Dream big, but work hard (a bit of a ramble)

This post is inspired by this cartoon. Click on the link to read the whole thing.

Dreaming vs. Doing (from zenpencils.com)

I feel guilty, I wasn’t very productive today (well, it’ll be tomorrow when I post this) so I’m writing another blog post to hopefully make up for my slothfulness. Funny, how a post espousing hard work is written on a day when I didn’t do enough hard work! Ah well.

So, a while ago I posted a link to this comic to my Facebook Fan page, so today I thought it was a good thing to talk about.

Dream, dream, dream!

I’m all in favor of dreaming. In fact I’m trying to learn how to do more of it. I’ve been surrounded by a lot of “Debbie Downers” for too long in my life. Not that I blame them completely—no one forces you to believe the discouraging voices around you.

But anyway, I also agree with the cartoon linked above. Doing is much more important than dreaming.

But dreaming is important too. And unfortunately in this life, a lot of us are pushed away from pursuing our dreams. When I was younger I had a lot of pressure and brainwashing when it came to my dream, which was to pursue art. I had guilt over “wasting” art materials (sound familiar? I think a lot of us have this problem), always being told that art isn’t “practical,” being admonished, because art is “fun” and not “work.”

Oh, but I’m not bitter. No no! I don’t have any baggage at all, no not me! 😉

Continue reading Dream big, but work hard (a bit of a ramble)

Now, about art contests and awards …

Detail of “Wired,” oil on panel. REJECTED!!!1! from a recent art contest!

So my mind has been straying in the direction of juried art shows and contests. Dealing with rejection. Hoping for acceptance.

I’ve had a troubled, unhappy (in my own mind) history with entering art shows and applying for art awards. I can’t say I ever had a meltdown over a rejection or felt even remotely close to having one. But still, so many times it felt “unfair” or depressing, to try and try and . . . nothing! It seemed at times that they were “picking on me”! Waaaah! It’s so not fair!

Looking back, I realize that there were legitimate reasons for some of the rejections. And I have also had some moments of clarity which helped me understand why I shouldn’t take any of it too seriously. Continue reading Now, about art contests and awards …

Another favorite rant: Art education and what needs to be said.

So I’ve been away for a while. But I’m ba-a-a-a-ck! 😀 I’ve been doing a lot of painting and studying. I’ll be posting some new paintings shortly and talking about all kinds of stuff. But first I have to post more about art education. It’s a continuation of this bit of pontification from the main site.

Let’s start out with this graphic which is going around Facebook:

Very typical, I must say. (Click on image to see a larger version of it.) NOTE: The artwork on the right (and presumably on the left) is by artist Travis Seymour.

Before I go any farther, let me say that I’m certainly not against getting an art education, or an art degree. I went to Otis, a very good art school in Los Angeles. I count my time at Otis as one of the happiest eras of my life. So, it’s not that the concept of schooling, or that the art degree are bad, it’s what they’ve often become. 

Yes, the graphic I show above is what’s often happening nowadays. I see a lot of it. I saw a lot of it when I was going to Otis. (In case you don’t know what an atelier is, it’s a small, more affordable private school that focuses on traditional, classic art skills. Here’s a web page which lists some well-known ateliers.)

It’s usually coming from the Fine Art Department. The message seems to be, that skill is a bad thing. Skill is something to be looked down on, as lowly, as “competent.” (At Otis I had a Fine Art student sneer that word—competent—at me, like she’d said something dirty or profane.) Skill is something that “if you decide it’s important,” you can “learn on your own.” Or, you’re supposed to “bring it with you” when you enter a degree program, because they sure as heck aren’t going to teach it to you! Continue reading Another favorite rant: Art education and what needs to be said.

More thoughts about drawing, tracing, grids

Yeah, I have a lengthy, windbaggy post about tracing and grids on my main site (here).

I stumbled upon some other blogs which talk about this, and thought I’d bang out a bit more about this topic on my blog. Just because I feel like it.

As I say on my main tutorial site, getting into the habit of tracing photos (instead of getting proficient in freehand drawing) can be something that an artist can regret later. Or, they’ll always feel a bit on the defensive about it. It’s controversial. Each time I see a debate online about it, we have some purse-swinging, butthurt, argumentative people, on both sides of the aisle.

Why is that? Well, I think a few reasons.

FAKER

First, I believe that there is an ingrained instinct in many of us to dislike a faker, a poser, someone who is passing themselves off as something they’re not. And whether it’s intentional or not, that’s what a lot of “tracers” seem to be doing. They show some artwork with beautiful accuracy, and onlookers are so impressed and call the artist “talented,” and exclaim, “I could never draw like that!” But the artist didn’t draw it! They may have shaded it, colored it, and those things are worthy of admiration too. But they didn’t get the proportions accurate themselves. But they never admit that, and keep on letting everyone gush to them about how well they “drew” it. Continue reading More thoughts about drawing, tracing, grids

Why Drawing From Life (and Studying “Realism”) is Important

Recently on this site’s Facebook page, an artist named Tony asked about why it was important to draw from life, since what he’s doing is cartooning (drawing in his own stylized way). I explained as best I could, but wanted to expound a bit on the subject.

Art students are often told to “draw from life” (as opposed to drawing from photos, or your imagination) because our art should, even if it’s highly stylized, emulate life. You can’t make a convincing “cartoon hand” if you don’t know what a real one looks like. Your stylized, artistically modified drawings look more convincing (even if they are not remotely “realistic” anymore) when you understand what you’re stylizing.

First, the “drawing from life” part. (As contrasted with drawing from photos.)

“Portrait of Girl, from Life” sketched in about 20-30 minutes.

I drew a lot of portraits from photos, starting when I was a young teenager. I’d draw my favorite actors and actresses. (Like a lot of kids do.) That meant drawing from photos. I became pretty good at it, for my age. I occasionally drew from life (my friends would pose for me) but not nearly as much as from photos.

When I first took a Life Drawing class (drawing the figure) in college, it was extremely difficult at first. A serious adjustment, and a grave blow to my ego at the beginning! I had always assumed that I drew pretty well, because I was doing a decent job of it with photos. But I still had a long way to go in developing my drawing skills.  Continue reading Why Drawing From Life (and Studying “Realism”) is Important

Nerdiness and geekiness is not toxic (or even forever).

I write this for all the kids (of any age) who get grief from family members, loved ones, or anyone else for being a geek who does “fan art.” They act like fan art is a dead end, and that you’re some pathetic nerd and not a “true” artist. Well, come on. I think they should stop sucking the joy out of life.

I did fan art. Sometimes I still do. When I was a teenager, everyone did! I got all kinds of disapproval for it, especially from my mom, who once said she’d prefer I’d quit art completely rather than continue with that nonsense. (She didn’t really mean it, but I heard it nonetheless!)

I’ll always consider fan art a good thing in my life. Whether or not it was “artsy” enough or serious, I don’t care. I refuse to be ashamed of it. Due to my involvement in fan art, I loved art at a young age. Because I was deriving enjoyment from it, I did more of it. I even sold art to fellow geeks, also while still at a young age. It was great and it helped my confidence and self-esteem.

Here’s an example of some fan art I did way back. It was a cover for a “fanzine” (pre-internet publication with fanfiction). One of my friends kinda-sorta commissioned me into doing it. Thank you to the person who posted their picture of it on the Internet. I’d lost my own scan of the artwork.

Sentry Post cover, Colored pencil & watercolor on illustration board.

I don’t consider that time of doing fan art to be wasted time. What I learned from my years of doing that kind of art, easily translated into other less geeky types of art. Even types of art that my mom approves of! Who would have thought?

Like these two pieces: Continue reading Nerdiness and geekiness is not toxic (or even forever).

So you (or your kid) loves anime and wants to be a professional artist. . .

So as I said in this previous post about anime, I am a former kid artist, and I know how it is. You want to draw what you want to draw, not what your teacher or your parents think you should draw. And I’m in total agreement that a kid should draw what they want. Otherwise, art—something they supposedly love—will become a chore, something tedious, and they’ll start to feel resentment. Towards those pressuring them to stop drawing what they want to draw, as well as towards the art itself.

But (there’s always a but!) things change once a kid says they want to go to art school and become a pro. And I don’t care what kind of artist they want to become—illustrator, animator, fine artist—whatever. If they are a big fan of anime and they are talking seriously about a career in art, there are some things that they should realize.

You can’t build a professional career on drawing anime alone (unless you live in Japan!).

There is probably some small, small, infinitesimally small exceptions to this, but that’s the gist of it. Don’t delude yourself otherwise. It’s all fine and good to love anime and love drawing manga and anime art, but once you say that art is what you want to do professionally, you must realize that you’re going to compete with other students who can do all sorts of art, not just anime. Continue reading So you (or your kid) loves anime and wants to be a professional artist. . .

Parents: Your kid and anime

anime

Sailor Moon, a very popular anime character—so well-known that even I have heard of her!

Your kid and anime:

Oy! Since I first started this site (TEN YEARS AGO as I write this) the anime thing has really taken off. And I’ve heard all sorts of pros and cons about kids wanting to draw anime. So here I weigh in with my opinion, and it’s actually very simple and uncomplicated (but with some caveats). Continue reading Parents: Your kid and anime