Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Secret To Becoming A Better Artist ????

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.”

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Getting Back To Watercolor

I spent so much time working on my computer the last couple of week's and I couldn't wait to finish the project I was working on so I can get back into some watercolor. It's funny, even though I was drawing all that time I still don't feel confident enough to rush right back into paint.

I work the same way on a computer as I would in traditional media. I draw and paint directly onto my screen with a stylus, the software tools and brushes mimic the pencils and brushes I would use when painting or drawing on paper. Then again, if I had set aside my watercolors for sometime and worked in oils I would feel the same way. So I guess it's best not to blame the computer. It could have been any medium or just being away from practicing that one medium that throws my confidence off. So anyway I start to draw- a lot. I play in a sketchbook of toned paper. I start off by using graphite and a white prisma color pencil. I add white gouache later on and finally do some watercolor on this toned paper. I spend the better part of the weekend doing this. Stopping only to spend some time with my kids and getting a bite to eat and of course some sleep.

Still feeling like I could use a couple of more days of this, or it may I'm just having a lot of fun doing this.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Digital Painting and Drawing

Continuing what I had mentioned in my last post I figure it is best to talk about what has kept me so busy these past few weeks. I have been asked by a publisher to write a how to book on digital painting. It will be a six chapter book. Four of the six chapters have been accepted and am currently waiting on acceptance of the final two.

The images on this post are some of the images used in the book. The one at top left will most likely be the cover and is one of the demonstrations in the book.

I look forward to the completion of this project. It has been fun, exiting and flattering and it has also kept me up late at night. The book is supposed to be available sometime in October. I will have more information about it then.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sometimes Busy Weeks Are Good.

Okay, I haven't been ignoring this blog and I definitely haven't taken a break from work. It's good to be busy right now and I have been. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will be able to give some details about the project I've been working on.

In the meantime I have completed 3 illustrations, two spots for a magazine and a book cover. With the kids getting ready to go back to school those jobs came in at a good time.

Of course there is always the ongoing commitment to paint or draw everyday. On the top left is a drawing I did on the subway. The man was standing a bit of a distance from me and he definitely saw me drawing him. That made him a bit nervous I guess so I did my best to draw him quickly.

When I got back home I used the sketch to create the colored drawing at left in Sketchbook Pro 6. Taking the sketches I made outdoors and working them up at home is fun to do and is good practice.

I also created a video that I posted on YouTube. The video is embedded below. I also include  another video underneath that one. A time lapse video of  a painting completed in Sketchbook Pro 6 and related to the project I alluded to earlier. I will let out more details about the project in the coming weeks, but hopefully this will look interesting enough to make you curious.