Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ah, what to post. I'll post some artwork of course. Then I need a bit of an update. It has been hard since we lost our home. We helped mom after dad passed away going through things. But when we lost our home, mom put her foot down (three times to make me listen) and had us move in with her for the time being. We were able to help with taking care of things and being there to give a hand when necessary. My birth mother (long story) and my sister also were already living there, so it is a full house. My four kids are kids....thus noise and messes, so I kind of live in a perpetual cringe with the situation. Still we have helped my sister with her health, and moms as well. I had my work cut out for me to move my belongings, but first I had moved my sister in previous, then moved dads stuff somewhat. Mom needed family support going through that. Moving in though really made me feel bad like I was intruding on holy ground unworthily. I had to go through more of my dads stuff and make room for us. I'm pretty sure I made my other siblings uncomfortable. In fact, there was so much to work through and organize....that I put off income work to get it done. Otherwise it would drag on for countless years. As you can imagine, I had a few things requiring my work. And I like working...sometimes too hard and too long. Eventually I was called in by others and told I wasn't doing what was needed. I'm guessing that my "work from home" and "freelance illustration" career choice was insufficient and too unconventional to be accepted or even allowed. I tend to know what I need to do and have an idea of how to do it....but I also tend to be a bit too impressionable or lack self confidence. Sad I know. Being a creative type person makes it even harder. "Head in the clouds", or "unrealistic" is probably the general consensus.
ANYWAY....I burned out. "No Way?" Come on, I can hear you say it.... lol. Yes, I became overwhelmed and lost all confidence in pretty much everything. One of my two living grandfathers passed away during this time. My only grandfathers have been through my wife, my own grandfathers were long gone before I was born. So, even though it was only about 10 years or so, I felt I was close, and it was a sad time....especially for my wife. And our visit was too very short. We need to go back down and visit grandma when we get a chance. My fathers passing rose to the surface a little bit too from that. Living in his house, among his belongings...hasn't been easy. But I really want to make him proud, and take care of mom and his things as mom directs. After all he would want me to honor her. The crazy part is that I am the youngest of everyone. Yes, I have a slight inferiority complex matched with an issue with authority.
Well, enough whining and complaining (even if it is explanation right?). Everybody wants to see some artwork. I have some for you, so please enjoy. I've never been so challenged as an artist....mostly with "why" I am an artist at all, and whether or not to just give up the ridiculousness of being one. Talented or no, I don't understand what my purpose is being an artist anymore. I have no idea if it is valuable or not, nor if I would believe it if someone told me so. Maybe. Did I say I was going to stop whining? Heh.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Photo treasures of my big sister.
 Love you sis. 
And yes, I still have that Disney handheld video viewer! :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

   It is possible that many who read my blog are wondering what happened to my brushdragon website. As it turns out, I have been working on a redesign for the last year in spurts. Between all of the "events" of late 2010 and this year 2011 so far, I have at least part of this transition accomplished.
   My original site was a class assignment back in 2006 I believe. Using Adobe GoLive, I was to create a simple site with 3 pages: Into, gallery, and contacts. Actually, I wanted the first and last. I think the gallery was all that was required. I had 20 thumbnails of my work. All rollover thumbnails that would bring up an image on the right of the page. Simple.
   The site we all miss (cough) was a simple mass duplication of the first one. I created 5 gallery pages with at least 25 thumbnails a piece. Figures, Traditional, Digital, Sketchbook, and BFA (which stands for Bachelors of Fine Art that was my graduating bachelors degree project at BYU-I). I had a splash page which by now most people find a waste of time. I had a contact page, which was constantly out of date due to my multiple moving experiences, and therefore often outdated phone numbers. The main page was pretty straightforward. The directory I called it. It showed my five galleries in rollover vertical images that could be clicked to take you there. It displayed simple and basic navigation across the top which duplicated the navigation the images had....but also existed across all of the pages for consistent and universal navigation from any page. In total it had 8 links. Home. Figures. Traditional. Digital. Sketchbook. BFA. Contact. And the one many of you here miss perhaps......"My Blog".
   In fact I have heard that it was the way some of you navigated to my blog. So often was this the case, that getting here is a mystery without the old site links. What to do? I mean technically, this means I am talking to myself until I can get a link to you that you know right? lol. Art by Shaun Williams is a fairly long address to type out. And I do actually have a brushdragon blog too. SO....I think I will possibly discontinue this blog in favor of my brushdragon blog. I'll make them look alike, don't worry. I'll have a link in the brushdragon blog to this one for referencing old work. I might even try to migrate all the work to this blog.

   This is where my new site comes into play. You see, I had in mind a site that would have its own blog attached and integrated closely within itself. What you see now is a "rethinking" of my original approach. The new site has no links whatsoever to my other work. This means I super simplified....and it means it isn't done yet either. The site now has 8 images. I know, from 150 images to 8. How could I? I'm disappointed too. Don't be fooled. Here is why though: Digital devices and purchasing. Yes, I wanted a way to implement the purchasing of my work. This with an added goodie...that you could simply download a wallpaper version of my work for you computer. Sizes are from 1024x768 pixels, to 1920x1200 pixels. Basically the site knows what size screen you have by the browser window size. So maximize your screen to get the best choice for your monitor. There is a little download button with an arrow pointing down. Simple. Too simple? Next is the cart. purchase the image. They will be available in 3 sizes. 12x16, 16x20, and 18x24 with respective changes in cost. And you'll notice we are utilizing PayPal. What else?
   8 images was a lot of work to get through too. The old site has many great pieces. However, I didn't give them the high quality check that these have. Also, 8 images was just the right size to address the space on the screen. What? They look huge on your monitor? lol, don't forget there are a lot of people surfing the web on digital devices nowadays. Think of smart phones, and tablets. The design works fairly well on them. Try it on them and you'll see what I mean. My old site really struggled on devices like those. In fact I had to change a major functionality at one point when I realized that none of the apple devices could work with the rollover thumbnails. I had to go back in and allow a double click functionality to my thumbnails. That way an image would show up on its own page for viewing. And I forgot to make the background black. I just didn't' look as good. But functionality demanded it.

   But Shaun, I liked the old site. I was familiar with it and it had all of the links and images I want to see today, where can I get to them? might be saying these things. In fact I have said them. And when changes are made in the digital world....taking too much time can kill you. My original decision to change my site was based on a few facts.
_FIRST, it was bulky and it took way too long to download everything. I was a beginner and had no idea the toll file size would take. Most of my site was high resolution .png files. I like transparency effects is what it boiled down to. And I didnt' know how to handle it in .jpg or .gif form. The site needed a desperate overhaul just so people could get to it faster. Internet speeds have increased for sure, but every second counts. Life is too busy, and the web is too vast to waste that much time waiting for images to load.
_SECOND, it was dark. The look was black to frame the work and give focus to the images. I had backgrounds sure, but they were very very dark(and I know, they didn't distract). Dark to me was becoming depressing and dismal. Brushdragon was a difficult name anyway. Dragon is a word associated almost always with evil or darkness. Hopefully those of you who know me and have seen my work, would see that I don't have a focus on being evil. Eastern culture has a better association with dragons.....often as symbols of power and wisdom. They have good and evil dragons and are not immediately associated with the Devil himself. So you can image how crazy it is to feel like I am fighting an entire culture and mindset. Bottom line - it is not my style anymore. It is too dark and cold. And I want it to be much much more warm and inviting.
_THIRD, it didn't have enough connectivity for people. When I built it, Facebook and Twitter weren't much compared to what they are now.  I didn't have any bio page describing who I was, or even any purchasing integration. All I had was my name, phone number, and email (which isn't enough on top of my phone number being inconsistent).
_FOURTH, I wanted to focus more on my images and not a fancy site design. Sure there needs to be navigation, but why were the images so tiny? Fear of theft is a big issue for artists. There was a HUGE!!! fiasco on DeviantArt a while back from some website downloading and selling artists works without any permissions. Needless to say, the site is down, but the damage is done. We artists are working hard. Now just imagine when the digital world makes money off of us and doesn't even so much as say thanks. Fortunately many professional artists have BIG publishers behind them.....adn when they find out, they act! Me, in contrast, I'm a nobody. Except to you who know me and love my work. To which I say "Thank You" from the bottom of my heart to the top. Again, the site design direction was to focus more around the images, not the "other stuff" that too often gets in teh way. Navigation should be intuitive, but the images should still be front and center. Like a real gallery. I mean, you don't go see a traditional piece of artwork and have objects and text and garbage in front of it do you? No, usually, there is a large uncluttered space, good lighting, quiet (unless a busload of kids just showed up), and a few descriptions to the side or a gallery attendant. Most good sites I have seen, especially photography sites, utilize the "black-room" effect where the image is front and center, and the rest of the screen goes dark, pushing back the clutter and information. some sites have info tabs that rise up on a mouse-over to show you what you want without clutter. And those work very nicely, except the images are still subordinate to the size of the screen. I blame this decision again on fear of theft and wanting the "connectivity and clutter" to have more focus. Smaller images are very capable. I'm not saying other sites are doing it wrong. They like their sites they way they are. Its not a problem. And though they are smaller resolution and lower quality ( ie, printing would show it is not good enough quality for stealing it) they in no way suffer in the digital space visually. There are SO MANY artists accross the globe!!! And the internet has connected them. Sometimes beautifully, other times horribly. Artists are dreamers and oddballs at times.  It is nice to have a community out there to support you.

  THAT is THAT as the saying goes! I'm not done yet. Maybe the current site will become solely the mobile site. I have other designs. I'll post a few of the designs I've thought of and discarded. Remember, I'm not a programmer or coder, so in many cases I have had to bow out as an artist and designer to what code and programming can allow functionally.
    In fact, in the last two years, web design and graphic design have offered money in a sort of hostile takeover of my artistic self that my traditional skills have not been able to duplicate. Are my dreams squashed? Somewhat. Did I have an identity crisis? Yes. Am I still doing traditional work? Absolutely! Buy a print and I'll do more if you know what I mean. I have 20 unfinished pieces at least! And I have new ideas daily. I'm methodical and a perfectionist. It takes time to do the art that I do. I feel displaced in a super fast paced world honestly. Because in the world today, the longer it takes to make art, the more it has to cost to pay for my survival. And I really don't' want to go back to graveyard shift at Walmart. I felt like zombie food. No sleep and no time to do art makes Shaun pretty worthless. I seriously considered throwing my art career in the garbage! It was in the way of survival, and my family's happiness and success. But everyone figures that a Shaun without art is a ticking time bomb......a miserable bump on a log. So, I do art, focus on working really hard and not really getting paid much. (disclaimer to those with ideas on this subject...if you mention a big city relocation, I will hunt you down....that is unless you have a "real" idea with serious interest and funding, OR you are recruiting me to work on the Hobbit-which I don't foresee since it is mostly done already anyway :( ...sigh)

   This may count as the longest blog entry by me. For those of you who just want to see apologies. They are there, just scroll down. Wait, you're already here! lol. I have a lot more to say, but I'll bottle it for now. It's mostly stress and really depressing stuff anyway. Who wants to listen to a depressed artist, bleh? Just stay with my website for a bit longer. Thank you for your support over the years, and take care.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

24th of July parade mural

My thanks to the Parker 1st ward and a special thanks to the Frisby family for inviting me to do this mural. It was a good thing for me. It turned out awesome as you can see. Enjoy everyone!

24th of July Parade Float

Forgive me for not posting very often. Difficulties in life have been extreme...but here is some good news that is positive!

Today was the 24th of July Parade. I had the privileged of  working on a float this year! It was really fun and it made first place too!!! The part I worked on was a replica 10"x7" section of the Vietnam Wall Memorial that was built. It rotated around with a flag on the other side. On the other end was the Ellis Island base with the Statue of Liberty atop it. Between the two were costumed immigrants waving to the crowd. I dont' have photos unfortunately, but when I get some I will post them. The concept was to have soldiers painted on the wall from WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and The Iraq War. There were 70 names roughly of soldiers from Fremont County that had given their lives in those 4 wars that were placed on the bottom where I made the soldiers fade down into black.

We looked at a painting from Lee Teter for inspiration. In that painting there is a man standing in front of the Vietnam memorial with soldiers looking back through it at him. It is a very touching image. For our project we placed the names of all the soldiers from Fremont County who had given their lives in those 4 wars. I painted the 4 soldiers standing there. No one was there to stand on the float like in Lee Teters painting, but we figured with it rotating, it would make someone sick. Anyway, I painted them in basic black and white kind of like they were fading in. Then I painted the Irag War soldier with his face and hands in color almost as a symbol that the war is still alive and going. Not sure if that was what anyone else thought, but who knows.

All in all, I enjoyed painting it. I was nervous because I was using acrylic and I haven't painted with acrylic in a while. I used a simple dry-brushing technique and it really pulled together when you stood back from it. Everyone loved it. I didn't make it to the parade, but I heard that it got a real applause. :) which makes me happy. They want to work out a way to donate it to the Veterans hall there in Fremont county. But otherwise, there is a possibility it will be in another parade this year.....updates on that later.

Again, sorry I didn't have a photo. I'll get one soon. The extreme life changes have taken their toll on heart and mind. Happy 24th of July Pioneers! May we all remember our forefathers, our kindred who fought for us, and the value of our freedoms!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Commission Finished

Last year my fathers boss was willing to give me a commission to paint a portrait of his wife. I really struggled getting the right information from his boss since he is on the move a lot. :) I myself ended up being pretty worked up about it, and caused myself undo stress about it. It was such a relief to finally complete this painting. Not only for his boss, but for my father....and for his integrity. Dad was the one who asked his boss I think, so, my only regret is that I didn't finish painting it until after dad passed away. I know he pleased and contented that I finished the painting. And his boss liked it very much. Anyway, here is posted the oil painting I did on 16x20 canvas. It took roughly 26-30 hours to paint, and about 8-10 hours to merge elements of photos, digitally paint, and combine a composition that was acceptable as reference to paint from.

My thanks to my fathers boss,

And my thanks and relief to my dad...I kept my word and finished.

Enjoy everyone!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dad is finally painted. This one is for Charlan. Oil on 12x16 board canvas. 16-20 hours. Yes it took longer than I expected, but hey, it's my dad. The one thing that was most difficult was that his unfinished image was staring back at me for a few months. :) It is good to have it completed. The first attempt at his face was disastrous. I had the tones of his face too pale....and that needed to be fixed. So, without further ado, here is the painting.

Love you dad.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Here is an update. Just another sketch. My little Shannon and I were doodling in church...yes doodling, and my scribble brought these results after I spent some time looking at it. I finished it that night. It was fun.
The latest update for also involves reinventing my business and my business sense. I have two friends rooting for me. This has also happened during a somewhat difficult time after my father passed away. It was a very sacred time in life when family came together and life moved out of the way....and after that is when I realized how much of life I was missing, or how too much of life was fighting for my attention. I have been working on choosing between "good, better, and best" as much as I can. I have appreciated the support and help from friends and family after my fathers passing, as well as with my business decisions and direction. Artists struggle on many fronts. I don't even think of myself as the typical artist...but artists are as varied as any other people. School is on the edge as well....and I hope to pull it from drowning waters at the same time as my business. I am currently finishing a portrait of my father as well. I may or may not post it here after I finish it. That is up to my sister Charlan who I am painting it for. I will however post this image that me and my son Taylor did that next Sunday in church. We love you Grandpa.