Friday, May 14, 2010

Sharpening the Saw - Mileage

We're not quite certain where the phrase "sharpening the saw" came from, but it is a concept we learned about in an old X-men comic that definitely applies to art. Monkey + Seal finished with our classes at the end of 2009, so for January through March, we weren't doing nearly as much painting/drawing/making art as we were previously. However, with Seal's recent freelance project and Monkey working on his "art every day" over at his blog, we've found that we've gotten quite a bit rusty after so much time organizing and less time painting.

However, now that we're in the swing of things, we find it way easier to create. But just like exercise or any other activity, you have to keep practicing constantly to ever be great. Monkey completed the above digital painting in about ~2 hours, which would have taken him easily 6-10 hours about a year ago. How did he speed up and improve? With increased knowledge (and new tools, ie. brushes) and lots and lots of practice.

Our instructors in our Foundation courses at Academy always told us "You know what the difference between you and me is? Twenty years." Our teachers create art for our demos, then go home and create more art for their professional practice - and they've been doing it for twenty years.

When Monkey first started at the Academy, he hadn't seriously tried to draw anything in about 8 years. He had never used charcoal, and so obviously he was not going to be able to render things photo-realistically - he could barely keep things in perspective! However, three years of four studio classes per semester, look how far he's come!

It's not about inherent skill, or natural-born artistic talent. It's about drive, determination, and practice. And don't think that you have to create a masterpiece every time. As long as you are learning something, and refining a skill, whether that just be a refreshment on anatomy, your line work, or just learning more about what colors work well together and what don't, it's all good.

Draw every day if you want to be a visual artist. If you're a musician, you should rehearse every day. No matter what you're doing, make sure that you're practicing and you'll find yourself steadily improving. Just keep pushing, keep working, and keep on keeping on. It's how we do it here at the Monkey + Seal studio.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Making Space and Congrats to Monkey

First off, we'd like to announce that Monkey also received word yesterday that he got a piece into the School of Illustration's Spring Show! Yay! Seal also got a piece in for Illustration as well! Double-yay!

Second, the Monkey + Seal studio has been quite cluttered and busy these past few days as we've been cleaning up and going through old work and organizing our studio. We bought yet another rack for our art supplies (we already had two 72" x 36" x 20" racks, now we have three), and a nightstand for our printers.

Some of you might be all tidy tidy, but we're both (especially Monkey) pack-rat-ish, and we're always stocking up on different mediums, surfaces, and paper, so with all of the stuff we have going on, a perfectly tidy apartment is not the highest priority.

Although it's a time consuming process for us to move everything around and clean up (especially when we both could be doing more things to directly bring in money), it is a necessity for us. As artists, we have to constantly make space for new creations, new art, and new phases in life.

Purging old things that you no longer need doesn't just clear up physical space but also a psychological space. Old clothes can be donated (or repurposed), and we find that when we get rid of old stuff that "doesn't feel like us anymore," it allows us to think about stuff that does "feel like us" now. Although we're still not there yet, the moves and new fixtures have already made the space much more spacious, and we can already feel the difference in the energy level of the apartment. It is a much more conducive space to creating, and we hope to keep it that way for the year to come.

Are there any tips you'd like to share on making space? We're more interested in the metaphorical than literal, but if you've got some great cleaning tips we'd love to hear those as well!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Congrats to Seal and a Question for You

Today we got some good news - The visual development project she worked on all last semester has been accepted to the Academy of Art's Spring Show! Yay for Seal! The best that can come of this is that Seal gets a job offer from an animation studio, the worst is that she now has another award to put on her resume!

In other news, for all you readers out there, Monkey wants to know what your dream guide would be. Would is be about how to make a living as an artist? Would it be how to do prepress for commercial printing? Would it have something to do with the wedding industry? A design for dummies? A guide to essential tools for self-promotion? A beginner's guide to painting?

We want to hear about what YOU want. Ideally. Even if we've never talked about it before, what would your ideal guide consist of?