Friday, January 24, 2020

The Benefits of Daily Practice: Part I, Finding the Joy Again

My grandfather often said, “Don’t get so busy making a living, that you forget what you’re living for.” 

In talking with a number of other artists, I have found a number of illustrators that spend so much time working on illustrating for others, that they lose joy in the creation of their art. It becomes a job and they forget the delight they once found in the creation process. I see this often with students as well. They get burned out with all the assignments that we as professors give them. It is no longer fun. 

Many do not spend time exploring and having fun with drawing because they are too busy with the work. They work, and their art is their work. They do not draw for fun anymore. It is their job and that is all. I believe, that in order to maintain the joy of creating art one must set aside time to draw or practice their art daily. This needs to be free of others expectations and demands.

For me, I try to fill at least a page in my sketchbook 6 days a week. This daily drawing is a free draw for me to explore, have fun, be creative without boundaries, or to practice drawing whatever I want to improve on. I have found that this drawing time generates ideas for personal projects that keeps me going through more difficult jobs and deal with some of my more stressful moments. 

This is not easy. Often the clamor of work, putting out fires, and other pressures cause me to sacrifice this drawing time. In order to combat this, I have started scheduling 15 minutes a day to just draw. Although this does not solve the problem of competing demands, it has helped me draw more. 

Recently, I have discovered again the joy of drawing guinea fowl. They, along with other creatures, like aliens, robots, and observational sketches, keep populating my sketchbook.

I am happier when I make the time to draw regularly. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Personal Project: My Shakespeare Series, Henry VI part II

A few years ago, I set a goal to read all of William Shakespeare's plays and do an illustration for each. 

In Henry VI part II act 2 scene 3, after Gloucester is found dead, Suffolk is accused without evidence. The Earl of Warwick gives the following reason:

Who finds the partridge in the puttocks nest
But may imagine how the bird was dead,
although the kite soar with unbloodied beak?
Even so suspicious is this tragedy.

This image of the kite hovering over a nest struck me. It seemed to say so much more than just the murder of Gloucester.   I replaced the puttock's nest (a bird of prey like a kite) with the crown to emphasize the idea of the impending coup. I chose the black-winged kite because of the blood red eyes gave the illustration a more menacing foreboding appearance. 

To date I have read King John through Henry VI part II in order of the sequence of their action. It wasn't until reading this one that I came up with my first image. I think I will have to go back and review the others again for more ideas.

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Benefits of Daily Practicing, Introduction:

Each year I set a goal to draw more, and each year I get better and better at meeting this goal. Part of this goal is to spend at least fifteen minutes, six days a week, in free drawing. I also take my sketch book almost everywhere I go. I tend to fill one page in my sketch book in these 15 minutes. During this time, I practice drawing things I feel I need to improve, like spend 15 minutes drawing hands or whatever, doodling, playing with ideas that have been dancing around my head, or draw whatever comes to mind. The sketches above were drawn while I was waiting to board an airplane. To date, I have found the following benefits. 

• Helps you discover your personal style
• Improves drawing ability
• Increases creativity
• Improves quality of jobs or assignments I have taken on
• Generates ideas for personal projects
• Increases enjoyment of drawing and life
• Decreases stress

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the benefits to daily practice in any creative career. I am sure there are more. If you have any, send them my way. I would love to get other’s thoughts on this subject.

I will spend more time in future weeks going over each of these benefits in more detail.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Barclay-Studio. I hope your holiday's are filled with peace and joy!

Monday, December 23, 2019

One Small Exciting Step!

I made my first online sale! Traveling, print 1 of 25 has now been shipped off to a new home. One leg of my table is starting to strengthen.

It was exhilarating to log into my site and see that someone had purchased a print. I navigated the shipping process and sent it off. Having just opened the store a week ago and having a purchase that quickly was a wonderful event.

It helped to have the print on display at the Quimby Gallery as part of the Northern Vermont Faculty Exhibit, Come Together. They wanted a print and went to my site to make the purchase. This emphasizes the need to have multiple legs to support the table as mentioned in my last post.

This first sale is small, but exciting. I know full well that the online store will take time to grow, but it is exciting nonetheless.

I will continue to add work to the site for sale. You can go to here to see more.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Setting up a Table

My online store is now open for business!

I created a business plan years ago when I was taking my illustration business class at the University of Hartford, Hartford Art School in the Illustration MFA program. In it, I focused only on getting into the children’s picture book market. Jim Carson (1952 - 2014), the instructor for the illustration business class, told me not to put all of my eggs into one basket.

A few years ago, I was watching an interview with an Illustrator and Animator, Jake Parker, on a show called The New Creatives. In it he explained that he sees his career and supporting himself like a table. “you put legs under the table to hold it up. The more legs you have under that table, the more stable it is, and if something is swept out from under it, you’ve got all these other legs holding it up.”

I learned this the hard way when over 19 years ago I was laid off from my graphic design job, found another job, and then was laid off again within two months. I realize I need more legs to support my table. I have been relying mostly on my teaching, but I know from past experience that things can change in an instant and that one support can be gone. 

As part of this journey, I am creating more legs to better support my table. The first leg is my teaching. The second is my efforts to get into the picture book market. The third leg is selling my work online. I am also in the process of developing more legs.

You can see what work is available to purchase at my website 

and find other places to buy my work at this subpage 

If you see something of mine that you want that I currently do not offer or want to commission me to do any work, let me know. 

I will also be updating the store regularly so visit often!

Monday, November 25, 2019

A Balancing Act

One of the biggest challenges I have faced in my attempts to get more illustration work is finding balance between teaching, administrative responsibilities, and my art. I find spending time on building my illustration business the first thing to go, because the other aspects of my job are more pressing. I have many roles and the demands for those are increasing without the release of any other responsibilities. 

As such, I needed to do some serious reflection and make some decisions on how to accomplish my desire to get more illustration work. 

First, I applied for a sabbatical. This removed the administrative responsibilities that were so overwhelming and many of my other work demands. It allowed me to focus on illustrating.

Second, as an illustrator, I need to balance my time between creating and marketing. I have a tendency to focus more on the art work and hope that people will find me. Although this approach had brought in a small amount of work over the years, my-self-promotion efforts needed to increase and be more purposeful.

This involved planning. I now plan out my weeks. When will I work on illustration, and when will I work on contacting potential clients and other self-promotion efforts? Daily, I look over my plan and make adjustments based on what has come up. This has helped immensely in progressing toward more illustration work. I still have a great deal of work to do, but I am making progress. 

An example of a weeks planning

I realize this approach is not for everyone, but it has helped me. Some form of organization and planning is needed. I offer this as one solution and it is evolving and changing as I continue to work.

Now I am in the process of being patient until I see the results of my efforts over the last year or so. I will share my sure fire way to develop patience in two weeks.