Monday, January 12, 2015

New Year, 2015, The Solution. Part 2

Last post I spoke about how I felt 2014 went for me and what I learned. Now it is time for me to focus on the road ahead. It’s going to be an extremely busy, decked out to the max, rush to the finish kind of 5 months or so till May.

The tail of end of May is Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, and I made the decision about a month, maybe 2, ago to have a table showcasing my work and portfolio. Call me crazy, but I don’t actually have a significant illustration based portfolio.

I also signed up for two more courses at Uni, German 2 and Adv. Figured Painting. I took the German class because I want to keep working on my foreign language skills, and the Adv. Figure Painting class is with the professor that backs my interests/endeavors at this point. So, conveniently the assignments in the class are open ended enough that I can use them as illustration briefs and pump up my portfolio.
Let's get cracking! 

So, with all of that in mind, I used Google calendar to plot out my times where I absolutely have to be somewhere, and the times I’m free to do what I can to advance my art. Everything free is labeled study time, though, so I don’t tell myself it’s actually “free” time.

I also am not dictating in advance what I want to study. If you remember from previous blogs, I've got a bit of a running agenda of sources I’m studying and why. They haven’t really changed. I will say, however, that my attitude has. My goal for this rush period is to dedicated about 2 hours of study a day, from the sources I mentioned, but specifically studying the things most troubling about the current painting or illustration I’m working on.

For instance, maybe I’m painting a Valkyrie this week. If that’s the case, I’ll need to study at minimum, some hands (probably holding a sword or staff), wing anatomy and color, and armor. If I feel particularly troubled I may have to study clouds, or female faces. This way my studies are informed decisions to fix an immediate issue which grants a huge value to why I’m studying in the first place rather than just saying vaguely I need to work on hands.

I have two other areas of real focus these next couple of months. Although, they are not about getting directly better at art, they are necessary to facilitating every other facet of my life which will continue to allow to me make any and all art.

The first up is my health and fitness, I've gotten a bit out of shape and that needs to change, so I’m implementing a 4 x a week 30 mins-1 hour workouts. Nothing fancy, just getting back to basics, body-weight exercises, kettlebell workouts, and maybe hitting some boxing pads with a friend.

The second, and infinitely easier to talk about in more detail is financial planning/budgeting. If you do not currently have a budget, regardless of your income, or if you do not currently track your spending ultimately it will bite you in the ass. It isn't any harder than writing down what you have to or expect to pay and how much you make each month. I've just drafted my own budget, and really am trying to hunker down to afford prints and travel expenses for Spectrum this year.

Lastly, I think I will leave you on this note. I have 4 paintings I’d like to finish by Feb 6th. 3 of which I’d prefer to have done by Jan 26th, so I can submit to the juried annual submission of Spectrum’s book publication.

That is extremely fast paced and will be quite demanding. I do not know if it will come to fruition as planned. I’m not going to worry about that, I’m going to put my best foot forward, and pour everything I can into it. That’s all any of us can do, wake up, decide what you’re after, and go after it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year, 2015, The Solution. Part 1.

I named this blog “The Solution”, and maybe I should change it to a solution. Regardless, this post isn't a list of resolutions I’m going to try to keep. It is more about addressing my problems through a retrospective look on my last year, and working through a solution to fix those problems by 2016. That’s the goal anyway. And be prepared, it’s probably a 2 parter.


There are undoubtedly a lot of things I want to accomplish this year. Chief of which is posting here and on my crimson daggers forum.  Midterms snowballed into a desperate panic for planning/executing finals. I know I only had two painting courses, things I wanted to work on at home, and was working about 13-14 hours. Since maybe mid-October, though, a severe, gripping reality set in and made me really consider how I was working. I got enough sorted out to really dedicated myself to my finals, specifically in my Atelier training course. I can’t lie and say I fell short when it comes to my landscape course, but I do feel really good about how I prepared those final paintings.

Let’s talk about 2014 then:

Spring 2014 I took an Advanced Figure Painting course, and felt like I learned quite a bit.  I produced a good amount of work that provided a much needed update on both my site and the portfolio I took to Spectrum that May. I made one of my favorite self-portraits, a limited palette painting of a beautiful model, and some Diablo fan art for the Diablo 3 contest on deviant art.
I went to Spectrum, and while I was complimented on my ability during the portfolio review, those compliments came with a strong BUT. I was good considering I had only been doing art seriously for the past year, BUT I wasn't employable, and there were (are) quite a few things I could/should fix.
The summer following Spectrum, I made this blog, worked and tried to tackle some of my weaknesses. Really though, a majority of the summer I think went the two commissions I received from family. I spent some time working on stuff, as evidenced in my CD forum, but I really feel more could have been done.

2014 became really productive when August came. School started back, my commissions were finished, I had decided not to work instead living on grants and loans, I felt I finally had the necessary time to really buckle down.  I got a good start, did my first cast study in oils in the Atelier training course, and had a steady rhythm going. I talked with my professor and decided not to enter Spectrum this year (more on that in a bit) and was doing pretty okay in my skill development.

About halfway through the semester my grandfather’s health declined rapidly, he had been fighting cancer and won a time or two prior. Unfortunately, he didn't win this time and he did pass. Oddly enough I didn't feel as devastated as I thought I should. It sucked and bummed me out, but I kept trucking through. I didn't realize that I was slowing down, or that I wasn't giving my art/life my full attention. I realized this after about a 2 and half week decline when my professor, very matter of factly, told me that this Atelier directed study course wasn't doing good for me, and that he knew I could be doing more/better.  This was around 5 or 6 weeks before finals were due. I decided then and there it had to change.

I picked my self-up, sought aid and counsel and busted my ass like I have literally never before on my last two paintings. I stayed in the studio until I couldn't keep my eyes from drooping, went home and worked past that point. The last 3 weeks of the semester were all coffee, red-bull, and eye-drops. When critique came, I was proud to call those finals my best two paintings to date, and I got great feedback.

2014 was a year where I learned, more than anything else, you can always do more than you were doing. I feel like any motivational quote from the Rocky franchise would fit well here but I’ll leave it at that. Also don’t think I would want to spend a year like those last 3 weeks, but if I had to do it again I know I can and the results will more than likely be worth it. 2015 is going to be all about the push, and I’ll talk about my attack plan in the second part.

Stay Tuned!