Catching Up on Blog Posts, Thoughts on Priorities
This post is basically about how far behind I am on blogging. I came across a great quote from the artist Richard Schmid who said to “paint like a pig eats.” Well, I have been doing exactly that over the last couple of months. I counted all of my paintings to this point, and to my great surprise, I’ve done 33 of them since I started around three months ago. This quote makes me chuckle to myself every time I think about it, because lately that’s exactly how I’ve been painting. Like I want to paint everything before the art police come and take my brushes away crimes against portraits.
I am glad to feel so invigorated by this hobby. But there is another side to this coin, which brings to mind some words of wisdom from a fantastic painter named Graham McQuade. He said in a blog post comment essentially that I may need to decide if I want to paint or write, or risk doing both in a way that doesn’t satisfy me. This was in response to my mentioning how far behind I am on blogging. And he’s absolutely right – there is only so much time in a day. As I fall further and further behind on sharing all of these paintings, I’m reminded of that comment. And it makes me feel much better about just painting and letting the rest sort itself out. As a side note, this sort of thing is exactly why I like the artist blogging ecosystem that exists on WordPress. This helpful comment from Graham McQuade is one example, but I’ve gotten so much great advice from many others over the years (folks like Steve Kidd, Christine Mallaband-Brown, Claire Brach, and many others).
Anyhow, my backlog of paintings to share via this blog is now 15 paintings deep, and pretty much every weekend grows larger. Although I am okay with prioritizing painting and letting website and social media maintenance sit on the second shelf, I am also the type who likes to stay organized and have some semblance of a plan. The way I see it, there are three possibilities: 1) let the backlog grow indefinitely, 2) write shorter blog posts, and 3) share logical groups of paintings together. I think for now, I will first try path number three with a possible dash of number two. My blog posts are probably longer than they need to be, but I kind of like having these narratives. So, as a starting point, I’ll try to be more liberal about sharing multiple paintings together when it makes sense to.
With that in mind, I’m going to start this catch up effort by bundling together two paintings related to video games. One is of Geralt from the Witcher games, which is at this point a well-worn path for me. And another is from a game called Symphony of War, which is like a spiritual successor to the old Super Nintendo game Ogre Battle. I’ll share each below and discuss.
First, here is the painting of Symphony of War’s protagonist. As I mentioned, this game is basically a modern homage to Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, which was one of my favorite games several decades ago. I still have my old cartridge version, which was a treasure back in the day because it was pretty hard to find. Symphony of War manages to stay true to Ogre Battle’s interface and systems while still improving them. It’s really a great game, and I’m looking forward to potential future sequels and so forth.
Although I often draw or paint fan art for things I like, there was actually a specific reason I did this one. The developer, Dancing Dragon Games, recently held a fan art contest, and on a whim I decided to give it a shot. Although I think the final result was decent enough, I didn’t get anywhere near winning this one. I think they had prizes for the top four as voted by members of their Discord channel. but I wasn’t even selected for one of the top 10 to be voted on, so I wasn’t close. I was bummed about it, but I tried not to beat myself up too much. It seems there was a specific style/subject matter they were going for and I wasn’t aligned with that at all – a classic case of not adapting to your audience.
In terms of specifics on the painting – it’s no masterpiece, but not a bad effort overall. I did some fine things with color here, and decent enough on the armor I think. My facial details weren’t very good though, and I think I did a somewhat poor job of varying color selections there. Again, not bad overall, but I see lots of areas I would have done differently in hindsight.
The next is my old pal Geralt from the Witcher games, who I’ve drawn many times before. Much like Elden Ring, the Witcher series has been one of the top subjects of my fan art. Although recently, a lot of my Witcher-related artwork has been more so related to the Netflix show, this time I circled back to my first Geralt attempt which was also based on the video game series.
I think I’ve put this sentiment forth in other recent posts, but I’m very much in “getting practice under my belt” mode. Which means, lately sometimes I’m not really undergoing too much deliberation about what I paint. Sometimes, I just want to paint for practice, even if I don’t actually have any good ideas – I think this was one of those times. As I mentioned, Geralt is already someone I’ve drawn a few times over the years because of my enjoyment of the Netflix show and games. So this seemed like a “no thinking” kind of thing to do.
With this painting, I think I’ve produced something that is just okay. Yes, this does somewhat look like Geralt from the Witcher games. I got his scars front and center, and he looks like the experienced warrior that he is in the games. It doesn’t strike me as a painting with much depth to it though, literally in terms of paint contrast. What I mean is, when I look at this, it seems sort of flat. It’s hard to nail down why that is, but I think it might be due to not using enough variety in color blends. I’m trying more now to use smaller patches of different color values, but this painting is more homogeneous. Again, not terrible, but also not one that I’ll think about much later.
I’ve also embedded some of the usual YouTube time-lapse videos above. A sort of tangential interesting fact about these two paintings; they represent a transition of video formats. The Symphony of War video is still the original horizontal format that is really only conducive to YouTube and watching on a monitor. But the Witcher time lapse is actually my first attempt at sharing via YouTube Shorts, which is a social-media oriented format. Basically, these videos are all vertical and very short (less than a minute).
I’ve gotten to the point now, 15 paintings beyond this Witcher portrait, where all of the short time-lapses I create are shared this way. They seem to get quite a bit more views in this format, which I suppose makes sense in a smartphone oriented world. It’s also useful because I can use the same short form video and upload to Instagram Reels. I suppose that’s working smarter not harder? Regardless, it seems like a good way to go for now. I may talk more about this in my text post, which will be about video discussions/walkthroughs. We’ll see how in-depth I have time for, but I’d like to analyze which types of videos have been more popular for me.
Great post, Jon, and I understand your dilemma re what and when to post. I decided a while ago to shorten my text when blogging to give me more time to create. Then I realised writing is actually a way of consolidating my art process in my own mind and I needed it. It performs a brain-sorting exercise; a clarifying and reminding of what I wanted to achieve, what I tried, how it progressed and what the outcome was. I now feel it’s as valuable a tool as the making because it’s a permanent record I can refer back to when I’m trying a similar thing again and it lets me know if I’m stagnating or improving.
Love both of the images above and I’ve watched both time-lapse videos. The amount of work in those faces is amazing. You’ve transitioned from pencils to oils seamlessly.
Enjoying following your journey, so don’t stop blogging!!