Monday, September 10, 2018

How Dorothy Saved The Scarecrow

Because I’ve been such a ball of anxiety about my artwork lately, it’s really stopped me from having any inspiration. I sit down and stare at a blank page with an equally blank mind. I think of things I could draw - musicians, that series of movie posters I thought would make a good portfolio addition, but it’s all so vague with no clear aim or direction that I just don’t bother.

About a month ago I was watching a YouTube video when the creator mentioned how they’d recently discovered musicals and proceeded to list off a couple of modern ones I’d never heard of. It made me chuckle to myself as I used to be huge musical theatre nerd. I used to live in London and went almost weekly at one point. It was my life and my biggest passion - I even got into drama school and was going to pursue it as a career, but my health took a nose dive and I dropped out. It’s my biggest regret in life honestly, and I often wonder how differently my life could of panned out. I guess that’s part of the reason I let theatre fade out of my life, and it’s something I haven’t even thought about in many years. But after hearing this YouTuber bring up the topic, a simple random thought entered my head - “I’m going to listen to Wicked later.” And I did just that, and everything’s just kind of snowballed from there. I’ve dug out all of my old theatre programmes and soundtracks, and more specifically am really caught down an Oz rabbit hole at the moment. I’ve always liked Wicked and saw it in London a few times throughout 2007-2010, but even then I didn’t like it as much as I do right now 🤷‍♀️

I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to discover how great the world of Oz is as it actually fits right into my interests - I love fantasy from Victorian through to the early 20th century, my favourites being stuff like Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, etc. So why wouldn’t I like The Wizard of Oz? I used to be a real book worm but haven’t felt like reading much the past few years as it began to feel like a chore, but I devoured L Frank Baum’s books and have started Gregory Maguire’s Wicked series that the musical is based on. I’ve also been re-watching all of the movies - I’ve always enjoyed the Judy Garland movie (but who doesn’t??), Return to Oz scarred me as a child but I’m really quite fond of as an adult (I love a bit of 80s creepy-ness), and Oz The Great and Powerful has some good imagery but is better best forgotten.

What I’m enjoying most though is that it’s really inspired me to draw again!! I almost feel like my old self, happily doodling away every day, and I’ve reached that happy spot where the more you draw, the more inspiration comes. I have so many thumbnails of pieces I want to create and I have absolutely no idea when I’m going to get the time to draw them all!

I’m still not at a level I’m happy at in terms of my drawing ability right now, but I’m having fun and just trying to focus on that. I know that these things take time, after all. No doubt adding to it as well is the fact that I’ve been trying digital art lately, which has added an extra layer of difficulty as I’m floundering with it a lot and things are taking longer than they would have if I drew them traditionally as I’m not comfortable with the medium. I’ve had an iPad and an Apple Pencil for 18 months now because I wanted to get better with digital, it’s about time I got over my fear of Procreate and put it to use (I really do prefer Photoshop though 😩)

This is the first thing I’ve drawn in a couple of months, and like I say I’m far from happy with it but I’m pushing myself out of so many comfort zones right now and just trying to rediscover what I can do. It’s inspired by the chapter ‘How Dorothy Saved The Scarecrow’ from The Wizard of Oz as I just really loved the imagery of Dorothy stopping for a rest and admiring the view when suddenly a scarecrow winks at her. Initially I hadn't wanted to make Dorothy look like Garland's, but everything else I tried stopped her from looking like Dorothy so I just gave into it.

"When she had gone several miles she thought she would stop to rest, and so climbed to the top of the fence beside the road and sat down. There was a great cornfield beyond the fence, and not far away she saw a Scarecrow, placed high on a pole to keep the birds from the ripe corn.

Dorothy leaned her chin upon her hand and gazed thoughtfully at the Scarecrow. Its head was a small sack stuffed with straw, with eyes, nose, and mouth painted on it to represent a face. An old, pointed blue hat, that had belonged to some Munchkin, was perched on his head, and the rest of the figure was a blue suit of clothes, worn and faded, which had also been stuffed with straw. On the feet were some old boots with blue tops, such as every man wore in this country, and the figure was raised above the stalks of corn by means of the pole stuck up its back.

While Dorothy was looking earnestly into the queer, painted face of the Scarecrow, she was surprised to see one of the eyes slowly wink at her. She thought she must have been mistaken at first, for none of the scarecrows in Kansas ever wink; but presently the figure nodded its head to her in a friendly way."

Apologies if my blog starts to feel like an Oz stan account for a while, but this is the first time I’ve felt inspired in an absolute age and I intend to ride it out to it’s fullest!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Down The Rabbit Hole

If I’m being completely honest, I’ve barely drawn a bean since I finished university. I told myself it was burn out, I needed a rest, etc etc. In truth I was scared. I’ve mentioned how unhappy I’ve been with my style lately, and I’ve really been allowing it to intimidate me. I don’t know why: I was happy with my final pieces for my uni course which were more on track with the kind of work I want to do again, and I also drew an Alice in Wonderland piece, an update of an old drawing from way back, and was pleased as punch with how it came out. But then I didn’t pick up my pencil again, and allowed fear and self doubt to take over.

alice in wonderland

For the past 4 years, I’ve almost exclusively drawn portraits and abandoned my illustrative style. And I now feel as though I’m starting again from scratch. I barely know where to begin, there are so many mistakes and layers of lines, nothing looks fluid, I don’t remember how expressions work, I don’t remember how anatomy works, just how do I even art??

For a long time I’ve kind of romanticised a period of my life in my early 20s where I was drawing all of the time, and would upload several finished pieces a week to sites such as deviantArt and forums I was a member of. I recently re-discovered that old deviantArt account and it was eye opening to look back at all of my old work - mostly it was crap. But back then I was convinced I was good, and I don’t mean that I had any arrogance over it because I didn’t, I just had that unwavering confidence of youth. I was having fun, and therein lies the crux of it. Art is no longer fun, it’s almost painful because I place too many expectations on myself and so I just end up frustrated. Looking back at my old work, I can also see why my work was so bad then and it’s mostly because I was trying far too hard to draw a certain way with a certain style. And I feel like I’m slipping back into that frame of mind; I’m so frustrated that I’ve lost the fundamentals of how to draw, but instead of fixing that I’m getting caught up in style again and trying to make things look a certain way. I need to get back to basics. Things might be a bit haphazard in terms of style for a while, but I’ll never re-learn if I don’t.

New version on left, and original drawing from about 10 years ago on the right.
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