Today’s Art (31st January 2014)

Well, I produced two new watercolour pencil drawings for today (well, the second one is technically a single-panel comic), but neither of them really turned out as well as I hoped they would and they are best viewed at about a quarter of their original size.

Maybe this is a sign that I still need to give my imagination a break for a while and return to re-drawing my best old drawings for a bit longer?

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

"Nightmare City" By C. A. Brown

“Nightmare City” By C. A. Brown

Nightmare City” was an attempt at drawing/painting a random dystopic sci-fi scene. But, unfortunately, this painting ended up being slightly rushed and it didn’t really turn out as well as I hoped it would.

"Richs and Coates" By C. A. Brown

“Richs and Coates” By C. A. Brown

Richs and Coates” is a drawing of two characters (Coates is the one on the left and Richs is the one on the right) that I originally came up with when I was about sixteen or seventeen for a series of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ parody stories I wrote at the time.

Interestingly, I actually wrote a new “Richs and Coates” story last May (set several years after the original stories) and it can be found here.

Best Of The Blog (1st-31st January 2014)

2014 Artwork Best Of The Blog 31st January

Well, another month and another “Best Of The Blog” post. In case you haven’t seen one of these posts before – it’s a handy collection of links to all of the articles (excluding reviews, art posts, drawing guides etc..) which I’ve posted over the past month.

Enjoy 🙂

– “Your Art Will Improve Without You Even Knowing It
– “One Cool Trick From The Splatterpunks For Starting Your Horror Novel
– “Do You Doodle A Lot? You May Be An Artist.
– “The Best Revenge Against Your Critics (And A Mantra To Help You Do It)
– “Should You Learn How To Draw Anime/Manga Style Art?
– “Don’t Be Afraid To ‘Cheat’ With Your Art.
– “Enjoy Your Epic Creative Moments
– “One Sneaky Way To Beat Writer’s Block And/Or Artist’s Block
– “Four Very Basic Tips For Writing A Good Prologue
– “Why Copyright Terms Should Be Reduced To Twenty Years From Publication“.
– “Keep Your Art Fresh By Working In Different Mediums
– “Four Ways To Tell A Re-Readable Story
– “Copyright-Free/Public Domain Neon Graphics”
– “ A [Clueless] Rebuttal To Charles Thomson’s ‘The Art That Damien Hirst Stole’
– ” What Can Music Videos Teach Us About Making Comics (With Examples)
– “My Thoughts On Co-Writing
– “One Essential Ingredient For Writing A Great Thriller Story (And How To Use It)
– “Can Videogames Be Converted Into Other Formats (eg: Art, Fiction etc..)?
– “Feel Connected To Your Art Style By Drawing Fan Art
– “The Story May Be Different, But The Emotions Are The Same.

Today’s Art (30th January 2014)

Well, I’m still kind in the mood for re-drawing some of my best old art from 2012 at the moment (I don’t know, I guess that want to see what my “greatest hits” will look like as high-quality watercolours).

However, I also produced one new watercolour pencil drawing for today too … Well, a piece of fan art actually…

Note: Out of today’s three drawings/paintings, only “Magic Coin” and “Magic Coin (II)” are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"The Game Is Afoot" By C. A. Brown

“The Game Is Afoot” By C. A. Brown

As you can probably deduce, “The Game Is Afoot” is a drawing of Sherlock Holmes.

Originally, I was going to show Sherlock Holmes walking around the gaslit streets of Victorian London but, after I realised that I’d drawn him wearing his famous deerstalker hat, setting this drawing/painting in the countryside seemed much more appropriate (after all, showing Holmes wearing a deerstalker in the middle of a city is a mistake which people make far too often).

I quite like this picture, although I’m annoyed that I only managed to include three references to Conan Doyle’s stories in it though.

"Magic Coin (II)" By C. A. Brown

“Magic Coin (II)” By C. A. Brown

Magic Coin (II)” is a watercolour pencil redrawing of a drawing I made in August 2012 – one of my most creative months. Although this re-drawing is much better than the original on a technical level, I don’t know which version I prefer.

Anyway, here is the original, so that you can judge for yourself:

"Magic Coin" By C. A. Brown [25th August 2012]

“Magic Coin” By C. A. Brown [25th August 2012]

Review: “Never Go Back” By Lee Child (Thriller Novel)

2014 Artwork Never Look Back Review Sketch

Well, it’s been a while since I last read a Lee Child novel. So, when someone lent me a copy of “Never Go Back”, it went straight to the top of my ‘to read’ list.

A couple of days later, I read the whole thing in one single sleep-deprived night.

Ok, it isn’t Lee Child’s best novel, but it’s hardly his worst either. Or, to put it another way, it’s good enough that you’ll probably want to read the whole thing in one sitting.

As with all of Lee Child’s novels, “Never Go Back” follows Jack Reacher – an ex-military policeman who wanders around America and almost always seems to end up in the middle of some mystery or other.

In “Never Go Back”, not only does Reacher find himself formally accused of manslaughter (due to an old case he worked on during his military police days), but he has also been drafted/recalled back into the army in order to allow the new temporary commander of his old military police unit (Colonel Morgan) to charge him with the crime.

Plus, on top of all of this, the officer who should have been in charge of his old unit (Major Susan Turner) appears to be missing…..

I probably haven’t done the novel justice in this short summary, but it’s a lot more thrilling and dramatic than it sounds. Well, after the first hundred pages or so, at least….

It may be because Lee Child is a famous author and can get away with this kind of thing, but I’ve never seen a thriller novel start so slowly. Yes, you might not notice this if you haven’t read any of the other “Jack Reacher” novels, but it has the slowest beginning in any of the Lee Child novels that I’ve read.

In other words, the first quarter of the novel is more like a rather slow-paced legal thriller than an actual thriller novel. But, if you stick with it, then you will be rewarded by a fast-paced, action-packed and suspenseful story which never lets up until the very end. In fact, it’s possible that Lee Child deliberately made the first quarter of the novel so slow-paced in order to make the rest of the novel seem faster and more dramatic by comparison.

Don’t get me wrong, the first quarter of the novel isn’t boring or badly-written. It’s just very different in pacing and style to the first quarter of most of Lee Child’s other novels. If this was a novel by any other author, I probably wouldn’t even comment on this fact – but it’s, well, unusual for a Lee Child novel.

As for the characters, many of them are fairly well-written. Jack Reacher is still Jack Reacher (as the old saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”), but there are also a few interesting supporting characters too.

Yes, this is one of those novels where Reacher has a companion and a couple of other people to help him out too. I’m not sure whether I prefer these stories to the stories where Reacher is pretty much on his own, but having a few supporting characters works fairly well in this novel.

However, most of the villains (apart from possibly one of them) in “Never Look Back” aren’t really as well-developed as I hoped they would be. I can understand this for the generic “henchmen” characters, but we never really get to learn that much about the main villains of the story.

Yes, it’s explained why the main villains have done what they’ve done, but they never really seem like they’re real, well-developed characters (unlike, say, the villains in “Die Trying”, “The Visitor” and “Without Fail”).

I also kind of have mixed feelings about the plot of “Never Look Back” too. Yes, there are a lot of thrilling set pieces, intriguing mysteries and plot twists – but the ending to the novel just seemed slightly contrived and anticlimactic in some ways. I can’t really describe the ending without giving away major plot spoilers, but I was expecting something a lot more shocking, innovative and dramatic. Even so, all the action scenes, plot twists and mysteries are still compelling enough to make this novel worth reading.

But, despite my criticisms, this is still a Lee Child novel. This is still a well-written and gripping thriller novel. This is still a novel which is almost impossible to put down after you’ve started reading it. It’s still absolutely crammed with action and suspense.

Yes, “Never Look Back” may not have the best beginning and ending ever written, but the part in between these two things is absolutely spectacular.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, then it would probably get a four.

Today’s Art (29th January 2014)

Well, once again, one of today’s watercolour pencil drawings [ “Message (III)” ] is a re-drawing of one of my older drawings.

Even though I’m going against my own advice on this subject, all of these re-drawings are due to a combination of needing to give my imagination a break for a while and the fact that I also want to see what my “greatest hits” look like as high-quality watercolours.

Naturally, I’ll also include the previous version of this drawing for comparison too.

As usual, all three of these images are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Galaxies" By C. A. Brown

“Galaxies” By C. A. Brown

Galaxies” was mainly drawn/painted in order to practice drawing people in profile and I’m quite proud of how it turned out, although the background ended up looking less interesting and dramatic than I expected it to.

"Message (III)" By C. A. Brown

“Message (III)” By C. A. Brown

Message (III)” is my second re-drawing of a drawing I originally made in July 2012 and I’m quite proud of how this version of “Message” turned out.

Since, although it doesn’t quite capture the gloom and greyness of the original, the lighting and perspective are a lot better than they were in either of the older versions of this picture.

Speaking of which….

"Message (II)" By C. A. Brown [17th January 2013]

“Message (II)” By C. A. Brown [17th January 2013]

I drew “Message (II)” about a year ago and, even at the time, I didn’t really think that it was a particularly good re-drawing. So, it’s great to finally create a proper version of this drawing 🙂

Your Art Will Improve Without You Even Knowing It

I may be a  level 32 artist, but this little sketch certainly isn't...

I may be a level 32 artist, but this little sketch certainly isn’t…

Yes, we all know that it’s important to practice creating art as regularly as we can. But, let’s face it, sometimes it can get a bit dispiriting if you’ve been practising regularly for quite a while and you still don’t feel like you’ve improved at all.

The fact is, you have improved. Yes, it may only be by a tiny amount, but you’ve improved.

It might just be that you’re a little bit more confident than you used to be.

It might be that your pencil lines are very slightly sharper and more precise than they used to be.

It might be that you’re very slightly better at mixing or blending colours than you were a few weeks ago.

It might be that you’ve worked out how to draw something which you didn’t know how to draw a couple of years ago.

It might even be that you’ve discovered a new effect you can use in the digital image editing program you use.

It could be one of a million things, but if you practice regularly, then it’s a proven fact that you will improve. Yes, you might only improve slightly once in every three or every ten pictures you make. It doesn’t matter. You’re improving.

Even if you don’t notice it at the time. It all adds up.

Think of it like playing a RPG-style computer game or videogame. If you’ve never played any of these games before, many of them use an “experience” system to determine how powerful your character is and what abilities they have.

Every time that you win a battle or achieve something, your character gains some experience points (or EXP). Once you reach a certain amount of EXP, your character will improve by one “level”. Once you’ve reached a higher level, your character has slightly more stamina, more powerful attacks, stronger magical powers etc… than they previously did.

This may not seem like much – especially at the beginning of the game when your character is only Level 1 and spends most of their time fighting rats and spiders with a wooden stick (and only gaining a couple of experience points for winning every battle).

But, after a few weeks of playing the game every day, your character will probably be an almost invincible Level 152 warrior with some kind of ridiculously sharp mythical ancient sword and the ability to fire lightning bolts out of their eyeballs.

Yes, you may have only gained a few EXP every day. But, over enough time, it all adds up to something spectacular.

The same is true when it comes to practising your art.

I mean, why do you think that most RPG games use the EXP system for character development? It’s because it mirrors the experience of practising something over a long period of time. It rewards the player for playing regularly.

Yes, with something like art, it might take months or years before you notice any dramatic improvements. But they will happen if you keep practising.

If you don’t believe me, then take a look at this collection of self-portraits I drew between June 2009 and January 2014 (this was originally a collection of thumbnails in the “DeviantID” category of my DeviantART gallery, but I’ve re-arranged them into chronological order and changed the background):

Click on the picture to view a larger version of it.

Click on the picture to view a larger version of it.

Yes, it’s taken almost five years, but the difference is quite surprising.

So, even if you think that you’re art isn’t that good at the moment, keep practising. It may take a few years, but you’ll eventually surprise yourself.

——-

Anyway, I hope that this article was inspirational 🙂

What are you doing still reading this? You should be practising…

Today’s Art (28th January 2014)

Well, I wasn’t feeling as creative as I hoped today and, again, one of today’s paintings/drawings is another re-drawing of one of my favourite old drawings from 2012 (I’ll include the original too). The other watercolour pencil painting is a new one, but it was kind of boring.

As usual, these three pictures are released under a Creative Commons licence.

"Thunderstorm In The Treehouse (III)" By C. A. Brown

“Thunderstorm In The Treehouse (III)” By C. A. Brown

Thunderstorm In The Treehouse (III)” is yet another re-drawing of one of my favourite old drawings. I’m quite proud of how this version of “Thunderstorm In The Treehouse” turned out, although I had to edit this digital version of it quite a bit.

Ok, this is technically the fourth version of this picture – but my previous version of it wasn’t really a direct copy of it.

Still, here’s the original version of this drawing for comparison:

"Thunderstorm In The Treehouse" By C. A. Brown [3rd June 2012]

“Thunderstorm In The Treehouse” By C. A. Brown [3rd June 2012]

I drew the original version of “Thunderstorm In The Treehouse” in June 2012, a couple of months after I’d got back into drawing regularly.

As my original description of this drawing on DeviantART says, this was originally going to be a much brighter, hippie-themed drawing. But, well, I was listening to “Fire In Cairo” by The Cure when I was drawing it and it just kind of became more gothic and gloomy….

"An Afternoon In The Library" By C. A. Brown

“An Afternoon In The Library” By C. A. Brown

An Afternoon In The Library” was a slightly random drawing where I was practicing drawing realistic faces and expressions. Unfortunately, when it came to drawing the background – my mind went blank and I ended up drawing about the most boring background imaginable.