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Art: Abstract Sea Turtle

I like beach scenes for whatever reason.

Perhaps I should be writing something about the state of politics? I used to do that a lot, but it started to feel too much like writing about the composition of animal dung, and I kept going even then for a time, until my nose and stomach rebelled, so I’ve mostly set it aside for now in favor of art.

And I like the art stuff a lot more, even if none of it’s that hot. At least I can see a result. Which is to say, at least there’s reinforcement to it. It’s something where I can take a glance at the pieces and know it was something done and real and meet with it on whatever level I’m feeling at the moment.

I’ve had this notion, and it’s probably been seen before, that artists and creators have envies of other media for what’s simple about the other that’s hard about their own. A poet or musician wants to tell a bigger tale, so they have to do a whole book or a whole album, where the novelist would have to do a short story. Or the film director says, “TV can spend so much time on character!” Or the TV producer says, “Film gets to put all that budget into just a few scenes, we have to spread it out over eight episodes.”

And I’m sure it’s not exclusive to creative work, either. Building a car versus a house? I’m sure the engineers and architects, anyone putting stuff together, has some level of wonder at the other’s work and in how they itch to distribute their own labor in a different way.

So why not do it? You might not be able to in your usual craft, but draw a picture. That’s part of why I’m doing the art now. So I can see a result in a way that my longer writing doesn’t let me. Another part is hoping to weather the current media+political world long enough for a better one to come along. One worth spending more time to write about.

Cumulus of some kind?

Maybe a congestus? Maybe mediocris? Hmm.

A decent attempt. No accompanying details (no overlap or other clouds, no ground, no sun, etc.) makes it kind of plain and artificial.

It’s hard to randomize the brush shapes without becoming repetitive or unnatural. The cloud edges are sharper than I realized.

The biggest challenge is looking at what’s there and figuring out what would make it more cloudlike. I watched a few tutorials, but they mostly seemed to draw-the-rest-of-the-owl in terms of the tutors already knowing what they’re doing and producing what looked like a better cloud than I got from their first stroke all the way through.

The general process they follow:

  1. Block out the general cloud shapes.
  2. Refine into cloud shapes.
  3. Shade and highlight.
  4. Add details.

The process I finally used to make this was:

  1. Use a brush with almost no opacity. Add tiny amounts of paint over a lot of clicks.
  2. Realize that while it looked okay, it was too fluffy and too transparent.
  3. Switch to a square brush and color over what I had and smudge a lot with different shades.
  4. Keep refining for a long time.

Theirs were faster and better in a lot of ways, but they’ve got experience (and graphics tablets). One of the downsides of painting software is the reliance on tablets (mainly because it’s a more natural input, but also because it has pressure sensitivity that can be used to change all sorts of brush dynamics).

I wonder if a mouse had click-pressure, how that would do as a middle-ground? I think using a graphics tablet and stylus would annoy me, having to switch between it and mouse and keyboard to change settings that weren’t reachable with the tablet.

In any case, enjoy the cloud!