Monday, June 30, 2014

Being an intermediate, and looking to the future

Alright, you've dedicated the past year, two years to really developing your skill set. You've got a firm grasp of the basics and maybe even sold a couple pieces of your artwork. You don’t suck, but you are not gainfully employed entirely off your art. To make matters more confusing, your artistic development has started looking like peaks and valleys. If that sounds like you, as it describes me now, then congratulations are in order. You’re an intermediate. Now it is time to:

Study all the things!

This is what I've got on my curriculum for the next year or so. This is the general over arcing things I need/want to fix after having gone to Spectrum back in May. Marc Scheff gave me an awesome portfolio review and really laid out some food for thought.

He also recommended I check out smArtschool, an online mentor-ship style program where you can work with an amazing artist in small classes. I checked out their site after talking with him and it looks amazing! The only reason I'm not signed up immediately, is my personal budget and I'd like another year under my belt before I dive into a mentor-ship like that. Be sure to check it out though!

Keep in mind new info may be released and as I learn more about my chosen profession I may refocus to align my study with new goals.

Goal #1- Anatomy:
  • George Bridgeman: Complete Guide to Drawing from Life
    • Really in depth breakdowns, treats the human body as a machine, which helps understand how to convey real movement.
  • Andrew Loomis: Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth
    • Some of the text seems dated, but wonderful knowledge bombs about ideals/templates, talks about the human form in perspective. Haven't found a Loomis book that didn't help.
  • Glen Vilppu’s lecture series on figure
    • A video series that I only got just recently, give him a quick YouTube glance, he is considered one of the strongest figure instructors guys of our time. 
Goal #2- Light and Color
  • James Gurney’s aptly named book “Light and Color”
    • Grounded in oil painting this book really provides great insight to all different types of lighting scenarios and how that effects color. Great pictures, examples and a pleasant read.
  • Color Studies from movie screens- Focusing on learning different cinematic lighting. I.e. DreamWorks movies versus Sci-Fi so on and so forth. 
  • Plein Air painting from life- Focusing on learning to understand color via observation in real time.
Goal #3- Design
  • Iain McCaig’s visual storytelling Gnomon DVD- Learning good character design
    • I attended his workshop at Spectrum. This guy is amazingly entertaining and full of gold nuggets. I have high hopes for these videos. 
  • Costume studies from movie screens: Trying to understand choices they made and why it is cool/successful/interesting.
  • Finding historical reference and trying to gain a mechanical understanding of armor, tools, war machines, buildings etc. 
Goal #4: Business practice
  • This is a research goal, and as I find good books or articles I will link them for everyone to have. Remember how I said this is our small business? That wasn't just an analogy; we’ll need business sense to make a profit from what we love.
  • Also, go sign up for Drawn and Drafted newsletter. Chances are you'll want there book "making Art Work". I attended Marc Scheff and Lauren Panepinto's Bootcamp at Spectrum, and had a complete revamp of what I thought I knew about art and business. They even had handouts and you can get them from their site on my sidebar!
At this stage, if you haven’t already, you should seriously get into some forums, and start a sketchbook. Critiques are invaluable, and extremely necessary for growth here. I’m on Crimson Daggers, and have loved my experience there. You can also try or something newer like permanoobs. Let me know about your experience over there.


This is my planned schedule for July. Grab the template here.

 I made it this past Thursday and already I have some hang-ups. I’m not going to change the schedule though, because this is the stuff I was getting at in my last post. I have two big events that are going to eat two consecutive weekends. I’m relocating with my roommates, and I have to deliver a commissioned oil painting four hours away in my home town. Life happens right?

Aside from that, I learned about Illuxcon’s Scholarship opportunity for degree seeking artists like myself.

Link here: Illuxcon Scholarship

So, that’s going to be my secondary focus in every time slot dedicated towards commissions. You really do just have to roll with the punches. Just understand that any amount of progress is still progress and that is the only goal. It’s going to be stressful, but between my calendar, my goals, and a fair bit of coffee I am positive I’ll survive July.

I hope this propels some thought about what you've got lined up for the next month. Just stay positive and seize the moment!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Making The Time

As promised in my last entry I want to take some time to highlight my efforts in time management and study materials and give you the nitty gritty of what's been working versus what has not.

Before I get into that though, I want to take a moment aside and make it crystal clear to you that I really don't believe success will come from just what you're willing to do to get it. It's more than that. I think it is really going to come down to what you're willing to sacrifice to get where you want to be, whether it’s mindless TV binging, Netflix marathons, clubbing, or even constant outings with friends. You and I are going to have to treat this just like a job...better yet, as our small business. It's going to take 40-60-80 hours weekly of constant work to get this bad boy up and running and more still to turn a profit. That's okay though, because can you seriously imagine dedicating that time to anything else that would yield half as enjoyable results? Me either.

And for anyone thinking they don't have the time, or they can't find the time, let me just say, you have to MAKE TIME for this.

Do the math. 7 days a week, 24 hours in a week is 168 hours. You can work a 40 hour work week, commit 40 hours to art, and you'll still have 88 hours for sleep/food/gym/etc. Which, breaks down to an easy 36 hours sleep, 21 hours of food, 4 hours of gym time, with 27 hours leftover for commutes/bathroom breaks/hygiene/ etc. Obviously, these are not personalized but come on tell me again how we don't have time, exactly?

It was that realization that led me to make calendars, that and an old post by Dave Rapoza when he was studying. I strongly advise laying out a calendar like this, but not so that every detail of your life is laid out. No, this calendar is a goal, a structured ideal of what you want for every day. Life happens, shit happens, but when stuff starts going awry and you need to not think about what you're doing next the calendar has it laid out for you.

This is Dave Rapoza's study schedule he followed that led me to make my first one:

And this is my first one, clearly I was quite into micro managing my time:

It really helped and worked for a while there. My biggest problems are, and have been, when midterm or final paintings were due for class. That's really when you see if you've been budgeting enough time for projects or not.

What should I be studying?

Unfortunately, that really depends on your skill level. What do I think is needed for the beginner? It's gotta be the big three, understanding 3D form in 2D space, understanding human anatomy, and getting grips with value. Forget color until you can manage values well.

Scott Robertson is my favorite perspective and forms in space guy. "How to Draw" is the title of his book and just wow. Also, he does Free Tutorial Fridays on YouTube, check him out!

I used for photo reference when doing gestures, and I still do. Proko YouTube channel is an amazing entry point to learning the human figure and Andrew Loomis' "Figure Drawing For All It's Worth" Aside from that I jumped in a figure drawing class ASAP.

Understanding values starts getting into painting itself and if you're going digital I'm going to recommend you start at and check out Matt Kohr's extensive library. Consider strongly spending $10 on his basic rendering digital download. Fantastic aid for the cost.

Links to all these references can be found to the right, in my 'Awesome Links' section.

In my next entry, I'm going to talk more about intermediates, where I feel I am, and what I'm doing to improve. Also, I’ll include info about the upcoming Illuxcon Scholarship deadline, and my current projects.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Getting Started and Planning for Success

Who are you, exactly?

Hmm. My name is Nicholas, and I'm 24 year old dude living north of the Atlanta metro in GA. I'm an artist, and a current art student. Though, I will say on that last part I hope to continue to be a student for a long, long time. Okay, so maybe not a student forever, but I definitely want to strive to always continue learning.

And for prosperity, I've been studying art academically since Fall 2011, but if we're being serious I haven't really, really been studying longer than Spring 2013. So, about a year and a half now I've been trying to put my nose to the grind stone and figure out what it takes to become a professional. Which leads me to my next point.

Why am I making this blog?

Well for starters, I want to catalogue the journey from where I was, where I am now, to becoming a full-fledged professional, i.e. paid, artist, freelance or otherwise.

In this past year and some change, I have done a lot of trekking through the murk to find out how people made the transition from something close to myself, to a professional. If I'm being frank, finding answers has been hell. The biggest points of aid have come from direct human contact (imagine that) at two conferences I managed to go to, Spectrum Fantastic Art Live this past May and Massive Black in Dec.

I want to share resources I have found useful, highlight learning strategies I am trying, deliver some clarity from the unknown, record field reports of my progress as I study, and invite any struggling soul to fight the good fight alongside me.

Baseline: where I am now, where I was, and what I am planning.

Currently? I am enrolled at a University, studying Drawing/Painting. There is one professor who is a staunch realist, and if I'm to be entirely honest, the only one who seems to support my endeavors towards this career. Which is a character designer, illustrator and all things fantastical while maintaining a sense of strong realism.

These pictures should show you the amount of progress I've made in the last year and a half. I've included some from 2012, where I was doing minimal research, had no idea of what kind of people, or info was available and I was literally flopping about on my tablet.


My next blog post will entail more specifics, including time management and the practice regimens I have tried, and the one or two I am going to be using here in the future.

There is so much to learn, but knowing that means nothing if we don't take action.