You can edit.

You can rewrite.

You can re plot. Restructure. Rethink.

You can redraw. Recompose. Revisit. Revise. Repaint. Re-pencil. Re-ink

But at some point you have to say: "I am finished. It is done. I have tired my best. I can do no better. I have cut no corners. I did not sell myself short. It done."

At some point to have to let go.
It is the 29th of January.  2034 pm.  32 years ago this night, I had just about taken my first few breaths outside of the womb. 

32  years. 

Think about that.

I've been alive now for a quarter of a century and only now do I feel as if I know what I want in life.  Only now do I know how to get what I want in life.  I wasted 10 years through indecision, stupidity, stubbornness, close mindedness and fear.  And every day i try to make up for lost time.  Every single day I try to claw back the time I've wasted.

But this is not a day of recrimination.  Or at least, it is not a day for recrimination alone.  I would be doing myself  an injustice if I didn't draw attention of the monumental achievement that is the completion of draft one of my novel.  I would be doing myself an injustice if I did not recognise that how profoundly that has changed my life. 

I am a better man by virtue of committing myself to finishing something.  I am a better man by virtue of the friends I have.  I am a better man by realising that pain and struggle are transitory and are the price you pay for success.  They are universe testing you to see how badly you want what you say you want and what you are prepared to do to get it.

I am in pain now.  I will do almost anything with in reason to get Frostfeld Book 1.0 in your hands by summer.  Success is forthcoming.
Finished. Completed. Done.

Just shy of 150 thousand words and 318 pages. The first draft of my first novel is complete. I cant help but feel a great sense of..emptiness. Something which had taken up my life entire has left a void. I remember when the first ideas for the novel came to me. Way back in 1996. They were random bits and pieces but had no cohesive center. Rubble and debris circling a star.
It wasn't until 2004 that elements of a story began to form. But I still had no protagonist. No structure. Just a series of uncollected islands in close proximity to each other.

One day in 2006 Marlyn Frostfeld popped into my head.

Followed in quick succession by her best friend: the pugnacious Ayami Kojima.

A story quickly began to take shape as well as a desire to tell it. I hadn't written in years at this point but the desire to craft a story became stronger everyday.

In 2007 I became serious about writing the novel.

In early 2009 I actually started writing the fucker.

Fast forward to today. 2011-09-21 and i have the fruit of my labors sitting in various media around my house and on the net (dropbox is your friend). I still find it difficult to accept what I've been able to accomplish. That there exists in the world a rough manuscript with characters and situations which do not exist before i breathed life into them.

I see them so clearly now. I hear their voices. But for now, they must remain silent. But only for a time. By the end of the week a printout of the manuscript will be in my hands. This will find its way into a secure folder and be put in a drawer. Where it will remain for six weeks.

At that time I will start work on proof reading and editing the work. Soon after that i will start work on the second draft.

Its fun. Its interesting. Its a learning experience. But it is work.

So, what do I plan to do over the next couple of weeks? Why, start work on the sequel and the illustrations for book one of course! I've got a plot outline to nail down!

It never ends my friends. Never.

Back to work.
So I'm far enough into the first draft of the novel that the end is now just over the horizon and within sight.  And after a year of life drawing, painting, studying and reading I'm confident enough to start building the visual aspects of my world.  Previously i relied heavily on found imagery, my own photograph and tracing light boxing to create images, all done in an effort to avoid doing the hard graft of gaining the art muscles i knew i didn't have.  And even with the reference i had, i didn't have the necessary skill to interpret it as I saw fit or bend it to my needs.  This all came from a severe lack to practice.  A lesson which had to learn the hard way

But now, having learnt or at the very least having started to learn what i didn't know and know exactly what i didn't know and how to find out how to learn what i don't know, I'm in a far better position than i was last January.

Still, i can guarantee you, writing was the easy part!!

For the next few weeks I'm going to start breathing life into my characters.  With pencil and ink and brushes Im going to try to get them looking as close to how I envision them as humanly possible.
I've got well over 25 empty sketchbook littered around my room.  I aim to fill up at least half of them by the time all of the illustrations are completed.  And i can promise you that they will look at much like this as possible.

And as a rough estimate, we are talking about a 40+ black and white illustrations for a 200+ page book.  Not to mention a color front cover.  To to be done by the beginning of the festive season.

Sweet baby Jesus, i better get started and very organised!!

Wish me luck

Oh yes.  Remind me to show you the books and the artist whom I'm looking at for inspiration.  It's a long and varied list, i can promise you!
So the first draft is like 95% done.  I've already written the ending and the epilogue, and now I'm marrying the two piece I've written together.  I did consider writing the remaining chapters retrospectively, but for one reason or another i decided not to.

Don't ask me why.  I just picked up writing where i left of and I haven't looked back.

Reaching the end of the first draft has made me start to consider two important things:  Firstly, that I have a hell of a lot of work to do on this first draft before its readable and even more work to do before its publishable.

Secondly, I've actively started thinking about the space the first novel will take.  What it will look like.  What kind of illustrations will fill its pages and how many.  Reaching the end of one journey really do present you with a door to yet another.

If I want to get the book finished by December and have it in my hands by Christmas then I have to be very, very specific about the illustrations I want to create.  And I need to start working on them. NOW.

Seven months until Christmas.  Blink and it'll be October. 

There really ain't enough hours in the day are there?

More later.

Anything and everything is possible if you believe in yourself, are prepared to work hard and make sacrifices.

Believe in yourself.

I needed to put that on paper so to speak. Just so that it would exist outside of my head.

February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010
Frank Frazetta, master fantasy illustrator, died this morning aged 82.
The last of the great old illustrators has gone.
And we now have to pick up the slack. Or rather we now have to fill his space.
But he's not really dead. He's left behind some of the most amazing artwork the 20th century has ever seen. His work inspired and continues to inspire countless people throughout the world. Artists have been inspire to become artists because of his work.
And long as we have his work, his memory will live on. HE will live on.

Thanks for all the great art Frank. Thanks for all the inspiration.

God bless. Godspeed.
Can you fill up a sketchbook a month? Do you? An artist friend of mine chastised me severely recently for my lack output. Saying that I should be "filling up a sketchbook with work every month" .

Well I'm 29 now.  One year until i'm 30.  Wow. 30.
I'm not fond of new years resolutions.  I'm more interested in making promises to myself.

So here it goes: By the time I'm 30 I'll have 2 maybe 3 (mystery project) books out and well as my Jekyll and Hyde book in print all via lulu.  I also would have made substantial ground on the FWN book.  I'm not a fan of leaving ideas out in the cold.

I'll also be almost completely out of debt and have nearly saved up for my MA in illustration.  And I'll have finally passed my driving test.

The next 356 days are going to be hard, fast but rewarding.

Good luck to us all.
This is going to be slightly long winded so bare with me!

In my end of year review I stated that I had come to accept that it was okay to draw like yourself and not be a slave to a particular art style. Or movement. Over the last few days I've been sitting alone in my room working on my project and I've come to realise certain things.

Here where things become long winded and slightly stream of conciousness-ish as I'm going to be jumping for point to point.

  1. Although you like a particular artists work and find their work inspiring, the style of art may not be compatible with your natural drawing style: For years I attempted to bend my work in encompass the styles of James Montgomery Flagg, Charles Dana Gibson, Ashley Wood, Jock and various others before I realised that although I enjoyed their work and found it inspiring, their work was so stylised and unique to them that it was 100 mile away from what my brain was tell my hand to try to do. There was no way "in" for me. Meaning that there was no way for me to look at their and learn how they constructed their imagery. They have effectively develop their own visual language and thus their work was impenetrable.  Over the past 3 years I've actively been looking at the work of artists who work is closer to my naturally ability. Sean Phillips, Posy Simmonds, John Paul Leon, Disraeli, Alison Bechdel, Milton Caniff, Nihei Tsutomu, Jordi Bernet, Tim Sale to name a few. And sometimes Jae Lee.  And learnt significantly more, to the extent that I've been able to fold what they do into what I go.  I'm far, far closer to being me than I was 3 years ago.  I can't even look at my old sketchbooks anymore.  It's just too painful!!
  2. You can only ever do the best you can do at that moment in time. The more you do, the better you become. I was getting hung up about the images I was producing for my final minor project until I realised that I'll never be judged by what other people are producing. I'll only ever be just on the articulation of my ideas. In essence, I'll be judged again what I'm capable of and not some imaginary high water mark that doesn't exist. Perfectionism kill creativityDo it.  Finish it.  Learn, Move on.  Do better next time.
  3. Now this one I've always know, but sometimes it's important to articulate things that run around in your head.  The grade I receive at the end of this course will be entirely worthless.  Indeed, the very paper that my grade is written on will be worth more than the actual grade.  You're dong this course to gain skills not for a fucking grade.  How many uni graduates are working for Mc Donalds and Mark and Spencer at the moment? A 100 miles away from the subject matter that they sacrificed 3+ years of their life for.  A grade asurses nothing in illustration and even less than nothing in fine art.  The portfolio you produce how ever is worth more than bars of solid gold.  Rather you fail and have a portfolio that shows your best work and that you're happy with and play lip service to the biases of your lecturers who sometimes get it wrong. Everyone comes with their own personal/artistic biases.
  4. Some of your lecturers will be major assholes with egos the size of the heliopause.  They will be snobs who will look down their nose at your work and your influences.  But sometimes they'll drops a peal of wisdom that will help you see the woods thorough the trees.  And sometime the advice they give you though will be spot-on even though they're king-sized arseholes.  The trick is separating the gold from the bullshit.

And that's it.  More later.

Edited to add:  This post was prompted by laying eyes on Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein this evening and knowing that it took Bernie SEVEN YEARS to complete those illustrations. Good art takes time.

Laurence Olivier once said, "If you are an artist, you have to prove it." 

And he was right.
I was going to go to work today, but instead, I decided to stay at home and produce some ARTwork.

I've collected the majority of the photo reference for Jekyll and Hyde.  Now I need to translate that reference into either full page or spot illustrations.

In other words: Now comes the hard part.

Wish me luck! Its going to be a hard couple of weeks!!
and my G-d.  HE LIKED MY WORK!!



What a wise, kind and humble human being he was.  I really must try to be as humble as him in most things I do.

Go here for Alex Toth goodness.

Absolute cream mate!  Spread far and wide!!

And now, back to drawing Nietzsche, Wagner, Salome and Forster-Nietzsche model sheets!!

This illustrator gives me ideas........

Photoshop.Linework.Stark Blacks, Yeah.  Ideas I tell you. Ideas.......
I'm reposting this more for myself than anybody else. Had a sobering conversation with my mum last night. Forced me to realise that life ain't easy that that I need to take responsibility for my own life. That I need to take my balls and guts in my hands and proceed on the path that I’ve set for myself. No half measures.

Go here for the full thread which contains more motivating material

I've found that most of my problems facing the drawing board and gettingmotivated boil down to a form of anxiety. For me, procrastination isall about anxiety. When you're a kid writing and drawing your ownstories for your own pleasure, there was little or no anxietyassociated with the work. The work was all about pleasure, whether thatwas the pleasure of creation, or communication or catharsis.

Oneday, you wake up and you're a professional. And after awhile, your worktakes on whole new mental associations. Now, writing and drawing isn'tjust something you sit in your room and do for fun or expression, it'salso about survival. If you don't make that deadline, you don't getpaid. If you don't get paid, you don't eat. there's no roof over yourhead. Maybe you've got kids and they don't get fed. Maybe when you dowrite or draw, you get a bad review. Eek. Just what you need when youface the day. Whatever some critic said about you to get you motivated.

It's no wonder pros get writer's block. A blank piece of paper is no longer a ticket to the far corners of the universe, it's a ticket to the hellyou are going to face when you don't get the damned assignment in ontime and if it isn't jolly well perfectly wonderful.

You beginto engage in all kinds of useless work avoidance activity like hangingout with friends when you know you should be finishing that story, orspending too much time online, or doing busy work (which is a weirdhabit of mine where I just engage in mindless repetitive tasks. Youshould catch me in such a mood if I ever come to visit your house. Iwill arrange your sock drawer and all your files. Your closets willnever have been so clean.)

Anyway, a sure fire cure for all ofthis wonky neurosis is a behavioural modification technique I usecalled The Dickens Model. The Dickens Model takes the technique used bythe ghosts in A Christmas Carol and applies it to your life.

Firstoff, you focus on whatever the heck it is you are doing with your liferight now, and imagine that you have not made any moves to improve thequality of your behaviours. Then, imagine yourself five years in thefuture. You didn't make the moves you should have made. You didn'twrite the books. You didn't paint the pictures. Picture in your mind'seye with absolute clarity the life you have made for yourself and whatit will look like in five years.

OK, now forward that pictureten years. Get a load of what you have given yourself. Ten years ofwaste and lost opportunity. You have freelancer ass and you didn't evenwrite any books while getting it.

Move forward again to fifteenyears. If you're not wailing in horror by now, you're not givingyourself enough credit for what a screw up you can be.

Now hold on to that picture, and reel yourself back to the present. There. Feel like shit?

Good. It's working.

OK,now imagine all of the things you should be doing, studying,completing. Imagine all of the things you will have to do to get theresults you want. Picture them very clearly. And reel that movie inyour head forward about five years. Looks a little better, doesn't it?You finished that book, you painted that picture, the graphic novel gotpublished.

OK, reel yourself forward again and it's ten years inthe future. You applied for that Xeric Grant and you got the projectdone. You are writing and drawing with confidence and power. You aredisciplined and goal oriented.

Add another few years to that,it's fifteen years in the future, and picture your life compared to theone you envisioned before, the one where you did not change yourbehaviours. Quite a contrast, eh?

If this doesn't get youmotivated, nothing will, because the contrast between vision A andVision B usually scares the crap out of me. The point is to create yourown carrot/stick system in your head. You know what you are capable of,and you know what you have to do. You create your own reward andpunishment for your future and you know that you have the power tochange what needs to be changed.

That said, I am off to work. Try it. I hope The Dickens Model works for you



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