Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daily Prompts: Part 2 (Seattle Trip!)

"they move when nobody's looking."

Multimedia entry!
I just started taking photos for fun. It's like, the first time ever (on my very, very crappy camera)
and some of them even turned out alright (especially after reintroducing some contrast in know it's funny, it's one of the ONLY times I've ever used Photoshop on photos?)
So if you'll indulge me (and if I keep the habit up) I'm gonna pepper a few photos up on this blog as I go...It's become more and more related to my artwork, since I've been taking my watercolor on the road and my sketchbook has become more of a hybrid sketch/travel/prayer journal.

Last week I decided to take a trip to Seattle. One of my very best friends moved out there a year ago, and I promised him I'd come visit him sometime- so (realizing I have become a grown-up with a job and stuff) I hopped a plane, scheduled some time off and headed out there with my sketchbook & camera in hand. Even better- I went with 5 new prompts in 5 unopened envelopes tucked away in my bag.

I've been to Seattle once before, for an interview with Microsoft whereupon I was pampered with beautiful weather and expenses paid. I assumed, based on my previous luck, that I could expect Seattle's trademark rainy gloom to be in full effect this time around. Somehow I was blessedly wrong and ended up with the most beautiful 5 days ever! The result of which is that now Seattle ranks up there with my favorite places to be in the world. I'll have to see it when it's pissy sometime, maybe I'll like it less :/ For the time being, though, my good opinion remains untarnished. I love Seattle.

So- before I wax too lyrical, I should get on to the prompts and sundry (my favorite of which, I slapped some quick color on. It's sitting atop this post):

Day 1:
"something left, something taken"

I mean-'s a cute idea. But I was on a plane (dead alseep for most of the ride) and had to rush this out in between the hustle and bustle of arriving, getting settled, seeing my friends again and eating good food. And guys: let me tell you: I ate some GOOD food in Seattle :)
I think the prompt is really beautiful and evocative, and I feel a little silly for having only come up with the above. Ah well, it was my first instinctive response and I couldn't shake it :)

Day 2:
"deeply rooted"

Quite happy with this one- just a sweet little illustration, and the context of it is hard to explain. I just like the idea of giving-tree esque friendship between a child and an unmoving tree. Something transient and something intransient.

Day 3:
"the kid's table"

For whatever reason, this was the hardest prompt for me. I just didn't connect with it- sometimes you have an idea and sometimes you just don't. The top illustration is what I came up with, and I'm pleased enough with it, but "meh" overall :p It does amuse me as an illustration of the concept "God is very, very patient" The second illo is a pass at the next prompt...

Day 4:
"the unmendable hole"

Hopefully pretty self-explanatory. I had a few other solves for this one, but they got a little more personal than I'd like to publish. Still- enjoyed this one...less of a scene and more of a graphic solution.

Day 5:
"they move when nobody's looking"

This is my favorite. Favorite prompt and favorite solve. Hopefully it's self-explanatory. It was a real challenge to try and work out a composition on the fly in this medium...most of my watercolor stuff has been single characters, landscapes, or spot illustrations- but when you introduce the idea of a narrative scene, suddenly the composition becomes the thing. I'm not happy with this as more than just a study, but it was a step in the scary direction of composing in media without a ctrl-z. Sketching, erasing, and ctrl-z are a huge part of my composing process, so I definitely balked. It drives me nuts now, but at least I got something out on paper. More better in the future!

That wraps up the prompts, but I should mention, for honesty's sake: I had a 6th prompt, but I didn't finish it...not because I didn't want to, but I ran out of time and got frustrated. I guess I felt I should mention it because sometimes this happens: you fail. It's not the end of the world- especially with self-inflicted homework for fun, but it does suck to feel like I couldn't even keep up with voluntary sketch work :/ At any rate: a good lesson ^_^

But I didn't just do prompts while I was away- I kept doodling as the mood took me, and I figured it would be fun to toss those up here too, interspersed with some of my favorite snapshots :)

We climbed the space-needle and had lunch at the top- it was SO incredible up there. I know it's the most touristy thing you can possibly do in Seattle, but the fact that it was a cliche didn't cause it to lose any of it's lustre. I had spent a couple of days bopping around the city before we went up, and it was awesome to pick out places we had visited as the restaurant spun. (oh yeah- it spins. Did I mention that? Who has two thumbs, a blog, and was mildly nauseous the whole time? THIS GUY)

Since we were turning around and around, I was struck with a sudden inspiration to pass a note along the rim of the restaurant. Peter could freehand a passable map of the USA, so we decided to send this around and see what happened! In an hour, we were delighted to find that once we reached our note, several other people had responded! I was a little miffed that they had stolen my pen in the process, though -_-

We got fancy pizza downtown somewhere (don't remember exactly where we were) and right outside the pizza place was this ivy-lined alleyway with this little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop hidden in it. I was so struck by how beautiful it was, I remembered it and drew it from memory later.

While at pizza, I did do some sketching. My friend Peter challenged me to draw him (which i did! and I was super pleased to find I caught some part of his personality in it). Then I passed the sketchbook around and made everyone else draw. It was like pulling teeth, but the humored me, and then I watercolored over their drawings :)
ALSO: near this pizza place we went to this place called WOW which was, get this, an overtly 'christian' bubble-tea joint O___O Like: seriously. I was slurping my slushee to worship music.
I was so amused, I texted my sister about it, which unleashed a cavalcade of puns including:
Tapioca Testimonies
Biblical Bubbles
Scriptural Slushies
Mighty to Mango
Lord over Litchi
Gummy Gospel
The Taro Torah
Parting of the Red Tea
King of the Juice
Frozannah in the Yoghest
Boba and the Whale
(and my favorite)
Slurpshack, Teashack, and Abendystraw

^_^ derpa derp. derp. derp. I have a good sister.

On our tour of the most-cliche-tourist-destinations-in-Seattle, we stopped over at Pike Place Market. Again, I was delighted...I just really really love big colorful overcrowded markets and street performers (of which there were several :D)

Taken in the Seattle Public Library. I had a day of exploring the city on my own, and I headed over there where I ogled at the architecture, found the reading room, sat down to sketch and promptly fell dead asleep. Like- totally gone, mouth agape, probably snoring loudly. I woke up to the sun setting through the angled windows of the building with my mouth tasting like library.

And then THIS happened. Gasworks park...on the most incredible afternoon-into-sunset of the week. It was the most beautiful location on the water in the middle of the city surrounded by harbor activity and the skyline , and it was so SO cold. I sat up on the crest of the hill and sketched as my friends wandered off in search of warmer climes:

This. Place. I am in love. F'real.

Before you ask- yes. Those are what you think they are...and my sister made them from scratch. Like I said- I have a good sister :)
Oh, and yeah- I got a haircut.

Alright, that wraps up my indulgent slideshow of snapshots and, I think, this entry!
I'll keep sketching if you keep reading :) And keep those comments coming- they are immensely encouraging (just knowing people are reading this crap is neat!) and I love hearing back from you're all pretty neat ^_^
Until next time- Much love, and may God bless you with life in abundance!



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Daily Prompts: Part 1

"and then there were four..."

Ugh. YET AGAIN I have been absent for OVER A MONTH. No excuses, but:
I am officially making it a goal to update this blog a little more frequently than once-a-month-ish. It will tie nicely into my resolution to make more art more frequently! :)

I am still very much on a watercolor kick, and very much in my 'blue period'. Out of consideration for you folks (for being so patient and obliging!), I decided to break it up a bit and spent a few minutes tossing some quick color on the above sketch. I realize: not everyone is as in-love with Prussian Blue as I am (But. Guys. I am so. SO in love with Prussian Blue watercolor), and it might be nice to break up the monochrome.

Because I'd bet money that most of you don't watch this blog because of my monochromatic doodling- that you'd like to see some more finished looking work. Many of you may be getting a little impatient with all this scrawly sketchwork. I feel a (perhaps bizarre, perhaps unnecessary) need to make excuses for myself- this is something I need to do for me.

If you love this style of work, then please forgive me for not giving you the benefit of the doubt- you have much more broad and evolved tastes than I give you credit for! :)

I've said it often to myself and it's come up more than once in conversation: I don't much care if my color is pretty, my rendering is slick and my styling is confident- if my ideas aren't compelling/sincere/arresting, then it's all for naught. I spend all day at work doing very precise, 'rendered' drawings and sculptures- and I've found that I have been really craving to do...not-that!
I'm slowly realizing that, while technical skill has its place, in the end my joy in making art doesn't come from those things. I don't want to spend my life trying to render more precisely or paint like a renaissance master. Comparing myself to my peers in that regard is pretty dispiriting- I am by far not the best painter...and I think I don't want to spend time trying to be. And that is SO freeing :)

What gets me most excited is the dreaming- the conceiving, sketching, thinking and storytelling. I am more and more in love with work that shows the heart of the artist, and less and less in love with work that is technically excellent but empty. It's not a new thought, by any means, but it's taken on new meaning for me.

Perhaps it's more simply said this way: I am more inspired, my life is more enriched, by seeing a beautiful idea than by seeing a beautifully rendered bicep.
< / rant >

SO: to that end a friend of mine consented to give me a little homework. Each day for a few days at a time I would open a sealed envelope with a new prompt in it. Just a sentence or a word, and that day I would respond visually in some way or another.
What you'll see is pretty raw and unpolished. And I would say a lot of it is pretty boring and some of it fails completely. But I think it's probably more useful and interesting if I post them indiscriminately- I'm going to make a lot of mediocre work if I'm going to make good work. And I think there's something to be said for posting bad work as well as good.

Day 1:
"and then there were four..."

The first day is still one of my favorites, but it was a struggle from start to finish. I've found the more narrative/sentence-long prompts tend to inspire me more, but it's not a hard-and-fast rule. Day 1 I had a little idea, and I decided: "I'll make this a short little one-page comic! if it's sketchy and quick it won't take long and it'll be fun". So, I leapt right into trying to come up with characters and panels and assumed it would go quicker because of the style it was in. SO WRONG. I ended up having a mini panic attack and falling asleep early. True story.
The second image was to be the final panel in the comic, and it's the original idea, essentially. I still like it, and I thought about finishing the comic later but decided against it- I think it's more honest this way. Fact: sometimes I bite off more than I can chew, stress myself out, and become paralyzed. Comics are hard and style has nothing to do with why.

Day 2:

Day 2: chill out and breathe. Keep it simple. Something easy and, in the end, kind of 'meh'. They can't all be interesting :/

Day 3:
"the moment he knew"

lol. Hard to explain this first response- so I did a for-real one.

The final response I liked a lot, but it has little to do with the actual prompt. I had been thinking about this idea for Jellybots- herds of buildings migrating across the plains...

Day 4:
"...and that's when I stopped believing in gravity."

My first reaction to the prompt was a bit...obvious, I thought. And not particularly good. My first instinct is not often my best one (which is actually a really great lesson across all of these...often I had to do a little soul-searching and thinking to get to a result I was excited about- apparently it's not enough for me to just lash out on intuition alone), so I gave this one another quick shot...

ahhh...that's better. "...and a number of other things, for that matter."

Just because I had to think a little harder didn't mean the result would necessarily be more...intellectual. Perhaps 'thinking' is the wrong word- maybe it's that I had to stop 'thinking' about the prompt and start 'feeling' about it. That rings truer.

That pretty much wraps it up for my first session of prompts. I had a lot of fun when I wasn't panicking, so I asked her to do it again! I made a weekend trip to Seattle last week and took a few prompts with me! I'll post the results of those next (but I figure it might be less overwhelming if I break up the posts) :)

Bonus sketch! I am fond of the cut of this fellow's jib! Not to mention his Banjolele :)
If intrigued, please click.

Anyways, maybe this was an interesting look into how I think? Maybe it was a self-indulgent post full of introspection and meaningless doodling? Either way, I'm going to do it again until somebody stops me!

May the staggering beauty of what God has made give you pause and fill your heart up!