At first I thought, that I should take a digital painting programm with me. And I did. I bought a cheap tablet pc (Acer Iconia B) and installed Autodesks "Sketchbook". But I soon discovered, that the tablet wasn't really good in processing my input in the way I wanted and so I stopped using it pretty soon.
Instead I kept a water-color-moleskin-sketchbook, a Pentel brush, pencils (of course) and a pocket-water-color-set. In the beginning I had trouble to control the new medium (water color). But the more I used it, I learned to achieve the look I wanted. Of course I wouldn't say, that I am good with it now. I let the pictures speak for themselves. But I learned some interesting new things about making pictures. Especially to think about edges more.
And also I read an really awesome PDF, a friend of me gave me. It is called "The complete famous artists course" and is the digitalized version of a written curriculum created by a group of roughly 15 illustrators around the year 1960. To throw out a name: Norman Rockwell was one of them.
Taking some time to read through the first chapters of the PDF was already pretty awesome. I think I learned more in the 2 months travelling than would I have stayed home. Of course I can't proof that, it is just a feeling.
After coming home and starting to work on the pc again, I could infuse my work with the stuff I learned, while being unplugged.
To me that showed that sometimes a lot of drawing will not make someone improve as fast as taking a step back and doing some research would. It seems kind of obvious written down, but I see it every now and then, that this learning-opportunity is left unused by artists.
Also there seems to be a division between artists that try to get to the core fundamentals and those that for whatever reason seem to not be interested in that. Of course using the analytical side of the brain while doing art tends to stiffen everything, while only using the creative part can lead to images without any clear message. These are the two extremes of course, but I think that every artist experienced that at some point.
On the "Behind the Iron Curtain" workshop I had the honor to listen some of the finest concept artists out there. And it seems that those guys have a work-flow that clearly seperates the phases, where the one or the other half of the brain is used most. Usually it goes like this: have an idea/intention/assignment -> *do some exploration/scribbles/sketches* (creative part of the brain). This is where the brain makes connections between the to achieving goal and a mental library to produce ideas and designs -> *choose a direction to go* -> *do research*. Here the analytical side is used to break down reference into understandable and reproducible information, in order to bring that information into the picture -> *refine the chosen picture with the information*. After having done studies the newly gained information can be put into the picture. Here I think both parts of the brain work in conjunction. And the result is often a pleasing and believable one, because what is shown follows rules, that we see in everyday life.
My scanner is not the best in the world so some contrasts are totally lost (especially on the waterfall picture). I try but I couldn't fix it in Photoshop. Still I hope it is enjoyable for you to look through them. If you have any critique or comments, please let me know.