General Art

Show Us Your Ugly Things: Doodle Edition

This year many of my facebook friends started a “Doodle a Day” project on January first, but as I wasn’t planning ahead for it I waited till February to start myself. When it comes to performance art (puppetry) I tend to be of a “mash-up culture” mindset (for both the stuff I write, as well as the stuff Treelobsters writes for us) and those mashups are my “style”. But that starts from some level of ability with the basic tools of the trade (though that may be up for some debate as well I guess). When it comes to drawing/painting/etc I only have a cursory knowledge of the basic techniques (and most of that is thanks to my grandmother who had me in oil painting classes as a young kid) but pointedly (in my mind anyway) I don’t have a technique of my own. That style of “limitations of my ability” plays into the things I create, including puppets, more so than it does in a performance.

My ongoing internal discussion of Art vs art has started to settle around the artist having a vision they are realizing, and/or a perspective on the subject they are portraying. When it comes to live theater at least, I’ve grown more comfortable with having told a story (or made a joke) in the way I want, even if the physical objects aren’t exactly up to my standards. From how my mind works, I feel I need a basic set of skills to be able to create something that at least captures my own vision rather than being simply that style based on my limitations of technique. So, when starting this Doodle a Day project I decided one of the things I wanted to do was start from my mimic tendencies to get better at the basic pen/pencil techniques and hopefully find a style along the way. This is something I know I did as a kid, especially all the comic books in high-school where I tried to re-draw covers (now that I think of it, I wonder if some of my scale issues have to do with that practice being during the 90s when misshapen Leifeld characters were prominent).

With that in mind, here are some of my favorite, and least favorite, pictures from the first month and a half. I started with Brian Froud as inspiration and have moved on to Dave McKean. Most of them I started with an image from Froud or McKean and simply attempted to copy it using either just pencils or pens or sharpies. The quality of the results changes drastically when I don’t start from something else.

I started off with drawing on lunch bags, because that seemed like an interesting way of handling the drawings... none of my kids wanted to take my scary fairies to school though.

I started off with drawing on lunch bags, because that seemed like an interesting way of handling the drawings… none of my kids wanted to take my scary fairies to school though.  There were different degrees of success here.

This was a good example of a shot where I was converting a painting into a sharpie drawing... it's also one of my favorites

This was a good example of a shot where I was converting a painting into a sharpie drawing… it’s also one of my favorites

This was one of the few where I tried to extend the initial image into some sort of a setting.

This was one of the few where I tried to extend the initial image into some sort of a setting. I also dropped the Sharpie part of the drawings toward the end of the month and focused more on the form from pencils.

This was the last of my Froud month, and I was pretty happy with how well I scaled up the image... until I realized the head was WAY  smaller than it should have been.

This was the last doodle of my Froud month, and I was pretty happy with how well I scaled up the image… until I realized the head was WAY smaller than it should have been.

This was earlier in the pencil part of the process and I was OK with how it turned out, though it did highlight how some of the details I wasn't as successful at aping.

This was earlier in the pencil part of the process and I was OK with how it turned out, though it did highlight how some of the details I wasn’t as successful at aping.

One of the days I ran out of time and motivation and decided it was time to share the really ugly things... the doodles I did while waiting on people to show up at meetings.

One of the days I ran out of time and motivation and decided it was time to share the really ugly things… the doodles I did while waiting on people to show up at meetings.

The Mystic and the Skeksi were, I think, my two favorite Froud month drawings I did. They were entirely in pencil and starting from a photograph meant I couldn't simply rely on looking at the lines the original artist had put to page. I also just love the  Dark Crystal.

The Mystic and the Skeksi were, I think, my two favorite Froud month drawings I did. They were entirely in pencil and starting from a photograph meant I couldn’t simply rely on looking at the lines the original artist had put to page. I also just love the Dark Crystal.

Dave McKean was more of a challenge than I thought, because it was only after doing a couple drawings that I realized how differently his perception of shape is than mine. I love his work, it's just difficult for me to get my brain in that mode if I'm not aping a specific image. I also had some challenges with his style originating in a mixture of drawing, painting, photography, and digital media.

Dave McKean was more of a challenge than I thought, because it was only after doing a couple drawings that I realized how differently his perception of shape is than mine. I love his work, it’s just difficult for me to get my brain in that mode if I’m not aping a specific image. I also had some challenges with his style originating in a mixture of drawing, painting, photography, and digital media.

Because I was having such trouble finding images I felt I could convey properly in pen/pencil from the McKean book I started from, I moved on to a Mirrormask one and found a number of images I liked. This one flowed quickly and easily for me for once.

Because I was having such trouble finding images I felt I could convey properly in pen/pencil from the McKean book I started from, I moved on to a Mirrormask one and found a number of images I liked. This one flowed quickly and easily for me for once.

This ended up looking much more "childish" in style than I'd hoped it would, but it was a first attempt at starting from scratch and aping McKean's style. Though it does have a very "doodle" style, it's not the prettiest of things.

This ended up looking much more “childish” in style than I’d hoped it would, but it was a first attempt at starting from scratch and aping McKean’s style. Though it does have a very “doodle” style, it’s not the prettiest of things.

The last round of McKean aping I tried, was to take portraits from a magazine and re-draw them in pen. I don't think I captured his style quite right, but I'm reasonably happy with the results of this one.

The last round of McKean aping I tried, was to take portraits from a magazine and re-draw them in pen. I don’t think I captured his style quite right, but I’m reasonably happy with the results of this one.

Another in the attempted McKean style starting from a magazine... and really wishing I was working with something better for filling in black spaces than a fine point pen.

Another in the attempted McKean style starting from a magazine… and really wishing I was working with something better for filling in black spaces than a fine point pen.

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