Monday, May 28, 2018

I turned myself to face me

I've been wanting to start a new blog for my artwork for a while, especially as my old one turned into my portfolio. And as I've just finished an illustration degree it felt like the right time, especially as I'm kind of in a funny place with my art at the moment and feel like I'm in a transitional period.

Doing a degree is weird, as it gets you thinking and overanalysing your work in brand new ways. Especially in the field of illustration as it's basically about commercialising your work and building it as a business. I've spent the last three years completing briefs and trying to get my work to fit into the right box of what industry I want to go in to, which has resulted in me feeling like I've forgotten how to just draw for the pleasure of it, you know? And to be frank, I don't much like the direction my art has gone in, I feel like I've lost myself.

This was my final hand in of work for uni. I've spent most of the past few years working on portraiture, and I'm really proud of what I can do but I miss working in a more stylised way! And the trouble with working in realism is it makes you an awful perfectionist, so it's difficult to go back on. If things don't look realistic to me now, they don't look right. And I'm a perfectionist anyway, so trying to experiment with a new style and grow as an artist is incredibly daunting as obviously when you're trying to change your style things are going to look a bit crap for a while while you're re-learning. And that can be especially frustrating when social media is full of people's 'best bits' and you're not happy with anything you're creating. It can be very difficult not to fall into the comparison trap and to remember the hours of work that the artist you admire is putting in behind the scenes. And it's because of this insecurity that I decided to start a blog, somewhere I can post things I'm not happy with and talk about my growth and just break down some of those walls and be completely honest.

So what is my growth so far? Before I drew portraiture, I mostly drew a lot of Disney fan art. Although I've drawn my whole life, it was when I was a teenager that I began drawing seriously, and that mostly involved copying the Disney style. I'd pause my DVDs and copy poses and expressions, and animators were the only artists I took any advice from. But I gradually began to loathe drawing in this style as it wasn't mine, I was just drawing in the standardised Disney way. There was nothing to set my work apart as my own.

From that, I began looking at my other interests for inspiration which is mostly music and the 1960s and '70s. I experimented with more psychedelic elements and began trying to copy Yellow Submarine instead of Disney, and then began trying to draw musicians themselves which is what lead me to portraiture as it was the easiest way to capture these people whom I admired.

If I try and draw in a more stylised way, I default to the Disney style as that's how I learnt to draw, and that's incredibly frustrating to be honest as it's still something I'm trying to move away from so I can do my own thing. Artists I admire nowadays are people like Minnie Small, Audra Auclair, Lois van Baarle, and Stacy Fahey. I will always love Disney, but I also love Studio Ghibli and illustrators such as Tove Jansson, Raymond Briggs, John Tenniel and EH Shepard. I also love reading, some of my favourite books being Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Wind In The Willows, and Winnie The Pooh. I want to take all of these inspirations, and use it to create something that's just mine.

For my final uni project I created a few music posters, and I feel this is the closest I've been able to come so far to something I'm happy with. Still a bit too Disneyfied, but getting there. I'd spent a long time thinking about how I wished I could draw without actually drawing it, so although these posters might not have been exactly what I wanted they took a lot of The Fear away and showed me that I am capable if I just do it.

I've been trying to complete a full sketchbook since last summer, something I haven't done in years. I used to see sketchbooks as a place for practice until I started watching sketchbook tours on YouTube and started to see them as works of art in their own right with perfectly cohesive illustrations on every page. This is an unrealistic way to keep a sketchbook, and that's something I have to remind myself of regularly. I enjoy scrapbooking and keeping my sketchbook as a kind of journal, and find this helps me stop myself from taking my sketchbook too seriously and giving up on it a few pages in. I'm almost halfway through, and am trying to get into the habit of drawing everyday and drawing on location as I know this is the only way I'll get to the place I want to be with my work.

And that's the stage I'm at right now! I'm wanting to turn my YouTube channel into a more art focused direction, and just really hold myself to all of the goals I set out instead of just talking about what I'd like to do. And I wanted an art blog so I can just share something whether it's perfect or not without any fanfare, and just share my progress and my journey. And I hope you'll enjoy following that! ♥
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