Friday, December 21, 2012

Visiting Artist - Donato Giancola

Just a little over a month ago we had another amazing artist come to BYU and teach us.  His name was Donato Giancola.  You can go look at some of his art and stuff over at his website.  He loved to talk and told us that if we wanted to we could call him and he could talk our ears off for hours.  He prefers the phone to email since it takes two hands to type.  Talking on the phone only requires one hand, so he can keep painting away while he talks.  Donato was very friendly, happy, generous, and a pleasure to be around.  He was overflowing with good stories and great tips, and I'm going to share some of that with you now.
He gave a figure drawing demo in the morning where he drew a couple full-body gestures, a couple feet, and a couple hands.  Apparently we got to watch him draw more than his students ever do while in class with him.  He spent a lot more time talking than drawing. He went off on tangents everywhere, so my snippets of notes might not seem very connected.  I write down what strikes me most.

  • You're making a controlled mess.  Work through it.
  • Feel free to emphasize and exaggerate on your drawings, like on the knuckles of the hands.
  • There is NO perfect, ideal image out there.  A perfect image is a finished image.  You need to make a choice and go forward.
  • If you exude enthusiasm, people will want to work with you.  People don't like working with people who are negative.  (So don't spend time apologizing for your work.  Bad idea.  Be confident.)  If your work is okay and you're a wonderful person who's willing to work, you can probably get a job.
  • Be more objective.  What makes you happy?  What makes a hero?  Analyze things.
  • Art is therapy.
  • You absorb things from the world around you.  Go experience it.
  • In order to get some jobs you need to be available by phone.
  • He tells amateurs and experienced professionals apart by the amount of finished detail work there is on the hands and feet.  Put detail in them and don't avoid them!
  • In the publishing industry, if you only sell them the first-time publishing rights you can do whatever you want with the image afterwards.
  • Think about what's in it for you.  Think self-preservation and plan for the future.
  • Don't just please your teachers.  Pour your passion into it and knock their socks off!  Blow everyone else out of the water!  Decimate them!  (almost direct quote, only a couple words off.)
  • Don't think about what you're drawing, just flow.
  • When he has a hard time focusing and getting motivated, he walks to an art museum.
  • Suck in what's around you.
Later in the day he gave a lecture about how he worked and got into the illustration business.  It was a great story.  He went through a lot of hardships and had to struggle for a while, and also lost a lot of vision in one eye when he got shot by a paintball at close range just after graduating.  He never let any of it stop him and just worked harder whenever something came around.  Here are my notes from that lecture.

  • He learned how to draw by copying.  He was strongly influenced by Star Wars, then by comics. Specifically George Perez, Ian Miller, Frank Miller, Busy Busy Town, X-Men, and Ironman.
  • Have a sponge attitude!
  • Produce a lot of work!  Work hard!
  • Spend money on the nice stuff.  Get the good brushes.  Precision detail.
  • He was energetic and delivered on time.
  • He goes to bed in a timely manner as best he can.  ( I like that idea!)
  • Make the time you spend count.
  • The successful path is the path you TAKE, not the path you hesitantly start down.
  • Coolness is good, but it can't trump content.
  • Try to get people to CLAP for your art.  Go beyond what you need to.
  • He still goes to life drawing classes.
  • He has a large reference file.  He's taken a lot of pictures over his lifetime.
  • He treats drawing from a picture the same as he does drawing from life.
  • Being prolific is an important part of being an artist.  You learn from mistakes.
Then another point I learned from him through one of his demo DVDs is that it doesn't matter if the brush is a watercolor brush for oil painting as long as it's sable.

Overall I was very impressed and a little inspired by Donato.  He made me want to produce more work so that I could get better.  I have yet to start, but I mean to this winter break!  So yeah.  Go check him out!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All Terminal Cases Creative Process MEME

I found this thing asking questions about your creative process through Shazzbaa's Tumblr.  Original is here.

This MEME has been split into two posts.  This is the first half.  Second half is HERE.

  • red: is it hard for you to think up new ideas? list three of your biggest influences.
  • orange: what do you do when you’re inspired? do you scream eureka, write the idea down in a notebook, what? 
  • yellow: what do you do when you’re stuck in a block? list three sources of inspiration when new ideas are scarce.
  • green: how do you flesh out an idea? does it take a long time, do you mull over it for hours, or does it come easily? describe the process!
  • blue: depending on your form of art, what are some of your favorite ways to characterize, add detail, design, establish a settling, or otherwise elaborate on the piece? are you fond of world-building, or does that pose a problem for you? (customize this question if you’re an artist or otherwise)
  • indigo: picture of your workspace!
  • violet: describe your work habits. do you eat? do you need music? are you messy or organized? do you keep a notebook? how long can you work at a time? etc.
  • silver: what’s the hardest part of a piece for you? (plot, background, etc)
  • gold: the easiest? 
  • black: what is your least favorite part of the creative process?
  • white: your favorite? 
  • rainbow: do you believe in true originality? 
  • brown: what does it take for you to honestly be proud of something? 
  • pink: what is the most rewarding part of being a writer, artist, etc? 
  • magenta: what drives you the most insANE?
Okay, let's start at the first color.

REDis it hard for you to think up new ideas? list three of your biggest influences.
New ideas are easy for me.  I love coming up with them and am always looking for opportunities and inspiration for them.  My biggest influences are life experiences, other artists, and stories I read.  Vacations are fantastic for finding new ideas.  You should try it sometimes.

Orangewhat do you do when you’re inspired? do you scream eureka, write the idea down in a notebook, what?
I think about it for a long, long time.  I play with the idea quite a bit, then tuck it away in my mind somewhere to remember later if it's not developing enough or can't be applied to what I'm currently working on.  I do have a notebook for jotting down ideas, and I need to do more of that.  At the moment it's just full of short references to my ideas to remind myself what they were if I need help remembering things later.  For now that's working, but I'm sure someday my mind won't have as easy a time remembering things.  That's why I should probably start taking better notes.

Yellowwhat do you do when you’re stuck in a block? list three sources of inspiration when new ideas are scarce.
If I get stuck I have a couple of options.  If the block isn't that bad, I just sit around and think and beat at the idea until I get it working again.  If the block is serious, then I move on to a different project for a while until my subconscious has had long enough to chew on the idea.  However, if that doesn't work, then I have to start just working on the old project again until I can resuscitate it.  I'm having that problem right now with a novel I'm writing.  I find that talking it out with people also helps a lot.  Now let's see... three sources of inspiration for this is basically the same as for the red question.  I will go watch some new TV series, or read a manga, comic, or book.  Then talking.  Lots of talking.  I love it when my friends ask questions and give me things to think about.  It often helps me find answers to things that don't even seem connected.

Greenhow do you flesh out an idea? does it take a long time, do you mull over it for hours, or does it come easily? describe the process!
Again, lots of thinking.  Then, lots of talking to friends.  Then writing things down or drawing, and talking more.  Some ideas come a little more quickly than others.  Once I get a germinated idea, though, it needs to be written down and pushed out of my brain so that other stuff can grow since ideas do tend to get stuck in my mind and play over and over until I write it down or get to talk it out.

Blue:  depending on your form of art, what are some of your favorite ways to characterize, add detail, design, establish a settling, or otherwise elaborate on the piece? are you fond of world-building, or does that pose a problem for you?
I'm still learning the answers to this, actually.  I love writing.  Playing out scenes with the characters to let them show me how they work is my favorite way.  When it comes to drawing I still need to learn a lot about making the best designs in order to portray this.  Right now what I do best is faces and hair... at least that's what I think.  Clothes is a very good way, along with props.  I need to work on that a lot.  I want to get better at it.

I think that is where I will stop for now, since the next question is about my workspace and I'm not quite done putting that together!  I should have that done and ready to share with you come the end of December.  If I don't, I will be very sad.  :P

Visiting Artist - Nathan Fowkes

So earlier on in the semester, the week of September 26 to be more exact, Nathan Fowkes came out to BYU as a visiting artist and attended several classes to give demos and gave a couple lectures.  He was really cool to have.  Not only is he really good at what he does, but he hardly repeated himself, so that every lecture or demo you attended you got more and new information.  I got to go to a couple of them and I want to share with you what I learned!
The first lecture I got to go to was one mostly about color theory.  He talked a lot about the basics are very important, and those basics boil down to believability and harmony.

  • Color is a product of our brain, our brain interpreting light in a way that is useful to us.  It interprets opposing/complementary colors even though color is really just a progression.
  • The color wheel sets up colors with oppositions even though it really doesn't exist.
  • The human eye can distinguish 2.4 million colors.
  • Color can be broken down into the measurable: hue, saturation, and value; and the emotional impact: temperature.
  • Sometimes you can just rely on Value and Temperature.
  • Color is always in context.  It needs relationships.  Your brain craves meaning.  Art/color needs meaningful relationships.
  • Harmony:  Variety vs. Unity vs. Unity with Variety.
    • The most interesting compositions have lots of unity with some variety.
  • Pigment can't do as much as light can.
  • Look for simple value groupings.  Look for relationships.
  • Don't separate color & light, they are related.
  • Work general to specific.
  • If you can get the temperature you want with the value you want, you can get close to the color you want.
  • Make conscientious color choices.
    • Cheat it to make it read to the viewer.  Make it compelling.
  • It takes mileage and practice.
  • Paint from the world around you, especially outside.  That's the best way to learn color.
  • Take breaks for 5-20 minutes at a time from your work to refresh yourself.
  • He always needs a simple idea of how it might work, then he does some comps, then he does some more comps, then maybe even some more comps before doing the final work.

  • He uses a Listerine bottle as his water bottle in his traveling painting kit that he takes with him everywhere.
That were the essential basics of his color theory lecture.  There were many, many slides that went along with it that helped demonstrate what he was teaching.  I can't really explain those without them, so the best way to learn about how colors relate to other colors would be to go look at a color theory book.  I might get one and go through and write a post or two in the future to try to explain things better.  I still have a LOT to learn about that myself!

The other big lecture he gave that I was able to go to focused on artist and audience, basically the relationship between the visual artist and their audience.
He talked a little bit about how he saw Ray Bradbury at Comic Con one year and the awe and respect that that man received there.  Fowkes told us that an artist trying to reach in and touch the gut of feeling in people like Ray Bradbury did needs to have some ideas on how to do so.  Visual artists have a responsibility to create mood, storytelling, environments, and space that draws the audience in.  A few key things are:

  • Audience engages with character and character expression.
  • The audience has to understand the environment in a glance.  Sometimes they only get two seconds to look at it (like in movies).
  • Exaggerate.
  • Important elements are SHAPE, LINE, and SPACE.
  • SHAPE:
    • circles are lovable and comfortable
    • squares are solid and stable
    • triangles are dangerous
    • organic is interesting
  • LINE:
    • horizontal is peaceful
    • vertical is strong
    • diagonal is for action/is dynamic
    • should reflect the emotion
  • You should do color studies--thousands of them!
  • Practice!  Prepare!
So yeah.  Lots of good basics.  He had lots of really cool visuals from movies and things he's worked on along with other images.  I should practice more.

That basically sums up what I got out to Nathan Fowke's visit to BYU this semester!  If anything is unclear or you want to know more about something, just ask and I'll do my best to clear things up or give a more thorough answer.  :)