Is an artists ever finished learning at which point he can just rest of his laurels? Another blogger wrote something about how Van Gogh was trying to get a hold of some plaster casts of people to practice drawing from shortly before he died, because he wanted to improve his rendering of anatomy, or form, or any of the associated skills. And I’ve thought and said many a time that I think Jackson Pollock, or abstract expressionist of your choice, would have been a better artist if he (secretly) did traditional landscape oil paintings on weekends.I think when you are a visual artist, it’s good to learn a lot of different skills, and styles. In today’s fine art education, such as I had, I had perhaps too much range of training, or more accurately too much of what I didn’t need and not nearly enough of what I really wanted. I had to take sculpture, photography, conceptual art, and performance art classes. This is good, if one wants to be a more conceptual sort of artist. But, if you are primarily interested in making imagery, I think it may be better to get the skills you need to make whatever you want. I believed this back when I was in college, and it was not a popular belief. Maybe I benefited from having to work in ways that were alien to me, because, at least I’m less likely to be locked into just one methodology and one vantage point.
But the thing I never really got is a real fundamental realistic painting course. I got it in drawing, and had too many life drawing classes (incidentally the attractive female model only shows up on the first day, and then it’s the middle-aged, pot-bellied flasher from then on). But even in drawing the focus tended to be on breaking out of the fundamentals, which most nobody had mastered in the least to begin with.
I wish I’d have one good fundamental oil painting course, instead of all contemporary art courses. I would still like to take one, and, y’know, get out in nature with the canvas on an easel and the palette with loaded colors. It could be a hobby, kinda of like I wanted Pollock to do it.
So, the reason I did this practice, and intend to do more, is I’m trying to get these particular essential skills down to accentuate my digital painting. I’m not going about it in the proper way, partly because I’m doing it digitally. I did a drawing first, which is fairly academic, but then I just lay down the color however I want. I’m also not working from a photo, but rather from a painting. I like the look of paintings, not photos (for what I’m doing now, that is). The painters have already accentuated the elements I want to master. Or, I should say it’s the painted look I’m after, not the look of the thing painted. But, as I said, I’m not doing this properly, and don’t intend to go about painting in that way.
Rather, I’m training my subconscious to see relations and make connections. For the work I’m doing now, I’m relying completely on my imagination, and not following any rules. I just want more of the power of fundamental painting behind my punch, so to speak.
I see other artists who aren’t as fond of continually learning as I am, at least not when it comes down to training in areas they haven’t already learned. Sometimes I want to tell them, “uuuuh, you might wanna’ work on your anatomy. Here are some great videos you can work with. But, they’d hate me for it, and, as my art tends to appeal to a minority of the more sophisticated connoisseurs of painting, I would be making recommendations to people who have a much bigger audience than I do, with ten times as many followers, and who sell their art. Point is though, they really could benefit from working on their weaknesses.
I am also planning on doing warm-up paintings after some famous paintings, including the likes of Picasso, or George Condo, because of their opposite approach, which is to abstract nature.
And there’s one side thing that I think is quite interesting. When I did this practice painting, which took the better part of an hour, I was thinking about getting the volumes and modeling and all that right. Oh, and the colors! What I wasn’t thinking about at all was making my version look like it was painted rather than done digitally. The result, however, is really close.
My plan (which I never stick to, but you never know) is to do a quick practice painting to warm up before continuing the series I just started (which I may or may not continue) in order to influence and help improve the result.
I’m about to get started on a new one-day image, though I won’t finish it today because It’s 3 to midnight. It’s basically about a 3 hour piece. You can call it a “speed painting”, though technically it’s a little long for one. I don’t know if the effect of practice paintings will be evident. but maybe after several.
If you haven’t seen them, here are the first two paintings in the new series. After 3 I’ll pick the best one and make a larger version. And then the cycle repeats. I think the first two are promising. I could probably just keep going resting on my laurels. But if I can get my warm-up practice to about a half hour, that might help take my images to the next level up.
Oh, one last thought about this new series. I notice I have more of an attachment to work I create using my imagination. I’m much more attached to these, for example, than to my recent photo-collage with Andy Warhol and Donal Trump in it, though that one took at least as long to complete (below)
Maybe I’m just more into whatever I’m in the middle of.