Taking a look at art

So I’ll start by admitting that I haven’t done a lot of writing lately. Things are still in a bit of turmoil, but I think they’re starting to settle down enough for me to get my life back on track. Soulless is still happening, and Ereptor will be finished. “Soon.” Writing is still my passion, but I think I lost sight of it along the way. Before you really get it out there, it’s like trying to tell yourself about a really awesome dream that you had.

I’ve tried keeping the creativity rolling through this lull. As I said in the last post, I’ve been going to therapy lately, and I guess part of that has gotten me back to drawing again. I started drawing many years ago back in my high school days, and, well, I thought at the time that it led to my depression. I’m starting to see now that depression led to depression, but that’s probably a lesson better learned at another time. A time when I haven’t already stuck the title at the top of the page and am too lazy to change it.

Anyway, I’ve always had a fascination with art. It took me a long time as a kid to come around to comic books, but I found them when I was in the 7th grade. I fell in love with the tales of superheroes–having just stumbled upon the world of science fiction through Asimov and Crichton–but I really noticed the artwork. I think mostly it was through Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, probably Joe Madureira if I’d been willing to admit it at the time, a slew of others. The works of Alex Ross and Boris Vallejo captivated me as well, but I’ve never had either the drive or talent for painting.

I went through a long stretch where I lost that yearning for art. Like I said, I thought it was leading to depression; I never really thought that it could be one of a few things holding depression at bay. I tried drawing again a few times throughout college to no avail, so I let it slide again for a while.

Then this year around Valentine’s Day, I met a new friend at a coffee shop here in town, and she showed me some of her drawings. That got the gears turning again, and it was about the same time that I started my therapy. After the first session, I went out to Wal-Mart and bought a bunch of cheap art supplies and got a first drawing out that night, just a simple waist-up picture of a female character of some kind. I don’t think I had any thoughts of her in immediate roles in stories, but women were always easier subjects to draw, so it seemed like a good starting point. I had trouble with the hands, though. For a few days after that, I worked on drawing my own hands, worked on the shading, worked on a lot of things. I muttered, “What’s going on here?” to myself as I tried to find out how knuckles and palm lines worked. I’m still shady on a lot of it, but I can say that my hand-drawing skills have improved.

The point of all this is that I wanted to show you guys that I’ve been doing something. Even the act of drawing helps me clear my mind to prepare for further revisions in Soulless. Not to mention that it actually is therapeutic.

Let’s cut to the chase then and get to that part. Drawing pictures of my friends seemed a bit…invasive? I don’t know. It must be one of those things that I’ll have trouble putting into words. Instead of scrolling through Facebook, I turned to Reddit, namely the /r/redditgetsdrawn subreddit. People post pictures of themselves, loved ones, and pets, and request drawings. Some of the artists are really good. Others are…not so much, but their hearts are in the right place. I consider myself somewhere in the middle of the road, but I’m improving.

So… Here goes:

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This one was the first I tried there, and it gave me the most trouble. Her head was at a natural angle, but it was still a strange angle for my level of expertise. I had a more frustrating work on the previous sheet, and that somehow interfered with where this girl’s right eye was, so that came out looking weird. Also she was smiling, and I have trouble with teeth, I guess. I thought I did alright with the hair, though, but that’s about it for this picture.

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I liked this one a little better. It gave me a good excuse to work on drawing hands some more, so that was good. I did a better job with the eyes, but I wish I’d shaded her left eye a little better. I meant to put some more detail into her necklace, but I forgot at the end. Also forgot to erase the guiding lines before posting. Oops.

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This was another one I wasn’t too happy with. The eyes gave me trouble again and came out looking beady. Her hair was very dark, so I tried to shade it all solid, and I think that backfired on me. I got better on the smile though, and I like the shading on the right side of the picture.

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This is probably my favorite one of the pencil sketches. There was a lot of bright, direct lighting that washed out a lot of her features in the original photo, but that gave me more insight into the structure of noses. This was also my first real attempt at drawing Asian eyes, so that was its own challenge but one I think I did well with (thought something seems wrong with her right eye).

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She didn’t look so worried in the original photo. She did comment saying that I drew a better-looking version of her. I’ll take it? Haha. I liked the shading here. The hair wasn’t so bad, but I look at it now and see that it could have done with some improving.

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Shading was a huge issue here. The lighting in the original photo was so bright that her jawline disappeared in it. I made a casual remark about it when I posted it, saying that it was something I needed to work on. She apologized, said she would wait for the subreddit’s 3-day period before posting a new one, and deleted this one. Deleting submissions in /r/redditgetsdrawn is a big no-no, and she got banned. Oops. I still feel bad over this, but I never thought she would delete the post. Ack. This was after she said she really liked the drawing and hoped I would give her next submission a try.

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This was my favorite one. A firefighter said she was a fan of Captain America and other comics and wanted to be drawn as a comic book hero. Her photo didn’t show a lot of her face, so I had more room to freestyle. It was the first time working with ink since I started with art, and it was more comfortable than I expected. The fabric didn’t work out as well as I hoped, but I loved the effects on the visor and around the eyes. I tried to incorporate the firefighters’ insignia on her shoulders, but I don’t know how well that came across. More work on hands, but I can’t say I like the result of her left.

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More ink! And I drew a dude! For some reason, he reminded me of Ron Perlman, and that reminded me of Hellboy, so I had to try this in ink. The tattoos were harder than I thought when I started. I think I did a good job with the facial hair, but I wish I’d added more mustache on his left side. Needed more hair in the back too.

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After time spent inking, I tried pencil sketching with thicker lines. The shading of her face was a little odd anyway (she was in some fae cosplay), but I got the high points. Thicker lines in the hair seemed to be the main issue here, since she looks like she’s about to go Super Saiyan.

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Another person with her head at a natural angle, but one that was awkward for me to draw. The photo had her with her head tilted down slightly and looking up, while my sketch has her looking directly on. I think that skewed my proportions between different features, and the shading made her look older here than she actually seems to be.

I’ve done these drawings every day for the past…however many days that is. I’ll slowly get better here, but I think I’ll get better writing, too. If nothing else, this is helping me get in the mindset of making a schedule, and that’s always been one of my writing woes. Maybe I’ll learn to at least alternate between art and prose. Expect new material soon.

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About Brad

I'm a writer and feel like it's finally time to get my stuff out there. I'll try to learn how to keep you guys entertained. Hope you enjoy!
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