How I stole like an artist, and Larry Mcdougal’s art influenced my painting.
Inspiration or Persperaition, what’s your creative process?
Creating art (or anything) seems to happen, at least for me, in two different ways. The most fun way is serendipitous. It’s when making the art is fun and easy and it just flows out of you like it was there all along. It must be what Michelangelo meant when he said “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”.
However, I’m not one to leave everything to chance. Unlike Kate Beckinsale’s character in the 2001 movie title Serendipity. (I didn’t um… love that movie, but I’m going to use it as an example anyway.) There are times when you have to do some work. Putting effort in the right places is what makes serendipitous moments possible.
Effort and Serendipity happily played a role in this new painting which I am calling “Racoon House”. Why? Because it’s a house where raccoons live. I know that’s not the most creative title. I found it’s best to save creative effort for where it really matters and let other things lie as needed. Hence the very boring but descriptive name.
Often the work we put into a piece of art is invisible.
Whenever an artist makes something they are bringing with them the experience they’ve gained from all the observations, paintings, sketches, and mistakes that happened before. That’s not something you can see, except in the quality of the work. But often we don’t understand what goes into a painting.
So skipping, for now, all the work I’ve done before, this image was heavily influenced by Larry Macdougal’s amazing art. Last year, I received his book Gwelf: The Survival Guide after supporting his Kickstarter. Since then, I have been pouring over the images.
Side note: As an artist, I find it hard to see something inspiring and not want to make something similar. Do you do that too?
Thus, I have wanted to create a tree house illustration ever since. While that idea was floating about in my brain I was also spending a lot of time drawing in my sketchbook.
Stealing Like an Artist
Over the past few months, I’ve been working hard to launch this website redesign, and launch my Illustration Business Masterclass. Needless to say –but I’m going to anyway– there were a lot of days that I spent hours doing fun things like trying to figure out why an image wasn’t loading correctly. (It was very thrilling.)
After fulfilling days like that, what could a person do but settle in front of the TV with their sketchbook? (A thing that actually is thrilling, for real, no sarcasm intended, unlike the last time I said something was thrilling.)
And all that sketching led to this sketch at the bottom of one page.
At which point I knew it was time to try my version of a Larry Macdougal animal house. Was there still work involved in creating this sketch? Yes, there was a lot of drawing and erasing and drawing again but overall the process felt serendipitous.
When I finished the sketch, I knew I wanted to paint it. So I did a few digital color studies, picked one, and the rest is history.
And now for the moral of the story, because I believe every good story has one. Serendipity feels great when it happens, but it usually takes work to get there.