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2021 in Review



As another year comes to a close, it’s that time again to look back at the year that was and start to plan for the year ahead. This year was one of personal growth and development, one that I feel was a great success.


The year started off with an online workshop by my favourite artist Aaron Blaise. As I have stated before, watercolour is one medium that I really want to develop my skills further in, so when Aaron Blaise announced that he would be hosting an online workshop on watercolour, I jumped at the opportunity to take part. The workshop was several hours long and although there were two pantings, I decided to just focus on one of them. I ended up painting a zebra from a reference photo supplied. The workshop was a lot of fun and I had a great time following along with Aaron and understanding his approach to watercolour. In the end, I was very happy with the finished painting but more important to me was enjoying the process and learning.


Progress photos of my Zebra painting from the watercolour workshop, hosted by Aaron Blaise

Contracts and freelance work were very light this year. I did however get to help out a friend in designing a logo for a startup he’s planning. We went through several revisions but he was very happy with the final logo.


Possibly the highlight of this year, in terms of success, was the amazing news that my Green Sea Turtle and Megalodon Tooth illustrations were shortlisted for the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year 2021 exhibition! This was my third time submitting work to this amazing organization, and hearing the news that I was going to be taking part in this years exhibition was an indescribable feeling. I was so proud of how those two illustrations came out and having them recognized in that way was a new experience for me for sure. Those two illustrations would continue being successful when they were accepted into the 2021 GNSI juried members exhibition as well! The Guild of Natural and Scientific Illustrators is filled with amazing artists from around the world, so having both pieces in the exhibition felt extra special.


In regards to new work, I had planned on finishing up at least two new pieces. The first was an illustration of an artichoke in pastel pencils and the other was an in-depth project revolving around the Peregrine Falcon. I did end up finishing my artichoke and learned so much from that piece. I spent most of the time drawing and rendering the piece from life. This made me have to work fairly fast as I was dealing with a specimen that would expire at some point. I was adamant though that I wanted to have a strong foundation done while I could directly observe the artichoke, this would help in understanding the form, and I did end up getting quite a bit done before I had to resort to some photos I took in order to finish the illustration. The second illustration however I did not finish. There are many facets to this project and the most important thing is enjoying the process rather than rushing to finish a piece. I have still made great progress on the different assets that make up this project, however covid is delaying part of the project as many places don’t offer certain services at this point in time, so getting my reference photos of the peregrine will have to wait until the new year when hopefully things get back to “normal” again. I also decided to keep a journal of sorts while I work on this piece. I'm hoping that once the project is complete, I will write a blog post describing my process as well as showing some progress photos along the way. Hopefully, it will give a great insight to the amount of work that goes into an illustration as well as providing some tips for fellow artists. Be sure to keep an eye out for that in the new year.


On top of the watercolour workshop, I also had the opportunity to attend a workshop on ZBrush. I’ve been very interested in getting to know ZBrush as I can see the potential in the program for illustrative purposes. The workshop was offered to GNSI members during the online conference this year, and it provided a basic understanding of the program. During the workshop I got to follow along with the instructor in creating a 3D model of a slug. I was rather happy with how my model turned out and I walked away from the workshop really excited for the future potential this program could offer me and for future projects. I was also lucky enough to attend LightBox expo 2021. The conference is a huge gathering of creative thinkers and artists worldwide, and this expo once again offered many opportunities to attend workshops and keynotes covering a wide range of topics. I really enjoyed the expo and I'm hoping to attend once again next year.


My slug model in different stages during the ZBrush workshop

My wife and I were extremely fortunate enough to be able to travel to Hawaii this year and while there was able to get in some sketching and painting. Hawaii is a haven for inspiration and having the opportunity to draw on site in various locations around the island of Oahu was such an amazing experience. Each drawing I did has a memory attached to it and I can’t wait to go back and continue my artistic adventures on the islands. If you would like to learn more about the trip, please feel free to read my blog post titled “Drawing and Painting in Hawaii”.


As for the new year ahead, I really want to make this year a successful one and one plan I have right at the beginning of the year is to finally purchase a Wacom Cintiq Pro 24. I’m so excited for the many possibilities the Cintiq will provide and the illustrations that I’ll be able to create on it. Speaking of illustrations, I have several projects planned for the new year. I’m hoping to wrap up my Peregrine Falcon project that I started earlier this year. I’m really enjoying the process on that project and should be able to finish it up. Other than that, I have two more projects I would like to tackle. The first is an illustration involving the human skull illustrated at different angles, with the possibility of the muscles being added as well. The second illustration is a technical piece. I’ve been wanting to get back to doing more technical illustrations and this piece would involve a simple vector illustration of a P-51 mustang and fully rendered in photoshop. I’m also planning a trip to the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. The museum looks like a fantastic place to draw and get inspiration, I’m really looking forward to the drawings and paintings that will come from the visit. Earlier this year I also decided that in the new year I was going to take a break from submitting any work to competitions. I started to feel like I was creating work for the sole purpose of entering competitions throughout the year. I wanted to take a break in order to put more focus as well as enjoy the process of creating. I also wanted to spend more time on projects that I wanted to illustrate rather than feeling like my work was dictated by competitions. I have high hopes for this year and I'm really looking forward to all the new and exciting work planned.


Once again, thank you for taking the time to read this post, Happy New Year and all the best!

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