Saturday, 6 June 2015

I've nearly finished my book, so i'm going to take the liberty of writing my self evaluation for my final project.

This project has taken a long time. It's covered both terms of my third and final year, which means I've been doing the same project for nearly 40 weeks. It's gotten slow now towards the end (I can't lie) but I think that this final push (BA7 and BA8) has been the most productive project I've ever done in my three years at NUA. It's been a bumpy ride of self-discovery, and for years before the third year I always wondered what that used to mean. I know now, and I am more aware of what I can do, what I can accomplish, and I always get pleasantly surprised at what I can produce when I set my mind to it.
When I started 'Inferno' last year, it was kind of like a revelation as I stumbled across the poem, it's story and awesome characters on Wikipedia. I knew this was a project that I could sink my teeth in to, because it had all the themes I was really interested in (religion, the occult, plenty of room for symbology, a vast array of sources for inspiration and many ways I could re-tell this epic poem) and unfortunately that also meant that I set unreasonably high targets for myself at the start. I was really pleased with the 81% grade I got for BA7, so I assumed that I could go all out and produce tonnes of characters and loads of environmental pieces. I really don't know what happened, but after starting back after Christmas (with the intention of going all out for BA8) I got scared of my project and it began to look very daunting. I got 'Ostrich Syndrome' and buried my head in the sand, began looking for excuses to almost 'productively procrastinate', so I was drawing (but it wasn't related to what I should be doing). Baby steps were in order, and slowly but surely it took me pretty much until Easter to sort out what I was doing and actually make things for my document.

Because of the extreme guilt and anxiety I put myself through (for not doing work, when actually what I was producing was okay) I ended up enrolling in counselling sessions at the Norwich Centre for 8 weeks, which should tide me over until hand-in. Unfortunately the sessions only aided as a catalyst in that rapid journey of self-discovery, and at the beginning they only made me more depressed. About four weeks ago I decided to start a course of medications to ease my depression and anxiety, and oh boy - I wish I'd started these a long time ago. Where I was having panic attacks and leaving the room when my peer's work was 'better' than mine, adrenaline rushes and no appetite if I'd forgotten to do something as menial as the washing up or ironing, complete black and white emotions - I only now have various shades of grey, there is no bipolarity any more, and I feel a lot more in control than I ever was before.

These last few weeks have been fantastic in regards to work, I've been really productive, not beaten myself up if I've had a night off, and the hate I had for the artwork I produced when it got to that stage of 'meticulously detailing and over-rendering' things over Easter has completely subsided. Most of the insecurity about my project and my artwork has gone, and  I refuse to let this evaluation be a negative self-criticism and list of things I'm disappointed in.

Sure there are going to be things I would have done better - such as recording my thoughts, ideas, successes and failures a bit better (reflective journal), and I wish I'd drawn more in my sketchbook because it was such an effective outlet during BA6 and BA7. I do wish I'd 'let myself go' in my paintings, and expressed myself a bit more, and stayed true to my more painterly style. I do wish I'd done more work on my environments, even though it was an alien subject to me. All of these things felt like a very hard thing to do (possibly due to my mood, fear of the end, self-punishment, I'm not sure) but I know now that the work I did produce is pretty good and very consistent with the theme that I set out to achieve in BA7. The informed decisions I decided to make (such as cutting out the environments portion of my art book) have only benefitted my project, and I only feel slightly guilty that I have not managed to follow through with them.

It's taken my three years to find out about myself, to know that what I can do is special, to know that I can draw well, and that it is okay to not have the same skill set as someone else, (even though what they have is desirable to me) - because someone else will see that about my own work. If there's one thing that's remained over these three years, and even more so in these last few months - I still know that I need to do something creative. I have developed a style, I have developed taste, I have developed as much as an artist as I have a person. I now can present my work in a way that looks professional, I have a great understanding of design software and I have experimented and worked out methods that allow me to produce a great image with speed and creativity. I am now a lot more confident in marketing myself as an employable person, I have a great portfolio and a piece of work that I can show to any prospective employers or higher education establishments.

BA8 has been the biggest push for me as a person and an artist. But I think that the biggest achievement BA8 has given me the tools to now take myself forward with my head held high, full of confidence, and the ability to speak with pride and confidence about my art work, which is something I really struggled to do until now. I am so proud to have been part of NUA for three years, and it been the biggest step in my journey. I will miss this.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

My friend and colleague Jennie helped me find some long lost-inspiration - she showed me some work by Sir Alfred Gilbert:

These beautiful statues are very similar to the aesthetic I wanted to produce in my art work. I love the statue at the top of the woman, she gives off exactly the kind of air that I would like Beatrice to produce.

Satan fell behind in my list of characters to illustrate, and I decided that I could incorporate him in to my environmental pieces (as he is bound in hell) as essentially part of the environment.

Since slowly working, it became easier to not develop environments as well - I do not have the work ethic to produce that amount of work, and I felt like I was making myself feel bad because I was setting myself too high a task to complete. I decided that it was a wise choice to remove environments from my final submission! :(  It makes me feel a little sad but now I know that it was easier to focus on one thing (my characters), instead of forcing myself to apply a massive amount principles to something completely different.
After my crash course in environments (see previous post) I decided to block out some environments on Maya 2015 wit the intention of painting over them. I was really trying out composition, and using something to tie perspective on to (since it's not one of my strong points).

The above renders were for the scene at the start, when Dante and Virgil met in the forest. (The person on the plinth could be exchangeable for Beatrice as well). I lit the scene accordingly.

These were for another level in hell. I liked the giant crystals, as it reminded me of the crystal cavern in Mexico:

And the below renders were for the entrance to hell, keeping consistent with Doré's engraving of the Gates of Hell. 

And then I had fun making textures and ended up with a fabulously 90's computer game:

I liked the fast sketches in the Destiny book, with basic colour overlays:

SO I did a sheet of ways to combine drapery and armour. I noticed that in the book, the developers of Destiny mentioned a cloth : armour ratio depending on what class the player chooses. I liked this idea, and I could incorporate it in to my three main characters:

Dante would have 80% armour, as he is the one that's scared and afraid of his journey.

Virgil would have 50% armour to cloth, as he's settled more and uses his voice and assertiveness more than actual violence (so less armour would be needed).

Beatrice is a very aesthetic character, and she can have 90% cloth as she does not appear in hell, but is still strong willed and a 'defender' of the peace, so a small amount of armouring would aid the design of her character.

I feel that after doing this sheet, it's been hard to stay true to the gothic, bondage-esque style that I incorporated in to my initial design ideas. This will be something to work on as I produce more, possibly uncomfortable and fetishist costumes.

After coming to a halt (again) with design, I produced these "final design" sheets, which - in hindsight - is just another version of the iterations that i'd already done. This was getting quite laborious, drawing the same thing three or four times over.

I spoke to my tutors again and carried on with my counselling, and we worked out that I either needed a break, or I needed some new inspiration. I was hesitant to look at Destiny's artwork, as it was already very close to what I wanted to produce (just more gothic and twisted). But my course mate Luan let me borrow his art book, and it certainly got the creative juices flowing again.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Some more iterations I did after reading the Destiny book:

These were a lot looser and more successful. I could feel that they were easier to produce and I actually enjoyed making them, rather than the previous ones (where I was just re-drawing the original designs in more and more laborious detail).

Some of the images I produced during this stage were some "final images" which actually weren't final at all. They were made in black and white, had very stretched values, and took me about 10 hours each to do (too long for a piece of concept art) as I constantly went back over areas in even more detail.

Although I've included them in the final book, I actually got quite sick of them after a while, because i'd felt like I'd spent far too long on them and not produced anything along the lines of what I wanted.

Now I look back on them, they aren't terrible at all, and I see them as more of an 'experiment gone wrong' than a failed piece of concept art.