Three More Things To Do After You’ve Drawn A Terrible Picture

2015 Artwork More terrible pictures article sketch

Well, since a couple of my recent paintings have been.. well… awful, I thought that I’d re-visit a subject that I last wrote about a few months ago. I am, of course, talking about what to do after you’ve made a terrible picture – like this one:

"Valley Of The Lost Pyramids" By C. A. Brown

“Valley Of The Lost Pyramids” By C. A. Brown

If you make art – then there are going to be times when you fail miserably. It happens to all of us since it’s impossible for an artist to produce literally nothing but masterpieces. And, any artist that claims that they do probably has a large stack of failed paintings and/or drawings hidden away somewhere.

So, failure isn’t the devastating thing that you might think it is when you look at your latest failed piece of art. Still, how can you deal with it? Here are a few tips:

1) Make something you know is going to be good: If you’ve just failed miserably at making a piece of art, then it can be easy to feel disheartened and to lose confidence in yourself. After all, you’ve poured a lot of effort into your artwork and you’ve probably had a clear mental image of what it will look like – only to be rewarded with something that looks absolutely terrible.

It can be enough to shake anyone’s confidence in their own artistic abilities. And, well, one of the best ways to win your confidence back is to produce something that looks great. But, how do you do that?

Simple, you do something that you feel is “easy” and/or almost guaranteed to produce good results. Of course, what exactly this is will vary from artist to artist – so you need to know what works for you.

For example, some artists might find painting still life pictures to be an almost impossible challenge, whereas other artists might find it a relaxing break from the difficult task of painting from their own imaginations.

Likewise, some artists might put a lot of thought and stress into making a piece of fan art, whereas other artists may just make fan art as a bit of light-hearted relaxation. Every artist is different, so make sure that you know what you personally find to be “easy” types of art to make.

2) Make something even worse: For me, failed paintings don’t usually exist in isolation. Usually, when I make something crappy, there’s a good chance that I’ll end up making a couple more crappy pictures before I finally start making good stuff again. Your own creative processes might be different to mine, but I’ve always found that failure attracts more failure.

So, how do you stop this turning into an unstoppable downward spiral? Simple, you produce something even worse that – to you at least – makes your original failed picture look good by comparison. This can be a very sneaky way to re-build your artistic confidence just enough to get back into the mood for producing better work.

For example, a day or so before I produced that terrible “pyramid” picture that I showed you earlier, I made another painting that I thought was kind of rubbish. It was a rather quick one that I produced when I was fairly tired and I was kind of disappointed by it when I’d finished:

"Puffer Fish" By C. A. Brown

“Puffer Fish” By C. A. Brown

But, although I still don’t see this picture as one of my best, I have a slightly better opinion of it now than I did before I produced my “pyramid” painting.

Why? Because my “puffer fish” picture actually has vaguely good composition, a slightly coherent colour scheme, vaguely realistic shadows and lots of other fairly basic things that were missing from my “pyramid” picture.

3) Get used to it and keep going: This might sound kind of harsh, but it isn’t supposed to be. You see, one of the great things about making art on a regular basis is that you get used to failing every now and then. It’s annoying when it happens, but it doesn’t feel like the end of the world.

Why? Because it’s happened to me quite a few times before over the past couple of years. And, every time, I know that I’ll end up producing good art again eventually. It might take a few days, it might even take a week. But I know that if I keep making art on a regular basis, then it will get better again.

And this has changed my entire perspective on artistic failure. Rather than seeing it as a personal failing of any kind, I see it as more like a spot of bad weather.

Yes, the weather in England may be searingly hot and annoyingly bright on a particular day, but no-one thinks that it will last forever. After all, the delightful gloom and vibrant rain will always return after a while.

But, well, you’ll only end up having a perspective like this if you keep making art on a regular basis – even during the times when you’re producing nothing but failed paintings. So, keep going!

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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Review: “Haunted Hotel” (Computer Game)

2014 Artwork Haunted Hotel review sketch

Before I begin, I should probably point out that this is more of a “first impressions” article than a traditional “review”, but there’s a reason for this that I’ll explain at the end of this article. Still, that said, let’s take a look at “Haunted Hotel”:

Haunted hotel title screen

“Haunted Hotel” is a hidden object puzzle game where you play as an unnamed man who, after a car crash, finds himself in a mysterious old hotel. As you’ve probably guessed, the goal of the game is to escape from the hotel and find out what is going on…

This game was re-released as part of Big Fish Games’s “Black Lime Games” collection and, since I’ve had some really good experiences with other games in this collection (such as “Blood & Ruby“), I had high hopes for “Haunted Hotel”. Alas, my hopes were cruelly dashed fairly soon after I started playing…..

Get used to this corridor, you'll be seeing it a LOT...

Get used to this corridor, you’ll be seeing it a LOT…

The very first thing I will say about “Haunted Hotel” is that there is next to no exploration whatsoever. Yes, you can select the order that you play a group of hidden object scenes in, but that’s about it.

You just go from nearly-identical corridor to nearly-identical corridor in a pre-determined order, with no exploration in between. To call this game linear and repetitive would be an understatement.

In fact, the parts of the game that should have been taken up with things like exploration and dialogue (you know, the interesting stuff) are shown using simple text screens.

Whilst the pencil drawings that accompany these screens are kind of cool (and they’re probably the best art you’ll see in the entire game), the writing in these screens is – for want of a better description – terrible.

In fact, it’s almost a mini-game in and of itself trying to spot all of the many basic mistakes and grammatical errors that appear in these screens. If “Haunted Hotel” was a free game on the internet, this wouldn’t have been a major issue – but, for a professionally-published game, a proofreader really should have been involved.

Yes, there isn't even the ghost of a proofreader in this "Haunted Hotel"....

Yes, there isn’t even the ghost of a proofreader in this “Haunted Hotel”….

Still, one thing that helps to break up the monotony very slightly are the mini-games that you have to play in order to progress to the next nearly-identical hallway.

Some of these mini-games are actually kind of fun, like the shooting game you have to play every time you want to activate the lift that takes you to the next level, but they still feel a little bit like cheap flash games that you could play for free on a website. Again, this wouldn’t be an issue if they were free games, but they are part of a commercially-sold product and, well, this means that my expectations were higher.

Yes, this mini-game is actually the most fun part of the whole game!

Yes, this mini-game is actually the most fun part of the whole game!

Still, the music in this game is surprisingly good. Yes, it’s nothing spectacular, but it adds some much-needed atmosphere to the game and it’s probably one of the best things in the game.

But, what about the hidden object scenes themselves? After all, it’s a hidden object game!

Well, they’re not that great either. Instead of the interesting painted graphics that I’ve seen in many good hidden object games, the graphics in “Haunted Hotel” are computer-generated “photo-montage” graphics that are about as good as the ones in “Luxor Adventures“. Ok, some of the rooms that I’ve seen look ok, but they don’t really have much personality to them:

This is probably the most interesting location that I've seen in the game so far....

This is probably the most interesting location that I’ve seen in the game so far….

Not only that, the item list is placed on the right side of the screen rather than at the bottom. This might seem like a really small issue, but it’s strangely jarring and it breaks up the intuitive flow of the game slightly. But, that’s not the worst part of the design in these hidden object scenes. No, not by a long shot…..

If you’ve looked closely at the last screenshot, you probably noticed the timer in the upper right corner. Yes, these scenes are timed. This might just be me, but one of the great things about hidden object games is that they’re the kind of game that you can play leisurely at your own pace. They’re relaxing puzzle games that you play in order to chill out and unwind. Well, having a strict time limit ruins this completely.

But, that’s not this game’s greatest flaw. Oh no, it gets worse

If you click incorrectly too quickly and too often, then the game will actually give you a time penalty. Yes, it punishes you for getting things wrong. Not only that, the first time this happens, you’ll be given a sarcastic message that is riddled with extremely basic grammatical errors (again, this wouldn’t be a huge issue if the game was free – but this game is actually being sold by a major publisher).

I don't know what annoys me more - the terrible grammar, or the fact that the developers are insulting me for playing their game.....

I don’t know what annoys me more – the terrible grammar, or the fact that the developers are insulting me for playing their game…..

Seriously, are the designers actually trying to insult their audience? I’d have to say yes. This “game” is nothing but a huge middle finger to hidden object gamers around the world.

All in all, this is a “first impressions” article rather than a full review because I stopped playing this game out of sheer disgust less than an hour after I started playing it.

If you’re new to the hidden object genre, avoid this game like the plague – because you’ll never want to play another one after this. In fact, “Haunted Hotel” is the only HOG that I’ve played that actually makes “Luxor Adventures” look good by comparison.

If I had to give this game a rating out of five, it would get one and a half. And that’s only because I liked the pencil drawings, one of the mini-games and the background music.