I upload my blog once per week and it's available at the following link: https://brinkelai.substack.com/
Why would you want to read it? I'm not really sure. But I write about trying to make it as an artist, tips that I pick up, revelations, confessions and anything else that happens to be rattling around my brain for that week.
You can either have them sent directly to your e-mail account OR you can download the substack app and read them there. Or both. Why not both?
But before you decide, here's one of my blog posts from my substack. Enjoy!
I didn’t realise art was a thing that was available to me. Maybe it’s a British thing, but I just figured I would do a basic job, get paid and die quietly. But it was my slow hatred of doing something for a living that I didn’t like which forced me to look for other options and opportunities. That’s where I stumbled upon Train2Game and ended up enrolling on one of their online courses. I couldn’t believe that making video games for a living was an actual thing that I could actually do. I figured that’s what the Americans or Japanese did, not us.
But even then, I didn’t allow myself to be an artist. Originally I enrolled onto the programming course because I thought that would be more accessible to me. It was my wife who convinced the “rep” who came to our house that I should do the art course, and she agreed. Of course, she would have agreed to anything as her job was to sign people up, get her commission and move on, but I knew that my wife meant it, which was all I needed.
What’s that got to do with figure drawing? Not much, but after a few years of doing 3D modelling for games, I had to stop for reasons I’ll go into in another post and I focused on 2D art. This was around 5 or 6 years ago and after a year of drawing for fun, I decided I wanted to take it a bit more seriously and so I began studying. My first teacher was Proko on YouTube and it was through him that I thought about going to a life drawing class. Photos online are helpful but, as he said, nothing beats the real thing.
So I had a look online and found a local life drawing class in Shrewsbury. I was really excited but almost immediately was hit with a dose of anxiety. Imposter Syndrome is a bitch and I was genuinely concerned that I would be turned away from the class because I wasn’t good enough.
“You’re not an artist, you shouldn’t be here” was what I was imagining.
Of course, that didn’t happen and luckily I ignored that inner monologue and went anyway.
It turns out it isn’t really a class and it’s more of a relaxed, social environment. You turn up, you pay the fee and you choose a seat. Then the model is introduced, disrobes and you draw for an hour with poses ranging from 2 minutes to 20. Then you break, then draw for another hour and that’s it. You can draw with whatever you choose to bring and you don’t have to show anyone anything if you don’t want to. It’s really cool.
I must admit, the first time I went I felt a little bit weird. The model was a young 20-something and I was surrounded by what seemed to be pensioners. I made a judgement that wasn’t fair to them and I feel bad about that. But within the first 20 minutes, I was completely absorbed into what I was doing. I “got it”.
After going for a few weeks, I started to settle into a rhythm and felt more and more comfortable in going. I tried to get there early so I could try and grab a different spot each time (the chairs surround the model in a circle) and, one week I was getting my pencils out and arbitrarily choosing one when I turned to my left and noticed someone walk in. It was Charlie Adlard. For a split second I thought he may have decided to quit being a comic artist and pose nude for other artists, which would have been unbelievably bizarre. While I was imagining one of my idols naked, I didn’t realise that he sat right near me. Like, two seats over. It’s certainly safe to say that I didn’t draw particularly well that evening.
It took all my courage to go and talk to him and he was kind enough to give some time to look through some of my early comic work. I drove home like a maniac. I couldn’t wait to tell my wife.
A few weeks after that, another comic artist arrived in the form of Dan Berry. I had the same feelings (minus the assumed nudity) but, for some reason, I felt more intimidated by Dan than I did by Charlie. I’m not entirely sure why. I had listened to Dan’s podcast for a while and, at the time, I didn’t realise he was a lecturer at the university I would find myself at today. But I knew he was a prolific and well-respected comic artist and that scared the shit out of me.
I sometimes wonder whether my interactions with two of my artistic inspirations (directly and indirectly) caused me to enjoy life drawing more than I do. Knowing that proper comic artists do life drawing gave me even more of a reason to go. If they found it a worthwhile endeavour then I did, too.
But, to be honest, I would have gone regardless. I think a lot of the credit has to go to the organisers. Creating a relaxed environment with no expectation or pressure allows creativity and enjoyment to flourish. I tend to work on my observational skills while I’m there so my work tends to be a little more realistic. That’s partly down to the time constraints of each pose but also because I want to make the most of the opportunity to draw live. I’ll try and exaggerate here and there, or make a shape look more interesting or impactful, but I tend to revert to type. Especially if I’m drawing particularly badly, which happens sometimes.
The moral of the story is that I ignored that inner monologue that has prevented me from doing what I want to do for fear of being judged by others. I’m getting better at ignoring that voice and it was the encouragement of my wife that lead me to where I am now and I thank her for that.
I doubt I’ll ever make a living from drawing artistic nudes, but that’s okay. It’s incredibly satisfying to find something within art that you genuinely love to do. I would never have guessed 5 years ago that drawing naked strangers would be one of those things but, for me, it is.
Have a great week and have fun drawing.
Links to the things what I do: YouTube: www.youtube.com/brinkelai Patreon: www.patreon.com/brinkelai Website: www.brinkelai.com
Read them all here: https://brinkelai.substack.com/