How I Lost And Found My Desire To Create Art Again

The Bad Shepherds, Amelia's Magazine-Jardley Jean-Louis

As promised last week, we’re going behind the scenes today on the making of this artwork for Amelia’s Magazine’s interview with The Bad Shepherds. The title of the drawing is also called The Bad Shepherds. But, by behind the scenes we’re not only going from stage one of the drawing to finish but how this drawing came into fruition only after the self-reflection.

This drawing was only the second artwork I did in 2013. The first was this one:

Look There by Jardley Jean-Louis
Look There by Jardley Jean-Louis

That was for the Labor Arts Competition that I won earlier this year. Remember that?
Before that Labor Arts drawing, I hadn’t touch art paper for many months. I just did the usual doodle on the sides of my spiral notebook in class.

For those of you who have delved deeper into the blog, you’ve noticed there’s a significant gap in time where I stopped updating for a couple of months. This wasn’t planned, while one reason was I couldn’t keep up with the posting schedule I internally kept for myself, mainly it was a result of not wanting to create art the way I was doing it anymore and when you’re not creating art anymore, there isn’t much to update on in your art blog. So I took a break. I know that during that time that this was happening, I had planned to write about my emotions, but didn’t. I did allude to this dissatisfaction I was feeling, that the art I was making left me feeling cold in my last post before leaving, but, it doesn’t fully sum up what I felt. I’m talk about it here by circumnavigating around a bit:

I’ll admit that in those months after taking a hiatus I didn’t spare time to really think about the work I wanted to create. I didn’t look at any art or artists to get inspired, I simply left art. But, in my leaving art, I knew it was never permanent. I would always come back to it. So even though it was minimal, I made efforts looking for some direction by thinking about how I wanted my work to look and what I liked to draw as a kid because that was the last moments of my life where I felt free in art.

In the hiatus, I looked at things in the world and saw that I wanted to recreate them almost identical to how they looked in reality. I also want to paint light reflecting and shadows, and to challenge myself and patiently practice working in this way. That’s pretty different from the work you see in my portfolio currently. But, some pieces like below are similar to what I’m looking for.

Clouds by Jardley Jean-Louis -2011
Clouds by Jardley Jean-Louis -2011

As a kid, I liked to draw men, men in suits, large families (my challenge to myself: get them to look related) draw clothes from Old Navy’s circular onto boys and girls, and food. I’m not kidding when I write I really enjoyed drawing food. I used to draw a large table, say it was Thanksgiving, or draw a chef and table just to draw some food! Sometimes I didn’t even bother to add people in the drawing! They would’ve been props anyway to my devotion at these food altars.

It was all effortless, I drew so much just because I wanted to. I took risks and had fun. I didn’t have a criteria around what I wanted my work to look like or symbolize, the amount of paint to apply, what tools to use, or to accumulate pieces for my “portfolio” as if notches on a bedpost. This is the complete opposite of what I became: caring about symbolism and metaphors to express my emotional wounds in my paintings, having a definition of what a “finished artwork” was, telling myself I had to draw X amount of work so I’d have enough to submit to different sites and companies, being jealous and comparing myself to how far ahead other artists were in exposure, and most affecting: being focused on finishing the piece to show it to the world and then on to the next one. Wash, rinse, repeat. I wasn’t present in the actual drawing part, the making of. I craved finished pieces, of having another piece for my portfolio. Cmon now. How could I look myself in the eye and say I’m enjoying myself, I’m doing what I love? That I hadn’t lost something, that this was the same as when I was a kid?

It wasn’t and it was in that realization that projects like The Bad Shepherds and this one found their way. See the Many Men’s one is more of a cartoony style I have when I don’t reference anything and which I reserve for sketchbooks and desecrating my notebooks. But, I’ve never actually made work in that style to show to the public. The Bad Shepherds one is my stamp on seeing that color does not a finish artwork make.

Art created for Amelia's Magazine's Interview with The Bad Shepherds [Animation Progression]
[Animation Progression]

I really enjoyed myself when I made this and that’s what had been missing and what I found just by letting loose. I felt it immediately in the making of it while also watching Luther. 🙂
(Yes, in addition to podcasts, I also tend to watch-listen to TV shows I’ve never seen while working and it works out pretty well. That sounds like I’m trying to convince you it works out. It does for me!)

For this drawing I know it may look like pencil, but I just used a ballpoint pen straight through.

Stage 1
Stage 1

I wanted to try my hand at creating shadows of the jeans. I chose to leave one untouched as I figured hell, I don’t need to shade and detail everything.

Stage 2
Stage 2

I thought to add goats or sheep but figured the drawing was okay as it was and doesn’t need more of an emphasis that they were shepherds. I really enjoyed doing this typography.

Final Drawing
Final Drawing

When was a time that you realized that you felt disconnected to the work you were creating and how do you feel now? It doesn’t have to be visual art specifically, just something you’re passionate about. How did you reach the other side?

Happy Saturday.

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