I left my day job late in April, and have been pretty massively reorganizing my artistic practice as a result. I've had a lot more time to make work and I've been reconfiguring and sharpening my posting on various platforms. One of the main changes is dedicating my Instagram feed to art challenges, and focusing on posting more consistently. For people who are unfamiliar, #Mermay is a straightforward month-long art challenge (kind of the Spring counterpart to the more widely known challenges like Inktober and Drawlloween). I had done the Mermay challenge once before in 2017, and kind of established a theme of making mermaids from very specific fish and sea creatures and decided to repeat that. Back in 2017, I was quite a bit slower though, so while Mermay 2017 was mostly black and white, this year I was able to make daily color illustrations. I still stuck to limited palettes (which isn't difficult, most sea life is just some kind of green or blue-gray or a limited number of bright tropical colors).Really, Mermay was a bit of a stress test. I wanted to make sure I could produce work of a certain quality daily, while also practicing and making work for other applications as well. I also wanted to focus on gesture and silhouette, as well as streamlining my tool list and workflow. I did manage to not repeat any poses exactly! I also definitely speed up, especially with using lassos and remapping/making more use of keyboard shortcuts. One of the main challenges I ran into was just how similar so many recognizable fish are in body shape. Tangs, angelfish, soldierfish, etc are so similar, excepting for coloration. They're pretty distinct with that coloration, it's more of a challenge to differentiate their poses and silhouettes. Also, those, in particular, have flat vertical body shapes which don't blend conveniently into traditional mermaid designs. I think I did alright faking it in 2d, but I think they'd look super awkward if rendered in 3d.In the end, I did manage to make 30 mermaids in 30 days! But it was a bit rough and took time away from practice and looking for freelance work. I'm going to continue doing art challenges on Instagram, but I'm dropping down to only posting 3 times a week to free up some more time for other projects. I just started #Junicorn yesterday!
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