I have always had an attraction to the unreal. Part of this is I have always been a vivid dreamer. I recall crying one morning, my heart filled with the sting of injustice, because I’d dreamed my mother had promised to fill my room with pink balloons and when I awoke, lo and behold not a single balloon! I unfortunately also had frequent nightmares, see first drawing below. Coupled with this was a fierce sense of individualism. I had a strong aversion to directly copying any influence. It seemed like cheating. I was also a coloring book addict, and due to this strong attachment to individuality, I ended up with quite a few pictures of Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” with purple hair, or green skin, or even shooting metallic red and gold lasers from her fingertips at the personified wardrobe. Color her jumper blue? Please.
I suppose I always figured if you’re going to draw something that you can already look at right in front of you in real life, the live version is always going to look better anyway. Show me something I CAN’T see. What I’ve learned, however, is that the whole “You have to learn the rules before you can break them” thing I was always told in school by teachers (which I HATED, by the way) is totally true. Just as an inventor certainly can’t go about building a time machine if he doesn’t know how to rewire a lamp, if an artist doesn’t know the basic techniques that allow him or her to replicate reality, he or she can’t know how to bend it. The very last drawing of the girl with the crazy possessed sword was a project for school my junior year based on a fantasy novel I was writing at the time. I said, “gather drawing references? Grid the facial proportions? Psh, boring!” and went full steam ahead. Note the oddly shaped alien skull, the giant mutant hand larger than said skull, and the strangely sized and placed nose and eye. Like, her eye is literally way up where her hairline should be. If you have innovative, mind-bending, insane ideas, never abandon them! Keep sketching! But in between all that, practice some of that “boring, mundane” stuff in between, because this practice is the key to unlocking the worlds inside your head, allowing you to transfer them into plaster, paper, wood, corrugated cardboard…! Go on google image search and look at pictures of eyes, of hands, and practice sketching them. Look outside your window and even if it’s just for 10 minutes, grab a pencil and try to draw what you see. Use scrap paper, the backs of envelopes from all those credit card applications that fill our mailboxes day after day and just DRAW WHAT YOU SEE once a day. I promise you’ll notice a difference. Each person’s art is like a little organism, and it has to keep evolving.