Illustration Friday Entry

The little bird sat back on it's haunches in awe. The neck of this wonderful oddity reached to the sky as if it was a sky scraper. Then it spoke.

"Hey bub! You like cherries?"


The Art Blog For Non-Artists

There are many non-artists out there who have probably read my blog. I want you to know that first I understand your frustration with us, the artists. We are generally unconventional, a little crazy, and nonconformists. Second, that you may apply a lot of the same principles as artists only in different venues.

The Non-Artists Unanswered Questions.
So, what is in my blog for the non-artist? Why should you care if you do not ever want to be a serious artist?

Applicable Skills.
When job searching I have learned that what an employer wants to see is not so much that I worked for XYZ Company, but that I learned some applicable skills at XYZ Company that they can use. Consider Exempla Vitae as the Art Blog For Non-Artists. You can use what you learned about creativity here in your day to day life or your job. With exception to the most specific information on creating art, there is very little that you will not eventually apply. In the list below I have created brief descriptions of the gathered seed and how you might apply it in less artistic ways. In doing so I have contributed an experimental piece called Bowl And Cylinder In Color to make an example of.

Creative Indifference.
Every time you see a piece of art or art process you may see a color, form, image, story, concept or approach that when applied to a life situation you can think about things differently.
Example: In the piece above you that the yellow and magenta go well together, so you decide that you can use this combination in the colors of your child's toy room.
When observing a piece of art you may realize that the colors, forms, images, stories, or concepts don't quite match reality. Determine why that works and you will be able to apply the same unconventional thinking to a life situation.
Example: You see that the color of the bowl and cylinder have a slight silver tint to them. You reason that if the unconventional use of values work in that situation than you do not have to get stuck in a traffic jam. You can find odd side streets to get around it.
New Perspectives
Art is not created in a box. Even if someone claims that they were not influenced by anyone or anything. It is not true. Artists more than anything know how to communicate their point of view through imagery. We all need to see another person's point of view from time to time. It makes us human.
Example: I used what I had on hand, an old bowl and an empty Cheetos cylinder. If I used those to create my art, then you decide that you can use cinder blocks around your house to put your car up to look under it instead of buying lifts.
New Processes
The craft with which a project was completed helped communicate that message. Seeing that there is a different way to do something may translate into a new approach in your personal goals.
Example: In experimenting with this piece I used a slick computer paper to print on. Acrylic paint is water based and could quickly erode the paper. You discover that even though books are not ideal for weights in your home workout routine they stretch different muscles, so you find new ways to use them.
Spiritual Encouragement
Art is also not scientific. Science may play a role in executing the art, but it has it's roots in the spiritual. Consider that what the artist saw from their perspective revealed something about reality that had not been opened up since long before the modern world. It charged you with a new understanding of God and His goodness.
Example: I was having a bad day when I painted this. Instead of getting frustrated with myself and doing nothing I painted. It was therapeutic and put me in better spirits. Because I let the painting take a less restricted path it shows a dimension of immediacy and dependency on God to create. You are encouraged by this transparency and go try a sewing class for the first time in your life, because you saw that even artists doubt in themselves and your doubts should not get in the way of your fulfillment spiritually.
Websites, blogs, podcasts, books, names, materials, other people's art, and training will always come up when someone talks about their art. Not only should you consider buying what is recommended but by tracing it to the source you can apply that knowledge to problems you have to solve.
Example: In the process of my struggle this week I was looking at one of my favorite illustration blogs: Gurney Journey. You go to his blog to see how he creates and find that he is good at creating dinosaur related art. You love dinosaurs and follow his recommendations to more studies on dinosaurs.
When perspective, processes, and resources come together they tell the story of the art. The art that you see from that creative did not start with that creative. Rather, it had its roots in some event in the past. That is why they created it. When you find out "how" then you can apply the knowledge to something you are going through. Empathy is a very strong connection.
Example: This piece was not created this week, but no less than 12 years ago. My art training started full force with a book by Nicolaides. Though you do not see the underdrawing you can imagine that the form was loosely rendered in a process called blind drawing. I painted over it to create solidarity. You research Nicolaides and find out how he came up with his creative theories. At that time you apply this new understanding to solving problems in your biology career.

As you can see these aspects of creativity do apply across the board. If you read about something that you do not understand, I encourage you to follow up with a question. I pared down my language in the realms of Christianese (words used specifically in the Christian community) and Artese (words used specifically by artists and those like-minded) as much as possible, but some words don't always translate. Let me know what your questions are on the Comment board and I will answer them to the best of my ability. So what do you want to know about art?


Your Infinite Database On The Moon

Each day when I sit down to do art I have a specific structure in place to keep me on task. It goes something like this: 1. 15 minutes of sketching 2. Draw the comic page 3. Ink the comic page 4. Composite page on the computer. This daily regimen keeps me on task so long as I do not lose focus.

But alas, my mind does not quit working 100% of the time. Narrowing in is not always easy. Here are some factors that are prone to intrude: tiredness, curiosity about something, my bad day at work, other life problems, ministry work, relationships, and other creative ideas brewing in the back of my mind. In a prior post I tackled how I deal with distractions. Click here to read it: Road Work Ahead. Today I want to take a jab at explaining what can be done with those creative ideas that pop up.

Before I finish a piece of art, story, or project I usually begin to see new opportunities. What does a creative person do with these opportunities while other projects take priority?

I wish the easy answer was always to store it in an infinitely secure database on the moon, but it doesn't work that way. Creative ideas are often untamed beasts that like to appear like the Loch Ness Monster. They are ever elusive and prone to disappear as quickly and suddenly as they appear. Unlike people who do not value creativity, the artistic person considers these as precious as gold. Even if we find them to be fools gold in the near future, we don't know how much they are worth until some future time when we can invest in exploring it.

The potential locked away in these ideas come and go. They often do so in the midst of mundane tasks. Some are even prone to pop up during normal work times. This precious commodity often disappears because we are occupied with something that has to take priority in the name of responsibility. Artists generally hate this, but we find ways to manage.

Taking down these ideas come in a number of forms some are not great, but necessary others are ideal so I made a short list of each and you can determine if they are valid for your purposes. Ideal methods are generally more secure and not easily disposed. Less than ideal methods are easily disposable or can be mistaken for something unimportant.

Ideal Idea Capturing Methods:
1. Laptop, PC, or Phone app
2. Sketchbook/journal on hand
3. Filing system
4. Dry erase/Chalk board
5. An e-mail

Less Than Ideal Idea Capturing Methods:
1. Napkin from a restaurant
2. Receipt or random piece of paper on your person
3. Back of a bill or envelope around the house
4. Text message to yourself
5. Digital photo on your phone or camera
6. On the back of a project you are selling or being paid to do
7. Any method from the other 11 listed on someonelse's property

These lists are not a hard and fast rules. What do you think? Do you agree with my categories? What do you do with your ideas in a pinch? Let me know, I would like to do a post about your feedback.


Mystery Beyond Mysteries

As I explore with any number of media or concepts I can only tackle one or two problems at a time. I create problems to be resolved by limiting myself. So the process is not always straightforward. The results are almost always different. There is always an element of uncertainty. If I settled for less of the process, life would be boring and creativity sucked dry.* I would lose heart and probably hate myself for not pursuing excellence or for giving up too soon.

Before I finish a piece of art, story, or project I usually begin to see new opportunities. They open up and sometimes I get to dive in and sometimes I have to wait. This is why it is art and not math. After every new revelation there are opportunities. I called them doors in my last post. They abound in the minute and in the universe as a whole.

An Exploration Of Whimsy, sample**

When paint is applied to paper even the seems in the paper of the same brand can lead you down new paths and open up new opportunities. It is a mystery and it is true. It is the most exciting part about being an artist. It is always dangerous if you are trying to sell exactly the same thing to everybody, but it is a given. I won't rant here about the foibles of commercial art, but I will say that you don't know what you are missing if perfect replication is your highest standard.

So artists should seek to let their mess be a mess and loose their passion in whatever way God directs them to. It is a mystery beyond mysteries as to how this works toward a design, but He did put the boundaries between the sky and the oceans. Why not embrace it?

*I have settled for less, the results are not fun.
** Click here for the full version: Deviantart


Destinations Unlimited

On the path to discovery I have found that questions accumulate more than answers. With God in charge there is rarely a dull moment. There is frequently a new adventure around the next corner. There will always be mysteries and growth that come with the territory.

I wish I could say that after 4 years studying illustration plus 9 more of life experience, that I have it figured out. I wish I could say that everything in my life is perfectly in sync and that the answers are just ahead. Rarely does one door lead to a comfortable room, but rather a big room with many other doors. Some are eternally locked, thank God, and some are for opening. Knowing which ones I should pass through always give me a difficult time.

When it comes to creativity I have learned that every little limitation has its perks. Every eventual problem has an insightful unique answer. The more that I accept it and use it, the more of an advantage I find. So the next step is always being willing to try the next door. 

Our destinations are unlimited. The best way to see the opportunities is to trust an immeasurably wise God who knows where each door leads and which ones lead to a places that are better left untouched. And beyond that limitation know that every other choice is a mystery worth adventuring in to. So, our mission is always to trust God or succumb to stagnation? Which one would you choose?