Hey, long time no see (?)! I haven't written a journal here in years and wow have things changed. This is going to be a bit of a long ramble, so apologies in advance haha. It's funny, I don't talk much in real life, but when it comes to writing, I can go on and on. Lol.
I just got gifted a 1 month core membership (from participating in the Holiday Card Project) and thought I might as well make the most of journal skins and all these other fancy features
As you can probably see I've changed my username, from AesuithielSilver --> AshenLights
. I've been meaning to change my name for a while. When I first joined DeviantArt, I simply chose two words/names that when combined, would produce a unique username. At the time, I was obsessed with learning Tolkien's Elvish (Sindarin in particular), so I chose a random Sindarin name that I liked the sound of - Aesuithiel (I think it means bird-like or something like that). I then tacked on "Silver" to the end just because...I like silver? I've always found it to be a bit more subtle than gold, yet beautiful nevertheless.
As well as being hard to spell and explain to people, this username doesn't really mean much to me anymore. So now that I have a core membership for a bit, I thought I should change it to my current tumblr art blog username: Ashen Lights. If you've looked at my favourites from way back, you can see that most of my favourite art has always been things with dramatic lighting, or glowing elements, or lots of colours...I guess in essence, a lot of light and dark, with vibrant colours mixed in. Like these:
So you get the idea. This type of art is still my favourite - I can stare at these for ages and am still hugely inspired by them. It's only recently that I've been trying to make art of the same style and though I still have a lot to learn, I'm really enjoying it! So that partly explains the motivation behind my new username Ashen Lights. It kind of reminds me of will-o'-the wisps at night, or just bright lights in the darkness. (Though on an interesting note, "Ashen Light" without the "s" is an astronomical phenomenon describing a type of glow seen from one side of the planet Venus. Which isn't too bad either I suppose.) An extra bonus, is that AshenLights sounds vaguely like bits of my real name...well, maybe if you scramble it a bit haha. I usually go by Ash online anyway, so this username fits it a lot better!
Thoughts on Improvement
So I've been on Deviantart for almost 5 years now and I can say that I have improved somewhat over the years, however slowly. There were periods (and whole years) where I didn't devote much time to art at all, but during the past few months (this month Jan 2016 in particular), I've been drawing and painting like crazy. Here's a little summary of some of my art from when I first started:
Yeah, I still have a long way to go, but at least now I feel like I'm making a bit of progress! There are a few things I've learnt from others or just noticed myself about the process of improvement in art and I thought I'd write them here. Maybe someone else will find it useful? Or this can just be a record anyway. The only way to improve is to practice. A lot. In terms of improvement, quantity is often a lot better than quality. It's better to draw something, move on and draw more things than to agonise over a single piece of art until it's perfect.
On the same note, having a sketchbook for practice sketches is really good. No one has to see the sketches at all, and they don't have to be perfect. I've been filling quite a few lately with sketches of poses, faces, everything. Also drawing from life or from reference is best. I've been using www.quickposes.com/gestures/ti… for poses and faces. www.mapcrunch.com/ is good for landscape drawing too. Art is hard. It's a skill and not some kind of inherent talent people are born with. So if you want to get better, you have to work hard at it. Art is one of those things that is really easy to give up on. It's so easy to get discouraged when what you've made looks far from what you've imagined in your head. But the key is to keep going. Not all of your art will be great. There will certainly be a lot of bad ones that will make you cringe looking at them. But then again, you have to get through the bad art to get to the good art I suppose. Don't get caught up comparing your art to others. Everyone is at different stages of improvement/skill and some people improve a lot faster than others. Always draw what you like. There was a year when I was so focussed on just "improving" that art became a tedious slog. I just tried to practice the same generic thing over and over again and eventually I gave up on art for pretty much a whole year. I've noticed that fanart is actually really helpful. Being inspired by a series (tv, anime, books, whatever) can be really motivating and can push you to try things you're usually scared of. (For example, after watching Psycho-Pass and being inspired by it, I've taken on a Tarot card project which has been forcing me to paint more fullbody figures and experiment more with lighting - things I would usually avoid). Fanart has really been pushing me out of my comfort zone (of generic front on faces haha) while making it enjoyable all the same.