Sketch Book – Horse Head

I’m working on my backlog of sketch book pages. I did a bunch of b/w versions that need vectorising. Nothing special, but here they are.

While many people complain about trolling on the internet, it’s actually a very supportive, nice, polite community.

People are reluctant to be critical of your work. If they don’t like it, they’ll chose to not comment or not ‘Like’ it.

Even if they do ‘Like’ it, it might just be polite encouragement. A tepid pat on the back as it were. It actually has very little value except as a method of News Feed Aggregation & Spread (on Facebook anyway)

Even my old MA class, had to be goaded into giving honest, critical feedback. In fact it took 6 months of scolding from Foz (our tutor and commander-in-chief ) to get to a place where people were comfortable with being honest.

Which is not easy even online (where anonymity removes some inhibitions), and so much harder face to face. It made me squirm for a while before I let go of “I want so-and-so to like me.”, “I don’t want to sound like a bitch” “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings”

Of course is critical feedback is only relevant and useful from someone who knows what they are talking about.

The Ex’s critiques would be very different from feedback from an art peer.

(To quote my sweetie on art: “I don’t get it” and on painting: “It’s boring.”)

And both, critique from your peers/betters or the internet needs to be specific. To get specific feedback you need to ask specific questions: Is this working? Are the colours too dull? Are the colours too bright? Are the lines too clumsy? Should it be bigger? Should I move it left? Is this drawing boring (ouch. that’s a toughie)

It’s easy to get sloppy. To forget that there is any need for critical feedback. To forget to ask the right questions, to neglect personal progress, to stagnate, to let ambition fade away.

You go to work, you come home and maybe you start to downgrade your personal work to the despised status of “hobby”. You start to then make excuses about time, about tiredness, about lack of space. After all, it’s just a hobby.

And these are all very real problems, but it’s also possible to try to push past them, with some internal or external goading. Be more prolific, push yourself harder, more ideas, better drawing, practice practice practice.

So what I’m trying to say, is that I’m trying really fucking hard to keep on my toes.


Sketch Book - Horse Head

Sketch Book – Horse Head

Horse Head - Chocolate

Horse Head – Chocolate

Horse Head - Chrome

Horse Head – Chrome


18 thoughts on “Sketch Book – Horse Head

  1. Great musings…!
    I used to think with constructive (read negative :D) criticism (more about writing less about art) —Am I offended because they are wrong? (ie, they just didn’t get it) or, am I offended because they’re right? (the little nagging voice that said, you know, x is wrong with this, oh nobody will notice anyway, just leave it) and then someone DID point out that exact thing?

    I think you’re very right–often, internet (or RL) criticism is so tepid -meh, that’s so pretty, meh….- ::laughs:: But I’ve gotten to the point where… I find… it’s really HARD to get or give good critique. Because if you ask ten people what they think–they will give you eleven answers. (And often, we already KNOW in our hearts hah, what we’re good at and what sucks about the work…) So while I know it doesn’t help the person… I prefer to say something tamely nice if I liked it–or just saying nothing if it didn’t give me a boner. I mean, if I didn’t like it so much.

    If I was into horses, that is the horse I would pick for my mate. I like the use of the little lines inside the horse body–nice curves and movement!. (not so sure about the three faded bands on the colored versions in the background… the thicker and two thinner… find them kind of distracting… that could just be me. if you ask someone else, they might say that’s their favorite part after the horse… omg…. what is wrong with me. Comment over. ^^)

    • its true – also unless they ask for critique i think it might be unfair to totally unload. encouragement is always nicer

      3 bands – maybe i should make them less rigid – they are the only shapes that have straight lines. i’ll need to play with it.

      • Critique is hard. :______>.]
        But yeah, it’s humbling to hear a pro call their drawings a hobby haha. I think sometimes the best encouragement is knowing even people ahead of you struggle (or is that disheartening? haha, can’t decide). I do hope you find more time for your own drawings ❤

  2. Great post. What struck most with me is the work, transparency, and (dare I say) vulnerability it requires to push past “just OK”, or as you put it, “hobby” status. I believe strongly in great criticism, coaching, etc, in order to push past personal sticking points – and this post just illustrates it really well. Thanks!

  3. I think you’re right in asking for specific criticism. Art, like music and literature, is so subjective that non-specific criticism is, in my opinion, pretty worthless because it is a reflection of someone else’s taste. I like your work – that’s not me being nice lol. Your work is often edgy and has a terrific streak of humour 😀

  4. Glutton for punishment, Janine? lol xoxo

    Well, I detect a charming blend of existential angst and determined self-improvement going on in this essay. Sort of a wool-gathering brainstorm session? I’d be happy to be hard on you, but I think you’re really writing to be “hard” (in a constructive way) on yourself: sort of personal pep talk?

    When I was a lad, I was obsessed with the Persian Empire, so I decided one year (tenth birthday?) that I wanted my cake decorated with a Persian double winged-bull capital, like those on the columns at Persepolis.

    My father, in a display of supreme naivete, simply memorized my instructions (which of course were gibberish to him), goes to the bakery, comes back to me and says, “They don’t know what that is.”


    So I send him back with a library book and, voila, I wound up with a birthday cake with a pretty decent approximation, in brown-colored frosting against white and some blue trimming, of a double winged-bull column capital.

    Anyway, that’s what your horse reminds me of. Obviously, yours is more technically apt and intricate, but it has something of the same festive exoticism. I like it. It’s kinda “ethnic” to me, which may or may not be something you’re going for. Is there some sort of Indian motif (equestrian or otherwise) that could replace the horseshoe?

    –Not that I’m trying to tie you in to some Global South diversity slot. But, all the baby factories notwithstanding, I suspect your deepest aesthetic instincts move towards colorful pictorialism in sharply-outlined neo-Primitivist form.

    • yes yes another personal pep talks. of course, yesterday i went home and procrastinated.
      your poor father. he sounds sweet.

      festive exoticism is fairly accurate – always it was just in my sketch book.
      sometimes just fun to draw lots of lines
      Is there some sort of Indian motif (equestrian or otherwise) that could replace the horseshoe?
      – yes you know there might be. i was thinking of hindi script but i dont know.
      – i’ll check with the ex.

      baby factories still happening though – i need to work my way through the back log first

  5. These look great! Are you enjoying using this technique to rework your sketches? It seems like it is really working for you. Also, fuck the day job! It’s great to have a steady income, but don’t ever let it downgrade the status of your artwork. It’s not a hobby! Or at least, so say I.

    I really wanted to find a brain Pickings article I read about famous artists who never quit their day jobs, like Philip Glass, famous international minimalist composer / plumber. But I couldn’t find it. This artile is good too.

    • thanks again mike! yeah this style is good fun, its fairly relaxing. i dont think i could survive without the day job – i vaguely remember a quote by some artist that i have now totally forgotten but the gist was that he used to think of painting as his hobby and his job as digging roads but once he started thinking of digging roads and the hobby and painting his job it changed his outlook completely. i think thats very true.
      i need the steady income too. good link article!

      • I completely understand the need for a steady income. It really sucks waiting to be paid by someone for work you have done. Or worse, is when you have a dry spell, and then suddenly too much work to handle.

        That article I wanted to find for you had a story about my favorite art critic Robert Hughes (RIP) recognizing Philip Glass as the guy working on his plumbing (This was after Glass was world famous). I always liked that one.

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