Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why People Give Up by Anna Vital [feedly]

Why People Give Up by Anna Vital
// Temple of the Seven Golden Camels

This graphic entitled "Why People Give Up" has been making the rounds on the internet, so you've probably seen it before. It's from "Funders and Founders" and was designed by Anna Vital. The site is mostly intended for entrepreneurs, but it has a wide array of interesting graphics that are definitely worth checking out, and much of the advice they offer for people interested in creating a startup can be applied to other areas of life and career.

I'm sure not everyone can relate to all of these reasons, but for me, many of these concepts felt familiar. I've had most (if not all) of these feelings myself, or seen them in other people who give up on their dream. I certainly struggled with all of these things when I was trying to get into animation, and I saw many other people wrestle with these concepts as well.

I've been in the animation field for a while now, so I don't exactly struggle with the stress and fear that I won't be able to break into the business like I used to. But I can definitely relate to it on a more personal level. I've been working on my own project outside of work for quite some time now, and I've made a lot of progress on it. In fact, I've been working on it for five years, and although I've accomplished a lot, it's a massive undertaking and there's still a ton to do. But when I look back on the past five years, I've managed to work on my project almost every day (although most days it's only for a little bit of time).

I can't help but think of all the people I know who've decided to make a personal project and then abandoned it after a while. It's a real shame, because there are so many talented people in animation, and I know the world would love seeing their work. But pursuing a personal project is, in many ways, much harder than showing up to work every day and getting paid to be an artist and contribute to a film that has the backing and support of a large company. After all, very few of us could survive without a paycheck, so it's not like we have that much of a choice!

One of the reasons that I'm still plugging away on my own project after five years is that I choose to do something that I really enjoy doing. It gives me a chance to do things I've never done before (like try and understand how layout works for comic books, and the chance to work with color). The project involves a lot of research, but I choose the subject matter so that I only have to research things I'm already interested in. So that helps make it enjoyable and not a chore. I think sometimes people choose to pursue a project that they think people will like in order to guarantee the success of their project. But the artist has no real passion for the project, and it fizzles out as the first hard roadblocks inevitably appear in the road. I think it's a better approach to create something that you would actually like to see exist in the world, instead of trying to hedge your bets and create something "safe" that you think other people will like.

On a related note, as an artist creates something, I think it's only human for that artist to daydream about how big and successful their project will become. The problem is that, after that initial rush of passion for the project and daydream of how awesome and successful it's going to be, the hard reality sets in about how much work it's going to be as well as the sobering realization that it may not, in the end, be successful. In fact, it may fail miserably. So why bother putting a lot of work into it? In the end, it could all be wasted effort.

So one of my best pieces of advice is to create without focusing on the final outcome. You can't control how your project will be received, you can only control how it turns out and how much you enjoy the process of creating. So focus on that and not the daydream about how colossal your success will be and you'll find it much, much easier to create.

The last piece of advice that I think is helpful is to remember that the time will pass either way. You can spend the time watching TV, or watching movies, or playing video games (all of which are fine ways to spend time), but remember that you could also spend some of that time working on creating your own project. And at the end of the day, the time passes. And when the time is gone, it can be a great feeling to have something to show for the time that has passed. And although every project has its own unique obstacles that can seem impossible to conquer, there's no greater feeling than overcoming one of them and realizing that you have the power to defeat any challenge that might get in your way.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

5 Simple Ways to Get Better at ANYTHING Fast! [feedly]

5 Simple Ways to Get Better at ANYTHING Fast!
// Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement


I want it and I want it now!  We say this to ourselves every single time we demand instant gratification, quick results, or fast progress at something- even though we may sound like children.  There are some ways to actually speed up the way we learn and improve at something however.  Ironically, many of the ways to get better at something fast involve not focusing so much on results, but instead focusing on the process of getting better. 
  1. Practice. A lot.
This one might be common sense, but the number one way to get better at something is to practice.  Even if its hard, even if its boring, even if its not fun, if you want to get better at something you need practice.  Through the dedication to practicing and learning, you will develop skill and experience that will make you better at what you are doing.  Whether it's math, saving money, speed reading, or playing tennis, practicing will help make you better.
  1. Read books or articles from experts.
Experts exist in practically every field imaginable.  Many experts get big book contracts to write: articles, blogs, books, and they even do interviews directly passing on the skills and knowledge they learned while mastering an area of expertise;  people are willing to pay big money to learn these lessons straight from an expert who has already been through it.  Books, articles, videos, and speeches from others who are already amazing at what you are trying to learn will make your life easier, motivate you along the way, and help you make your practice more valuable.
  1. Practice smarter, not harder (focus on process over production)
As you learn more about the ways that other successful people practice and get better at something, you can try to apply the same techniques to your own practice.  For example: if you are working on developing your public speaking skills and a famous speaker recommends- in an article- to join toastmasters or give speeches each month at a get together, you can implement this practice and increase the speed at which you learn.  Its not always just about working harder, but sometimes we have to learn to work smarter as well. An easy trap to fall into when trying to get better at something is to focus only on results.  As we focus more on our results over actual improvement, we begin to build pressure on ourselves.  Each time we fall short or fail to meet our expectations, we are hard on ourselves and we can stifle our motivation and drive.  By choosing to focus on the practice and on doing the things we need to do to get better instead of focusing on results, we can lift some of the weight off of our shoulders and really enjoy what we are doing.  By focusing on the process over the product, we can learn to love the journey of getting better. 
  1. Set goals.
By setting measurable and precise goals we can better motivate ourselves and measure ourselves against our own goals rather than against other people.  When we compare ourselves against others, we can often be left feeling inadequate or unsatisfied, but when we look at how we're doing today versus 1 year ago, it becomes much clearer how far we have come along the way.  Additionally, goals help us stay motivated and focused on the things we need to do each day in order to get better. If we set a goal to write an article every day, eventually we are going to write a lot of articles and get much better. 
  1. Evaluate and take notes.
Whenever you are practicing, reading, or setting goals, take notes of the process along the way as you learn important new details; you can make notes each time you learn something new, that you can review at a later time.  As you learn new things, you will inevitably begin to focus on new details and you will start to forget older revelations.  By regularly evaluating your progress, results, and the ways in which you are actively seeking to improve, you can make adjustments as needed and cement the things that are working well. By using these 5 simple tips you can increase your productivity, learn faster, and incorporate new information better.  It may feel counterintuitive to set goals when you could be practicing instead, but you must learn to focus on how to get better more than you focus on just getting better. -------- Shane Sorensen is a life coach, nurse, blogger, and the owner of  If you would like to learn more you can visit his website, or email him at

The post 5 Simple Ways to Get Better at ANYTHING Fast! appeared first on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement.


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Must Draw Harder: Last day of life drawing

Must Draw Harder: Last day of life drawing: The last life drawing workshop I

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Eye Candy for today: Rembrandt Peale’s portrait of his daughter, Rosalba [feedly]

Eye Candy for today: Rembrandt Peale's portrait of his daughter, Rosalba
// lines and colors

Portrait of Rosalba Peale, Rembrandt Peale
Portrait of Rosalba Peale, Rembrandt Peale

The link is to a zoomable version on the Google Art Project; there is a downloadable file on Wikipedia; the original is in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which also has a zoomable version.

As his father, Charles Wilson Peale, had done for him, Rembrandt Peale tutored his daughters in painting and the sciences.

Here, his affectionate portrait of Rosalba in her early twenties shows an alert, pensive young woman sitting for her portrait with patient equanimity.

Rembrandt Peale also painted later portrait of Rosalba with her sister, Eleanor.


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The 52 Weeks Project: Gods & Mummies [feedly]

The 52 Weeks Project: Gods & Mummies
// Muddy Colors

by Greg Ruth

Well as is usually the case when I am absolutely inundate with work and see no light at the end of the deadline tunnel... I decide it's a great time to dust off the old weekly drawing assignment and codify playing hooky into a tangible act of making drawings that no one is asking for. 

To this I began the new arc with a series of portraits of ancient Egyptian Pharaonic Mummies, entitled mysteriously as MUMMIES. The inspiration actually derived from my having done a series of portraits of Boris Karloff's rendition seminal Universal Monster classic, The Mummy, and on the fun of that series decided to attack real and actual mummies. I've always had a secret desire to be an archaeologist and have been fascinated with the Pharaoh's obsessiveness with eternal life in mummy form. They have more than achieved a real level of immortality with these though not quite as they may have envisioned. SO these are a series of portraits of their afterlife as it is as opposed to how they may have imagined it to be. They have in all truth become eternal, but not necessarily retained even their humanity int he process that led them to this lower station. They are in fact objects, the mummy has taken over the person it's meant to preserve and like Karloff's, have no arisen as a whole new thing. Not so much a creature but as a relic and a physical expression of the epoch long desire to not only cheat death, but to conquer it. In many ways they have. 

Here below are the ones so far executed. To view the series and learn a bit more about them, please visit their home on my website, here

Any interest in purchasing remaining portraits can and will be found here.
Each original drawing comes with a free, signed copy of THE 52 WEEKS PROJECT book, with a forward by Ethan Hawke. 




And before that series was even completed, I have decided to embrace the idea of a similar series of portraits of mythical deities from all over the world in a forthcoming series under The 52 Weeks Project banner, GODS. I managed to, in between edits for a pair of cover jobs, make a first trial portrait to see if employing my newfound graphite process into something that can be executed swiftly. It certainly lacks the general speed of the sumi work, and the immediacy of those drawings, but take on a kind of etheral quality I think might just be perfect for this series. Here's the first trial balloon of that series due to kick off this summer after INDEH is locked and finished. 

Frankly and in all honesty, this was far too much fun to do and I'm certain more will sneak into the schedule before it's actual launch date simply because the rules and ethos of the 52 Weeks Project remains as viable as ever- playing hooky like this actually makes the work it's aimed at avoiding better and the entire process of making art professionally a total joy. It reminds me why I started down this looney path to begin with. 

To see the final and purchase it before the series launches, please got to HERE

Each original drawing comes with a free, signed copy of THE 52 WEEKS PROJECT book, with a forward by Ethan Hawke. 

MACHA in progress

MACHA- Irish Goddess of horse and war final. (Graphite on paper)

As of this posting I am already down in NYC prepping for the 2015 MoCCA Arts fest, so if you're in the NYC area, please stop by and say hello! 


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Harold Speed, Chapter 2, "Drawing" [feedly]

Harold Speed, Chapter 2, "Drawing"
// Gurney Journey

John Elliott Burns by Harold Speed, 1907

Today we continue with the GJ Book Club. Together, we're studying Harold Speed's classic The Practice and Science of Drawing.

The following numbered paragraphs cite key points in italics, followed by a brief remark of my own. Your thoughts are most welcome in the comment section of this blog. If you would like to respond to a specific point, please precede your comment by the corresponding number.

1. The expression of form upon a plane surface.

Speed's definition of drawing emphasizes form. That is consistent with most academic training. For the purposes of this chapter at least, he is not focusing on other qualities of drawing, such as the ability to capture texture or atmosphere.

2. Apelles

Apelles was a renowned artist of ancient Greece. His actual original paintings and drawings are lost to history (except for supposed copies), but he is known from his reputation in written sources. More on Wikipedia.

3. Drawing, although the first, is also the last thing the painter usually studies.

Many great artists such as Rembrandt kept drawing central to their practice throughout their lives. Some, such as Adolph Menzel, pursued drawing relentlessly into their old age. For composers like Beethoven and Bach, keyboard or chamber music occupied a similar place. 

4. Colour would seem to depend much more on a natural sense and to be less amenable to teaching. 

As an author of a book about color, I have to disagree with him here. There's a lot to teach about color, especially given what we've learned since Speed's time about visual perception and optics. Even though color can be approached subjectively and personally, the aesthetic aspects of color can be taught. In fact, Speed himself must have changed his mind on this topic, because he includes two excellent chapters on color in his subsequent book on oil painting (Oil Painting Techniques and Materials), which we'll study after we get through this one.

5. To express form one must first be moved by it. There is in the appearance of all objects, animate and inanimate, what has been called an emotional significance, a hidden rhythm that is not caught by the accurate, painstaking, but cold artist. 

Speed's definition of rhythm recognizes how emotion drives artistic choices. Rhythm therefore is not merely a design principle.

Charles F. A. Voysey 
by Harold Speed, chalk, 1896

6. Selection of the significant and suppression of the non-essential.

These choices, so central to a successful work, usually happen unconsciously, driven by the emotion the artist feels at the outset. The challenge is hanging onto that guiding feeling in the labor of making the picture.

7. Fine things seem only to be seen in flashes.

In my experience, I find this to be true not only of the process of drawing, but in my creative life more generally. In the fields of character development, scriptwriting, and world-building, the deeper inspirations come unexpectedly in torrents, separated by periods of steady craftsmanship.

8. Art thus enables us to experience life at second hand.

Through great art, we see the world in a more meaningful or enhanced way. After a visit to the picture galleries, our senses are heightened. This effect is even stronger to a student who makes a faithful copy of a master painting or drawing.

9. One is always profoundly impressed by the expression of a sense of bulk, vastness, or mass in form. 

Later he talks about lightness. It's always good to think about gravity when drawing. Muscles are always pulling against gravity. Wings struggle to lift a bird through the air against the pull of the earth. Drawing someone off-balance generates interest, but balance and imbalance are factors of gravity.

10. In these school studies feeling need not be considered, but only a cold accuracy....These academic drawings, too, should be as highly finished as hard application can make them, so that the habit of minute visual expression may be acquired.

In the French schools at least, there were different aesthetic criteria applied to studies from the model. Student studies were expected to be as accurate and finished as possible, and more interpretive works, which allowed for much more distortion and interpretation. A lot of schools in recent decades, needing to cover a lot of ground, tend to skip over the exacting practice of these coldly accurate school studies. It is like playing scales for the musician, or knowing the rules of grammar for the writer, as Carol Berning mentioned in the comments last time.

11. Drawing, then, to be worthy of the name, must be more than what is called accurate.
Harold Speed (Dover ed.)
This point was illustrated by Sargent's portrait of Carolus-Duran in a recent blog post. Speed concludes that "Artistic accuracy demands that things be observed by a sentient individual recording the sensations produced in him by the phenomena of life." Art, then, becomes life filtered through a consciousness. This is a very idealistic view of drawing, and it sets up for next week's Chapter 3: "Vision"


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Pieter Soutman - The Fall of the Damned, after Peter Paul Rubens, 1642 [feedly]

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Singer Sargent & Friends [feedly]

Singer Sargent & Friends
// will kemp art school

An Artist in His Studio, John Singer Sargent, 1904 Last month saw the opening of a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. The show highlights the work of one of my favourite portrait painters, John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925) I've been a fan of Singer Sargent's paintings ever since visiting the […]

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Gabriel von Max [feedly]

Gabriel von Max
// lines and colors

Gabriel von Max
Gabriel Cornelius von Max was a Czech/Austrian painter who was active in the late 19th and early 20 centuries.

Among his fascinations were parapsychology, mysticism and Asian philosophy, as well as anthropology and Darwinism. Likely from his interest in the latter, he kept a family of monkeys on his property, studied them and painted them, frequently in anthropomorphized activities like reading books.

The most famous of these works was his Monkeys as Judges of Art (images above, top, with detail).

Max was one of the early artists to work from photographs, undoubtedly a great help in capturing the appearance of his monkeys, who were unlikely to sit still for their portraits. Among his other subjects were religious, mystical or even medical themes.

There is a dedicated Gabriel von Max website, maintained by Jack Doulton, and two titles on Amazon: Gabriel von Max and Gabriel von Max: Malerstar, Darwinist, Spiritist (German Edition)

[Via Sterling Hundley]


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Atelier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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