Life continues to be chaotic as we push forward with our hunt to relocate to our first home! My art has also been in flux as I indulge in my high Fantasy pursuits while my Fine Art pursuits hang in stasis until I have proper access to my trad space and inventory again.
It seemed a good time to hunker down and figure out just what DO I want to do with myself once the Birthstone Goddesses wrap up? I’ve been getting closer to the end of the Birthstone run and while I intend to do more general Gemstone Goddesses, they may be in a different style than Nouveau entirely!
As much as I enjoy Art Nouveau, I want a style that represents more of ‘me’ than of Mucha. I want to take what I admire about his style and evolve it to my own tastes.
That’s where this wonderful exercise from Sam Hogg comes in! I think a lot of times, artists get overwhelmed by all the gorgeous art barraging us on the internet. We think “Oh that’s so lovely I want to draw this anime surreal fairy series BUT ALSO I want to make a deck of highly polished flower mermaid playing cards in graphite and gold.”
It’s so easy to mistake what we love for what we should draw as artists! I’ve been falling into that trap a lot lately, which is why this exercise really spoke to me. Breaking down what I like, what I felt succeded, etc. helped me to think more critically about what direction I actually want to move in.
Behold my attempts to harnass the chaos of artbrain transcribed here for your convenience!
Observations About My Work
My Work (Faves vs Recent)
The Faves and Recent sections allowed me to indulge in self-reflection to choose my personal favorites that I’ve created. Which pieces do I love that I’ve done? What have I done recently and does it match my vision of where I want to be?
My Faves rely on semi-realistic rendering, bold colors, & harsh transitions in shading. My Faves also look more like the work I want to do than my Recent Work, which relies on line art & stylization, though there are hints of my style being in transition with my more painterly pieces.
It seems like my current work isn’t really hitting the mark of where I want to be, stylistically! I’m not surprised at all because I’ve been having fun experimenting to see what I enjoy doing. Enjoyment is half of the process! If you create great results that you did not find enjoyable to execute, you may be contributing to your own eventual burnout. This is a tough lesson I’ve learned working with the intense detail of the Art Nouveau style! I really enjoy the results, but it has been some agonizing blood, sweat, and tears to bring to life.
Art I Love & Want to Do More Of
This section was about identifying the art that really speaks to me and also represents the kind of work I want to do more of in the future.
The art I want to do more of has surreal lighting/mood, subdued or analogous colors with a strong complementary accent, and soft rendered figures with sharp graphic geometric elements.
Doe, Exellero, Sachin Teng, Qistina Khalida, Dominik Mayer, Tran Nguyen, Mona Finden, Jason Chan, Sam Weber, James Jean.
What Isn’t Me
This section is so important! This is where you get to figure out what kind of art you enjoy that isn’t the kind of art you want to create. If you have trouble with this section, it helped me to think about what kind of art you love that you’re creating that isn’t a pleasurable process for you. Just because you like a certain style doesn’t mean you have to do work in that vein either. There’s room enough in the art world for all of us!
For me, I noticed the things I have trouble with are extremely sketchy work, overly exaggerated proportions, anime style, photorealism, and shading with solid transitions.
Phobs, Guweiz, David Mack, Neithy, Dan Dos Santos, Becky Cloonan.
Specific Elements I Enjoy
Now to put it all together! How do the artists you like use color? How do they arrange compositions? Do they rely on line or painterly aspects? It’s time to really dig in to the nitty gritty details!
For me, I observed that Chan’s work brings in narrative setting, while still keeping things loose, painterly, and iconic. Teng’s work utilizes surreal arangements while still being grounded in realistic proportions and rendering. Khalidah combines soft and symbolic elements perfectly with strong, unexpected colors.
Next Step Plans
And now to take all of the introspection and analysis we’ve been doing and define some specific tasks we can do to hit our style goals! For me, my next steps include:
Go dark, bring surreal, symbolic & narative elements into comps.
Be More Expressive
Try sculptural expressive mark-making & lines. Try shading without black in shadows.
Use Strong Visual Motifs
Bring in visual motifs to unify colors & elements. Try more subdued or analogous colors with complementary accents.
OC Tarot Portraits, Mock Book Covers for Kushiel’s Legacy & Personal Projects
This section was fun, as it tasked me to identify more specifically what kinds of elements I could use in my work. Do I like certain symbolic objects? Does anything repeat in my work that I want to do more of? What themes and aesthetics do I want to show in my work?
I came up with the following:
Dreamlike – Elegant – Painterly – Dark – Shimmering – Surreal – Narrative – Regal – Dramatic – Ethereal – Mature – Tarot – Stained Glass – Mythic – Goddess – Butterflies – Birds – Wings – Nature – Ghostly – Gothic – Silhouettes – Folk Horror – Locks/Keys – Spider Lilies – Eyes – White Roses – Damask – Cthonic
NOTE! I should also note that this particular exercise also assumes that I’ll be focusing on illustrative cover work. If I were creating a template for concept art or any other creative field, I would have tailored this differently.
It looks like I’m going to be experimenting with the next major paintings I do! I hope you all will enjoy the ride. I know I’ll be happier to finally be expressing myself more in my art in an interesting, elegant, and beautiful way!
Blank Template Available!
Sam has graciously allowed me to share a blank of this template, which I have attached to this post. You can find more of her work here!