I have a new favorite hobby: I’ve been pausing the shows I watch. That doesn’t sound like much, right? Well, I’ll tell you a little story about that…
Once upon a time, a million ages ago, when I was an artsy kid, I didn’t have much for artistic references besides what I found in my local library and Teen Beat magazines. This was the Stone Age, so I couldn’t just google what I was looking for; there was no internet. Can you imagine the horror?
I remember really once wanting to draw Kiefer Sutherland from one of my favorite movies at the time, Lost Boys, and not having much to go off of besides the cover of the video (Yes, I said “video.” For you young’uns, that’s like ancient technology, pre-DVD, streaming video, and BR…). I often rented movies from the library only because they kept the actual cover jackets to the film tucked in the case (unlike movie rental stores, who just printed the title with their own blank logo). THIS meant that if I strained my eyes very very very carefully, I might be able to draw one of the pictures or characters from the movie that was printed on the back.
Another fun task was trying to pause the movie at a particular scene, hoping to catch the actor in a certain pose. Here’s a funny thing about pausing a movie in the 80s that is pretty much irrelevant these days: imagine when you pause a show, there is about a 5-second response time from the time you push the button to the time it actually freezes…which is a long time when you’re trying to pause it right in a very specific spot. Imagine not being able to get the right spot, and rewinding (also with a delayed response) and playing and pausing. Rewinding, playing, pausing. Over and over again until you get the right spot. All delayed, all very very frustrating. But say you finally are able to pause the film in just the spot you like….You grab your sketchbook and holy COW you’d better start drawing FAST because not only will the flimsy nature of VCR tapes only allow for a single minute or so of pausing before completely shutting off the VCR on its own, but also: the already low-res image will start to get shaky and warbled after a very short while before it turns itself off. So once you finally overcome pausing a movie in the right spot, you’d better grab & draw like a madwoman, because you’ve only got a minute.
Ahhhh, those were the days!
Oh wait—no. That wasn’t much fun at all, actually. Also, I’m guessing this problem wasn’t really much of a problem for most people besides artistic teenagers like me, desperate for movie references to draw from. Sorry.
Fast-forward (with only a few years’ delay) to the amazing awesomeness of blu-ray, streaming video, and the internet! Looking for an obscure image to use as a reference to draw from? Easy, just Google it, and I’ll bet it’s there, along with a million other obscure things you never asked for. Or you want to draw a specific scene from a movie? Easy: if you can’t find the image online already, just push pause and take a quick picture of it with your phone to draw from later. Boom.
Can you believe it?? Of all the comforts of modern times, for an artsy teen of the 80s, this ranks up there pretty high in my world….but maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, this brings me back around full circle my new favorite hobby: pausing my shows. I have re-discovered, through AmazonTV, the wonders of the Twilight Zone. I had seen quite a few episodes from when I was a kid, and they stuck with me for ages. So many great stories!
I’ve mentioned before that my favorite things to draw are faces from black & white movie photos. And lucky for me, they have every season of Twilight Zone on Prime (which means no additional fees)! How exciting for me! And yes, some of the material may be dated, but the fascination with it, for me, is a new story, a new strange tale in every episode. New people, new characters, new situations. Fun little snippets of strange stories that never fail to hold my attention.
So lately, after the kid is nestled in bed, I sit in front of the TV with my remote and my phone, pausing and snapping photos for later. Compared to what I USED to go through to get references, this is nothing short of bliss.
So. You don’t have references? You need some practice drawing from references, but can’t find anything to draw? I beg to differ. It’s SO much easier out there than it used to be, and there are SO many opportunities to learn something new. There’s a whole WORLD of things out there to use as inspiration! Sometimes, you just have to work a little harder for them…
If you have an Instagram account, I post a lot of artsy artwork over there (@busymockingbird), especially from the Twilight Zone, so come follow along, and join me in celebrating the weirdness!