Distractions, distractions.

Head_on_CafeRacer_©JonTremlett2013

Drawing and painting onto wood, drawing on metal with a Dremel, designing t-shirts, jewellery making, wood carving, sculpting, transferring images onto glass, painting rocks(!), etching, wire modelling, making enamel badges and resin casting. These are all ideas that have flown my way over the last few weeks. Whilst they are all valid, they are all residing in the possibilities box at present. Some are self generated and others come from those around me. Some arrive with the word ‘should’ tacked on the front somewhere, whilst others take a more open approach with the word ‘could’. I prefer the latter, it speaks of a freedom to chose, of open ended possibilities and creative potential, whereas the former does not, sounding often like a form of well meaning edict, but an implied command none the less. Anyway, there they all sit in the great lottery ball tumbler of options waiting for possible selection. While they are in there they churn around, the subconscious busy doing what it does best, sampling, analysing and interrogating each one in turn. I’ll report on what this process reveals in coming posts I’m sure.

 

This is a great thing but, my word does it create a mountain of distractions which have led to a kind of treacly inertia needing to be overcome each time the drawing board is occupied. I know that the best time to grab a new idea is when you can feel fired up about it, knowing that you will do something with it quickly rather than sit mulling it over. I can feel that moment coming but it ain’t today, or possibly tomorrow either. So in the meantime focus has returned to the drawings and paintings that have suffered from my neglect. The image above is where I’m at with a pen and watercolour rendition of one of those Rocker guys whose style seems to be popping up everywhere at the moment. Enjoy, and don’t forget, the store is open and has a limited stock of those greetings cards for anyone stuck for a gift for a biking mate.

Finally, with new followers arriving all the time, a big thanks to you all for your support and loyalty, it means a great deal and is a welcome spur to keeping going.

 

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New in the store today.

Soulcraftcandy greetings cards ©JonTremlett2013

Hot off the press, some of the new greetings card designs are now available in the Soulcraftcandy Store along with accompanying larger prints of the three images and an old favourite. So, if you’ve ever had a problem finding an appropriate card for that biking friend or relative and always come up short, then here could be a solution for you.

 

The three card designs in this first foray are from the Cafe Racer series of biro drawings completed last year and among my favourites. They have been digitally printed on heavy card stock with a matt finish to lend them some quality. They are A6 in size which works pretty well and helps me to offer them at a competitive price for a pack of three. Go take a look even if you’re not in the market, I’d welcome any feedback you’ve got.

 

The images on the cards are also offered as larger A3 and A2 fine art prints for those who feel like owning or giving something a bit more unique, and these are limited edition this time around, with a run of 250 prints in each size for each image. As I may have mentioned before these are Giclée prints of archival quality, fade resistant and on heavy stock acid free cotton paper.

 

That’s it for today, though I’ll leave you with a glimpse of something I’ve been fiddling with whilst I’ve been thinking about what I could put on a t-shirt. It’s just a sketch, but it could lead somewhere.

Soulcraftcandy sketch by Jon Tremlett

 

In between times.

Cafe Racer sketch ©Soulcraftcandy 2013

There always seems to be a kind of unintended lull between the end of one project and the commencement of the next. It’s a time of reflection yes, moments spent considering the quality of the recently finished work but, it’s also a period spent shuffling bits of paper around whilst ones butterfly mind flits from one thing to another in an attempt to decide on what to tackle next. I am coming to the end of one of these phases at present. Whilst every impression is given that this is somehow wasted time, much more has been happening in reality.

 

Previously I mentioned wanting to get the nine small colour Cafe Racer pictures made into cards. Well, I did and they turned out pretty well. Using an online printing service that did some business cards for me a while back, Moo.com, I elected to have a small batch printed. The advantage of services like this is that you can order very small print runs which keeps your financial exposure to a minimum as you test the water, as it were. I ordered twenty of each design, so twenty sets in total. I also ordered twenty five each of three greetings cards based on the black and white biro drawings done last year. The intention is to try and sell them via the Soulcraftcandy store on Big Cartel. Well, that was the intention, and it still stands, though a good friend who’s starting up a bike building workshop and store has just taken virtually all of my stock off my hands, leaving me with a few greetings cards. However these will hit the store soon.

 

Time has also been spent thinking a lot about making stuff, something I haven’t done for a while and need to do more of. There are some fresh t-shirts sitting here waiting for an introduction to some printed transfers of some of the drawings, just to see how they’ll come out and to spur me into developing some specific images for printing on shirts in the future. Two books from the library about working in precious metal clay sit on the shelf awaiting further investigation, though I have no idea if I possess any latent jewellery making ambitions, and I’ve been checking out the costs of various sheet metals because I’ve got some mad idea that it might be fun to try and draw on metal with a Dremel tool. So, not much whizzing round the grey matter!

Cafe Racer © Soulcraftcandy 2013

To keep the hand and eye in shape, a couple of new drawings are about to start too, the first of which you’ll see here in rough sketch and tuned up pencil versions. I’ll try an ink and wash version, perhaps a biro one and, having just found an old dip pen in the drawer, perhaps an old fashioned inky thing. Time to get cracking.

 

 

From blank sheet to finished picture – part 1.

With five of the small Cafe Racer colour pictures done and posted there is one left to do which will complete this set. Rather than merely post up the final finished version of it I thought it might be interesting for people to see more of the process I go through when creating these images. So for this one I’ve scanned the various stages as I complete them.

Norton_biro_1

The first step, once the overall composition had been decided, happens on the newsprint pad where I rough out a couple of sketches to get a feel for what I’m after. Often this involves sketching it out a couple of times as in this case. The first sketch is really just  about working out the proportions, rider position and the general look of the bike in the image. Once you’ve got something then you’re in a position to make changes as you see fit.

Norton_biro_2

So with this done, I decided that I wanted a slightly different looking bike and to move the rider up the tank a bit, good reason to do another sketch. I wanted to base this drawing around a twin cylinder Norton and a quick search on the net yielded the right picture which could inform me about engine details and other bits and bobs. I can now start to work these into the drawing.

Norton_pencil

With these two sketches done there is enough information on the sheets to allow me to transfer the image onto the A4 Bristol Board for the final version. This is where my handy little light box comes into its own. If there is a need to blow up or reduce the sketch size for this stage then it is simply a matter of printing out a quick scan at the right size before hitting the light box. For the pencil stage I need a good point to the pencil so use a 2mm leaded technical push pencil, with an H grade lead, which keeps a point well and isn’t so hard as to leave big grooves in the paper when you erase it. Most of the drawing is done freehand though I resort to my ellipse guides to get the wheels nice and tight. At this stage I’m building in all of the details gleaned from reference pictures like the engine case shapes, cylinder head position and brake details. I love density in these drawings so put a lot of effort into distorting things slightly and filling in all of the big gaps that normally exist when looking “through” a motorcycle. It’s also a good time to get all those tiny details in. I don’t necessarily need accuracy here but I do like things to be reasonably believable, if that makes sense. With the bike and rider done, I loosely put a box around it which will approximate the background block. By the time this pencil layout is done, my mind has already started to think about what colour to paint the bike, the riders helmet design and the background colour. Time to get the brushes out and a look at the various painting and inking in the next post.

 

 

 

Worksheets, organising your ideas.

Worksheet_1

I mentioned in the last post how hard it can be sometimes to keep track of ideas, organise them and maintain connection with them as you go. Those thoughts were prompted by a session going through the piles of loose sheets that don’t get put on the wall in the studio and the ideas that they contain. It’s amazing how fast one can build a pile of paper, and how much time one can spend subsequently sifting through them.

 

The new year has brought with it a desire to try and bring some kind of order to how ideas are collated and stored, and then how to access them a little more quickly. A solution, which I’m now trying to make a habit of, was found in a book and I don’t mind admitting as much. I’m lucky that here in Ealing I have access to a public library which has escaped closure. It is a fantastic resource for all kinds of things aside from books and is completely free. They have quite a good arts section and a good few books about all aspects of drawing and painting. One publication I borrowed recently was by a cartoonist and animator. An interesting book though much of it was very specific to his latter trade, but what struck me was how he organised his work. There were many examples of worksheets he created for each project which explored everything from frame compositions to colour palettes and other tiny details. Although most of it was way too complicated for my needs, it was the central concept of the worksheet that stuck with me. The sheet above is one of my first worksheets, or ideas sheets. I haven’t gone as far as making a grid of boxes to sketch in or scribble notes in but getting the ideas down this way helps with any grouping I may want to create, and more importantly it is now possible to increase the density of ideas stuck up on the wall by a considerable degree. So simple, so effective.

 

Keeping track of ideas.

Comp_for_blog_1

One of the consequences of conducting ones creative activities in a small studio room, essentially a converted child’s bedroom measuring barely 10×6 feet, stuffed with bookcases, desks, computers and all the required paraphernalia, is that keeping track of things is a perpetual challenge. The question “now where did I put that?” rings in my ears all the time. Any activity, creative or otherwise, brings about default behaviours in us like how we file things, store items and arrange our work area. We create our own individual systems which are very particular and often not logical in the eyes of others. I’m also sure it’s a truism that we spend countless hours every year modifying our little systems in the search for an ideal solution. I know I do, and it’s not always about easing the process of finding stuff. Being able to see your ideas is a very important part of stimulating the creative process. In the past I’ve enjoyed the luxury having lots of sketches and drawings laid out to view, it helps with seeing where you’ve been and also where you’re going, or would like to go with an idea. The challenge is being able to maintain that connection between your vision and the work in progress. This applies as much to images we collect as reference as to our own output.

Comp_for_blog_2

I have a wall in here upon which I stick sketch sheets and stuff, but it never feels big enough. As a result it constantly changes, acting as a road map for current work and keeping the connection going with ideas and thoughts which still hold my attention. It would be fantastic to sit in a studio the size of an aircraft hangar, but that’s not going to happen any time soon, so making the best use of what’s available really counts. The computer, which holds a huge resource in my image bank, and provides access to the universe of the net only has a screen that is so big. So to cram as much into this space as possible these compositions of ideas, as shown here, are a great way for me to see lots of ideas all at once, make decisions about them, and assist myself in direction finding.

 

 

No wasted time.

Caferacer_1

Aahh, back to the blog, at last. It seems to be a never ending consequence of working freelance that just when you’re getting into the flow of something, another job comes along and completely consumes you and all of your creative energy. This time it was the construction of some very large card models in what’s known as poly-board, a foam cored board with thin card faces. In this case 10mm thick, they were really big models with large curving surfaces, which requires a very particular approach to construction and problem solving. I won’t go into any more detail here but, I’m of a mind to expand on the subject further in future posts. Needless to say the time scales for these kinds of work are short, the working days long and brain fatigue a constant companion. But it’s done now, until the next one.

Chopper_1

So, while the above has served to get some income in, it has prevented me from getting on with a stack of drawing stuff that was all lined up. But this down time is never wasted. My trusty sketchbook, currently an A5 Moleskine with lovely creamy paper, comes with me to work every day and allows me the chance to have a scribble during my lunchbreaks. Armed with a couple of the ideas that were waiting to be developed further, these snatched chunks of time enable some thinking to occur and help to satisfy the daily drawing need.

Dirt_rider

These three little doodles are about trying to find a progression on the ideas I’ve been having lately about cropping and framing the images to create little story snapshots whilst still maintaining some dynamism to the pictures. At the moment they seem like glimpses, captured in a moment and an attempt to try and say more through showing less, if that makes sense. Currently they are all pretty small so working them up a bit at a larger size will help to give them a bit more purpose. With the Christmas break upon us one can never be too sure how much free time can be given to some quality drawing time but here’s hoping we can steam into the new year with a bunch of fresh and exciting ideas on the go.

 

Finally, it just remains for me to wish all of my followers and readers a very Happy Christmas and thank you to you all for staying with Soulcraftcandy over the past year.