Today’s Art (18th April 2017)

Well, there was originally another painting that I was going to post today but, since it wasn’t very good and since I almost forgot my annual art tradition yesterday, here’s the painting that I was going to post yesterday before I suddenly realised that it was the 5th Anniversary of my decision to make art daily. At the very least, it’s better than the painting I was supposed to post today.

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

"Cold Road" By C. A. Brown

“Cold Road” By C. A. Brown

One Sneaky Trick For Getting Artistically Inspired Again (Plus An Art Preview :) )

2017 Artwork Turn Uninspiration Into Inspiration

As I mentioned in yesterday’s article, I had been going through an uninspired phase. But, the day after the events described in that article, I found a cunning way to make a much more inspired digitally-edited painting.

So, I thought that I’d share this sneaky technique with you. But, first, here’s a reduced-size preview of the inspired painting I made:

The full-size painting will be posted here in mid-March.

The full-size painting will be posted here in mid-March.

Since I’d already been feeling uninspired for one day, I was determined that the next day’s painting would be better. So, I started out by using one of my tried-and-tested techniques for producing good art when I’m really uninspired. In other words, I originally planned to make a “low-imagination” type of art.

In this case, it was going to be a piece of “Silent Hill” fan art. Since the characters and settings have already been created by someone else, fan art requires less imagination to make than original art does (since you only need to find a new interpretation of something that already exists).

Other types of “low-imagination” art can include things like natural landscapes (since they don’t involve drawing people, and include relatively little visual storytelling) and still life painting (since you just have to paint what is in front of you). Although this obviously varies from artist to artist.

Once I found a “low-imagination” type of art, I started to make a preliminary sketch. And, this is where the clever part happens!

Whilst making the sketch, I asked myself “is there any way I can turn this into an original painting instead?“. Since I already had the basic parts of the painting sketched out and because I knew that, if I couldn’t think of a good idea, I could still make my previous fan art idea – there was no pressure whatsoever.

Within minutes, I’d thought of a better, and significantly more original, idea of what I could do with my original rough sketch.

Uninspiration (or artist’s block) can sometimes be caused by putting too much pressure on yourself. If you sternly tell yourself that you should make a good painting (rather than just focusing on making a painting, and hoping that it will be good) your high expectations might cause your imagination to freeze up.

So, starting out by planning a “low-imagination” type of art takes some of the pressure off of your imagination. Since you know that you will produce a decent-looking (if unimaginitive) painting even if you can’t think of another idea, then there’s no fear of failure. Not that failure is a bad thing, as tomorrow’s article will explain…

Not only that, if you plot out the basics of your “low-imagination” painting or drawing in pencil, then you’ll also take some of the pressure off of your imagination by turning the task ahead of you from being “creating a totally new painting from nothing” to “extensively modifying a pre-existing plan“.

Generally speaking, modifying things (even very heavily) takes a lot less imagination than creating totally new things does.

So, start with a pencil sketch of something that you could “paint or draw in your sleep” and then see if you can convert it into something more imaginative and original.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Inspiring Things To Remember When You’re Having A Totally Uninspired Day

2017 Artwork Three Things To Remember On Uninspired Days

Well, the day before I originally wrote this article was an uninspired day. It was a really uninspired day. It was the kind of day when the first painting I made was so terrible that I actually tried to make a second daily painting… only for that painting to turn out just as bad, or worse! Even after a lot of digital editing:

Here's a reduced-size preview. Which, ironically, looks better than the full-size painting (to be posted here in March) does.

Here’s a reduced-size preview. Which, ironically, looks better than the full-size painting (to be posted here in March) does.

It might have been that my imagination was slightly burnt out from making all of the webcomic updates that will appear here this month (and early next month) within the space of a single fortnight, but it was still an uninspired day. Perhaps the worst uninspired day that I’d experienced for a while.

Making art felt like a difficult, meaningless chore. When I’d actually finished the day’s excuse for a painting, I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment. I felt disappointed. I felt like a failure. If you make art regularly, then you’re going to have days like this every now and then.

So, here are a few things to remember when something like this happens to you. Although some of the points on this list are things that I’ve mentioned before, the ending of the third point on the list is certainly worth reading!

1) If you keep making art, you’ll get inspired more quickly: If you make art regularly, then the most important thing is to keep up with your art schedule – regardless of how uninspired you feel or how cringe-inducingly terrible the awful uninspired painting that you’ve begrudgingly made looks. Even if it feels like a chore, you still need to make that next painting!

The thing about uninspired times is that, if you keep making art regularly, then they don’t tend to last as long. If you’ve worked out how to make paintings or drawings even when you’re uninspired (eg: if you use an ‘easy’ genre of art like landscape painting, minimalist art, remakes of your old art, fan art etc.. on uninspired days), then uninspired times won’t last as long.

After a while, the heavy cloud of uninspiration will lift and/or you’ll find something that inspires you again. Uninspired times don’t last forever and, if you keep making art regularly, then they can even only last for as little as 1-4 days.

But, the thing here is to keep making art and to remember that your uninspired time will pass.

2) It’s all about contrast: Remember that the sense of bitter disappointment that you feel after producing a crappy painting on an uninspired day is the exact opposite of the sense of pride and satisfaction that you feel when you make a great painting on an inspired day. They’re two sides of the same coin.

In other words, without one, you won’t be able to truly appreciate the other.

When you’re feeling really inspired, the idea that you could ever have a miserable, uninspired time seems completely impossible. When you’re uninspired, the idea that you ever had a highly energetic, inspired time seems equally impossible.

This feels really depressing and/or frustrating when you go from inspired to uninspired but, when it happens the other way round, it is one of the coolest feelings in the world. But, it’s a cool feeling that you’ll never get to experience if you don’t have uninspired times every now and then.

So, see your uninspired time as a sign that you’ll get to experience the awesome feeling of being inspired again at some point in the future.

3) Being uninspired means that you ARE an artist! : When you’re feeling uninspired, it can be easy to look at other artists and feel jealous of the fact that they appear to be “inspired all of the time”.

Likewise, it can be easy to compare yourself to other artists and feel like you’re a “failure” or “not a real artist” because you aren’t currently feeling as inspired as they are.

I’ll let you in on a secret, no artist is inspired 100% of the time. The only reason why some artists might appear to be inspired literally all of the time is because they’re very selective about which paintings or drawings they actually show to other people.

Yes, they probably have days where they produce nothing but absolute crap – but they hide it away in order to give the impression that they only produce great things. Even so, being uninspired is an integral part of being an artist.

So, and this is the most important thing to remember, if you’re genuinely upset about the fact that you’re currently feeling uninspired, then this means that you are an artist!

If you’re frustrated by the fact that you can’t think of any good ideas for your next painting, this means that YOU ARE AN ARTIST! I cannot emphasise this enough. If you weren’t an artist, then you wouldn’t care so much about the fact that you were uninspired.

Caring about being uninspired means that you care about making art, which means that you are still an artist!

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

How To Use Memories Of Inspired Times To Get Inspired Again

2016 Artwork Memories of inspiration article sketch

Although this is an article about finding artistic inspiration (and creative inspiration in general), I’m going to have to start by talking about my own artistic uninspiration and how I was able to find some level of inspiration again. As usual, there’s a reason why I’m mentioning this stuff. But, if you aren’t interested in reading that part of this article, then just skip the next four paragraphs or so.

In the days before writing this article, I’d been feeling artistically uninspired. Most of the paintings that I was preparing for mid-January were uninspired, minimalist things. My mood and attitude when making them was a world apart from the mood that I am in when making larger creative projects.

Whilst trying to think of an idea for today’s article, I ended up procrastinating and playing some fan-made levels for a computer game called “Blood” that I’d been playing a lot recently. It was then that I remembered that “Blood” was one of several inspirations behind an interactive story I wrote last Halloween.

Although the project was quite a challenge at the time, it was one of those inspired projects that “almost made itself”. Suddenly, I started looking back on this project with rose-tinted spectacles and began to wish that I could make it again. Then my mind turned to some of the art that I was making around that time, and how it seemed a lot more “inspired” and “meaningful” than any of the art I’d prepared for mid-January.

Back then, I was making art series more regularly. These were often themed around things that had inspired me. I made a series of paintings including things I considered “awesome”. I made at least one series of cyberpunk-themed paintings. I made one or two series of horror-themed paintings.

I was inspired by things in these genres and I found a way to use that inspiration to make original art that felt “relevant” to me.

Remembering more inspired times can be a very useful tool in becoming inspired again for at least two reasons.

The first reason is that remembering a number of more inspired times can help you to work out what those times had in common. Generally speaking, although the reasons why you may have been inspired during several different times will be slightly different, there will often be similarities.

For example, many of my own “inspired” times were when I was either highly inspired by something (eg: a genre, a particular creative work) and wanted to create things that were influenced by it or evocative of it in some subtle way.

Likewise, whenever I’ve made comics projects about special occasions that I like, I’ve been more inspired. I mean, this year’s Halloween comic was one of those projects that “made itself”. I could go on, but there are a number of common factors between the times that I have felt more inspired.

Of course, your own reasons for why a particular time in your life was “more inspirational” than the present day will differ, but you can work out those reasons by studying the times when you felt more inspired.

The second reason is you can take a more direct route by trying to create something similar to the things that you created during these “inspired” times. For example, a while before writing this article, I thought about making another “awesome stuff” art series, since I remembered how fun the first series was to make.

This is a bit of a tricky thing to get right though. If you are going to re-tread old ground, then you need to do it using at least vaguely new ideas. You need to look at the core idea of what made your original project so great and then try to do something subtly different with that idea. Or, at the very least, you should try to continue what you’ve already made (eg: make your new project more of a sequel than a remake).

If you look at your memories of being inspired with these two things (analysis and re-working) in mind, then you’ll also hopefully also avoid the pitfall of feeling melancholy about the present day or feeling that the past was a better time where you made better things. If you start thinking things like that, you’ll just end up feeling more uninspired.

So, remember to analyse why you were inspired and remember to find interesting ways to create similar (but different) things to the things you made when you were inspired.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Causes of Crappy Webcomic Updates (And How To Deal With Them)

2016 Artwork Failed webcomics causes article

At the time of writing, I’m still making a webcomic mini series that will be posted here at the start of next year. So far, it’s been going ok but two of the comics that I made on the day that I wrote this article didn’t turn out quite as well as I’d hoped.

Yes, they weren’t as bad as some of the comics in my “Damania Returns” mini series. And, yes, I was able to salvage one of them with lots of image editing and I was able to improve the dialogue in the other one with digital editing too. So, hopefully, the problems aren’t too noticeable. Even so, this made me think about some of the common reasons why webcomic updates can sometimes end up being slightly sub-par.

1) Lack of planning/ fine-tuning: One of the most important rules to follow when making a “newspaper comic” style webcomic is to plan your webcomic updates before you make them. If possible, try to plan them well in advance – so, you’ll have chance to fine-tune the dialogue etc.. in the time between your initial plan and the final comic.

This, I think, was the main cause of some of the problems with the two comic updates I made. I’d planned one of them the evening beforehand, but (due to writer’s block), I didn’t get round to planning the other comic until shortly before I made it. As such, it didn’t really have the necessary amount of fine-tuning time for the dialogue.

So, you can lessen the risk of making a crappy webcomic update by not only planning it in advance, but planning it far enough in advance to give you time to fine-tune and revise the dialogue before you make the finished comic.

2) Rushing the comic: Due to a number of reasons, I was in something of a slight rush when I made these two comics. Making daily webcomics (even in short mini series, quite far in advance of publication) can involve a certain amount of time pressure. If you aren’t careful, this can lead to lower-quality comics. Both in terms of writing and art.

Rushed dialogue can usually sound somewhat clunky and/or random (one of the two comics had this problem, even after some editing). Depending on your own writing style, rushed dialogue can also run the risk of being too wordy or too abrupt. I suppose it is usually best to err on the side of brevity if you’re in a rush.

It’s completely counter-intuitive but, rushing the art can also sometimes be something of a false economy since, if you edit your comics digitally, then this usually just means that you’ll spend even longer editing the artwork than you would have done if you’d put the time into making higher quality artwork.

If you’re in a mild rush, then it’s usually a good idea to come up with comic ideas that require a smaller amount of higher-quality art and/or a smaller amount of dialogue than to try to make a “normal” comic in half or two-thirds of the time.

For example, the second of my two “sub-par” comics doesn’t actually look that bad for the simple reason that I only included 21 words of dialogue, one almost entirely art-based panel (showing a scene from a distance, which meant that I only had to draw basic, distant scribbles) and very few close-ups of the characters. Yes, the art in this comic still required more editing after I’d scanned it, but I eventually ended up with a vaguely decent-looking, if slightly basic, comic.

If this isn’t practical or possible, then just make and post a small filler illustration (possibly even a sketch) of one of your characters and briefly explain to your audience that you didn’t have time to make a comic, but that you wanted to give them something to tide them over until you do have time.

3) An off day:
Every comic writer and/or artist will have their “off days”. These are days when inspiration is hard to come by and any idea, however crappy, will have to do.

One way to moderate the impact of these days is to limit the number of webcomic updates/ webcomic panels you make per day when you’re preparing your webcomic before publication. This means that any dips in quality hopefully won’t affect too many of your comic updates. If you leave it long enough before publication, this also gives you a chance to go back and edit your lower-quality updates before they appear online.

Another way to mitigate this problem is to use running jokes. For example, the second of my two “sub-par” comics revolves around an occasional running joke that has appeared in earlier instalments of the series. To me, it doesn’t seem that original – but, to fans of the series and to new readers, it’ll probably seem pleasingly eccentric.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Four Ways To Deal With Uninspiration When Making Daily Artwork (To Post Online)

2016 Artwork Uninspiration making art every day

Whether you make art everyday as a matter of habit, or whether you’re doing it for some kind of challenge (eg: like the “Inktober” thing that turns up online every October), it can be something of a challenge. Ironically, the problem with making art everyday isn’t the actual drawing or painting itself, it’s coming up with 365 ideas per year of what to draw or paint. And, yes, you will feel uninspired sometimes if you make art every day.

So, although I’ve talked about this subject quite a few times before, I thought that I’d look again at some of the ways that you can deal with the inevitable uninspiration that will happen if you make art every day.

1) Have a buffer: Although you should try to make art every day, one of the things that can be useful for taking some of the pressure out of it is to be at least several paintings ahead of what you post online and/or show other people. If you’re just doing private practice, then this isn’t really practical but – if you’re showing your art off – then a buffer is essential.

You can build up a buffer by either making several paintings before you start posting any online or, you can build it up during inspired times by making more than one painting per day – but only showing off one per day.

This buffer should be a rolling thing, which you add to every day. However, if you are feeling extremely uninspired one day, then having a buffer means that you don’t have to worry quite as much about getting a painting out on that particular day. This can take some of the pressure off of you and help you to get into a mildly more inspired frame of mind.

If you’re posting art online, then finding a website that allows you to schedule your daily art posts in advance is also extremely helpful when it comes to reducing the amount of pressure on you, so you can focus more on actually making art.

2) Don’t be a perfectionist: If you make art regularly, then you will probably know that there will be some days when your art will be good and some days when it won’t. The most important thing if you’re making art everyday (especially in the early stages of doing this) is not to produce great art everyday, but to keep up the rhythm and momentum of actually making daily artwork. Even if it’s sometimes fairly crappy art.

A finished “terrible” painting that either goes online on time and/ or is finished on time is a hundred times better than an unfinished and/or late “great” painting.

Yes, putting crappy art out there might seem like a strange thing to do but, if you point out that it’s daily art, then people will probably be understanding. If they aren’t, then just ask them to make consistently great art everyday – most people will probably back down when they realise the impossible enormity of what you’ve suggested.

The thing to remember here is that posting daily art isn’t about constantly showing off how great an artist you are.

It’s about making yourself practice regularly, so that you can eventually become a great artist. Not only does showing it off encourage you to keep to your schedule, but it also inspires other artists too – both by giving them the idea to make daily art and also to show them that every artist has their “off days” or even “off weeks” sometimes.

Your published failures help to boost the confidence of other learning artists.

So, don’t feel too bad about posting a crappy/mediocre/uninspired etc.. painting online. If you actually made a painting, however bad, when you were uninspired- then you’ve won!

3) Find an easy genre: You’ll only really learn how to use this technique fully after you’ve been making daily art for a while, but there are certain genres of art that each artist finds to be “easy”. This varies from artist to artist but, when you’ve found a type of art that either looks very good with relatively little effort and/or is something that you can “do in your sleep“, then this is the thing you should make during uninspired times.

For me, these types of art include natural landscapes, still life paintings, silhouette art, remaking my old art, fan art and, more recently, some types of sci-fi cityscapes. But, your own “easy” types of art will probably be slightly different.

It may be boring to make, or you might feel like you’re “cheating” by taking the easy route – but you’ll end up with a finished piece of art by the end of the day. Not only that, you’ll also keep up the habit of making art, which means that it’ll be easier for you to throw yourself into making more “challenging” art when you feel inspired again.

4) Randomness: If worst comes to worst, just make something totally random. I did this quite a lot during the early stages of my daily art practices (eg: most of my art from 2012 looks slightly random, eccentric, generic or nonsensical) and I still sometimes do it today.

The important thing here is to make art everyday – so, even if you can’t think of a “story” for your painting or drawing, then just make something random. Just draw a random character and a random background. Just paint a random everyday object. Just make an abstract pattern. The important thing is to have a finished piece of art, however strange it might look, by the end of the day.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂