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.)


January:

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).

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February:

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.

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March:

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….

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April:

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. 

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May:

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

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June:

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.

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July:

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.

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August:

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).

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September:

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…

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October:

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.

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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 🙂

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December:

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.

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