I don't like to think that I'm behind the times, but I've only just listed my first ebay items in an attempt to reach a wider audience than ETSY. Who knows what it will bring, probably not a lot.
On a completely different subject, I've started a sketchbook to help me get my hand in in to drawing and to help illustrate some lessons I'm writing for YouTube. Check me out - going all cyber! I'm enjoying drawing characters by some of my favourite artists, before launching into some real life studies.
And finally, here's Jones playing with his new best bud! Enjoy.
That's what Amy, my 7 year old daughter said, after seeing me whoop with excitement as the evil cackle of Emperor Palpatine closed the new Star Wars teaser trailer. Yes, I'm very, very, excited! It's sounds like a cliché now, but Star Wars was my first Movie experience at the cinema. It was my first memorable toy, I bought the comic books, wore the sweater and fought my best friend with a lightsabre. When I was sick off school I lay on the settee in my Star Wars sleeping bag. It inspired to dream, to imagine, to believe and to draw. Yes, I have Star Wars to thank for igniting the spark that led me here, to this place, to write to you.
There's been so much negativity surrounding the last two Star Wars films from 'fans', mostly based on the fact that a film maker(s) made a few story choices that they didn't like. Or was it internet trolls sent from a foreign country to spread hatred?
I don't know. What I do know is that I believe in creative freedom and I'm comfortable with the fact that not every person has to like what is made or created. I'm at the age where I like a song, because I like it. Not because it's by my chosen band or in my favourite genre. I wear clothes that I feel comfortable in, not because they're 'on trend'. I like movies of any genre: musicals, sci-fi, horror, western, drama, comedy...if the film entertains or moves me, I like it. If I don't like it, that's fine, I just don't like it. What I don't do is that I don't blame the Director of a film if I don't like their movie, because I can accept the fact that other people may and probably do like it!
A group of outraged fans who hated The Last Jedi made a petition to raise money to fund their own version of the story, to tell the story as it 'should have been told'. Really? I'm a fan of Star Wars, believe me, I am. I may not agree with every story choice or new character, but tough! I'm not going to throw my teddy out and blub about it and demand it be remade.
The problem (one amongst so many) with the fans making their film, is just that: it would be a 'fan' film, made by 'fans', for 'fans'. It would inevitably be 4 or 5 hours long, filled to bursting with exposition, badly scripted, badly produced, badly designed and badly directed. It might appease a small group of people, but it would alienate the masses and would, yes, it actually would, kill Star Wars!
We all have a right to an opinion and we all will be let down by someone, something or some movie in our precious franchise, at some point. That's life and you just have to suck it up and accept it. Star Wars has never been perfect, for every Empire there is an Ewok Adventure. For every John Williams fanfare there's a, dare I say it, Droids theme. I said it, didn't I. I don't like the Droids theme, so should I petition a new one, a one that's a bit more 'Star Warsy' or do I just live with the fact. It's an easy choice for me.
My eyes were really awoken to creative freedom by watching the third season of Twin Peaks, full of flaws, poor special effects and yes, it was possibly more divisive amongst its fans than The Last Jedi! Two things especially jarred: the act that Agent Cooper didn't return to his previous lovable self until near the very end of the season and the final episode. That last episode was a hard watch, very emotional and left many fans confused, upset and numb. It took a long time to recover, if we ever will.
If Lynch was led by 'what the fans want', then Coop would have returned earlier and cleared up the town of Twin Peaks, got the girl and drank endless cups of black coffee. David Lynch makes what David Lynch wants to make. He tells the story as he wishes it to be told and leaves us, the viewers, with the job of making sense of it all. He doesn't use exposition or chronological storytelling to guide you along. He knows what it all means, yet he leaves you to make your own mind up about the meanings woven so deep into the narrative.
What this means to an artist? Well, Lynch is free. He is free to put on canvas, song or film whatever he wants, without fear of failure or letting the 'fans' down. What a wonderful place that would be. Twin Peaks, like Star Wars, isn't perfect. There are whole chunks of story and characters that don't suit all tastes, but would we ask Lynch to remake Fire Walk With Me, to meet the expectations of the fans? Would we ask da Vinci to correct the smile on the Mona Lisa? Some people would, the same people who call people like me an 'art snob' because I believe in the artist's right to make whatever they want to make.
I've gone off on quite a tangent now, I was going to talk about the excitement of Star Wars and all that. But such is life, when your mind wonders onto other things. I'll leave it at that for now and await any trolling from the 'fans'...
For everyone else, here's my sketch from the trailer that has awoken in me a childish giddiness and longing for escapism and adventure. I genuinely can't wait to see Palpatine back on the screen and to fond out which Skywalker is set to rise and to know how the Saga will end.
Please don't let yourself become so self obsessed with a view on something like a movie franchise, to the point when it turns to hatred. Because you know what that leads to...
Here's a quick lesson in using photo references, drawn on my Samsung Tab A with S Pen.
I'm using layers here, so the rough lines are drawn on one layer, then the clean 'ink' lines are drawn on another. I then use a separate layer under the ink lines to lay down the flat colours and so on. I'll make sure I produce a more in depth lesson in using layers some time soon!
Click on the individual images to see what's going on:
This week I met a beautiful family, who traveled all the way from Manchester to Leeds to buy a painting from me. For the past 4 years I've worked in the comfy confines of my little office studio in the box room of our house. My communications with customers has mostly been done by messenger and email and my work safely carried by Royal Mail.
The family in question had previously commissioned work from me, which conveniently fitted in the post. This time was different, as it was a bigger painting and a bigger investment for them.
I nervously waited for them to arrive and when they did, the nerves soon went away, because they couldn't have been nicer people!
It was a strange experience for me, seeing someone react to a painting I'd done. Watching them lean in to inspect the detail and be awed by the quality. Talking to them about technique and source material and how best to frame it. Actually, 'strange' isn't a good word to describe that particular half hour of my life. Profound, inspiring, humbling, all are much better words to describe the experience.
From that moment, I felt that I was finally an actual artist. Suddenly, the reality hits me: I have fans and followers, people who love my work and are interested in what I do. People who will find the money and take the time to travel across the country to own my work.
I guess that also means that I have a responsibility to those people, to all the people who show an interest in my work.
Meeting people, interacting with them face to face, inviting them into your home, is a lost art. I use Social Media to promote myself and to sell my work, but is it really 'social'? You're probably reading this on Social Media, and believe me I'm not slating it! What I am doing, I think, is coming to the conclusion that I need to get out there and meet people. I need to take up the invites to Comic-cons, or find a place to 'set up shop' and sell directly to the people.
This week had a tremendous effect on me and I'm forever grateful to the Paradny family for coming into my life, for being an amazing family and for opening my eyes.
Being an artist can mean spending a lot of time on your own, nothing but your work, maybe some music and the cat for company (if she feels like it). But it doesn't have to mean that! That's what I've learned this week.
Remember art school? Learning about composition, Rule of thumb and colour theory?
With my memory, I don't remember much myself, except the useful bits. Art should be fun and art school should be fun!
With that in mind I'd like to share some of my knowledge with everyone. Whether it fits any curriculum is very doubtful, but hopefully it will cover what you'd like to know. My plan is to use the medium of video and the internet and to cover the very basics of drawing, through to portraiture and cartoons.
Look at the image above and you'll see just four of the many stages involved in creating my entry into the 2000AD Art Stars competition. What is each stage? What medium did I use? How do I paint gold? (Secret: I didn't paint it, I used a coloured pencil tool!).
Find out this and much more, in the not too distant future...
I could use YOUR HELP though, what content would you like to see? What would you like to learn? Let me know in the comments and, hopefully, I'll tailor a lesson to answer your need!
Don't be shy, get in touch and I'll see what I can do.
Yes, it's hard to sell art these days, in the quick fire technological world we live in. So I've re-opened my Etsy shop after a short break and added some new items to spruce it up.
Click on the ETSY SHOP option above to check it out. Please.
Also, this labour of love (below) is finally complete and ready to be picked up by it's proud new owners this week. Started almost immediately after returning from a trip to see the Harry Potter Studio tour (highly recommended!) it took some patience, persistence and repainting to get it to a stage where I felt I nailed it. My first time working on MDF, as opposed to canvas and my first architectural piece too.
It's really not easy trying to have a full time, none art related job and trying to express yourself in artwork and establish yourself as an artist.
There, I've said it, the cat's out the bag!
So much of life is choices and decisions. Take me, I'm in my forties, married with a seven year old angel and a cat. I have a, dare I say it, very good job which I'm good at and I'm in a first-manager position. It pays well, has good holidays and flexible hours. But it's not art, it's not creative. It's by no means your average job and I'm extremely proud of the work that I do.
Thing is, 13 years ago when I started the job I had to put the artwork on hold, to concentrate on a five(ish) year training programme. In the last few years I've tried to restart the art and I've had some success. I can, with all honesty, say that I am now an international selling artist!
But I can't neglect my family or my sanity! I'm a stress head, I grind my teeth a lot, I overthink and over analyse everything. I mean, everything! It's exhausting being me.
So where do I go from here?
I have the support of an amazing wife and the love of a very special daughter (Of course I'm biased). I mean, taking the question literally: Tomorrow I'm starting work as head of training in my day job and setting up a new team, as the current head is acting up in a more senior position. Also, this week I really want to complete my painting of Hogwarts, which thankfully has a very patient buyer waiting. I've also started picking up a guitar again, after a ten(ish) year absence.
I'm still looking for an outlet for my work and hoping to get some commissions this year.
Anyway, this post doesn't solve anything, I just fancied getting it down in writing.
I'm off to learn the notes on a fret board...