Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On Beginnings, Jellybots, Spidey and Wickford


Well- it's been exactly a month since my last post. Which is a pretty big shift from the almost-every-week-if-not-more-often cadence I had kept up until recently. 

The last month has been a full one- but not necessarily full of postable art...or at least time in which to post it.

My sister is now married, and I have a brother-in-law :) The wedding itself easily ranks among the top 10 days of ever (which is kind of a big deal to me right now, since I'm in a bit of a slump). 
It was such and affirming time of family and friends from all over (really just the best caliber of people in the world as far as I'm concerned), and so right and playful and Christ-centered and just...just the best. So congratulations to Erin and Chris!
May you make me an uncle soon :D

You're probably wondering what that image is, above. Well, that's kiiind of to do with the OTHER big thing that happened this month. I got a phone call that catalyzed a little soul searching of the Jelly variety.

A couple of panic-attacks, crumpled pages, and my first brush with Adobe InDesign later- and a little baby Jellybots pitch was born! A bouncing baby PDF!
I won't talk too much about the specifics or post it here (I think it wiser to keep things under wraps for the moment) but I'm just excited to have done something..

Which is a whole lot more than the invisible pile-of-spaghetti in my head that Jellybots has been for over a year now. A lot of people have been really supportive and excited based only on the little I've shown and told about it- which has been a really wonderful response to have. 
Can I just say- thank you for reading my blog and supporting me as I make art. It really means a more than a lot to have people (yes, even anonymous internet people) who believe in what you do. 

Anyways, for the little preliminary pitch I put together two pages to establish the look and feel- and I thought you guys might like to see the first two panels of that as a blog-exclusive preview.
I very well might post both full pages on here later, but for now- enjoy the smiley clouds!
(this first panel has my favorite cloud of both pages, which is cloud-that-looks-like-it's-being-taken-against-its-will ^_^)

Process sketches of Sam from Jellybots

Some of y'all seem interested in the process of putting comics and whatnot together, so I'll ramble on that for a bit, cool? cool.

I mention being anxious a lot, I think. It's something I struggle with- and that was no joke this time around.
This month I spent a lot of time watching the Olympics (Mmmmmmmm 'lympics) and so my metaphors are going to be more athletic than they usually are/than I ever have been in my life.

Have you ever heard anybody talk about Sports and mention that they are more mental than physical? 
I think that must be true, because it's really SUPER true of making art and telling stories. 

I would watch the Olympic sprinters on their blocks, waiting for the gunshot to sound, and think: how on earth do they deal with all that pressure? (I still have no idea)

But when something matters to you- when you're starting something and the stakes are high, and your past successes won't help you, and every second counts- how do you muscle through that unbelievable pressure to 

Honestly- Jbots has been off to a rocky start. I'm trying to sprint and I'm not sure I've got my legs under me just yet. And I felt a lot of internal pressure just sitting down to sketch- what if I screwed it up? What if it's not as good as I imagine it will be?
But the thing is, I think you just have to move. Whether you place or not- at least you're off the blocks. Sometimes it's hard to even do that.
You know what stresses me out? This:

That's where this stuff is won and lost; The beginning. 
And this is what my starts look like- messy, tiny and illegible to almost everyone but me. It's the only way I can do it.
Everything after this stage is polish. Gravy. Frosting.
I discovered a new method this time around, born out of my neuroses: print out a bunch of tiny rectangles the proportions of a page and thumbnail that same page again and again- carving up the page with a blunt pencil quickly and messily until you break through the barrier of nervous tentative-ness that keeps all the compositions "sort of alright". 

And you know what? It didn't even work :p

I don't think there's a single method or shortcut that really will.
The problem isn't the art, the storytelling, pacing or polish. That can all be worked out with practice.
It's the other thing- the 'which story to tell?' and 'why?'...and that's where it gets real.

Which brings me to that point where my faith and my art collide;
It's not just about doing the right things- it's about becoming a better person. A person at peace. A person who knows they are loved unconditionally by God, and that their worth doesn't come from the work they make. (sound like last month's post? Still learning this one.)

I have become more and more convinced, over the last couple of months, that God isn't necessarily interested in making me a "more successful artist". I'm pretty sure that's a much lower priority for him than it is for me- and that he's a lot more interested in helping me become a better human being.
But I forget, again and again- and I keep on coming back to that same point with everything I do.

I'm rambling- and very likely this is all just me. But I hope that this is helpful and encouraging to those of you out there who also have a hard time with confidence in their artwork and facing the blank page.
I keep learning that doing the hard work of the soul is the thing of first importance, and (secondly) to keep making art along the way no matter what.
Most of it will be bad. Almost none of it will meet my expectations for myself. Remembering to press on- because God uses imperfection. Remembering that I am loved regardless of what I make. 

So I'm excited about Jellybots- not because it's perfect or even my best work. But because I think God is more at work when I move forward, however much a mess I make.
So, here's to the next baby step.

Which brings me to Wickford.

Sketches from Wickford and the Cape Cod Canal

Now that I have a little break, I decided to take a little trip to someplace I'd never been to watercolor. My friend Maret and I brought our paints over to Wickford RI. Which is lovely and quaint and you should go.

It's full of little antique shops and bridges and hedges and lobster-traps and oyster-bros and even a summer-time music festival attended exclusively by senior citizens.
Because, guys, summer in New England is the best.
And getting out to watercolor reminds me that I am so blessed to be here. Regardless of whatever is frustrating and whatever has gone wrong- it doesn't make the sunshine any less beautiful and welcome, or Wickford any less adorable and full of old people.

That pretty much wraps up the big news. But since there's a whole month of work to catch up on I figure I owe you guys some more pictures!

To start, here are some sketches, both old and new, of Spider-Man. Because guys: I love Spider-man. And I would love to be allowed to draw him for money one day. And I really loved the recent movie because I love high school and romance and lizards and Emma Stone and...yeah. Spider-Man.

Grrrr! Arrg! Things!

And there's more!
I love Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy so much that I drew her! Bangs!

Movie crush. F'realz.

Additionally, over the course of the month I finished my last commission for the folks who on Deviantart. This was done for a fellow who wanted a piece based on prison inmates who play mental games of chess from cell-to-cell by calling out moves. I thought it would be a fun opportunity to experiment stylistically with a more geometric/sculptural approach.

And some progress shots of that, for the interested

Lastly, I finished up part two of the Princess Peach tattoo commission I was working on: Shadow Queen! They will go on opposite shoulders, but for now I comped them into a single piece. It was a really fun piece to work on and I am glad to say that both the client and I are pleased with it! :D

I'll leave things there, for now. I hope you guys like what you see, and keep checking for more updates. There's plenty of new and exciting stuff coming up!
Your comments, thoughts and prayers are always appreciated. 

Thanks for reading!

Much love,




Kirbish said...

Beautiful work as always, and exciting news about Jellybots! I know it's tough, trying to find the -right- story to tell out of the, I'm sure, hundreds that knock around in your head. But at the end of the day, you've gotta just grab one and run with it and make it the best you can. I figure the world will be a better place with one more story in it than without, and if it's not something that makes you content as a person or as an artist or whatever then atleast that story exists now. Because of you. And, if nothing else, it's practice for the next story :P

I know it's tough, but it really is great to see you working your way through everything that's going on. Your work and, more importantly, you as a person are an inspiration to a lot of people and I think that, more than anything, is what makes it worth it.

Anyway, great to see some new Jellybots work (and everything else too!) I am stupidly excited to see more :D

Anna said...

I, too, have a fear of beginnings. Being in the middle of something can be draggy and boring and weird and also sort of confidence-destroying, and endings are tricky, but it's the beginnings that give me nightmares.

There's always that creeping fear that people will find out that I don't know what the heck I'm doing - that I'm just making this up as I go along and am very much flying by the seat of my pants.

It's having the guts to push through that frightening beginning that is the important bit - and you seem to be coping with that.

For me, with comics, it's the page-layouts that give me the biggest problems. I've been doing this for years now, but it's still really, really tricky - and still, I think those rough, scribbly thumbnails are the truest version of the story I want to tell. It's the bare bones, the core of the story, without any layers between it and the reader.

The rest, as you say, is just trimmings.

Good luck taking these steps, and good luck working on Jellybots - I love getting to peek at your work-process, and I'm very much looking forward to the result.

scruffy said...

Yeah, i could go on and on about beginnings and failures and Jesus and pushing through.. but you said it already. Know that someone out here in the blogosphere is resonating at the same frequency. :D Thanks!

The Doodler said...

Anonymous Internet Person here: this is really lovely and I'm excited to see more of Jellybots. :D

Anna Castro said...

I am so excited for these Jellybots! You know, they could make a pretty fun video game concept too....just saying... :)

Great Work! It is always inspiring to me when I stop by your blog. Keep it up!

May your walk be filled with joy and doodles of every kind! :)

Anonymous said...

Probably just reiterating everything that has been said, but I find it some strange form of encouragement, knowing that others struggle with the exact same issues that confront me. It's strange how our fears and anxieties can blind us to what should be our ultimate confidence: God's profound love for us.

Thanks so much for sharing, and keep on trucking!