Study what you like. Learn how it works through observation and action. Ask yourself why it resonates with you.
There are a lot of WIPs and sketches I've uploaded to Twitter over the years that were, inevitably, eaten up by the site. After all, it is a social media platform meant to be consumed on the fly. Because of that, expect to see a lot of my work from 2015-2017 being uploaded in-between new pieces/studies.
These are studies of John Boyega's British GQ shoot (shot by Daniel Sannwald) I did in 2017, the original project of which grabbed me by the neck and didn't let go. The bold colors! The splashy satin jacket! The shadowed, mysterious angle of his face! Oh, it was something I had to understand better. Thankfully, I saved some of the progress shots, which I will go into greater detail about below:
Don't be fooled by sped-up progress videos where incredible work seems to happen within seconds (and, yes, I have to remind myself, too). The final result took me a few hours to do -- including the quick portrait studies -- and remains an influence you can see in some of my original work. This is why you do studies: to learn through doing. To learn how to break down a seemingly complex subject into a series of bite-sized parts, then apply it to your work with meaning. Rather than mindless copying, you are having a deeper conversation with why you're an artist in the first place.
The first is a basic grayscale sketch. Despite the fact my portfolio is very colorful, I actually prefer to start grayscale so I can nail light, shadow and form. For some artists this step is replaced by lineart or by flats. It's all good! I'm actually trying to get better at throwing down blobs of color and working from there, since it technically saves me a step. Studies are the perfect way to learn about your process because you are filtering a subject through your unique lens. How one artist gets from point A to point B is going to look different than another's...and that's brilliant.
The second is both straightforward and a little exciting...because it sets me up for my absolute favorite part. Here I block in dark colors, which are admittedly hard to see here because of the harsh red backdrop. My preferred painting technique since, oh...2011 or 2012 has been painting dark-to-light. I will, however, switch to light-to-dark depending on the brightness of the final piece.
This third part is where I can get lost for hours. There is nothing quite like painting. Not unlike fishing, painting is simultaneously relaxing and involving. This is actually why I'm trying to make my digital sketches more painterly, as I've found myself straying from lineart these past few years (with the exception of quick pen studies or pencil lineart). If this preliminary process sounds a little random, that's because...it is! A dynamic technique lets me tackle problems from several angles. Again: it works for me, and I answer a lot of personal questions through studies like this.
Then we have the final version:
My goal with my work is to keep blurring all my influences together, subconsciously and consciously. Painterly realism inspired by the Romantic and Baroque periods of Western classical art, the boldness of pop art, the dreamlike nature of surrealism. Sometimes I'll lean just a little into my childhood sparkly anime influences (especially with my most recent pieces), then lean a little into impressionism. It's less juggling and more...leaning. Kind of like a dance, where the steps are known, but improv is key to letting the soul talk.
You can find John Boyega's British GQ photoshoot here and over here. I highly recommend giving it a look. Daniel Sannwald really knows how to make a simple portrait seem almost alien.
...Wait, didn't I say studies? That I did. I'll be uploading part two in a few days, so stay tuned.
Here I post WIPs, sketches, speedpaints, thumbnails and anything else thrown into the veritable stew of artistic process.