Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What's great about doodling for a whole month?

This past October, I decided to participate the drawing event called Inktober for the first time. Normally, I sketch my own ideas but on a smaller and often a slower scale. The last time I participated in a group was during Illustration Friday's early days. Then life got busy, kids came along and that included many schedule changes. 

As illustrators, we want to sketch randomly and produce self-directed work every day. Between client work and self promotion we can't always fit it into our already busy lives. 

So, what's great about cutting loose and sketching for a whole month? 

• It created momentum to keep sketching more and more. I'm addicted!

• I received great feedback and many new followers mainly on my blog, twitter and Instagram

• Speaking of blogs, it's a great thing to post about each day. 

• It feels like progress because its designed to be done on a regular basis. 

• It gave me something to look foreword to. 

• It broke up my schedule but in a good way. 

• I got to sketch things I've put off for years or ideas I've always wanted to pursue. 

• I got to stretch my noggin' while working on improving my concepts. 

• It let me tackle problem areas in my drawing.

• I enjoyed planning out each drawing. 

• I found it relaxing. 

• It lightened my mood because I added humour to my ideas and the occasional play on words. 

•  I got to just enjoy getting back to basics- the freedom to just mess around with good ol' paper, pencils, pens, and erasers. Drawing with no pressure or deadlines felt great. It felt like childhood and that was the best part of all! 

Happy creating! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Momentum is a momentous thing!

"Sometimes being pushed to the wall gives you the momentum necessary to get over it!" -Peter de Jager

Isn't it amazing how momentum can feel like a momentous occasion?  

We all have huge hopes for each new day. We wake up with a fresh head. We gather ourselves together in the morning and eventually make our way to our desk. Upon sitting down, our ideas should just come naturally, shouldn't they? You'd think so! We have all the equipment, tools and our creative brains on alert. So what's missing? 

Momentum isn't about a kick ass studio space with stuff or the romantic notions we have about what our careers should look like. It's a process. It's a schedule mixed with ideas, doodles, messes, piles of paper, sticky notes and many good and not so good habits. 

It's the secret spice to getting it all done. When we get momentum, we don't want it to stop. We want to bottle it and a do a dance around it. It feels that rare! 

When we lose it, well... I don't need to remind you how bad that feels. 

I've lost my momentum numerous times in the past 5 years. Being an adult comes with hiccups and earth shaking changes. I took some of it in stride and other times I just felt like being quiet. Those frustrating times were the moments that counted. These times forced me to make decisions and evaluate everything. Now I know momentum comes at certain times and in spurts. 

"If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum." -Holly Near

One of the many concerns illustrators have is the worry of not being able to keep it all going. Freelancing is slippery state. Burnout, boredom and mistakes can be motivation killers. We dislike being derailed and we dislike the uncertainty it causes even more. People might notice that we are not a 100%! We could be found out ...because of course, we all need to appear that we are working 14 hours a day as illustrators. We worry so much about so many freelancing things. 

"One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals." 
-Michael Korda

Often we need to trick ourselves into momentum. It needs a reason and a purpose...and some cases, a theme! For me, I start small. I start with one thing. I start by creating a series of ideas. I sit down and do something...anything! By going against the grain, it often starts a new habit. 

To me, this habit is defiance. On the bad days, I twist the mood a bit. I do the opposite or I just deliberately make a mess. That's fine with me as long as it's something. 

I've learned momentum requires movement. Momentum needs to be coffee fueled, nudged and given a purpose. Momentum cannot be put off. It needs to be given the attention it deserves when it comes to visit. When life changes your plans (and it will) your brain will still force some ideas to come out. It's best to take advantage of that time even when excuses are easier to make than actually working. 

Momentum requires belief and commitment. You need to believe it's all worth it and that you can produce great things. Commitment is the glue of momentum. I may have ups and downs as an adult, but the commitment remains as a reminder that I'm on a good path however skewed and rough it may be feel sometimes. 

Happy making! And as a reminder: it's nablopomo or as many like to call it, national blog posting month. Happy blogging! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Body Of Work

© Holly DeWolf- A body of work! 

"New ideas pass through three periods: 1. It can’t be done. 2. It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. 3. I knew it was a good idea all along!"
Arthur C. Clarke

Isn't it amazing how our styles can change over the years? 

Redesigning a website was a huge reminder to get tough on my work and select certain pieces that work better than others. This can be quite a process depending on how big that pile is. Quite frankly, it made my head hurt to narrow it down to one grouping. 

Sitting in a Sentry safe is my body of work. As I reminisced over old projects, some of the work made me cringe and some of it made me what was I thinking. The good work makes me smile and the older work makes me feel wiser. The best part- it's all mine made with my two hands over the past 20 years. 

When critiquing my body of work, I always remind myself to try and stay kind. As you know, we are ALWAYS our worst critics. 

Quite simply, a body of work is a process: 

1. It takes time and patience- 
I remember the days when I felt I wasn't getting anywhere and my concepts were still weak. Little by little, challenges were met and troublesome problems were figured out. I remember certain things like noses, hands and certain objects like bikes were hard to get my pencil around. Over time, I learned methods and techniques to make it easier. I still hit hard spots every once and a while but now I can maneuver the work a lot faster than before. 

"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience." Hyman Rickover

2. It can take a lifetime- 
A portfolio is a constant process of eliminating and adding work. Style is everything in our industry and keeping our work out there and current is a full time job. I say keep the bad work. Look at it often and let it be a reminder of how far you're come. If it's really terrible, see it as a challenge by re-doing it so you can say you mastered that idea! 

"Believe in something larger than yourself. . . Get involved in the big ideas of your time." Barbara Bush

3. Reinvention- 
We must grow and change as illustrators. We need feedback even if it feels harsh at times. Rejection is part of the process and reinvention is no different. Reinvention means to grab something new, to make major changes or improvements to your work, remake or redo it completely or make it useful in a new way.  

"Ideas can be life-changing. Sometimes all you need to open the door is just one more good idea." Jim Rohn

4. Education- 
Learning daily is more than just a motto that I live by. It also prevents boredom and the general routine working at home creates. Education is important to me because I am a sponge and I like collecting knowledge even if I do not use it right away- a plethora of useful/useless knowledge is good for you I say! Education is important because I'd like to teach in the future. I've made a lifetime out of sharing ideas and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. 

"A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimension."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

5. Practice makes better-
A continual process of building a body of work is to practice everyday. I make doodles, sketches and concepts daily. Some of these doodles wont make it to the illustration stage. The ones that do are made into client work or self directed work. It's all part of the building process. 

"Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is way great spiritual giants are produced." Swami Vivekananda

6. Creative confidence
Developing a sense of creative self can take a lifetime depending on your personality and the types of work you get. The feedback, community and support you have makes a huge difference too. Sharing ideas has always helped me grow and that kind of education is priceless all by itself!  

"Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done right."
Walt Disney

7. Dry spells- 
There are many things that can prevent the work from happening from burnout to the challenges life throws at us. Early on, these set back were not welcomed at all. Now I see the downtime as a mini vacation to put my efforts elsewhere. Yes, I'm a recovered workaholic and I believe in stepping away more and more as I get older. I used to be on 24/7 and I can tell you it leads to burnout and creative restlessness. Dry spells are your brains way of telling you something. It typically means, you need a break, a new routine or a vacation! 

"My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living."
Anais Nin

8.  Certain themes and trends-
As illustrators, we are going to nurture what interests us at any given moment. We are going to be constantly looking at what the market is doing, what other illustrators are doing, what's trending and what the public is drawn to. I love working with themes because it challenges me. Trends also challenge me, but I try add my own spin on it or create the opposite to what is popular! 

"Good ideas are common – what’s uncommon are people who’ll work hard enough to bring them about." Ashleigh Brilliant

9. Experimentation- 
Constant mess making is really important even if it does not lead to anything other than a full garbage can. I take my daily creative hour pretty seriously. It's a nice time to just make something without a plan, without a client, free of judgment while creating something without a purpose. It's liberating! 

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
Oscar Wilde

10. So many mistakes-
Let's face it, we are all amateurs at some point. We blow things up and some projects go bad and that's okay. Illustration is not about being perfect because it's not a race or something that just suddenly ends. If we were perfect at it, we would get bored of it. There would be no progression, learning curves, forks in the road or challenges to it. Perfect means done. To stay creative is to actively act on ideas and to never be finished. 

"Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take a calculated risk – and to act." Andre Malraux

One more: 
"An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied." Arnold H. Glasgow

Thanks for reading. Let's keep the conversation going! 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Coffee & Links February 28, 2014- Time Well Wasted!

© Holly DeWolf- Coffee Mug Doodles

This week I've come across a a mix of that includes exercise, good advice, a new photo gadget, reasons to be self employed, the love of fonts, classic animators, a grammar lesson and a call for submissions for an upcoming book. 

Great quote of the week: “Don't give up! It's not over. The universe is balanced. Every set-back bears with it the seeds of a come-back.” 
― Steve MaraboliUnapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience.

• Maira Kalman on Curiosity, Courage, Happiness, and the Two Keys to a Full Life
“What protects you in this world from sadness and from the loss of an ability to do something? … Work and love.”

• I'm an elitist (You might be as well)-From Seth Godin. 

"Elites aren't defined by birth or wealth, they are people with a project, individuals who want to do work they believe in, folks seeking to make an impact. Averaging down everything we do so that it becomes cheap and ubiquitous and palatable to all is a hollow goal."

How exercising can make us happy! -From Elephant Journal. 
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”- Plato

• It’s Amazing How Much of the World You Can See In Just One Minute. 

• 42 Successful People Share The Best Advice They Ever Received

The narrative clip automatic camera & app- could this be the nest best way to show your process? 

55 reasons to be self employed! 

• The science behind fonts (and how they make you feel)

10 Thoughts for illustrators. 

For those moments when you feel frustrated or just wanting to give up. If this little piggy can surf then we can do anything! 

The gorgeous reality of not being liked by everyone!

The CALARTS class that created a renaissance in animation. 

Video- Fix your grammar!

Book submission: Design Funny-A Graphic Designer's Guide to Humour. Deadline in March 25th. 

Webinar: A Webinar: Researching the Right Agent, Editor, and/or Publishing House.

A bit a creative Karma to pass along: I was asked by Stéphane Lauzon to post his submission to the Aribus image contest being held in Montreal. The Expo+ concept is a contest, in collaboration with the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), to mark the deployment of its new bus shelters. Please vote! 

Thanks for reading my blog. Here on Diary Of An Illustrator, I love to share advice, tips, and great information. If you have articles you'd like me to include in an upcoming Coffee & Links, drop me a line at holly[at]hollydewolf[dot]com. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or on Illustration Notes

Monday, February 24, 2014

In The Studio: What To Do With Old Gouache

Can dried up old gouache be saved?
 Try this easy process! 

To start off the week, I've decided to do a little studio house keeping. I guess that pre-Spring cleaning phase is setting in. I found a lot of dried up gouache that needed some attention The easiest way to bring gouache back to life is with items from the kitchen: 

• a butter knife
• a small spoon
• a pestle and mortar
• warm water
• scissors or utility knife
• bowls to place the old gouache into
• a dropper

Gouache is a chalky paint and dries up over time for many reasons: paint gets into the grooves of the cap which prevent it from a tight seal, the paint caps and tubes crack plus constant temperature changes in your studio space can alter your paint over time. 

Gouache from a container: The first step is to scrape the dried gouache out of the container with a butter knife. After you remove all the paint, wash the jar completely so the cap and jar rim is free of from paint residue. Set your paint aside in a bowl. 

Gouache from a tube: 
It's good to have an extra paint container for the gouache you'll remove from a tube. You'll have to cut down the side to get at the dried gouache. From here, scrape the paint out with a knife an put it aside in a bowl. 

Now comes the fun part! 
Once you have all the dried paint scraped out, now you get to make a fine gouache powder with the pestle and mortar. This will get messy when you add the warm water and begin to mix it all together. Only add small amounts to make the desired thickness. Try a dropper so you can control how much water you addFrom here, put the new paint back into a container with a small spoon. Seal it with a cap. Clean your pestle and mortar and start reworking another dried up colour. Now you have new paint that is ready to use! 

This is no guarantee it wont dry up again, but it does save you money. Gouache is expensive so it's totally worth saving your favourite paint colours.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Studio Buddy!

It just occurred to me that I have not introduced to you my new studio buddy. Meet Toby. He is our rescue kitten. When we got he was not at all well so we were not sure if we were going to be able to keep him. But, he has proven to be a tough and resilient cat so he will definitely fit in fine here. He does not meow. He is good at catching red laser lights. He came equipped with cloaking abilities-he disappears for hours! We just stop looking for him sometimes and wait til he reappears. He is a bed hog. And we have currently taught him to sit. Best part: it's nice to have another heartbeat around when the kids are in school plus he's cuddly too!  

A month of making!

© Holly DeWolf- A month of making! 

January had a slow start for me. Besides making coffee and making my driveway visible again and again, I did manage to get some work done. The month of January I concentrated on:

- a new book. I'm currently working on the concept and the table of contents. 
- creating a podcast with designer/ illustrator Brian Bowes. We are continuing with our Creative Coffee concept. I'm looking forward to chatting about illustration once again. 
- getting back in to blogging. 
- taking online classes to refresh my skills and to gain new skills. Best part: I can do them at my own pace on my own time when it's quieter. 
- messing rough with ideas for a couple of children's books. 
- some self directed work to keep fresh.  
- a total reorganization of my studio. I like to de-clutter after New Year's. It's a great way to start fresh.  
- and adopting a new exercise routine. I have now added yoga to my day. 
- and getting my new website underway. Great part: it will be assessable on all platforms- computer, phone and tablet.  

We've also gone loom crazy in the house as well. My two daughters have been loving their new hobby especially on the storm days. Speaking of storms, we are currently having another winter blast today. Looks a good excuse to stay in and make things!  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Coffee & Links for Jan 30 2014: Time Well Wasted!

© Holly DeWolf- Coffee Mug Doodles

How's everyone's 2014 going so far? Keep in mind Chinese New Year is tomorrow so you can ring in some fresh new year well wishes. The year is still fresh and there's much to do and create. Throw some learning in there and you have lots to keep you busy. This week's links include a how to video, a sound bite, art tips, productivity hacks, and some really interesting articles on how to deal with challenging conversation and how things go viral. As a nice bonus I've added a free class that is being offered. Happy reading. Happy making and have a great week! 

Great quote:
"There is no great genius without a mixture of madness." -Aristotle 

How to not get discouraged by the success of others.