For the past 4 weeks I’ve been working on a painting at my school (Georgetown Atelier). Monday will be the day I finish the figure – the background would take longer. I marked white lines to draw objects and figures I wish to add later and now it’s a matter of finding a source to work from for them. Here is a picture of the upper portion of it:
Ego stroking corner: I think I did a good job using the 4 colors on my palette to the max. Earlier this year I experienced a breakthrough in how I mix colors when I freed myself up to grab any number of colors to be mixed and let my subconscious direct which paint I reach for. From initially thinking that lighting things should primarily be done with white and darkening with black, I realized that it can also be lightened with yellow, red, a mix of yellow and red and anything else so long that it is lighter.
Struggles: Getting those edges to be softer, paint placement and handling, aiming for the broad first and the details later.
On a more general and philosophical topic: I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the process of becoming an artist and what is required to become a good artist.
A lot of people think that talent is a given, but I think the answer is different.
‘Talent’ is a result of automatization of things related to whatever it is one does, and motivation to learn and automatize those things is the key to talent.
What it takes to draw the human form well is to really know it and love it – to have an abstract version and understanding of it in one’s head. It requires spending years just observing and taking mental notes of how certain things look and how they are arranged in space, years of studying anatomy – and the only way one would do such a thing during activities such as watching TV, reading a magazine, talking to someone, taking a shower or watching an Olympic competition is if one is truly passionate about it to the point of always having it in the back of one’s head.
A student can demand of themselves to do exercises out of a book (as I should), but the amount of time one ends up spending and the quality of learning will differ greatly depending on how enjoyable the learning process really is.
Another factor that goes into the learning quality is one’s psycho-epistemology – one’s habitual way of thinking and looking at things.
When I just started out, from my childhood until my late teens, I would not spend time actively studying the form from life. I thought that getting my own abstract idea is good enough.
A lot of times young people exhibit tremendous ability to draw the figure that seems to come from nowhere. Where it actually comes from is from their habitual way of closely observing things in reality over a long period of time.
It is when I changed my approach to that that I started improving my drawing and familiarity with the figure and I expect this process to continue for the rest of my life.
For me, The human form is the only thing in my life I don’t find boring to memorize. (That said, I still need to do a lot more studying).
I’ve been spending my weekends lately sculpting small plasteline clay figures. It is so enjoyable; it is my chance to make ART without the hassle of worrying about my technique, and that is just as important if not more for an artist: Keeping the voice of your subconscious flowing and singing is vital for making art.
Here are a couple of pictures of the sculptures I’ve been making:
The one on the left shows the sketch and the sculpture that was built based on it. I am still working on it from my head (it now has an arm and two legs).
The one on the right is based on a 3D model of whom I had surround pictures.
More thoughts, this time on what I don’t know. I DON’T know what style I will eventually choose for my art. There are several styles that I find appealing and I realized I don’t actually know which one I want to have.
One style I like is one that renders smoothly and clearly the areas of focus while leaving the areas that are boring for the artist and none essential to the concept of the piece rendered loosely. How loosely – I don’t know yet. I think in some cases – very loosely and in others only slightly blurred out/visually simplified.
I also like, in some cases, some looseness in rendering the areas of focus and in some cases I like how the whole scene is tightly rendered. For now I put shopping for style on hold in order to focus on learning the maximum that I can in rendering things tightly.
Lastly, to conclude a very long monologue, I’d like to share a painting I did a couple of months ago that is a favorite of mine.