My hard-working muse, Iris, just sighed when I said I was going to do the Opus Daily Practice Challenge again. She has muscles on her muscles, she positively sweats creativity, yet once again I’ve sent her to boot camp. She’s getting used to this.
Why, you may wonder, would someone who draws practically every day as a career want to do a daily art challenge? Good question; Iris is asking it too, with pointed glances my way. I ask myself, too, in the moments of sanity between drawings.
OK, here’s one thing — when you work on long projects like I do with my comics, it’s sometimes nice to do something a little different that doesn’t take weeks, months, or years to complete. A wee little bite-sized snack of a project, like those single-bite dark chocolates I keep in my studio (oops, don’t tell Iris!) to lure myself upstairs when I’m procrastinating.
Another thing — doing those long-term projects means I don’t get to experiment much with style. Once I’ve locked myself into a comic, I try to maintain something approximating the look I began with, for consistency’s sake. That doesn’t mean I don’t look for new and exciting things to do within it — panel design, composition, and improvements in my technique are all challenges I constantly set myself. But I can’t go too far afield, or the continuity of the story is lost.
One more thing — last year I got a nifty little book out of this particular challenge! I don’t think I’ll make one from this year’s, as I’ve kind of been all over the place with what I’m doing (on purpose), though I am trying to amass a good stock of original sketch cards for the cons this year. But I’ve also tried some new things, attempting to use the prompt word of each day, but sometimes stretching it a lot. And I always learn from trying new stuff.
The first word was “structure”, and as I was finishing up the dinosaur comic, I decided that the spaceship I made for the last panel’s photoshoot would do just fine. Lucky me — I was skidding into the deadline, and didn’t have time for much else the first day of the challenge. The second day, I was finishing up the digital formatting stuff to prep the comic for publication, and couldn’t get dinosaurs out of my head (and still didn’t have much time), which is when I decided I would make lots of sketch cards this month!
Yes, LOTS of sketch cards:
One day I doodled on my place card at a meeting:
Another day I made a terrible double pun on the day’s prompt word, “field”:
A play on a prompt word — “Fair Folk Band”, two uses of “folk” for the price of one!
And then there was yesterday, when I absolutely did not have time to draw — but the prompt word was “contraption”. In another case of stunning synchronicity, I remembered that the official word for the kind of percussion instrument my bandmate Molly plays is a “Contraption” (she calls hers The Clatterbox), and we were playing a contra-dance in the evening. I was planning to draw it between dance sets, but there wasn’t time, so I took a photo, intending to just post it sadly as my weak and apologetic contribution for the day. But! When I got home and popped it into Photoshop for resizing, I thought, “why not play a bit?” — what the heck, I was still buzzing from the music (and the gallons of tea and plates full of sugar our lovely organizers ply us with), I wouldn’t be sleeping for a while…
… and then I got creative:
And then it was late and I was getting kind of silly, so here’s this:
I had tons of fun playing with Molly’s Clatterbox (and kept a log as I went for future reference), and went to bed with Iris excitedly whispering digital ideas in my ears. Who knows what the rest of the month will bring? Stay tuned to my Instagram, Facebook Page, and Twitter if you’d like to follow along!