Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Drawing Board

Late night in the studio.  

I was at the store the other night picking up some more tracing paper and other supplies when I was once again tempted by the travel/table top easels.  You know the ones that you can pack up and take with you or put on a tripod and do plein air painting with?  Yeah.  I get tempted every time I pass by or get an ad in my email.  So I was thinking about it and then I saw this table top drawing board (not a bad price and I had a 40% off coupon!).  It sits on your table (or desk) and it has all of these different angles you can set it at.  I'd been bemoaning the price and size of drafting tables and this has met that need so far!  I am going to have to address my lighting situation though next.  Horrible . . . just horrible.

Anyway, this's stuff in progress for "The Chronicles of Prydain".

Next night was the sister-in-law's birthday, so not much work/art got done.

The next day was more sketch refinement and color-comps.  Holy crows, I hate color comps.  I looked at them the next morning - hoping that they were a little better than I remember.  They weren't.

You can see a little bit of Hen Wen here.  She wasn't a complete loss, but I got to a point where I was looking at the board and thinking - "What the hell am I doing?"  I literally had no idea.  Which really just means that I'm not ready to proceed from the comp stage yet, which is a good thing in a way because it tells me where I am in the whole process.  What is it that Edison said?  

"Results? Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward...."

I imagine that that is much easier to say after the fact.

I am always in love at the sketch stage.  This is the fun part for me, the problem solving part.  You'd think that my mind would equate painting with problem solving, too.  But it doesn't.  It's more like conflict; I feel like I'm fighting something the entire time.  And I really hate conflict.

Part of the problem is also that I've started to be able to see a glimpse of the final image in my mind - that hasn't happened before.  Usually I have an idea that I want to illustrate, I do a bunch of thumbs, find ones that work, get the reference, do the drawing, figure out what needs to happen with the color in the comp stage and then paint the final.  I don't usually see the finish before it's sitting in front of me.  But with these I have and it's making my inability to but down even an echo of them on the board absolutely infuriating.

Another part of the problem is that at heart I am not a patient person - especially with myself.  I want things to be done right, and I want them to be done now.  And if I can't make it perfect then it's not worth doing.  Illogical, I know, and with anyone else I would be completely reasonable and understanding.  But it's not anyone else.  It's me.  And it has to be perfect.  I haven't quite figured out why perfect is so important to me, but my life seems to have been defined  in my own mind by it's level of "perfection".  Which isn't really attainable, which means that in my mind my life has not been successful up to this point.  But I think that might be too much honesty for the internet.  So.

Sorry.  I find myself all too often downing in my humanity lately.

I usually work on either cold-press watercolor paper or Strathmore 500 Series Illustration Board (Vellum). But the new-ish Aquaboard by Ampersand has captured my fancy.  I haven't quite "got it" yet, but something about it fascinates me (don't ask me what) and I keep coming back to try it out.  It's absolute murder on your watercolor brushes, though.  My Windsor Newton Series 7 has probably had it even without the abuse of the Aquaboard and gouache (it's . . . 6 years old? Good grief . . . And they're so expensive).  But of all the brushes I've used they are the best.  Dick Blick has a Kolinski Sable that's a decent substitute.

Anyway, I fought with the watercolor for another day, had a couple of emotional breakdowns with both art and life, then of course started to panic with my deadline advancing towards me in a most menacing fashion.  And I couldn't make the watercolor work to save my life.  The next night, I quickly changed gears and broke out my powdered graphite, carbon sticks and pencils and trusty kneaded eraser.  I love graphite.  And while I continued to fight with these, I didn't have the same level of frustration that I did with the watercolor.  These are on Stonehenge.  I also have some BFK Rives waiting for me to get back and experiment with.

I chose to stick with the just the spot illustrations.  I have full page illustrations waiting to be developed, but with my time constraints they just weren't feasible.  I'm finding that it takes me about 6 to 8 hours to finish one of these (starting from the point when I put the drawing on the board to adding the digital color), which is what I usually spend on a painting.  Now, Hen Wen took less time than that, obviously, and Taran and Melyngar are taking longer, so, I think the 6-8 is average.  And that's not including the time I spend finalizing the sketches.  I was hoping that these would be less time intensive since they were spots, but, c'est la vie.

Starting on Eilonwy.

Several hours in. 

Eilonwy nearing completion. 

Final with digital color.

I'm finding more and more that structure is very important for me - which may be why I was struggling so much with the watercolor pieces because I hadn't developed the sketches behind them enough.  Something to think about.  I plan on doing a lot of sketching and painting before and after the workshop, so maybe I can break through this mental block without the pressure of the little perfectionist in my head harassing me every step of the way (I've scheduled a few days before and after to "relax".  I love Seattle - couldn't tell you why, but it's one of my favorite places).

Working on Hen Wen.

Still working.

Hen Wen nearly finished.
Hen Wen final with digital color.

Working on Taran, Eilonwy, and Melyngar.

I wasn't able to finish this one - something was wrong with Melyngar's head, too small I think.  Didn't have time to finish it last night so it's still on the drawing board until I get back.  I'll finish it and post it soon.

Next stop Seattle.  I am so nervous on so many different levels.  I'll let you know how it goes.  


tlchang said...

Sara! You'll have a great time. Iain and Brom are incredibly supportive teachers (and couldn't be nicer humans). The objective here is to have a non-stressful, draw-for-fun-and-growth experience around fabulous peers and instructors. As long as we don't melt from the heat, the room may explode from awesome. :-)

Unknown said...

Haha, thanks! That's good to know. Coming from Texas and having been driving around Houston for the entire summer without AC, I think I might be able to work with that. Despite my overdeveloped perfectionist complex, I am super excited!