Knowing when to stop —and when not to

How to know when a piece of art is done, that is a question I’ve had in my mind off and on for a very long time. On one hand, I’ve made some artwork that I finished quickly and I liked it. Other times I try to put more time into it and it gets to a point where I wish I had stopped earlier. But is it right to stop at the first point of being pretty happy with it? With design, it’s rarely a good idea to go with the first draft. And when I look at other artists’ work—artists I particularly admire, I get the feeling that they have worked much longer and more intentionally than I ever do.

So how to go forward? This is a time that I feel the need for a mentor. I’m not sure where to find one, so I guess I will just make a commitment to force myself to work past the moment I would otherwise stop, even if it means I’m “ruining” what I’ve done. I know I can do better. (Can’t I?)

This blog idea came to me through looking at a book of Illustration. I’ve just discovered an Illustrator whose work I absolutely love: Bernard Buffet. Wow! How have I missed this work? I predict a fair amount of my time in the near future will be spent on the bernardbuffet.com site! Check it out! (I’ve added the link to the Inspiring Artists links on the right.)

PS. Sorry —no image this blog. Next time, I promise.

Not-cute Faces with Adobe Draw

At work I saw that my coworker was creating some graphics of people, but they were a little too cute for the audience. With my new Apple pencil and an iPad, I thought I’d see what I could come up with. So keep in mind: I’m new to drawing on the iPad, and new to Adobe Draw. Here are two beginnings I made, not in any way cleaned up. Adobe Draw is quite fun! And sharing it to Illustrator…oh my gosh! It’s fast and amazing! My jaw dropped. Seriously.

Hours of writing

Okay, “hours” might be an exaggeration, but seriously. Have you ever written and re-written something, trying to make it look really good, but definitely hand-written? I thought I’d throw together a little quote poster. I saw one in a book I was given recently: Fifty Years of Illustration by Lawrence Zeegen and Caroline Roberts. It was by artist/illustrator Robert Massin. It intrigued me. (I started searching for it online so I could share, but it’s not coming up immediately and I don’t have the time to keep looking right now.) Anyway, I wrote the text over and over and over and was never satisfied. In fact, I gave up and then tried again days later, er… today that would be. So finally, in frustration, I just wrote and scribbled and wrote and scribbled. Not sure if it’s a look I’ll go for in the future, but it certainly is a breath of fresh air after what I’d been aiming for.

Thoughts about What Should Be vs What Is

Two things: writing like you think writing is supposed to be and creating artwork like you think it’s supposed to look. It is very hard to catch yourself being inauthentic, because really, where is the line between trying to make it good and making it in your own way? I suppose some people call this your voice or, in the case of visuals, your style. That is a very complicated thing, isn’t it? Because when we share what really sounds like us, or what really comes from us visually, it is imperfect, just like we are. Who wants to show how imperfect they are? And yet, I’m just beginning to see that those imperfections are what makes it interesting and unique and here we are struggling and struggling to make things perfect before we share our work with others.

I don’t have an answer as to when to share. I mean, there is that quote —who said it?— about a painting never actually being finished, but just stopping in interesting places. I’m beginning to understand this.

Now design —that’s a different thing. Or is it?

 

Black and White – back to basics

Sadly I’ve been neglecting my Wacom tablet. Part of the problem, I think, is that I was so jazzed about all the things Photoshop could do.

What is it that reminded me that limits are good? I believe it was Learning By Heart again. (Corita Kent and Jan Steward) A hundred ideas is just about as bad as no ideas at all. At least, this is true for me.

So, here I am, returning to some basics, working with the simplest of lines and shapes in black and white.

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Significant Object Project

I read a book (I forget which) a while ago about de-cluttering your house. The problem of objects with sentimental value was discussed and the author suggested taking a picture of them and then getting rid of them. (The ones you can, anyway.)

I liked the idea of having the picture, and I don’t know if it was my idea or the author’s to write the story of where the object came from and why it was significant, but I decided that that’s what I should do with the things in my house. Well, as good as the idea was, I didn’t do it. Then recently, I had a mini-revelation: I could draw the objects. That way, I get some drawing in and I have something to share with my children about the significance of the objects around us. (I have not gotten rid of any of them!)

I’ve just finished Object #13.

handmadebird steiffanimals

What to ask

ColorPlay

I’m sure I’ve mentioned lynda.com before. It is my favorite site for learning software, but it has even more. I just finished a course called Foundations of Color taught by Mary Jane Begin. I took a course in Color & Design in college, and I remember we had a lot of assignments and I enjoyed them, but beyond learning that some colors “vibrate” when put next to each other, and that context can change a color dramatically, I have just discovered through this course that I really didn’t learn what I needed to learn.

I wonder if this is because I was not a good student, or if the class wasn’t effective in conveying the point of all the assignments we did. Either way, I have been using color in my artwork for all these years, choosing them by what seemed like a good idea to me, but with no better understanding of why.

This came to light when I was doing the color week of the Coursera class on Graphic Design. I found that I was choosing color pretty much at random —only knowing that certain colors did not look good together— and I was unclear as to what the point was. I didn’t even know what to ask.

After taking the Foundations of Color course, I realize how much there is to learn about color. In fact, I’m going to have to re-watch several of the lessons because I know I am still not grasping it completely. But at least I now know what questions to ask. And that is a very good feeling!

Drawing and Writing

Part of the 21-Day Drawing Challenge was this “doodle” on cardboard. I don’t consider this a doodle. For me, a “doodle” is not something I do on demand. But anyway, I made this drawing of Jackal Man, one of the main characters in the book I’m writing.

This illustration reminds me of an illustration of a fox I’ve seen somewhere before. I don’t recall what story it was from, but it is reminiscent of it, so if it looks familiar to you, don’t worry –it’s sort of familiar to me, too!

JackalMan