Confronting your creative comfort zone, one step at a time.

Paint and ink detail be Kon Tremnlett for Soulcraftcandy.

Welcome to the first post of the new year, a year supposedly fully fueled with fresh resolve to go beyond merely just carrying on. Actually, to be honest, I made no new resolutions regarding the blog, and this may end up being a good thing as it will keep the devil of disappointment from the door for a while. Y’see, it’s not even the end of January and the thieves of time have already raided the creative cupboard and made off with more than they usually swipe. The important thing at times like this is not to stop altogether, to keep chipping away, even if it is only a small bit at a time. This is how it goes sometimes and part time work can often morph into something with a greedy appetite for your precious time. I liken it to when we used to listen to the radio on sets that possessed a manual tuning dial. Often the signal would fade or go crackly, and in order to hear the music again you had to lean over and move the tuning control ever so slightly. Clarity would return. So currently the dial of life needs some subtle turning to get back to a more balanced feeling.

 

But creative work never stops and thankfully the drawing projects are still on going, just a bit more slowly than usual. The image above is a detail of what’s on the drawing board right now. Essentially it’s a larger colour version of a drawing I did over a year ago as part of the original cafe racer series in biro. I’ve been wanting to do a colour one for ages, so got the brushes out just before Christmas and have been chipping away ever since.

 

Like previous pictures this one is being done on Bristol Board using water colour washes and my trusty technical pens. Although progress is slow, I’m enjoying every minute of it and, taking my time has allowed me to make some considered changes to my plan and think a bit more deeply about what I’m doing.

 

This is all good stuff, but it’s also causing me to realise that I should perhaps be trying to do more with the paint. I’ll try and explain what I mean. At the core of it would be a feeling that I am not a natural painter, someone who’s automatically at home with the medium. For me, and this probably harks back to formative years, the application of paint to an image has always been a colouring in exercise, following some kind of predetermined outline to render a colour picture. It has never really ever been used as an expressive tool in its own right. As a result I’ve established this kind of comfort zone in which my painting exists and is quite cosy for me. So there’s a challenge in the near future to see if I can get out of that comfort zone and see if I can make more of what’s out there. People endlessly talk about thinking outside of the box these days, well this is a challenge of DOING outside of the box.Painting, whether it be in oils, acrylics or water colour is a combination of many skills and techniques and yes, it is daunting to think that one is only in possession of a small amount of skill and a couple of techniques but, it is also exciting to know that there is a world of image making still out there waiting to be tried. My professional life does not allow me the luxury of experimentation so, somehow expectedly, I’ll need to break some habits too if I’m going to improve my skills. Rather like the picture from the last post, you never know what’ll happen until you try, so flinging some paint around could reveal some interesting things. The key will be to learn, as much as create and make. Here’s to an experimental and rewarding 2014.  I’ll keep you posted.

 

Another stunt.

80_FlyBy_1

It’s good to have some kind of working titles for sketches and drawings if for no other reason to enable you to find stuff as you file it all away in some hard drive somewhere having scanned it. My trick cycling cafe racers are now the Cafe Stunts series, no point being too elaborate about it.

 

This is the second one, which goes by the name of “FlyBy 1”, which means there’s a second one on its way. I’m doing these at a small scale, the colour block on this one is only 200mm, or 8 inches, across on a sheet of A4 Bristol Board. It’s quite a challenge to keep the detail level where you want it, and in order to make life a bit easier for myself I’m applying washes and subsequent inking at various stages so I can keep track of all the fiddly bits. This builds the image in stages. I wanted backgrounds that didn’t contain any detail so they act as a real counterpoint to the detail of the drawing and help lift it off the page. Big areas are tricky to fill evenly on this paper, but for me the resulting patchiness of the colour helps to reinforce the hand made nature of the images. Some of the liquid colours I’ve got here work well in this mode and others really don’t, so most of the backgrounds are at the red/brown part of the spectrum. They seem to work well with the chrome elements too. I hope you like it.

 

Challenge yourself, try something new.

70_Dirt_rider_1

An intrinsic part of the creative life is to challenge things. To challenge existing norms, preconceived notions, behaviours and expectations, as well as a whole host of other aspects of our existence. One of the most rewarding is when we challenge ourselves. Sometimes it is not important wether we succeed in this endeavour, but more so that we engage in the process as a learning experience. Developing new skills and learning new approaches is a key goal behind moving forward.

 

Last year was the year of the biro pen and I pushed myself as far as I could in finding and developing a technique that allowed me to express myself fully with that particular medium. I pretty much reached my limit and some of the resultant drawings, particularly the Cafe Racer series, were very rewarding to complete. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to turn my back on all that work and take off in a new direction. Investing so much time and effort would be wasted if that were the case, and anyway doing these things is like playing a musical instrument, you have to keep your hand in shape through practice, so more will undoubtedly follow.

 

What is driving a fresh desire to push some other personal artistic boundaries this year showed its hand a bit towards the end of last year with the advent of more colour images. Again it was kind of pleasing to do them that way, essentially refining the biro pen technique and applying watercolour, but I couldn’t escape the fact that they were taking an enormous amount of time to complete. This year I want colour to play a larger part, but I also want to be more productive in the time available, to see more of the many ideas generated become finished pictures rather than footnotes in a pile of loose paper.

 

So the first approach is to work smaller and work faster, still incorporating many of the things like boxing and cropping explored last year, and to develop a punchy technique which works well with these new format images.

 

The Dirt Rider above is my first attempt. It is smaller, about 19cm across. I’ll be posting some more very soon and will tell you how I’m making them then. I sincerely hope you enjoy this one and those that are to come.