I was recently given the "assignment" by my agent to create a new piece for a postcard mailing. The Agency does this 3 or so times a year (as we all should!!) and they usually like to give their artists some kind of theme or prompt to work off of. This time it was "an act of kindness". Very broad, and the possibilities are endless! These are great prompts for artists to run with and really make their own.
Personally, I hadn't made a personal piece of art in quite awhile due to a lot of paid work, so I was excited for the opportunity to make something all for myself. I am usually the kind of person who gets going on a project pretty quickly and I have the problem of not spending enough time on the idea/concept of a piece and spend a lot of my time on rendering the final piece of art. This usually makes for a nice looking piece, but not with a lot of substance.
So this time I gave myself several days (instead of maybe 1 day at most) to brainstorm and researching what my idea was going to be. I googled "acts of kindness" and "random acts of kindness" and got a lot of very simple ideas that didn't lend itself to a very good narrative idea. Things like writing a nice note to someone. Although that can mean the world to someone who needs it, it doesn't really read visually as a single piece or 2 pieces at most.
I wanted to go for something a little more impactful and unexpected. Maybe something ironic? All I knew for sure was I wanted to draw animals – my favorite! So the question was what would a specific animal specifically do as an act of kindness. I came up with a few ideas, some usable, some not so much. In my research I came across a list of "acts of kindness" that listed "donating blood". I immediately thought of a vampire bat and laughed to myself at how ironic that was. I had my idea!!
Now to sketch out my ideas in the sketchbook. I tried several ideas of how I wanted to tell the story. In the end, I didn't want a lot of action because, well, when you give blood, there isn't a lot of action. Instead I wanted a still image so people could read it more slowly and let the idea of it sink in.
Then I picked a color palette. I knew I wanted to blood to really pop, so I let everything else in the image be cooler colors so they'd fall into the background compared to the bright red blood. I used the Adobe Kuler website to find my palette. It's a great site to make your own palettes or search for palette that others have put together. I also found some reference art that match the palette I was looking for.
After spending a lot of my time planning, and thinking, I finally got started on clean sketches, color sketches, and final paintings (done in acrylic). I'm happy how these turned out, and I think I have a better concept because I spent the time on the front end to allow myself to just think about it for awhile. Try it!