An artful year in review: 2019

Hi and happy New Year! I felt like doing a review of 2019. Because much has happened last year.

My name is Wen. I draw pictures. And I’d love to make a living from it.

In 2019 I learned so much… I joined the My Year of Art School at Make Art That Sells (an online art school by art agent Lilla Rogers). A full year of yummy assignments and great course content. Classes on children’s books, home decor, editorial work, and what not. It’s not so much a “how to draw and paint” kind of art school. You’ll have to learn these techniques elsewhere. But what Lilla and her team are really good at is showing why work is selling or not. What art directors are looking for. And the ins and outs of all kinds of illustration markets.

Here’s some of the work I created for some of these classes (not the one above though, that one was for an Instagram challenge). A warning up front: this post is image heavy.

Children’s books class:

From a text by Zoë Tucker about a girl, a couple of naughty wolves and a forest in despair.

My interpretation was a bit wild perhaps.

I’m not going to tell more about the story. That one belongs to Zoë.

For home decor class:

Drawing faces class:

And editorial (part of bootcamp class):

For a text by Beth Kempton about Wabi Sabi. She wrote a wonderful book about it too.

I tried out different materials. Still searching for how I want to work.

I soon found out that I was missing some foundationals in drawing and painting technique. Things like how to build the structure of an object, how to achieve chararacter consistency, compelling compositions and concepts, perspective, tones, line quality, and so on.

So besides the classes at Make Art That Sells I looked online for tutorials. And that’s where I found the classes of Nina Rycroft, a children’s book illustrator. Here are some faces I drew for her face shape class on Skillshare:

During the year, I figured out a way of working, a process of creating. With the help of Youtube and through trial and error I learned a lot about digital illustration in Photoshop. But I love working with traditional media like coloured pencils, inks, crayons and watercolours. So during the year I figured out my own approach.

My style is a mixture of traditional and digital work, full of all kinds of texture. Textures that I create with traditional paints, inks, etc. These I scan and then I add them to (parts of) an illustration.

Here is some personal work I did (outside of the classes):

Lilla had asked during MATS ICB that I draw more furry animals. So here you go.

I also love exploring different ideas. Like how I could tell “flower”:

And how I could stylize animal characters. Like this cat. Still trying to figure that out.

I like to experiment with all kinds of media. Some more successful than others. For home decor plus class at MATS for example, I tried to work mostly with acrylic paints. I was not overly satisfied with the results, probably because it had such a different feel compared to my other work. And some assignments just didn’t work out for me. Here is one that I do like though:

Besides illustrating I was also asked for two awesome projects. One was a video interview by Nina Rycroft for her Project Portfolio, an online event for children’s book illustrators and writers. And the other one was a guest post for Gumclub, a Dutch website on illustrating. I felt really honoured to be asked for these, as I had only just started my journey through the world of illustration.

So, what will 2020 bring? I’m following the curriculum at SVS Learn this year, an online art school specialized in children’s book illustrations. I gravitate towards creating images for children. Which was no surprise to anyone who knows me well. But sometimes you just have to try different things to know for sure.

Sunny smiles and take care!

xoxo Wen

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