Tag: art

3 Great Videos on Character Development

It’s been a while since I’ve worked on my Victorian Mortuary thing. I even started getting some words down a few weeks ago, but then I stalled. I tried drawing instead, but jacked in my 1-a-day Instagram pictures a few days ago. In short, I was depressed.

But I can’t blame that entirely. I’ve been struggling with getting going on this idea for a while, because I’m scared. This has been in my head for about 2 years, waiting to be worked on, and I absolutely love the concept and the possibilities – I’ve been raring to start… but now? I’m scared I won’t do it justice.

It’s easy not to do stuff in case you fail. And no, I’m not good enough to carry this out how I want to, which is *multimedia*. But I never will be, if I don’t try! So with that in mind, and in an effort not to be completely miserable all the time, I’ve been doing some refreshers on stuff I learned over the years about character development. I’ve got my main characters pretty much down in my head, but I want them on paper. Cue YouTube!

I really enjoyed this one. It’s always a pleasure watching people who are good at things doing them well, and this guy is just great. Very good if you only have a few character traits to start with. Just the sort of thing to make you want to start drawing, and it’s really interesting listening to him decide what features to move forward with and why.

Basics! I’d recommend drawing along with this one. If you know anything about proportioning faces this is a useful refresher and helps you think in 3-D. I drew along!

I just really like green ink. I don’t know why.

This one is good if you like watching people drawing. It’s bad if your bottom lip sticks out more than your top one from the side because apparently that’s odd and looks weirdAnyway, it’s extremely long so I put it off after the lip comment, but I’ll recommend it anyway because watching other people draw is really therapeutic. Perhaps put the sound off, though, if you too have a weird mouth.

There you have it, that’s how I’ve been spending my time. I’ve also been working on an acrylic painting which is going quite well considering I’ve never really used acrylic before. I feel like I’m remembering everything I used to be able to do now, which is nice. I’ve not felt like myself in a while, hopefully this will help me get back to normal.

For the Love of Art

Review: The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild

I like books with paintings in. Every book I’ve written to date features at least one artist, and some of my favourite books centre around either particular paintings or the art world. There’s Jilly Cooper’s Pandora, A. S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book and now, Hannah Rothschild’s The Improbability of Love.

This week has been very painting-y.

I left university (having studied Illustration) entirely disillusioned and determined never to pick up a pencil again. I hated everything I had created, and had lost all sense of pride in my work. I want to say something extremely bitter here about the quality of teaching I received, but frankly, if you choose a university based only on how close it is to your home and nothing else, you’ve only got yourself to blame.

As the years have gone by I’ve dabbled here and there, but I had forgotten how it used to be. I had lost all the joy in creating.

Then, quite by chance, two events collided. I started to read The Improbability of Love, and I saw my old artwork for the first time in 10 years. I realised just how much I had lost. Looking through my portfolio from AS Level to the end of Uni, I saw how the pleasure had gone out of creating and how my education, rather than pulling me forward, had pushed me back to a level of such deep insecurity that I was unable to paint. I will say one thing for my art education – it’s taught me how to be extremely critical.

The Improbability of Love reminded me of a feeling I had completely forgotten – of being entirely captivated by a painting. Of having the process of creating something with your hands be the first and last thing in your mind. Of being all-consumed.

Why yes, I did get my copy from Waterstones, and yes, I did also get another book for half price. Why do you ask?

Why yes, I did get my copy from Waterstones, and yes, I did also get another book for half price. Why do you ask?

The story centres around one painting, The Improbability of Love, and chronicles the effect that art can have on the lives of those it touches. From the just-not-bothered to the obsessed, from those who want to bask in reflected glory to those who feel a deep attachment, Rothschild skilfully answers the question of what makes art, art, and what makes one picture more valuable than another.

Rothschild presents a broad cast of characters, from exiled Russian billionaires to struggling tour-guides, through the impoverished British aristocracy and dusty scholars. She opens up a world of sleaze, intrigue and high integrity. She contrasts the life of the artist, both idealised and not, and the gravitational pull that mysterious world has on those who surround themselves in it. There is a great deal of difference between Damien Hirst (who incidentally dropped out of one of the Higher Education courses I completed) and Watteau, painter of the story’s central masterpiece. There is a greater distance still between the work of those who create and those who deal in high art, and Rothschild illustrates this perfectly.

For me the real beauty of The Improbability of Love is that it makes me want to go to museums and galleries. It makes my hands stretch out to paint, it reminds me of the way I used to look at things with the idea of getting them down on paper. Coupled with my recently awakened memories of just how long I used to spend painting and drawing, and what pleasure there was to be found in it, the aching chasm where art used to be feels like it’s been reopened. My skill is rusty, but it’s still there.

In the spirit of this I’ve decided to draw a picture a day for all of May. The one caveat is that it has to be created using something indelible. Nothing makes you look at what you are drawing so closely as the knowledge that the line you are putting down is unalterable. If you’d like to check out my progress (and keep me accountable!) I’ve been posting the drawings here on Instagram.

Have you read The Improbability of LoveI’d love to hear what you thought!

Not For the Faint Hearted

Sometimes, I really resent being squeamish. As an adult, without having to worry about weekly biology class and the embarrassment of having to be excused or risk fainting, I sometimes forget how squeamish I still am. After all, I’m one of those hard people who can watch Bones (although not necessarily while eating). I can do anything.

Except… I can’t. I didn’t take History or English Lit at A Level because I knew the syllabus and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through without chucking up. Being squeamish means that I can’t take a first aid course at work, and that I almost passed out in a manual handling training course. I hate it. It’s embarrassing, at least partly psychosomatic and, when I’m feeling particularly bitter, directly responsible for any problem I’ve ever had, ever.

But let us not dwell! Let us instead consider my current quandary. Do I buy these disgusting but beautiful books?

Click through to look inside!

One thing that I am a lot better at now than when I was younger, is my ability to approach gore and general innards on my own terms. Some pictures of carpal tunnel surgery came up on my Pinterest feed the other day (Why though, Pinterest!?), and I was fascinated! But put me in a room with other people and no escape route and I’ll crawl under the desk in a cold sweat.

As I’m writing this, it seems like a childhood trauma I’m not over, and that just I need a good bit of therapy. Well, sure, that’s probably correct. I should get that sorted. Or, I could buy these beautiful gross pieces of art and avoid parts of my own house if they get too much.

I’m not just wondering whether or not to risk making myself sick on a whim. I will probably need these for my research, and look at them. They are a chronicle of some of the most important drawings in history. They are part of the journey we have taken to get to where we are today.

So I probably will buy them.

Just not yet.

What about you? Are you fascinated by your fears? How far do you push yourself to conquer them?

In other news, I still haven’t finished the book I was going to review. But! I started another one! Reviews back up next week… I’m going to be talking about Death at the Priory, Sex and Murder in Victorian Englandby James Ruddick. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you think!

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