On Family, Work, AND Being an Artist: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

September 24, 2016By jayart, Blog

Hey Everyone, welcome to the weekend!

How has your week been? No, really, how has it been? Tell me about it in the comments.

For me, it’s been the kind of week where I’m getting some traction and it feels good. Many of you know my family and I made an out-of-state move, job change, etc. at the beginning of the summer.

There’s eight of us but we don’t go in eight different directions at one time, as often as we can help it. We’ve made it an aim to build deep instead of wide. However, when you go through as much upheaval as a big move and the subsequent changes it brings, sometimes all you can do is hang-on while you find the new rhythms that work for everyone.

Larissa Howell, our family’s good friend, and talented mama of five young’n’s of her own, recently asked my thoughts on, “How to live the artist’s life with family and work. How to keep disciplined in the midst of all that?”.

Craftsman
Craftsman

As a dad to six, and not working as a full-time illustrator, I get the quandary and have definitely experienced the conflict.

One of the bigger watershed moments in my own journey, thus far, occurred once I decided — I’M AN ARTIST. If we aren’t decided on that point, that we ARE ARTISTS, our family, friends, and co-workers won’t decide we are either. Additionally, they won’t know how to support us because we are sending mixed messages.

It seems to me this is the norm, although, I have to say; sometimes you meet someone who can see in you what you cannot see in yourself, and if possible, that is a friend to keep. That is the friend who will help you decide, but in the end, it is a decision we must own.

Discipline follows decision. If you are unsure, there’s no reason to be disciplined in it. 

Once you are firm there, here’s some tips that have helped me:

ON FAMILY
-Make sure they are ON BOARD with you being an artist. Talk about it, let them be a part of you making that decision. Best case scenario — make it together.

-Show an interest in THEIR art. Look at it, talk about it, display it. I know that’s not always easy, this summer every single one of my six children created their own board game! Awesome, right? It was, however being honest, it’s a bit challenging to sit down and play every single one and work through their rules, etc. Worth it, but intense.

 

-Do art TOGETHER. When they’re doing art, sit down with them and do art too. I think this makes a connection for them; I think, that’s where they begin to understand that you love to do what you do as much as they love theirs.

-If your family is NOT on board and maybe even hate that you do art, that’s a family problem, not an art problem. Don’t be afraid of  finding out why. Don’t be intimidated from dealing with that head on, it’s the best thing you can do — not only for your family, but believe it or not, for your art as well. Art tells a story, the one underneath — that’s your story.

-Maybe you’re thinking, “my kids aren’t artists or interested in their own art“. I believe every person is born creative, it just works itself out in our own unique ways. Illustrating is a norm, but maybe your kid cooks, gardens, acts, sings, builds, talks, sees. If the creativity is undiscovered, then your opportunity here is really great.

Got Readers? Read a book on your craft, while they read their fiction, etc? Talk about it a little afterwards.

Family Outings? This one takes wisdom. There are times to leave the supplies home, but also there are times that it’s perfectly fine to bring them, and maybe even be a conversation starter, a way to spend quality time together, and a way to bond.

Did this in parts while attending a civil war reinactment this weekend with the family. Got the bones down while watching, then found some shady spots along the way to finish it up and sit awhile.
Did this in parts while attending a civil war reinactment this weekend with the family. Got the bones down while watching, then found some shady spots along the way to finish it up and sit awhile.

Keep your supplies mobile. If you want to be a family person and an artist, this is important, and completely do-able. Just be ready to create anywhere.

ON WORK

-Since family comes first, work has to take precedence over art, so we can take care of our family. This shouldn’t, however, be seen as a death sentence to art. We have to find (or make) any opportunities around work, that we can, and make the most of it.

I mentioned this example a couple weeks ago, but this small decision is a big part of the progress I’ve made: my job gave everyone three 5 minute smoking breaks — I turned those into “draw breaks” and challenged myself to complete a drawing in that time. I believed I could improve if I used the time I had. I believed it was enough and poured as much of myself into it as I could.

-If allowed, sketch during meetings. For many of us, this doesn’t take away from work or our attentiveness in meetings, it helps. I process and think while I draw (probably not a good idea if you’re one to get enraptured in your thoughts while drawing).

-Again, keep your supplies MOBILE. This has helped me so much. Many of the supplies on my tool list are easily portable for this reason.

After work, if the t.v. comes on, you can draw and still be around your family.

-Better yet, stick around the table after dinner, pull out your supplies and engage in conversation, or just be around, available, relax and create.

Meeting sketch from this week.

ON FOCUS
As much as all the things above and many other ideas can hugely help us meet our goals, there is also a time to stretch beyond the 5, 10, and 15 minute art sessions. If you’ve decided you are an artist, you’ll be able to find the time for this, especially with your loved ones help. Schedule it, protect it. As in, leave your phone/email/social media somewhere else. Often we can bring more quality to our responses and interaction if we’ll practice this.

It isn’t selfish. Done in the right balance and looking for the times of day when we are least needed by others, we’ll even set a good example for our kids and give them permission to work hard and find time to focus as well. An example is: rising early if needed (but get good sleep). There’s always going to be trade off but it is worth it. Welcome the challenge, face it, and enjoy.

I never used to be one who followed much of a schedule, mostly because I valued spontaneity. With so many responsibilities, though, my wife and I have found a schedule can be the best means to creating space for spontaneity and freedom from the stress of “when can I focus?”. I know when I can, and tucking the kids in bed at night comes first.

Speaking of night: this post is already too long, so I’ll keep this simple and expound more another time. But, REST. Get enough rest and you’ll accomplish way more with the time that’s left, trust me. You’ll be able to focus, not running on empty. Take care of yourself. Take the lead on this for your family.

SLEEP WELL.

EAT WELL, which includes regularly.

TAKE BREAKS.

EXERCISE, get active.

If we keep our priorities in order and use discipline in small opportunities, we’ll find bigger opportunities open up. I am still learning this, but I hope this resonates in one way or another or spurs new thoughts for you that the world is waiting for you to share. How do you find time for family, work and art?

 

 

A little bit more of this week’s art:

 

Current Good Read:

img_5700Framed Ink by Marcos Mateu-Mestre. This month I’m focusing on composition and clarity. This book has been an excellent help understanding framing and growing my storytelling ability. Marcos is a master. If you want to become better at composition and designing your view, this is the book.

(If you use the link above to purchase, it helps out my family, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for all your support.) 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend and keep creating,

Jay

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

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Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .

Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and JonOr buy your own copy here.
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On Art Challenges: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

September 2, 2016By jayart, Blog, Encouragement, process

Hello all,

I’m running about a week and a half behind on this post, but I hope you’ll find it worth the wait. I won’t spend much time writing as I have a video post for you this week. The focus of this post is challenge.

Image disclaimer the featured image for this post is not the same as the one from the video. I did a second 15minartchallenge drawing later in the day, because I really didn’t like the face of the one from the video. 


On Tools:

This week’s tool is another art challenge. I recently discovered this one introduced by Jake Parker on his Youtube channel. I haven’t done this one yet, but it looks to be a great one that I plan on doing soon. Check out the video and you’ll understand why.


On Questions
dansbycomics asks:
“I was wondering how you got started in art, who your influences were/are, and what tips you would give to an aspiring artist.”

Hi Dansby, (I know that’s not your real name, but I liked responding to you by it. 😄 ) thanks for writing. I decided to answer you on my blog because this way others, who might have the same questions, will be able to read it as well.

How [I] got started in art:
Probably much the same way you did. Very early on I was doodling. I wasn’t totally serious about it until later in life. I’ve read stories about people who were making comics when they were four or five. I don’t remember ever making my own stories until I was 12 or 13. I remember my original dream was to do animation. I never pursued that. I didn’t want the debt. I remember later becoming very enamored with comics and picture books. I still am.

I did professional commercial illustration for several years and eventually gave it up. I became a web designer, Flash designer/developer, User Experience (UX) consultant, and a UX designer. About 10 years after quitting illustration, I bought some brush pens and sketchbooks and began teaching myself all over again. Six years later, I feel like I have a better understanding of art and am working on finding an agent so I can tell my stories.

Who your influences were/are:
My first inspiration was my older brother. Later it was Schulz, Sienkiewicz, Edlund, Waterson, then Kieth, Jae Lee, and Wiley.

The first time I remember really connecting with comics was Sienkiewicz’s New Mutants. That floored me. I didn’t want to be a traditional comic artist. Bill showed me I didn’t have to be. Later, I was inspired by The Tick and TNMT (specifically Michael Zulli’s take) basically put these together with Waterson, and Keith and you have my primary inspiration list. Nowadays, there are people like Parker, Archer, Galloway, Brown, and about 400 more amazing artists on my IG feed who amaze me on a daily basis.

What tips you would give to an aspiring artist:
Draw. Draw everywhere. Draw all the time. Draw everything. That’s number one.

Two: No one else will help you become good. You won’t just wake up one day and be good. You have to make yourself become good.

Also, remember, we have, no matter how good that “we” is, all been at the beginning. We have all come through the hobbyist phase and grown into the artist phase. We have all had our paths that look successful or not. No one was born good. It’s a fight for everyone—some just forget they were beginners so you will run into jerks—don’t let them dissuade you.

Three: be fearless. Don’t treasure your style or your current skill. Be thankful for them, honor them, but don’t treasure them or you’ll never grow.

And lastly, don’t be afraid to learn from others. Seeing how they draw, redrawing their work, tracing, etc isn’t bad. Just figure out what they are doing so you can build your art your way—not their way. Learn and they will help you understand art better. (One of the ways I do this is to IG surf and sketch gestures based on what other artists have drawn. I use those gestures to help expand my visual database.)

I hope this was helpful.


One Last Thing:
I was recently reviewed and thought that it was an extremely graceful review of my storytelling and artistic abilities. Plus, I was reviewed along side two other VERY talented artists. Check it out: http://computerpaperproject.weebly.com/blog/article-15-3-artists-you-need-to-follow

Alright guys, have a great week and keep creating.
Jay

Jay Myers: Curtesy of Raynna Myers

 

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks! Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.
Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook . Check out my free western fairytale webcomic: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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On Process: A MrJayMyers Week in Review

August 12, 2016By jayart, Blog, Encouragement, process

Hey everyone,

Here is a process for an illustration I did recently. The original vision I had for this piece didn’t pan out the way I wanted. Here is what I wrote in my Instagram post when I posted the final:

This isn’t what I saw in my head. I almost scrapped it last night, but I pushed forward. Sometimes you have to throw it away and start over, sometimes you just need to push it a bit and test yourself. I chose to push.

I’m glad I did. It still isn’t what I wanted, but I have grown through it. I gained understanding about why this didn’t work. I was afraid. I allowed fear to create too much caution about how I mixed the colors and allowed them to blend. Overall, I am very happy with this take on Ant-Man.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Step one:

I first began by doodling and looking up different Ant-Man designs. This was a third or forth attempt at sketching him and by this point I felt I knew him well enough to really do my own take on him.

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Step Two:

Initial sketch and composition. I roughed out a few more sketches in my gestures thinking about the character and his attitude. He isn’t dark like Batman nor regal like Superman. He’s much more, bug references aside, like Spider-Man. So, I captured this gesture and then sketched it larger and began designing.

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Step Three:

Clean up the initial sketch and design.

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Step Four:

After taping the edges, I wet the page around the figure and started putting in the background color.

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Close-up

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Step Five:

Initial color for the figure. I knew I wanted to have an underlying red all over the character. I also, I began laying down the shadow areas at this stage.

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Step Six:

At this point, I was still very happy with how it was working out. This was the point I became nervous about what I was doing. I started laying in a red/blue that wasn’t totally mixed into a purple.

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Step Seven:

This was the stage I almost stopped on. I wanted the dark areas to be a warm grey-more tinted red. However, my watercolors don’t have a black and I tried using an ink wash brush I have to make that and it didn’t mix well.

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Step Eight:

I let it dry and began darkening the shadow areas better and started pulling out the reds more. I used color pencil to define the reds and add them to the grey areas. I then used my white pen with a brush and defined some small highlights. I then added direct whites and used my modded Pentel to add some texture. I still wasn’t satisfied with the shadows—so, I had just heard about a trick from Jake Parker about using purple to add texture and depth to the shadows. This was a last ditch effort to really like it and it paid off.

 

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Thanks for being great readers I hope you all have a great weekend.

Also, I’d love to hear what would you like to see me share here? or if you have any questions I could address?

 

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!
Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.
Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .
Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed the finale of chapter one this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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Drawn from Life: MrJayMyers Posts in Review

August 5, 2016By jayart, Blog, Design, Encouragement, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,

Sometimes we build so much we need to stop and remember what is behind us. This post is a refresher, drawing from a few key posts that maybe you’ve missed or might encourage you where you are right now:


If you relate to this: Need a tool to help you grow your skills in your busy life? 15 minutes is a load of time when your time is crunched. Whether you’re like me and have a family, full-time (non-art) job, responsibilities, etc., or you have your own puzzle to make work— sometimes for all of us, it can feel like there isn’t enough time to work on growing our skills. Sometimes, it can feel like we’ll never hit our goals. If that’s the case for you, check out the 15 minart challenge. It’s a challenge that will help you grow.

Check It Out: #15MinArtChallenge


If constraints feel bad, know this—they can lead to great results. Find that sweet spot to get stronger in your skills.

I still like how Jake said it,
“Creativity thrives on constraint.” — Jake Parker

Read: Find Your Creative Sweet Spot & Tools to Help: MrJayMyers Week in Review


Need Encouragement to: Grow your skills? Forge through? Give yourself some rest time, but mostly push those skills till it hurts?

Drawing is like working out. You have to build the art and creativity muscles. But, don’t overdo it. Rest is as important as working out. Balance the workout and rest. Here’s a key: while you’re doing it, if you run into a dry spell—focus on growing your skills, not waiting for inspiration.

Read More Here: MrJayMyers’ Lost Month in Review


Life truly is like a box of chocolates: there are some tasty times and some not so tasty. But, if we are going to get where we want to go we need to stay the course.

I’ve worked at all kinds of places. I’ve even given up drawing—for 10 years. So, don’t freak when you find yourself where you don’t want to be. Use it.

READ: On Growing Up: A MrJayMyers Week in Review


And just last week, this is what I wanted to pass on: you are your best and most important asset.

Don’t give up being you as you pursue learning from other artists. Figure out how you draw, by drawing often and by letting yourself out of the bag. Sometimes, “my stuff isn’t good enough, but that artist over there is” bug hits and it seems better to be like someone else. They are being them. You be you.

READ it here: On Being You: A MrJayMyers Week in Review


Recent Art:
Some of you might recognize this guy. I had to draw him with a Florid pencil. Initial sketch and color using my Winsor & Newton travel set.

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Process 1

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Process 2

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Process 3

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Process 4

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And here is the final scan. (The color differences are based on yellow light vs white light. Even the scan isn’t exact, but it’s close.)

FloridSwordFinal_sm


Two 15MinartChallenge drawings:

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(Side note: I tried coloring her and let’s just say, I’m glad I took this photo first.)

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Michelangelo was always my favorite.

Art Tip: See all those multiple lines right next to each other? They were done with a pentel brush pen that I modified. Mod your travel brushes, it’ll help.


This Week’s Recommended Tool:
Also a review from a past week, but sharing again along with some helpful info below if you got them:

Pentel Pigment Ink Brush Pen – Extra Fine : Permanent less likely to bleed with was over the top.

Pentel Fude Brush Pen, Extra Fine : Works well with ink wash.

Pentel Fude Brush Pen, Medium : Good for large area and for larger art/line needs.
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All of these I have modified. The cartridge is replaceable, but it is also refillable and that’s awesome. Check out the mods below. One more thing, these pens are squeezable, which means you have to control the flow of ink.

When I first got mine (years ago) I didn’t understand that and I got frustrated with them. But, the beauty is that not only can you squeeze ink in, you can withhold it and have really nice dry brush effects.

Remember, if you choose to buy these through the links above you are helping my family out and I truly appreciate that.

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Current Good Read:
I’m still making my way through last week’s book: Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days . Highlighting as I go.


Thanks for being great readers and for all your feedback, as I learn how I can help you on your art paths as well. I’ve got some ideas I’m excited to share with you all soon.

Also, I’d love to hear what would you like to see me share here? or if you have any questions I could address?

Alright guys, have a great weekend and keep creating. Here’s some words that hit the mark, to carry with you:

“Illustrators are word people who happen to draw. We work with one foot in a book, the other stuck in a paint pot. Our shoes are a disgrace.” —Wallace Tripp

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!
Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.
Other ways to connect: Twitter or FaceBook .
Check out my free western fairytale webcomic if you missed the finale of chapter one this week: The Adventures of Tomy and Jon.
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Find Your Creative Sweet Spot & Tools to Help: MrJayMyers Week in Review

April 22, 2016By jayart, Blog, inking, stories, children's tales, comics, children's books,, review, Writing

It’s been a time constrained week around here, more than usualI used to think that was negative and even a legit reason not to make or meet creative goals. Now I think differently.

I like how Jake said it,

“Creativity thrives on constraint.” — Jake Parker

With a full-time (non-illustrating) job and a family of seven (besides me) this has been a necessary and significant shift in perspective. Instead of using my constraints as excuses, I now see them as strengths.


Tomy and Jon’s on-going adventure heated up on Wednesday. I worked for months ahead before I ever launched my webcomic so I didn’t work on it this week. It posts on a schedule now.

This is my best example to date of choosing a personal project (as far as art goes) and sticking with it. It’s really helped me grow my skills and put myself out there, and definitely within constraints. I can’t recommend this enough.

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If you do not have natural constraints there are things you can do to enforce some on yourself. Even with natural ones, this helps.

The main limitation I put on myself is choosing to work in 5, 10, or 15 minute time allotments. Set a timer if you need to—I used my phone’s.

How to Find Your Creative Sweet Spot:
Find the most effective constraint for yourself by asking yourself what you believe is your biggest limitation. Then begin the process of choosing to believe it could actually be exactly what you need.

After several years of working in this way, I doubted that I’d have much art to show for between 75 hours of non-illustration work on my plate this week.  I was wrong. It proves to me again how true it is, creativity really does thrive on constraint.

Here’s my week in review:

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(This doesn’t even count the nights I was just worn down and sketched a bunch of stuff that never saw the light of day.)


Not having my own studio has been another hidden aid that has worked to help me stay mobile and make due with space limits. I gather many of you are in the same position.  So here’s a trick for the trade: modified brush pens.

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Instead of an elaborate set up, I use six Pentel Fude Brushpens that I modify with scissors or needle nose pliers.

You can get them with a medium or extra fine point. Find out more by clicking the highlighted words. If you decide it’s a good fit for you (or gift for another artist in your life) at no extra cost to you, it will also benefit my family, so THANK YOU!

If you’ve already got some, or after your new ones arrive, here’s a 15 second video to show you how I modify mine.

Huge thanks to everyone who purchased through my link last week on The IPOW Canvas Pencil Wrap. I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.

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The IPOW Canvas Pencil Wrap

 


With all this talk about constraint and limitation, rest has a place in this too. My family and I skipped some stones over the weekend. Photo by my wife, Raynna.

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How have you found working within limits helps you? Care to share any examples or tips below? I’d love to hear.

Have a great weekend everyone, keep creating,

Jay

P.S. Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in these kind of updates. Thanks!

Subscribe for these updates to come directly to your inbox HERE.

Jim Dragon Hunter

April 1, 2016By jayBlog


Jim Dragon Hunter This week's Jim never loved horses. But now he'd become one and if that weren't bad enough, he had to defeat a dragon too.
Jim Dragon Hunter This week’s #mjmartprompt Jim never loved horses. But now he’d become one and if that weren’t bad enough, he had to defeat a dragon too. #weeklydraw #dragon #centaur #warrior #traditionalart #pentel #brushwork #modmypentel #friesian

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