Thursday 2 March 2017

I'm still painting, honest!

Wow, I can't believe it's been over a year since I updated this blog. My intention was to document my progress but I feel like I've so much since my last post. Still, it's better that I'm painting than spending my time updating this blog, right?

I'll try and give a brief recap on what's happened over the since then, with some examples of the work I've been doing.

At the end of 2015, I undertook some mentoring with Matt Archambault, an artist and teacher that I've mentioned before on this blog. His guidance was really helpful, although his recommendations were perhaps not so surprising: stop working on the photo studies and still lifes ("homework" as he described it) and start working on more "complete" illustrations, placing characters in a setting and capturing a mood and story. And start working in colour of course!

One of Matt's recommendations was to use photo reference for my illustration. I think like most aspiring artists, I feel this is a big difference in quality between my photo studies and work from my imagination but I've always felt that using a photo reference was somehow cheating. Matt's background is in book cover illustration and to hear him say that he, and most professional artists, use photo reference in their work was very reassuring.

I think sourcing the right references is a skill in and of itself though. I can rarely find a photo from the internet that has the correct lighting, pose and perspective that I need and even shooting my own reference it's hard to get the lighting correct or to approximate some medieval costume from my clothes. In the future, I'd like to invest some money in lights and a SLR camera, as well as sourcing costumes and models for my reference.

In early 2016 I took part in a competition run by DeviantArt to create a piece of promotional art for the game Homefront: The Revolution. The prize was 6,000 USD, with the possibility that the winning entry would be used in marketing materials for the game. I only found out about the competition about a week and a half before the deadline. It's by far the most stressful piece of art I've had to create but it was great to be working to a deadline and to a brief for the first time.

My entry for the Homefront competition
Unfortunately I didn't even make the shortlist for the competition but neither did artists who work professionally and whose entries I really admired. Looking back on it, I'm fairly happy with what I produced. There are some obvious issues with perspective, composition and lighting but I feel like it was the best I could do at the time, and to such a tight deadline.

A few months later I saw an ad for the game on the side of a bus in London. In the end, they didn't use the winning entry in the ad but it was exciting to know I'd been part of something so big.

Around mid-year 2016, I stumbled upon an online community called Brush Sauce Theatre. It's organised by a professional artist, Tyler Edlin, and each month he organises a competition with members of the community submitting art around a theme or brief. He then critiques the entries for free with another professional artist, Adam Duff. Most of the work I've completed since then has been for these competitions. I've submitted four entries so far, which I've added below.

Moonlight drifter

Beast clan

The Last Sanctuary

High Lord of the Gardens

Well, that's about it. I'm hoping to update this blog more regularly, at least every time I enter a Brush Sauce Theatre contest. Also, I'm going to re-arrange the website a little, putting my artwork front and central on the homepage and putting the blog on a separate page.