Sunday, September 24, 2017

Using references

Some hate them, some see them as essential.
But what is it about using references that divides opinions so much?

Those who are against references, emphasize that everything we draw should come from our own mind and skill. They see references as a way of copying, diminishing creativity and the will to improve and practice based on the own observations of real life.

And those who see them as essential...well, many of them want to draw or paint as realistic as possible! They think of references as important, as it helps understand shadows and cast shadows, form, value and colors. And, it is a form of practice too.

Both standpoints hold a truth to it. While using references help to get a drawing more accurate - for example when drawing a portrait of someone - doing this only might not help with creating your own landscapes or characters. But even there it can help! It is possible to combine elements of different photographs, to create your own backgrounds or ideas. If you don't know how to draw something, a reference can help you analyse the object and learn about it. In that way, it can improve you how to draw.

So basically, references are a tool and once again, it is just a matter on how or whether you want to use them.

And what if you want to use another artists artwork as a reference? Well, of course you can get inspired by it to make your own drawing or painting. But if you use certain elements completely, or even want to copy the whole painting or drawing and claiming it as your own, so purely copying references, without adapting anything is another matter once again! 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Inktober

Soon Inktober will come around!
For each day of october, an ink drawing can be made, or once a week, depending on the schedules.

The official prompt list also has been revealed, if you don't get your own ideas!

Art challenges are a way to get your creative juices going. It's a help to try out new art tools, sketchbooks, connect with others, and to have fun with practicing art daily.

Next to Inktober, there are also a lot of other monthly challenges with prompts... for example this list for September by Sketchbookskool.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Where to get inspiration?

A blank page can be scary. Even if the wish and feeling is there to draw something, you just might not have any idea for it!
So when it's not about studying poses or hands, where can we get inspiration from?

The main point of course is life itself! The more the experience the world around us, the more ideas can pop up in our heads! It can be scene in nature, memories of being out with friends, a good meal, our favorite pet, or a trip to the zoo. Anything that makes us forget other things for a while, can rekindle our creativity.

What if these things don't help? Well, we still can look at the drawings from other artists, read good book, watch series we like, play games or even take a shower!

The thing is - no matter where you are or what you do - there's always something about it that can be put into a drawing or painting.

Just like the quote of Eric Jerome Dickey says...: "It is impossible to explain creativity. It's like asking a bird 'How do you fly?' You just do."

Here, creativity came when decorating a platter of fruit!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Artists curse

Whether being a musician, actor or artist, every creative person surely knows a 'curse' like the artists curse.
We see the works of others, and compare our own with it. While we can't really tell why they might be better than ourselves are, we automatically think of our own works as inferior. Such moments usually give two options: try to do the same the other artist has done, or just give up on it. It's hard to see both as equal, isn't it!?

But even without the work of others, the artists curse creeps up so easily. You can be working on a project or drawing, and really enjoy the process of doing it. But when it is finished, you look at it and it is just...bleh, simply not good enough. Exactly this is the artists curse.

Maybe without it, it is too easy to think of ourselves and our skills as superior, and we start to dream and take things for granted. But with it, it is easy to be discouraged to just stop drawing or making art in general.
Actually though, it is exactly this 'curse', or strive for perfectionism, that can help to keep going and trying to improve, too. It can help to find your mistakes and weak points, and encourage you to work on them, to become better and better.
I guess this is also a point where art simple reflects on live, in an indirect way. Give up or keep trying!



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Drawing in public

Generally, people do all kinds of things in public space: eating, drinking, talking, kissing, goofing around, walking, sitting and watching others, using their phone, listening to music, reading books, playing games or making sports...

So why is it so hard to draw when being where others could see it!?

It might come down to the simple fact that we are aware on what we are doing...observing and taking it down as visual images. When someone uses a camera, everyone sees the camera right away, and knows 'oh, that one is taking a picture!'. But when someone keeps looking around and making few lines in a book or on a paper, and then staring at something intently again? It's not really so much different, but still, it gives off a different feeling, a kind of uncertainty remains. As if it is an invasion of the little private bubble we can maintain when in public.

Maybe if there were more people drawing in public, it would be a more common thing, and no one would bat an eye. But do they even care about it now? Probably not! There can always be people who look over your back to see what and how you are drawing, but my experience told me it is the minority. Most just pass by. Of course, if you are painting with a big easel or huge sketchpad it might be different - because everyone can see what you do!

To go out in groups to draw in public might make feel a lot more comfortable of course. But it doesn't really change that many artists don't feel so comfortable to draw in public alone because we tend to judge ourselves and our drawings  - just like the artists curse.

But there are ways to make it easier for ourselves...the more often you go out to draw in public, the easier it becomes, too. Taking a small A5 or A6 sketchbook for example might make you feel less 'on the platter' when drawing. It's also possible to go to places where people are usually busy doing there own things...the trains, in a restaurant (or at a class, haha). The more comfortable you can get, the more you benefit from it, for example to be able to draw images from moving animals and people!


As a personal experience that has put me off on it for a while, was the one and single time I have drawn publicly in India, near Krishna's butterball in Mahabalipuram..it was a public space no doubt, with many tourists, Indians and also school classes visiting. Not only did some keep trying to sell me postcards, but also almost everyone who passed by made comments about me drawing. And then, one school class full of boys passed by...and they were way too curious by it! They kept surrounding me and it was hard to shake them off again! In the end I just had the feeling of getting way too much attention, and had to 'flee'!
But it shows well that maybe the most important thing that is needed to draw in public is..... courage!

at Mahabalipuram

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sketching Daily

One of the ways to improve in your own artwork, and maybe also see some progress, is to keep a sketchbook.
There are Youtube videos out there with amazing sketchbooks to get motivated! And I certainly would love to be able to get such kind of sketchbook done too. However, what I mean is more of a SKETCH book instead of a study book with detailed drawings. Knowing that you don't have to spend hours on a single masterful page might motivate to make a drawing in it daily. And if starting with drawing, these few minutes can easily become more and more anyway.

Since I started with a new sketchbook, I have mainly filled pages at home. But of course you should take your sketchbook with you where ever you go! While I wouldn't recommend to make sketches and drawings during your working hours, it's always possible to pull it out during lunch break, or on commute if you're not driving.

Most art teachers say this, but yes, it really helps to look around and draw what you see! It makes you less hesitant to actually draw in public (which could well be another point to discuss). But more than that, when doing it daily, it helps you to become more sure on your actual drawing processes. You can get better with seeing the shapes and lighting situations, and well, improve in one way or other.

For me it was also helpful to find a topic or theme to make drawings and sketches to! It's quite late in the month, but I have decided to make a month of sketches of whatever might be lurking in a deep dark forest. (next to make sketches of whatever I see) - and for October there's Inctober to look forward to of course! -

And as for the time of the day where you make your sketch - it's entirely up to you, isn't that neat? Whether it looks good or bad shouldn't matter too, after all, a sketch books is to note down ideas, not to make masterworks page by page.






Sunday, August 6, 2017

Practicing daily to improve!?

To implement art in your daily schedule can be quite tough. Especially if, like me, you are working full time - and that not as a professional artist!

There are advice out there, that it's of course possible to improve in your own art, if you just spend 5 to 10 minutes on it each day. But I find that kind of debatable. Any time spend on art is better than none. But in these few minutes, what can you really do? You make basic and quick sketches, or start with an idea, just to leave it to continue for the next day. And on the next day, your very idea might be different again! It might be enough to build up a daily habit, and gradually the time might increase, or actually decrease, depending on the daily life schedules. 

Unfortunately, there is no definite saying on how much time someone takes to improve in drawing - or painting. It depends on the dedication, skill, knowledge, practice and passion that already lies behind it. Also on the way you practice,  the mediums you use, your goals and probably much more. 

All I can say is that, for me, it usually goes that way:
 I get an idea, sit down and make a rough sketch or think about it in my mind for a long time on how it should look like. Then, I have a few evenings where I make a drawing, and eventually decide what kind of medium to use, whether ink, colored pencils, watercolors... and then it takes as long as it does to finish it - usually also over the course of several evenings, or on a weekend. All in all, my artworks have about 10-12 hrs of work for each, made within 1-2 weeks. 
And yet, I see again and again, that I should take more time for it, that I should use more references, need more skills with the colors, and should be drawing more in general! For example, always keeping an sketch book with me on the go. And no doubt many people have these thoughts in mind too - after all, we could always do more and better and improve even more! (Oh, the perfectionism kicks in and will never leave...ever...)

Maybe instead of asking 'How much do I have to draw/ paint daily to improve?' it is more important to ask 'How much can I draw/paint and still have fun with what I am doing?' When you are not enjoying what you do, obviously you will not improve so easily. If art is a hobby, it surely shouldn't become a chore where you think 'Ah, I want to become that good as well, I have to sit down everyday now to paint for 3 hours'. While for some this might actually work, when the passion for art is just too big, for others it is just fine to draw whenever they feel like it, for how long they feel like it. And even for professional artists, surely it is much easier if its not a daily chore but something to be enjoyed and something you WANT to do the whole day! 

In the end, it is sometimes hard for us to accept that there are always better and worse artists (whether professional or not), artists who spend more time for an artwork, or less. Since we usually tend to compare ourselves to others, this is often a point where the wants to improve are rising up in the first place. And it can be difficult to stop criticizing our own artwork. But what matters is that seeing others artworks motivates you to keep going and to practice, but in a way and schedule you yourself enjoy! You have to draw your own shoes, not those of someone else.

2002 or so...

2017
2008