The more I learn about painting, the more I realize that I am woefully inadequate to do it. I think almost everyone is.
There’s just so much to know, so much craft behind creating a half decent painting, let alone a masterpiece. The more I read and the more I study, the wider the abyss. I know a tiny, teensy, weensy little bit about it. If painting were an ocean, I think I’ve got a couple of drops.
Oddly enough, I don’t find this discouraging in the least. It’s exciting. I’m never going to be bored! And even on the off chance that I master composition, design, colour, form and shape, art is, for me at least, an exploration of self. And that’s a never ending journey.
I started reading a little bit about colour yesterday and realized how little I knew about it. I’ve never done any kind of studying of colour. What little I do know, I’ve learned by osmosis and intuition. It’s never really been conscious though. So I think I’m going to have to add weekly colour studying to my learning schedule. This is going to involve making colour wheels, practicing mixing different colours, studying how colours affect each other, etc. Should be rather fun, for a bit at least.
I know that eventually, all of this studying is going to bore me. But I’ve got so much other art to do on top of studying that I’m hoping to stave that off for the time being. I’m trying to create a balance of study and creation. I don’t just want to read and learn these things. I want to know how to apply them to my art on a daily basis. So it’s not just about making colour wheels, but about thinking, “Okay, I’ve learned this new thing about colour. Where could I apply this in my daily art practice?”
Or studying form, for example. Evincing a feeling of solid form in my work is something that’s become of prime importance to me. It’s something that I feel is really missing and I know that it comes from working from photographs. There’s a quality I’m looking for in my work that I haven’t achieved yet. I’ll know it when I see it. It’s a deliciousness of solidity, a feeling that within the area of the canvas, my subject matter exists.
I’m not interested in photorealism (this is a rant for another day, but I’ve been told I’m a photorealist several times lately. I’m not.) I don’t want you to look at my paintings and say, “Oh, it looks like a photograph!” I want you to look at them and say, “I feel like I could reach into the painting and pick up that apple.” There’s a difference. A subtle one, one that most people won’t understand. And I get that most people, when they tell me that it looks like a photograph, they mean it as a compliment and I take it as such. But it’s not what I’m aiming for. I don’t blend out my brushstrokes for a reason. I still want it to feel like a painting. A painting full of form, depth and solidity.
I want people to want to dive into my paintings. I want to create another world within the canvas.
Anyways. Getting off my soapbox now.
Because I’m so interested in form, and the best way to learn how to show form is working from life, last night I started attending the local life drawing group. It’s just a few of the local artists who get together for 2 hours week and work from life. Fortunately, my ride lives a few houses down (I love Charlottetown!) and it’s a group of older artists which is nice. I’m usually a lot more comfortable around people who are older than me.
There’s also the fact that these artists are more experienced than me, so I’m pushing myself to keep up. It’s a good thing. I don’t want to be the dorky young kid who can’t draw her way out of a paper bag ;-)
But it means when I go in there, I’m extra focused on what I’m doing and I’m paying extra close attention to the model, and my lines and my understanding of how to express what I want to express. I had a few duds at the beginning, but towards the end I was starting to find my stride again. It’s been so long since I’ve done life drawing like this (a year now) that it’ll take me a little while to get back into the swing of things.
Anyways, here’s one of the better drawings from last night – enjoy!