Art year in review: looking back at a productive 2014


This was the first year in a long time that I’ve actually felt like I could do one of these art summary memes! Featured above:

I honestly don’t draw as much as I should, and while I can draw and paint pretty quickly I tend to take a long time finishing things because I get so indecisive and obsessive. In the past, I’d turn out maybe one painting every couple of months, and rarely sketched or doodled on a regular basis. This was evidenced by how few posts there would be on my blog or deviantART separating my Christmas card posts. In 2014, I had a lot of pieces to choose from … so I feel like it was a pretty productive year for me in terms of both output and art development!

Behind the summary

For the summary, I’ve gone with more polished (“finished”) pieces, but there was a lot of stuff going on throughout the months that isn’t reflected above. Some thoughts and things of note:

  • I started using a cute notebook I ended up liking a lot because it was so great for pen+water bleeding. Thus, I started doing a lot of Pilot Fineliner+water doodles. These are all rough drawings so you don’t see any of them in my art summary above, but having a sketchbook I liked and using a process/technique I felt was interesting and enjoyable really encouraged me to draw more regularly.
  • I finally returned to inking my original comic for Mechanism of Magic (derailed because of my hand/arm/shoulder issues last year), redrew all the pages, and finished it.
  • I was inspired by artists I chatted with at events, online, and across all media to do and try different things. And after talking to a number of other comic artists on their thoughts and experiences, I finally bought a Pentel pocket brush pen and fell in love with it.
  • Paint Lounge was another notable art experience!
  • I revisited old works and also old series. Most notably, in the summer, Yu Yu Hakusho nostalgia exploded and I started drawing fanart on practically a daily basis.

The motivating power of Yu Yu Hakusho

In the fall I started a 30 Days of Yu Yu Hakusho meme and answered all the questions with drawings. At this time I’d hit the centre part of my notebook that didn’t have the good paper for taking the Fineliner+water technique, so most drawings were just pen. This was a fantastic exercise for drawing and inking because I was doing a picture (at least) every single day and they were varied and all over the place.

After 30 Days finished, I went on my Taiwan trip. Here my art feed turned into a hilarious juxtaposition of travel photo diaries, travel watercolours and screaming about Yu Yu lol. During the trip I completed the white pages section of my sketchbook and got back into Fineliner+water. When I returned I also started (more seriously) focusing on illustrations and comics for a Yu Yu Hakusho fanbook. Yu Yu everywhereeee

All that YYH drawing helped a lot in terms of two things:

  1. Improving my overall ability in getting down poses and drawing guys and – very important – making it easier for me to draw people facing the right (lol). Still not the easiest thing but I feel like it’s somewhat less of a struggle now.
  2. Having something I really wanted to draw, over and over, also made me more motivated to play with new, little used, and/or unfamiliar drawing media. In the past, I generally only used pencil, watercolour, and sometimes digital (but very rarely), and of course pen for inking comics when I have to. I still stick pretty close to those basics, but aside from the brush pen and Pilot Fineliner+water technique I’ve been using, I also used pencil crayons and coloured pens, mixed brush pen and watercolour and metallic markers/inks, painted on etegami postcard, and did a bit more digital art than I had expected as well.

Moral of the story: being obsessed with stuff can help kick your butt to do things …

The derailing power of Yu Yu Hakusho

That said, being obsessed with stuff can also ruin otherwise well-laid plans. In the beginning of the year, I was pretty focused on original works and fleshing out characters and stories I had, but they got kind of swept away by the YYH nostalgia.

Similarly, I had started developing a couple of zine ideas that had been in my head/in pieces on scraps and Google docs for a while. I merged them, starting blocking out content and painting, and then stopped working on them when you-know-what kicked in. I feel like the art I do have finished or partially completed is kind of dating itself now. I still haven’t decided what I’ll do with them.

2015 art goals

  • Get more comfortable with doing looser, more abstract stuff, and stop overworking all my paintings so much (this will probably never happen, but I can try!).
  • Complete a Yu Yu Hakusho (Yusuke) fanbook, as well as a contribution to a Yu Yu Hakusho collaborative artbook.
  • Make a Taiwan zine.
  • Make more zines in general! One of these days I’d also like to nail things down and make a multi-issue zine.
  • Another original comic!

Best of luck to everyone in their 2015 resolutions and dreams!

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