Weekly Update 1/22/18 | New Materials for Old Artists; Choosing Proper Paper; and Creating Consistent Content

Hey y’all! It’s Julian, and this is the weekly update for January 22, 2018. I’m going to be talking today about being an experienced artist with new materials, the value of using appropriate paper for whatever medium you’re working in, and also my main New Year’s resolution.

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First off, I don’t pretend to be a highly experienced artist – I just mean that I’ve been drawing for about 15 years, and seriously studying since 2016, and so I’ve tried a lot of things and failed at a lot of things. (“The beginner artist has ruined dozens of pieces; the expert artist has ruined thousands.”) So I kind of know what I’m doing…with a few things. Ink pens, I’m good at. Markers, I’m pretty good at.

But dip pens with bottles of ink and watercolor painting?!

Nope. Nope nope nope. I know NOTHING.

And yet I am trying those things right now!

I’m very new at watercolor. I reeeaaaally do not know what I’m doing. I’m screwing up a LOT. And yet…I’m having a blast!! It is actually really fun to not know what you’re doing, and to make mistakes, when you have the right approach and the right mental attitude towards it. Personally, I love trying new mediums and screwing up. I don’t always love screwing up (it’s really annoying when I accidentally plop ink in the middle of a beautiful painting!), but I really love the overall experience of trying a medium I’m not good at.

I think it’s because I love the challenge. I love that each medium has pros and cons and that each tool solves some problems and causes others. I love figuring out how the heck to work with each medium.

I’ve gotten to the point in my artistic life, I think, where I can just try new things and it doesn’t emotionally destroy me when I fail, or mess up, or whatever you want to call it – when things don’t go the way I’d imagined. The thing is, I’ve accepted that art will NEVER go exactly how I imagine it. I never will be able to pull that perfect image directly out of my head. Ever. It’s just not going to happen.

But once you let go of that pipe dream of perfection… gosh it’s fun to try!

Jimin Watercolor

Now about paper. Paper is so, so important. I think my latest piece (the boy in blue, aka Jimin Park from Kpop band BTS, pictured above) is proof of this.

I used a bit of watercolor from tubes that I got in a set of 12 for $5 from Michael’s. These watercolors are probably a nightmare to a pro, and yet even in my hands, on decent paper, I got pretty darn good results (well, I’m happy with it!). But crummy paper, even with nice watercolors, would have turned out super messy. Maybe, when I have some really much nicer watercolors, I’ll do a video discussing/demonstrating this.

My excuse for a long time was “I’ll ruin the good paper! It’s not worth it to invest in good paper! My art doesn’t deserve good paper!” That was BS. It is, to me, the same as saying “Well, I’m investing in the red and orange pencils, yes, but if I buy nice blue and green pencils, I’ll ruin them. Never mind that I’m using the reds and oranges. Nope, can’t invest in blue or green.” See? The paper is as much a tool as the paint/pencil/marker.

My point is this: Invest in paper. Doesn’t have to be Arches. Just at least buy the right kind of paper. So if you’re learning watercolors, invest in basic watercolor paper (Canson XL is great and very cheap!). If it’s uncomfortable to use fancy paper, remind yourself: Someday you will be working on fancy paper anyway, so you might as well get used to it now!

Get comfortable with the “fancy” paper as much as you get comfortable with the pen or brush. You can always have a “messy page,” a spare piece of that paper that you JUST use to test colors/paints/brushes/etc. Or doodle on a page or two. Just get your brush wet and get something on that freakin’ paper!!

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Finally, I want to talk about my biggest New Year’s resolution, which was actually just the choice of a Phrase of Intention for the year. Many people choose a “word of the year,” but I chose a phrase: Create Consistent Content. It’s my aim, my goal, my guidance for the year. When I don’t know what to do with myself, I intend to turn to this phrase and remind myself that the key to building a brand, and also the key to building a creative practice and improving on one’s work, is Creating Consistent Content!

Yeah. Yeah, I know it’s cheesy. But it’s helping me so far.

I had to find a way to quantify this, though – how to know whether I am indeed creating consistent content. Thus, here are my goals:

  • Create one color illustration (9×12″ or larger) every week in 2018. (Bonus points: Make 55 total so that it’s a bit more than once a week.)
  • Release a comic issue every other month in 2018, for a total of 6 issues. (Bonus Points: Release an offset-printed collection, containing the first 5 chapters plus the prologue, at the end of the year.)
  • Make a net profit of [number I won’t share] off of my art.

Basically these goals are to keep me accountable to that idea of Creating Consistent Content. I wanted to share them so that you can help keep me accountable too.

Well, this post is already late, so I’m going to send it off to y’all. Thank you again for all your support, and please do check out http://www.etsy.com/shop/julianjaymesart if you’d like to purchase anything and help me towards my goals!

~Julian

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