Friday, March 7, 2014

Y1W7 Dragons and Derp's Thoughts on Noah's Art Camp

Leonie's small blog island says hullo! (:

In this post: Reflecting back on Noah's Art Camp thus far and documenting the past week thereafter.

    Let's go crazy! Journal Time.

    Derp will ride a real dragon one day.
    Am trying something different and silly. What am I doing.
    Yes, I'm very biased towards Chinese dragons as I have or have had four projects involving them so far in my life hoho. This green water dragon design was on a whim though. Probably subconsciously influenced by Spirited Away somewhat! I felt I needed to change up my header with it. Derp doesn't know where she's going but she hopes it's time for adventuuure...

    My thoughts on Noah's Art Camp (NAC): 

    I'm hesitant to call it a "review" as it sounds too official, scary and definitive. I've been debating on whether I should post this at all and I still haven't watched or done everything the camp has to offer as I juggle learning things at my own pace. I hope to keep doing more learning from it though! But I understand the gist of the course. I joined during the first round of the Camp in July 2013 but only got more done during the second round.

    Disclaimer: I don't know Noah personally and no one asked me to do this. I'm simply reflecting back on my personal experience. Perhaps it might help one person?

    Overview of the camp:

    • The camp is most valuable if you have a consistent, trustworthy study buddy to push you and give you feedback (ideally with similar goals and skill level that you do; more effective that way) 
    • Ensure you have a tremendous amount of time dedicated to this (this is true for courses in general). The intensity is up to you, how much you enjoy it and you need to be realistic about it. There is a lot of homework allocated (mind that no one checks whether you do it or not, hence why it's great to have a study buddy for feedback and to keep you on your toes).
    • The mantra "the more you put in, the more you get out of it" applies. Otherwise it's just another collection of videos you may not make full use of. 
    • The structure really helps those who are self taught and especially those who struggle to figure out what they want to do amongst the huge possibilities of picture making. 
    • It is heavily focused on digital semi-realistic painting (sci-fi and fantasy especially) but there are traditional painting study groups out there too, especially for the Plein Air week.
    • It's a general approach to practicing and studying painting and making pictures. 
    • Definitely not the only way to learn (as I myself will always be immersing myself in different resources -- in which the Camp also encourages you to). 
    • If you already have a targeted area of specialisation in mind, look into the Art Camp's curriculum to distinguish if it's really for you or whether you could find more specialised resources/teachers to learn from such as perspective, anatomy, composition and the other fundamentals (one week for a given Art Camp topic is only enough to get you started about its scope).
    • This camp gives you a general starting point for art practice and picture making where it more or less includes a whole heap of videos involving Noah talking and doing 2 hour painting demonstrations. There are also prerecorded and live critique sessions for each topic where you might get a chance at getting feedback on your work from Noah or Cynthia.
    • Note that it's not made of concise timelapses with outlines provided; you're seeing him paint and talk in real time. You'd need to pick out useful things yourself and do your own notetaking.
    • The community is what you make of it but as with any community, focus on giving than getting

    Was it worth it for me? 
    I guess it's a yes. Yes it is. I cannot say it with 100% confidence however. Let me elaborate.

    • Structure for practice helped. 
    • It got me thinking about how to approach painting as a whole. 
    • I discovered that I did not enjoy hyper realistic painting and rendering like many other countless, amazing art campers seem to thrive and enjoy (essentially I am going to keep trying out different painting styles on my own thanks to this!) 
    • Found that ultimately, I still enjoy creating characters relative to the rest. 
    • I met a few fellow artists thanks to it
    • I have learned a lot in general and it was more or less worthwhile for these reasons alone.

    Needs to be noted that I did not have an ongoing study buddy and did not manage to participate the camp to the fullest thanks to the juggle of life on my part. It essentially came down to doing it on your own, at your own pace and giving out critique when you can squeeze out the time (which is rare!) Definitely inspiring to see passionate art campers working hard away and there are helpful live critique sessions if you're lucky to be chosen amongst hundreds by Noah or Cynthia.

    If I were to go back in time, I would still tell myself to do this Art Camp due to the things I've discovered about my art learning approach. Thanks to this course, it's honed down my focus further.

    Then why am hesitant to give a 100% yes? Because I know people can fare just as well without this course. Despite the focus on practice and overview it provides, I can't say it's an essential and this goes for many other art courses.

    With art courses, it really comes down to who you want to learn from that inspires you (along with their experience and knowledge in both art and teaching) and what your focus is (as there's plenty other wonderful artists out there wanting what you want so you might as well do what you enjoy). And because of all the wonderful, admirable distracting art out there, figuring these two out for yourself is constantly difficult!

    For me, my focus is not the hyper realistic painted art style but I still had a go at it for the sole purpose of learning and experimenting. As a whole I have learned a tremendous heap from doing it. I shall definitely keep learning about painting.

    Bottomline: If you admire the hard working Noah, his work and aspire to be at his level (as well has the other guest artists the Art Camp has) then this is definitely the course for you.
    Go forth and do amazing work!

    Or if you're like me and you don't actually aspire to follow his footsteps but still want a general overview and a basic practice structure for illustration and concept art (being self taught isn't easy), consider this too along with other courses and resources. The camp is not a must if you know what you're doing and aiming for; there are other great alternatives and mentors you could hunt down that may better suit your needs.

    Increasingly more online art courses are popping up so do your research and figure out what you actually want to get out of a given course or art resource.
    Ultimately it depends on you and take control of your learning! It's overwhelming with recommendations out there. Target the artists that inspire you the most to start with! I'm trying to do the same.

    Actually, why should you listen to my little opinion? I'm sure you can make your own judgement. (: Regardless, there's mountains of more of learning for me to climb but I'm going to do it on my terms with my wonderful study buddy where possible. As usual, I'll keep working at the Art Camp regardless and shall tag it as NAC where relevant. Not that I expect people to read all of this but I love reflecting!

    I don't plan to review every resource I use (look at how much I write! And who will read this?) but maybe...this one might help one person or even an art making flea out there. Who knows.

    Year 1, Week 7 (26th Feb to 4th Mar)

    • People Drawing: I still kept using my ball point pen! I need to use something thicker. Also my pen kept blotting everywhere. Practice really; upon seeing what other amazing artists could do, I've got a long way to go. Got to keep at it! I got told off that I don't draw enough; appreciated that!

    • NAC/THealing: Studies preparation continues on and off. Want to end up with proper concepts for this project eventually!
    • Drawing & Learning: Getting some theory and hoping to get some mind implosion happening. 
    • PV festivals: Another's been applied
    • Untitled001: Illustration number 2 begins! Researching, studies, thumbs and whatnot. Had to play with a certain pose twice over but I eventually got there. Illustration done! Hope to be able to play with a different art style though next time.
    • Feedback: Going towards a more concrete direction; thanks to the advice and interesting responses. Am back at square one but I feel energised, more purposeful and somewhat confused! One of my goals now is to acquire and play with more art styles. 
    • Figure drawing and characters: decided to do this traditionally but I'm not showing these on the blog anymore unless there's something interesting so to save myself the time.
    • Arm strain: Zelda game!! Why are you causing strain to my non drawing hand's wrist? I'm still wondering how I'm using this 3DSXL wrong; I've got support and everything. Will I ever finish this game? This is a first as I usually strive to finish any Nintendo game that I start. Wait...I still haven't played the latest Mario and Luigi RPG game...haha 
    • Train drawing Adventures: stuff happened. Nah not really.
    Using a bad fineliner this time to do weird drawings, no ball point pen

    Other Adventures: 

    • Games snippet watching include: Banished, Yakuza 4, Pokemon Nuzlocke, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, Garry's Mod Prop Hunt, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, Dead Rising 3, The Stanley Parable
    • Motion Capture event (snippet): Didn't stay for long but I got a quick idea on the amazing technology and didn't expect to come across delicious food there. 
    • Drinks & Chatting about Skyrim Mods, Linear Workflow and The Hobbit: closer knit conversations and wedges (:
    • Cleaning up files: Spent a lot of time reorganising things, bookmarks and whatnot! But it feels refreshing and feels good clearing out the clutter.
    • The Binding of Issac (played a bit and watched): Thought provoking, disturbing and hard button mashing experience.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A link between two worlds (playing): So rusty with this game! Sands. I just played a mini game rather than a dungeon before I ran out of time though. 


    Deep Reflection for the Week 

    Have been incredibly exhausted both physically and mentally in the past week. Been putting too much unrealistic pressure and expectations upon myself both on art and life. And then coming to terms with where I'm heading and realising where I'm not heading. This might be one of the lowest points for me I've ever been in a long time but it's been a welcome and effective learning experience.

    Realising and fully experiencing how I am my worst enemy at times. Ah, negative, fearful internal doubting voice; you're such a cruel, paralysing monster sometimes. You push me to a dark corner, entrapping me to believe that I've reached a dead end, that all my efforts are for nothing, that I don't belong anywhere, that I'm alone, reminding me of my past and laughing at my insignificance in relation to the world.

    Embracing it, acknowledging it, experiencing it and finally allowing it to pass and keep pushing through it (instead of staying still) is definitely not easy and has been a struggle (no doubt that all creatives and those driven towards their goals and passions deal with it also).

    A revelation resulted from pushing though so I have been figuring out a new routine, focus and plan for the year. Resolved to be even more picky with what I post on the blog to save me some time (but I will still document it in words if you don't mind reading!)

    Let's say I've gotten out of my very dark place and am a bit more pumped and grounded!

    I hope you keep acknowledging your fears, tackling them, pushing through; this cycle will always come up every time a new challenge, risk, failure or obstacle rises. It is an opportunity for growth and learning and means that you're doing something right, new and different. Face your fears in stride.

    But don't push yourself too far and overwhelm yourself like I have! Take breaks!
    Ideally make sure you have someone you trust to hear you out, understand you and support you or if you're on your own, write it all out just for yourself (like Derp has). Get out there and experience life too!

    As usual, let's get going!

    Until next time, Leonie