Inspiration is for amateurs…

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

There was a quote from Chuck Close on A.C.T. Art MArketing Blog part of which rang true to me:

If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.

I don’t put the entire quote here because I am not all that sure about the beginning which is about inspiration being for amateurs and because the rest merely expands on the excerpt above.

It’s a fact, at least for me, that waiting around for an idea or looking at work of others gets me nowhere and eventually it feels like I’ve got a solid brick in my brain that makes it impossible to create anything. I do enjoy looking at what other artists do, by the way. I could do it all day long, it just does not help with the problem at hand. Drawing without much expectation is far better. I can abandon the original idea before I get too far, change it while it’s still changeable, throw the entire thing away because it refuses to cooperate, or base another drawing on the original failure. All of it is still more productive than waiting for a miracle to happen on its own.

There is no shortage of advice on getting inspired and getting over a creative block; I trust it makes a real difference for others, but for some reason it’s not doing much to me. Maybe I am approaching it the wrong way?

March 13, 2013 sketch

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

Long time ago I was asked for a commission of a black cat, but the reference photo provided consisted mostly of beautiful amber eyes and some very dark blobs that suggested the cat surely was somewhere there in the almost black surrounding. I could not even guess the rest of his face, so asked for a better photo and never heard back. But what was not good enough for a commission once, could work for my own amusement. This is a different cat, and I am not sure how so much of it besides the eyes got into the sketch. It was not planned for.

March 13, 2013 sketch (black cat) - colored pencil on colored paper, 6" x 4"
colored pencil on colored paper, 6″ x 4″

Sketchy horse

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

sketchy horse - digital art (done with Harmony)

“Sketchy” is a style in Harmony that I like the most. Besides being imprecise and somewhat unpredictable by nature, it does not take kindly to thinking as you draw. The result is always a disaster, and the later in the process it happens the worse it looks. Since this is my first attempt to draw a horse in Harmony, disasters happened more than once. Luckily, I only use black and white, so for the most part when black gets out of control I managed to offset it with white. It’s not exactly erasing, but I think it works.

Other things I learned:

– colors in the color wheel come out anything but what I select and what shows in the preview square. Grays always have some odd tint, so I had to drop the idea of using them, or this would be one psychedelic horse head. I was not in the mood for psychedelic at all.

– apparently just because you can draw on the sides of the toolbox that is centered at the top of the page, it does not mean that you can draw behind it too; that’s how the horse lost nice pointy ears that I was going to give her

Coloured Pencil Lightfastness, from Coloured Pencil Society of Canada

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

This thorough article by Manon Leclerc covers lightfastness standards, manufacturer classifications, and how to do your own tests for artist grade colored pencils.

Why do your own tests? Because sometimes it’s not clear which technical standards manufacturers use, how much their ratings differ from other brands, and depending on the type of pencils the available information may not be clear. Case in point: watercolor pencils. Often, you can’t tell if the information applies to the dry or diluted state of the pencil.

Some manufacturers like Caran d’Ache thoughtfully indicate resistance to light right on their pencils, Lyra puts it in a slip inside their pencil boxes, so if you are married to one of those brands and don’t use any others, choosing your pencils by those marks is all you have to do to insure that your work will stay vibrant for decades to come. That is, until you run into a situation where you really want to use this particular color, but its resistance to light is so low that you have to look at other manufacturers for something similar and more durable.

The next best thing a manufacturer can do after marking their pencils is to put lightfastness information into one document.

Manon did a wonderful job researching documents related to lightfastness of Derwent, Prismacolor, and seven other brands of colored pencils, gathering results in one article, and posting links for each brand.

Derwent makes charts for all their lines easy to find. The article mentiones some of them but the links changed since the article was published, so here are updated ones: Artists, Studio, Coloursoft, Drawing, Graphitint, Aquatone, Inktense, Watercolour. The full list of documents for pencils and blocks can be found here:

My dear Prismacolor only makes this information readily available for Premier Watercolor Colored Pencils, Premier Soft Core Colored Pencils and Premier Art Stix, and Premier Verithin Colored Pencils. Their web site does not offer search, and I lack time and determination to hunt down the rest of their lines. Some day. Maybe.

Referencing the charts is a little more of leg work but still convenient. These two brands are the ones I use the most, so links to their charts go here as much for my own convenience as to benefit another fellow artist.

Still, nothing beats your own testing that allows you to see real results, not some printed or online images. Manor guides you through such testing and discusses the results that can be quite surprising.

A growing… something

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

A growing... something - digital art

I haven’t visited Harmony for a long time, not even sure why. It’s a great place to get unstuck (and I am stuck thoroughly with an abstract piece right now), to unwind after a stressful day, and to doodle away no matter what your circumstances are.

Harmony is perfectly capable of helping you make realistic art, but that I could do on my own, right? So for the most part me and Harmony create strange things like this one.