Art: Taking the next step

Concept art for science fiction: freighter, space station, and zippy little starship

This last semester I took a drawing class and enjoyed it immensely. I know that in addition to giving me some sanity time where I could create and switch from science brain to art brain, I did improve my drawing skills. Drawing 1 would more correctly have been called Observational Drawing, and it was a new experience for me to draw only what my eyes saw. Learned how to measure proportions and sight angles, attempted to learn cross-hatching and reductive charcoal. Discovered to my delight that I can draw. 

Now, I want to go beyond that into something else. But there is a problem. I talked to my professor about what he’d recommend next for me, and he told me I ought to take color theory and design. Unfortunately, that’s a 3 credit hour class and it can’t happen this coming semester. He also told me that he’d like to see me keep drawing. I intend to do that, in class or out of it. But the school doesn’t – no school that he knows of does – offer a digital painting class. And that is really what I want and need next. 

I could take a painting class, when it is offered, which isn’t often. It would help me get theory and techniques. It wouldn’t help with translating that to the screen, and might hinder me, as the muscles and movement painting on a canvas are very different from painting on a pentablet while looking up at my monitor. So I am left to my own devices. 

I’m going to try out tutorials online over the summer to see what I can learn on my own. I’ve been doing that at odd times but had taken this last semester off as I was doing enough (and too much) already. I’m hesitant to spend money on them – who knows what kind of quality you will get with that. Youtube is helpful for this, and DeviantArt, and Pinterest, where I have created a board of ideas and things I want to learn. I intend to create art when I need to take a break from writing, as it is a nice mental shift. 

This last week or so it’s been like having my brain stuffed full of wool. I’m hoping that I can wake it back up and get moving today. I didn’t write yesterday, not fiction. I was working on other things and reading, before running errands. Today I must write, and if I need to take a break, I will draw or paint. Because that’s the next step, to stay in practice until I can figure out how to get beyond what I know into what I want to know. 

male dryad
a page from my sketchbook: dryad

I have a variety of drawing programs. I’m most familiar and comfortable with Gimp, as I’ve been using it for a couple of years. But a friend recommended Krita, and I want to play with it a little. I use Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my tablet, and the latest version of that supports 17 layers, a vast improvement from the 4 I could use before. I’ve reluctantly admitted to myself that as much as I love what you can do with Verve, it’s over my head for now. The painting I know how to do isn’t oil, which is what Verve emulates.

For tutorials, I am just starting to explore Ctrl+Paint, which is a neat site offering free lessons.

And finally, even if you don’t feel like you are ‘artistic’ the Inspirograph site is a fun place to play around. The Spirograph come to your mouse and monitor!

fly on spiderwort
Such color as never could be imagined by a mere artist.
I think I'll create a floral rainbow.
I think I’ll create a floral rainbow.
Poppy petals
Painting with colors, I think that’s my next project
Painting with Flower colors

2 thoughts on “Art: Taking the next step

  1. Graphic design can be a very lucrative profession, or a satisfying hobby.
    I’m sure you are well aware that there is a constant demand for cover art, so as a writer who can also draw seems as though you just might fit that niche quite well.
    After all, how else to support your first reader in the manner he would like to become accustomed to.

    1. I’ve done graphic design for a decade or so. I want to get better at it. I did pay for and take a course specifically on creating book covers last year, and I do covers when I have time (not often during school). But yes, being able to make the pictures in my head come to life on paper is very appealing, and could be lucrative.

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