Thursday, December 5, 2013
Once again I find myself with little time on my hands and taking to my trusty sketchbook with every spare moment. That would be my lunch brakes and that time I wake up in the early morning before anyone else does. I like the early morning most of all.
Irwin Greenberg, my painting teacher in the High School of Art and Design, wrote an article about his sketch habit of waking up in the morning and starting off in his sketchbook to warm up for a days work of painting. He would sketch from memory faces that he saw while watching television the night before. I do a variation of that and try to recall the face's of people on the subway or someone I saw in the street or on my job, etc. Of course I also make a whole bunch of doodles from my imagination.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
First, let me apologize. Its been some time since I've posted anything. Life has thrown a few curves recently and I have had to deal with things as best as I could. The name of the blog says it all, its a busy world and sometimes as much as I want to sit down and draw or paint its hard to focus on one thing.
Life happens and sometimes you have to slow down, regroup and pick up again.
It can be very difficult to just pick up and start again. I find it nearly impossible to begin where I left off. I find that if I just start sketching I will eventually begin to challenge myself to do more and more, to become more ambitious.
Sketching is a way of going back to a starting place, where you began your artistic journey.
Just pencil and paper, your curiosity and your imagination and the need to reinterpret what you see or what your thinking into a language that others can read.
It becomes fun again.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Is Digital Art Art?
That is the question everyone seems to have an answer to although everyone may not arrive at the same conclusion.
I have had arguments/conversations with other artist regarding this. Traditional artist either detest digital art or, in cases where they actually do some digital art, they view it as a time saver, lesser art form, evil necessity, etc. I’m not talking about photo manipulation, or programs like Poser, in which case I personally believe that all arguments against would be valid. I’m talking about digital works that artists create using the same methods they would if they worked on paper or canvas only using digital counterparts. Programs like Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop, Corel Painter, Procreate, Mischief, etc. I’m talking about it from the point of view that you have to know how to draw and paint first before you can create something on the level of what has been done before pixel art. I have worked both ways, traditional and digital; I prefer Traditional but have no problem with working digitally.
There are two main arguments I hear.
One can argue that all you have to do is create a quality print. Painters like Rembrandt took up etching in order to offer affordable art to a wider audience. In the same way art can be created on the screen instead of on a metal plate or an lithographic stone and then printed and sold. It is simply another process, one that still requires the skill of knowing how to paint and draw in order to create your image.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
A while back I received an email from PACKT Publishers asking me if I would be interested in writing a How To book on painting in Sketchbook Pro. They may have seen my You Tube Chanel or this blog or maybe my Deviant Art page, don't know which but it lead to my writing this book. Though its mostly about painting I spend sometime talking about pen and ink as well. There is a sample chapter available on the PACKT website . The book is written with the beginning to intermediate user in mind and Sketchbook Pro is a lot easier to learn, in my opinion, then a lot of other graphic software. Sketchbook Pro also less expensive and still able to turn out professional quality digital works of art. So this would be a good jumping in point if you want to explore going from traditional media to digital. There are demos in the book on Painting, Pen and Ink and Pen and Ink and color as well as how to create a Do It Yourself Brush in Sketchbook Pro.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
I miss easel painting. I hate living in this really cramp apartment and having to work at a 9 to 5 to live in this box. Would be nice to have a studio and the time to work in it. There is enough space to work on watercolors, which is what I mostly do, but its my nature to switch media rather than work with just one medium all the time.
As I've said before, it helps to be able to work on my computer. I don't feel cramped by the lack of space, because there's just enough for my computer which is all I need. The time it takes to set up and clean up is shortened by just having to open the program and save the document. There is also a lot of different software to choose from and always new ones to try out. Right now I'm enjoying Sketchbook Pro. I like it because I can focus more on actually drawing and painting then trying to learn about how to use the software. Sketchbook Pro is so easy to use, so straight forward. The learning curve is as minimal as you can get.
Monday, October 7, 2013
When I was a teen I struggled hard to learn how to draw and paint. I had a very supportive family. My brother and sister would pose for me from time to time; I would even sketch my brother as he slept in the bed across from mine. My mother would pose for me too. They weren’t always patient but they would fight through their discomfort and sit as I would try to draw as quickly as I could. My mother even bought me a large mirror so I can work on self portraits when no one was available to sit for me.
It’s taken me too long to remember this and appreciate the time they took to indulge me. My family has given me many good memories of love and patience.
My mother is now ninety years old and I am not sure if she knows who I am when I visit her. I try to talk to her but I’m not sure if she can understand me. Most of the time I pass the time by taking out my iPad and sketching her in one of the many drawing apps I have loaded on the tablet. While I sketch her I am playing music for her, the music that she liked and listened to. Most of the time she would fall asleep, as I continued to draw her. It’s a very hard thing to do. I would rather have a conversation with her. To be able to talk and laugh, to remember the old neighborhood, family, etc. To hear stories about her childhood and the grandparents I never got to know. But drawing is all I can do and maybe it’s a way of helping her to remember the son who loved art so much.
|This was done many years ago when my Mom would sit for me.|
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The secret to becoming a better artist…? Surprisingly, although one would think you begin with talent and although talent will give you a big jump start, it is not the key ingredient. Talent may in fact even get in the way of progressing.
Having the humility and willingness to be taught is a key to an artist continued growth no matter at what level he or she is. Humility doesn’t mean that you take every bit of advice that is thrown your way but that at least you have an open ear to what’s being said. It maybe that what you discard at the moment you will recall later and find that the advice had more merit than you initially assigned to it. I have talked to someone who expressed how earnestly he wanted to improve his drawing. Upon looking at his work I suggested that he take life drawing classes or at least make it a point to continually draw from observation to improve his skills. He went on to explain how he took life drawing classes in college and that he was already sure of what he has to do right now to get better- this after he asked for the advice. I later discovered that he had expressed the same things to others (some who were notable artist and illustrators). They gave him the exact same advice I did and he ignored it of course. He has not been able to grow beyond what he already knows.
Perseverance is also a key to becoming better. Never give up on this life -long pursuit of excellence. Have set in your mind that it will take your entire life time to learn everything that you want to learn about painting and drawing. One of my favorite quotes, often repeated here, by the Japanese artist Hokusai,
“From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie.”
Another quote from Hokusai made in his old age, (some have said that this was said by him on his deathbed),
“If heaven had granted me five more years, I could have become a real painter.”
Like Leonardo, art to Hokusai was a life- long pursuit of understanding and communicating in pictures the world he lived in.
Another key ingredient would be discipline. With discipline art becomes more than a hobby, it becomes a habit, an extension of one’s character. Habits are hard to break, shaking off the need to express yourself visually should be the same. I had a teacher in high school who read to his student a quote from Calvin Coolidge that I’ve often repeated. He swapped the word “persistence” for the word discipline and I will do so here,
“Nothing in the world can take the place of discipline. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Discipline and determination alone are omnipotent.”