Breaking Out of a Creative Slump

“Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

The above quote is from one of my favorite artists of all time, let alone still living.  Chuck Close is the ultimate motivation for artists after becoming world renown for two different art styles all while dealing with physical limitations.  But this article isn’t a recap of Close’s life (though that would be a fun article to research and write).  The quote was merely a jumping off point.

Continue reading “Breaking Out of a Creative Slump”

Sketchbooks and Why You Should Keep One

I will honestly say that I was never big on keeping a sketchbook until I got into college. All throughout high school my sketchbooks were part of my homework routine from my art classes. I had the mindset that sketchbooks were only for art assignments or to draw in. Even in my college drawing courses my sketchbooks were only used for the weekly assignments.

It wasn’t until my first painting course that I was even introduced to how varied a sketchbook could be (I know I was very closed minded). Suddenly my sketchbook was used to not only work on concept ideas for paintings but it was also an area where I kept notes on painting techniques. I kept detailed notes not only on my progress but on what brushes I used for certain areas and what paint color and mediums I applied. I was not exactly sold on using a sketchbook in this way when I started. My painting professor showed me just how useful it was and just how closed minded I was being.

I had just finished a portrait that I was extremely fond of (read I actually liked it and thought it was worthy to be called a painting). I received some great feedback from my professor and he was excited to see the rest of the series come together. Then as he walked away he said those dreadful words that would haunt me for the next 2 semesters “Doing it once is easy, I hope you remember how you did it”. We were actually required to keep notes but mine were spotty at best. I honestly couldn’t remember what some of the color mixtures were or what colors I had used in some layering. I spent the next 9 paintings trying to capture that what I had in the first one. All I can say is my notes got a lot better but I never did create a portrait that had the same feel.

Here is my portrait that inspired better note taking!

When I teach all of my students either are given a sketchbook or in my private classes they make one. We have a nice discussion on what sketchbook are used for. These discussions always amaze me with how much smarter my students are then I was! So here is the top 5 uses that are typically brought up in those discussion.

Testing out some watercolor layering
Testing what the watercolors actually look like on paper

 

 

 

 

 

1. To create art: to practice your craft

Keeping a sketchbook allows you freedom to create art. What this looks like is a little different for everyone. Keeping a sketchbook though allows you to go back and track your progress. You can see how far you have come. Practice makes better! There are so many sketchbook challenges out there that I would recommend taking on one of those challenges.

2.  To plan out ideas for projects

A sketchbook is a great place to make plans and develop ideas. As a teacher I make my students do numerous thumbnail sketches before deciding on the direction to take for their projects. What I have noticed is that most of the time my students rarely go with their first idea. This is not just for painting projects or drawing projects. I used sketchbooks with my pottery and sculpture students.

3. To freely express feelings

No one needs to see your sketchbook except you. This is a safe place to write, draw, paint, or even scribble your current mindset. Think of a sketchbook as a visual journal. I have a journal I keep at my bedside for just this reason. Well that and it seems like my best ideas come to me when I am right about to fall asleep!

4. To try new concepts or practice new techniques

I love trying out new things! I also hate trying out new things! I get into a technique and medium that I find comfortable and seem to just stay right there. I love to learn though and so I go to conferences where new and different techniques are being used. I also get to try out new materials and its fun and frustrating all at the same time. Sketchbooks should be a place where you can go and take some paint sticks and try them out or use some colored inks and different brushes and see what you can create. So what I am really saying is TRY NEW THINGS! You might find your next comfort art.

5. To keep notes on current projects

As I shared earlier this one took some time for me to get used to. I find keeping these notes invaluable now. I take better notes as I am learning a new concept or working with a new medium. I am very good at keeping notes on the colors and mediums I use for almost every project.

Writing down some sculpture ideas for a wind-chime

Once again thanks for taking the time to stop by! I would love to hear what your favorite uses of a sketchbook are. Do you have any favorite sketch challenges that you participate in?

Prepping for the Con Cycle

For the past few years, Heather and I have been setting up and displaying our art at various shows, conventions, and vendor fairs.  Some shows have been more successful than others (based on sales, price per table, etc.), but all of them have been pretty fun.  In fact, we have met some pretty amazing people along the way (and not just the celebrity guests).

While the two or three day shows can be pretty fun, the prep work for them never ends.  From the frantic pace of trying to get new work done to balancing time to get prints made, matted, and bagged, there never seems to be enough time regardless of how early we start.  One benefit of having two separate artists displaying together is that each of us only have to worry about filling half of the booth.

Heather and I met back in college and since then we have used each other as a sounding board for our art.  Neither one of us is afraid to share our thoughts or ideas about our own art or each other’s.  We soon realized that our Art styles complimented each other and displayed well together.  That along with knowing the right people to get in to a few vendor shows for free gave us an outlet to display and sell some artwork.

The first few shows were pretty slow.  When you are trying to sell Geek Artwork next to furniture makers and other crafters, the target audience is few and far between (but hey, we made our booth fee back). We did learn, however, some good tips and tricks for displaying our artwork and learned some things we didn’t want to do again.

Fast forward a few years and we have now invested in more display materials, a new logo with business cards, a variety of different types of artwork, and a lot more confidence in what we are doing.  Our displays have changed over the years and from show to show.  The props we use also get shared with my wife (who sets up at some craft shows from time to time with her Crochet items –www.AuburnElephant.com) so when we have different shows going at the same time, we just have to be a bit more creative.

With a show coming up towards the end of October, the past few weeks have been crazy trying to get ready.  I think I have had at least four or five paintings going at any one time as well as a few charcoal drawings and a stack of prints waiting to be matted.  I certainly need to do a better job of budgeting my time in order to get everything done.  I even have some plans for a few more types of projects to get done before the show.  On top of that, I have to make sure that whatever I make can fit in my car along with the display material I will be using.  (My wife has a show the same day and will be taking a good chunk of our display materials as well as the larger vehicle, so I am limited to what I can fit in my small car.)

I plan to take a lot of photos of the different events we will be at in the coming months (and maybe a few celeb photos as well from the events) and write a post about the experience.  I have told my wife several times, that if she wanted to get a ridiculously good paying job that I would quit my job and just to the Art Show circuit, though I am not confident enough with my work to do anything like that any time soon.  But for now, I will just continue to do my Geek related artwork as well as some abstract work and set up at some small to mid-range sized shows.  Down the road we will look in to some of the big Comic-Cons around the US.

Heather and I are always very appreciative for the opportunities we have been given through our Art.  The other Artists we have met along the way continue to be an inspiration for us (both from their work and their encouragement). For this, we will continue to do the shows, meet the people, gain some fans, and hopefully sell some Art.

So to everyone who has helped us along the way, thank you.  If you have purchased a piece of Art from us, shared our work online, offered encouragement or critique, or just stopped by one of our booths to say hello, thank you.  It is the interactions that keep us going.

 

~Cpt