Being “In The Zone” – Blessing Or Reflection?

2013 Artwork The Zone Sketch

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I was randomly looking at music videos on Youtube when I stumbled across the Youtube channel of a guy called Eric Calderone, who is probably one of the best guitarists that I’ve ever heard.

Seriously, he can turn almost any song in any genre into an absolutely amazing piece of heavy metal music. Even though his videos just show him playing the guitar, they are also somehow amazingly fun to watch too.

At first, I thought that this was because some part of my subconscious mind saw these videos as a chance to vicariously live out my old teenage fantasy of becoming a guitarist in a metal band (I learnt how to play a few powerchords and a few parts of various songs, but that was about it).

It took me a couple of seconds to realise that the real reason why Eric Calderone’s videos are so fun to watch is because he’s grinning with elation in almost all of them.

If you want an example of what creativity should look like and what it should feel like, then check out his videos.

Anyway, watching these videos made me think about creativity in general and about what most writers and artists refer to as a “creative flow”, “being on fire” or “being in the zone”. If you want to be a bit more esoteric and new-agey then it can also be called “being in the vortex” too.

Whatever you want to call it, there’s a certain feeling which comes with the best kind of creativity. There’s a certain feeling that comes with being inspired and creating something amazing. There’s a certain feeling which comes with immersing yourself in whatever you are creating. If you’ve ever experienced it, then you probably know what I’m talking about here.

But, I’ve written about all of this before, so I won’t go into too much detail about it again.

However, there was one other thing which I realised when I watched the videos of Eric Calderone playing the guitar – he knew how cool his music sounded. Honestly, you can’t play guitar with an expression like that if you don’t know that you’re playing something amazing. Anyway, this made me think about “being in the zone” in a slightly different way to how many people think about it.

Maybe “being in the zone” isn’t just a lucky accident?

Maybe “being in the zone” isn’t just some strange and mysterious blessing which is occasionally bestowed upon artists, writers, musicians etc… seemingly at random ?

Maybe “being in the zone” is a sign that you’re producing something amazing?

If you think of “being in the zone” as a reflection of the quality of what you are creating rather than some kind of mysterious blessing or piece of good luck, then it makes a lot more sense.

Many of the best stories, songs and works of art are honest. They’re a reflection of the imagination, personality, soul and/or emotions of the person who created them.

And, when you’re creating something which honestly reflects what you feel is amazing and/or something which reflects some part of yourself honestly, then it is going to feel amazing. After all, not only are you creating it, you’re also the first person to see, read or hear it too.

In other words – you are also part of the audience too.

So, being “in the zone” is a reflection of the feelings that at least some of your audience will probably feel when they encounter what you’re creating. If it’s something great, then they’re going to want more of it. They’re going to be fascinated by it. They’re going to focus on it almost obsessively. I’m sure you get the idea…

If you think about “being in the zone” in this way, then you’re probably going to find yourself in that magical “zone” a lot more often than if you just see it as a rare and lucky blessing.

———

Good luck 🙂

Advertisements

Today’s “Damania” Comics (27th November 2013)

Well, I made two “Damania” comics for today, but I was in kind of a cynical mood and this is probably reflected somewhat in both of these comics….

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

"Damania - Christmas Adverts" By C. A. Brown

“Damania – Christmas Adverts” By C. A. Brown

I made “Damania – Christmas Adverts” a little under two weeks ago. Enough said.

"Damania - The Tipper Sticker" By C. A. Brown

“Damania – The Tipper Sticker” By C. A. Brown

Damania – The Tipper Sticker” was kind of inspired by the fact that (in Britain at least) we seem to be going through yet another 1950s/1980s -style moral panic about music and music videos.

The lastest thing seems to be that student unions in some universities are banning a pop song by Robin Thicke. Yes, “Blurred Lines” may be four minutes of obnoxious bragging and posturing. Yes, the lyrics can be interpreted in a rather creepy way too (and the narrator in this song certainly sounds like a pretty dodgy kind of guy). Yes, this song was probably written to generate publicity and money controversy. Yes, it probably isn’t worth listening to. Yes, it will probably be forgotten in a couple of years’ time.

But, despite all of this, I’m still shocked that “liberal” university students are acting in such a fundamentally conservative manner by literally banning it.

*sigh* This country is definitely up a creek without a paddle when liberals also want to censor things too…

Anyway, these ridiculous PMRC “parental advisory” stickers were the result of the last huge moral panic about music (and not even in Britain too, but we still got these pointless stickers too) and I dread to think what the result of our current moral panic will be…

(As I said earler, I was in a fairly cynical mood when I made these comics….)

New “Damania” Comic On PekoeBlaze Uncut

2013 Artwork EXTRACT Damania - Why I'm A Retro Gamer

This is just a quick post to point out that there’s a new “Damania” comic on PekoeBlaze Uncut [Mildly NSFW]. It’s a bit of a smug comic about yet another reason why old games/consoles are a lot better than modern ones (and why I’m glad that I don’t own an Xbox of any kind).

This comic is titled “Damania – Why I’m A Retro Gamer” and it was drawn fairly quickly after I read about Microsoft’s ridiculous policy of banning people from parts of XBOX Live for using profanity in uploaded videos. Seriously, have they never played a videogame?

I mean, you’d be hard pressed to probably find even one gamer who has never ever used profanity in joy or frustation when they are playing a game. Microsoft’s policy is not only ridiculous, it is also unrealistic. Anyway, since this comic uses a word which most people use on a daily and/or weekly basis, I thought that I’d post it on my “Uncut” blog instead.

Losing Enthusiasm For Your Art? Add Some Action To It.

2013 Artwork Action Art Sketch

Introduction – Yet another woeful tale of artist’s block…

Well, about a week and a half ago, I wasn’t feeling that enthusiastic about my art. It was one of those days where my mind seemed barren and drawing felt like nothing more than a dreary chore. It was the kind of day when I almost felt like abandoning being an artist (if this was somehow even possible). I’d lost my passion and I’d lost my drive.

Yes, this has happened before and I almost always seem to be able to squeeze an article out of it every time that it happens. Well, this time is no exception.

Although I wasn’t completely blocked, everything I seemed to produce was just boring (both to look at and to create).

To give you an example, here’s a drawing I made called “Last Report”. I thought about posting this on here yesterday, but it just didn’t really seem interesting or inventive enough. Judge for yourself:

"Last Report" By C. A. Brown

“Last Report” By C. A. Brown

Anyway, after attempting to make another drawing and leaving it unfinished because it was even more boring, I started to daydream about taking a long break from making art and spending the time I would have spent drawing playing videogames instead. As I said earlier, this isn’t the first time I’ve ever felt this way but, fortunately, these kinds of moods don’t usually last that long.

After I while, I suddenly realised why I was feeling so unenthusiastic – nothing was happening in my unfinished and/or unpublished drawings. Seriously, they were just pictures of someone standing around, or in the case of “Last Report”, someone sitting at a desk. They were static. They were motionless.

The strange thing is that this usually works for me. In fact, I think that I even wrote an article a while back where I talked about thinking of your drawings as being snapshots of brief moments in time. Although I talked about thinking of a basic backstory for each of your drawings, I still mostly just drew static, ordinary moments. This worked for quite a while. But, on that day, I finally got bored of it.

Luckily, I ended watching some footage of the modern remake of “Shadow Warrior” on Youtube a while later and I randomly thought about drawing someone wielding a katana in a melodramatic fashion. So, feeling my enthusiasm start to return, I picked up my sketchbook again and….

"Mutant Dojo" By C. A. Brown

“Mutant Dojo” By C. A. Brown

Wow! I remembered why I am an artist!

Ok, so what can we learn from this?

Well, apart from the fact that katanas are incredibly fun to draw (check out my guide to how to draw one), the main thing to take away from this story is that it’s a lot easier to feel enthusiastic about a drawing where something is happening in it. Although this doesn’t have to be anything melodramatic and it doesn’t always have to involve conflict or combat, it needs to be something interesting.

But, if all else fails, nothing beats a picture of a dramatic swordfight, gunfight and/or encounter with a fearsome monster to get the creative juices flowing again. Yes, it’s cliched as hell. Yes, it’s melodramatic. But, it certainly isn’t boring.

It’s very easy to fall into the rut of just drawing ordinary and boring pictures where nothing really happens. These are easy to draw – you just think of a character and a setting and that’s it. With enough practice, you can pretty much draw these in your sleep. This is an important skill because drawing this kind of drawing over and over again will probably send you to sleep after a while anyway.

Yes, action-based drawings are a bit more complicated to draw and they sometimes require a bit of planning, but they are about eight times more enjoyable to draw. Not to mention that, when you’re drawing it, you will feel like your drawing has a purpose. Like it’s part of a story.

And, if you’re still feeling unenthusiastic, then be sure to listen to some suitably dramatic music whilst you’re drawing [Note: The last two of these three links contain flickering lights].

——-

Sorry if this article sounded a bit melodramatic, but I hope that it was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (26th November 2013)

Well, I was kind of in the mood for horror/fantasy art today and I’m really proud of both of these drawings.

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

"House In The Woods" By C. A. Brown

“House In The Woods” By C. A. Brown

House In The Woods” was originally going to be a gothic drawing set in the 19th century. However, fairly soon after I started drawing it, I thought that it’d be more dramatic if it looked like something from a vintage horror comic.

"Mutant Dojo" By C. A. Brown

“Mutant Dojo” By C. A. Brown

Mutant Dojo” finally came into being after several hours of artist’s block and general unenthusiasm as well as one other unfinished drawing (which I literally abandoned out of boredom). Well, it was certainly worth the wait 🙂

Although, annoyingly, my computer probably wouldn’t stand a chance of playing the modern remake of “Shadow Warrior”, I was watching some footage of it on Youtube earlier and it was probably the main inspiration for this drawing.