King Mavros was a cruel ruler. His greed for power consumed him and in his time he assassinated and massacred thousands. The armies he controlled were fearsome and they tore across the kingdoms like a vicious plague, cutting down everything in their path. In their wake the King came, swallowing up the lands and plunging his new subjects into slavery and poverty.
When I feel uninspired or I’m blocking, I like to experiment with working methods and push my comfort zone. I’ve always loved the look of digital work created with layering brush strokes and different marks, but I’d never been brave enough to try it myself. Yesterday I took some of my favourite aesthetic motifs and cracked the method I’d been keen to try for years.
mazouko asked: What was the artistic habit you broke and how did you break it?
The artistic habit was essentially excessive perfectionism. It manifested particularly in relying too heavily on references to the point where it was hindering my creative flow and making my pieces look stiff and lifeless (or, rather like mannequins, as was pointed out to me) this also caused a fear in me about doing anything without ridiculous prep before hand and from doing anything outside my comfort zone. Now, that isn’t to say that reference is a bad thing, on the contrary, it is imperative to learning and to making things believable in your art - the key is to finding a balance, and for a long time I took things way too far in the direction of over-dependency.
Every time I completed a piece I would feel a moment of pride and accomplishment, followed by an utter feeling of despair that would last a lot longer. For a long time I changed very superficial things around in my work, thinking I’d hit on the solution to my disenchantment, before realising I was feeling just the same. Something intrinsic just wasn’t right. Upon falling into this pit once more I talked at length with my partner about it (something I’d done a lot of times before) and he asked me if I wanted him to be brutally honest. I did. He was. It opened my eyes and something clicked in my brain about how I was so rigid and inflexible with my process. I’d backed myself into a corner where I couldn’t breathe for the reliance of reference and my fear of creating something ugly or bad or something that people wouldn’t like. I had put a stupid amount of pressure on myself.
Following this, rather serendipitously, I found myself with a quiet and empty house for a few days, allowing for zero distraction from my task at hand. I had to get over this. So I worked. And I worked. For days I just pushed out piece after piece, forcing myself out of my habits, reprogramming my brain and having an embargo on any subjects relating to my comfort zone. I also decided not to upload any of the work I made during that time. I needed to really challenge myself and taking away making any of the work public also allowed me to feel ‘safer’ while I thrashed this out.
It worked. After the first three intensive days of working on nothing but breaking out of the fear, I managed to get past it and create work that I felt had a lot more interest, integrity and above all else it was FUN for me again.
I hope you find this useful or insightful. If you have any other questions feel free to ask.
I broke a destructive artistic habit I’ve been harbouring for around 6 years. All it took was a few days of painting and some honest critique. This is one of many paintings I did over the last week or so, after realising where I’d been going wrong. I will be uploading a few of the others too, staggering them over the next few days. I hope you enjoy.
The Indiegogo campaign for PACT - Professional Artist Client Toolkit - is now live and it needs your help!
If you are a professional artist (or a budding professional), then you need to take a look at this project! PACT aims to improve industry standards for artists within the fantasy, science fiction, book publishing and comic book industries to help freelancers negotiate a better living wage for themselves and to be a resource for information for artists of all experience levels regarding contracts, copyrights, and alternative income solutions. Most importantly, the PACT website will feature an anonymous ratings system for companies. Members of PACT will be able to log on and grade companies overs a variety of criteria such as amount of pay, timeliness of pay, granting of rights, and ease of work. These will be compiled into what will be an overall score for that company. This will allow artists to see, based on a companies rating, if it is one that they want to work for or not.