Sunday, 29 September 2013

Collection of Work (My Best Work Since 2005)

Here follows a gallery of what I consider to be my best work for the last 8years.

18ct White Gold and Diamond Ring 2013

A3 Pencil Drawing 2007

Silver "Sphere"Ring 2010

Digital Painting 2013

Acrylic Painting 2011

Silver Holy Spirit Ring 2011

9ct White Gold and Diamond Cameo Pendant Brooch 2013

Water Colour, Marker Pen and Ball Point Pen A3 Sketch 2007

Icicle Tiara in 1\6th scale 2010

Silver and Red Cubic, DNA Neckpiece and Earrings 2011

Silver and Garnet Thunder Ring 2007

Flaming Skull Digital Painting in Microsoft Paint 2013

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Media (Digital Art 1)

I have recently discovered digital art but only on the level of Microsoft Paint and a very rudimentary exposure to the free online program GIMP. I love digital art and wish I could afford a proper rendering program and a course in utilizing it. One of the aspects of digital art that I really appreciate is that you can upload any of your "real" art or even a doodle and work it further ad infinitum in digital. This allows for even the oldest or most arbitrary scribble to be photographed with your phone and then to be worked into the phenomenal piece it was meant to be. I also appreciate the process as you can save at every pivotal junction leaving a series of artwork as the art develops. Lets see what I mean in visual by looking at some of my digital attempts. 

In my Spanish dance digital project already blogged before I reached several significant juncture of this was one. the picture evolved from a pen and ink sketch into the final artwork that I sold to a paying client. 

This was the final product. 

After the sale I decided that I'd like a full length version. This is its current state and as far as I'm concerned its not finished. this is the wonder of digital. you can keep going and save at any stage, leading to many different artworks.  

I often doodle, especially in ballpoint pen, my favourite medium. Digital allows me to use my phone camera to take these doodles to a much further level. 

This pen drawing was destined to be turned into a digital artwork. 

The digital rendering of the lion done in pen seems more like a real painting now. 

This artwork is one of my favourites. It started as an acrylic painting. I hate acrylics and gave up even though I loved the concept. So my Blackberry camera and MS Paint and GIMP came to the rescue. I loved doing it. 

Digital really is the future, but don't think lack of skill for actual art principles will help you if you can only work the program. You must still be a real artist, digital is just a tool. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Work Stages (Design Inspiration 1)

A famous ancient proverb states: "There is nothing new under the sun." Any designer worth his salt will admit to this or he is just taking you for a ride. The best definition of design I have every encountered states that; design is merely the rearrangement of existing elements. I agree, nothing new under the sun but an infinity of possible rearrangements. One has two sides to design, contrived and inspired and neither is worse than the other, it boils down to function and personal enjoyment. Typically any designer will be artistic and pursue joy in exercising his skills and expressing his talent. When he is paid to do so it may be more contrived and functional and about making a client happy while in his spare time it will be for his own pleasure and might never be sold.

So what sources may a designer draw from in order to get inspiration or ideas for either a client job or for pleasure? The word inspiration literally means to be filled with a spirit, or to be stimulated to feel and do. There are several sources of inspiration.

Even your imagination cannot conceive from nothing. Just like a bank account cannot give you money if you don't first deposit but it can give you back what you've put in and can even give you interest. The biggest source and constant input into our minds is our daily surroundings and even if you live in a city, you are surrounded by air, dust, insects and the sky is over your head. Therefore nature must be our biggest source.

Nature has often inspired my work and I find it easiest to do as references are ready available in my head. Even a small child can recognizably draw a spider or the sun.

Viper drawn on A3 paper with ball point pen. 

Ring design rendered in colour pencil and pen inspired by a skull which counts as a nature reference.

The floral and vine motif surrounding this cameo can be said to be nature inspired. By the way, humans are "natural" and as such fall in the same category. 

Next up I would say our biggest influencer or inspiration source must be our upbringing. Every person has a reference from his personal demographic whilst growing up. For example a city slicker may be inspired by high rise buildings while a farm upbringing give you a penchant for nature. In this sphere religious, financial and social demographics also play a huge part. The political leanings of parent, whether they were strict or not and so forth shapes our database of references in our minds that will be available to a designer/artist when he does his work.

This logo concept I designed for myself as a monogram exemplifies my upbringing. My surname is Swanepoel and it clearly alludes to a swan. The crown links it with a European descent and still hints at imperialism and colonization as part of my history. The swan also looks like a letter "D" which stands for my name Daniel but shows my subtle artistic ability and finally the lightning bolts come from a Biblical reference that has deep personal meaning to me. 

I grew up wealthy and my grandfather's smart cars inspired me as a child and to this day gives me an eye for automotive design. I like Rolls Royce above all cars and enjoy drawing them. The picture above is in marker pen and ballpoint. 

As a young child I loved animated series on television and one of my favourite was the Three Musketeers. This inspired me to eventually do fencing. The particular European Royal court with swords, knights and crowns serves as a massive inspiration throughout my life. The above picture was done in Microsoft Paint and touched up in GIMP. 

World History
World history plays a massive role in everybody's life and mind. This may also inspire an artist especially propoganda art. However, historic reference influences fashion and by extension the fields of design . One particular aspect that I enjoy is the historic reference of a tiara as worn by a bride/princess. I wish I got far more commissions to design tiaras.

This tiara was made for a client to wear on her wedding. It is in solid silver and set with synthetic cubic zirconias. 

One of my favourite historic references is ancient Egypt. The above sketch is of recognizable Egyptian inspiration and was a quick sketch done in marker and ballpoint for fun. I tried to capture the arrogance a Pharoah might experience when considered to be a god. 

The media bombards us daily with adverts and entertainment on our phones, billboards, movies, television and newspapers. Almost anything goes and it is hard to distinguish between fact and fiction. However it is a massive source of inspiration and if your filters are up it is a goldmine rivaling nature itself and may be used very effectively.

This picture in water colour and ballpoint, was directly inspired by the television. I was watching Fashion TV and as a model came down the runway she paused, struck this pose and turned to walk away. The pose was so inspiring to me that from memory within an hour and a half or so, this picture was completed. My aim was to allude to the famous "Babylon the Great"  from the Bible. 

When the soccer world cup came to South Africa, even I was inspired to do this picture with the intent that it may carry a very deep symbolism of the idea of teamwork as exemplified in a successful soccer team. It is done in acrylic on canvas. 

Other People
One of the most direct sources of inspiration is other people. We all have idols, mentors, teachers and far away celebrities that we look up to. Artist/designers have celebrities too and in today's information age we have these people's work on call. Growing up comic book artists and anime was a huge influence and remains a constant and permanent inspiration.

This picture in water colour and ballpoint is of obvious comic book inspiration. One might say, it's very " Iron Man".

Personal Preference
Our own personal preferences develop from our upbringing into our old age. We pick up things that we like as time goes by and these elements receive a lot of our attention. As such these areas of data in our minds are often the most developed and exercised and may serve our work as one of the best sources of inspiration.

I think crowns, doodle crowns, draw crowns and want to make crowns all the time. The one here is doen in ballpoint. 

My obsession with crowns has led me to make tiaras and crowns for Barbie dolls. This hobby started when I was 12 and eventually led to me becoming a jeweller. 

I love Spanish dancing. I do Spanish dancing and drawing it is a favourite. 

Paying Clients
Practically speaking there is no greater source of inspiration than a paying client. Where this keeps the pot boiling it is very rare that you will enjoy this inspiration as it has nothing to do with your personal preferences or expression. Here the client is to be kept happy and you may find solace in your payment but far more importantly you may find inspiration in you quality of work. It give me great pleasure to make a ring to an exceptional level of quality even though the style might not be to my liking.

A silver and gold dress ring set with synthetic stones as per design requirements of a client.

You will note that even though most of my time is spent working a regular day and week like everybody else, very little of this money-for-a-living aspect serves to inspire me. Which brings me to my personal greatest inspiration and also the last category in our discussion.

There are unconventional, one might even say abstract or esoteric forms of inspiration. These may scare some or at least challenge some people but they are and have always been part of the human social experience. Many people go to church or the like, seeking something spiritual and even physical science allows for the field of scientific study called quantum physics which is the closets science has ever ventured to what may seem a spiritual study. All our minds struggle or even entertain the abstract. We all fear, have doubt or worse become irrational. This weird world of the human psyche may even inspire design and art. I love this particular source especially if you take it to the max and consider the ultimate, GOD.

Remember, we are talking about inspiration. This enigmatic word that attempts to define, conjuring thoughts, seemingly from nowhere and then manifesting those ideas in actions and creations that may be shared by others. It seems very weird and spiritual to me. To explain my interaction with this " source" I will share an experience of I had that began with a picture that came to my mind. This picture I described in a poem.

City of Gold. 

A breathtaking landscape sculpted by the Maker
Wildlife serene
Potential, eternally supreme

A hillside ridge, contains a blessing
Arrogant man
Will never obtain it

There is a black and ancient worm
Beneath the ridge
In bowels of gold

The darkness chokes the treasures shining
Presumptions keep
The blessed in bondage

Upon his back a city sprawls
Its people consumed
Consumed by boring

The worm bleeds dry their toil
And sweat
Blinds them with false gleaming

Great is the treasure held in this nest
More so
Those kept in his bondage

But God

The Maker of the ridge in beauty
Calls forth
The gold to shining!!!!!

Fire comes rushing pure and bright
Consuming dross
Consuming filth

The city shakes, the worm’s grip breaks
Blackness flees
Before the light

Bent knees as man turn to the Maker
Who waits
Who always loves

His design is spoken to ears
Now open
Golden chains fall broken

The worm as master was your own lies
The gold
As glory, rot and flies

See now prepare as vision breaks open
The worm
Purple wings of fire disperses

All treasure, belongs to its Maker
Oh man
To serve His mighty purpose

Your hearts in freedom will be His crown
The gold
Eternal roads to fly on

Then I drew the picture somewhere in 2003/2004.

I believe I was inspired by a socio-political economic atmosphere. Subconsciously, my mind tried to congeal my experience of South Africa at the time of the early millennium and even dared to postulate a future. This future also, very spiritually, had the option of including or excluding the God-factor. Weird or not, I drew it, shared it with one or two friend who can cope with my weirdness and I left it. 

In 2013, I was asked by Beakthru Life Church to do what they call prophetic art. i was going to do a digital work in Microsoft Paint projected directly on the wall during the service.

This is what I was " inspired" to do. I had forgotten about my Black Worm and a butterfly seemingly popped out of the 10 year old chrysalis.

Again, I think my mind was manifesting a subconscious idea. The struggle with a worldwide economic crunch. The laziness and greed that led the human race into it. A seemingly miracle requiring hope to get through it. Funny how something as weird and spiritual as this is actually just a plain and simple inspiration from nature. A butterfly's metamorphosis is plain to see by any child who has ever had silk worms. It brings the whole package of " inspiration" full circle.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Work Classification (Illustration Art)

I do not consider myself an artist or fine artist, I think of myself as an illustrator and that three main fields of illustration exist. Let us look at the three as I have explored it through the years.

First we have the obvious field of illustrating what exists in the physical. This is merely a copy or representation of something recognizable from what we see daily. 

One of the first things we ever draw as kids, is a tree. Obvious in its simplicity and clearly from the physical world. 
I have done some work for educational books where basic sketches of existing concepts are needed to explain life skills or other principles. 

We might not see a skull every day but it exists and can be "copied" easily in an artistic illustration. 

The physical world around us abounds with inspiring topics to illustrate from the the mundane.... the passionately exciting. Often the more inspired the artist feels, the more glorious the final work might be. 

Second we have a slightly more abstract field of illustration. However this field of illustrating moods and atmospheres is still something recognizable to a degree. This field may seems to deal with the obvious as it may contain, faces or poses that are clear to the eye while it depicts a mood but it also uses abstract concepts of artist techniques like line or colour to emphasize the atmosphere. 

This pencil drawing clearly illustrates a frustrated anger with perhaps some arrogance also present. The face is recognizable but the stark tones and aggressive use of line add to the overall idea. It clearly also touches on a masculine expression rather than feminine and perhaps an older rather than a younger look.

Despair as a mood and state of mind is what is being illustrated here. It may be successful or not. What do you see? The balance between the obvious and the emotion can be a precarious one. The monochrome use of purple seeks to emphasize the depressed mood. 

Thirdly we attempt to reach into the entirely abstract or conceptual but may still use recognizable elements to illustrate sometime entirely fanciful ideas. Illustrating ideas, ideals and concepts that do not exist in the physical but affects or inspire the viewer is what the main goal is here. Take note in the following pictures what you recognize visibly but also seek to "see" what you do not see or recognize visually but rather emotionally. These kind of illustrations may even entirely neglect to depict anything in the physical reality, no objects or forms but may just use colour or lines to evoke a feeling. Even though jewellery manufacture is my bread and butter, I would consider this aspect of my skill set to be my most skillful talent. Ironically, it is this skill that allows me to conceptualize designs out of thin air, from the abstract reaches of my mind and to put it down on paper in order to stimulate a client emotionally and visually in order to create what they will enjoy. 

This water colour picture seeks to express a specific person's personality unfettered by the restrictions of worldly expectations and limitations. She is sporty, physically fit, exuberant yet pensive and dedicated. She needs to trust her heart and not what she thinks she sees. The picture attempts to illustrate that. 

This acrylic painting has the purpose of overwhelming the viewer with a cautious but explosive commission of inspiration. If God had to manifest and tell you who you are, this image would appear in the mirror to remind you of where you come from and where you should go. 

The time is right, the time is now, the time is running out, the time is up. Forever in a moment. This is to depict the relationship of our free will in an uncontrollable universe. Our structured limited time versus the eternal singularity. We choose where and how we live in this relationship. Pencil and water colour combine to create the effect of separation yet being a part of the whole. 

This is a pen and ink drawing of an angel, if ever there was one. 

This started as a rough sketch in pen and then was taken further in Microsoft Paint. It is very effective to combine and mix media to gain interesting results. This is very abstract but still allows for the recognition of spirals, and ultimately a Rose. Above all the picture is to draw the viewer in almost like an invitation to a dance, an eternal dance. Everything living, spirals on a microscopic level. Our DNA spirals, plants screw out of the ground very slowly. This picture seeks to capture that eternal, spiral dance of life. 

It deeply fascinates me how an artist can conceive of something that does not exist but through recognizable components and the skill of drawing can convey that non existent concept to somebody who has never seen anything like it as a reference. So also a message is transferred from one individual to another. I consider it great power to be able to reach into another's mind and to leave a picture/though there.