December Sketches (Sketch With Me!)

Officially closed out NaNoWriMo at 58,504 words. No, I didn’t make 70,000, but I’m still writing. And forget NaNoWriMo; it’s December. As usual, I’m trying to sketch every day of December, for a total of 31 sketches. I haven’t actually finished the challenge yet, but perhaps this third year will be the one!

I haven’t done my Dec. 1st sketch yet, but here’s the self-portrait I made yesterday. It’s my third annual Monday After Thanksgiving Self Portrait. A little less relevant since I didn’t actually get a day off for Thanksgiving, and also Monday was still in November this year, but what can you do?

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.40.39 PM

You can find my 2013 portrait is here, and the 2014 portrait here.

And, calling all artists, are you looking for a challenge? How about 31 sketches in 31 days this December? Join us! You can post sketches to your blog, and we also have a facebook group for posting sketches and encouragement. Just search for the closed group December Sketch-a-Day Challenge and request to join. Hope to see your sketches!

Day 13

Almost two weeks into the December Sketch-a-Day Challenge and I am caught up. What’s more, I never even fell behind—I’ve actually sketched something every day so far! I’m not going to post every sketch here, but I’ve been doing a series of portraits based on Photobooth pictures of friends (along the lines of the self portrait I posted last time). Here they are! Various levels of completed-ness, of course, and all created entirely in Adobe Photoshop. Thanks so much for letting me draw you, friends!

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 7.34.24 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 8.40.11 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 10.33.00 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 8.54.37 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 8.18.28 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 8.26.09 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 9.40.44 PM

Day 1

December Sketch-a-Day challenge. It’s happening. I can’t tell you how excited I was when two of my friends posted sketches to the facebook group today before I’d even started thinking about my sketch for the evening. And here’s that sketch, by the way, my second annual It’s The Monday After Thanksgiving, Work Sucks, and I Need a Haircut self portrait (you can find last year’s here.) And remember it’s not too late to join the december challenge;  you can post sketches to your blog or find us on facebook by searching for the December Sketch-a-Day Challenge facebook group.

I probably won’t post sketches here every day, but I thought I’d let you know that I’m off to a good start.

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 7.17.46 PM

 

And then I stopped making excuses and started working on my illustrations—patiently, slowly, and a little more every day.

The end.

Or the beginning.

Most likely, a particularly productive bit of middle. I’ll try to stick with it as long as I can.

Work in Progress!!

Work in Progress!!

 

A New Painting

I could spend a lot more time perfecting this painting, but I’ve been working on it off and on for almost a year now. I need to move on. It’s a set piece with Vanya and Taniel, Wanderlust main characters. I painted in black and white because my book illustrations are black and white, but it’s not an illustration of any specific scene. Click the image if you’d like to see it a little larger.

VanyaTanielNewNewEarth

This is a digital painting created in Adobe Photoshop. Comments and constructive criticism are very welcome. Everything’s still a learning process, and I’ve discovered since graduating that I have a very hard time finishing anything without deadlines. Part of this is that I’m still figuring out my style, and how far to polish things while retaining a sketchy and loose quality to the work. Still figuring out whether the sketchiness is a choice, rather than a lack of skill or inability to take an image to the level I would like to achieve. At any rate, I think I’d learn a lot more by completing pieces and then making more work, rather than by agonizing over a very few pieces that never reach completion. I hope that “finishing” this piece, and sharing it here, is a step in the right direction.

People have told me they enjoy seeing my rough work, so here are a few in-progress pics for the above completed image:

First, I sketched this sketch and decided I liked it:Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 11.49.03 AM

 

Originally, I wanted a futuristic city-scape for the background (I’d been watching a lot of Doctor Who, okay?):

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 10.50.54 AM

Then I started using photos of myself for anatomy reference. Someday this will be the first step, instead of the oh-crap-I’ve-already-started-drawing-and-now-that-I’ve-spent-three-hours-on-this-pose-I-realize-it’s-not-anatomically-possible step.

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 10.52.18 AM

Suddenly clouds, more anatomy reference for Vanya, and All The Trouble In The World with that face. I used a de-colorized still from a Studio Ghibli film for reference while working on the clouds.Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 10.55.37 AM

I decided the city was way too much trouble, but still wanted to keep the blimps. Face is getting there.

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 10.59.29 AM

And nearly there. Goodbye blimps, hello castle.

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 11.01.46 AM

And the rest is mostly lighting and finishing. Scroll back up for the [as] finished [as it’s going to get right now] piece!

Sketch #3: Floor Jansen from Nightwish

Nightwish: Floor JansenThis is a drawing of Floor Jansen, the new lead singer for the symphonic metal band Nightwish. Brother and I used to listen to listen to a lot of Nightwish back in high school. Lately I haven’t been listening to as much metal as I used to, but Brother sent me a video of Jansen performing live with the band from the 2013 Imaginaerum tour. He told me she has really good stage presence and is a lot of fun to watch, and I completely agree! I also can’t stop listening to Storytime from Imaginaerum (the song in the video), and the entire Imaginaerum album. To create the above image, I took some screencaps from the concert video and then chose the one with the coolest lighting to use as reference. This was sketch #3 for my December Sketch a Day program, and it went a little bit beyond a sketch; I spent at least two or three hours on the image above (while listening to Imaginaerum on repeat). I tried to focus on brightness and proportions. It isn’t perfect, but in the spirit of the sketch-a-day thing, I’m going to share it anyway. Oh, and here’s the concert video:

Thanks for all your support on my December project! I’m going to share the sketches in two or three updates a week, in whatever order makes the most sense to me. I may also collect them chronologically on a separate page, in case the updates get too hard to sort through by the end of the month. Also, it’s catching on! Here’s the rule for joining in: start from where you are, and do a sketch for every subsequent day of December. I’m doing 31 sketches because I started on the first, but if you start today (the 4th) your goal should be 28, and et cetera. If  you want to join in and you’re publishing sketches on the internet anywhere, let me know and I will link to you.

I’m going to go draw something now.

Okay, scratch that, I’m going to the pub with Mr. Huntington.

But THEN I’m going to draw something. Promise. 🙂

Drawing Without Deadlines

At about 11 am this morning, I posted the following status on the Wanderlust Facebook page: I’m working on a new Wanderlust illustration! Okay, it’s not actually for the book, but it’s got the characters and it’s in the same style. What do you think: Can I finish it in time to post it up on the Wanderlust blog by the end of the day?

It’s 8 o’clock in the evening now and I haven’t finished the illustration, but I have been working on it almost literally all day. I made that facebook post to challenge myself, because as I embark on the “Finish ALL the Illustrations!” stage of Wanderlust, I’m terrified that I won’t be able to get anything done without the pressure of deadlines. I’m also terrified that I won’t be able to draw anything good. Today, even if I’m not quite ready to show you yet, I’ve proved to myself that I’ve still got what it takes to sit and draw all day. I really like how this illustration is turning out and I’m enjoying working on it—two self-esteem boosters that make me excited to begin the rest of the illustrations for my book.

Here’s an itty-bitty preview just to whet your appetite, although it doesn’t give you a sense of the whole piece at all.

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 8.18.04 PM

 

The next challenge is to see if I can actually finish the piece within the next few days. If I can’t, well, then we’re in trouble… or at least back to wondering whether I’ll survive as an artist without scholastic deadlines.

-G

That Face

My relationship with making art is a lot more complicated than my relationship with writing. I have a few theories about that, but if I start writing that blog post right now I’ll be working on it for days. Right now, I just want to share this unfinished sketch with you. It’s hardly the most exciting art-thing I’ve done this week, but I need a little more time to finish the other pieces before I share them with you. I’m not even working on Wanderlust illustrations yet;  I’m just trying to get used to working with visual media every day, and I’m challenging myself to try new things and to bring a few pieces all the way to completion. This, though, I probably won’t finish or work back into—unless you think I should?

Adobe Photoshop © Grace Makley 2013

Adobe Photoshop © Grace Makley 2013

 

I used the really quick sketch of Vanya from last week’s post as a starting point, and he picked up the smirk somewhere along the way. There are probably already enough sketches of him pouting.

Vanya’s pouting face is something of a touchstone for me, artistically. It’s an image I return to whenever I’m experiencing a block or looking for a way to move forward, and something I never quite get tired of drawing. Artists: do you have any images or characters you draw over and over, or return to every time you get stuck? Writers: Do you have any themes or images in your writing that you use the same way? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Name Doodle Prizes (part 1)

I said by the end of February, right?

(For anyone just tuning in, I ran a contest during my Race to the 8th writing marathon at the beginning of the month. It’s all in the blog archives.)

I’ve been feeling pretty sluggish ever since finishing that draft of my book a few weeks ago. I also had a job for a few days last week and a few days this week; not a very taxing one, but getting up earlier than normal took its toll on my daily energy. I do have something big and exciting coming up related to writing, though, and Grandma Says nominated me for an award today, so expect some good posts in the near future.

For now, here are the first round of the prizes. I’ll post more tomorrow. Also, to the winners, I will email you a higher quality jpg copy within the next few days.

First, Elise soon-to-be Rich. She’s a rider, so I drew her a horse! For Elise’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote a scene from the point of view of a streetlamp.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 8.08.51 PM

Next, Grace of Homeschool Hijinks. It’s a drawing of a girl and, well, that’s supposed to be an owl. Can you tell? For Grace’s Race to the 8th entry, I discussed how Wanderlust got created and what my process is when starting (or re-starting) a story.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 8.09.09 PM

And next, Laura. She gets a dragon. For Laura’s Race to the 8th entry, I discussed the hypothetical benefits of being a dude.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 8.41.33 PM

Last for today is Celeste, of Celestedewolfe.com. I’m not sure why I thought she would like a sketch of a muscled merman, but that’s what she’s getting. For Celeste’s Race to the 8th entry, I discussed the role of genre in my writing.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 8.09.37 PM

 

I hope everyone is having a good night!

-Grace out

Vanya Snapshot: High School Chorus

This is a behind-the-scenes post. It gives away more of Vanya’s past than I am usually comfortable sharing—but I really wanted to share it anyway. I will be especially grateful for your thoughts in the comments section today.

I attended a high school music concert a few nights ago that featured middle school and high school chorus and band. There was one very small, skinny kid in the High School Chorus with a mop of dark brown hair that completely obscured his eyes when he looked down, although when he looked up he smiled a bright smile. From far away, he didn’t look like a high school freshman; he could have been eight. And he reminded me of Vanya.

A sketchy-sketch of how Vanya may have looked at 15, all dressed up for his high school concert and staring down at his shoes.

A sketchy-sketch of how Vanya may have looked at 15, all dressed up for his high school concert and staring down at his shoes.

Vanya left home when he was fifteen, just a few months into his freshman year of high school. While listening to this concert, I wondered how Vanya’s experience with the high school music program might have gone during the short time he was there. I like to imagine the school was large enough to have a pedal harp sitting around somewhere that Vanya played in the orchestra, which went fairly well because he sat in the back, and hid behind the giant instrument. But how about that chorus concert?

He probably wouldn’t have auditioned for the big solo. He probably would have known that he couldn’t handle that kind of commitment and pressure. But what if the kid who did get the solo was sick on the day of the show? Or drunk? Maybe Vanya saved the day, and sang that solo so perfectly that the audience cried and cheered. Maybe afterwards, they tried to tell him how beautiful he was, all of them, parents and teachers and classmates, crowding around him and shouting congratulations at him in the hallway after the show, overwhelming him with so much praise and admiration that he couldn’t breathe. Maybe that’s when he ran. Or maybe… maybe he did audition for the big solo. Maybe he sang it so perfectly at the audition that the director awarded it to him with hardly any deliberation at all, and the choice was so obvious that even the slighted upperclassmen couldn’t be angry. And when the big night came, maybe he just couldn’t do it. Maybe Vanya showed up drunk, or ran away right before they drew the curtain, and instead of his angelic voice the audience heard only silence, and the whispered confusion of a high school choir that had depended on that beautiful, blonde-haired boy. Either way it happened, I like to think his mother found him hours later in a McDonald’s parking lot, sitting on the wood chips beneath a strangled-looking tree and kicking his heels against the curb. She convinced him to get in the car, and when she saw the wet tears on his cheek she prayed that the Blessed Virgin Mary would help her console her son, even though she’d never understood him. She’d known she would find him that night because his harp was still at the house. If she knew a single thing about her strange and alien child, it was this: on the day he left her forever, he would have that harp at his side.