Illustration Friday - Kernel - "Star Seeds" by A.R Vincent, Copyright 2012

Illustration Friday – ‘Kernel’

I was told recently that my style was very ‘cute’ and, though I don’t have a problem with that as such, I wanted to try something different for this weeks IF something that was far from cute! Besides, when I saw the topic of ‘Kernel’ for Illustration Friday this week nothing immediately leapt to mind so I decided it would be a good time to let my imagination show me the way…

"Star Seeds" by A.R Vincent, Copyright 2012

The design of the creature actually came to me as I was staring at the irregular, blotchy pattern on a piece of linoleum – some people see faces, I see hideous mutant plant monsters from outer space, I guess thems the breaks! When I started creating the beasty, first as a pencil sketch and then in Photoshop, I actually had no idea about the story surrounding it or if it would tie in to the theme. However, as the little critter took shape he started to tell me his story and I discovered that this extra terrestrial piece of sentient flora was no pot plant!!

Now the art is done and posted I’m going to pen a story to go with him and perhaps see about posting that here too.

Until then my friends, look to the skies and think twice before mowing your lawn this summer… because one day your lawn may want revenge… mwa-ha-ha!!

Why Woodland Animation

Britains native broadleaf woodland is disappearing fast. Broadleaf trees, such as oak, ash and birch, have been part of the British landscape for hundreds of years and support a diverse and complex eco-system not found elsewhere. If we let our broadleaf woodland disappear through dereliction, mismanagement or convertion to fast growing non-native conifers then we will also be saying goodbye to the sight of bluebell woods, autumn colours and the home of countless lichens, birds and insects.

I created this 2D animation for Why Woodland, to help raise awareness of the threats to the British broadleaf woods. To find out more and show your support visit them on Facebook.com/whywoodland or on Twitter @whywoodland

This was animated using a combo of Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro CS5 and, after loosing the battle with the CS5 version, Flash CS4. The process has sustained my love for Photoshop, made me begin to appreciate Premiere (despite the complete debacle that was rendering) and, after hours fighting with animation in Flash CS4 and CS5, made me desperate to master animating in After Effects!!

As with all projects I loved and hated this project by turns and in equal measure. There are always little moments that punctuate a project and the fustration  and anxiety that I felt when faced with constantly crashing software, unfathomable formatting errors and render troubles was set in stark contrast against the fun of designing the tree-gobbling-money-machine (every home should have one!), the satisfaction of making the squirrel talk and the thrill of discovering the chromakey function in Premiere.

Enjoy!

'Swamp' by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

Illustration Friday – Swamp

I guess I should accept it, characters are what I do or perhaps I will do other things… I just shouldn’t go cold turkey on the character design!

As I mentioned at the end of my last IF post I wanted to try to do something that was less focused on character design and this weeks topic, ‘swamp’ seemed just perfect. So I started thinking about it and doing some doodles and suddenly there they were, looking up at me from my sketch pad, three gooey characters that had literally grown up out of the swamp! Not only did they stare up at me with the distinct expression of “this is our swamp and we’re not leaving” but they came complete with an entire short story for me to pen about them!

Well, after a little initial outrage at having my best efforts at creating a landscape scene hijacked by sentient gloop, I decided that I should just roll with it. So I have, with a fully Photoshopped illustration and a scribbled outline for a short story which, once I’ve eventually finished it, I will see about posting up as a podcast! 

And here they are, the Swampies…

'Swamp' by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

'Swamp' by A.R Vincent, copyright 2012

One possible garden studio

Why Do We Need Creative Space?

Shed Heads

I dream about a shed in the garden! Perhaps you think this is setting the bar a little low, I know some people dream of Kardashian style wealth, Britney Spears’ super stardom or the success of J.K Rowling but for me these days, aside from a reliable income from my artistic endeavours, my big dream is a shed in a garden.

My dream shed (which some may call a garden lodge or summer house) would be of modest size wooden affair. It would have plenty of windows and maybe even skylights to let in plenty of light, would be well insulated to keep in the heat and would function as my studio. If I really indulge the fantasy it would have electricity either run from the house or from a small solar panel on which I could run some lights, my sewing machine and maybe a kettle. There would also be small wood-burning pot-bellied stove for heat. Heck, if I really want to visit fantasy land it sits atop a ragged cliff top and has a beautiful view over the ocean!!

The Perfect Place For The Muse

Little ShedWhy, you may ask, have I focused my hopes on a timber structure in the garden? Well, for starters I am a cat owner and, adore them as I do, it would be nice to have a place where I could paint, sew, glue, carve or sculpt without feline paws, tongues, fur or whiskers scratching, rubbing, ingesting or in any other way causing harm to themselves or the work. It’s difficult to get inspiration when you are worried that the slightest slip in attention could cause our furry friend (should that be fiend?) to require an urgent trip to the vets.

Additionally, being a primarily home based worker, there are always distractions around the house. Washing to be sorted, vacuuming to do, washing up to be done and of course the lure of that dreadful seductress, the internet! Not only does my muse, fickle beastie as she is, need to be kept away from these distractions but she needs somewhere where inspiration can be pulled from the air.

Real World

Of course, in the real world this wistful dream that creativity can be indulged only when the muse is up and awake is unrealistic for those who want to make a living. The path to money comes with deadlines, schedules and expectations.

I was chatting with a good friend this week, whose debut novel hits the shelves this autumn, and discussing how things have changed for us, creatively speaking, since our teens. During our teens we both plunged ourselves in to the world of art and writing, indulging our young muses by creating films and animations, putting together surreal photo shoots (the negatives for which have long since been destroyed… I hope), drawing, painting and writing.  We would come up with an idea and abandon all else, occasionally including school work, to explore it. Whatever else our teens may have been we agree that it was a magical time to be creative, but it was also indulgent in a way the real world does not allow!

In the real world we must be creative on demand, we must meet deadlines and please clients and to hell with whether we feel inspired. In the real world it is more important to be inspiring then inspired, which is why I dream of a shed! Since I need to be creative on demand, then a space dedicated to that creativity – somewhere that is part studio, part workshop, part sanctuary – is the way to keep the old magic alive. I may not get it any time soon but, one day, I will build my muse a temple to creativity… well, a little wooden house anyway… okay, okay, I mean shed!

Explosive decisions!!

Well, I’ve just heard the latest (I doubt it will be the last) word in public insanity. 

On the news today, accompanying updates on the Governments latest proposal to fill up the country with nuclear power plants, comes a small segment looking at the good people of Bradwell, Essex, home to an ex-nuclear power plant. The governments proposal has meant that the 2nd generation power plant which has been left to rot since it decommissioned in 2002 will now be replaced by a shiny new one and the good people of Bradwell are happy. Citing that the plant was always a good economic and community bedrock they have said they will welcome the plant back. Fare enough, you might say, it was a good provider before and though it might explode and take out the town… country… planet… it at least brought life to the small community. Now here my understanding fails on 2 counts. First there is proof that plant has leaked nuclear waste and secondly good people of Bradwell have forcefully opposed the construction of a wind farm on the near by site.  

Perhaps it’s me. Perhaps nuclear power is the future – certainly the government believes it is. Perhaps I should go with the commonly held belief that if it’s not on my door step it doesn’t matter – lord knows that would be an easier approach. But I could not stand in front of the cancer producing monster that is nuclear power, look in to the eyes of the slathering beast and welcome it with open arms. Not whilst fighting a natural non-polluting alternative vying for the same site. 

Yes, I concede that a nuclear plant will produce more power then a wind farm would and I agree that nuclear power is less polluting then the fossil fuel alternative… but lets not get carried away here! Sure nuclear power produce less CO2 but let’s keep an eye on the wider issue here people!! This is nuclear power we’re talking about here… n.u.c.l.e.a.r! The same energy as  produced by Chernobyl, the same energy that was harnessed to cause the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That has left pain and heart ache for generations in its wake. So let’s not get too hung up on CO2 emissions. We’re talking about building something that could kill millions if it went wrong – something that could end life on earth!  

So stuff CO2 emissions, the economy and the community spirit of a small Essex community – nuclear energy should be the last resort not the first!!  Read more about the UK politics of Nuclear power (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7179579.stm)