There’s always so much going on… so much to see and do. The demands for my attention seem to grow exponentially with every passing year. Meanwhile I’m working on several new songs, two old paintings, and the posts in my WordPress Reader are starting to pile up again. Somehow “everyone else” seems to be getting out there and doing more, achieving more, being more. But perception is a funny thing and is not to be trusted. NOT to be trusted. So I’m keeping my goal simple this year ~ not that I have ever been one for making new year’s resolutions ~ but the word found itself, quite unbidden, into my first haiku of 2023 and I ran with it. Here’s to an excellent year of doing the one thing we can all do better than anyone else ~ as it says in the song, why don’t you be you and I’ll be me?
Instead of my annual review of the year that’s been, I thought I would post a sneaky peek at what is on the horizon. The plan is as scary as it is exciting…
Some of you may be aware that I have spent most of the last 12 months working on music and writing songs (which goes quite a long way to explaining why there is no art retrospective this year). I will (I promise) be getting back to the painting but, for now, I’m perfectly happy exploring the rabbit hole that I’ve jumped down.
I am planning a sister site to The Art Cave* where I will keep track, so to speak, of the music side of things. There will also be music videos ~ which I have just started to learn how to create and edit ~ and I will be sharing the behind-the-scenes arty side of all of that here, using stills from the videos and also, eventually, album cover art too. It really is a special kind of happy place to be putting some of my songs together with some of the art I’ve created over the years.
*[Update: instead of having separate websites for art and music, I have decided to simplify things and keep them both on this website ~ so say “goodbye” to ‘The Art Cave’ and “hello” to ‘Anna Cull ~ Art & Music’.]
One of the video edits looked so surprisingly good that we plan to use a still frame as a promo image (above). It’s a combination of not-especially-good-quality video footage taken on a phone which I edited in Blender (and not in Affinity Photo or Adobe Photoshop as one might expect) with my 2012 ‘Sun Shadow’ artwork in the background. But more about that later… I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
Hands up anyone who has heard of Blender? I discovered it while looking for software to create a simple art animation that could be projected onto a wall. While Blender certainly can do things like that, it’s really a bit like using artist-quality oils to paint the side of a house ~ you can but why would you? Blender is a free, open-source 3D computer graphics software suite used in creating animated films, visual effects, art, computer games etc. It is not an easy application to learn. It is not intuitive. My previous experience with graphic design software did not help much at all (my oldest digital art files are dated 1/1/1970 but I suspect that should actually be 1999). Even though Blender suffers from ‘design by committee’ making it, at times, unnecessarily complicated, it is still absolutely fantastic and I am slowly, slowly finding my way around it.
Fortunately there are a lot of resources available for anyone wanting to teach themselves Blender. In fact there are so many, it’s hard to know where to begin. My research took me to a lot of different YouTube channels as I searched for something appropriate for an absolute beginner. The first tutorial I tried was Blender Guru’s famous donut tutorial but I found it frustrating because although it was teaching me some of what the software was about, it wasn’t teaching me what I was most wanting to know right now. So I tried a different approach and searched for cool-looking video tutorials that were not necessarily just for beginners…
My second animation tutorial was even more fun than the first. Visit the original Ducky 3D tutorial to find out about the process of making this organic sci-fi loop.
There are also a surprising number of free, quality videos available online for commercial use ~ but I feel like that is a whole ‘nother chapter which I will save for another day. Stay tuned and I will be posting updates on my music journey as well as any paintings which may happen during the meanwhile.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. I did return to and eventually complete the 16-part donut tutorial and I learnt a lot. Thank you Andrew Price a.k.a. Blender Guru.
From me, from the art cave, from miles away…
(A drawing from a few years ago when I was experimenting with illustration styles and digital colour. The studio looks much the same today as it did then, as does the plum tree.)
“Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.”
― Mary Oliver
Another little slideshow, this time showing the progress of my ‘Akaroa’ illustration/colouring page, painted by hand on the computer. Yes, it took ages.
Both the coloured version and the colouring page are available as printable instant downloads on Etsy (as is ‘Port Chalmers’). And… on to the next one…
…another colouring page (or three)…
…and another slideshow showing the progression from reference photograph (taken oh so long ago in 2009) through to the final line drawing. Available on Etsy as a printable instant download for your colouring pleasure : )
Here is my finished ‘Port Chalmers, Dunedin’ colouring page (WIP slideshow below).
I did a little research online and, as well as being an easy way to relax and have fun, colouring pages ~ especially intricate designs ~ can help to:
* reduce anxiety and relieve stress
* encourage positive thoughts and feelings
* improve mindfulness, connecting us with the here and now
* improve focus and concentration, and help with problem solving
I coloured this on my computer using a crayon-style brush to give it a subtle texture…
The best thing about doing it digitally was that I could change my mind about what colours went where; the worst thing about doing it digitally was that I could change my mind about what colours went where : ) I’m really happy with the end result and I’m now wondering if it might inspire some canvas paintings later in the year. We shall see.