Saturday, August 22, 2009

What's Up With The Oaf

One of my more pressing tasks is making a nice Anomalocaris canadiensis drawing. I put a lot of work into this one last year; shame that it doesn't work.

I neglected -- or rather, was intimidated by -- one of the most striking visual characteristics of the animal, the nasty trident-shaped 'teeth' on its armored feeding tentacles. Or arms. Or jaws. Or whatever the hell they're called.

And the 'flips' on the ends of its 'fins' 'suck.' They make it seem as if the 'fins' are soft, gelatinous. When I went back to study the fossils, it really seemed as if the 'fins' were stiff. And now I can't find the original sketch to try and fix it. Maybe I'll do a cartoony, multi-layered scene, something like the Tyrannosaur image I did around the same time as this.

(Looking at that now, I wish I'd gone ahead and put in the fleeing Edmontosaurs on the left -- the composition is unbalanced without them.)

Right now I'm feeling... well, not exactly overwhelmed. But I've got a hell of a lot going on, and I'm feeling pleasantly pressed.

School has started again. Like an idiot I spaced out the first day of classes, but I've emailed the teacher to let him know what's going on. Who's the teacher? This guy. That's right, I' gonna be taking 3D modeling and animation from an artist whose work I've been familiar with and fond of for years.

I'm also taking an introductory photography class. That's being taught by the woman who taught my Illustrator class last year. That class made me uneasy and defensive, as long-time readers will recall, because the teacher was a fine-arts type, and I had no clear idea of what she thought of me. Well, it turned out that she really dug what I was doing, and by the spring I was a fine-arts type myself. In fact, she and I both had pieces in the same gallery show. So again, there's a sense of connection with the teacher going in.

(It cracked me up -- some guy with an art history degree admired my critical technique and asked me where I'd gotten my training. "There's no training," I told him. "For me, art history is like music theory -- I only know what I couldn't avoid learning.")

The plan is that next semester I'll take a class in Painter, and that by combining photography and 3D with what I already know, I'll be able to execute the kind of realistic illustration that's popular on genre book covers these days. I also want to see if I can use the 3D to do comics -- I've never learned the skill of drawing the same characters over and over again repeatedly, and frankly it sounds like a drag to me. We'll see how that works out.

Of course taking these classes mandates a retail experience. Money will be spent -- gotta get the 3D software, textbooks, and a new camera. I like the one the missus lets me use, but it doesn't produce an image big enough for a large-sized art-quality print. Which I need. It's funny -- I am such a cheapass in my day-t0-day life. I lived for years on $680 a month, total. Believe me, in the East Bay Area that's cheap as hell. But when the time comes to gear up? I don't even care about spending the money. I kind of like being that way. Thrift and luxury, baby.

The reason I'm taking art classes rather than writing classes is because of the novel. I need to keep that part of my brain freed-up. And the novel is chugging along. I'm working on three layers of line edits at the same time. I line-edit forty page chunks, then send them to the Monday night group. I revise, and then send fifteen-page chunks to the Homework club. Then I revise again and hope it's good enough for an agent. It's actually moving pretty quickly -- the next section going out to the Monday night group will take them well past the halfway mark. It's a matter of weeks before they're done with it.

I want to be able to put together a submission package before October. That would be the first three chapters, a synopsis of the whole first volume, briefer synopses of volumes two and three, and a cover letter. That way I can have some people at Viable Paradise look the package over and give me advice before I start hunting down agents.

Viable Paradise, if you don't know, is the fancy-pants writer's workshop I'm attending in early October. I'm almost set up -- I still need to get my flight tickets for the trip between Boston and Martha's Vineyard, but everything else is pretty much in place. I've been in contact with a number of my fellow students, and they all seem to be good eggs. There's a good chance that this is going to be a watershed moment in my life -- to say I'm anxious about it is a radical understatement.

I also need to break down and get my student loan from the bank. I hate doing this, but given the choice between going further into debt and parasitizing off the fiscally-panicked missus isn't what you'd call a choice.

And I want to start thinking about how I could start doing copywriting or editing professionally. I'm told by people I trust that I have the skills -- I just don't have any idea how to find the work. Time to start investigating. Oafboy needs an income, you know?

It's like the old joke. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.


Traumador said...

that is quite the full plate isn't it... i'm quite similar, i don't feel good till i have TOO much on my own plate :P

those sound like awesome classes, i'd love to take some photoshop and photography classes. sadly my 3D program is a little niche so they wouldn't have any "advanced" type classes.

with you and glendon going back to skool it's going to hopefully be an academic bunch of blogging coming up this fall...

Sean Craven said...

Heh. That was the lesson I learned last year. "It's not homework -- it's a post!"

It looks like I'll be working in Cinema 4D.

Allison Landa said...

I hear the elephant's tail tastes best.

Sean Craven said...

And then that little tuft of hair is all that's left -- and you pick your teeth with it.