We’re about 53 hours in and Paint Figures Better’s Kickstarter campaign is over 80% funded! I’m feeling really blessed by this. It’s stirred up all kinds of shit online, but I’m so amazed by the people who support me and want me to succeed.
Updated my article, 10 Books Every Artist Must Read because some of the books have been updated/reprinted since then and some of the info was out of date. So yeah. If you’ve never read all of these books, get on it.
I originally shared this article a few years back and I know it helped a lot of people jumpstart a study habit, so I thought I’d refresh it (and post it somewhere other than stupid locked-down Medium).
Just posted an article over on Reference.Pictures called 10 Ways to Use Reference to Make Better Art. I’ve shot thousands and thousands of reference pictures and shared them with the world. So I’m asked pretty often to help people better understand how to use reference. I thought I’d share a few thoughts about that which might help some people out.
2020 has been a shitshow but I’m kinda grateful for it.
Not everyone gets a complete life-reset. It’s hard and painful and most of the time it sucks, but coming out of it on the other side almost feels, well, liberating.
Going through awful stuff has made me appreciate all of the good things in life. I love my friends and family even more now. I appreciate their company, support, and love more than I ever have before. I love you, my supporters. In my endless striving to improve, I often lost sight of just how good I had things. I don’t do that as much any more. I take time every day to just be grateful. I’m so, so grateful for you.
I’ve also learned and grown as a person more than I normally would. If pressure can be a catalyst for change, this year has been an avalanche. There was no resisting change. Growth was essential for survival. I dove into books, spirituality, meditation, etc. to learn to open up and be a better person. It’s working. It’s not complete, because those things never are. But it’s helping.
So thank you. Thanks for being here. There were certainly times when I thought my days as an artist were over. And sometimes I still have those thoughts. But knowing that there are still people supporting me has been immeasurably encouraging. It’s nice to think I can still have a future.
2018 was the best year of my life. I know I said that about 2017 too, but there just seems to be an upward trend happening. Coincidentally, it was also a really good year for my art. I explored new subjects, remedied some of the weaknesses, got back to working traditionally, and tried whole new mediums.
These were some concept pieces for The Sin of Man. I wanted to explore some not-exactly-human humanoid species in the world. So I started with giants and pygmies. I’ve started writing some stories showing off a bit of their culture and behavior, too. I’ll publish some of that in 2019.
Some work done for Guilds of Ravnica for Magic: The Gathering. I’m including them here because this is around the time I painted them, sequentially.
The Legendary Sorceries! Dominaria was a dream job for me. I got to paint epic, iconic work in exactly the sort of formal way I love. Mark Winters gave me incredible freedom with these and I think they’re some of the best work I’ve ever done for Magic. I was honored to get to do justice to so many iconic characters/moments.
All of these were painted in 2017, but I had to sit on them for a long time.
A bit of apparel design, just because. When we were in Bali and Thailand I got the itch to try something entirely new for me. I wanted to make some cool clothing with my art on it. So I designed some work specifically for that purpose. I had to wait till we flew back to Europe and had a more consistent shipping address to see the samples, but it was a great feeling to see my work on a wearable piece of clothing.
I now sell apparel on my website and am gearing up to launch some new designs in the coming weeks/months.
Over the summer, I re-ran Art Camp 3: Landscapes. It was a chance for previous students to do it all over again as well as for a new wave of students to dive in. I hadn’t done anything with Art Camp in 2017, so it felt good to get back to it.
It’s inspired me to start working on making Art Camp 4 for 2019.
We started a podcast called Creators Chat. We had been having so many good conversations about art, life, writing, working, motivation, goals, inspiration, etc. and felt like they were good things to share with the world. So we set up a camera and started recording. We’ve now done 10 episodes and are planning on more in the coming year.
Rachel and I took the month of November to focus on writing. Her on her novel and me on my non-fiction book, How to Be a Creator. While neither of us were strictly following the guidelines of the challenge, we both wrote a tremendous amount and managed to hit our goals. It was an exhausting month and a strain to try and force so much writing out of ourselves, but it was a hell of an accomplishment.
Afterwards, I focused more on sketching and doing personal work because I needed some art therapy after all of those words:
I didn’t paint this card this year nor did it come out this year… but I did put together this video recently. So I guess that counts.
I’ve continued to experiment with new sketches as you can see above. As well as diving into some personal pieces in oils both as preparation for a refocus on traditional media and practicing to teach oils. Art Camp 4 is just around the corner, after all.
Which brings us to now, right on the cusp of a new year.
I have so many things I’ve done and so many more that I’m planning to do. I’ve never had so many possibilities or excitement for my future. I’ve mentioned probably half of the things I’ve been up to and am planning on, which should give you a pretty good idea of what my life is like right now.
I’ve already set my goals for the new year and have begun moving toward them. I’m hitting the ground running and it’s gonna be a wild ride. I hope you’ll follow along.
I’ve read a lot of books this year. I didn’t hit my target of 100 books, but I think 73 is still pretty good. I wanted to share my favorites in case you’re looking for something to read in 2019.
Most of the books I read this year were audiobooks through Audible. I’m able to listen while I paint, lift, or drive–which is a lot of listening time. I’ve had a lot of success with listening at 1.5x or even 1.75x speed. I find my mind tends to wander less at the faster pace.
I’m a really slow reader, so audiobooks help me to read more than I would normally be able to. And while quantity (obviously) isn’t everything, I tend to have a greater output when I have a constant stream of quality input. It’s an easy source of motivation for me.
The links below are all for the kindle editions, but if you go to Audible you can grab the audiobooks of all of them. You might also have luck at your local library.
Viktor E. Frankl has a powerful story of holocaust survival to share and an essential lesson to teach us. If he can find power, meaning, and some measure of fulfillment even while undergoing tragedy, surely we can too. Not only one of the best books I read this year, but one of the best books I’ve ever read.
We listened to this twice this year, both because it’s so short and so helpful. While written for writers, the lessons apply equally well to most creative pursuits. It’s also really entertaining and she’s a lot friendlier than Stephen King (though we did also listen to and enjoy On Writing this year, which deserves an honorable mention).
I was shamefully ignorant of WWI before this book. Extremely well written and interesting, this book helped to spark a greater interest in history for me. I also suggest reading his “The World Remade: America in World War I” which, obviously, covers America’s involvement as well as the motivations of all sides.
I make a note of reading fiction before bed every night. I find that non-fiction tends to spark too many ideas and too much motivation to be conducive to restful sleep. This was the best one I read this year. Steinbeck’s masterpiece is a sweeping look at humanity, morality, and myth. Fascinating characters and strong prose. It’s quite long, but worth the journey.