Art Goals 2k17

It’s always hard to think of how I want to improve, because the truth is that I want to improve at everything, constantly. But it’s useful to break down those things, to think about how I’m going to improve and here is my list:

 A sketchbook page a day

It doesn’t need to be fancy, or from my imagination. I can do studies of other people’s art, I can do figure studies from @onairvideo, I can draw something in my house, or sketch out thumbnails for an ongoing project. But everyday: draw. I’m hoping to use this to improve in drawing: people (poses, hands, expressions, clothes) and places (details, perspectives, composition).

Enrol in Schoolism courses again

I want to do at least 3 over the course of the year. I’ve done them before and seen a vast improvement, but then I started doing them with less effort put into the homework and, well, it just doesn’t work as well. My current thoughts for courses are: Painting with Light and Colour, Essentials of Realism, Storyboarding and/or Landscape Sketching.

Projects with a purpose

It’s good for me to do pieces just for fun and I create some of my best work like that. But I improve quicker when I’m forced to think creatively, forced to draw things I tend to avoid, forced to consider audience and communication. So I’m going to be doing multiple projects this year. Some short stories like The Namejs’ Ring, some editorial pieces, some branding/advertising/posters for things I like, etc. I’m going to look at the end point, ignoring my skills, and then find a way to get there.

Reflect and tweak

I’m going to set a week (maybe 3 day?) minimum time before posting my finished work. This is so that, while I am working to a clock, I’m not posting pieces without some time out to reflect and change things up. I regularly look at a piece a few days later and see how just a few things could improve it a lot. That’s for ~finished~ pieces, and presumably excluding those I do for twitter’s #colour_collective group. I also intend to do more doodles/sketches that are /for/ posting quickly and will never be fully worked through to a neat, nicely coloured piece. (Like mini comics to improve my expression/story telling, character design pages, animal studies, hand studies, studies in general…)

Also: career stuff. Get rejected:

  • go to the conference in May with a kickass portfolio
  • apply to agencies again (I did this a lot in 2015 but not 2016)
  • determine which online lists/sites are worth putting a portfolio on
  • create a list of magazines and submit to them regularly

glittersmith replied to your photo “some days i just… fight a picture too hard. i probably won’t finish…”

Sometimes a pic is not meant to be. Lovely composition though!

🙂 thanks

it really is a composition I’m happy with, which was making me extra sad bc it wasn’t going to be ~finished~

but in reality, a good composition can be reused and recycled, so maybe I’ll use this composition in another picture some day.

some days i just… fight a picture too hard. i probably won’t finish this (inspired by @taryndraws‘ super cool name-meaning picture) but who knows. this picture has not taken well to the concept of sketch -> finish, and I am tired and it was for no reason anyway so it’s v hard to motivate myself. have a sketch.

2016: A Rambly Art Review

(Pictures chosen for the month based on how much other people liked them at the time, how much I still like them, how much they’ve influenced my work…etc and I’m just not gonna include HP:PoA pics bc there are too many of them.)


My picture book portfolio favourite, amongst just about everyone, somewhat to my disappointment because I just…  I like this individual picture and I had fun making it, but idk how to adapt this style to the more complex pictures I’m more interested in (which was a useful realisation).



I didn’t actually make this for the portfolio, just for fun, but I feel like it gave me a lot of confidence in (digital) pencil+paint, which has influenced me a lot.



Special shout out to this piece because the first time I added it to my portfolio was the first time I got an actual human response from a publisher/agency, which was enormously encouraging. It’s a piece I still come back to because I know I did a lot of things really nicely here. 

I also didn’t do this for the picture book portfolio. An early theme of the year was that the things I did for the portfolio I liked less than the things I didn’t do for the portfolio….



Pictures for the picture book portfolio submitted, I was dreaming of the next big projects. I was also just relaxing and doing art for fun/learning, without putting too much pressure on myself. And in such chill circumstances I created one of my favourite things of the year. 



(I mean… just in purely how much it influenced the rest of my year, it has to be the picture of the month…)



Making a series of images was a really big deal for me, and the technique of (digital) coloured pencil over lightly shaded backgrounds is something I’m still experimenting with at the moment.



Perhaps this one should be something from The Namejs’ Ring, which taught me a lot about dedication and I still love it a lot. But I want to include this picture because it taught me that specificity is important. Those rocks, you guys. I was scared of rocks before this. But the thing about being scared of drawing something is just that you can look at references of a particular type of that thing (rocks, trees, buildings etc) and get better at drawing them??! Lol anyway.



I don’t think this is the best piece I did in August, but I am proud of it, and the main thing was that I took SO MANY risks. This was enormously hard for me. Also, the HP project was going on at this point, and I’d discovered how to do perspective in Clip Studio Paint, so you can see that I have a background in perspective (though still fairly empty).



Fave picture of the year? Probably. By this stage I had realised that I really enjoy doing pictures that have a natural audience a little older than picture books. In addition to that, I was drawing content I love (plants! robots! inventions!) and I was feeling much more confident in my ability to draw people.

When I first got a portfolio review (like 18 months ago?) one of the things they mentioned was that my work seemed aimed at older kids (which they didn’t see as a criticism, just an analysis). I was kind of miffed by that because I figured most of the narrative illustration opportunities were in picture books. So for quite a while there I really tried to fit myself into a picture book mould. I’m creating much better work now that I’m not doing that…



This was a commission for a friend and I’m honestly just really proud because I know I couldn’t have done it at the start of the year. I couldn’t have done the perspective, I wouldn’t have done such a nicely populated and interesting setting, I couldn’t have drawn the hands or the likenesses or really the bodies at all. Also, I’ve got some consistency of technique going on, which is nice.


November (the month of personal busy-ness and political misery):

I drew… very few pieces of finished art, and most of them for Harry Potter. But I did make this cool twitter header for my husband and look at their cute faces 🙂



Also very little finished art and most of it HP. My fave piece I can’t show you because I drew it to submit to a magazine and idk if it’s been accepted yet. But hey, the month’s not over, and here’s something I made that I like. It has similar colours and feeling to the March picture, which was not deliberate, but is just an art safe space I go, apparently. The close-up portrait was a little out of my comfort zone, so I didn’t wanna stretch too far in colour/lighting design.

Anyway, I had a good year, with lots of technical improvement, a huge jump in consistency, and some more clarity in my overall illustration purpose/interests.