The Devil is in the Intangibles
There is a larger issue artists of all stripes should spend more time contemplating. Loose and impressionistic, like tight and controlled handling of any art subject, involves numerous choices in the process, at the beginning and all along the way. In and of themselves, loose painting or tightly rendered detail are not artistic, regardless of what art snobs might say. Its how deftly you wield those styles that matter, right? Right! Sound a little obvious to you? Well it should, but its odd how little I see that aspect discussed. Loose painting is not more artistic simply because its loose. Read More »
If you follow my YouTube channel, you may have noticed that I’ve been uploading Strathmore Workshop videos over the last couple weeks. These were 4 videos done for their web site last spring (2016) and aired during each week of May. This year, as per agreement with Strathmore, the video rights revert back to me. Read More »
We all want to improve as artists don’t we? Growing as an artist is the key to more enjoyment and satisfaction as we tread this adventurous but sometimes frustrating path. Practice is a given, but what happens when we get stuck and don’t know how to improve. The brave artist seeks appropriate, constructive input and critique. Its a tougher challenge, though, than we sometimes realize. Read More »
Veterans have served for a variety of reasons. For Americans, the reasons usually include the protection or our great nation, propagation of freedom and the dismantling of tyranny. While not all wars have been popular, the men and women who have served should all be revered for one simple reason – the decision to lay down their life, should they be called upon, for something greater than themselves. They did not serve a politician or a government but We the People, and an idea that this great Republic and what it stands for should continue for the good of all peoples.Read More »
Let me start by fully acknowledging the debt of gratitude the recreational art world owes Mr. “Happy Trees” Bob Ross. He got people painting who never would have dared pick up a brush on the best of days. Why? Because he made art technique accessible. He deciphered the complex with “light-bulb” art moments and gave aspiring painters…wait for it…a formula. Aah yes! The notorious painting “formula”, heralded by hobby “fun” artists as genius and scorned by the high brow “fine art” snobs as cliché and misleading.Read More »
Stop it alright! Just stop. The madness and the addiction has to end. Ok, no it doesn’t actually. Not completely anyway. I’m addicted too and as addictions go I could do a lot worse, but I wanted to sound semi serious for a split second.
What in the Sam Hill am I talking about?! Our beloved art supplies! We’re all obsessed aren’t we? Yeeesss, don’t deny it. I can see the 500 questions on the tip of your tongue right now. What brush is that? What brand? What size? What paint is that? What paper is that? Where can I buy it? What hand soap did you use before you started?
No Mo FOMO
I get it. Especially you beginners new to watercolor (or painting in general). You need info, not platitudes and fortune cooking sayings. BUT! in your journey to discover more about watercolor, or any medium, don’t let gear obsession take over your developmental fears. There’s actually a clinical term for this you know, its called FOMO (fear of missing out) and it takes many forms. If that fear takes over, you start missing out on the real skill development fun. I am the first to admit, I love to obsess over gear and art supplies sometimes, but more because I love to get new stuff and try it out. However, if you let gear obsession feed the lie that you can’t paint really well until you have the exact, right stuff you’re missing out already. Thats right, you’re already at the point you feared. Moving forward in your artistic development is NOT gear related as sure as I’m sitting here on my plump little behind.
Obsess Over This!
Find out just enough about the materials you need to get “decent” brushes, paper and paint and then get to painting. Go ahead and obsess over art gear if its for curiosity and experimentation’s sake and you have the money to do so, but not because of FOMO. Far better to obsess over mastering that next cool technique or skill. Master painters can take the materials you have and think are crap and paint you an unbelievable painting, and if they used their preferred gear for the same painting, I doubt you could tell the difference. They can tell because they have the experience to notice subtle differences, most of which play to their preferences and not the results.
Understand me well. I’m not saying gear makes no difference at all, but it makes far less difference than you think. The question I should get but rarely do is, “why are you using that brush, paint or paper.” A far more instructive question than, “what is that?”
Have you doodled lately? Well you should and regularly at that. I saw a Stefan Bauman video (below) a few months ago and it struck a cord. Like most people, I think a sketchbook is just a sketchbook, right? Something you draw in and use to try to improve through practice or just draw anything that strikes your fancy. Simple. Or is it? Actually, there is a lot of negative psychology associated with regular sketching in a sketchbook. What do I draw? How often should I draw? My sketches look terrible. Shouldn’t my book be a gallery of my best drawing work? blah, blah, blah. Welcome to the doodle sketchbook.
I’m convinced that all artists should have a sketchbook that they set aside for inconsequential doodling. Let me ‘splain. What happens when you doodle? You’re usually doing something else like talking on the phone or listening to boring conversation right? You don’t think much about what you’re doodling, you just draw. What happens when you’re done? The envelope, back of the napkin or edge of your note taking eventually goes in the dumper. Who cares? Enter the doodle sketchbook. Have at your disposal at least one sketchbook designated for “who cares” doodling. Not a really nice or expensive book just any old cheap drawing pad. The drawings can still be purposeful or directed towards specific subjects or practice like any regular sketchbook, the difference is, its more like a scratchpad you keep around but assign no artistic value. You aren’t trying to create great art and you don’t care about the results. This is KEY. In fact, If you’re intimidated by sharing your work, you should probably just tell yourself in advance that this book won’t be shown to anybody. That frees you from the hesitation of getting started or the angst of having your work judged. Bottom line? Your drawing will improve day by day because you’re more likely to draw. No kidding. Keep the book in tact and when you reach the last page you might be amazed at how far you’ve come.