Today’s Art (13th December 2018)

Woo hoo! I’m feeling inspired again! This digitally-edited painting is based on a sudden rush of memories that flashed through my mind whilst writing this article.

Basically, after spending 1-3 years not reading that much, I got back into reading regularly again and suddenly I remembered how books had been an omnipresent part of my life for so long. That, for almost every book, I could remember when and where I read it. That they were the constant background of my teenage years and early-mid twenties. The emotions this provoked are difficult to describe, but it was like suddenly knowing myself again.

I’m just annoyed that I couldn’t fit anywhere near the amount of books, authors etc.. into this painting as I probably should, let alone the fact that working out a way to represent the memories and emotions this moment stirred in me was next to impossible. Still, this resulted in an inspired fan art painting and it turned out a lot better than I’d expected. Enjoy 🙂

Since this is fan art, this painting is NOT released under any kind of Creative Commons licence.

“Fan Art – Memories Of Books” By C. A. Brown

What Books Can Do That Other Entertainment Mediums Can’t – A Ramble

Well, since I seem to have read more within the past month than I did in the entire year before, I thought that I’d offer some random thoughts about books. In particular, I thought that I’d talk about something that suddenly occurred to me whilst I was reading the thriller novel I reviewed yesterday.

Unlike literally any other entertainment medium, books are an intimate and collaborative medium. It is literally just you and the author. They provide a description of their most interesting daydreams, and you have to use your own imagination to turn this into something you’ll enjoy. It’s like spending time with an old friend, or an interesting stranger. No two meetings are exactly alike. Every meeting between an author’s words and a new reader will be very slightly different.

Not only that, both of you control the pace at which the story travels. The author can write in a way that is meant to be read quickly or slowly, but it is the reader who determines how long the story takes to read. Whether a book is read in short instalments or explored in long deep dives up to the reader. Unlike films, books don’t have running times, because it’s up to the author and each individual reader to determine the “running time” themselves.

Unlike every other entertainment medium, a book is a bit like the Vulcan mind meld from “Star Trek”. Unlike watching most films or playing most games, it almost feels like you’re having some kind of a relationship with a book. For a few hours or days, it becomes part of your everyday life and part of your mind. It’s cover art becomes something you see regularly and the story becomes something that follows you around for a while.

Even if you only remember a few random scenes or impressions several years later, each book that you’ve read becomes a part of your life in a way that no other entertainment medium can quite achieve. Because you’ve spent the time with a book and because you and the author have come up with a unique “version” of the story, there’s something personal about remembering a book that you just don’t get with other entertainment mediums that are the same for every viewer or player. Because of this, books linger in the memory like nothing else, often mingling with the memories of the time and place you read them.

Even the corniest horror novel, the most generic of romances or the most textbook of thriller novels will do this. I mean, I still remember random scenes and moods from the only two “Mills & Boon” books that I’ve ever read, even if I can’t remember their titles or character names. I could also tell you where I read each one and the years that I read them (2006 and 2009/10).

Likewise, even though it’s been quite a while since I last read a decent horror novel, I can still vividly remember being too creeped out by Shaun Hutson’s “Shadows” to keep reading. I can also still remember the car journey (of all things) during the holiday when I read Hutson’s “Spawn”. Or parts of the holiday home where I read Hutson’s “Heathen”.

Even though it was about a decade and a half ago, I can still remember reading James Herbert’s “Domain” (a second-hand copy with a shiny cover from an indoor market stall in Bath) in my bedroom with aghast bleakness and morbid fascination whilst I listened to HIM’s “Love Metal” album on my CD player. I could go on for a while, but books linger in the memory in a way that nothing else does.

Then there’s the obscurity. Unless you’re reading something really famous, there’s a good chance that the books you read are ones that the people around you either haven’t heard of or haven’t read. Books usually don’t really have the popularity of major films or “AAA” games. And yet this just adds to the sense of intimacy and humanity that other entertainment mediums can only dream of.

Reading a book, even by a reasonably well-known author, feels like you’ve stepped into another world. Like you’ve stepped into a hidden part of the surrounding culture that is rarely mentioned in newspapers or on TV. That probably isn’t referenced humourously in the way that films are. Like you’ve stepped outside of popular culture and found that there’s a lot more than you expected. That, for every blockbuster franchise in the cinemas, there are literally hundreds of equally spectacular franchises hiding on the shelves of bookshops. It’s like seeing another world.

I could go on for a while, but I’ll leave you with this. All of this stuff comes from an entertainment medium that doesn’t require electricity, that can be left lying on a shelf for literally decades and still “work” perfectly, and which can often only cost a small amount. It’s practically magic!

———–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Today’s Art (17th October 2018)

Well, today’s digitally-edited painting was a bit of a failure. I’d originally planned to make make a “film noir”-style memory painting/self-portrait that is set in the room that appears in this painting, this painting and this painting.

However, I messed up the lighting and perspective quite a bit and, even after lots of digital editing, I wasn’t really able to salvage this picture completely. On the plus side, it gave me a chance to experiment with a different technique for combining lighting and rain.

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

“And Noir Evenings” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (16th October 2018)

Well, I was still in the mood for painting from memory and this digitally-edited painting is based on a brief moment during a car journey the night before I painted it (or, rather, it’s based on the sketch I made shortly after said car journey).

Anyway, I happened to glance out of the passenger window and notice that the lights on the back of the car had bathed a nearby wall in a striking shade of red. Although I’ve exaggerated the blueness of the light nearby slightly (in order to give the picture a dramatic red/blue colour scheme), I quite like how this painting turned out 🙂

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

“Wing Mirror” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (15th October 2018)

Well, today’s digitally-edited painting is of a room I lived in (which can also be seen in this painting, this painting and a few others) during one of the more memorable years of my life. I hadn’t planned to paint it again, but I ended up listening to Suzanne Vega’s “Songs In Red And Gray” album and a few songs really reminded me of that time.

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

“Another Time” By C. A. Brown

Two Tips For Knowing What To Paint From Memory

Well, I thought that I’d talk about painting from memory again today. Although I won’t be talking about how to memorise things you see here (you can find tips for how to do that in the second half of this article), I’ll be talking about how to choose what to memorise.

Because, well, you’re probably only going to be able to memorise 1-2 scenes at a time. So, choosing the right one matters.

1) Know yourself: understand your own artistic sensibilities (eg: what your art style is focused on, what interests you visually etc..). This is important because it will help you to spot interesting things that you will enjoy turning into paintings.

For example, my own art style tends to focus a lot on light, colour and shadow. So, during a short car journey the night before I originally prepared this article, I happened to look at the passenger wing mirror and notice that the lights at the back of the car had bathed a nearby wall in red light.

But, whilst everything in the wing mirror was various shades of dark red, everything outside the window was illuminated by a white/blue light that was nearby. The contrast in both lighting and colours seemed like exactly my type of thing.

So, I made a stylised memory painting the next day, based on a quick sketch from memory I’d made shortly after the journey. Here’s a preview of it:

This is a reduced-size preview. The full-size painting will be posted here on the 16th August.

So, if you know what qualities you focus on a lot in your art, then this will help you work out what to memorise. Once you know what really interests you visually, you can focus your attention on looking for things that fit into this quality. This will result in more interesting memory paintings. Plus, it also helps with memorisation too because you’ll be memorising things that look dramatic or interesting to you.

2) Follow your intuition: If one particular scene seems more memorable than the others, then paint that one. Even if it doesn’t look as complex or interesting as the other things that you’ve seen, then paint it nonetheless. Why? Because it will not only be the clearest memory, but because it’s probably memorable for a reason.

For example, the car journey I mentioned earlier also included some really beautiful-looking views of streets at night, elaborate Christmas lights and even a brief glimpse of a distant town at night. It really was a wonderful visual feast. Yet, the image that really stuck in my mind was a quick glance at the wing mirror when the car was starting.

Why? Who knows. But, if I had to guess, then I’d say that it was because the composition and colours were the most striking and memorable. Although I saw a lot of other beautiful scenes during the journey, this one was – by far – the most unique. It almost looked like it could be a frame from a film or something like that.

So, if one scene seems more memorable than the others that you’ve seen, then there’s usually a good reason for this. Maybe it’s easier to paint? Maybe it looks more unique? Maybe it allows you to include visual storytelling? Who knows? But, there’s usually a good reason.

———–

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Technical Tips For Painting From Memory

Although I wrote about painting from memory recently and have also talked about the basics of how to memorise something you see, I thought that I’d offer a few technical tips today.

This is mostly because I ended up making yet another memory painting when I happened to see a familiar building from a slightly different angle during a walk and then memorised the scene before me (after about 20-40 seconds of constant observation), in order to start painting it about 20-30 minutes later – whilst also relying on older memories of the area too. Here’s a preview:

This is a reduced-size preview. The full-size painting will be posted here on the 8th September.

And here are some technical tips for painting from memory. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume that you already know all of the basic artistic skills (eg: perspective, drawing “3D” scenes, painting from life etc…) that are a basic underlying requirement for memorising things in order to paint them later.

1) Focus on key details: In addition to memorising the basic shapes/outlines and colours of what you’ve seen, it can also be useful to memorise a few key details. Often, these will be things that grab your attention quickly (so, you won’t have to search for them). But, try to focus on only memorising the most important details. After all, if you try to memorise too much, then the memory won’t be as clear or long-lasting.

Incorporating 2-3 key details into your painting will give it an instant impression of authenticity, whilst also providing something for you to guess/interpret/extrapolate other details from when you are converting your small collection of memorised shapes, colours and details into a coherent painting.

For example, in the painting I showed you earlier, the two key details (other than the shape of the building) were the fact that there was a tree in front of the building, the small cross/fleur-de-lis on top of the building and the general shape and position of the sign from the neighbouring pub.

So, memorising a very small number of key details (in addition to the usual shapes/colours) can give your memory painting more of an authentic look, even if you either have to guess/extrapolate other details or rely on much older and vaguer memories for the rest of the picture.

2) Sketch as soon as possible!: I know that I’ve mentioned this before but, once you’ve memorised something you’ve seen, you need to get that memory down on paper as quickly as you can before it starts to fade.

This sketch doesn’t have to be large or elaborate. It just needs to include the basic shapes/outlines of everything, any important details and possibly a few written notes about colours or other elements of the picture. Here’s the sketch from the picture I showed you earlier – its really tiny and it took me less than two minutes.

This is the sketch for the picture earlier. I didn’t even bother with an underlying pencil drawing here, I just drew it with my usual drawing pen.

Make your sketch quickly and just focus on drawing out the rudimentary shapes/details that you’ve actually memorised. You can add detail and use artistic licence later when you’re making the final painting.

3) Once you’ve learnt it, that’s it:
Although it can take a bit of practice and trial-and-error to learn how to memorise the things you see, the skill is similar to riding a bicycle. In other words, once you’ve learnt how to do it (through practice and experience), then it won’t be something that you’ll forget. In other words, it’s a skill that is very resistant to disuse.

For example, I’ve made two memory paintings recently. Here’s a preview of the other one (and, yes, I know that the full-size painting was meant to appear here four days ago. But, due to a scheduling mishap, it won’t appear until the 23rd. Sorry about this):

This is a reduced-size preview. The full-size painting will be posted here on the 3rd September 23rd September.

But, before that, I hadn’t memorised something I’d seen in ages. But, since the techniques for doing it have become almost instinctive (through prior practice over the past 2-3 years), it was something that I was quickly able to do without really thinking about it too much.

So, yes, once you’ve learnt this skill then you don’t really have to worry too much about forgetting how to use it.

—————

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂