As you might have guessed from the title, this blog started as a place to showcase artwork. Specifically, I was planning to delete my Facebook account after graduating from the University of Alberta and wanted an online place friends could still follow my antics, as well as a better spot to upload all the stupid comics I drew over my last two years in Edmonton. Well, that’s not at all what happened—I stayed on Facebook and even fell to the lure of Twitter (though, to be frank, I still have no idea what to do with that account), while this site drifted further and further away from its initial purpose. I’ve posted plenty of articles on history and various books, but haven’t posted a sketch here for years.
In part, that’s because there was a big gap where I wasn’t drawing much of anything. I can’t explain it and I can’t excuse it; after grad school, I filled up my latest sketchbook and just didn’t crack a new one. I would still scribble doodles at work, but that was largely the extent of it. It’s only recently that I bought a new sketchbook and promised myself I’d fill up at least one sheet every day.
Almost my entire focus this time around has been on the human figure, which maybe isn’t much of a surprise based on what I’ve shared here before. The major difference is method. I’ve always just had a natural eye for drawing, but I’ve realized the ability to judge proportion, colour and the like has become a setback to developing and improving as an artist. I would always go for the path that was easiest for me: skipping guidelines and blocking and rough composition work and going straight for the finished line art. That inevitably meant I could draw reasonably well using models or references, but when it came to doing illustration entirely out of the imagination, I hesitated, either dashing out the roughest thumbnail scribbles or else relying on the same poses and facial expressions and types over and over again. That might be partly where the lull came from: I plateaued and didn’t see a way to improve, or (more likely) was too lazy to look beyond my own narrow conception of “how to do art.”
I really want to create expressive, dynamic figures—the stuff that makes illustrations of people interesting. That means I’ve been retraining myself, getting anatomy books and doing as many exercises as I can to really understand the underlying structure of the human body instead of just the surface. It’s meant going against my instincts, but it’s ultimately worth it, and I plan to work my way through various other subjects and styles to improve my skill set, though I don’t have enough space in my current situation to go crazy with exploring other media. (In that, the art and design classes I took in university were a godsend; I don’t think I’d ever tried painting and conté otherwise.)
I can’t deny that my renewed interest in figure drawing goes hand in hand with me soaking myself in animated films and series this year. Hayao Miyazaki’s work is nothing but dynamic, and started me really thinking about the way people move and how we represent that movement in two dimensional space. When I watched The Girl who Leapt Through Time last week, I was utterly entranced by the expressiveness of Makoto, not just her facial expression but her entire body; she’s beautifully animated, probably the most exuberant character put on film…and to the extent that you can capture in a still image, that’s what I’d like to capture.
I’m not sure if I’ll post any of my attempts any time soon. Unlike six years ago, I’m just not as comfortable with sharing my work online, and I’m the slight bit embarrassed by what I’ve shared here before. But even if you don’t see the results for a while, I do plan on chipping away at my artwork for the foreseeable future.
[And yes, I realize the irony of writing a post on artwork without including a single picture.]