Motivation and Inspiration
Interview with Angela Sasser
Creationby Jenny Heidewald
As an artist, creation is a part of one's life. There is nothing more satisfying than when you are working on a piece that just flows, the way something appears from nothing on a blank piece of paper, or from what was once just a lump of clay.
Unfortunately, we all know that there usually ends up being one part of a piece that is a pain in the butt, and makes you want to scream. Sometimes the answer to this frustration is to set the art down for the time being, and coming back to it later. Once you have been away from a piece, you can look at it with new eyes, and the solution to the problem might present itself. Another thing you can do is to share the piece with fellow artists and ask for their opinions. There is nothing more valuable than someone who knows what you are going through. They can help you with a piece where you know there is something "off", but you aren't quite sure what. What can also be extremely helpful is if an artist friend will do a red line for you.
Artist's block is something that every creative artist goes through at some point, be they visual artist or writer. I think this is a natural order of events, a cycle like the seasons. Your brain needs a bit of time off, in giving it rest, you can come back refreshed, and not feel like doing art is a chore. Sometimes real life is so overwhelming that it is hard to deal with making art; on the other hand, art can be a release from stress.
There are times when an artist looks at his or her art and thinks, "This is the same as everything else I have done, and I don't see any progress!"
I have been dealing with this myself for the past few years, along with a wicked case of artist's block, which lasted a couple months.
What can one do to be inspired and to try out new things? There are several options; one is looking at online galleries, such as Deviant Art or Elfwood. I like looking at other artists "inspiration" memes on Deviant Art; when I see something interesting, I look it up online to see more. There are also progress memes, which are very popular. It is inspiring to see progress, or revealing if you have been stuck in a rut. Not all artists need or want to do different things; they are happy with where they are, and that is okay as well.
This is my inspiration meme. These are in no particular order, and all art is copyright to the respective owners. The meme form , is by Matt M. Laskowski, aka Fox-Orian.
1. My family, Mom in particular, she is the one who inspired me to draw. When I was four or five, I saw her drawing the hand of God reaching from the clouds, and thought, "I want to do THAT!"
2. The Gibson Girl and Victorian styles, I love corsets and the dresses.
3. Disney's Rapunzel, "Tangled". Rapunzel in general is the reason for my lifelong obsession with beautiful, long hair. I also love Jean Honard Frangonard's "The Swing", which was part of the inspiration for Disney's Tangled, as shown by this concept art, as well as other Baroque and Rococo fashions and paintings.
4. Larry Elmore , DragonLance, D&D. I discovered Dragonlance in my teens and was absolutely blown away by the stories, Larry's covers, and his inking styles for interior art. I would also look in D&D rulebooks just for the art.
5. She-Ra was a huge thing for me when I was young; she sparked my interest in fantasy things.
6. The Last Unicorn. Apparently, when I was around three, this movie was "on all the time," according to my mom. I don't recall that, but I do recall when I was a teen seeing this on the TV, and falling in love with the story and art.
7. Elfquest, by Wendy and Richard Pini. It took me a long time to break out of her style, and I still draw elf ears her way, they just make sense.
8. This is "Return To Innocence - Line Art", by Michelle Hoefener, aka Michelle 84 on Deviant Art. I adore the way she does her line art, the delicate lines and her style.
9. Steampunk! This thumbnail is my own art, done for. Ellen Million Graphic's steampunk coloring book. I discovered that I LOVE doing steampunk, though most mechanical things are hard for me.
10. Linda Bergkvist , aka Enayla on Deviant Art. This is her piece "Bright Blue", which she used as a tutorial for skin tones. I still use that tutorial when I need help with skin tones.
11. Frank Frazetta ."The Moon's Rapture" is my favorite piece of his. When I was younger I didn't appreciate his style as much as I do now, I was into detail. I have learned from Frazetta, and other artists, that super-detail is not needed to make great works of art.
12. Esteban Marotohttp . I found this comic book artist relatively recently. I bought a book of his sketches ("Urania Art-Book") based on this cover art, and prayed that the rest of the art would be as lovely. I lucked out. His beautiful women and attention to detail in the costumes is fabulous; my particular favorite is the stocking tops.
13. Bright, saturated colors, particularly by these Deviant artists: Lois van Baarle, aka Loish, this is her picture "Koi Pond", Marc Brunet, aka Bluefley, and Narongchai Singhapan, aka Readman.
14. Ellen Million, founder of Ellen Million Graphic's: Portrait Adoption, SketchFest, EMG-Zine. I met Ellen through Elfwood; she opened so many doors for me. One of the turning points in my art life was when I joined Portrait Adoption. In the EMG Portrait Adoption forums, fellow artists that I admire gave me excellent advice. Without that influence, I would not be the artist I am today.
15. The cartoon pin-up stylings of Wendy Chew, aka Mashi (this is her picture "Autumn Girl"), and Kei Phillips, aka kinkei. What is not to love? They are cute, sexy, and rather retro at the same time.
16. Anime, manga, and chibis, in particular the character Lum, by . I also adore many manga style artists on DeviantArt. I love chibis; they used to be hard for me to draw.
17. Music: Celtic, new age, techno, classical, and many other styles. I also like Celtic knotwork; I love the challenge of the details.
18. Pin-up art, the classics, Vargas, Gil Elvgreen, and more. I like how fun the pictures are, with bright colors and flirty smiles.
I sometimes like to use the color palette from other artist's works, or photos, to help myself color a picture of my own. Some color combos I wouldn't have thought of on my own. I also like to try out different styles, it is interesting to draw the same character but with different techniques.
Another thing you can do is to join Ellen Million Graphic's SketchFest. This awesome event usually happens every month. It is free and anyone can post prompts, be they one word, detailed descriptions, links to interesting things, or photos; an artist looks through the list and finds inspiration. The catch with SketchFest, and the reason why it works so well, is that there is a one-hour time limit on how long you can work on the art. If you are used to drawing highly detailed pieces you learn to work more loosely; it is also great for trying out different styles of art.
I keep a file of reference pictures on my computer for things that are interesting, so that I can look at them again when I need a bit of inspiration. Other sources for inspiration? Books, movies, magazines, even a phrase that someone says, you name it! I keep a folder of different ads where I liked the person's outfit, face or pose.
It is also nice to have is a collection of blank sketchbooks that are handy to grab whenever the mood to draw takes you. I always have several going, some I like to carry with me when I am away from home, and others are dedicated to themes. The key is to not feel as if you are "wasting" paper; remember, every bit of art that you do is a step towards a better technique. Many "bad" drawings are required to get to "good" drawings. Sketchbooks are always interesting to look through later to see what you were up to and remember where you were in your life. As a side note, I recommend getting into the habit of putting dates on your art.
Creating New Things
At one point or another, you have probably made up your own animal. This is an interesting exercise; it is also a good excuse to study animal anatomy, as it is easier to build animals from pre-existing ones, and to make them look believable. This is an interesting reference, "Five Commonly Made Mistakes When Designing New Creatures", by Ilse 'Lhune' Gort, aka Dragoness77.
The dkiern was based on the rat. I added a lion-like tail, webbed feet and bluish purple fur to add interest.
"Swan Horse" came from me playing around with textures, and then looking at the shapes to see what I could make out of the result. Tallulah ´Darkhorse´ Cunningham was inspired by my "Swan Horse" to do an awesome picture of, what she now calls "Mandarequines".
"Sea Critter" is part dolphin, part unicorn, and a little Nessie.
Going to a zoo and sketching the animals as they wander around is great practice. Don't worry if they don't look exactly like the animal, the more you sketch the better things get.
I hope that I have given you some ideas and possible inspiration for your next project; the key is to never give up! For further reading I recommend the book "Art & Fear, Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" by David Bayles & Ted Orland.
to do THAT!" In addition to writing for EMG-zine, Jenny is a prolific artist who has worked in many mediums. Her current favorite technique is working with colored micron pens, and coloring either with watercolor or Photoshop. Jenny lives in Maryland with her husband. Please check out her Sketchfest, Portrait Adoption, Deviant Art, and Elfwood pages.
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