.  For specifically interesting pages, I'll probably write a blog post on it, since there's more to say than 120 characters allow me (and, as you probably know, I'm just wordy). 

This seems like it’ll be fun and it will keep be interacting socially.  While I’ll post the picture and the blurb on my twitter feed, I’ll also extend that to my facebook page (click a link to see the picture) so you don’t have to follow me or start a twitter account in order to keep up.  Trust me, this isn't a ploy to get more followers (and I try to be the least annoying on that social media).  My handle is @JL_Illustration.  

So with that said, let’s start with page number 1!

Wow, I didn't expect that.  As I said, at the time I was working on a graphic novel.  It's on hiatus now as I need to revamp the way I approach it, but these were the seedlings I originally planted.  This was supposed to be the first page.  You can see that it's completely different than what I showed in the blog post I linked in the beginning of this post.  This reads more like an epilogue and the writing on the side is embarrassingly terrible.  Here's what it says:

"Hard to believe that after so many years, the stories we told were true.  Remember those super strong guys?  With all that energy power, bloasting each other, trying to save/destroy the Earth?  Well, turns out it's possible.  I'll save you the science-y explanation (yea, I don't actually know it so unknown) but little by little, people started popping up with this power.  All I know is that it's genetically based."

I get what I was trying to go for, but the casual language adds to the vague prose which amounts to little else.  It's not very good at all.  I think I mentioned that part of this graphic novel idea was inspired heavily by Dragonball Z - something that is much more obvious in this image.  Looking at the art, I'm not horrified by it, which is a good thing, but I do remember this taking me FOREVER.  I feel good that something like this would take me a fraction of the time.  Not because speed is inherently important, but because the knowledge I lacked at the time I could use to shortcut many processes.  

So there's page number 1.  Tomorrow - page number 2.