I got thinking about: being creatively ‘stuck’, and not taking the leap into creating your own work, which led me to think of what Julia Cameron said about ‘Shadow Artists‘ in her book ‘The Artist’s Way‘.
I can definitely relate to this. It’s also why the self-help industry is huge. We want to keep reading variations on the same wisdom in the hopes of filling in gaps we missed – or getting that final combination of ‘secrets’ that will finally give us the confidence we need.
The Shadow Artist
I first became aware of it when reading Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artist’s way‘. The author introduced me to the idea of the ‘Shadow Artist‘. I suddenly realised that I was one! Instead of actually making my own art, I was voraciously reading books about art & artists – and painting technique. I was almost an art historian, but producing nothing. I read biographies and diaries of artists – hoping it’d inspire me, or rub-off. But I think really, it was an easy substitute for doing the work – taking a risk. It was procrastination.
People also like to talk about their great novel – which they haven’t written yet.
Taking Action: Art Classes
When my wife finally pushed me to do art classes, I started reading a lot less about Art – and watching less art documentaries – because I was more interested in doing my own art. I was no longer a ‘Shadow Artist’. What I did read, and look at, had real purpose. In-between painting, I was studying the work of people like Lucien Freud and Velasquez, and trying to apply it to my own work. Continue reading
Here’s another artistic/Design process article for you; showing how I created this illustration with pencil, paper and Photoshop. (See more of my illustrations at my portfolio: johniwhite.com)
Where Did the Idea Come From?
I wanted to experiment with pencil drawing – and Photoshop. So: no inks and no graphics tablet for the drawing phase. But what to draw?
The subject idea probably popped into my mind after walking through Knocksink Wood, near Enniskerry, County Wicklow here in Ireland. There was lots of ivy all over the trees, and it reminded me of tentacles (and snakes, which I can’t bear!).
How Did I do it?
I logged out of all of my social media accounts yesterday – except for LinkedIn. I switched-off and uninstalled Apps for (the obligatory) Facebook & Twitter, and also Instagram and Tumblr. And guess what? My world didn’t end. In fact, I feel wonderfully light and more aware of the world and the people around me.
And I’ve also rediscovered how interesting the internet actually is!
Rediscovering the Web
There’s so much great content to read and view. That is, when one has the time – and when one actually searches for it, rather than getting it filtered through news feeds. Yes, filtered by someone – or something else.
Admittedly, most of my reading yesterday and this morning was found via search-terms like:
- “Things to do online instead of social media”
- “Social Media is a waste of f**king time” (for fun)
- “Social Media is Pointless”
The last one was interesting as it brought up some more business-related articles which heretically question the real value of social media to one’s bottom-line. Sure, it gets you ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’ and ‘Shares’ and ‘Retweets’ – but how many of those convert into actual sales, business or even traffic to your website? “Well, our sales, profits and share price have dropped – but our Facebook followers are at a new high!”
As part of their artists’ profiles TV series, I spoke about Art, Illustration, Making Comics and the inspiration that we can get from our younger selves. Because our childhood interests and passions, can be the key to what we’ll enjoy doing when we grow up – if only we’ll listen!
Star Wars gets a very big look-in as a major inspiration and life-changer, to me, when I was a creative youngster. So, if you’re a creative person and you love Star Wars and comics; this is for you. I spoke a bit about 2 of my comics, the young Star Wars one: Star Wars age 9 – and my current grown-up 1970s nostalgia one: Between * Wars. Please check them out and follow them after you watch the video and read this article.
Above: My Artist Profile video feature on RTE TV’s Two Tube
In a Nutshell…
What the producers of the 2 minute piece took from it went like this,
“Two Tube went behind the doors of Illustrator John White’s Dublin studio and explored his diverse and colourful world of fine art, comics, illustration, and design; the secret is to always remain a big kid at heart!“
It was a fun thing to do at the very end of last summer, but it also focused my mind about a few things; particularly about us spending our life – and we only get one of those – working at what we enjoy.
Finding Our Own Voice – and the Web
I also spoke a bit about how we should try to find our own voice, creatively, and not be too intimidated by what other brilliant people are doing. Continue reading
An updated look at the production process of my comic. The previous blog post about the process « can be seen here.
“Where do you get your ideas?”
That most often asked question… The « Peace-keeper strip idea came to me in a flash, as usual, but this time as I walked with my wife, Gabby from one building to another. In the space of 5 or 10 seconds. I mentioned a kid who used to be in school with me, and suddenly I had the concept of the whole strip in my head. Some dialogue and lot of images.
Developing the idea – scribbles
* NOTE: This used to be in the Comic section but it’s not really a story or gag strip, so I’ve moved it into the blog to take it out of the comic continuity (getting big ideas about the comic now…)
Heroes 1 – 3. I won’t lie to you, I’ve put very little thought into their personalities and back-stories. You see, I’m trying not to delay things or get over-ambitious like I did with my other now-cancelled webcomic. I want to just get stuck-in. The characters will be a mosaic of various friends that I had, blended with whatever interesting ideas pop into my head as I go along. Who knows? maybe you, the readers will make suggestions based on your own childhood pals, and they’ll go into the mix too? Continue reading
Yep, I’ve decided – since my old job ended – not to do this comic anymore. It’s just not cheerful enough!
So what now?
Now, I’m working on a new happy webcomic! It’s about childhood, geekery, the seventies, nostalgia and FUN! Here it is:
I’m still not getting Clive’s character design right.
The week before last I went back over pages 2 and 3 to make him more consistent [he’s like Lon Chaney Sr., The Man of a Thousand Faces!]. I thought I’d managed it – well enough. But I haven’t. I posted a bit on the Facebook page ^ yesterday, and I’ll expand a little on it here.
‘Cartoony’ & Detailed/Abstraction vs Realism
I’ve also realised the problem of using a simple cartoon style and then trying to do close-ups. Surely the face should become more detailed in close-up. Otherwise, you end up with a few abstract looking lines?
Above: Clive, has been drawn anew each time in closer/larger aspect. See how he changes?
Next, I crudely increased his size from the small, quickly scribbled version using Photoshop. Pretty abstract little bunch of lines – but he still looks like the same guy.
Above, having learnt my lesson [finally] I drew over the blown-up version on the right, adding just a bit more detail. He looks more like the same person. The lesson is so obvious that I’m probably the only person on earth who didn’t realise it – to my cost. You have to work out the design of the character in the simplest possible forms – FIRST. Basic shapes and dimensions – and stick to that no matter what size he’s drawn at and regardless of detail.
It’s all in the preparation
That’s what decorators say. The problem really, is impatience and over-confidence. I have a small part of 2 days per week when I’m off work to do the comic and I just dashed into it. I’m going to have to loop-back over the previous pages – again, fix the faces and hopefully that’ll be the end of it. But I mustn’t do it until I’ve got Clive’s design nailed-down and codified into some sort of easy to use formula. I also need to work on drawing him from every conceivable angle. In animation studios they end up with what’s called a model sheet for each character. And as I mentioned in a previous post, they often even sculpt the characters in clay so you can examine them from every angle and make sure it works.
Jamming it all in
I bit off more than I could chew with this page. Remember on the < last page I seem to have learned all of these important nuggets of wisdom via trial and error? You’d think that all the trouble I ended up going to with revisions would have taught me something? Not so.
So here it is, page 2. Drum-roll…. Ta da!
I hope you were surprised by the twist that this page has taken so soon into the story, and that it strikes a chord w… No, actually. I hope it doesn’t. I hope you like getting up each Monday morning and going to the job you love. There’s nothing quite like going to bed on a Sunday evening with a smile on your face, and springing back out of bed at 7am knowing you’ll be doing fun, interesting work which people will enjoy – especially kids.