Today’s Art (27th September 2014)

Wow! I’m seriously proud of today’s painting. I felt like practicing painting mirrors and drawing people in different positions to usual and this turned out fairly well. Plus, I was kind of in the mood for some vintage-style art too.

As a blog exclusive, since this picture will probably be on DeviantART by now, I’ll also provide the lineart for this picture – complete with all the original mistakes and some of the original pencil lines too.

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

"Cabin Seven" By C. A. Brown

“Cabin Seven” By C. A. Brown

And here’s the original lineart for this picture:

"Cabin Seven (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Cabin Seven (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

Art And Gender Expression

2014 Artwork Gender Expression Replacement Sketch

Although I don’t want to get bogged down with sociological jargon too much, I should probably briefly explain exactly what I mean by both “gender” and “gender expression” before I begin this article.

Quite a lot of the time, people use the terms “gender” and “sex” to refer to the same thing. However, I’ll be using the sociological definitions of these terms here – because they’re more interesting (and more accurate too).

In other words, “sex” refers to a person’s physical body, but “gender” refers to whether they see themselves as being innately male or female. Most people’s sex and gender are the same (so much so that they probably find the idea that there’s any difference between the two things to be puzzling) – but sometimes they’re not.

This brings us on the whole subject of gender expression – this refers to how a person expresses a particular gender (eg: how they look, how they sound, what they call themselves, their outward personality, how they dress, how they talk, their body language etc…).

And, yes, each of these genders has about a million different ways that it can be expressed- so there’s no “one true way” to be male or female. Be very wary of anyone who suggests that there is.

Again, with most people, the gender that they express when they are around other people is the same as the gender that they actually are. But sometimes due to subtle social expectations and/or ignorance, unfortunately, it isn’t.

Since I don’t want to turn this into an essay about gender, I’ll move on to why and how this is relevant to making art.

For starters, I’d like to point out that the idea that male and female people make “different” kinds of art is absolutely ridiculous. With six or seven billion unique people on the planet, the idea that the things we create can be easily divided into two simplistic groups is absolutely ridiculous.

Plus, generally speaking, if you look at a work of art – it’s usually difficult to tell whether a man or a woman made it unless someone tells you. For example, with a still life painting – a bowl of fruit is a bowl of fruit, regardless of whether it was painted by someone called Dave or someone called Laura.

Still, one of the great things about art is that it can be a form of gender expression if you want it to be. And the great thing about this is that not only is it not always easy to notice at first glace, but that it allows you to express your own gender in a much more nuanced way than you can do in real life.

The main reasons for this is that most people accept that art is something separate from “real life”. It’s something that’s completely imaginative where there aren’t really as many “rules” as there are in real life.

As such, you can use art to express your innate gender in a way that would probably be impossible (or very strange) in reality.

This can also be a surprisingly good source of inspiration if you’re feeling “blocked”. I mean, if you can’t think of anything to paint or draw, then just say to yourself “I’m going to make a really girly painting” or “I’m going to make a really manly drawing” and then just see what emerges.

Since your personal ideas and experiences of what is “girly” and/or “manly” will differ very slightly from everyone else’s, you’ll end up producing something at least slightly unique.

Not only that, since you have total control over how everything and everyone is portrayed in your art – you aren’t really subject to anyone else’s rules or expectations. So, for example, you can make things as stylised or as realistic as you want to in your art. In other words, you can express your gender in a realistic way or in an exaggerated way. It’s up to you.

What this all means, of course, is that if your inner gender is different from the one that everyone else expects you to express on a daily basis – then art is one of the few spaces where you can actually be yourself without attracting the wrong kind of attention.

It’s one of the few spaces where you don’t have to worry about what everyone will think. It’s one of the few spaces where you can be truly alive rather than having to act all of the time.

Ok, the previous two paragraphs probably aren’t relevant to most people who read this article. But, never underestimate the value of art when it comes to expressing who you are.

——–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Should You Write Long Or Short Non-Fiction Articles?

2014 Artwork Article writing length sketch

As regular readers of this blog probably know, I tend to apologise when I write something short and – due to the hot weather and just general stress at the time of writing – I’ve been making a lot of short articles recently. So, for today, I thought that I’d talk about length and writing non-fiction articles.

The other thing which made me think about this subject was when I needed some inspiration when I was in a dark mood a few weeks ago and decided to check out one of my favourite new age/inspirational blogs – Jeanette Maw’s “Good Vibe Blog“.

One of the interesting things about this site is that the posts on it are fairly short – in fact, after reading one of them, I decided to copy it into Star Office and check the word count out of curiosity – it was less than 400 words long!

Of course, if I’d written something that was only about 395 words long – I’d either write a grovelling apology at the bottom of the article or, more likely, I’d try to find ways to pad it out and make it look like something of a “reasonable” length.

The fact is that some writers are better suited to writing short things and some writers are better suited to writing long things. Personally, I find it a lot easier to write 1400 words than I do to write something that is only 140 characters long. This is also reason #145 why I will hopefully never get a Twitter account.

Some of this is probably innate personal preference, but I think that part of has to do with education and how we react to it. You see, when I was a kid – I was the kind of kid who liked writing essays in school.

Ok, I didn’t love writing essays – but, by the time I was in sixth form, I could dash out a reasonably good homework essay in less than an hour. And, when I went to university, I always used to get annoyed at the word limits for coursework projects – because I always exceeded them and had to spend quite a while editing my work down to 2000- 3500 words.

Of course, if you were the kind of person whose talents lay elsewhere and you felt out of your depth whenever you so much looked at an essay question (in the same way that I’d probably feel if I looked at a mathematical equation, a few lines of computer code or a chemical equation), then it makes sense that you’d be better suited to writing short things.

In addition to this, I’ve always thought that “long” equals “serious”. Just like how I foolishly used to think that “serious” writing always sounded like something that was written in the 19th century. And, well, I also tend to worry that my readers will feel “cheated” every time that I write something that’s less than about 600 words long.

So, I guess that this is something of a subjective topic and whether you’re better suited to writing long or short non-fiction pieces depends a lot on your own personal attitudes towards writing. And about reading too – some people love to dash through lots of short articles when they’re surfing the internet and some people like to get lost in a few longer articles – it all comes down to preference really.

But, here’s the interesting thing about non-fiction – length doesn’t matter as much as you might think. It’s kind of like the Linux operating system – the current version of the basic core (or “kernel“) of the program is pretty much the same in every distribution of Linux even though everything else about each distribution might be different.

The fact is that most non-fiction topics and ideas can be summed up surprisingly briefly. But, at the same time, they can also be discussed at length and expanded upon too.

So, at the end of the day, it all comes down to preference – both for readers and for writers.

———-

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (25th September 2014)

Well, I’m not exactly the most photogenic person in the world – so, when I finally had a vaguely good photo of me back in July, I just had to paint it.

I used a bit of artistic licence in this painting and I also changed the logo on my T-shirt for copyright reasons (the original logo is for a really cool metal band called “Triaxis” who I saw live at Bloodstock Open Air back in 2009 – ooh, I’ve just found some footage from that concert on Youtube, although I can’t be seen in the crowd).

Although the photo of me is fairly ok, I won’t include it here because, as I said, I’m not really that photogenic.

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

"Self-Portrait By The Kitchen Door" By C. A. Brown

“Self-Portrait By The Kitchen Door” By C. A. Brown

The Joy Of …Drawing And Painting From Your Imagination

2014 Artwork Drawing From Imagination sketch

I was watching random art videos on Youtube a few weeks ago, when I stumbled across this brilliant video by a professional caricaturist called Elgin Subwaysurfer Bolling, where he talks about how to draw pictures using your imagination alone (he also references a Will Terell video, but I can’t find the exact one that he’s talking about at the moment).

This topic resonated with me because, over the past week or two, I’ve been taking a break from my imagination and I’ve mostly been painting from old photos and/or re-making my old stuff (ok, there will be one more painting from a photo tonight and then I’ll go back to 100% new pictures for a while at least).

So I thought that I’d write about painting from your imagination and why it’s so awesome.

I won’t lie, there’s certainly something satisfying about seeing what a “realistic” photo looks like when it’s painted in your own “unrealistic” art style. And, yes, going back to your old drawings and re-making then in order to see how much you’ve improved over the past few months or years is, to be brutally honest, one hell of an ego boost.

But, at the same time, it’s a very limiting type of “creativity”.

Like fossil fuels, the photos that I can paint (without running into copyright problems) and the old drawings of mine that are good enough to re-make are a finite resource (eg: due to not having a functioning camera at the moment and also being somewhat shy about taking photos in public).

I only have a limited amount of them and they’re going to “run out” eventually. I’m guessing that the same is probably true for you too – but, if it isn’t, then I’m very jealous.

Whereas, when you paint from your imagination, it’s a truly renewable and sustainable form of creativity. Yes, it’s not quite as easy as copying something I’ve already made and there’s always a risk of either feeling uninspired or producing something terrible.

But, at the same time, you also don’t have to worry about searching through your photo collection or your favourite old drawings whenever you want to make a painting or a drawing.

In addition to this, if you only paint or draw from photos – then you’re limited to what exists in the real world. Yes, you can change things and use artistic licence, but all of your art will be essentially based on places, people and things that actually exist. And, well, this is one hell of a limitation.

I mean, isn’t the whole point of art to create pictures of things that are too awesome to exist in the real world? You know, things like this:

"Glowing Sarcophagus" By C. A. Brown

“Glowing Sarcophagus” By C. A. Brown

Not only that, your art will also have a lot more “personality” to it if you paint or draw from your imagination. Why? Because everything and everyone in your picture has come directly from you and you alone.

Literally, the whole picture is entirely you. It’s a snapshot of part of the imaginative world that exists within your mind and your mind alone.

Of course, what this also means is that your picture will stand out from the crowd a lot more easily if it’s at least vaguely good. It’ll be something that people have never quite seen before and this will give you an advantage if you want your work to get noticed.

So, don’t be afraid to use your own imagination.

———-

Sorry for another short article, but I hope that it was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (24th September 2014)

Well, since I was bereft of good artistic ideas yet again – I made the foolish decision to let my imagination atrophy further by going back through my old stuff and looking for things to re-make once again.

Eventually, I settled on some doodles that I made on my lecture notes for a particularly dull “information services” lecture at university back in 2006. For comparison, I’ll also include this part of the doodle in this post as well as my painting.

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

"Mainframe" By C. A. Brown

“Mainframe” By C. A. Brown

And here’s my doodle, made during a very boring lecture during 2006:

"Lecture Doodle From 2006" By C. A. Brown

“Lecture Doodle From 2006” By C. A. Brown