Sep 15, 2013

The state of the (my) art

It's another one of those 'pop your kettle on, it's a long one' kinda posts, I'm afraid. But the subject matter is quite important to me and is weighing on my mind. It's my art, you see, it's giving me some bother...

I want to say "I'm at a crossroads" with my artwork, but I don't think that is the term for it, as 'crossroads' can tend to have a negative connotation not too dissimilar to the saying, 'at the end of my tether.'
I think I'm actually at a T-junction. And, yes, I'm aware of my overuse of analogies involving paths and roads. But I detour...

Over the past few years, I've been getting a good amount of work in the fantasy gaming industry. I haven't yet cracked any of the big publishers, but I think I probably could if I continue on down that road. Let's call that the right-hand turn at the T-junction. Down that way, I could build a career as a fantasy artist and be pretty happy doing it. I'd still find time to do the Faerie stuff, and it is entirely possible that the Faerie stuff could take over the fantasy work.

The other option is to take this opportunity, when I have no jobs on the slate, to make my future intentions clear. This is the left-hand turn at the T-junction. I want, as I have ever wanted, to be a Faerie artist/writer and a children's book illustrator. But I also want to keep doing some fantasy stuff. I don't want to restrict my artistic horizon, but I don't want it to be too broad either. So, down this road is my artistic pursuit of choice, with some other work I like to do on the side.

This choice, left or right, has implications. If I go to the right, I will be using more paint like acrylics and oils, to the left is watercolours and pencil. To the right is heroic anatomy, armour, weaponry and settings. To the left is whimsy, trees, artistic licence and freedom.

I really want to turn left. It's calling to me more than the other road. I look at artists such as Larry MacDougall, Jean-Baptiste Monge, Brian Froud and a more recent discovery, Emma SanCartier and I want to live that life. This is not an envy thing, it's just that the lifestyle they have appeals to me. I want to be a Faerie craftsman, be it in picture form, written word, sculpture or whatever. I want it to take over my life. I want it to BE my life. I think it is what I am meant to do, I think it is what I will do.

This week's holiday has given me lots of time to be introspective. It has all timed out perfectly, actually. With the previous two holiday weeks I've had from the bookshop this year, I've had a pile of work to get done for jobs. But this week has been job free. The 100 Heads challenge also finished up just a few days before the holiday. So I've been able to give myself some time to think about the future, instead of just going from job to job.

The stuff I have been doing over the past week has helped to cement my desire to turn left, too. I've been doing some writing, a little bit of drawing, and I even pulled out some clay to see what I can come up with over the next couple of days. I've been enjoying it immensely, all of it. Why, just the other night, just before nodding off to sleep, I had one of those ideas that makes your brain burn with the intensity of it. Two of the images from the 100 Head challenge that folks seem to like more than most of the others, were the two Standing stones with faces on them that I did. Well, what if I were to make a series of little sculptures of those? I woke up yesterday morning with the desire to give that a go, so I drew some quick designs of possible options-

I was so smitten with this idea that I whipped up a couple of rough testers to get an idea of whether they could work too-

Once these are dry, I'll work up some paint on them and give them a coat of varnish too, I'll post pictures of the finished results once they're complete.

I've never really done any sculpting, I've done the odd thing here and there for family members and such, but it's not a medium I'm very familiar with. But, by goodness, it's fun. These two quick studies certainly impressed upon me the skill required to do it well, but it's something I'd definitely like to explore.

I'll be working in that self-drying clay stuff to begin with, but I'd like to branch out into wood and other materials too. If people like them, I might start making moulds and selling them, but we'll see. At this stage, it's all about being a versatile Faerie craftsman.

As far as the artistic work, it is my aim, with the aid of the short stories I am writing, to get together a portfolio of pieces that could be used as children's book illustrations. These will then be sent out to publishers with the goal of getting me some work in that field. My work in this field is more of a classical style, similar to the Golden Age of Illustration. This style hasn't necessarily fallen out of favour in the current market, but it is by no means the popular way to go. I'm cool with that. I think the work is there for that style still, it's just a case of approaching the right publishers and producing quality work.

I could, of course, simply approach a publisher with a completed book of my own and try and get it published. This is viable, but perhaps more risky. By having a couple of illustration credits under my belt, and thus, a name better known in the field, the chances of a book being accepted for publication increases. It's a safer way to go, with less likelihood of failure.

As you can see, I have far-reaching plans. I've set them up so that varying degrees of success will be sufficient; it's not a case of 'all or nothing.' I intend to make the Realms of Faerie a brand of sorts. It will be an umbrella for all of the work I put into it; be it books, art or crafts. Once I have some more things completed and to my satisfaction, I will be looking into places like Etsy to hawk my wares, some time next year, fingers crossed.

To sum all of that up:
  • It is my intention, from here on out, to focus the majority of my efforts in the pursuit of being a Faerie craftsman. There is room for other work, but the Faerie stuff is going to be my main focus.
  • I am going to be working on my Realms of Faerie stuff more than ever, mostly in the form of Willow and the Otter and the short stories.
  • I will be creating a portfolio for children's book publishers as I do this.
  • I will hopefully be branching out into other media, under the umbrella of Realms of Faerie.
  • I want to create a place for people to buy this stuff in 2014.
  • I am still available for commissions and small jobs, that won't change. But I can't be taking on big projects at this time.
  • This isn't necessarily a new chapter for me or anything like that, it is more like the setting in stone of the thing I have wanted to do since I was about 5 years old.
So, from here, things are going to get interesting. This is where it all starts, this is where my path to being a Faerie craftsman begins, officially.

Join me, won't you?

The next post, which will be up in a day or two, will go into detail a little more about what I will be working on in the coming months. Unable to resist the urge to do one more path analogy, this post will be a roadmap of what I'll be working on in the near future.
There, I'm done. I promise...

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