Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Self-portraiture and time

Over the years, I've drawn four self-portraits. One digital, three traditional. Only one of these three hasn't been on my blog before, and it's this first one. They are all in chronological order by the way.

It's from 2013. It's pretty sketchy, and the outlines are very strong. There really isn't much finesse to be found in it. For some reason, it reminds me of porridge. I drew it looking into the mirror. I like how I nonchalantly I handled drawing the hair. I definitely didn't have that dark a beard back then, but then again the whole drawing seems to have been done in rather heavy strokes.

This one I like and hate at the same time. It's from last summer, drawn with an Instagram picture as reference. You can quite dramatically see how a lighter grip and press on the pencil really worked out for me. The outlines are much lighter and thinner, for example. That makes it look much more serious, less like just a sketch.

The likeness is great, which I'm really proud of. The picture I used for reference wasn't the best quality, and I had to wing it a bit. Where I would've needed some more guidance is around the eyes. Along with the flat-ish nose, they really bother me. The lines are way too harsh and dark, especially the lines that make up my upper eyelids. It's a shame those two areas turned out so sub-par, they stand out so well. They're stabbing me, right in the eyeballs. If not for that, it would be great.

This one is most recent, and was on the blog not long ago. I don't know, really. Technically, it's better than both the others, but the lighting is quite flat and unappealing. The likeness is decent, but the proportions are somewhat off. It's good and bad, like the one from 2014, but for other reasons.

What can we conclude from these drawings? Well, my technique got a lot better, and so did my skin problems.

One self depicting portrait per year. I think that's more than most young artists draw. While I guess someone could think it's a bit egotistical to draw "so many" self-portraits, that's not how I see it. I think I'll be glad to have these when I grow older. One, they're my drawings, two, they're pictures of a younger me. It's like double nostalgia!

Not having to wade through pages of paparazzi-poop on Google Images for good reference pictures of people I don't even know is reason enough to draw these, the pictures I found on my harddrive (and mirror) anyway.

If anyone hasn't gotten bored with looking at my pictures already, the digital portrait can be found in this entry:

portrait, education och facebook

Coincidentally, this is also the entry with which I revealed my blog to everyone I know and the public (facebook.). It's from 2012, and the portrait is arguably the best of the bunch.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The past 4 years + nude woman!!

Three of my past four years have been spent learning things in a building representing what in the Finnish school system is called upper secondary education. This entity of education is supposed to act as an academical bridge to prepare me for tertiary education at a university. Also, this level in my education is supposed test me, and grade me. Based on the results in my final exam, I may or may not proceed to the next level of education. I graduated a year ago, but as I was dissatisfied with my final exam results, I gave one subject another go, and today I got the results.

I was dissatisfied with my original results, because I thought they obviously didn't match my abilities in that subject. I was dissatisfied doubly, because the low marks turned out to be quite the obstacle for me in advancing to the studies I am interested in.

I didn't get any better at the subject in the year that went between the two times I wrote that same exam, yet somehow, the amount of points my second exam was scored was nearly double that of my first try. I didn't read a lot the second time, I didn't concentrate harder. In fact, I'd say my time away from school made me worse at that subject. But luck (Or, maybe bad luck, rather) played a huge part. 

How can it be that luck is the deciding factor in how productive my four last years of education have been? If you get low marks, your entire 3-4 years spent studying at a upper secondary school have been a waste of time. There really is no point in going to a gymnasium, as they're called in Swedish, if your grades don't end up good enough to get you in on whatever studies it may be you want to spend your next 5 years with.

How absurd is it then, that my grade in this subject went from being absolutely mediocre, to top marks, without me improving at all? How can a system that coolly decides where your future lies be this arbitrary, and why is that acceptable? It's completely outrageous. It took me one year to fix the mess that one doctor of literature in Helsinki made on the whim decision that my while my essay exam work was good, it was 'irrelevant'.

It's absolutely stupid. Christ. Just thinking about it makes my blood boil, and I remember how utterly disappointed I was last year. I even got a scholarship with recommendations in that subject at my graduation, I knew I was good at it.

Thankfully, what happened in my case isn't very common in other subjects. But even there, a lot of it has to do with luck. The testing simply isn't rigorous enough to mitigate a spot of plain good luck.

I'm not going to say I'm not happy. I had a victory dance when I got the results this morning. I hadn't dared hope I'd do this good. But the system is so bad and it's such an important part of our education, that it's infuriating. I am really quite bitter about it. But I'm also so super happy now that I had the chance to make it better, and happy it went so well this time. At last, I got that acknowledgement, bekräftelse.

What else? Well, I guess I made a promise when I wrote that entry title.

I'm sure I've been over this before, but it may seem like I only draw pictures of men. And to some extent, it's true, because I find it's a lot easier, thus the results are more satisfying. But I do draw women, too! And when I do, they're, uh, sometimes kinda naked (I mean, give me a break. I'm a man.). So this is the second time I'm uploading a nude drawing on my blog! 

The angle is a bit unflattering, and she doesn't have any eyebrows (or hands, I was apparently focusing on something else), but I like it. The shading is very complex and nuanced. I used reference. The hardest part was figuring out the proportions. I'm used to drawing male proportions, so I thought it looked strange. Translating the color picture into different shades of grey was also a bit tricky. 

Here's another, less graphic. This one I don't think is done from a direct reference, but I probably looked at some portrait material on Google to figure out the mouth and neck (Which I think looks super weird).

I thought about censoring the jiggly parts in the first image, but I didn't do that the last time I uploaded nude drawings and I want to be consistent.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A fancy gif and PASSION

Bland artwork - Hmm, I know, I'll make a gif out of it! 10/10

I think it's quite amazing how I've steadily gotten better at traditional pencil on paper art during the last 2-3 years, but I haven't gotten any better at digital drawing. Actually, it feels like I'm worse at it now than I was before! If you take a peek into the past and the archives, you'll find art that will reinforce that sentiment. 

For example, take a look at this wonderful digital drawing from 2013.

I mean... Christ. It feels like it wasn't even me who did that. That is the absolute top drawing I ever made with a drawing tablet and a PC. It's originally from mid 2012, but the version in that entry is from early 2013 and had been slightly improved. But that's so long ago! What was life like back then? Dinosaurs?

In retrospect, part of what made it so great was, well, I spent many hours on it. I had such good flow that evening, and night. And the morning after, too, when I finished it. I also used a photo of my own face as a reference for the proportions and perspective of the face (Not for the shading, though!). I really haven't done any digital work by reference since, which I'm sure is one reason I'm not making any progress. Drawing from reference and then repeating it without reference is a really efficient way to learn. But, well, I just haven't been doing that. 

In fact, I don't draw enough on my tablet at all. That's the big problem. I don't spend enough time practicing. I don't draw a lot on paper either, but my pencil and paper skills don't deteriorate nearly as quickly as my digital drawing skills do. And they really are two very different skills. You get rusty very fast if you don't consistently draw on the computer.

I guess the fault is in me not being passionate enough. Passion is greedy. Passion always asks you to be more passionate about your passions. It seems you can never have just enough passion for something. Passions are by nature catastrophically unsatisfiable. It's at the core of the artists struggle with never being good enough. Passion is such an ungrateful bitch!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Nostalgic egoboost

Oh my god. What an awesome and random thing to do.

Today, after work, I went to my old school (From where I graduated about a year ago.) and I was invited by a student, perhaps a bit in jest, to attend a lesson with them. They told me there would be pretty few students attending the lesson, and there would also be cake. I wasn't sure at first, but I didn't really have anything else to do, and I knew the teacher. So I went! We analyzed and discussed about a couple speeches, and we ate cake.

And... Wow. I never knew I missed studying this much. It made me feel really good. In the last 10 months, while I've been in the army, unemployed, and most recently working, I have learned nothing. Well, nothing academic anyway, and I really am quite an academic person. I thrive on trying to be intellectual, it's important to my self-esteem. Attending that lesson and just participating in the discussion was a huge kick for me.

On the flipside, I don't think there's anything that makes me feel more ashamed and worthless than making a stupid mistake, and feeling I'll be perceived as dumb. When I think about it, those kinds of situations make me almost irrationally self-conscious. I mean, in the end, being smart and knowing a lot isn't all that important. Being a good friend, or doing good deeds, those are the kinds of things that actually matter and are what we should all strive for. But yet I put such value in simply being smart. It's actually rather foolish. I'd guess a lot of how I'm feeling is a reflection of the culture we live in. Education and success are very closely linked, and success is the holy grail of western culture.

I realize my blog has taken quite the introspective turn lately. I hope you readers don't mind. I have to write about things that interest me, and there isn't a lot of things happening around me to spark enough interest to warrant an entry on this blog. But I do feel bad for deviating from the blog's purpose, it was never supposed to have much to do with my personal life. 

Anyway, it really made me look forward to starting studying at a university. My life right now feels so very mechanical in comparison.

When I last visited my parents' house, I took the time to scan in some older work! I had forgotten about this one completely, and while the motive of a zebra in a suit isn't my original idea, I really like it. I especially enjoy the contrast between how stiff the body looks, and how organic and living the head seems. The pattern is also quite lovely and adds quite a lot of depth. When I drew it, I though it was okay at best, but I look back fondly now. Much like how I've felt about studying.