I was trying to describe this to someone the other day and was having an incredibly hard time articulating what can I can only describe as ‘artist’s block’–similar to writer’s block in that you are unable to produce anything worthwhile (mostly because you simply cannot reach the part of your brain that needs an itching, no matter how deep you poke around), yet completely different in that it’s not a blockage of the idea, but more a blockage of the execution.
Let me back up. I have a portrait/illustration that I started a LONG time ago (a little over two years)—while I think it will forever remain ‘untitled,’ I’ve been referring to it as the ‘sleeper’ (also buried somewhere in my illustration section):
(Note: this is just a portion of a larger illustration, the rest of which I cropped out with Photoshop. At one point, I liked the idea of it being my site background, but I ultimately decided against it for one reason or another.)
Despite the absurd length of time it’s taking me to finish, I really haven’t invested an obscene amount of hours in it. I’ve been working on bits and pieces here and there, when I remember, when I feel inspired, when I’m bored, when I’ve decided to neglect the million other projects I’ve got going on… etc. etc. (I was once asked how long I thought I’d worked on it total, and upon thought, I estimated perhaps a week’s worth of focus, concentrated work.)
Fast forwarding two plus years after the first unplanned pen stroke, I finally have a vision for how to complete this portrait once and for all. The problem is, every time I set out to do so, I lock up and realize that I can’t quite foresee how to execute the affect I want to achieve (at least how I see it in my mind). I’ve tried now 3 or 4 times to wrap it up, but every time I begin adding those final lines, I stop and think, “I’m not sure that’s really what I wanted to do”…as in, I’m not sure that’s really how you do that.
I can really only describe it as an ‘artist’s block’ (yes, I find it humorous to think of, nonetheless call, myself an artist), though that seems to imply a blockage of vision when really it’s an ability to translate the intangible vision in your head to the tangible paper before you.
Does anyone else experience this when they approach the completion of a piece?
I’ve been finding more and more that I tend to work rather quickly when first starting a project (not much planning or thought, as to keep the process and experience as “organic” as possible), but then as the piece takes shape and I’m nearing it’s completion, I become more invested in where it’s heading and my pace slows down almost to a complete stop. There can be gaps of entire months before I take another stab at it, during which time I ponder my next move and, like a game of chess with my own unpredictable hand, envision all the possible outcomes, negative and positive.
I’m really curious if other people, especially those who work with illustration and graphics, often experience this point of slow down, and if so, if they find it’s better to listen to instincts and take the time to think out the final moves, or to just ‘override’ the blockage and see where you end up.
Okay, so I was a little surprised when I saw that my last blog entry was in MAY, but it’s not really that surprising—after all, summer so far has been crazy!
Anyway, for those wondering how my Paper Cup Challenge is going, it has been going, but very slowly. I was pretty good about work for a little while (though I haven’t been blogging about it), but my mind became so inundated with cartoony Andrea children book style animations that I really needed to switch gears for a bit—you know, reground myself. So, here’s a praying mantis for you:
This praying mantis actually started out completely different—imagine it brown/orange, flipped vertically, then flipped horizontally… actually, here, I’ll just post it:
Pretty different feel, right?
I began the drawing on a whim (a much needed break from a playground illustration in The Paper Cup Challenge) in order to test out some new chalk pencils I got, and I really had no intentions as to what I’d create. As I started on the pen, I saw a face and decided to go with it, and ended loosely crafting a running carrot with a hairy head. I mean, you see that, right?? (I josh, of course—as much as I’d love people to see that, I realize that everyone will probably see something different.) Actually, the praying mantis I ended up with came about when I was rotating the image and flipping the orientation in Photoshop, and my boyfriend pointed out how much it looked like a praying mantis. I’m not too familiar with praying mantises, but after I looked it up, I had to admit it was pretty uncanny, at least for an abstract unintentional drawing.
Needless to say, I grew attached to it and a praying mantis it will be. (Hairy running carrot, next time…)
I bet when you think of a full-tomato-sauce-blooded Italian plotting ways to duplicate beloved Indian dishes, your gut tells you that somebody’s had too much wine and should probably quit while they’re ahead. Personally speaking, this is pretty much true with every non-Italian dish I’ve ever attempted to make on my own (Asian, Thai, Japanese, Indian–you name it), but I recently came across a recipe that, through a few modifications based on my personal taste, seemed to finally break the barrier.
I’ve ‘tested’ this dish three times since my initial modifications, and have been pleased with the results each time. That said, I think this is a pretty solid–undoubtedly bastardized from what you’d actually be served in India, but solid nonetheless–version of the traditional Indian dish, Saag Paneer.
I invite all Italians and non-Italians and curious cats to give this one a try–despite all the text, this is really a simple dish to make and great for multi-tasking. (Also, in case you missed it, the original recipe can be viewed at the link above.)
- 1/2 medium to small onion, chop-mashed (in Andrea language, that means mined as finely as possible, and then mashed with a spoon)
- Approx. 1/2 tbsp. of garlic puree (this can be bought in small jars or paste tubes–try to purchase the one with the smallest ingredient list)
- Small nub of garlic, the size of a nickel or quarter, mined as finely as possible
- 1 lb. frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 cup plain milk yogurt (I’ve been using low-fat, but suspect that whole milk might actually be better for this recipe)
- 4 oz. buttermilk (makeshift buttermilk recipe here)
- 1 cup half and half
- 2 tsp. red chili powder
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 2-3 whole cloves
- 1/2 tbsp. (or less) of dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp. garam masala (4 tsp if you prefer spicier)
- 6 oz. paneer cheese
- Salt, to taste
- Grind onion, garlic and ginger into a fine paste, using a small food processor. NOTE: Even with the food processor, it’s difficult to get the onion into a paste (I even tried mashing it with a mortar and pestle but that didn’t do anything but make a mess). So once I got it into the Dutch Oven, I used an immersion blender to make it as fine as possible—this satisfied me [enough].
- In medium saucepan (I recommend a Dutch Oven), combine paste, spinach, yogurt, buttermilk, chili powder, garam masala, cinnamon stick, clove, and brown sugar. Simmer at medium heat for 20-30 minutes. I recommend half-covering the lid; stir occasionally.
- Mash the ingredients with an immersion blender (avoid destroying cinnamon stick) or potato masher. Add half and half, and simmer until mixture has creamy consistency, 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut paneer into 1/2-inch(ish) cubes.
- When mix seems creamy and a thicker consistency, add paneer. Simmer 5 minutes, and season with salt. Serve with naan and/or basmati rice. (I really like this dish with coconut basmati rice).
Yields 4-6 servings.
Like always, if you try this out and make your own successful alterations, be sure to post a comment! I’m curious as to what other non-Indians would change to get that delicious Saag Paneer taste
This is very long overdue. With finals and end-of-season performances at their peak, I’ve had less and less time to dedicate to my illustration endeavors.
In the spirit of the rain—er, or “in honor” of the rain—here is a set finished a while ago that I just haven’t gotten around to posting. Before:
Wow, now that I’m looking at this colored one again, what a horrendous color balancing job in did in PS (*tisk tisk*).
That said, as I go along, I realize more and more that my illustration style is probably better suited for digital color rather than colored pencils… something to keep in mind for the next project (that is, of course, if this EVER gets done).
Cup Challenge: 3 Down, 18 To Go (actually, there’s more down and less to go, but why be more confusing than it already is?)
(Yes, in a title such as this I was all about the irony… hehehe)
Anyway, I know I started my last blog like this, but… maaaaaan, it’s been so long!
Believe it or not, I have been working pretty regularly on illustrations, but the warm weather (and tax season) seems to suck away free time, and ultimately, I’m behind my self-declared ‘ideal’ schedule. I have almost exactly one month to finish up ‘The Paper Cup’ challenge, and at this point I can’t say whether it’s going to happen or not—either way, it’ll be close, and one step closer to the fun stuff (which for me, more than anything, is the layout/design).
I’ll try to post another picture tomorrow, but here is the snow pic I finished earlier in the week:
And just for curiosity’s sake, here’s the pre-color version:
Does anyone else think the yellow hat/scarf/gloves looks weird? To be honest, I’d envisioned it differently and thought maybe by now it’d grow on me, but it really hasn’t. The Damage-Control Department in my brain is telling me to add fun strips, some skinny, some fat, and also some loose threads, maybe even a hole…
By the way, thought I might mention that for anyone attempting to follow what these illustrations mean or where they go in the context of an mysterious story, quit while you’re ahead—it’s pretty random and I’m skipping around a lot, so without a real explanation as to what’s what (which I haven’t given), it’s pretty damn impossible.
Ah, it’s past 6! Where does the time goooooo? (I say, as if I plan to catch it.) Gotta run to a show now, so I’ll need to follow the tradition of keepin’ it short ‘n’ sweet
Man, it’s been awhile since my last post! Thought I would change it up a bit from my boring illustrations ( ) to something a bit more visually engaging.
I’m sure all these random video projects are a bit confusing, but this one–which is completely separate from the New Media Medicine videos I previously posted–is something I worked on last fall for the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL). The project was commissioned by CTL Executive Director Chris Caplice, and consists of four short videos that demonstrate different socioeconomic scenarios for our global economy. The fun part about it?–All the videos take place thirty years in the future!
Working with a great production team (Luis Blackaller, Max Wagenblass, Audubon Dougherty, Amy Strong, Brian Misiewicz, and many other wonderful people) and creative scripts conceptualized by the brilliant minds at MIT, I’m really happy with the finished product and wanted to share them. Hope you enjoy!
Global Marketplace Newscast on 2 November 2037
Technology Savior Newscast on 2 November 2037
Naftastique! Newscast on 2 November 2037
One World Order Newscast on 2 November 2037
I’ll admit, this doctor is a bit scary. I mean, look at those ear hairs… very welcoming. Overall, not really helped by his oddly disproportionate hands…
Something weird/interesting that I’ve found since switching to a smaller paper pad is that the paper texture is different… which is very odd since I got the same exact paper as I did last time (smooth bristol) except in a smaller size. I found that even though it’s supposed to be the same weight, type, and grain, it’s actually much smoother than my pervious pad. Has anyone else experienced this? I can’t quite figure out why the difference; it’s even the same brand! The smooth surface is really great for the pen work and I was especially pleased with the new paper until I started working with the color (there’s not much color in this particular illustration, thankfully, so ended up being a good ‘test run’ for me). With the paper being so smooth, the color smudged easily and it became 10x more important to pay attention to stroke direction and pressure. I found that even the white colored pencil was noticeable on this paper, and overall I had to be much more careful about when and how I was adding color.
Process aside, this illustration could really benefit from a proper photographing. Also, it wouldn’t have hurt to experiment a bit more with the doctor’s features… I’m not entirely happy with the way he turned out, but I think the point gets across all the same.
Aaaaalso, unexpected life occurrences prevented me from getting my third illustration done (on average, I should be completing 3 illustrations per week to make my deadline), so I’m now behind. But, what’s new?
I haven’t been blogging much lately mainly due to an increasingly busy schedule (seems that warmer weather somehow equals more errands, chores, etc.), but I’ve been working pretty comfortably throughout the week and just finished up my second illustration in the Cup Challenge–the smaller paper is the best decision I’ve made with so far. (Also, for those who actually pay attention to these details, I’m ditching the ‘day # of #’ because it seems more confusing that useful–announcing how many illustrations I have to go until my May 7 deadline seems much easier to follow.)
But anyway, here is a ‘rough mockup’* of the first illustration (…it must be every mother’s dream for their little boy’s room to be so tidy, colorful, and toyless… minus the gigantic paper cup her little boy had grown strangely fond of…):
*A’rough mockup’ to me means a couple things worth noting. For one, the picture is taken in terrible lighting (which I can’t do much about after the sun sets) and with a cheap digital camera. Then I take about 10 minutes in Photoshop to make whatever major adjustments seem absolutely necessary (not having taken a good photo to begin with, it seems sorta pointless to spend any significant amount of time in Photoshop)–in this particular illustration, I added the banana/cream wall color. I use the mockups as placeholders in my InDesign layout, later to be replaced with high quality photos taken with proper lights and given some real love in Photoshop. Until then, we’re stuck with this.
And since I mentioned the second drawing, here is the pen version:
…Slightly scary. Actually, quite scary.
I’ll post the colored version tomorrow along with the next sketch, so, stay tuned–more children terrified of horrifying doctors and scary needles to come!