Today’s Art (1st October 2014)

Well, I felt like making a stylised painting of a 1980s/90s librarian. But, fairly soon after I started sketching this picture, it felt like it was missing something. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to realise that there wasn’t enough horror in this picture and I was able to correct this mistake quickly…

Since this painting will have probably been posted on DeviantART by now, I’ll also provide the original lineart for this painting too.

As usual, these two pictures are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Horror Library" By C. A. Brown

“Horror Library” By C. A. Brown

And here’s the lineart:

"Horror Library (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Horror Library (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

If You Can Fill “Awkward Time”, Your Work Will Be Popular

2014 Artwork Awkward Time Sketch

This article was inspired by a time when I had about twenty minutes to spare between things – twenty minutes is kind of an awkward time.

It’s too long not to do anything, but it’s too short to watch an episode of a TV show, it’s too short to play a level of a decent FPS game, it’s too short to really immerse yourself in a good novel and it’s just too short to read a comic.

I’m sure that you’ve probably experienced periods of “awkward time” too. There’s nothing more annoying than having an amount of spare time that is both too long and too short to really do anything with.

This is probably why things like Youtube and casual mobile phone games are so immensely popular – they’re designed to fill these “awkward” periods of time.

Most Youtube videos are anything between two and ten minutes long, you can watch just one or two of them if you’ve got a few minutes to spare or you can watch entire playlists if you’ve got more time.

Plus, although I don’t really use mobile phones, all I’ve heard about casual phone games are that they’re the kind of thing which can easily be enjoyed for either three or thirty minutes.

The same is true for daily webcomics too – most daily webcomic updates take less than a minute to read. But, because people don’t always read them every day, it’s easy enough to amuse yourself for a few minutes by looking through all of the comics that have been previously posted on there.

Yes, some webcomics are more popular than others, but the fact that they can easily fill “awkward time” is probably one of the reasons why webcomics are so popular.

Likewise, people can browse the headlines of a newspaper fairly quickly or they can read every article in depth. People can glance at a painting quickly or they can study it closely for hours.

So, how is any of this useful to you?

Well, if you want to make something that will appeal to people, then it might be worth thinking about the time it takes for your audience to enjoy your work.

If you can find a way to make something that can both be enjoyed quickly and can also be enjoyed over a longer period of time, then this is probably ideal.

But, failing that, creating things which can be enjoyed in less than twenty minutes – things which can fill “awkward” periods of free time- is certainly one way to appeal to your audience.

So, how do you do this?

It’s really simple. You can either make lots of self-contained things or you can make something continuous which is split up into lots of shorter parts.

This is why, for example, Dan Brown’s thriller novels were so wildly popular as holiday novels last decade – since each chapter is only a few pages long and can be easily read in a couple of minutes.

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Sorry that this article was so short Hold on, this is the one time I don’t have to apologise for a short article. Anyway, I hope that it was useful :)

Finally! We Can Parody Things In Britain … Thanks To The EU :)

2014 Artwork New parody laws sketch

Although I usually try to avoid talking about politics on this blog, one of the few exceptions I make to this rule is the whole subject of copyright laws.

But, although I’m normally very cynical about politics, I actually have to congratulate parliament today. Yes, you heard me correctly, parliament has done something I actually approve of.

As of today, people in Britain now have the legal right to make parodies of other things – this is a right that Americans have enjoyed for decades at the very least (thanks to their sensible “fair use” copyright rules). But, now, Britain has finally emerged into the 21st century with regard to this issue :)

But, like a few other sensible reforms in the UK ( such as with things like LGBT military service and transgender healthcare) it wasn’t the UK parliament itself that was behind this sensible change in our laws. No, it was the EU.

Seriously, for all of the criticisms people make of the EU, it can occasionally be something of a civilising force in British politics. But, I’m getting off-topic here….

Amusingly though, the new British parody rules seem to be the polar opposite of the American ones. Whilst, in the US, a legally-protected parody must make some kind of serious critical comment about the work that it’s borrowing things from, the BBC News article about the new UK laws seems to suggest that legally-protected parodies in the UK actually have to be funny.

Even so, it’ll probably be down to the courts to determine the limits of our new parody laws. I hope that they interpret them in the widest possible way (and that no-one’s lives are ruined by the inevitable court cases) – but, no doubt, we’ll probably still end up having more restrictive laws than some other western countries like the US.

But, this aside, these new laws are at least a small step in the right direction. So, well done parliament and, more importantly, well done to the EU as well :)

Today’s Art (30th September 2014)

Well, I started randomly sketching and, before I knew it, I suddenly found that I had a picture of a vampire cheerleader character in a retro 1990s American adventure game of some kind.

Since this picture will probably have already been on DeviantART for a while, I’ll provide the original lineart for it here as a blog exclusive.

As usual, these two pictures are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"90s Vampire Cheerleader" By C. A. Brown

“90s Vampire Cheerleader” By C. A. Brown

And here’s the original lineart:

"90s Vampire Cheerleader (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“90s Vampire Cheerleader (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

Top Ten Articles – September 2014

2014 Artwork Top Ten Articles September

As I mentioned briefly last month, I’ve decided to replace my monthly “Best Of The Blog” posts with a list of links to my personal top ten articles from the previous month (and possibly few honourable mentions too).

I’ve decided to switch to this format for a number of reasons, but the main one is because I tend to write my articles fairly far in advance and, in July, I discovered WordPress has a limit on the number of posts you can schedule in advance. So, taking a whole month’s worth of articles out of my “drafts” folder and getting fucntional links for all of them would be unfeasably time-consuming.

All in all, this probably hasn’t been my best month in terms of articles – mostly due to the hot weather at the time I was writing them and because of other random stresses too. But, saying that, there have been some reasonably good articles this month.

Anyway, enjoy :)

Top Ten Articles For September 2014:

- “How To Add Personality To Your Art
– “Three More Ways To Be Creative Before The Apocalypse
– “Five Cool Little Things About Being An Artist
– “Three Things To Do When You Don’t Have Any Stories To Tell
– “Writing Dystopic Comedy
– “Three Things To Do After You’ve Drawn A Terrible Picture
– “Storytelling As ‘Revenge’
– “Three Ways To Recycle Something You’ve Already Posted Online
– “Should You Write Long Or Short Non-Fiction Articles?
– “How To Write Rhyming Poetry

Honourable Mentions:

- “Art And Gender Expression
– “Three Open- Source Drawings Styles For Beginners
– “Art, Writing And Rebellion

Today’s Art ( 29th September 2014)

Well, I’m still experimenting with drawing/painting people in a wide variety of poses and today’s painting turned out fairly well, although it required a fair amount of digital editing after I scanned it.

Not only that, the background also wasn’t quite as imaginative as I had hoped it would be when I started sketching this picture.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Cocktails" By C. A. Brown

“Cocktails” By C. A. Brown

Five Cool Little Things About Being An Artist

2014 Artwork cool things artist sketch

Well, since I can’t think of any good advice to give today, I thought that I’d come up with a list of cool little “everyday” things about being an artist – either to give you some ideas or to help you feel inspired if you’ve been listening to people who tell you that being an artist isn’t a worthwhile path through life.

1)You can make your e-mails more interesting: If you produce art fairly regularly and you’ve got a digital camera or a scanner, then you can make your daily e-mails a lot more memorable and/or interesting by including some of your art when it’s appropriate to do so.

This works best if the e-mail program and/or website that you use allows you to insert images directly into the e-mail, since people are probably slightly less likely to look at your stuff if they have to click on an attachment in order to do so.

Plus, if you attach your work to an e-mail and forget to mention it, then they might not even notice that there’s an attachment. So, if you can insert images into your e-mails directly (and the file size isn’t too large) – then do this.

2) You can impress people when you’re bored: Generally speaking, quite a few people instinctively doodle on notebooks, post-it notes, newspapers, leaflets etc… when they have to pay attention to something, since doodling improves both our attention and our memories of things.

But, if you’ve been making art for a while and you’ve done enough practice that drawing feels almost instinctive to you, then your doodles are going to be a lot more impressive than the random shapes and squiggles that most people tend to draw when they’re doodling.

What this means is that if someone looks over your shoulder or if someone notices that you’re doodling, then they’re less likely to be annoyed by it. Hell, they might even be impressed by it.

3) Personalised Gifts: If you can make art reasonably well, you can make gifts for people. Not only will this mean that you won’t have to rush around to buy last-minute birthday or Christmas presents and/or cards for people, it also means that the people you’re giving art to will have a completely unique and/or personalised gift too.

A piece of art is the kind of gift that is very memorable and can be displayed and enjoyed for years.

Not only that, if you’re the kind of starving artist that most of us probably are, it’s also a fairly inexpensive way of making high-quality gifts for people too. The only real expenses are your time, any art supplies that you use and possibly a frame of some kind.

4) Free website graphics: If you’re not an artist, then finding graphics for your website can be expensive and/or time-consuming.

You can either just use random things you find online (and risk copyright problems), you can spend hours searching for the right Creative Commons-licenced picture, you can commission some graphics from an artist or you can splash out and buy royalty-free stock images.

Of course, if you can actually create art yourself (and you have some way to get it onto your computer), then you really don’t have to worry about any of this…..

5) You see things slightly differently: I’d never really thought about this too much until I read an absolutely excellent book last year called “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain” by Betty Edwards, but artists have a different way of looking at the world – we tend to notice things like shapes, composition, lighting etc.. a lot more than most people do.

What this generally means is that, if you ever see a beautiful view, an interesting building or anything like that, your first thought will probably be “how do I paint this?” and you’ll automatically start drawing on your artistic knowledge and analysing what you’re seeing in a way that most people don’t do. I don’t know why, but this is really cool and it reminds me a lot of the “deduction” scenes in the BBC’s “Sherlock” series.

Yes, no-one else will know that you’re thinking in this way. But it can be a very good way of impressing yourself though.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting :)