Loan Stoat

Well I’m back at Uni, things are pretty hectic. There’s certainly more work this year than we had to contend with in year one but I finally feel as though I have a pretty firm grasp on the techniques involved.  It’s great to finally begin to feel like I know what I’m doing.  On the other hand, as the fog of “what the fuck is going on” clears it reveals the bright and sunny question “Am I any good at this?” shining on the horizon.

Being at university at 30 is a whole different kettle of fish than it was when I was 18.  I see my fellow student’s nonchalantly scraping by on the bare minimum of work, while they confidently cry “Hey! It’s cool! We’ve got three whole years here!”  While I pile on as much work as I can possibly stand, screaming “Oh my god! I’ve only got three years to learn this!!!!”  I’m sure they think I’m crazy. But with a family to support the question of “am I doing the right thing” is one that keeps flashing above my head like a buzzing neon sign.

So it is at times like these I feel compelled to heed a little of my own advice. As I keep on telling everyone around me after all I’m pretty much always right!  And I look to a certain image that I have pinned above my pc, named “Chav Stoat”.

Ain’t he a cheeky little chappy? This delightful picture was taken by my wonderful mother, and was immediately singled out amongst her extensive and gorgeous collection of works as one of our favourite pieces.  So it was, when we were sat around the television watching a feature on the Countryfile Calendar Competition that “Chav Stoat” immediately sprang to mind.  I turned to my pensive parent, and insisted she send the picture in.  To which she replied that it wouldn’t possibly be good enough.  A week later I asked again weather she had sent off her work yet, and again was rebuffed with the claim that “they have THOUSANDS of entries! Mine will NEVER be good enough to be chosen!”

So we continued for another couple of weeks until the deadline had passed and we forgot all about it.  So much was our horror when, once again curled up in front of Countryfile, they began listing the winners of the competition and THIS was shown!

Look familiar?

Deadly silence followed for a few seconds, which then exploded into expletives from my mother, duly drowned out by my screaming “I told you so!” at the top of my voice.  (As you can tell I’m very benevolent in victory)

So what is the moral to be learnt in this tale?  What is the reason that Chav stoat now sits above my PC and grins cheekily down at me every time I’m thinking “god I’m never going to be good enough to make a living at this”?  Simply that if you don’t try, you’ll NEVER get there.  And you might just find out your better than you think!


Finding your Feet

So it’s been awhile since I posted on my blog, and I’m feeling a little neglectful of all my lovely followers. I can only hope you forgive me as I’ve been caught up in the beginning of my second year at the wonderful Institute of arts in Carlisle. It’s been an interesting couple of months getting back into the swing of things. Having been there a year already I somewhat expected to fall right back into this pattern of study with ease.

It’s not quite that easy, although just as enjoyable as ever. Relationship seems to have changed at uni. And I’m surprised to find people who are best friends last year a little colder towards one another after the holidays. Also our friendly and open class seem to have separated off into little friendship groups. This is not entirely unexpected as people obviously have been socialising over the holidays, but it does present a different feel that took a little getting used to.

I’ve got two assignments on the go, and have finally been allowed to dive into Z-Brush which is awesome. We were given the task of designing a character and a weapon which we will build in 3DS Max, add to in Z-Brush, and finally texture in photo shop. I chose to create a little dwarf who surprisingly enough looks a lot like my lecturer. I did have the idea for a granny with machine gun Zimmer frame. But that came when I was already halfway through this one.

Ross are working on a group project, where we take the work we did over the summer and develop it into a full game level. I was a little disappointed that my idea was chosen, however we’ve worked on creating something as a group that I’m quite excited about. I’ll give you more details on that later on. But for now I’ll leave you with a promise that I will blog more often, and a look at my little dwarf guy. Ain’t he cute!

just do it

After completing my piece yesterday, I spent some time with my mother messing around with watercolours. It was great fun we both got very messy and had a blast experimenting with the medium we never used before. It struck me after completing the piece that I’d always been rather nervous of using watercolour but the process I discovered was fun and easier than I’d expected.

It’s been this way with other mediums I tried dabbling with watercolours, etching and dry printing, digital painting, graphite each and every one of them a new method of expressing myself. But each undertaking beginning with that same familiar feeling of nerves and worry. Will this work? Will I be horrible that it? Will the results be awful? Each question a little pestering Gnat buzzing around your brain as you pick up your brush or start-up photo shop.

And it’s taken me until yesterday to realise the answer. Who cares? If it doesn’t work try again! If you’re horrible that it, practice. If the results are awful throw them in the bin no one needs to see it. Art is a fun process and getting messy and making mistakes is all part of that process. You can’t improve unless you make mistakes. You can’t progress unless you try new things. And just because your initial sketching’s don’t turn out like Michelangelo’s works it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun creating your slapdash stick figures that nobody can decipher.

I realise, coming from me, this all seems a bit rich. Given my previous posts about being an utter perfectionist, and each and every one was the truth. I get annoyed if the results I want are not achieved. I get frustrated with myself if I can’t produce the image that is in my head. However as I continue on my journey, slowly inching towards the artist I will hope one day to become. I have discovered that it is the process as much as the outcome that shapes who we are.

Have fun with your art! Try new things. It is only by stepping out of our comfort zone that our talent and work develops. No doubt the first few attempts will be awful or at least not what you are hoping to achieve. But you might just find that you have fun and at the end of the day fun is what it’s all about.

Faster Pussycat Kill Kill

Okay, so here we go.  Game character number two.  Already I think I’m happier with the results. I gave myself the same time frame, determined that once I reached day four I was stopping no matter what.  I have to say I was A LOT faster with this one, and the results are not bad.

Again there are things I would fix given more time, but I’m certainly a lot happier about leaving this one at this stage and moving on than I was the last. I feel its further along.  Once all the characters are completed I’ll put up a synopsis of the game plot. I’m kinda looking forward to seeing what you guys think!

Keep moving forward

Well here it is, my latest and greatest creation!  Now at first glance you’d be forgiven for wondering exactly why I’m getting quite so excited about what is a fairly mediocre painting, so let me explain.

What our lovely lady here represents is a deliberate step out of my comfort zone.  I forced myself to abandon ALL my hitherto tried and tested techniques and go in completely the opposite direction.  The process of creating her was kinda like feeling my way along in the dark, but I reckon the results are all right.

She has been created as a character example for a game concept I’m working on over the summer holidays, and thus her sole purpose was to give an initial representation of the character, which I think she does -so purpose achieved.

There’s loads I could improve on her, and even looking at her now I’m itching to put her back in Photoshop and dedicate another couple of days to improving her, but that would defeat the purpose as she was intended to be a quick draft.

I am somewhat of a perfectionist and I really hate to leave stuff I’m not one hundred percent happy with so the experience of telling myself “no, you have to stop and move on now” is a learning curve in its self.  No doubt I’ll come back to her at some future stage and work on all the little bits that are niggling at me but for now its on to the next character!  Which of course I’ll share with you all when she’s completed.

To be, or not to be

So I’m sitting in front of my computer, working on a new piece which I’ll blog about later, and I’m hit by a sudden question. Is this art? I suppose I’m thinking about it because my mother is off to her Exhibition for the day. It’s a lovely little display of local artists. There are painters and sculptors and felt makers. (I think the felt makers are the best but of course I’m biased). But all of these talented folks have a tangible “something” that they work on. They slave, and toil and pour their love into a project and at the end of it there is a “thing” that they can proudly show off.

I do the same. I slave. I toil. At the end of it, where is my “something” It is hidden in the bowls of my giant, dusty computer. Does this make what I do any less like Art? I’d like to think not. I’d like to think that the work I create is just as credible as other people’s. Yet still there seems to be this separation, and reluctantly I admit it is in my mind too.

I know, despite pretending otherwise, that if I were in the studio surrounded by the discarded carcases of paint tubes: sexily dishevelled with a canvas the focal point of my creative outpourings, I’d feel like a “proper artist”. But I’ll admit its something of an anti-climax when you finish a project and just hit ‘print’.

I know I’m committing about a hundred faux pas by even admitting such a thing. My friends would look at me in horror at voicing the dirty little secret we all feel. Try as I might I can’t think of a nice little sunny conclusion to put a bow on it. I love my medium. I have searched for years to find a method that would produce the type of results I was dreaming off. And when I look at the work produced by the likes of Marta Dahlig I positively swoon! (Understanding completely the sentiment of Simon de Pury when he said he got his first erection to a Renoir, how Bohemian is that?!) But still I’d love to have something I had touched, handled, sculpted out of my own two hands and brought into being. Who knows, maybe I just need a better printer.  What do you think?

Adventures in Drypoint

As I may have mentioned before my mother is a wonderful artist in her own right.  Making wonderful felt vessels and wall pieces many of which you can see on her website at (I made her website for her btw!)  Through her network of friends I’m lucky to be invited to private little taster sessions where I get to experiment with all different kinds of art techniques.  Aint I a lucky girl?!

So a couple of days ago my mum and I traveled on down to Cockermouth to visit the hugely talented Ian Hill and his lovely wife Jackie.  Walking into Ians home is like stepping into a Enid Blyton novel.  The children are running around in wearing waist coats (Created by the beautiful Jackie)  and the whole family are so incredibly friendly and welcoming I think I have a viable chance of just moving in without them complaining.

Ian takes us to his glorious little workshops.  A homely refuge of creativity I fully expect to be graced with a blue plaque above the door in around a hundred years time proudly declaring “here worked Ian Hill”, and we get going.  The technique was simple enough to pick up and I manage to bash out a piece I’m rather proud off.  But what struck me most was Ians clear passion for his craft. The work he produces is INSANE!  Patiently carving every fibre of a feather into copper to create a truly exquisite plate I seriously considered slipping into my pocket on the way out.  You must must must check out his work at  you’ll be glad that you did.

Hours later, sat in their kitchen shovelling down home-made scones, fully expecting to discover this gorgeous family were the original inspiration for “The Famous Five” I’m struck by the willingness of my newly discovered community to share.  Reaching this point in my life I have been surrounded by folks that jealously guard their knowledge, skill set and ability and thus I simply expect people to behave that way now.  Imagine my surprise, therefore, to find the artistic community opening its arms and happily revealing its secrets to me.  A trend my overly cynical mind can’t help but be slightly suspicious off but is slowly coming around too.

My time with Ian was truly a pleasure, I learnt a ton and more over I felt a genuine sense of joy from him as he imparted his love of his craft to other people. If this man ever decides to hold workshops commercially he’ll make a killing!