Monday, November 3, 2014

Inktober Day 25: The Thief

The Thief!

Of course, not all the folk in the County of Corndale are as pious as those inside of Father Gregory's kirk. After reluctantly leaving the charming village behind it was time to start on their journey again. But Bartholomew and Cor hadn't gone more than a few miles before a sneaky thief came at them from behind! He had a sharp knife and intended to steal Bartholomew's precious coin. The thief was quick, but was no match for Bartholomew's strength and staff. And the thief fled in a hurry, taking only a small portion of the travelers' belongings. But not before Cor took a bite or two out of the mean Thief's hindquarters! No doubt, the Thief with a patch on his eye will think twice before attacking travelers with dogs in the future, you can be sure!

Inktober Day 24: The Kindly Cleric

The Kindly Cleric

Upon Sunday morn, Pilgrim and Cor heard the clear bells of the Corndale Castle kirk ringing. They thought that since it had been so long since they set upon their journey and that since they were now in a civilized village they should visit the kirk and pray for their journey ahead, that they might have good roads and fair weather. At the door, a Kindly Cleric by the name of Father Gregory met them with a kind smile and invited them in along with all the kind folk and creatures from the village. They left the kirk feeling encouraged and ready for the journey ahead.

Inktober Day 22: The Frog Jester

The Frog Jester

One of the many contestants in the Talent Contest was a Frog Jester by the name of Lloyd Turnbuckle. He was quite a juggler, the finest Cor had ever seen. And he had a magnificent baritone voice with which he sung light-hearted nonsense reels and jigs. Everyone was quite impressed with his feats, but all were surprised when he caught all of his juggling balls in mid-air one by one with his tongue and swallowed them whole! But he set everyone to laughing again when they discovered that they were bright red cranberries after all.

Inktober Day 21: Princess Penelope Flowerwood

Princess Penelope Flowerwood

Cor and Pilgrim decided that Corndale seemed like a cheerful place to stay for a few days, and it just so happened that it was the time of year that folk from all over the county celebrated the Harvest Festival. It was on the first day of their visit that they chanced to encounter the lovely Princess Penelope Flowerwood. She was known all over the county for her kindness and generosity to the countryfolk, and she was smiling as she greeted the two traveling strangers. They talked most amiably for a few moments, Pilgrim awkwardly and bashfully fidgeting, and Cor bowing like a gentledog should. Then she had to be off, for she was to judge a Talent Contest on the Village Green and the prize was to be a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers she had gathered herself...

Inktober Day 20: Bill Buttonstock, a Fellow Pilgrim

A Fellow Pilgrim

When Bartholomew and Cor entered the Village of Corndale, they were pleased to forsake the lonely and dangerous road for some cheerful company, good food and ale. In the village tavern, Bartholomew struck up a conversation with a Fellow Pilgrim, by name of Bill Buttonstock. They each shared tales of what they had encountered thus far on their travels, while Cor gnawed contentedly on a bone and discussed the latest gossip with the dogs who frequented the tavern with their masters.

Inktober Day 19: The Bat Knight

The Bat Knight

After making camp one night, both Cor and Pilgrim were startled and sat upright when far off in the distance they heard the beating of large, soft wings, and eerie screeching filling the night air. To their astonishment, in the pale moonlight they saw a dreadful sight - a black Knight upon a gigantic bat. He circled their campfire - once! Twice! Three times! and let out one last shriek and fled into the shadows. The two friends did not sleep well that night, and were glad to see that visitor leave.

Inktober Day 18: The Mushroom Healer

The Mushroom Healer

After meeting the despicable Cyclops, both Cor and Pilgrim were in dire need of medical attention. It was very fortunate indeed, when coming out of the forest they spied a graceful Healer from the Mushroom Village. Her remedies and gentle hand restored them to health quickly, and they thanked her for her kindness, and wished them good fortune upon their journey.

Inktober Day 17: Cyclops!


One of the many creatures that Bartholomew and Cor met upon their journey was the terrible Cyclops. He was less than courteous and put up a dreadful fight, blubbering on with something about "setting foot on his territory". It was not without some difficulty that the two heroes dispatched this cruel monster and quickly set off searching for a Healer to attend their wounds.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Inktober Day 16: Snail Joust!

Snail Joust!

One fine Saturday afternoon, Bartholomew and Cor stumbled upon a festive scene. The Annual Evergreenshire Snail Jousts had begun! It was an exciting time for all the spectators who had turned out in their finest and were enjoying the fine weather and the excellent faire food and drink. Cor and Bartholomew decided to stop a while and watch. The two contestants, Sir Herbert and Sir Ichabod and their brave steeds lined up at the start. And they were off! The two travelers were enthralled with the goings-on. They polished off several meat pies and ales, but after a couple of hours, they decided that they should be off. By Cor's estimation, it would be another hour or so before the contestants ever reached or unseated each other.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Inktober Day 15: Mole the Prospector

Mole the Prospector

When Bartholomew and Cor reached the Low Hills, they were surprised to find many empty shacks and old lifts and quarries. They quickly discovered that the Low Hills had been a mining colony for many years, and had been searched high and low for gold and precious metals. As they rounded the bend, they heard a high-pitched voice singing a song:
"Gold and gems are hard to find,
when eyes are weak and almost blind,

but dig we will, and find we must!
If pickaxe breaks and shovels rust,

Then paw and claw I'll dig and there
In dirt 'twill be wealth past compare!

The Travelers learned that Mr. Mole the Prospector had been searching for gold most all his life, but hadn't found any quite yet. But he didn't mind, because he also found other useful things in the ground, like worms, beetles, and root vegetables that made tasty stews. He invited them to stay for some, but the two friends politely declined!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Inktober Day 14: The Old Hermit

The Old Hermit

The Old Hermit is a fellow who lives in the Forest, it is rumored to be Easterwood. Occasionally he will appear in a village or two, but disappears quickly into the wood. No one knows much about his life, except some strange rumors about his former life as a wizard in the service of a long-forgotten prince. While at court, his powers and abilities were sought after by disreputable nobles who wanted to destroy the kingdom. After a series of terrible events, the old man forsook his life of deception and greed and fled to other lands.
Now he seeks to live a life of peace and solitude in the forest, but he fears that one day his past will come back to find him and he will have to reckon with the forces that nearly destroyed him...

Inktober Day 13: The Scholarly Mouse

The Scholarly Mouse

One of the many fantastical creatures and folk that the Pilgrim and his canine companion encountered upon the road was a Mouse. He was a Scholarly Mouse, and he was in a Dreadful Hurry. He paused only briefly to say good day to the Travelers and they asked him where he was going and why he was moving so quickly. He explained in a hasty voice that he was on his way to a convention of the College of Mice who were about to have an extensive week of lectures on Astronomy and its Uses for More Productive Grain Harvest. Although this puzzled Cor and Bartholomew, they didn't have time to discuss it because with that, the Scholarly Mouse disappeared around the bend.

Inktober Day 12: The Salamander Drake

The Salamander Drake

Cor and Bartholomew soon encountered some stranger parts of the Road, which led them into the Undergrowth Forest, an ancient wood whose ground was covered in fallen timbers from ages past. Growing from these ancient giants were luminous fungi of all types and strange plants which looked dangerous to even touch. Amongst these odd surroundings crept giant Salamander Drakes, great fire-breathing creatures who generally shied away from the travelers as they passed them. But the two friends knew that it was in their best interest to move on to healthier parts of the Wood before danger overtook them...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Inktober Day 11: Howard the Discouraged Bear

Howard, the Discouraged Bear
After bidding farewell to the gracious Lumberjack and his Wife, Cor and Bartholomew traveled for several miles down the road. One afternoon, they met a Bear, who wore a suit of mail and a little dented helmet. By the way his sword drooped and the dejected look on his bear face, the Travelers decided that they should see what was the matter with this poor fellow.

Upon talking with the bear, they learned that his name was Sir Howard, and he was a Very Discouraged Bear. He told Bartholomew and Cor that he had been seeking adventure for some time after the Lady of Beetlewood proclaimed him a Knight of the Forest. But it seemed that just when he would hear of some exciting quest he would feel a great yawn coming on, and drowse off to sleep! Or when a damsel was in distress, his stomach would growl loudly, and he would notice some tempting berries in the hedgerow. 

And so Howard, the Discouraged Bear admitted that he didn't feel very Knightly after all, and more like a plain old hungry, sleepy Bear. Bartholomew promptly told him that he needn't be discouraged, and that lots of knights got hungry and sleepy, but they usually ate and slept well before going on adventures. And that he should not give up being a Knight, but keep on doing good deeds for folk in the forest who were in need. Howard seemed to take heart at this good word of advice, and invited Cor and Bartholomew to come to the hedgerow for a late-morning snack of blackberries.

Inktober Day 10: A Well-Needed Rest

A Well-Needed Rest

The Kindly Lumberjack Thaddeus led Bartholomew and Cor to his homey cottage not far from the road. The windows were glowing with warm lamp light as it started to rain outside. The smell of delicious stew was overpowering! After they ate and graciously thanked the Lumberjack's wife Elouise for the hardy meal she had prepared, they lay next to the warm fire with packs for pillows, and the aroma of the Lumberjack's pipe and the crackle of the fire lulling them into a deep slumber. The Kindly Mr. and Mrs. Lumberjack of Evergreenshire were happy to once again share what they had with guests from the Road.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Inktober Day 9: The Kindly Lumberjack

The Kindly Lumberjack

After the incident with the Horrible Caterpillar, both Bartholomew and Cor were exhausted. They had already traveled many miles, and had faced even more unusual things than they had previously imagined. Their muscles ached from walking and carrying their heavy packs, and it was growing dark. Not to mention the fact that the sky was starting to spit rain at them.
Just as the travelers thought they might have to sleep in a hollow log for the night, a jovial voice called from the trees: "Hullo There!" And with that, a red-faced fellow with a bushy mustache and a sharp axe came into view. He introduced himself as Thaddeus the Lumberjack of Evergreenshire. The travelers were indeed thrilled to find a friend at last on this tiresome road, and he invited them to stay with him and his wife for the night. Bartholomew gladly accepted, but Cor was the first one to start for the cottage, because he could already smell the stew on the fire!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Inktober Day 8: The Horrible Caterpillar

The Horrible Caterpillar

After a few days of peaceful travel, Bartholomew and Cor began to think that perhaps the Forest Road wasn't as dangerous as they had once thought. The memory of the Fox Prince was beginning to fade in their minds.

But when a new terror came crashing through the trees, they had little time to think of the Fox or anything else for that matter. For suddenly a horrible Caterpillar with dreadful stinging spines came upon them ferociously. The travelers drew their trusty swords and did quick work of the soft-bellied creature, but his poison did both of them very little good. Shaken, the friends surveyed the soiled ground and realized that alone, their efforts would have all been in vain. In their future travels the incident of the Horrible Caterpillar was often good for a laugh, but only because the dread of the beast was far behind them.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Inktober Day 7: The Fox Prince

The Fox Prince

As the forest grew thicker and darker, a chill spread through the shadows. Cor began sticking closer to Bartholomew, and growled a bit. He could smell trouble. Suddenly, in a break in the underbrush, they spied a strange, darkly cloaked figure. But strangest of all was his face - a Fox! And above his head an eerie golden apparition of a crown. 
Suddenly the Bard's strange song came back to Bartholomew: 

"Once a prince, now rules alone, 
Cursed to wander, road his home,

Human form now laid to rest,
The Fox Prince stalks, both croft and nest,

For greed his heart hath all-consumed
and greed will be his waking doom.

But raiding coop and stripping vine,
Is only his to bide the time

For on future day of vengeance near,
Will Prince reclaim all he holds dear"

The strange fox let out a strange cry upon spying the travelers, and dashed into the deep forest. Both Cor and Pilgrim were glad to say farewell to that horrible creature, but Cor's sharp mind had suspicion that they would see him again far too soon...

Inktober Day 6: The Lady of Beetlewood

The Lady of Beetlewood

Pilgrim and Cor bid farewell to the Bard the next morning, and went on their way. They came to a clear spot along the road mostly devoid of trees, and spied a great black mound coming toward them. As they got closer, they realized it was giant beetle! It moved at a moderate, jerky pace and towering above the travelers was a rider - an elegant lady of about twenty with a broad hat.

She halted a moment and hailed the travelers. Her name was Lady Eleanor of Beetlewood and she informed them that she was returning from Stumptown where she was clearing up some diplomatic disturbances between a clan of Black Bears and the Shepherdess of the Bees. Cor was none too pleased with the strangeness of the beetle before him, but refrained from doing anything rash to annoy the hulking horned beast. Before departing, the kind Lady admonished them to stay to the road, as there had been reports lately of a strange figure wandering the woods...

Inktober Day 5: The Friendly Bard

The Friendly Bard

Upon leaving the Mushroom village behind, Bartholomew & Cor encountered a friendly bard singing in a clearing in the woods. He had a cheery demeanor and an equally cheery campfire, and as it was growing late, the Bard invited the two to share the warmth of the blaze.
They quickly made friends with the musical fellow, who informed them that the road ahead through the forest was very long and not always as pleasant as the miles they had traveled so far. As the weary Pilgrim and his canine companion drifted away to sleep, the Bard struck up a strange song that blended into the orange flames of the fire as their tired eyes closed. The last bit that Pilgrim remembered was snatches of a verse about a strange prince... and an equally strange curse...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Inktober Day 4: Mushroom Guard

Mushroom Guard

Leaving the outskirts of the village behind, Pilgrim & Cor encounter a large wooden gate. It is not too imposing, but the stern nature of the Mushroom Guards that stood there informed the duo that it would be better to mind their manners when addressing them.
After a few moments' parlay, the Guards were convinced of the Travelers' harmless intention and allowed them to enter the strange little settlement...

Inktober Day 3: Farmer Fungi

Farmer Fungi - And Faithful Companion.

Upon the Forest Road, Pilgrim & Cor happen upon a strange sight - A village entirely populated by large mushroom folk!
The first citizen of this fair burg that they encounter is a farmer. He seems friendly enough, although he is a bit shy. He reassures his pet... beetle? that the Pilgrim & Dog mean no harm. But it's not often that the Fungi folk see a human walking in their village. Cor & Pilgrim note that although this fellow is friendly, he is slightly witless. Everyone knows that you cannot plant seed with a pitchfork. But perhaps that is merely one of the strange ways of the Forest people.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Inktober Day 2: Cor - Outcast of the Royal House of Pembroke

Cor - Outcast of The Royal House of Pembroke

Inktober Day 2 - I was struggling to make myself work on today's drawing - you know the feeling. You get home from a long day of work at your day job, or you've been busy with other artwork. It's hard to make yourself take time to bring a personal vision to life. But it felt really good to get this little guy drawn. He's a character I've been honing in my sketchbook for a while, and this is his debut!

Cor - Outcast of The Royal House of Pembroke. He's Bartholomew's traveling companion and is very handy with a sword. They seek adventure and strange lands on the Road!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Inktober Day 1: The Pilgrim

The Pilgrim - Bartholomew by Name, Son of the Road

Inktober is upon us again! I can't believe this is the 4th year I've participated in Inktober. I've been doing some sketching up to this point, so I've got a few ideas to draw from in the next few days. Honestly, this really feels more like a warm-up image - I feel pretty rusty, and I'm afraid it shows. Also, I'm using mainly Micron pens this time around, so I'm planning to draw a little smaller maybe? I'll be playing around with technique in the next few days, so hopefully I'll hit my stride. 

Anyway! Here you go. Number one - looking forward to tomorrow's already!
I'm enjoying seeing everyone's awesome drawings (they're so great!). If you'd like to share yours with me send me a link! I'd love to see them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Recent Drawings!


Well, it's been a while since my last post! Here's a quick photo dump of some drawings I've done in the past couple of months. To be honest, I've had a difficult time keeping myself drawing. But I'm trying to get into more personal work. From the top: Davy Crockett, Girl with an Umbrella, and Smudge the Rabbit from a recent Story Warren post.

Enjoy, and look for more posts very soon. Because INKTOBER is upon us!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Story Warren - Guest Illustration

Hi there gang! Here's a quick blog post to tell you about a thing I did a few weeks ago - an illustration for Story Warren, a website devoted to fostering children's imagination through storytelling. You may have already seen the story that ran on June 27th, but if you'd like to check out the full post you can find it here.

It was a super fun piece to work on, and I really have to thank Zach Franzen for not only asking me to do the piece, but also providing some excellent art direction! Looking forward to possibly doing more for Story Warren in the future.

In the meantime, I have got lots of things going on, like potential new projects in the works! I'll try my best to keep you updated with new work - I know the blog has been dormant for a while. I just returned from a 10-day tour of Scotland as well, which was magnificent and life-changing! I'm hoping to post some photos from that just as soon as I can, but for now, check out this blog for a general idea of what we did:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Black Chow - Charcoal Study

Today was a pretty difficult day. Just a lot of discouragement. In life, it's easy to lose your perspective and focus on things that don't particularly matter. Today was one of those days for me. I'm in the middle of a season of life where I am trying to find my direction as an artist. The danger in knowing what you want to do as an artist is the fact that you think it will come instantly. Of course,
that's never the case. What you will achieve will be the result of hard work and perseverance. 
So on days like today, when the art doesn't flow as freely out of my brain, my first reaction is to assume that I won't make it because a particular drawing isn't working. But that of course is nonsense. 

Sometimes you just need to reorder your priorities. And don't quit or give up just because it's not easy! There's something to be said for taking a break, but don't use that as an excuse to not work hard.
So, after some false starts, I finally knocked out this little drawing, and everything was okay again in Will's illustration world. (Haha).

Here is a study of a black chow for an illustration that I'm doing for an upcoming book project. Did this one in charcoal in my Moleskine sketchbook. I've been using charcoal more lately because I like the ease with which it creates deeper values, and the softness of the application.
Animals are so much fun to draw! It seems like every time I draw one I enjoy it immensely. ADs! Hire me to do your animal projects! ;)

And finally, I thought I would share this album with you. I've played it twice today, and it really was fantastic. I've never been a huge fan of Beck, but this latest album is great music to create to. Give it a listen:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sketch Dailies: "Selfie"

Today's Sketch Dailies topic was "Selfie". I chose to do a portrait in the style of Hergé, the creator of the Belgian comics series "Tintin". His work has a very flat, linear quality. I adored his books as a kid, and still do.

I completed this 100% digitally in Photoshop (CS6! Yay, I upgraded!) and the background is a scan from a vintage Childcraft book.

Be sure and pick up a Tintin book and read it sometime! You won't be sorry. Here, see for yourself:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Daily Sketch

At the risk of posting too much, and exposing myself to ridicule, here is a recent sketch I did.

I really want to start doing a drawing every day. To improve my overall drawing ability, especially in the area of figures, faces & hands. Of course, my lazy human self would rather gaze into an unending Twitter feed, or go eat junk food. But if I can manage to pull myself away from all the dreadful distractions of this modern era we live in, I sometimes manage to do something half decent in my sketchbook.

It had been far too long (shamefully) since I drew a portrait from photo reference. So I felt pretty rusty and (full disclosure) I stretched this one out over a couple of days. I would come back and adjust things here and there. Overall I liked it. Still not sure about that left eye though...

And if you're wondering why this thing isn't COMPLETELY RENDERED, then I'll refer you to my friend and colleague the great Mr. Gregory Manchess: "On Knowing When to Stop"

Hope to post more Daily Drawings in the future!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Pecos Bill: Comic Book Cover Process

Right after Christmas I was invited to contribute a variant cover to the Pecos Bill kid's comic book series created by Brian DuPont. Brian's Pecos Bill series explores the possibility that the legendary Pecos Bill lived throughout the centuries, and still has tall-tale adventures in the modern era. Throw in a steam-powered jet-pack named Widowmaker (created by inventor Nikola Tesla), and you have a pretty exciting adventure series.

The idea really appealed to me, so I went to work on a cover for Issue #3. The style I ended up with was a lot different than the work I usually do, but I was pleased with the finished product. I painted it from start to finish entirely in Photoshop.

Here are some progress shots to give you a small taste of the way this thing was put together:

I started out with a really tiny thumbnail sketch or two, and a digital color comp (that's pretty important in any color work I do. Really serves as a guide when I go into the painting stage).

The linework, completed digitally. This was a new step for me, but digital comic art linework is actually pretty great, especially if you have a brush that has a bit of variance and texture in it to simulate a real pen. I used one from this set by Shaun Bryant: 

This is a pretty big jump from the last image, but hopefully you sort of get the idea. I start out with painting large areas of flat color. Then I use those areas as selections in order to paint details, more color, and texture over the flat color. The background is made up of some gradients, spatter brushes (for stars) and hand-painted comets! (soft brush+texture brush for tail). Nothing fancy!

So there you have it! I had to complete the entire piece in about 3 weeks in order to meet the deadline, so that was a challenge. I look forward to exploring comics further in the future. 

In the meantime, consider contributing to Brian's Kickstarter campaign - you can receive a print copy of my cover if you donate a little more! Check out the campaign here: 

And you can learn more about Brian and his comics here: 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fisherman's Song

As you may recall, last year I completed a new series of four new drawings to add to my portfolio. These were also included in the sketchbook "Drawing the Sword" which I also released last year. As part of that effort, I began coloring these pieces digitally. This was the only one I completed, but I really enjoyed the process, and I love the way the colors came out on it. I also submitted this piece, along with my Winter Dragon piece to the Spectrum Annual this year. It was my first submission to the publication.

Above is a bit of the progress that took it from basic idea to finished drawing. Unfortunately I don't have any WIP shots of the coloring process, but basically it involved large areas of flat color, then working my way up to the highlights and details with some various color adjustment layers over the finished color.

I wanted to convey sort of a carefree summer feeling with this piece. My brothers and I spent countless summer days exploring creeks and woods together when I was a kid. It's good to get out and explore your world. It makes you feel truly alive. That's what this Fisherman is up to with his turtle friend. They're just out there to enjoy the fresh air and to have a good time with each other!

Hope you like it!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sketch Dailies: Sherlock

Hi everyone! It's been too long since my last blog post, so I apologize. Here is a quick thirty minute sketch I did today for "Sketch Dailies", a sketch challenge over on Twitter. Sherlock Holmes has long been a favorite of mine. I love A. Conan Doyle's stories, and I have several different volumes of Holmes' adventures. I will occasionally break them out and dive into the London Fog along with the sleuth and the ever faithful Dr. Watson (preferably on rainy, windy nights like tonight!) Anyway, this was just a super fast drawing in my sketchbook with some Photoshop icing on top. Also, you'd be surprised how much contrast and mood you can get using only 3 colors...

In other news, I've been working on projects that I haven't had time to post about (more soon maybe?). I just completed a variant comic book cover for an indie comic artist, which was a lot of fun. I'm in negotiations to begin illustrating a collection of short stories for a local author. I'll be doing some interior illustrations along with a full-color cover. It's going to be a bit time-consuming, and the deadline is in April, so I'm eager to get started soon. 

And finally, I submitted to Spectrum for the first time! It's doubtful that I'll be accepted into the annual book, but the act of submitting was a big deal for me. I submitted two pieces that I did last year. I'll keep you posted on any news about that.

Okay! Well, glad you stopped by! Hope to have more art up soon. Now, back to painting! 



Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bird of Paradise - Experiment in Gouache

A quick color experiment in gouache from the other night. Didn't have a specific purpose in mind for this one, except to try out the new gouache set I got for Christmas! I absolutely love gouache. I think I'll be using it much more in the future. It's easy to achieve bold color with, and you can work in some cool textural effects. However, this style is certainly not original to me, and I don't know if it's a style I really have any business working in. Anyway, what do you think?

In other news I visited this amazing Donato Giancola exhibit in Huntsville, AL today. It was terrific, and I couldn't believe how nearby an exhibit of this caliber was! It was definitely worth the trip. If you're going to be in or around Huntsville before January 19th, be sure and check it out.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A New Year, and a New Outlook

This week has been filled with introspection and self-evaluation. I imagine you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who's week hasn't been filled with introspection and self-evaluation, but I guess that's beside the point. What I'm really getting at is that although last year was a huge year for me in artistic growth and progress, I feel like I have a huge amount to learn before I can even begin to do illustration for a living.

In 2013 I completed my first-ever printed sketchbook. It was a big accomplishment for me. As a project, it was primarily a study in conceiving and executing a project from start to finish. I was thrilled to have a printed collection of my drawings in hand. It made me realize that seeing my work in print is one of the things that really makes me happy. Just the fact that my pictures are getting out into the hands of people and making them happy was a huge accomplishment to me.

That being said, there were many things about the project that felt hurried. While the drawings represented my personal voice as an artist, there were still elements about the drawings that felt forced. Areas of skill that still feel shaky. Foundation work needed where there was none. Now I'm not saying this to completely shoot down my Sketchbook. But I want to make it clear that although it was a great accomplishment for me personally, I think it was a wee bit... premature.

In recent years, I've been forcing myself to create finished pieces. Planning full-scale works has been beneficial, but all too often I've found myself working through a piece and figuring out the basics as I go, simply hoping to come through at the end with a good piece.

What I find lacking in my work is mainly due to the absence of regular practice. Meaning, every time I do a finished painting, I realize that there are things that I am inexperienced at that are contributing to the difficulty of the piece. A finished painting is not the place to learn anatomy or color theory. Yes, I will come out of that piece knowing more about it, but I will actually be doing myself a disservice by putting pressure on myself to perform without rehearsing.

So, I feel like the last week has given me an opportunity to reflect and identify needs in my whole approach to art-making. While I still feel like I need to be creating new pieces, and building my portfolio, I definitely need to spend much more time improving my skills along the way.

Since I am primarily self-taught, it is up to me to find the best ways to practice skills like proper use of color, anatomy, image composition, and new materials and techniques. My question is: how can I consistently maintain a habit of practice in these areas? What are specific ways I can bring my work up to a standard that I'm pleased with?

I intend to start answering some of these questions myself, but I think I'll be also reaching out to other illustrators, art directors and you for answers! What are some ways you commit to daily practice? What skills do you find essential in your own work? Feel free to voice your opinions in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook. I'm interested in hearing your ideas for goals and ideas for making 2014 the most productive year for illustration that we can!

As always, Onward and Upward, and I wish you all the best in your New Year!



And finally: I offer these brief articles that I read today relating to this topic of New Year's goal-setting, improvement, and resolutions that I greatly enjoyed and benefited from. I hope you will too. - A great article on using your time wisely to accomplish your artistic goals. - "Do and Do Not" A pragmatic method for self-improvement by Lamp Post Guild co-founder Mark Johnson - Mike Yamada & Victoria Ying - I recently discovered their art and their informative blog. They are committing to teaching and mentoring through podcasts, blog articles, and Q&A's this year, and their theme is helping artists maintain their New Year's Resolutions.