Today’s Art (30th April 2014)

Well, I’m still making new watercolour versions of some of my best old drawings. I’m still not entirely certain how long I’ll be doing this for, but hopefully I’ll come up with some completely new ideas soon.

Like with the past few repaintings, I’ll include both the old and the new versions of this picture for comparison.

As usual, both versions of this picture are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Breach (II)" By C. A. Brown

“Breach (II)” By C. A. Brown

Breach (II)” is a new version of one of my favourite steampunk drawings from 2012. Although I prefer this new version to the old one – the actual painting itself looks better than this digital version (even after a fair amount of editing).

"Breach" By C. A. Brown [19th November 2012]

“Breach” By C. A. Brown [19th November 2012]

Well, I drew “Breach” on one of my most creative days in 2012 and I’m still quite proud of it. Anyway, here’s the original description of it I wrote in 2012 on DeviantART (complete with the original spelling mistake too):

“I’m really proud of this drawing too (I don’t know, I seem to be in an amazingly creative mood tonight) 🙂 But, yeah, I was in kind of a Steampunk mood a while earler and I decided to draw this – originally, it was going to be brighter and more fantastical, but as soon as the idea of pirates in airships appeared in my mind, I knew that I had to draw this instead.”

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Best Of The Blog (1st April – 30th April 2014)

2014 Artwork Best Of The Blog 30th April Sketch

Well, it’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for another “Best Of The Blog” article 🙂

As usual, this is a compilation of links to all of the articles about art and/or writing I’ve made over the past month (excluding things like reviews etc…).

Interestingly, this month’s articles ended up being a lot more art-based than writing-based. I’m not sure if this trend is going to continue, but since I’m focusing a lot more on making art than writing fiction these days, it may well do.

Anyway, enjoy 🙂

– “Five Ways To Build Your Artistic Confidence
– “Five Ways To Explore Your Own Imagination
– “Drawing Or Painting Portraits From Life – Four Very Basic Tips
– “How Autobiographical Should Your Art Be?
– “A Slow Pace Only Works If You Have An Excellent Story To Tell
– “It’s Ok Not To Be Avant-Garde
– “The ‘Uncharted Territory’ Of Your Art Style
– “Ten Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For A Year -Part Two
– “Ten Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For A Year -Part One
– “Four Very Basic Tips For Painting Landscapes From Photos (With An Example)
– “Follow Your Strangeness And You’ll Find Originality
– “Four Tips For Clothing Designs In Comics (With Examples)
– “Your Own Artistic Traditions (And Some Ideas If You Don’t Have Any)
– “Finding And Upgrading Your Own Artistic ‘Templates’
– “Five Things That Sci-Fi Writers Can Learn From ‘Star Trek’
– “Creative ‘Triage’ For Multiple Projects
– “One Surprising Reason Why You Should Look At Other Types Of Art
– “The Illusion Of Detail
– “A Futuristic Way To Kepp Your Fans Interested In Your Stories And Comics
– “Four Sizzling Tips For Writing Spontaneous Stories
– “Writing Something Retro? Don’t Forget The Zeitgeist
– “Should You Learn How To Draw Realistic Art?
– “How To Write A Genuinely Scary Monster Story
– “Another Way To Know Why You’ve Found Your Own Art Style
– “Four Secret Reasons Why It’s A Good Idea To Learn How To Copy Old Paintings
– “Your Unique Genre
– “How To Tell The Same Story Over And Over Again (And Still Keep People Interested)
“Nude Painting – Four Basic Tips [April Fools’ Day Article]

Today’s Art (29th April 2014)

Well, at the moment, I’m still making new watercolour versions of some of my old drawings (partly out of curiosity and partly out of a lack of inspiration).

Today, I thought I’d revisit the drawing that ended up inspiring my old “CRIT” comic series from 2012/13 (Plus, I wanted to see what Suzy would look like in my current art style too). You can also read the full story of how this comic series began here.

As usual, I’ll include the original drawing from 2012 for comparison too.

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

"Overpass (II)" By C. A. Brown

“Overpass (II)” By C. A. Brown

Although I’m really proud of how “Overpass (II)” turned out, it required a surprising amount of digital editing after I scanned the original painting.

"Overpass" by C.A.Brown  [19th November 2012]

“Overpass” by C.A.Brown [19th November 2012]

Well, this is my original “Overpass” drawing from 2012. If you want to know more about how this one drawing ended up inspiring an entire comic, then I’ve written an entire article about it (one year and three days ago precisely), which can be found here.

Oh, here’s some interesting trivia for fans of the original comic series – if it had ever been made into a TV show (which was my original, obviously unproducable, idea for the series before I decided to turn it into a comic). Then the theme tune for it would probably sound something like this song [“Leaving The Light On” By Blank Dogs]. Or at the very least, this song would have been the perfect background music for episode three.

Five Ways To Build Your Artistic Confidence

2014 Artwork Artistic Confidence Sketch

Although I have relatively little confidence in quite a few other areas, one of the things that I’m most confident about is probably my art. I’m quite proud to call myself an artist and see creating art as one of my greatest strengths (whereas, a couple of years ago, I’d be more likely to see myself as a “writer” than an “artist”).

The interesting thing is that, for quite a while, this has always been the case with me. Even when I wasn’t really serious about making art and I only made the occasional little sketch every once in a while (rather than making art every day), I still had some level of confidence.

Yes, I didn’t call myself an “artist” back then, but I didn’t really think of myself as “terrible” – art was just something I made when I was bored or when I needed to visualise a character I was writing about. Because I didn’t see art as my main “thing” back then, I didn’t really define myself by how well I could draw.

Plus, I was also one of the few people I knew when I was a teenager who really created anything even resembling art (and, until a few months ago, my foolish cynicism about painting and realistic drawing stopped me from feeling inadequate when I compared myself to painters and actual art students), so I felt like I was still more of an artist than most people I knew and more of an “authentic” artist than the real artists I saw back then.

And, surprisingly, when I decided to focus on creating art a couple of years ago, this old confidence just kind of carried across into my work. Or, to put it another way, I still thought of myself as a serious “undiscovered” (I’m still not sure by who) artist even back when I was creating art that looked like this:

"Cave Sculptures" By C. A. Brown [9th July 2012]

“Cave Sculptures” By C. A. Brown [9th July 2012]

Of course, my art has got better since then and hopefully it’ll gradually keep getting better. But, in the meantime, I thought that I’d offer you a few tips to help you build up your own artistic confidence if you’re just starting out.

1) Practice and regularity: If you want to become confident in your art and artistic skills, then you need to practise as regularly as you can. One of the great side-effects of my decision to create some kind of art every day is that, two years later, creating art just seems like an ordinary and mundane part of my life. It’s just something I do and I can’t really imagine doing anything else.

Although practising regularly might seem like an intimidating thing when you’re starting out, it’ll get easier. Seriously, I can still remember the days in early-mid 2012 when the idea of making one small A6-sized drawing every day felt like some kind of unsustainable and Herculean task. These days, a day would probably feel slightly incomplete if I didn’t make at least one A4-sized painting in it.

Not only that, creating lots of art also – as I said earlier – turns art into a slightly more mundane thing for you. Yes, you should value what you create, but at the same time if you see art as this special, magical thing that has to be perfect – then you’ll probably end up feeling too intimidated to create anything. Plus, if you make a mistake when you’re practicing regularly, then it won’t be a big deal, because you can just move on to your next drawing or painting fairly soon afterwards.

Plus, practising regularly also forces you to come up with all kinds of clever and inventive ways to deal with creative blocks and times when you’re not feeling inspired (eg: like redrawings, copying old paintings etc…). If you’re not that confident in your art, then you’ll probably stop making art for quite a while whenever you feel uninspired. But, if you’re confident, then a block might slow you down for a few hours, but it won’t stop you.

Not only that, there is nothing better for your artistic confidence than learning (or working out) how to do new things every once in a while and then trying them out and showing off to yourself.

2) “I Can Do Better Than That!”: This is a slightly evil way to build up your confidence, but it works.

However inexperienced you are at creating art, there will always be artists who are better at it than you are and, more importantly, there will always be artists who are worse at it than you. Unconfident artists only compare themselves to the first one of these two groups, confident artists compare themselves to both groups.

Confident artists look at the work of better artists as examples of what their own artwork will eventually look like with enough practice. But they also look at the work of even less experienced artists, either for schadenfreude and/or just to remind themselves how far they’ve come since they started out.

So, don’t be afraid to look online for art that isn’t as good as yours. Don’t leave rude comments below it (if you can genuinely say something that can help the other artist, then leave polite constructive criticism and be sure to compliment the good aspects of their art too – remember, they’re just starting out too). But don’t be afraid to think things like “I can make something better than that!”

And then make something better!

Plus, if you usually draw or paint, then an extremely cynical way to feel more confident is to look at some avant-garde “readymade” conceptual art or some very minimalist abstract art (like paintings that consist of nothing but a couple of geometric shapes on a blank canvas).

Yes, it may be “frightfully uncultured” to say or think things like this, but don’t be afraid to think “That’s art!? I could make something better than that when I was five!” If it helps you to feel more confident as an artist and produce better art, then do it.

3) Redrawings: I’ve mentioned this quite a few times before, but sometimes it can be a good idea to go back to one of your older pieces of art and try to produce a new version of it from scratch. Use every new technique you’ve learnt since you made the original piece of art that you can.

When you’ve done this, then compare the two pictures and you’ll quickly be able to see exactly how much you’ve improved as an artist. This will help you to increase your artistic confidence. Not only that, it’ll probably also make you wonder how much you will have improved by the time that you do your next redrawing or repainting.

4) Know when to show off and when not to: This is a bit complicated and difficult to explain, but if you’re new to art – then don’t show all of your art to other people in person (the internet is a bit different, as I’ll explain later).

Just stick to showing off what you feel are the best pieces – since, one of the best ways of building confidence when you’re just starting out is to hear good comments about your work. To hear that people value your work and feel that it’s worthwhile can be a real boost for a new artist.

Yes, you should learn how to deal with people who criticise your work and you shouldn’t react badly to genuine constructive criticism (although if you’re criticising something constructively in person, then “sandwich” your criticisms between compliments). But, when it comes to showing off your art in person when you’re just starting out, then it can be a good idea to avoid critics (as long as you remain self-critical about your own work and constantly strive to improve what you produce).

Not only that, you need to be selective about who you show your art to when you’re starting out. If you know someone who loves your art or who is a good friend, then show more of your art to them than to someone who is indifferent to you or your art. Wait until you’ve really had a lot of practice before you show these people any of your art.

5) Use The Internet: If you’re starting out and you’ve got a camera and/or a scanner, then don’t be afraid to put as much of your art online as you want to (eg: on your blog or on DeviantART or wherever). Yes, there are risks associated with this – someone might make a copy of your art or leave a rude comment below it. But the benefits of doing this, in terms of artistic confidence, will outweigh any problems.

If someone copies your art, then this usually means that they like it enough to want to put it on their own website or incorporate it into their own work. People imitating your work may be annoying, but – as the old saying goes – it’s also the sincerest form of flattery. If you want to encourage people to share your art, then don’t be afraid to release your work under a Creative Commons licence (and, with these, you can choose what you do and don’t allow people to do with your art).

If someone leaves a negative comment below your art, then either ignore it or remember that (like in the second point on this list) they’re just trying to feel better about their own artistic abilities – but they’re doing it in a very clumsy and rude way. Plus, most of the time, if people genuinely don’t like a piece of art – then they’ll probably just ignore it and move on to something else. So, if your art has provoked enough of a reaction for someone to leave a negative comment, then this is also a compliment of sorts.

But, enough about the downsides of putting your art online, there are good things which can come out of this too. For example, there is nothing better for your artistic confidence than receiving your first “favourite” on DeviantART or your first “Like” on WordPress, Facebook etc…

——

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (28th April 2014)

Well, I still felt like painting a new version of one of my old drawings from 2012 today (I think I might make a couple more of these new versions of old pictures, since they’re pretty fun to make and I’m also feeling a bit uninspired at the moment too). As usual, I’ll provide the old version of this picture for comparison.

And, as usual, both of these pictures are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Midnight Flood (II)" By C. A. Brown

“Midnight Flood (II)” By C. A. Brown

Although “Midnight Flood (II)” turned out fairly ok, it didn’t really end up being as impressive as I hoped it would be (and nowhere near as gloomy as the original drawing was).

Not only that, I had to do a fair amount of digital editing to this picture after I scanned it too.

"Midnight Flood" By C. A. Brown [1st October 2012]

“Midnight Flood” By C. A. Brown [1st October 2012]

Well, this is the original “Midnight Flood” and here’s the original description from it’s DeviantART page, which explains how I came up with the idea for this drawing:

“Wow, I’m seriously proud of this drawing 🙂 However, the story behind how it came into being is longer and stranger than usual…..

Originally, this was going to be an “Ashes to Ashes”-style 1980s office drawing, and then a drawing of the same character hiking through a forest but I abandoned these idea pretty soon after I started sketching them.

Then I decided to do a rather ordinary drawing of a woman sitting on the edge of a wall [presumably overlooking a forest and/or a rural mediterrenean town], but after I’d started drawing this – it looked kind of ordinary and dull, so I decided to make everything look a lot more gothic. My plan then was to have the character sitting on the edge of a tall castle looking down at some rather gothic scenery.

But this just somehow didn’t fit with the drawing and, for some wierd reason, I thought that it also looked like she was in danger of falling of the edge of the castle. By now, I had already drawn some of the towers in the background – so I thought it’d be a lot more interesting and less gloomy to make the tower the only dry land in a flooded city.

Originally ,this was going to be drawn in a totally “serious” and “dramatic” fashion. But like with the random thought about the character falling off of the wall, I suddenly spontaneously thought that the flooded city looked like a giant bathtub [I don’t know, my imagination went in all sorts of strange directions with this drawing. It also explains the random rubber duck too LOL!!!] and then the drawing went in a much more surreal and fantasy/fairytale-like direction.”

Five Ways To Explore Your Own Imagination

2014 Artwork Exploring Your Imagination Sketch

If you’re a writer or an artist, then one of the most valuable creative tools that you own is your imagination. As such, it helps if you know as much about your own imagination as possible -so that you can use it in the best possible way.

In a recent article, I briefly referred to my imagination as a “contradictory place”. At the time, this just seemed like an interesting turn of phrase but, the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of thinking about the imagination as being a “place” rather than just another part of the mind.

Yes, obviously, your imagination isn’t actually a physical place (apart from a collection of neurones inside your brain). But, at the same time, we usually experience our own imaginations in a very visual and explorative way – so, although your imagination may not actually be a physical place, it probably feels like one. As such, I thought I’d provide a few tips about how to explore your own imagination and learn more about what’s in there.

Before I go any further, I should probably point out that I’m not going to include hallucinogens in this list. Although some people use them for spiritual purposes and/or self-exploration and I have no moral objections to people using hallucinogens (as long as they’re aware of any relevant safety issues), I don’t really have the experience to talk about this subject authoritatively.

Not only that, the things in this list will allow you to explore your imagination in a much safer, more understandable and more controlled way than you would probably be able to do if you used hallucinogens.

So, let’s get started:

1) Daydreams: If you’re a creative person, then you probably daydream a lot. In fact, creating art and writing stories is basically just a way of translating your daydreams into something that other people can understand and enjoy.

But, the kind of daydreaming which we do when we’re creating things is often a very focused type of daydreaming, since we’re mostly daydreaming about the picture we’re drawing or the story that we’re telling.

If you want to learn more about your own imagination, and possibly find some new creative ideas too, then pay attention to your unfocused daydreams too. Pay attention to the daydreams you have just before you fall asleep, the daydreams you have when you’re doing boring things etc… Pay attention to all of it.

Why? Because every daydream is a story in it’s own right. Even if you’re just having an idle daydream about lounging on a idyllic tropical beach somewhere, then this is still a story of sorts – after all, why are you on the beach? Why does the beach look exactly the way it does? What will you do when you leave the beach? I’m sure you get the idea..

If you understand the kinds of stories you like to daydream about, then you can understand the kinds of stories that you’re best suited to telling. You can understand the kinds of stories that really mean something to you. You can understand which kinds of images really resonate with you.

2) Actual Dreams: I’m absolutely terrible when it comes to keeping a dream diary, but one of the most obvious ways of learning more about your own imagination is to look at the dreams you have every night. Not only that, you are completely immersed in your own imagination when you’re dreaming too.

But, unless you’ve been practising lucid dreaming or unless your dream spontaneously becomes lucid (this has only happened to me about three times), then you obviously can’t control what exactly you dream about. Even so, your dreams can provide you with lots of interesting images, scenes and stories that you can use in whatever you create.

And, best of all, these images, scenes and stories have all come from your own imagination – even if they have been hidden from your conscious mind. So, remembering your dreams (or keeping a record of them) allows you to use more of your imagination than you’re normally able to access when you’re awake.

3) Preferences: What is your favourite film? What is your favourite song? What are your favourite types of art?

What are your favourite computer games? What is your favourite novel? What is your favourite comic?

You might wonder why I’m asking all of these questions, but one of the best ways to learn more about your own imagination is to see which parts of other people’s imaginations really fascinate you.

If you feel drawn to a particular type of story, a particular musical style or a particular genre of art – then there’s probably a good chance that it is similar to part of your own imagination in some way or another.

Oh, and if anyone was wondering about my answers to the questions I mentioned earlier – my favourite film is “Blade Runner”, my favourite song is “Ever Dream” by Nightwish, my favourite art styles are art nouveau,Ukiyo-e prints and impressionism.

My favourite computer games are “The Longest Journey”, “Doom II” and American Mc Gee’s Alice”. My favourite novel is “Lost Souls” By Poppy Z. Brite and my favourite comic is probably “Death: The Time Of Your Life” by Neil Gaiman.

4) READ BOOKS: I’ve already written about this, but I can’t emphasise how important it is to read a lot of fiction.

This is because, unlike comics or films, written stories force you to bring the story to life using your own imagination. When you read a novel, you have to imagine what all of the characters look like and what all of the settings look like.

Of course, the really interesting thing about this is that you will probably imagine what everything in the story looks like in a slightly different way to how everyone else will. This is why, if you ever watch a film adaptation of a novel you’ve read, the characters and settings will probably look slightly different to how you expect them to. They will look different to how your own imagination interpreted them.

So, pay attention to this when you’re reading a story. Paying attention to exactly how you imagine everything and everyone in a novel that you’re reading will help you to see how your own imagination works (or, more precisely, the unique way that it interprets things).

5) Try creating different things: Not only is working in a different genre to the one you usually do a good way to learn more about your own art (or writing) style, but it’s also a great way to see how your imagination handles new and different things too.

Writing, drawing or painting something you’ve never tried before forces your imagination to work a lot harder than usual and it forces you to imagine things that you probably haven’t really imagined that often. And, as such, the results may end up surprising you (and teaching you more about your own imagination too).

—–

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (27th April 2014)

Well, at the moment, I’m going back through some of my old art and making new watercolour versions of some of my favourite old drawings.

I’m not sure how long I’ll do this for, but there are a couple of my old drawings I’m interested in repainting – so it may be a couple of days until I make something completely new ( and, yes, I’m feeling slightly uninspired at the moment too).

Anyway, for today I’ve produced a new version of one of my favourite drawings from 2012 called “Veranda Dance“. As usual, I’ll include the old version for comparison too.

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

"Veranda Dance (II)"  By C. A. Brown

“Veranda Dance (II)” By C. A. Brown

I’m seriously proud of how “Veranda Dance (II)” turned out 🙂 Not to mention that it looks about three times more realistic than the original drawing too.

However, the dancer’s left arm is slightly badly-drawn though. Plus, I had to digitally darken the sky quite significantly after I scanned this picture (and made my usual adjustments to the brightness/contrast levels).

"Veranda Dance" By C. A. Brown [3rd October 2012]

“Veranda Dance” By C. A. Brown [3rd October 2012]

Well, this is the original “Veranda Dance” from 2012 and here’s the original description I wrote when I uploaded it to DeviantART back then:

“This drawing was kind of interesting, originally I was going to do a classical style dancer – kind of like the old Rider-Waite-Smith “The World” tarot card .

But when I tried drawing a character in a dancing pose, it kind of looked like she was leaning against a wall – so I decided to go in this direction instead. Plus, originally, the setting of this drawing was going to be a lot brighter and very much set in Ancient Greece. But, when I’d drawn most of this, it looked way too bright and kind of boring, so I decided to make it a lot gloomier and add rain etc… Which really seemed to improve this drawing and make it more atmospheric etc…

All in all, I quite like how this drawing turned out although I had to do slightly more post-production than I expected after I’d scanned it.”