Week 44 Drove back to my grandma, set up quickly and started catching up on the schoolism course that I had paused during my Berlin trip. It was quite a few photobashs, paintovers and speed paintings, which are fun to do but also remind me of how much more focused, deliberate practice I need to do before I can intuitively pump out good stuff. I got one homework left for this week and will go the extra mile and really push myself to do the best possible illustration. My goal is that the result is good enough to enter the current Atomhawk art challenge. I won’t have a chance of winning, the competition will be super tough, but I want to submit something that I can feel good about, knowing it will at least for a second or two be looked at by their artists. With very few savings left and tough times ahead, I am going to activate my backup plan, part time coding. I’ve found this awesome community that is actively working on a game for over a year. They are a very positive community driven by good values. They also have big ambitions in terms of building communities that are actually good for their users. It’s a really big chance to be part of something awesome and a learning opportunity that can fast track my coding skills. So this week I will try out the part time coder, part time learning art lifestyle. I kick off every day with a bit of figure drawing to warm up, watch a coding tutorial and then do 4 hours of highly focused coding Monday to Friday. The rest of the time is art and coding my own projects. As always I think what it comes down to is the ability to focus and put in good work, not wasting time on social media etc. PS: The robot leg is basically photobashed, which is why I only post it here for educational purposes.
I was about to stumble and once again fall victim to the attention sucking monsters like instagram, email, news etc. But the whole epicness of my Berlin journey and art progress showed me what is on the line here: Am I going to just grind away a low end job making ends meet, telling people in bars that being a professional artist isn’t really all that great? Or will this be a spectacular life lived to it’s fullest, taking me on wild rides I can’t even imagine? I really think it is that important. When I started to tumble, I noticed that I had a hard time to focus for even 10 minutes during a tutorial. I just had to look something up, got distracted, wasted half an hour and basically told my brain to override the 10 minutes tutorial. So I went cold turkey, blocked all social media and news and limited it to 10 minutes after 8pm. I also signed up for headspace premium and started meditating twice a day. Now when the urge comes I just sit with the feeling for a moment, examine it and let it pass. And after a drawing session I don’t browse the news or check my worthless stocks, I get up and let my mind wander a bit, do some exercises, wash a few dishes, cuddle my dog. Tomorrow is my last day in Berlin, I’m going to do one more figure drawing (with burlesque costumes, which are my favorites), and then drive home to take care of my grandma for a month. My plan was to get back to coding, but I just can’t do it after having made more progress with art than ever before, more than I even thought was possible. I’ll just do something like 20% of the time coding to put my mind at ease, making it nothing more than a backup plan. The stack on the photo is mostly just one sided paper, but still a nice feeling to see this pretty thick stack and an almost full sketchbook after 2 weeks of busting my ass off. The figure drawing one is from life, which is why I’m quite proud of it. It’s crazy what a difference it made to draw from photos vs. drawing from life. Reminded me of slowly practicing techniques in martial arts vs all out sparring where you forget everything you ever knew and just try to survive. The portrait one is just a relaxed evening drawing, which is why I am also quite proud of the result ;-)
Week 42 I’ve never spent as much time drawing as I did this week. At home I worked through tutorials while taking notes as if I were writing a book and taking as much time as needed to really ingrain the lessons (portrait, figure drawing, animal drawing). Once a day I took the train, drawing the whole ride, to go to a place to draw from life. I did another round at the natural history museum, some urban sketching and the portrait drawing meetup. The latter one served as a good measurement on how much I had improved, I could barely believe it. My favorite museum (Barberini in Potsdam) had an exposition with some of the biggest names in abstract art (several rothko and polack paintings), so I gave it a shot. I was receptive and open minded and even a bit scared, having had a strong experience with Rothko a few years ago. But I felt nothing and at least I know now this isn’t something I should explore further. Luckily they also had an exposition of impressionism. It’s where I and most of the people ended up. They had over a dozen Monet paintings, including 2 from his famous hay stack series. Absolute fucking magic. I and many others just stood there staring at it, taking a trip through time and space. He made me feel like I was in a little village in France some 150 years ago. I also learned that he worked quite scientifically, like he used to do many paintings at the same time and kept switching based on the time of day and weather, sometimes only painting a few minutes before moving to the next canvas. Drawing wise I’m trying to push myself to think more constructively, like Peter Han and his dynamic sketching. For that I came up with a cool exercise: I draw the Asaro head from the super useful tool on Artstation, then I put the drawing and reference away and try to draw it from memory. Then I bring back the reference and copy it one more time next to my attempt from memory and see where I was off and pay special attention to that. It already led to a break through sketch on the train today. I was trying to draw this woman who was talking to a bunch of dudes, so I failed badly trying to copy lines and angles. I switched to drawing in 3D and then slapping her features on to that. Another one of those moments where I couldn’t believe I just did that. This blog got mentioned in the Proko newsletter, which made my day! It reminds me of my epic run in online poker another lifetime ago. I used to blog in a forum and when I started putting in more and more effort, I got featured and interviewed and voted member of the month. Half a year later I had moved from small stakes to high stakes (and some shots at nosebleed stakes, went horribly wrong lol). Anyhow, I think I’m on track to repeat this epic run with art. Only difference is that I am in a way better mental and physical position :-) I got one more week left in Berlin and will give it all I’ve got!
Does it have to be based on a reference or can it be from imagination? I'm asking because it says that it will be judged based on likeness, which sounds like we have to submit the reference? Thanks!
Week 41 I drove to Berlin and jumped head first into the art scene. I went to urban sketching meet ups, figure drawing, group portrait drawing, went to the natural history museum twice and even organized sketching at the zoo, to which 8 people showed up. I'm enjoying socializing and talking to artists so much that I can't believe how I managed to stay isolated in a little town all these years. This week marks one of my biggest triumph over my social anxiety. It has stopped me from so many good things happening in my life, but now that it wanted to stop my from getting good at art, I took out a baseball bat, broke it’s legs and bashed it’s head in. It’s still alive and always will be, but I’ll be ready, swinging my bat. So while the discomfort and anxiety is as high as ever, I’m simply pushing through. Like the first session at the museum was freaking nerve wrecking, having a crowd behind me and people constantly watching and commenting. I was sweating and blushing and all that stuff. It was also quite tough to pose for the portrait session. I used to get nervous when someone might be looking at me… what a nightmare then to have a room full of people go silent and intensely stare at me. The upside of doing uncomfortable things though is that I’m getting comfortable at it :-) I’m also making an effort to approach people and be friendly and positive, instead of being the shy dude in the corner judging everyone. In just one week I’ve had so many awesome conversations with interesting people from all over the world, and hopefully laid the ground work for future friendships. To my anxieties dismay, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences. Like earlier today I was sketching people at the train station while sitting next to others. It was too close to hide my sketchbook and I knew sketching moving people was going to look like crap. I did it anyway and this couple next to me started talking about ‘this dude is doing some awesome drawings, like he just draws the people over there’, apologized for watching, but then we chatted and they said how much they liked it (wasn’t that good though, lol). I’ve also been asked 3 times now if I’m a professional artist, which I take as a nice compliment. On a side note I’ve applied for a game dev job, there was this thing called money that I could really need. I haven't heard back so I guess it won't happen. Maybe for the best as I feel art is calling me louder every day. Damn sirens... Pics are subway sketches. Always a pleasure when someone falls asleep in front of me :-)
Allright, 51x 50 minute units of work done! I learned photobashing in the schoolism course. I’m not sure yet if is super useful or useless for me, so I went through it quickly. Could be a very good way to start cool illustrations, but not sure in the value of getting it to look like one big photo. Next week I’m heading to Berlin again, have to help someone out. I’ll try to make up for the lost time of packing and driving by unleashing my secret weapon: Going to bed really early. I’ll try to be in bed by 10pm.
I took the prompt to do an exercise I had thought of recently: I set up a still life outside and kept taking pictures at different times of the day/weather. That alone was a worthwhile exercise to get a better understanding of light and color. The center of the light action was this little golden brass bottle in the middle. Lots of reflected light and the sunlight overpowering the bounce light, so I got a yellow center, green outline around it turning red on one side. And of course it all shifts with the time of day. I tried to push myself going as loose as I can with the brushwork. Quite challenging though because often times I just end up with a confusing mess and need to clean it up again. I can highly recommend this exercise! (though it may have cemented my status as a lunatic among my neighbors, holding candle light vigils for juice bottles)
Week 39 Great week, put in 46 x 50mins of focused blocks. I also reduced distractions, which clears up a lot of time. I did a challenging but helpful exercise for the schoolism class, painting a scene in different lighting scenarios. For the homework I used a photo, but kinda regret that I hadn’t gone the extra mile. Luckily, there is the new Proko Challenge with one of my favorite artists, Marco Bucci! So a few days ago I set up a still life outside and have been photographing it at different lighting scenarios. Now I’m painting them one by one, trying to get a feel for the change in lights. Also did a few plein airs, but not worth making a photo of it. I also worked quite a bit on a new game, again... Anyhow, this will be a real test if I have changed or not. I think I quit at least my last 10 games, if not many more, and every time I was convinced I’d ship it. I was looking into Unity’s new UI system and under a recent videos people commented how bad it is, the poor documentation and lack of features. I thought for a moment to listen to that and not learn it, but then I thought what if I’m just better than them? Turns out I am. It’s not for beginners, but there are plenty of resources out there to learn and unleash great stuff with it. All in all I’m really happy with the effort I’ve been putting in this week. At first I thought it’s the pressure of having to get a boring job soon when my money runs out, but it’s more and more a feeling that things could get epic. So for now I just have to keep it up. Putting in a lot of time, little distractions, going the extra mile.
Week 37+38 Another turn in direction. My mom’s dog got badly ill and cost her quite some money and time, so I decided to give her some of my savings. That means I have to aim at earning some money soon, so I started to divide my time 50/50 into art and coding. I’ll just make small games I can use as portfolio pieces while working on my art skills. Speaking of which, I am still working my way through Foolproof concept paintings. And if Karma is real, there might be some good things coming towards me :-) Despite things looking a bit bleak, I’m greateful that I even had money I could give away, that I still don’t have to go back working in the kitchen, and that I’m in a good position to get good at art in the near future. A position I had to work years on to even be in.
I started Airi Pan’s course ‘Foolproof concept painting’ on Schoolism. Starting yet another project while listening to the 3 point perspective podcast about shipping, aka finishing a project, got me thinking and a bit worried. I have way too many unfinished projects, like working through a tutorial series, doing an animation or a game. So I’m going to pick some of my many halfdone projects and finish them before starting anything new. And I’m only going to do 2 at the same time, each split into theory and practice.
Week 35 The Art Department Berlin was incredible! Right when I walked in I saw Aaron Blaise sitting at a table in the back talking to someone. At first I just turned away, being a shy introvert and all, but then I thought you’re so gonna regret doing nothing, gave myself a kick and approached him as he was about to walk away. Told him how much I love his stuff and asked for an autograph, so he did a little drawing in my sketchbook even though one of the organizers next to him reminded him he’s running late. I also bought a book and got a drawing from Wouter Tulp, whose work and teachings I admire a lot. The talks were a nice variety across all areas of professional art, quite helpful to steer me in the right direction. They had feature film animation (Cartoon Saloon), illustration, vis dev, character design, short films, concept art for games and design agencies. I thought design agencies would be really interesting to work for, providing a nice playground for all sorts of art and animation. But after watching two talks by different agencies I now know that this isn’t something I should pursue, especially not after seeing the other talks like concept art for games. The team behind the new horizon game did a deep dive on their process and it was the coolest thing ever, building this crazy post apocalyptic world with different tribes. Aaron Blaise’s talk was the highlight of the event, super useful advice on character design followed by a live demo on animating the face of the beast (from beauty and the beast). Even though I have watched so many art talks online, seeing it in person made a huge difference. I guess our brains don’t get fooled by screens as much as we think. Like the talk by Izzy Burton about doing the stuff you love and things will happen. Nothing new, but it motivated me and gave me more courage to steer into that direction. I could write forever about this event and have taken a lot of notes that I will be going back to. Speaking of going back, next year I’ll be there again and by then I’ll have a portfolio to show around. While I was sketching (they had an all day figure drawing going on) this guy right next to me was giving some advice when people walked up to him and showed him their stuff. At first I thought it’s a random dude but the more he talked the more I thought that’s freaking amazing advice. I was too shy to ask him who he was since I was worried he’d tell me a name I never heard of followed by an awkward silence. Back home I scrolled through instagram and realized it was Jeremy Hoffman, one of the coolest character designers out there. He had just posted a picture of him travelling to the Art Department... Anyhow, next year I’ll know his face AND have a portfolio. TLDR To summon it up: I had the most intense art week of my live and feel more motivated than ever to go with my passion. World building, story telling, creature design... the awesome stuff. Unfortunately that’s what a lot of people want, it would have been more practical to be really inspired to work for ad agencies... I’ll just have to keep working hard, and a little bit harder each week!
Week 34 I drove to Berlin, bought a one year ticket for the natural history museum and even bought a camping chair after stressing my back and neck during the first session. Then I just walked in with it and set up my drawing shop and the security didn't bother. The museum is probably one of the best places in the world for sketching animals. They have hundreds of skeletons and stuffed animals, so you can paint a tiger or a hippo sitting right in front of it. Also good therapy for a shy introvert like myself, sitting there and painting while having a crowd looking over your shoulder. I also went sketching at the botanical garden, again I'm tempted to buy a one year pass. They have an insane amount of wicked plants there from all over the world. What a great place for practicing and getting inspiration. When I wasn't sketching in the garden/museum, I was sketching on the train or practiced drawing at home. Meanwhile my savings went downhill, crypto crashed badly and my stock portfolio is only Unity stocks, which went from 200$ to 30$, and a few days ago was officially the biggest looser on the stock market.... So for the first time my savings dropped below the threshold at which I wanted to put the pen aside and focus only on coding to get a job before I'm completely broke. But it also forced me to think about what I really want to do and that is art. So I'm just gonna keep going, and when I'm broke that's just fine. To increase my odds I will sacrifice my favorite hobby, downhill mountain biking, and not get a season pass. As much as I love flying through the air on a bicycle, it is very expensive, I have to go there by car (time+money+pollution) and a decent chance of breaking some bones (there's usually an ambulance driving around, sometimes several at the same time). I did the Tim Ferriss technique of imagining the worst case scenario and compare it to truly bad ones, e.g. dying. My worst case would be I'm flat broke and my dog needs an expensive treatment. But then there would be people I could borrow money from and I can always start working a random job. And so I've decided to ignore all safety procedures and continue my art journey. If I can keep up the intensity of the past few weeks I'll be fine anyway because I'm going to become one of the best :-)
Week 32+33 It might become a close race between how long my savings will last and how long I need to make money with art, at least the race is exciting again! In the past 2 weeks I made huge progress on my painting skills. I'm working my way through the painting workout by Wouter Tulp and continuing the pictorial composition class. Also made a new animation in Blender, a robot trying to hack an ATM. I liked it but it bombed on social media, the usual... I bought tickets for an art event in Berlin, I'm going to see Aaron Blaise and many others live! Not sure if this is going to be a giant waste of money (tickets + driving 600km back and forth) or life changing, I'll know more in 2 weeks. For May I want to focus mostly on getting better at painting and also use Blender for illustrations. I'm going to learn about stylized shaders but also how to paint over blockouts.
Week 31 Still battling with news and social media, but things are going quite well. I'm doing Blender animations and working my way through the Pictorial Composition course on schoolism. I managed to get out of my Photoshop subscription by telling the live support how broke I am. After chatting for 5 minutes and repeating my brokeness, they waived the cancellation fee! I had signed up a few months ago worried that I might be missing out by using Krita, but I was missing out by using Photoshop. I've also been working on something epic: I have a calisthenics pull up bar in my garden, one of those ladders that soldiers train on, and I'm trying to synchronize it with my VR headset so I can turn it into a game with points while hanging above a canyon. It's going better than expected and I'm very close to a working AI that will adjust the bars itself while playing the game. Unfortunately that will only be for me, I can't publish that and get sued when people injure themselves, nor would facebook ever allow that on the app store. But at least I'll get ripped :-)
Week 30 Spent a lot of time on recording Blender tutorials, to a point where I feel like I should try to switch gears. At least I have 6 videos ready to go, I'll see how to continue after that. If they bomb I might just record my whole process and do a quick breakdown video, so I review my process and also have a video with a lot less editing work. I'm increasing my effort to be less distracted. I installed my good old browser plugin that limits pretty much every time wasting site to a 15 minute time window each day. I had to include instagram because man that site is freaking manipulative. I might do what Jake Parker talked about in the 3 point perspective podcast, he unfollowed everyone and just made an excel sheet, so he isn't a slave to instagrams algorithm and has to constantly check to not miss anything. So for now all those sites that sell my attention (reddit, twitter, instagram, facebook, etc) redirect me to art station...(and sexy women, works really well for motivation thanks to my caveman brain). My productivity has already doubled, If I can keep that up, the sky is the limit.
Is there a video planned? I think it's what made the Proko challenges so special, it was so much fun to see all the entries with commentary. The past few challenges it seems to have stopped, I was especially excited to see the odd bot video and could imagine that being quite popular on the channel.
Week 29 Things are going quite well, been putting a lot of time into Blender and recording tutorials for my channel. I always have to think back of the Bridgeman quote Marshall said in Draftsmen: To get good you have to teach, but not too much! My biggest hurdle this week is checking the news all the time, kinda hard to look away. I try to remind myself though that reading about it doesn't change it, but if I work hard and become successful I can make a real positive impact.
week 27 + 28 I drove back to Germany, took 5 days but glad I'm back. Having 2 large screens and a powerful PC compared to a laptop and no desk makes quite a difference, especially for Blender. Turns out I have more money than I thought (I hadn't written my cryptos down and had kept the keys hidden in Germany), and on top of that it is going up! I was already looking for jobs, but now I can afford to keep working on my own, which I think is still the better option right now. I'll check my job bookmarks once a week and see if there is anything that sounds like tons of fun and good learning opportunity. Until then I'll just keep studying and creating. Right now I'm learning 3D animation by going the the 'Alive' Blender course, which is incredible. Feels so professional and in depth compared to all the smaller animation videos I've done.
Week 25 Pretty rough week, visited some dark places. Lots of things came together. My dog got really sick and still has issues that will require time and money in the future. On top of that a dog from the farm I'm staying at who had joined us on our mountain walks several times got picked up and taken away. I thought he was part of the farm but turns out he was just a stray who had stayed here for a while. I was considering finding out where she is and adopt her, but I can't do that right now with one sick dog, no home and no income. On top of that I was getting more and more depressed that I still don't know what exactly to do, probably spent an hour each day thinking about if over the past few weeks with no real results. I just want to do too many things. The dog drama reminded me of how freaking powerless I am, it's time to stop drifting around in so many areas. I took a few days of brainstorming and made a concrete plan. Making money with art would be the best, and being independent even better. I've given myself 3 months to try and make money with Blender, as this is the only shot I have at making money with art. I will upload lots of Blender tutorials, artwork and even make a Patreon. If I manage to make 200$ in May by independent means or 500$ as a freelancer, I will continue. Otherwise I'm going all in on coding, the safest way to get a job. I expect about 20$ from youtube, 0$ from Patreon and don't think anyone would pay me for Blender work right now, so which me luck!
week 26 + 27 I had a bit of a break through moment when I attempted to combine 3D and 2D for my Syn Studio class. After all those years I made something that looks a lot better than I had hoped for, so far it's always been the other way around. I know it doesn't hold up as a real portfolio piece, but I can't believe I actually created this. Finally a result that motivates me to do more! This workflow is also perfect for combining my 2D and 3D skills, which wouldn't be strong enough by themselves, but here they multiply each other. It is also a great way to practice composition, I've spent more than 5 hours just moving objects and lights around. I blocked out the scene in 3D, set up the lighting and rendered it out in multiple layers. Then I imported it into procreate and overlayed abstract textures, played around with layer adjustments and started painting things in and out.