Tiger, Tiger

Hello?  *tap, tap* Is this thing on?

Ah, yes – there you are!  You’re looking good today – got a healthy glow, so you do! Me?  Pfft, I’m fine – just rejoining the rat-race after two weeks off and… Well… I’d love to say that it’s a nice feeling being back at work, but in all honesty I’d rather be back at home with my pencils, paper and pens and a hot mug o’ coffee.

I got up to various things during the two week break, but importantly to this blog, I managed to start and am nearly finished a new piece of art.  I bet you’re excited, huh?  I can tell by your face.  Before I get into that however, I’m going to have a little rant and regale you with a tale about an experience I’ve had when trying to purchase my first set of Copic Ciao marker pens…

After deciding on Friday the 28th that I was going to make my first purchase of a few of them, I had a mooch around the interwebs and decided to buy ten of them from ‘copic-shop.co.uk’.  With a URL like that, it was surely going to be the best place for me to get them, right?

WRONG. 

The experience of purchasing the pens from the site was simple enough, but from that point onwards things took a very sharp dip, as although the order confirmation I received via email said that my pens had been picked and dispatched, the tracking number and link to the Royal Mail tracking service website brought up the message ‘The system is currently unable to confirm the status of your item.  Please try again later’.

Hmm.

‘It’s ok’, I thought.  ‘Perhaps it’s just a Royal Mail blunder’.  They do tend to blunder with great and magnificent frequency, so the tracking error didn’t necessarily mean that my pens had been lost somewhere in the system or hadn’t been posted.  Right?

In this age of Amazon Prime and ‘I wants my goodies and I wants ’em naaaow’ next-day delivery times, it’s easy to find your patience dwindling when things haven’t arrived within two or three days, but when it came to it being a full seven days since I ordered the pens and they still hadn’t arrived on the Friday, my alarm bells started ringing.  It prompted me to do the first thing that most people would do in my situation; I contacted the shop via email.

I got a fairly fast response more or less telling me to wait a few more days.

I waited until the postie had been on the tenth day (and, surprise surprise, no pens dropped through my mailbox) and after getting no response to a further two emails to them, I resorted to picking up the phone and speaking to the shop.   I explained the situation but the chap at the other end of the phone said that he couldn’t do much because the manager wasn’t in.

Yeah.  Great.  

He then went on to more or less tell me to wait another 2 weeks as the pens could have been delayed.  This was unacceptable, but it was clear that he was going to be about as much use as a wet fart in a hurricane.

Rather thankfully, I paid for the pens via PayPal so have started a dispute/claim process with them so will hopefully be able to get my money back at some point.

The morale of this story is DON’T BUY ANYTHING FROM COPIC-SHOP.CO.UK.  Seriously, don’t give them your business.  Go somewhere else to buy your pens.  If, by any chance, any of you have a recommendation on a good (and cheap) place to buy Copic pens in the UK, I’d be delighted if you’d leave a comment.

Easy, Tiger

Now that I’ve got that grumble out of the way, let’s get back onto the art.  As I said, I’m just about finished a new piece and I’ve decided this time do do something a little different this time.

Unlike my previous pointillism efforts, which have been mostly solid blocks of dotty goodness, I’ve decided to add big, bold blocks of black to this latest one and I think it’s worked out rather well.  My subject this time (as you many have guessed) is a tiger, which is a fair bit more detailed and larger than anything I’ve attempted so far, which also means that it’s taking a fair bit longer to complete.

I’ve also decided to take some progress photos to document my work this time as I’m going along, so here’s how it started…

cof

…A simple sketch, yes?  Well, no – not quite.  Apologies with regards to the horrible image compression, but you can just about make it out.  Note the grid in the background.  I tend to use a grid to copy the main shapes from a photo reference, then get jiggy with a dash of artistic license.

cof

Using the brush tip on my black Copic Ciao pen, I then did the tiger’s facial markings in thick, chunky slabs of black.  Sexy.

cof

…And continued to keep doing this, adding more detail with technical pens.  Gratuitous fur.

cof

…And let the dots begin!  I usually start out laying out the colours in large dots using the chunky nibs of my Sharpie markers first, then bolster the colours with multiple layers of tiny dots from my Stabilo Point 88 pens, which appears to be a winning combination.  It does however take a heckuva long time to do.

 

cof

…And this was the most recent photo I took of the piece, resplendent with the pens I’ve been using.  It’s almost finished.  I decided to make the whiskers black in the end, and by my reckoning it’s ended up turning to look almost a bit like an Andy Warhol rendering of a Tiger, which is totally unintentional.

That’s all you’re going to get to see for now – I’m building up a portfolio of my pointillism pieces and will dump the completed piece(s) on Etsy when the time has come to do such things – and of course there will be links to them in my currently-unused Shop link above.

 

 

Back to the art

If you’ve been following my posts, you might have noticed that the billowing sails of my newly-launched artistic venture have had the wind knocked out of them recently with the horrible business of having to deal with Maurice, our beautiful, sweet puss-cat who we had to get put to sleep.  On Saturday, I decided to climb back into the saddle (so to speak) and managed to complete a new piece.

My latest subject is still equine-based, albeit one with a slight fantasy slant as I’ve decided to do a Unicorn; the fabled and mythical horned beast which farts rainbows and can bring people and other creatures back to life with a drip of one of it’s teardrops.  The appealing thing about doing a unicorn is that it would allow me a chance to really have a lot of fun with colours.  Here’s a low-res sneak peek at the semi-finished article…

cof

 

As you can see, I’m bravely forging onward with the pointillism work, which seems to be working out rather well and I’m really pleased to say that I can see a big improvement with my technique in this piece when compared to my last one.  I could have went down the route of just using a single pen for each of the blocks of different colours, but no – I’ve decided to use a technique where I’m using 2-3 pens (Sharpie & Copic Markers and Stabilo Point 88’s in this piece) to embolden each of the colours and blend them into one and other.  It’s working pretty good, methinks!

The one thing about doing work like this is that it takes absolutely ages to do, with this piece taking the best part of ten hours from beginning to end.  It’s still early days for me with this technique though, so I’m no doubt going to be refining it and getting a bit more brave with the things that I’m doing in future pieces.  Knowing me, this most likely means that it will probably start taking even longer to complete them as they’ll start to become more elaborate.

Zen Drawing

The best part, for me, is that I actually find this whole pointillism way of doing art incredibly relaxing.  Applying the colours dot by dot to the paper with good quality pens puts me in a very ‘Zen’ state of mind, which actually really helps as it keeps my mind off other things in life that can otherwise be fairly stressful.  In fact, when I start a piece and begin to do the pointillism it always surprises me at how addictive it is and how quickly the hours vanish as I’m doing it, to the point where I’ve completely lost track of time a few times.

If (and it’s a very big ‘if’) I was somehow manage to get to a point where people are interested in buying prints and originals of my stuff and/or I manage to start doing commissions, it would mean the world to me. To be able to quit the 9-5 rat race and sit at home doing art, drinking coffee and listening to music sounds like my idea of heaven, so I need to buck up my ideas and carry on creating stuff.

What’s next?

Well… That’s a very good question.  I think I’m going to create several more of these pointillism pieces with an animal theme before moving onto something else.  I think I’ll stick with the pointillism, but who knows?  It’s the beginning of what feels like an exciting journey at the moment.

 

Let’s do this!

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my artistic ‘talents’ and how I feel that I’ve failed completely and utterly in capitalising on them.  I’ve had countless intentions and false starts when it comes down to doing something purposeful with them, but these intentions have always fizzled out when other things – let’s use a catch-all such as ‘life’ – ended up getting in the way.

I’m not going to make any apologies for saying that my ultimate intention of creating art is to be able to use it to generate some income.  My interests in creating art in the past were driven by my love of comics and ‘pin-up’ art and I did, for a long time, have aspirations to become a tattoo designer – but those aspirations waned as tattoos became more mainstream and for a long time I stopped doing any art at all as my inspiration and motivation evaporated.

This changed a lot recently as I began to feel the spark of inspiration pulling me back towards my pencils and pens.  This is going to sound cruel and judgemental, but one source of this inspiration was actually looking at the types of things that some people were managing to flog on Etsy for actual cold and hard cash.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that it’s important to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that some people are always going to hate some things that I like and vice versa, but I couldn’t help but coarsely sum up that a great deal of the stuff I was seeing on Etsy was utterly shite.

Not to blow my own trumpet, but I felt that I could definitely do better.

Another great form of inspiration I’ve found came in the form of animals.  Well, when I say ‘animals’, I really mean horses.  Yes, when I met my lovely fiancée Jo I was thrown headlong into the then-strange and seemingly terrifying world of equines and all of the oddness that comes with them and have become irreversibly ‘horsey’ as a result.  There will no doubt be a blog post here at some point in the near future lamenting/exclaiming about my life’s horsey endeavours, but in the interest of keeping on the subject of this post, I should explain that I find horses to be very inspirational beings.

No form other than the human form itself has made me feel inspired to pick up a pencil and scribble than that of the form of a horse.  They’re elegant, powerful and intelligent creatures – and the shapes that they create when still and in motion inspire wonder, excitement and a whole gamut of emotions in me, which are of course incredibly inspirational and useful things when it comes to creativity, so I’ve been experimenting with the shapes and forms of horses lately with varying results.

I should note at this point that I’m not planning on flinging all of my metaphorical eggs into one large and equally metaphorical basket with gay abandon; I’m still finding myself  having thoughts of doing art that has horror, fantasy and science-fiction themes, which would be playing historically to my strengths, but for the time being I’m having a good ponder over the demographics that I want my art to appeal to, and to find one particular niche to plunder before spreading out to things that I personally find more interesting.

So what exactly are my plans, then?  Well, at the moment I’m experimenting with pointillism and colour rather than simply drawing in monochrome like I used to do so often, with the picture on this first of my blog posts on here being a work-in-progress photo of a pointillism experiment that I did last week.

Pointillism progress

No peeks at the finished article for now, though.  I want to build up a small portfolio before having a grand premiere of what I’ve been plugging away at, and I’m hoping that this paid subscription to WordPress is enough motivation in itself for me to keep up with my art and eventually succeed in achieving my dream.

Adios for the noo!