What's Old is Old
Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments. Although I may not always be happy with the results of all the experimentation I have been doing lately, I couldn't be happier with the experience and the knowledge I gain by pushing myself. I have been meaning to try many things for a very long time, and I am not getting any younger, so I figure it is about time to figure a few things out. It isn't really a conscious overhaul of my style, it is more an organic approach to expanding my range with the goal of refining my vision and hopefully ending up with more compelling imagery.
I've said before that I tend to be an all or none person, and that can be a real crutch when it comes to expanding my horizons or just getting things done. As an illustrator with an all or none attitude, it is sometimes difficult to push into new techniques when most of what I do is published, which doesn't always allow me the private time to fully develop some new tricks. The subconscious fear of failing in the public eye sometimes encourages us to play it safe.
But now, instead of worrying so much about keeping the curtain drawn, I feel like I am just working out the magic act right in front of the audience. The big reveal (or "the prestige", for all you magic fans) may not be quite as wondrous after witnessing all of the fumbling, but the goal is to ultimately do away with all the smoke and mirrors, anyway.
I've finally started painting (with paint!) and am somewhat surprised at how much all of my computer experience has informed my color sense. Mixing colors in Photoshop is mighty forgiving, and far less expensive than turning vibrant paints into mud, but not being afraid to fail and burning through some actual paint is rewarding and I am sure it will impact my approach to computer color.
I have a long way to go, but I am pleased to have at least begun to tear down the walls between all of the different disciplines and mediums to find the heart of my style. I more than likely will circle back to where I started, but I imagine I will be better equipped to make the most of if it all the next time around. Or at least I will have had a good time getting my hands dirty, which is a bigger deal than you might think for a guy who will wash his hands if the air feels tacky.
The art above is a very old (6 years?) Sky between Branches spread I intended to use as a title page in issue 1, which I never published (see above "all or none" passage). I never finished the color, and I don't think I ever will, so I might as well share it as is. This might be the only place this particular abandoned art will ever be seen.