When you don’t know what to create, record what you know. I was reminded of that rule when admiring the paintings of Rachel Campbell, here: Colorful Oil Paintings Depict Give a Glimpse into the Life of the Artist.
If you are trying to write or draw or paint, you may be stuck with two problems: being able to make things look “nice” and not knowing what to make. Recording what you know solves those two problems. You know what you are going to make: a recording of what is in front of you. And even if you don’t make a good recording (i.e. it isn’t “nice”), I can assure you years from now you will look at it and say “oh that! I forgot all about that, but I am glad I have a recording of it now!”
Here’s another tip: ask yourself what is something you know that you Love or think is Beautiful. Whether it’s a place or a person or a thing or even a time of day, record that. When you see it, you won’t think the lines aren’t great or the colour is wonky: you will see the Thing you Love or think is Beautiful. Others will think it too.
Here’s a final tip: record something of your era. Include something fashionable, or technology, or anything that is not long lasting. Years from now it will be fascinating to your or others. “Look at that old phone”, they’ll say. Or “look how cheap everything is”, or “look at that dress”. You get the idea.
Sure you can take a photo, and it may be a good photo. But put some creative thought and effort into it. Your art will get better, and the work you produce will be better.
(Image is a link to the article in My Modern Met.)
There are several benefits of blind contour drawing:
- if you are afraid you can’t draw “well”, then use blind contour drawing. Chances are it won’t look like the thing you are drawing, and that’s ok. But you will learn and get better at drawing.
- it is a good way to be mindful. If you are focused on doing a blind contour drawing, it’s hard to think of anything else
- It’s a good way to shake off your bad habits that you may have picked up.
Here’s some good links to help you learn more about it:
(Image is a link to the Austin Kleon post)
I first came across Celmins work at a large exhibit recently at the AGO and was so blown away by it. I love the detail and the abstaction of her art. You can get really lost in just one of her works. I know I did when I saw them. I think you will too.
I was doing some research on her and I found these articles to be good. If you want to learn more about her, check them out:
- Vija Celmins – 11 artworks – painting
- Explore the art of Vija Celmins – Look Closer | Tate
- Vija Celmins’s Surface Matters | The New Yorker
Yesterday I encouraged you to take up a hobby. If you haven’t decided on one yet, I recommend drawing. You may be terrified or at least put off by the idea of taking up drawing. It’s ok. Many people feel that way. To help you, here’s some good links to get you thinking at least of taking up drawing.
Lots of good advice there in those links. As for books, I highly recommend the book above. It is superb. It can be hard to find, but these folks seem to have it.
I have been trying to get better at drawing lately, but I have been floundering. Much of what I have been drawing is poor by my standards. Poor and not getting better. To try and get better, I was trying different media and different tools (coloured pencils, watercolour, etc.). All these different things didn’t help. I was stuck.
Then I came across this video and had an a-ha moment. It’s really good. I recommend you take a few minutes and watch it.
In a nutshell, the idea is to focus. Focus on drawing one thing. Don’t do what I was doing, which was a little bit of everything. A little bit of everything didn’t add up to anything.
What I found was that by focusing, I didn’t have to think of what to do, I just did it. In his case he drew emus. In my case I drew robots. Just dozens of robots. I would start by drawing a shape and then adding to the shape. Or I’d start with a theme (a book robot) and use that to draw. The drawing didn’t have to be good, though I tried to make it good. Regardless of good or bad, what I discovered was that I was learning more about drawing from each picture. Before, I would think: what shall I do to practice drawing and get better? Now I don’t think, I just draw, and I am naturally getting better.
I think this can be true of any skill. Take running for example. You might fear starting because you don’t know anything about how to run well. Fine, just pick a short distance and run it. Do that over and over. Each time you do, you will learn something. Maybe you are running too fast. Or too slow. Or too long. Or too much. Take notes each time and look to improve. If you get stuck, do some research and try to apply it. The next thing you know you will be much better at it then you were only a short time ago.
Anyway, watch the video and then think about how you can apply it to your own life. You will improve. Keep with it.
Here’s a link to the video: The drawing advice that changed my life – YouTube
Speaking of keeping to it, he has another great video about “not getting off the bus”. I highly recommend that too. You can find it here.
The first one is make art. It can be of anything with anything. Draw, make collages, do simple painting. Anything. Why? As David Hockney says:
“We need art, and I do think it can relieve stress,” he said. “What is stress? It’s worrying about something in the future. Art is now.”
And if you can find the ingredients, try and bake bread. It’s also good for getting you to focus on the now and stop worrying about the future.
Read both pieces I’ve linked to. Then get busy.
This is a nice little tool if you want to turn a photograph into a stencil or drawing: Free Picture Stencil Maker.
If you wanted to simplify an image, this can help. For example, if you wanted to break down an image for painting or drawing, this could be really useful.
Give it a try!
These works, one of which is shown above, are fantastic: Scribbled Portraits of Brooding Figures by Adam Riches | Colossal.
Go to Colossal for more.
Artist Karina Puente is illustrating Italo Calvino’s ‘Invisible Cities’ and the web site ArchDaily has a sample of some of her work, including the image you see above.
I hadn’t expected to like illustrations of this book. The writing itself is so evocative, I would have thought that illustration would limit it. I make an exception for these works: they complement rather than reduce the writing.
I’d love to see an edition of Invisible Cities filled with Puente’s illustrations. For now, we can enjoy what we see at Archdaily.com.
Then send them over to this really smart post by Sarah McIntyre: i want to make cartoons & comics but i have no idea where to start!. It’s packed with great advice and plenty of links for anyone who would love to do this but is stuck on how to start.
Superb. (Image is a link to her post.)
I give you this:
I really like this idea, but then I am an IT architect and we like to stand up and draw on walls (ok, whiteboards). A whiteboard would also work, but if you have kids, there may be times when you want to save anything they did. Or never mind kids: maybe your own doodle was keep sake worthy.
By the way, you can get such paper dispensers at IKEA. Most people mount them on a table, but clearly the wall is an option too.
Wall-Mounted Kraft Paper Roll Dispenser – Design Milk.