Today’s Art (31st May 2014)

Well, for some reason, today’s painting ended up turning into a surprisingly cool stylised motorbike-based painting a while after I started sketching it.

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

"Coast Road" By C.A. Brown

“Coast Road” By C.A. Brown

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Best Of The Blog (1st May – 30th May)

2014 Artwork best of the blog 31st May

Well, it’s the end of the month, so it’s time for another “Best Of The Blog” article. This is a collection of links to all of the articles (excluding reviews and art posts) that have been posted here over the past month.

I don’t know, this month probably hasn’t been the best month in terms of articles (and I’ve had writer’s block more than once, so there are at least a few filler articles here), but there are still at least a few articles from this month that I’m quite proud of.

Anyway, enjoy 🙂

“The Best Characters Just Kind Of ‘Appear’ “
“Copyright- Free Clipart (Or My Failed Attempt At Making It)”
– “Five Ways of making Your Story Or Comic More Welcoming To Readers”
“The Joy Of… Anachronisms”
“The Joy Of… Having A Creative Attention Span”
“So, ‘Difficult’ Fiction Is Dying? Good Riddance”
“Fiction As A ‘Second World'”
“Writing Subjective Poetry (And An Example Of It)”
“One Cool Thing About Making Parody Art”
“Four Basic Tips For Writing Realistic – Sounding News Articles In Comics And Stories”
“Trying To Learn Image Editing By Messing Around”
” How To Handle Disturbing Themes/Subjects In Your Story”
“Four Ways To Add Value To Your Art and Fiction”
“Four Very Basic Techniques For Drawing Cartoon Hands”
“Liebster Award Post”
“An Uncanny Way To Know When Your Art Might Be Up To A Professional Standard”
“Why You Should Keep Two Sketchbooks (And Never-Seen-Before Pages From My Sketchbooks)”
“An Innovative Way To Think About Your Art Style”
“Four Ways To Make Your Story Shorter”
“Change Your Art Supplies, Change Your Perspective”
“Creating Unreliable Worlds”
“Three Reasons You Should Work In More Than One Creative Medium”
“Six Swift Ways To Become An Artist (If You’re Not An Artist)”
“Can You Use The Pareto Principle For Creating Art And Stories?”
“Take Another Look At Your Old Art”

Today’s Art (30th May 2014)

Well, I wasn’t really feeling hugely inspired today, so I thought “Well, I’ll just paint an ordinary landscape”.

But, well, I got bored with this, so I followed the age old rule of “if in doubt, add a monster” and (despite my excessive digital editing and the fact that the monster seems to be trying to burn it’s own fingers for some bizarre reason), I’m quite proud of how this painting turned out 🙂

"From The Depths" By C. A. Brown

“From The Depths” By C. A. Brown

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

The Best Characters Just “Appear”

2014 Artwork Spontaneous Characters Sketch

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I made a random painting. I wasn’t feeling hugely inspired and the only idea I could come up with was to paint something that looked like something from a Hidden Object Game.

Initially, I thought about painting a messy room with an inventory bar along the bottom of the page and a hint button in the corner, but as soon as I started sketching this, I realised that it wouldn’t really look that great.

So, I erased my sketch and just started drawing randomly. Then, before I knew it, this character had emerged:

"Heather Greyfield And The Vanishing Station" By C. A. Brown

“Heather Greyfield And The Vanishing Station” By C. A. Brown

Unlike many of the random characters who appear in my paintings and drawings, Heather Greyfield not only already had a name, but she also seemed to have a story of some kind too.

Annoyingly though, she seems to be a computer game character – and, not being a programmer (or really having enough money to get the professional version of Adventure Maker, even though the free version is really cool) – I’m not sure if she could also work as a literary character or a comic character. But, she might well end up appearing in something or other in the future.

Anyway, this experience made me think about the whole subject of spontaneous characters.

Although I’ve created a fair number of comic and literary characters over the past few years, the best characters I’ve created – by far- are the ones who just kind of “appear” of their own accord.

These are the kinds of characters that you don’t really spend ages designing or planning, they just “appear” somewhere or other (usually, in my case, in my art) and then you’re left with the interesting job of trying to learn more about who they are and, occasionally, even what their names are.

This might be because I’m an artist as well as a writer (ok, I’m much more of an artist than a writer these days), but this still used to happen back when I’d laugh at the idea of ever becoming an artist because my drawings looked more like this:

Some random doodles I made during a lecture about six years ago.

Some random doodles I made during a lecture about six years ago.

If you’re not an artist, then it’s possible that these kinds of characters may just appear as mental images, a particular type of narrative voice or a verbal description that suddenly pops into your mind. But, when they do, write down and/or draw as much as you can remember.

This is how my “Damania” comic, “Somnium” comic and my “CRIT” comic started out with characters like this. I’d drawn a random picture, one amongst many, and then somehow it seemed like the characters in the picture had much more of a story to tell than any of the other characters I’d drawn.

Not only that, these kinds of spontaneous characters are almost always mysterious in some way or another. They’re always intriguing enough to make you want to learn more about who they are and what their story is.

For example, when I first drew Roz and Derek from “Damania” back in 2011, I knew that they were some kind of paranormal investigators, but I didn’t even know their names. In fact, it was another month or two before I even knew Derek’s name :

"The Magician's Room" By C.A.Brown [2011]

“The Magician’s Room” By C.A.Brown [2011]

I still, for the life of me, don’t know where these types of characters come from – whether they emerge from the depths of the subconscious mind or, to get a bit more mystical, whether they appear from some unknown outside source or other. But, regardless, they can just appear at random.

It’s always amazing when one of these characters appears and I still can’t really understand it – I’ll draw and paint hundreds of random characters and then one of them will just kind of “jump” out at me and seem more “real” than the others.

I’m not sure if there are any ways to make these types of characters appear more often, or whether they just show up in their own time. But, when one appears, then make sure that you make some kind of record of their existence. Although, saying that, most of these characters are too mysterious and intriguing to be forgotten easily.

——–

Sorry that this article was slightly rambling, but I hope that it was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (29th May 2014)

Well, I was in a slightly more.. cynical… mood than usual earlier, so I decided to celebrate the sadly inevitable onset of *ugh* summer by making a painting about the many delightful mainstream music festivals which will be taking place across the UK over the next couple of months…

As a blog exclusive (since this painting will probably already have been satirising mainstream festivals on DeviantART before it’s arrival here), I’ll also provide the lineart for this painting too.

As usual, both images in this post are released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Mainstream Festivals" By C. A. Brown

“Mainstream Festivals” By C. A. Brown

And here’s the lineart:

"Mainstream Festivals (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Mainstream Festivals (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

Review: “A Storm Of Swords 1- Steel And Snow” By George R. R. Martin (Novel)

Yes, this novel even contains a surprisingly catchy song about a bear....

Yes, this novel even contains a surprisingly catchy song about a bear….

Well, as promised, here’s my review of George R. R. Martin’s “A Storm Of Swords 1- Steel And Snow”. Although “A Storm Of Swords” is the third novel in Martin’s “A Song Of Ice And Fire” series, it was such a long novel that the UK paperback edition of it had to be split into two halves.

Each of these two books is about 500-600 pages long (not counting the appendices at the end), so I dread to think how large the original hardback novel was….

This is a review of the first half of “A Storm Of Swords” and, as such, it’ll probably be a slightly shorter review than usual. It might also contain some spoilers for this book and the previous books in the series

I should probably also point out that this series of novels needs to be read in the correct order, so don’t read “Steel And Snow” unless you’ve already read ” A Game Of Thrones” and “A Clash Of Kings”.

As you might expect, the story in “Steel And Snow” picks up pretty much where “A Clash Of Kings” left off. However, as the author’s note at the beginning of the book points out, the very first few chapters take place at the same time as the ending of “A Clash Of Kings” but they mostly follow characters who weren’t in King’s Landing at the end of the previous novel (eg: Jon Snow, Jamie Lannister, Arya Stark etc…).

In other words, Jon is still beyond the wall with the rangers in search of Mance Rayder’s camp and Arya is still on the run from Harrenhal with Gendry and Hot Pie. Jamie is still making his dangerous journey back to King’s Landing, escorted by both one of his cousins and Brienne of Tarth. Catelyn is still at Riverrun and Ser Davos Seaworth is stranded on a small rock in the middle of the Blackwater.

However, the story quickly picks up and goes in it’s own direction after about the first eighty pages or so. But, if you’ve seen the second season of the excellent TV adaptation, then the beginning of this novel will probably be very familiar to you.

Still, what a story it is! There is more treachery, more intrigue and more adventuring than you can shake a stick at. If there’s one thing to be said about the “Song Of Ice And Fire” series, it’s that it never gets boring. There is always lots of stuff happening and, as usual, each chapter follows a particular character. So, each novel in this series is almost more like a collection of several novels fused together than a single story.

In fact, as soon as I finished “Steel And Snow”, I found myself picking up my copy of the next book and skipping ahead to the next Jon Snow chapter just to see what would happen to him next. I can’t remember the last time that I did anything like this with a book.

Oh, one other interesting thing about this book is just how… well… musical it is. Seriously, there are a lot of songs in this book and, at one point, I even found myself stopping to find various songs from the novel on Youtube, just to see what they sounded like (my favourite is probably this surprisingly catchy rock version of “The Bear And The Maiden Fair” [Warning – There are spoilers in the comments] ). Seriously, George R. R. Martin is a surprisingly good songwriter.

Apart from this, I really don’t know what else to say about “Steel And Snow”. It’s a “Song Of Ice And Fire” book and, if you loved the first two books, then you will probably love this one too. But, if you’re new to the series, then be sure to start with the first novel (“A Game Of Thrones”) rather than this one.

All in all, the writing is as good as you would expect, the characters are as interesting as usual and the story is as gripping as always.

If I had to give “A Storm Of Swords 1 – Steel And Snow” a rating out of five, then it would get a six.

Today’s Art (28th May 2014)

Like with yesterday’s art post, I’d originally painted a different painting for today. But, well, it was kind of boring – so I decided to do something a bit different. And, well, for some reason, I wanted to paint a random cluttered desk covered in strange objects.

Although this didn’t turn out quite as well as I hoped (and it required a fair amount of digital editing), I’m still quite proud of the result:

"Beautiful Clutter" By C. A. Brown

“Beautiful Clutter” By C. A. Brown

Now, of course, if I’d actually made a real cluttered desk (I’ve already got two of them – although unfortunately neither are as interesting as the one in my painting) rather than just painted one, I’d probably be several hundred thousand pounds richer by now and it’d probably have pride of place in the Tate Modern. Hell, I might even win a Turner Prize or two….

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