Again and again I have directed my students to begin with thumbnail sketches so they can move quickly through the creative process and easily make changes on the fly. Some I have driven crazy with my insistence about working this way. Here I am following this same piece of advice today. Always start small with just enough detail to see where you want to go with your creative concept.
Here’s a quick sketch I drew at a local horse stable. — at Lutheran Valley Retreat.
I just finished creating this book cover illustration and cover design. The book, “The Following: Behind The Eyes of Beniwan” is a fun and exciting interplanetary story in a unique style with similarities to “The Chronicles of Narnia.” It is the second book in a trilogy by author Tom Terbush and is in the process of being printed right now.
The cover concept I have illustrated is conveying the central theme of this book when the heroine and the villainess come into direct conflict and confrontation. The villainess (left side) has darkened eyes that look like empty caverns, but the heroine (right side) looks straight at this presence of evil with her eyes ablaze with love, truth, and the mysterious powers of The Ancients.
Want to know what happens? Find out in two weeks when it is released on Amazon.com. On it’s inside pages, the book also includes 12 beautiful works of art by illustrator Diana Stanciulescu.
This is the 3rd drawing I did while on my backpacking trip. Cascade Canyon is the most popular place to backpack into and camp in Grand Teton National Park. Campsites fill up quickly so you don’t want to spend too much time being picky about where to set up camp when it gets close to dusk.
As we were hiking down from the top of Hurricane pass (elevation 10,338 ft), I was praying about where we should camp. When we got close to the middle of the South Fork camping zone, I heard God speak to me, “Go to the third campsite from this point.” The first campsite had a lot of still water and lots of mosquitos! The 2nd campsite was full. So we proceeded to move to the 3rd campsite as God had instructed me.
As we were walking I was wondering if I had even heard him. It would be disappointing to get to the third site and discover that it was occupied or that it was not a good site for our group. We had already been hiking for 8.5 hours and our group was getting tired.
So I continued praying, “God, you know what is the best site for us. You know what is special for each one in our group. You know what we enjoy. I ask you for a site that would be a blessing for each person in our group. Then he spoke to me again, “You will like the next site.” As I heard these words, I could feel his pleasure for us. And of course the next site was the ‘3rd site’ that he first spoke to me about.
As we got closer, I again wondered if I was making this up or if I was really hearing God direct me to a site that our backpacking group would truly like. I know that God is always good and would never lie or play a joke on me. But sometimes I can mess up and get it wrong. Was this one of those times?
Finally, I found the trail marker for the 3rd campsite and followed this long narrow trail into a group of trees and over a mound of rocks. I got excited as I wondered what God meant by “you will like the next site.” As I hiked through another group of trees, rounded a rock bend and descended a small hill onto a flat platform which overlooked the entire canyon valley below, I could hear that I was standing next to a raging river cascading down the canyon. I had finally arrived to the third site.
The campsite was amazingly beautiful! It was vacant and fully available to us, and it had everything that all four of my group love in a backpacking campsite!!! God did not disappoint me. And I really did hear him direct me here. I was floored by his kindness and love towards me. He truly does care about the things we love, down to the smallest detail.
After we set up camp and finished eating dinner, I sat down on a boulder next to the cascading river and began sketching this third drawing. I continued drawing past 9:30 pm. In northern Wyoming, summer days do not get fully dark until after 10pm. You can’t see the star fields in the night sky until after 11:00. But by 9:30 it was difficult to see the details in the scene I was drawing.
The next morning I woke at 6 and continued drawing this scene until about 8:30 am. I’m still developing my technique of rendering running water with a pencil. It took a lot of tweaking as I kept working on the look of this river. But I kept at it until I was satisfied that I had done my best for now.
We are all growing and in process. If we keep working at developing our skills, then we will continue growing in that area as well. For 20 years I have created most of my art with a computer. But after all of that time, my journey has brought me back to working on my skill with a simple pencil and paper.
Give me an entire summer in an isolated mountain cabin, and I will be happy as a lark if I have nothing more than some basic essentials to live, four pencils, a sketchbook, an acoustic guitar, and a few books to read. If you had a summer to be anywhere you wanted to be, what would YOU take with you? What would you spend your time doing?
To see the other two drawings I completed on this backpacking trip, please click here.
Here is the 2nd drawing I did while on my backpacking trip. This campsite was my favorite. The landscape is fascinating, very green, and unique. Numerous small rivers poured into one giant river which flowed down the canyon, passed our campsite and towards Idaho in the distance. A full-color painting or even a highly skilled photograph couldn’t fully articulate this beauty of this place.
I sketched the contour lines of this scene as the sun was setting until it was too dark to see anymore. The next morning I awoke at 6 AM, returned to the same spot and finished the details as the sun was rising. I felt like I could sit there for hours and just enjoy what I was seeing, hearing and experiencing as I drew.
Obviously, I love to draw. Drawing in nature is one of my most loved experiences. This is one of several ways I enjoy and express my creativity; like playing electric guitar and creating digital art with a computer.
You are unique and express creativity in a way that is specific to you. What is one way you enjoy expressing your creativity? What is a creative expression you’ve never done before that you’ve been interested in doing?
I just returned from a week long backpacking trip in the backcountry of Northwest Wyoming. During this trip I stayed at several extremely beautiful campsites, and I did three graphite drawings in those places. It was so fun to sit at the top of a giant rock and draw these pictures as I was immersed in God’s breathtaking creation.
I had to pack lightly because I was carrying a lot of gear for both my kids and I over a 30 mile loop through extreme elevation changes. I was equipped with only a pocket sketchbook, four graphite pencils, a white eraser, and a small sharpener. Here is the first of the three drawings I did.
At this location, I was in the middle of a massive canyon with rock walls that exceeded 2,000 foot elevation on either side. Right next to our campsite, down a steep slope approximately 100 feet was a raging river. We were camped on top of a series of giant boulders. This place reminded me of Yosemite valley.
I encourage you to get outside this week and draw or paint in a beautiful place that stirs your inspiration. I believe doing this will refresh you and awaken your creativity. It did for me.
Any true creative which you admire had a struggle to get to where they are. Pick your favorite singer, or artist, director, or film maker. They all have a story of challenge and risk, of having to fight through insurmountable odds, of not knowing how to pay the bills, of people telling them they’ll never make it, etc, etc.
If your path is not easy, you are not alone. Be strong and courageous. Hang in there. Keep pressing forward. The fight, the difficulty, the trouble will be worth it.
What’s your struggle? What has been your journey to chase your dreams, develop your craft, and find the purpose that you were made for?
“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
PS – I read this book and loved it. I found it insightful and encouraging for my own artistic journey. I highly recommend it to any of you who wants to achieve anything significant with your art or craft.
Nothing happens until you step out and take action.
Going after your dreams or pursuing your goals can feel like jumping out of an airplane or leaping off of a cliff, but nothing significant was ever achieved in life without making a risky move.
Do you dream of painting in a style you’ve never achieved before? Do you long to publish a book? Do you want to make movies that impact people and change the world? A dream that is bigger than you or that seems impossible to achieve was probably not your idea in the first place.
Often, the dreams that matter the most to you were put inside of you by the Creator and Designer of your soul. When you take the risk and step into those dreams, He’s with you in it and He’s got your back. When you know He is with you in it, you can know that the outcome is going to be good. Faith pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6) and He wants you to fully experience the joy of running after your dreams without fear.
Have you seen the crazy risks that children will take? They’ll stand on top of a table surrounded by people and loudly sing a song they didn’t even rehearse. They’ll jump off the top of the stairs and plunge into the couch below without fear of injury. They’ll create art that is far from perfect and proudly show it to you in full expectation of your praise and delight.
Children take bold risks with a huge smile on their face. They are not inhibited or hesitant in the way that adults are. Let the kid inside of you come out and take big risks again. It will put a big smile on the face of your Father, and after you press through the fear I am confident it will put a big smile on your face as well 🙂
What dreams are in front of you? What risks are you considering taking?
“Drawing is Magic.” – Marshall Arisman. I saw this quote at my local bookstore today in a book by the same title. I love this statement! When I read it, I was struck by it. There really is something that feels magic about just letting yourself free to express yourself without limits in drawing.
Other people or teachers or even your own thoughts may tell you that you’re not drawing right or to fix your work. There is a time to work over refining the details. And there is a time to just let yourself loose and not worry about it. I challenge you to take time to draw unedited. Creative writers need to do this as well, with their writing. Just let your creativity flow and explore the expression of your imagination. Let the kid inside you play!
As I looked further in this book it said that when kids are playing on a jungle gym that nobody tells them, “You’re not doing it right.” Nobody says that. The author encouraged artists to “make drawing your playground.”