Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Impenetrable Fortress

A few paintings I recently completed . Both from Dimplemeyer's Design. There is only one full spread image, that of the impenetrable fortress which Glassandra puts her glass heart to keep safe.

I'm pretty pleased with the fortress illustration so I will be adding it to my website portfolio.
Just like I was taught in college, I have as many of the design elements in there as I could get:

light side, dark side;
warm side, cool side;
less saturated in the distance, more saturated in the foreground;
hard edge, soft edge
organic, geometric
detail, suggestion

I think it deserves an "A"... don't you think?

"Over the ensuing months, an Egyptian architect and his supervisors joined Valaleyan craftsmen and laborers in raising, as fast as they could, a citadel so impenetrable that even they would be unable to breach it. Miraculously, minutes before the nine months elapsed, the fortress was born."
"And through each other the princess and her knight saw heaven."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

On The Struggle with Writing

Since one of my resolutions is to start "writing" my own stories this year, let's start with some encouraging words. Or maybe they aren't for you, but I found them to be.

This is taken right from another blog that I follow: Temple of the Seven Golden Camels, a blog about storyboarding, story and animation. It was written so well I didn't want to try and summarize it, so you can just read it for yourself. 
The eminent novelist Philip Roth announced that, after spending a lifetime writing, he has decided to retire. In an interview with the New York Times, he gave some interesting reasons for why he's decided to give up writing every day. Among his statements were the following excerpts:

"It's enough. I no longer feel this dedication to write what I have experienced my whole life. The idea of struggling once more with writing is unbearable to me."

"Writing is frustration — it's daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It's just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time ... I can't face any more days when I write five pages and throw them away. I can't do that anymore."

I've never worked with Brad Bird, but I've heard from people who have that he's been known to say that "Story is pain".

Writing anything - or constructing any kind of story - is, inevitably, more re-writing than actual writing (and the same thing goes for storyboarding, of course). For every step forward there's always two, three, four or fifty steps backwards. Every element of a story is always in flux as you're writing: the characters constantly change to fit the story better, or as you get to understand them better, and the same goes for the settings, the events, the dialogue, and every other aspect as well.

I hope this doesn't seem like a discouraging way to start's not meant to be.  Hopefully it's the opposite - I find it encouraging to hear that everyone goes through the same thing - even a celebrated novelist! There's no easy way through writing a story, and no shortcuts or tricks. Just a lot of doing....and re-doing and re-doing and re-doing. It's not easy. But hearing that everyone - no matter how accomplished - suffers with the same problems and struggles the same way makes me feel better. It makes me feel like I'm not doing it wrong...that's just the only way to write and create a story out of nothingness. And the same is true of storyboarding anything. To be a good storyboard artist, I think you need to be born with that innate burning desire to make things as good as they can possibly be, and a sense that things could always be improved. More than any other talent or skill - the ability to draw, or a knowledge of film making - to be a good story artist, I think one needs lots of stamina and resolve.

What I need to remember is that writing is a struggle for even the writer, and will always be so. It's something that I just have to work through, just like any illustration that I create. When I create illustrations for a book, I like to think of it as a big puzzle I'm piecing together. There's no definitive end product to that puzzle as to how it's supposed to look (every image will turn out different than originally imagined), but it does have an end and I just have to put enough of the right pieces together to get there. It's a lot of discovery and exploration and I enjoy the journey and adventure of it all. I definitely fit into the category of having an "innate burning desire to make things as good as they can possibly be, and a sense that things could always be improved". I usually call it being a perfectionist and think about it negatively, but I think from now on I will call it "stamina and resolve".

Here's to a year of stamina as I venture into writing....and rewriting...and rewriting.