So, one of the main reasons I started this blog was to get back in touch with my two-dimensional creative side (drawing, painting, and an almost new love for letters), right?
I remember feeling pulled in different directions when I first thought about what it would mean to marry drawing and painting to lettering. Besides thinking, “Here we go again with something else I want to learn…,” I also felt like I was trying to put together two entirely different animals in a cage that might not want to be together. Which would win? Speaking of animals, I did a drawing of some of the sheep at the local mill that I am affiliated with.
These will be printed on postcards by Moo and used in the gift shop at the mill. Sweet! I usually don’t draw or paint from photos because getting my subject to look lifelike is somewhat difficult for me. But the sheep kept going back into the barn, so I was glad I took my camera along that day.
Back to my yapping…Letters and images go together all the time in advertisements and books. But, for some reason, it was still stumping me how to do it in my own work in a way that works for me. On the first point of learning yet one more thing, I really enjoyed Sean McCabe’s Jack of All Trades podcast. Kinda cleared some things up. He described two types of Jacks. Like a Bad Jack and Good Jack. Bad Jack keeps trying stuff and has no focus. Good Jack tries his hand at things and develops focus for one thing at a time until he realizes whether he has a passion for that thing or not. I think I’m the good one. Sort of. I mentioned before that I do have another passion I maintain. I learn what I want to know about that subject in order to do what I want to do with it. That’s fair. And here, I’m trying to learn lettering-and watercolor now to go with my lettering…but I kind of lump them together since a lot of the lettering I want to learn is brush lettering anyway. That’s a little convoluted, but I’m just going to call myself Good Jack, okay?
On the second point, I’ve been looking for artists that have done and are doing this marriage of hand drawn/painted work and lettering successfully so that I can look to them for inspiration. New territory is much less scary when the road has been traveled before. The first one was Tommy Kane. As you saw in my last post, I got his new book AN EXCUSE TO DRAW. It’s packed full of his drawings with his handwriting all over them, discussing what he was experiencing and thinking at the time of his drawing. I found his style to be full of color, humor, and wit. I was kind of hooked. So, I decided to google for more inspiration.
Take a look at this piece by Holly Exley. First off, I love the way she uses watercolor. But, what I really enjoyed was that she’s elevating teacups to the point that they begin to resemble portraits and she’s using handlettering in the entire package! When I saw that my eyes widened the size of the saucers she had painted! I never could figure out why I wanted to paint a plastic bag of penny candy and a “freeze cup” or a package of ramen noodles like it was a painting of my mother or something. Or, further, why anyone would want to buy it (which totally happened)??? So you mean to tell me that my current insane desire to paint a Snickers bar is not totally off the wall? Well, now I am starting to feel like I’m not so weird after all. I just might actually fit somewhere. I mean a Snickers bar is not a teacup by any stretch of the imagination. But, somehow, it still feels a lot less weird.
I also enjoyed looking at Amy Holliday’s work. I didn’t necessarily find a lot of lettering in that piece. But, she painted that apple in multiple forms like she was studying for a test on apple anatomy. Reminds me of the old masters like da Vinci and Raphael, the works of which I cut my teeth on when I began art school. I still continue to do da Vinci-esque studies in my sketchbooks on occasion. Sometimes, you just want to see how things work. Loved seeing that!
These ladies have already developed a style that is very consistent in their work. I’m still on the lookout for mine, actually. All of my instructors told me they could recognize my work. I’m not really sure how because, when I make a piece, I just go with the medium. So, I don’t really notice a “style”, per se. I figure, the more work I do though, the more something will just evolve. At least it sounds good.
So here’s some of what I did this past week.
A banana, because fruit’s good for you. I put the banana on top of a white board to clear out all the distractions for myself. I liked it so much, I used the board the rest of the week.
Here’s another piece of fruit and some leaves that I had painted on the opposite page.
I stitched the two sketches together in Photoshop to make one sketch, which is what you saw in the leading photo. What was so interesting about this one was that that end leaf kept drying and shriveling the entire time! I never even noticed it except that every time I went back to it, it seemed that the shadows kept changing. When it finally registered that it was curling up on itself, I hurried up to finish it before there’d be nothing left to paint! Isn’t science interesting?
Lastly, here’s a little drawing of my son. My favorite of the bunch.
That is the ugliest, most comfortable couch in the entire world. It just hugs you like a big ol’ teddy bear.
I enjoy all these mediums and even all these subjects. Shame I have to pick just one if I want to develop a unique style? I love learning new things, so it’s only natural with the one life that I have here to just go ahead and engage. I may even become good at a few of them. As long as I give that subject the time it needs to see if it can serve a purpose in my life, I think I’m golden. And, when I think about it, I spent years in art school first. So, it’s not like I didn’t pursue it heavily without focus…After revisiting some of my older work this week, I am of the mind that that whole lettering and image smash-up could’ve been there all along anyway. So, I’m Good Jack. Right?
Well, I’ll have to figure that out later. I have a date with a Snickers bar.