As it is a New Year, I have decided (in the manner which people usually do) that I am going to start doing that small bit in the middle and actually become productive. After analysing the amounts of time which I spend doing things each day, I have come to the conclusion that there is actually plenty of time to do almost everything I want. Expect to see some results soon.
But while you wait for that, look at THESE THINGS instead. Here are some special people and things. What is so special about them? They are influences which have burrowed into my mind and stayed there, filling me with new things to wonder at, and making me realise what I could be doing instead of
LOOK, and BE INSPIRED:
D. M. Cornish - The author of three books (so far) and over thirty notebooks (which I would love to go through entirely on a rainy afternoon), Mr Cornish never fails to pull something awe-inspiring out of nowhere. Plus, he did an ENTIRE POST in response to one of my comments once, and that totally made my day. (Okay, I can't deny it - I'm still coasting on that buzz.)
Dorothy Hearst - Wolf fiction. Need I say more? Promise of the Wolves and Secrets of the Wolves are her only books so far, but there's a third on the way. These books leave little to be desired (some delicious pencil illustrations would be quite welcome!) and it's great to see that the market hasn't got tired of wolves just yet. (I have plans of my own, you see.)
Erin Hunter - Well, she's actually several people, but they're all awesome. I'm working on getting through the Warriors series (at the rate of two books a week, I'll be well-prepared and ready once the final book of the latest arc comes out) and am awaiting the first book of the second Seekers series. The cast of characters for the former series is almost Dickensian in size, and is handled (with a few minor gender-bending exceptions!) quite smoothly.
Kathryn Lasky - I love the Ga'Hoole series to bits (OWLS!) and the companion series (WOLVES!) is fantastic. She's written much more than that, but I shall never outgrow my love of animal fiction, and these two series remain firm favourites.
Valve - One of my favourite companies on this planet (and that's saying a lot). They're the authors of the incredible videogames 'Portal' and 'Team Fortress 2', and their sense of humour matches that of my family so perfectly that I laugh out loud at 98.12% (or more) of what they do, even if it's a minor blog post or a description of an in-game item. Character design: they're doing it right.
Weta Workshop - The Lord of the Rings film series is probably what they're best known for, but this design and prop studio have credits all over the the film world. They've done some collaborations with Valve through their 'Dr Grordbort' division (ray guns and mounted alien bugs, anyone?) and are quite responsible for the glorious-looking Tintin film, which appears as though it will do many justices to the wonderful books on which it has been based.
Jen Yates - Cake and crafts? I'm in. EPBOT has plenty of geeky references mixed with jaw-dropping DIY plans for incredible things. I couldn't begin to list all the things I've found through this blog. (Plus she's a fellow Sherlockian. Win-win-win!)
Many of the artists I admire do not have website galleries to do them justice, but here are their names:
JC Amberlyn - The author of two books. One of them is fantastic - if I had to pick one art instruction book to bring on a Desert Island Holiday, it would probably be Drawing Wildlife. Every one of the animals in her drawings glows with life, and it's not at all hard to give them stories in your mind while flipping through the book. The style is one I hope to achieve - almost pure realism with a touch of stylised liveliness.
Richard Cowdrey - Responsible for the covers of Kathryn Lasky's 'Ga'Hoole' and 'Wolves of the Beyond' series.
Wayne McLoughlin - Cover artist for Erin Hunter's 'Warriors' and 'Seekers' series. I wish he would do an instructional book or something - I like to stare at the jackets of our books and wonder at the pictures.
Terryl Whitlatch - Unfortunately, she seems not to be present on the wonderful world of the Internet (although she seems to be a contributor to the art academy blog to which I've linked), but that shouldn't stop you from hunting down her work. She's done creature designs for loads of animated films (and STAR WARS!) and has a seemingly flawless grasp of anatomy. I admire her for drawing real birds even when it doesn't matter to most other people, like in the background of some pages for her incredible collaboration 'The Katurran Odyssey' (which was the first book of a proposed series, but unfortunately stands alone so far) - oystercatchers in the distance, and loads of other birds which I recognised but cannot recall, as I do not have the book in my possession!
This is by no means a complete list of my inspiration sources - I'm always finding new things to stare at. But it's a start, and everything has to start somewhere. . .