The first is that I have finally had a breakthrough - thanks to an incredibly patient artist friend (not mentioning any names.....Kath) who helped me get to the bottom of what was not working - in my work. Since talking with her, I have completed two more pieces that I am really pleased with, and I think that I have finally found a confident direction to move in. So please, bear with me while I talk to you about my revelation. Actually, this might be pretty long (haha)
For those who don't know me well...I will start with a few beliefs that I have had regarding myself and my art when I finished art school. While I completed my BFA and did incredibly well, I left school feeling like I could not draw. It was the one thing that I had always wanted to do, and while I worked my ass off at it while I was in my classes, I felt like I just didn't have what it took. I would constantly compare the work that I was doing to those around me, and to those who were attending ACAD who seemed to have a mastery that I couldn't comprehend. This was 5 years ago. It was not until last year that I realized what my hangup was (and its embarrassing that it took me this long, but I think its important to highlight too.) The ease with which these students were able to beautifully render complicated forms (like an animal for instance) came from their use of a few tools that had NEVER ever occurred to me to use. They trace. They use projectors, and they enlarge and downsize their own images to create them on a different scale. For me, this was a Holy Shit moment. I do not do any of these things. Never have. I just expected that I should be able to draw so that things looked incredibly natural - after all, all these other artists were doing the same thing.....right? Not. So I just want to put out there....every image of mine that you see, is created without the use of anything but a pencil, a photograph of something, and the thing that I am drawing on. I learned to draw. It doesn't always come easy, but it does come, and without the aid of anything akin to tracing. So there world! SO THERE! (This is not to disrespect artists that do work this way, their art, their rendering has a different purpose than mine, which is to explore the actual form. Its mostly to highlight that I had no idea that was the way that people worked and I thought that I was just a shit artist because of it.)
I also used to think that to be a "good artist" you needed to be able to use the first line that you put down on paper. Contour was the name of the game, even though my work in school that was the strongest was tonal.... and I felt like not being able to create a perfect contour on the first try meant that I wasn't good at anything. What a laugh. I think about it now, and I really am shocked that I carried that idea for so long. I start with a basic outline....but then I let the shadows and light of the creature I am drawing, tell me where I got it right and where things need to change. I let one work with the other, and I am pleased with the way that things turn out. This is not to say that I have nothing left to learn, and that I don't work at my drawing practically daily (I do) - but it is to say that something shifted for me. I decided one day that I actually could draw - and the world opened up.
From here, I can tell you about my newest breakthrough, thanks to my incredibly talented (and patient, I think she talked with me about this like 10 times before I got it) friend. So, I love pattern. But I also am really really loving these detailed and realistic renderings of animals that I have been doing. I felt like I had to put the two together - for a number of reasons. Firstly, I thought people would find my drawings boring or uninspired without them. Secondly, I felt as though drawing was not a legit media (as everyone under the sun seems to paint) and I wanted to pull that into my work. I did not take a single painting class through my degree, and because of it, I felt like I was not a legitimate artist (jeez, what is with me and all this focus on legitimacy.) Finally, colour and I had always struggled. I loved it, but I felt like it never enhanced my work. So I wanted to prove to myself, my viewers, my cats (who knows who!?!) that I could successfully integrate colour into my work. But there was this weird tension that never quite resolved itself. By mushing my detailed drawings with these really abstract doily patterns in colour (one in the foreground and one in the background) it felt like I had two pieces on the go in the same image - and they were often very busy. This is not to say they were bad, I liked every single one of them. But that I am learning and growing as an artist every day. Okay so. Here is the deal. I decided, with Kath's gentle prodding, to not give up on the patterns, but maybe work on them in another context - and really just let my drawings stand. Well, here is the result. I think it is my best work yet.
Not the greatest photos, I know. That is also on my list of things to do (learn to photograph my own art with something other then my iPhone and instagram haha.) But look. What a difference. I can't tell you how pleased I am with these two pieces. I have one more to complete this week before sending them off to Invermere to the Pynelogs exhibition I am a part of. They are titled "Swiftly" and "Ungulation" respectively. I was also able to not abandon my idea for patterns....and I came up with this! I think it a really interesting piece. Took me way outside of my comfort zone, but I have to admit, I liked it!
The photo isn't true to colour, I am going to have to find a way to photograph it in proper light (darn me and all this working late stuff. My house lights are so yellow!) I just put the first coat of lacquer on it (which really brings out the wood) so I will post pictures when it is allllll finished. The idea of absence is really interesting to me here. What do you think?
A few technical notes - I am looking for a way to link my instagram account to this blog - does anyone know of a way to do that? I am also considering popping over to wordpress, as I adore the slideshow options that they have....any thoughts my techsavvy friends? How do you keep up with your blogs? What do you use, why and how?? I need advice on how to really take this thing to the next level now that I have a bit of time to dedicate to it. Just like drawing, its something that once I am in the practice of doing it - its not a big deal. But when I am not in the habit....its like pulling teeth sometimes!
Many loves my friends, if you would like more info on any of these pieces (they are all for sale) please let me know. Or if you will be in the Invermere area within the next month or so, I will post the info all about where and when and what!