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?

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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!

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?):

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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.

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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.

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And nearly there. Goodbye blimps, hello castle.

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

A New Challenge for December

So I won NaNoWriMo. Here’s the proof:

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So, yay me?

It was a pretty cool thing to do. I wrote 50,000 words, and I’m glad I did it, but I don’t feel satisfied by this victory. I’m still hungry. It was fun to work on a different project for a while, but finishing NaNoWriMo doesn’t mark any progress on any of the other goals (writing and art) that I’ve been trying to achieve for the last couple years. I proved I have enough time to 50,000 words in a month. This month, I need to use that time to get stuff done.

I liked having a monthly project, though. That’s a nice, solid amount of time to focus on something. In December, instead of having a word goal for each day, I’d like to make some art each day. Therefore, I’m challenging myself to make 31 sketches during the month of December. My idea is that these can be warm-up sketches, twenty-minute sketches. A short exercise that won’t necessarily use up my entire creative output for the day (I’m hoping I’ll be able to sketch and then write, or sketch and then work on a more complicated artwork), but that will at least ensure SOME amount of creative output.

What do you think? I’d like to post sketches on the blog; do you want to see them? And would you prefer daily sketch updates, or a dump of several sketches every few days or week?

Here’s today’s sketch. I call it Grumpy Self Portrait. I tried to capture that back-to-work-the-Monday-after-Thanksgiving feeling, and I really focused on the expression and the asymmetry of my face. (And yes, I did a sketch yesterday for Dec 1, so this is sketch #2. I’ll share #1 later this week.)

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Please tell me what you think about the new project, and how often you’d like to see updates on the blog. Also, if any art folks are interested in joining me for this December Sketch-A-Day adventure, please let me know; it would be great to have some company. 🙂

 

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.

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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

Twenty-Six Things

1.) Sometimes, writing blogs and communicating with people is really hard.

2.) As more time passes [without a blog post, an email, a tweet, a wordpress comment], it only gets harder.

3.) I haven’t gone running for two weeks.

4.) I’ve also had a cold for the last two weeks.

5.) I haven’t drawn much for the last two weeks either.

6.) I have been writing… in a way. Wanderlust II is fermenting, and coming together in bits and pieces. I’ve also been doing some brainstorming on an older project.

7.) I feel terrible that I haven’t finished the Race to the 8th bonus prizes yet. Absolutely terrible.

8.) The title Race to the 8th, in the context of a silly little contest on my silly little blog, sounds insensitive and unimportant after yesterday. My thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

9.) Now, talking about anything else feels insensitive.

10.) But there are a few more things on my list.

11.) For instance, I am moving to Portland at the end of the month.

12.) Portland: Maine, that is.

13.) I’m looking for a job.

14.) But not hard enough—see things 3, 4, and 5. It’s been a lazy couple weeks.

15.) I’ll fill out more applications tomorrow.

16.) I read this quote somewhere yesterday:  “Tomorrow is always the busiest day of the week.”

17.) Perhaps I should fill out more applications today.

18.) Today is Brother’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Brother! He was up this weekend, and we had a party on Saturday. It was fun.

19.) The ice cream from the party is still in my freezer. I have over-indulged.

2o.) In fact, I suspect I am sabotaging myself and my energies with bad food, and I suspect I am doing it maliciously.

21.) I want to take a nap.

22.) Leftenant Weatherby finished reading Wanderlust! He sent me a positive, one might even say glowing, review.

23.) I finished reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, and I gave it five stars on Goodreads.

24.) It’s a pretty heavy book. Don’t read it if you’re sensitive—I would have found it really disturbing six or seven years ago.

25.) I’m going to try to draw something tonight.

26.) Thank you for reading. I hope I can provide you with more content soon.

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 2)

Almost done with all the prizes! The two bonus winners will get theirs tomorrow.

First, my Aunt Ruthanne. Not really sure what to say about this one; it started out as a cross between a brontosaurus and Nessie, and now it looks more like a cross between a cow and a fish and Nessie. For Ruthanne’s Race to the 8th entry, I blogged about blogging. (And, by the way, she DID start her blog on the 8th: A More Colorful Life.)

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Next up, Jess, of Icarus Falls Design. I think it’s an elf. For Jess’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote about how character’s names motivate me to get writing.

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For Caitlin of The Hopeful Heroine, I did a sketch of someone who could be a heroine in a middle grade novel. For Caitlin’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote about a moment from our shared summer in Ireland.

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And last for today, the honorable and excellent Lady Higg of Ales to Stouts. She gets a wolf, because SOMEDAY I hope to see a finished, published version of her high school novel about magical wolves and their adventures. For Lady Higg’s Race to the 8th entry, I wrote about how the writing process has changed since I graduated college.

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Thanks for playing, everyone! Bonus winners, you will get your prizes very soon, and likewise I will email quality jpgs of the prizes I’ve already posted very soon as well.

-Grace out

 

This Sketch

© Grace Makley, 2012

This is very much a sketch, and still contains many inaccuracies. I’m posting it because I’m probably just going to start another sketch instead of polishing it up into anything. I had an “OMG I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE MUSCLES OF THE HUMAN BODY” freak-out this afternoon (do you get those, or is it just me?). So I got out my books (how many variations of the title “Anatomy for the Artist” do YOU own?) and read some things and panicked and drew some muscles and drew some REALLY BAD drawings and panicked some more and finally made the above image, which I created from scratch while referencing pertinent muscle groups. Like I said, it is not anatomically perfect AT ALL, but it has, at least, calmed the panic. I’m going to keep working from the books and maybe I’ll post some more anatomy study drawings here in the next few days.

David Triumphant

I found a boy with a harp, so I drew him.

It’s a David, of course, from the David and Goliath story. I didn’t have as much time to draw as I should have liked, but what can you do? Here’s a photo of the sculpture:

Thomas Crawford (artist)
American, 1814 – 1857
David Triumphant, model 1845/1846, carved 1848
marble and bronze
height: 114.3 cm (45 in.)

Source: http://www.nga.gov/

I arrived back in Maine at 8 am this morning after traveling through the night via Greyhound Bus. I have so much enjoyed my trip to North Carolina and DC, and I’ve had so many diverse experiences in the last two weeks. With any luck I’ll get to writing about them in the next few days, on the off chance you’re getting tired of all these pictures. 🙂

-G