Managing the present vs future habits

emzus7dbliw-matt-jones.jpg

I'm finding it incredibly hard to write.

I'm just wanting to invest more time into concept art. And in doing so, it takes away from being able to get into the headspace where I can concentrate on writing.

At the moment, all I can think about is how I want to of had more work done. Since currently, the work allocated to me isn't yet complete, it becomes hard to justify that I should continue writing anything on the blog.

However, the mind space I'm in is a tunnel. I'm very aware that I'm only looking at a single leaf in the forest. In the grander scheme of things, spending a short amount of time each day to practice articulating my thoughts through word, is a very good habit. Whereas, spending this small amount of time focusing extra on concept art, will change little.

When you look at the leaf, you miss the tree. When you look at the tree, you miss the forest. When you look at the forest, you miss the leaf.

'Gotta keep changing perspectives!

I hope I continue writing!

-M

 

The First Draft

Rereading many of my past blog entries, I note that many are poorly written. They do not flow very well. And there are many unconnected ideas smashed together.

This may be because they are the first draft. I published the blog without editing. Writing straight to publish is the only way I knew.

Recently, I have watched an interview on the nerdwriter (omg only 1,000 views. Maybe in future it will have a million?!):

In the interview, nerdwriter says that one of the things that have helped him understand himself is writing.

The idea is that, by writing, you are converting your brain's cloud of thoughts into concrete reality. And it's this articulation of thoughts, that's the true genius.

Nerdwriter says that there's this weird state we all have- we're operating on old memories, on things we've read, but haven't retained. As soon as we start transferring that whole messy, cloudy, misty, area of knowledge, into explicit knowledge, you're going to start seeing a lot more in yourself.

This idea hit me hard. It made me realise that by writing I can establish thoughts into reality. I can put my airy musings of the day into tangible words. 

The first draft I write is more articulated than my thoughts (which are 'nothing'). But the first draft is still a cloudy mess. By editing my thoughts, I am revisiting my past self, smoothening the rough concrete laid previously.

Therefore, for future. I will try to edit my writing for posting!

This will lead to a higher quality, and more organised thought!

-Mark

You'll never be satisfied: The Journey of Taste

week 42-48

week 42-48

My taste has evolved through time. When I was a child I thought ACDC's TNT was a great song.

I still think it's a great song. However, when I was younger I only had two songs available to me. Now I have more... And while ACDC's TNT is still a great song, my palette has greatly widened. 

markdavidteo-taste-acdc-tnt

 

If something looks really cool and exciting to me, it doesn't necessarily mean it looks cool and exciting to you.

As we get older we learn more about the world. When we understand the 'how' of a creation, we can better appreciate it. 

I've recently watched Adam Neely's bass video on taste. 

At 0:49 he recalls:

When I was first starting out, I thought Linkin Park was the edgiest... most hardcore... music ever...

On the topic of taste he then elaborates how he has grown:

I don’t think that quite so much anymore

Adam Neely in this section shows how his previous taste has changed through time. Linkin Park is no longer the most hardcore music in his palette. Adam's taste has changed through time.

To which I think this idea of ever changing taste in relevant in my own life.

The closer I get to a goal, the more likely that the goal will have changed.

In breakdance I remember wanting so badly to learn how to windmill. I thought "If only I could windmill I would be satisfied".

This was the exact video I saw. 

I craved it.

I needed to be able to windmill.

So I practiced hard.

And a year later I could finally do windmills.

But a few months before having the move down, I could already 'see the light'. I could see the path I was on, and knew I could windmill soon. 

And at that very point where I knew my goal was already in my grasp, it wasn't as enticing as before.

The windmill looked like a golden shard from afar. But up close I saw it as painted plastic. 

And in the distance, I saw something shinier. 

My taste had evolved.

I was no longer satisfied with the windmill.


Thanks for reading!

How has your taste evolved? I'm super curious :)
Let me know in the comments!

Cheers,
Mark

 

 

 

Week 34: Painting Learning Paradox

Personal Ramble: Late post. I shouldn't consider the vlog and the blog to mirror each other. They should be thought of different mediums. And hence, require a different mindset. Thinking of both as the same this week caused me to have a questionable vlog- and also a lack of blog post.

Lately, I've been understanding painting a little bit more.

From taking Bill Perkin's Composition class at Concept Design Academy, I've become able to read images more fluently. This idea relates and goes back to art as a language. But essentially, when you learn to read images more fluently, you can deconstruct elements of the picture and understand how they are contributing to the overall whole.

With the picture as a language background/foundation in mind: I watched Marco Bucci's Painting Fundamentals video. I had seen this video before, and thought I understood completely. But now with increased painting knowledge I can more fully grasp what he is saying.

The Learning Paradox:
You Must Know An Idea BEFORE You Can Learn It,
but you Only Learn Ideas You Don’t Know

There is a paradox called the learning paradox. It's along the lines of "You must already know an idea before you can learn, but you only learn ideas you don't know".

Essentially when you 'really' know something you are able to fully articulate it. However, there are some things we think we know, but cannot explain it well with words. There is just a vague and ethereal 'knowingness' without complete rational justification.

Matt Moody a social psychologist with a Ph.D. in Social Psychology & Family Sociology, answers this paradox. He writes:

The key to unlocking this conundrum is in distinguishing the difference between Experience-Knowing, Word-Articulation-Knowing, and Whole-Knowing:
— http://www.calldrmatt.com/AskDrMatt-1237_Learning_Paradox_Explained.htm

Moody then explains that if you don't have any experience pertaining to the specific 'Word-Idea', then you cannot have the lightbulb of 'whole-knowing'. I think of it as, if you don't have a fuzzy cloud of experience in your mind, when words of electricity pass by, it has nothing to ignite. Concepts and ideas cannot spark in a vaccum. word-ideas will fly right by you, because you do not have the anchor of experience to ground them.

Whole-Knowing occurs when there is a cycle of words, ideas, and experience, building ones knowledge.

Reflecting back to painting- I could only ever understand what I had an experience of.

Previously, I had not looked at much art, nor understood visual elements. Therefore, without the experience, I did not have much mind haze in the realm of painting. Even though I had previously seen Marco Bucci's video, yesterday's second viewing taught me alot. On first viewing I thought I understood it all. But now I see it again with a cup more of art experience, his ideas spark 'whole-knowing' moments.

**Moody notes that this type of learning heavily reflects a conceptual type of knowing. The type of 'knowing' that involves mechanical learning, happens more directly in the experience of doing.

Door County Afternoon Gouache 5 1/2" x 11" by Richard Schmid

Door County Afternoon Gouache 5 1/2" x 11" by Richard Schmid

The more you know about something. The more fun it can become.

'Till next time!

-Mark

Week 29: Wrist Issues begin

Every artist I've met in the last week has their own wrist issues story.

How do I know this?

It's because I've let them know that I'm developing my own wrist troubles.

In response to my wrists issues, I am met with an aged story. They recall the tale of how they've developed their own wrist issues. How they deal with it. How to be ergonomic.

Wrist exercises. Stretch. Frequent breaks. Draw from shoulder. The advice is the same from every person. Ways to reduce symptoms.

End of the day, just 'gotta live with it right?

-Mark

Week 26: Architecture and Games

Skybridge, by Daniel Dociu

...if Dociu’s buildings and landscapes are spaces that tens of thousands of people have experienced – far more than will ever experience whatever new home is featured in starchitects’ renderings cut and pasted from blog to blog this week – then surely they, too, should be subject to architectural discussion?
— Geoff Manaugh, 2008

One reason I've begun studying concept art is due to its effect on me growing up.

Living in suburbia, I was never much exposed to the city life. The grand buildings in architecture magazines were irrelevant. The way the city functions was a mystery I had no desire to understand.

Instead, the more important gesture was the spaces in which people can interact.

I grew up playing video games. In an MMORPG, thousands routinely witness the same space. They interact within the game, playing, and enjoying themselves. The greatest space for interaction was not in the realities of architecture- it was online.

Therefore it makes sense that I want to contribute to the interactions of the virtual realm.

 

Geoffrey Ernault made this VR environment last night. Damn. I would like to do that too.

Someday...

Anyway- 'till next time!

-Mark

Week 24: Learning in non-accredited schools versus university

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Learning is nicer when you choose to learn.

I currently attend two 'trade schools'. Brainstorm School, and Concept Design Academy. Both of which teach art. I define them as 'trade schools' as you go to learn a trade. Unlike regular colleges or other institutions, there are no certificates for completion. At both Brainstorm and CDA, there are no degrees or diplomas. The reward is expertise in the student's skill.

At a university there is always pressure to finish an assignment. There's a task to be completed. And it must be completed to receive a passing grade. You are enrolled to pass exams and receive a certificate. The greater the grade, the shinier the certificate.

At Brainstorm and CDA, there are no penalties for not completing an assignment. There are no formal exams. in these trade schools I am in, learning is the fundamental goal. If the student does not complete their work- nobody cares. It's the student's choice entirely to do homework.

I feel that this mentality is better than academia. Within academia the grade comes first, and learning is an afterthought. Would you rather score 90, learn little, or 49 and learn alot? From my experience, it's a no brainer within academia. Take the 90.

I always work towards my future learning and benefit. Therefore I am learning much more in the trade school. With the removal of grades or expectations, I feel freer in my learning process. There is no pressure to complete 'busy work'. Instead I choose my own assignments that I think will give me greatest value for time. Time can be customised per situation.

I study at any institution I think I will learn the most. I choose the amount of work that I do. There are no guidelines for my curriculum. Gosh. I hope my Frankensteined education will work out. We'll find out for sure by Week 100!

Till' then, one week at a time.

-Mark

Week 19: Gamification of life. Art as a game.

On Tuesday I bought watercolours for the first time. I paid $70. Some video games are $70.

Buying paints reminded me of buying a new video game.

Except, unlike the usual video game that is completed/exhausted under 100 hours- painting would last forever.

Life as a giant game

Picking up a new profession or skill can be like playing a new video game.

The benefit about these skills, are that they never expire.

In World of Warcraft it was once cool to be the maximum level of 60, lead guilds through giant dungeons, and slaughter your foes. You would be feared in the allied lands, be famous in your hometown, and have a community of friends to back you up.

However, lets fast forward time.

Sometimes, the skill and dedication put into WoW doesn't translate to life as well as a non-gaming skill.

Don't get me wrong though, I LOVE gaming. I think it's very valuable for many people.

People scoff about gaming being a useless skill, and I'm not one of those. Owning a guild in WoW and managing your clan teaches you much about relationships and politics. e.g. "Who do I appoint admin?" "James is a good player, but he cannot lead teams and welcome newcomers..." "If I appoint someone newer to the guild, James will be pissed at me that his rank was 'overtaken'". "I'll have to talk to him about it.". There's a lot of invaluable communication skills that can be learnt in game.

Another example would be buying and selling merchandise in a market where prices are known by word of mouth (Runescape). In game you can sell 'rune essence' for 30 gold pieces rather than 15gp. But how long will you have to wait for a buyer? At 30gp it would take awhile to sell, but 15gp would sell instantly. Would the time spent trying to sell at a higher price undermine your total time spent in general? Would it be more efficient use of time to sell lower and just manually acquire more resource? There's much to learn about bargaining and time management.

The skills learnt in gaming are important. But at the end of the day the actual game will expire. It's sad but a undeniable truth. Games are rapidly developing. Most were never made to be played forever.

However, what about a skill like 'art'? Or dance?

These are more tangible skills to real life. If you become a master painter in art- not only does the game never 'expire', you can get paid!

You can play the art game with friends and gain experience within the craft. You move from beginner to pro. There's different skill levels and different geographical levels. It's an unending game with limitless possibilities. How exciting!

In fact when you become good at a few different games, you can create games within games. For example if you become good at the programming and art game, you can make a virtual game.

Perhaps virtual games, i.e. video games, are simply a sub-game of real life?

Video games are cheaper to invest in, and easier to progress. However they cap easily. When you've played GTA V for 10 hours, you're getting to an intermediate level. When you've been painting for 10 hours, you're probably still at level 1. Contrastingly, when you've played GTA for 200 hours, you've by and large finished the game in it's entirety. But, when you've painted for 200 hours, you're still a long way to finishing. GTA V is a large game. But painting is a larger game that never ends.

Yay.

Till next time homiesz!

Week 18: Efficient Art Learning

 

Edit 22/05/16: I have just reread this. Later, I will get back to this post and fix it up. Both content and writing are incredibly bad. Read at own risk.

 

The fastest way to learn art*:

I will build upon this post/idea later when I have 'gotten good'. However, for now it wouldn't hurt to write what I currently think my biggest 'breakthroughs' in art* are.

I feel as though this list could be applicable to many as I started from 0 knowledge in art.

I did not draw lots as a kid. In fact- I did not draw at all! "What a waste of time" I thought. Instead, I just played video games and rode BMX. 

Therefore I started from 0. Perhaps milestones in my path would be a good reference for others. Maybe someone will learn something from my journey.

When I started art I tried to find the most efficient way to learn.

Yes, we're all different and we all learn differently.

But this is data and information for yourself to analyse. It's always your choice to determine what you think is important. Never 'do' or 'copy' a process blindly. Understanding is 99999x faster for building long term skills. Always understand when you learn.

*Definition: In the context of this article 'art' means concept art. Or specifically "how to draw and paint cool things out of imagination so it's understandable".

Level 0: Perspective

Line Drawing in perspective by disney for 101 dalmations

History: It took awhile for us as a race to understand perspective. The most accepted idea of when we learnt perspective was in 1413. Filippo Brunelleschi traced outlines of Florentine buildings on a mirror. He noticed convergence. After other artists saw this, "nearly every artist in Florence and in Italy used geometrical perspective in their paintings". (Source: Watch more on this subject). Perspective became exponentially more used. Before that images didn't really understand perspective. That's why old paintings sometimes look 'weird' to the 'average person'.

Perspective is important because it helps you understand the world in 3D on a 2D surface. For learning to represent objects, you need to understand the rules of perspective. I personally think it's the most important thing to learn, as without perspective you can never truly and accurately represent objects in 3d space. Without learning the understanding you could always guess how things work. However, why guess? Perspective doesn't take that long to learn lol. You'll better understand how the world works with spacing and form. It truly is an invaluable skill.

You can learn perspective in many ways. Here are two resources that I like/used:

In addition, Scott Robertson has also done a Gnomon video and a book "How to Draw". I have only heard good things about both resources.

I personally read the Perspective Drawing Handbook first. I skimmed through and tried understanding the subject. It made sense to me at a superficial level. However, it took some time for the idea of perspective to harden in my mind. What really helped me was the CGMA course. After being 'forced' to do the exercises over two months, the ideals became more solid.

However, even after the CGMA course I still didn't have as well of a grasp on perspective as I do now. The reason for this is because it's simply a matter of 'practice'. I didn't 'practice' perspective by itself per se, but I did use perspective afterwards whenever I were to draw an object. The constant 'passive' use of it in all my drawings helped me further understand.

You should learn all about 1 points, 2 points, 3 points, Fisheye, Horizon Lines, Plotting Shadows for any Shape, Drawing Any Shape in 3D in perspective, and How to section/cut any shape. When you're done with that... Yay. Level up!

Level 1: Viscom. Dynamic Sketching.

drawings showing the 3 step viscom approach

For people who previously never knew how to draw, I've heard many say "This course changed my life".

So this guy called Norm Schureman used to teach a class called Dynamic Sketching/Viscom at Art Center. Art Center is like the Harvard of art in the concept art world.

In this course you'll go around drawing many objects from life. It's an extremely foundational course. By the end of the program you'll be confident in drawing any object from life. (Perhaps except people :P People are a whole new category of drawing).

The class is taught in real life at:

  • Concept Design Academy (CDA), [CA,USA]
  • Art Center (Obviously) [CA, USA]
  • Online at CGMA.
  • It is possible to self learn for free. I've heard there are videos online.

After this course I became confident drawing. I knew I could get a small resemblance to any object I wanted to draw. Organic object or hard surface. It didn't matter. The course is about the simplification of all objects. When you've learnt some principles about simplification, it then translates to every object you can think of.

Level 2: Shading. Rendering. Black and White. Scott Robertson.

Now is probably a good time to get into value.

https://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/tutorials/how-to-render-matte-surfaces-1

Lets hit the gnomon dvds with Scott Robertson's Matte Painting series. A series of 3 videos that goes from shading planar shapes, to curved, and finally complex shapes.

The main principle to take away is Form change = Value change. And Value change = Form change.

I know a guy who spent half a year practicing and learning from these videos/concepts. Afterwards he could realistically render in black and white, any object in existence and from imagination. Because he had done dynamic sketching and understood perspective, he could also draw and object too. It created a feisty skill set!

(?)Level 3: Shape/Graphic Read/Composition

Robh Roppel. Graphic LA.

Robh Roppel. Graphic LA.

This is probably where I'm at with the learning process. I don't want to comment on it prematurely. I'll further write up more when "I've gotten good". But to progress so far I understand it to be along the lines of "Drawing from Life", "Creating focal points in compositions", "Simplification of Shape", and "Graphic Read".

(???)Level 4: Colour and Light

Nathan Fowkes

I'm not really up to this level yet so I can't comment. However here is a list of resources I have found so far to be amazing:

  • Schoolism: Fundamentals of Lighting with Sam Nielson
  • Schoolism: Designing with Color and Light with Nathan Fowkes
  • Schoolism: Painting with Light and Color with Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo
  • Book: Color and Light. A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney
  • Book: How to Render by Scott Robertson

Theoretically after these 4 levels you can understand 3d objects on a 2d plane (level 0), draw any object (level 1), render in black and white (level 2), create a pleasing image (level 3), finish with emotional appeal using colour and light (level 4). Now you can take over the world.

Other levels:

Sketching for environment.
Looking at course curriculums.
Figure Drawing
Character Design
Form language/design
B&W Value studies
Colour Relativity
Colour Relationships
Breaking down each category.


That's all I got for now!

Till next time!

P.S. Somewhere along the journey (perhaps around level 3) you'll probably decide to 'specialise' or choose what you like to draw/paint. The main categories I've encountered are environments, props, and characters.
 

Week 17: Traditional Skills for a Digital Life

Proun 19D -  El Lissitzky  1920

Proun 19D - El Lissitzky 1920

SInce last week I have dabbled within traditional media for the first time. I was inspired by Nathan Fowkes' Paintings to try watercolours. Wanting to try watercolours for myself, I invited a friend over so I could use her palette. It was disastrous. I had neatly sketched out a perspective of my room- only to have it completely fuzzed by lack of any skill or understanding with the brush.

I hated the medium. I detested it. It showed me that I was not suited for the painting lifestyle.

While I'm clearly exaggerating my bitterness towards painting, my feelings did indeed lie on that spectrum. The disaster that occurred with my image reminded me of previous 'failures' in my childhood days.

Like many others in primary school, I also had a time where I had access to paint and was allowed to splash colour on paper. But the paintings never represented what I had in my mind. I couldn't even fathom how one would be able to paint dragons with these 'painting' utilities. In my mind I knew it wasn't impossible. People could indeed paint great things with what my former 6 year old had infront of himself. Except I couldn't. I was the 'bad' variable. Other people could do it. I couldn't. I didn't like painting. Painting sucked.

You gave me this as a kid with no real instruction. I was put-off by the non objectiveness. Therefore I went back to my corner and wrote algebra equations for myself to solve. Math had real solutions.

You gave me this as a kid with no real instruction. I was put-off by the non objectiveness. Therefore I went back to my corner and wrote algebra equations for myself to solve. Math had real solutions.

After my recent traumatic experience with watercolours, I had a different friend come over. I completely forgot I had invited him to paint with me. If I had remembered I might have cancelled. I definitely wouldn't want another bad painting experience!

But this friend was a real painting guy! Jeff Fan Artist! He understood how painting worked!

We went to a grocery store carpark and he showed me the ropes of watercolour. 'The wash'. 'the bead'. 'amount of moisture on paper vs palette'. Many foundational painting concepts that I had no idea about.

That day my painting still sucked. But I was happy with it! I had learnt! I had progressed!

Since that day the concepts of traditional art have been exponentially growing in my mind.

I'm beginning to really understand what 'shape' means.

From my understanding shape is so important within traditional mediums because you must be careful of every stroke. A human does not have to be anatomically correct in a distance. It's 'shape' just has to read. Shape is about creating shorthand for reality.

The shape idea is such a simple concept- but I never understood it before as much as I understand it now.

In addition, the grouping of values becomes more important. I've always known this since day 1. In the digital land there are 0-100 values. Whereas in the traditional world I only had access to 3 different markers. I was forced to group values and objects.

By grouping my values the images turned out better. Instead of things looking worse by a limited marker range, the simplicity of information made the picture read better. Image making follows a 'graphic' read.

Summary:

I had heard many times about digital artists trying traditional mediums. Their reviews were always positive. Their feedback was always along the lines of "It just helped my digital painting." But artists never really tangibly broke down what aspects helped them. Here I briefly mention that I learnt more about shape and value. I would love to write more but I like shorter blogs. If I am to touch upon this subject again it would be focused and with intent.

'Till next time!

Week 16: I got sick! But still happy!

The world a lil' blurry right now

The world a lil' blurry right now

Hey I got sick!

Usually I'd be pretty sad because I have so much 'work' to do. But I feel good anyway!

It's the end of term. I have no commitments. I can do as I please! :)

Life's pretty good at the moment for me actually. I'm learning skills. I'm going at a fast pace. And I'm going completely at my own pace.  I have enough time to learn. I have enough time to 'play' (Learn breakdance, or music). There's balance. Life is good.

On art:

I'm currently doing Jama's narrative/storytelling course on learnsquared. It's great. I'm learning to design and see in 'shape' rather than 'line'/perspective. By doing so I feel as though my drawings are becoming more confident.

In addition I'm also taking Sam Neilson's lighting for concept art course on Schoolism. It's tangible and awesome.

Till next week!

Week 15: Being involved

Life's getting cosy

Life's getting cosy

I usually post weekly on a Sunday. Today is Thursday. I'm 60% overdue!

But it's because I've been so entangled in life hey!

Concept art is just movin'

Tutorials are just grovin'

Life is 'a winning.

Here are some works that I've done recently:

A schematic drawing of a story building. The octopus and the snail in the bottom right corner are the characters. The octopus is part of the underwater mafia and is bringing the snail to the top of the building to play mahjong.

Self Critique: Make section lines thicker

A train blimp moves through the desert.

Self Critique: Graphically clean up some elements. Many things left unclear.

Week 13: Nil

Nil.

Nil.

This week was heavy. No programming got done. In fact I saw someone else programming, and while I thought it was cool, an idea hit me.

I don’t need to learn every skill
— me on friday

I don't need to learn every skill. Why should I pick up every profession to an indepth level? Instead I should find other people. Perhaps if I had a good programmer contact I could trust, I'd vicariously see the positives. Then I'd feel much more satisfied with the way things are. I wouldn't need to do it all myself.

Furthermore, I could focus on my own skillsets and be a greater asset to others. At the end of the day I want to work in a team. In a team everyone helps each other move the cart. As independent as I am, I don't need to carry a wagon by myself.

So programming...?

What is my relationship with you now?

TBC next week.

Week 12: A task a week?

This week I finished a random quote generator. I had been working on it since last week.

I did one task in a week. That's pretty slow progress. ugh. The art courses I'm currently enrolled in are stealing my time.

At this rate I could probably still finish FCC's front end dev curriculum by the end of the year. I had estimated I could finish it all before the end of my art semester (which finishes in three weeks). Instead I'm trekking along much slower than I thought I would.

I'm uncertain as to if I'll be able to finish a task this week. I'll still try. But we'll find out in the next blog post.

On writing:
I read my last blog post. It is terribly written. I'll need to go back and edit all my posts sometime. I need to remember these blog posts are public. Therefore, I should not ramble and write as though it is an online diary.

It is good I am now aware that I am a terrible writer on the first pass. Now I can learn to edit my own writing.

 

Week 8: Confidence

Whoosh. Growing!

Whoosh. Growing!

This week I admit it. I didn't do a single programming task. I was enveloped in art. I now have a stronger ideal of art, but programming was shoved under the carpet.

It's okay I didn't do any programming. It made me understand the path of art better. At the end of the day it makes my skillset more round. I will forever know how to draw better. I think drawing, and these ideals of beauty and life grow exponentially.

But now after exploring art. I'm satisfied. And I'm more confident than ever in my pursuit of programming. It gives me a sense of confidence I've never had this year.

I've grown. Great.