Two Years Later

Dragon Con 2016Two years ago, around this same time, I was preparing for my first convention as an artist. I’m doing the same now, for the same convention–Dragon Con. Genre art (fantasy, science fiction, horror) for me at the time was still a relatively new venture. I grew up on late 70’s and 80’s genre films. As a teenager I was consumed by Stephen King and other speculative fiction authors. You’d think this would be reflected in my art, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I began letting myself explore. A wall in my psyche came down and my art evolved. Two years later I was at Dragon Con and now another two years later I’m returning. In that time, I’ve continued to explore, evolve and learn.

I began thinking about what I truly wanted. What did I want to create with my art? What did I want to say? Did I need to say anything? That introspection gave birth to Renascentia. She is the first painting I felt connected to on a deeper level and I realized I need that connection. It reminds me of this quote I heard recently:

If you don’t feel anything for the painting your working on, your viewers won’t either.

When I brought Renascentia to Jordan Con in 2015, I realized the truth of these words. However, I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted. The vision in my head was still veiled in mist. It took nearly another year for me to begin piecing together what I now call Earth Rituals. I’m creating a body of work around this idea of connecting with the earth, but it’s not the only art I plan to make. I will continue to make purely nature art, delve into Sci-Fi, and whatever else catches my fancy.

Dusk OwlBut what have I done and learned over the last two years?

  1. I learned how to create art from direction.
  2. I ran a successful kickstarter and printed a book.
  3. I won Judge’s Choice from Todd Lockwood. O_O
  4. I signed my first contract with a small games publisher.
  5. I knew this already, but it was reaffirmed–true friends are invaluable.
  6. I will break my no dancing rule if you give me mixed drinks.
  7. I learned I don’t really enjoy game illustration.
  8. I learned you can be a part of a large community and still feel utterly alone.
  9. I learned there’s an art to using Instagram.
  10. I enjoy licensing art for book covers more than custom commissions.
  11. I learned I just want to create my own art, on my own terms.
  12. I guided my daughter through her last year of high school and into her first year of college.
  13. I was invited to be a member of Changeling Artist Collective.
  14. I launched a Patreon campaign that’s still going.
  15. I rediscovered my love of graphite and drawing.
  16. I’ve had a taste of being an art director (large project in progress now).

Ultimately, I’ve realized I’m not an illustrator, nor do I really want to be. Sure, there may be some overlap occasionally. If a project fits my vision and my style I might jump on board. But at the end of the day, I’m an artist. I think my art will always hover between fine art and the fantastic. In some cases it will sway back and forth between the two. That’s okay.

Forest Dreams WIP

From my current work in progress, Forest Dreams.

Trying New Things

When I eat out, whether it’s Italian, Chinese, or Mexican, I usually get the same dish each time. I like what I like. That’s not to say I don’t ever try something new. When it comes to artists, we tend to associate a certain style or even themes with specific artists. Some artists are known for their dragons, some for their landscapes, etc. Artists who develop a unique voice in their art are recognizable from across a room. How does one find that voice? Time, practice, passion, and exploration. Trying new things, exploring, is essential to expanding our minds and skills as a creative individual. If you only paint or draw one thing, how can you evolve?

I consider myself on the cusp of developing a unified series of paintings. I’m not going to say I’ve found my voice–that’s for someone else to decide. But I am discovering what makes my heart pound a little harder. I feel as if I’m finally moving toward my goal. Then I go and paint this… Why?

Sunward Bound by Amanda MakepeaceI’ve never painted an airship. This shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve never had any desire to paint anything mechanized. Emotion and intuition are huge aspects of my process. When I think about painting a car or spacecraft I feel like I’m looking at a tax return form. Nature, magic, organic, tied to the earth–these things are in my veins. But it’s good to try new things. . . right? Yes!

This small painting challenged me to think in new ways. My brain and my muse fought me the entire way but I did it. I think no matter what stage you’re at with your art, it’s important to explore new themes, techniques and mediums. We need to flex those creative neurons. That doesn’t mean every experiment must be a masterpiece. But every experiment will help us grow and teach us something new. The journey is one part of developing that unique voice, of becoming.