Thursday, October 31, 2019

Completing Inktober

I've completed Inktober! I can't quite believe it to be honest, I didn't actually have much hope that I'd complete the whole month. I figured I'd manage to keep up with the first week then fall behind, get overwhelmed, and quit. And I didn't! And what's more, I've really enjoyed my Inktober experience. Like I explained in my previous post, I haven't technically done Inktober 'properly' - I ignored the prompt list for two thirds of the month, and I've worked in more mediums than just ink (but I did mostly use ink). But mastering ink was never my goal, sticking to a prompt list was never my goal and was only there to fall back on. My goals were to simply draw every day to get back into a more productive workflow and just see where that took me, and hopefully through the act of drawing every day to become less of a perfectionist with my work. And now I'm at the other end of it looking back, I thought I'd share what the experience has taught me, along with a selection of the pieces I've created.

Top: 04 + 05 - Pruitt from Big Sky | Bottom: 02 - Inktober prompt 'mindless'

The biggest lesson of all this month was simply that sitting down to draw doesn't have to be a big deal.
Often I'll procrastinate opening my sketchbook as I only have an hour or so and feel like that's not enough time, but I've realised that it is more than enough so long as I use that time wisely. I've also realised that even if I don't feel like drawing when I begin, I will once I actually start. And because drawing is no longer such a big deal, it's resulted in me drawing more. I've knocked out two portraits this month, which is usually something I'd think about for about a week prior and feel like I had to set aside a full day to create, but I just got on and did it and I really enjoyed the process. I guess I'm just learning to let go and doodle better instead of only drawing full-blown illustrations, and that's definitely a good thing!

07 + 08 - Inktober prompts 'enchanted' and 'snow'

Because my drawing time had been so sporadic and it had usually been a few weeks since I last drew anything, I'd always start by feeling rusty and unsure of my abilities and so wasted time warming up. This not only ate into my drawing time, but it also meant that I had to come up with ideas for a warm up sketch on top of what I already wanted to draw, and the whole process resulted with me feeling exhausted before I'd even begun. Getting into the habit of drawing every day has definitely loosened me up, and because of this ideas have been coming much more freely as I can just jump straight in with whatever I want to do. I didn't end up using too many of the Inktober prompts as they were only there for days I got stuck, and I didn't end up having many of those because the more I was drawing, the more ideas I was having, and because my work was looser I was able to crack out more ideas than I ever felt possible.

Top: 14 - Inktober prompt 'dragon' | Bottom: 17 + 18 - Joker inspired illustrations

I did find myself struggling for ideas here and there, but during those times I allowed inspiration to come from life and the things around me instead of going looking for ideas and becoming frustrated. For example, the Joker movie gave me a lot of inspiration this month as I absolutely loved it and wanted to draw fan art. And by allowing myself to draw things that I cared about, I wanted to draw more and more rather than feeling like I was only drawing because I had to. I'm really glad I decided to exclude social media presence from my challenge too, as that allowed me to be completely self-indulgent with what I was creating without any judgement!

I think the biggest surprise for me throughout this month is just how much work I've managed to create, which I know sounds a little silly as it was obvious from the very beginning that I'd have around 31 pieces of art if I managed to complete it, but saying that versus physically seeing that work in my sketchbook is an entirely different kettle of fish. I've never filled out a sketchbook at this speed, and it's an exhilarating feeling! I'm used to flicking back over my sketchbook and seeing work I've created months ago, not weeks or even days ago! I also like how it's helping me keep track of time. Often months pass by in a flash and I wonder where the time has gone, but I feel October has gone at a much slower pace as every single day I've been taking note of the date and been fully present as a result. And as someone who suffers with severe anxiety, that's been a really nice side effect and helped my mental health a lot!

Top: 20 - reference of vintage ballet dancers from Pinterest. 21 - Inktober prompt 'treasure'
Bottom: 24 - Illustration inspired by Joker

Parts of Inktober have definitely been a little stressful at times, but it was entirely self-inflicted. Part of the draw of the challenge for me was to fill up a good chunk of my sketchbook quickly, and that was actually a good drive as I was actively measuring my progress by how much I'd completed. But it also meant that I was getting a bit stressed when I had to miss days as I wasn't filling my sketchbook fast enough, and the pressure I put on myself to draw every day meant that other hobbies and interests had to be put aside.

I really want to continue drawing after October. Not every day, but I've shown myself what I can do and I don't want to lose these good habits that I've built. I'm a little nervous I'll run out of ideas, but I'd rather cross that bridge if and when I come to it! Plus I have a whole heap of things I want to digitally colour and turn into proper illustrations from all of this, so there's always that too!

Top: 25 - An OC. 26 - Fiyero inspired (I drew a lot of scarecrows, I guess I was inspired by autumn ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
Middle: 27 - Autumn inspired motifs, and practising Cyrillic
Bottom: 27 + 28 - Joker inspired illustrations. I said there was a lot!

Monday, September 30, 2019

#Harvest Tales + New Shop Items

There hasn't been much activity from me on the art front lately as August was mostly spent planning, preparing for and then travelling to New York, followed by being terribly ill for a full month after I got back! So I haven't really felt much like drawing and have been trying to ease myself back into the habit while I got better, especially as I plan on doing Inktober this year for the first time ever.

Inktober's not something I've ever taken part in before as I'm usually put off by how competitive and commercialised it's gotten, I'm really not interested in any of that side of it and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. In fact October is probably my least favourite time to be an artist on social media as I'm so bored with the whole concept after three days of it filling up my entire feed! But I happened upon the prompt list and for once I actually felt quite inspired by it, and as I've had such a dry spell it feels like a good way to improve my practise and build good habits. And when I think of it like that, I'm really excited for it!

I don't plan on sharing all of my illustrations throughout the month as I think it can be toxic to share everything and I think that's why so many turn it into a competition, whether intentionally or not. My biggest learning curve this past year has been that not everything I create has to be up for public consumption, and it's much more liberating to create things for my own eyes only. When you don't have that pressure of needing to share, you're more inclined to take risks and experiment, which is exactly the point of the Inktober challenge to me, not to pre-prepare 31 perfect illustrations in advance which I see no artistic merit to.

Throughout September there's been an art tag on Instagram called #HarvestTales which felt right up my alley, and as it only required one artwork per week it felt like a perfect way to ease myself into designing illustrations around prompt words. I tried to keep it themed by having a central character of a Scarecrow (who may or may not look familiar from my Fiyero drawings...), which I liked as having that allowed me to think of the prompts within that character, and I hoped it might feel a bit more narrative driven than by simply having four separate illustrations. One of my favourite works I've created so far is my Folktale Week sketchbook from last November, and I think a big part of why it works for me is because it has so much cohesion. I didn't want to turn this into as huge a project as that was though, as that wouldn't be easing myself into things at all!

This was my first illustration, with the prompt "flowers and herbs". To be honest I don't love it. I was determined to work traditionally as I didn't want it to be as polished as digital, and also as my previous Folktale Week artworks had been traditional and I used the same methods. But honestly I don't like how this illustration came out that much!! I don't know if I've over shaded it or tried to be too detailed, but it feels like I've taken 10 steps back in my style into territory I've tried to get away from. This year I've really worked on simplifying my work away from the realistic perfectionist mindset I was trapped in before and I really love where it's taken me, but this just isn't it. I still like the idea of the sunflowers comforting the sad Scarecrow (I was inspired by the Pink Floyd song Scarecrow, especially the line "The black and green scarecrow is sadder than me, But now he's resigned to his fate" which I've always related to Fiyero's story arc) and the general idea, just not the execution in this case. Even the colours just don't feel right.

I actually skipped week 2 which had the prompt word "Scarecrow", partly as I was really ill that week, partly because I was feeling kind of disheartened from the previous week, so technically this illustration is week 3 which had the prompt "night creature". I wanted to really take advantage of the challenge being called harvest tales, whilst also making it slightly spooky as I felt the prompts were leaning in that direction (and honestly "spooky harvest" sums up my whole aesthetic!). I stripped the style right back to absolute simplicity, and was inspired by a video by DrawingWiffWaffles where she'd drawn with a coloured ballpoint pen and coloured it with pastel Copic markers to create a monotone effect. And it proved to be just the inspiration I needed as I love how this turned out, and used the same method for the final illustration but knocked it up a gear.

The prompt was "spirits", and I added a little white gel pen and yellow colouring pencil. It's definitely my favourite of the lot! I'm even thinking of only using ballpoint pen for the whole of Inktober as it's ink, and I've really fallen in love with the versatility and simplicity of it. Who needs overly expensive Inktober targeted art supplies when you can just use a 50p biro!

I've also had an exciting shipment of products I ordered! I've wanted to create charms for a while, and my Wicked illustrations felt like they'd lend themselves perfectly. They're 6cm tall acrylic charms with holographic effect on one side (so as not to obscure the illustration too much, but still keeping it sparkly!) I'm delighted with how they've turned out! There's 5 designs in total, and I have a limited quantity right now because it's kind of terrifying plunging money into stock when you don't know when you'll earn that money back! So the more I sell, the more I can invest back into my shop with even more exciting products. I hope you like them as much as I do, they're available in my Etsy store now!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Elphaba + Glinda

"And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend"

Available on RedBubble here.

It's rare for me, but this is one illustration I specifically drew to turn into products. Usually I work the other way around and try and figure out how to fit finished pieces into certain items. I'm very excited to get this made into what I have in mind, but in the meantime you can order it on a few bits on RedBubble. I've actually placed an order with RedBubble myself, so I'll be sure to report back with a review of their products soon!

Friday, July 12, 2019


These are a few Wicked pieces I've been working on that I'd forgotten to update with here, and will bring my blog up to date with my current work. I like to have it all over here as I can better record my thought processes than in a simple Instagram caption.

This is fairly straight forward, a scene from the musical after 'For Good'. I don't really consider it a spoiler as it happens in The Wizard of Oz too! I just think it's incredibly sad that, as far as Glinda is aware her best friend and only true ally is dead and she has to hide and pretend she isn't there whilst it happens. Glinda's story arc is so heartbreaking, and it's sad how she's so often dismissed as just being a ditz. Elphaba and Fiyero may be fugitives, but at least they get to go on and live their own lives together. Whereas Glinda's left thinking everyone she's ever loved is dead, and has to watch everyone celebrating that fact whilst keeping the lie alive.

This was drawn from a production still. I kind of set the wrong mood for it with them smiling, as they're literally plastering on smiles over their own heartbreaks BUT I drew this whilst watching Eurovision so I think you can understand why I was distracted from the tone. Also quite frankly I drew it as I wanted something cute and pretty of my favourite characters and wasn't trying to draw anything deep. It was my first go at colouring them with my Copic markers too, so that was fun trying to translate my digital palette.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Snow Queen

This is a bit of a throw back, but I realised when scrolling through my Instagram feed that there's a few pieces I forgot to share over here, so the next few posts will be of older pieces to get caught up.

For this post I just wanted to share this illustration from back in winter. I have a long personal history with the original story of The Snow Queen, certainly long before Frozen stole my heart. It's always been my favourite fairy tale for no deep reason other than it's a good adventure tale, and I've collected various book editions and film adaptations of it throughout the years. In my foundation degree back in 2010, to finish the course we had to write our own brief and mine was to illustrate a full 32 page book of The Snow Queen. Which ended up taking me on quite an adventure, as it even involved traveling around the country to see some real life reindeer to study as well as translating and condensing Andersen's original text whilst still keeping the integrity of the original story (as it was a picture book so had to be simplified)

I still have that book somewhere, and I have a lot of mixed feelings looking at it. I put so much work into it, but obviously being over 9 years ago now my style and ability has drastically improved so it's a little embarrassing in some respects. This piece was drawn straight into my iPad (I usually draw the initial sketch traditionally) and was just revisiting the character of The Snow Queen herself. I didn't put a whole lot of thought into it other than trying to improve upon my original idea, whilst also trying NOT to subconsciously make it resemble Elsa.

I'd love to finalise some designs some day, perhaps with Gerda and Kai too. Maybe I'll even redo my whole book!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Blue diamonds

Just a paint doodle that both provided practice with some different Procreate techniques, as well as exploring Fiyero's tattoo designs.

In the original novel Fiyero's marked with distinctive tattoos/body paint (it's described as both interchangeably so could be either), but other than being "a pattern of diamonds" and "sulfurous" blue and being on his face, chest and hands, there isn't much description as to what it actually looks like.

These are supposed to be tattoos that mark him to his specific tribe in the Vinkus, rather than tattooing for aesthetic purposes, and are really important to his character as it 'other's him and is one of the things he gets made fun of for. I did some research into body art in various indigenous cultures, including Native American (which I've always imagined to be Fiyero's ethnicity) and First Nations, Polynesian, Māori, and Inuit which was a little help. I couldn't find anything geometric enough to take direct inspiration from, but it certainly helped me consider placement (such as avoiding the chin which in various cultures around the world seems to be a feminine practice). Sometimes it's just really interesting the avenues art can take you down. This isn't finalised or anything, I'm just playing around and seeing what works. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be as it's so easy to make it look crap, I can see now why the musical scrapped it!

Although most of my Wicked art is based in the world of the musical, I really want to explore scenes from the book more, especially as it was what made me really fall in love with these characters more so than the musical. I want to eventually come to place where the two are kind of blended together seamlessly, which is why I still drew Fiyero in his outfit from the musical.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Poppy Fields

Elphaba: "Can I say one more thing? You could have walked away back there."
Fiyero: "So?"
Elphaba: "So no matter how shallow and self-absorbed you pretend to be—"
Fiyero: "Excuse me, there’s no pretense here: I happen to be genuinely self-absorbed and deeply shallow."
Elphaba: "No you’re not. Or you wouldn’t be so unhappy."
Fiyero: "Fine if you don’t want my help—"
Elphaba: "No, I do! ... His heart is pounding. I didn’t mean to frighten him."
Fiyero: "What did you mean to do? And why was I the only one you didn’t do it to?"
Elphaba: "Oh look, you're must have scratched you."
Fiyero: "Yeah...or maybe it scratched me or something."

I saw Wicked again on Saturday, and then spent Sunday in a coffee shop finishing off this drawing that's been in my drafts for about 6 months. It was actually one of the very first illustrations I did of Wicked, and spent ages as a hastily sketched thumbnail on my phone. I'd been working on it intermittently to get it finished recently, but seeing the show gave me the push I needed to get it completed. I'm trying to clear out a lot of my backlog as I have so many ideas lately and not enough time to see everything through to completion! Which isn't a situation I'm complaining about in the slightest, after the amount of art block I've had it feels great.

I really love this scene in the musical. I have a lot of feelings about Fiyero, and as much as I love it the musical really does him a huge disservice. I kind of get that they don't want to spend much stage time developing him as he's not the focus of the narrative, but there's no reason to make him a bit of a jackass at the beginning. In the book he's a tribal person of colour seeking an education so he can integrate better with the people of Oz and help his people in the modern age, and is generally a fish out of water who doesn't feel comfortable at Shiz and gets picked on for being brown and having tribal tattoos. And as much as Dancing Through Life is a bop, it's kind of insulting that he got reduced to a spoiled rich kid bouncing from boarding school to boarding school. And I like this scene because they make an attempt to tear that image down a little and show that he's a bit deeper than he seemed five minutes ago, and hint at the deep connection he and Elphaba share in the book.
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