Pick up a freaking pencil

If I was asked what I would suggest to an aspiring artist it would be to master the art of a pencil and the basic ability to draw what you visually see in such a way that has logic on paper rather than with a digital pen in Photoshop. When it came to the point in my life where I was diving attaining a career within tattooing I learned something unsettling, I was so used to being able to Copy, Paste, Undo, and using layers in Photoshop, I had completely forgotten how to use a pencil on paper. The idea of drawing simple shapes in the same corresponding way on a piece of paper was troubling for me, I decided it was time to step away from my computer and start working with traditional media again. I also needed to learn how to slow down my thinking (or better yet, stop it all together) so I could keep the creative side of my art process there while offering a functional foundation.

The most important things I needed to look into were observation, understanding, value, color theory, and lighting. I also needed to learn that the objects I drew were just that, objects, they were shapes placed in such a logical way they function as something more. The lights that I am passing on the streets this moment are an “L” shaped bar (that is to say twice as long as it is tall), each light is placed every third point from the farthest left of the shortest side and the sign displaying the name is rectangular with softened edges also placed at a third’s length away from the closest light (the lights are a circle the same height as the sign and are also same length tall as they are wide. Instead of looking at this post and labeling it with my intellectual side of my brain as a “light post” I am breaking it down as it would be in front of me, living and breathing as shapes… not just a light post. Another thing I came to learn, I needed to take care of my mind and body much better than I have been if I wanted to sit at a chair professionally while holding a needle steady against an individual that has entrusted me with their lives for hours at a time and keeping my creative mind going as well… I learned I knew a lot less than I thought I did.

I hate how much I rant. –o-

I am making this post because I have not been on the internet much displaying my art lately, because I’ve been so busy doing research and of course selling paintings. A lot of my mates know I have never been able to afford college which is totally ok with me, but I am not going to let that get in the way of my getting the education I want. I have every single new day with working eyes, hands, mind, and body to read another informative sentence from a book all about what I want to know. I do wish I had a mentor in arm’s reach, I know I would learn with the right group of people around me… even then that does not keep me from getting some corrective tips on my work from people I’ve met in the past and to those people (you know who you are) I am truly grateful.

When people tell me I am a very talented person, I blush at the thought.

I am simply a girl that wants to create worlds upon surfaces of any kind and I want them to have logic and be believable. When you see an image of a dragon I tattoo, I want you to feel like you can reach within that person’s skin and pull him right out of them. I have a feeling when I have gathered all the information I need, I will finally reach that moment where the switch in my mind has flipped and it all makes sense before me.

“You need to be patient.” And “Understand while you don’t know everything you are doing something about it.” are two statements I’ve heard on more than one occasion and these people help me feel right. I really appreciate every good and bad thing in my life and I think it’s really important to find a balance within your life before taking upon the responsibility of marking individuals for the rest of their lives (not to mention they trust in your care to avoid any cross contamination which is a whole other blog post), you are being given someone’s skin which is easily the world’s most precious canvas that will be worn for the rest of that person’s journey through life and seen by every passerby (you know what I mean).

So just know I am still working my tuckus off at my art, and I will never stop pushing my limits. Currently I am working with acrylics and digital work when needed for designs. I really want to start doing some cute prints of animals with water color but I haven’t been able to get the visual representation I’m looking for when I sketch it out so all I can do is keep the idea safe and continue trying to get it illustrated as I’m wanting it. I was thinking of taking these water color pieces and turning them into prints and pricing them at about $2.00-$10.00 mattering on size.

Another thing I would suggest to an individual aspiring in the world of art would be to never give up. Every book I’ve ever read when I needed some direction or just another artist’s motivating words has stated “I’m sorry to state a cliché but never give up.” I am not sorry for stating a cliché, it’s a cliché for a reason and I could never state enough how important it is to keep working at what you have a passion for. The individuals with passion will continue to read and practice and research even when they do not want to, if you find yourself putting less than thirty minutes into drawing a day simply because you don’t “feel” like it then you surely have a hobby but passion may not be the word to describe your feelings towards this life style. I spend every second I can on living and breathing and art and my work.

One of the things that will stay the same until the end of time is if you want to be good at creating what you see in your mind you have got to practice – A LOT. I fill up about twenty sheets of Xerox sheets with sketches in a thirty minute to one hour session of practicing for the day (whether I wanted to or not), if you were to gather all your sketches for a week you would see the truth to the statement “I can bury myself in sketches’. A brilliant mentor of mine once told me “If you want to know how to draw something, find a great reference image and draw it once. Then draw it 100 times.” When you first begin conditioning your body for fitness, you will be focused on doing your work outs correctly whether slowly or not. Once you have a grasp on doing those work outs is when you can begin working faster because you have learned the proper way to move your body to achieve the work out you are looking for. When you first begin drawing you have to teach your mind to look for relationships in space, you have to condition your mind to make observations and place them down before you go crazy with details. No matter how great you are at shading or detailing, if your framework is weak then so will be the rest of your image.

Recently I have had to engrave in my brain that drawing is about 90% observation and recording observations then %10 creativity and fancy details (for my art particularly, obviously for an abstract artist it would be different.)

One more thing that comes to mind, if you find yourself frustrated with an image you have created don’t ever tell yourself it’s because you can’t do it. If you look at an image you’ve created and you do not like how something does not seem to look believable or simply make “sense” then you should manage to pat yourself on the back right now because that means you are striving for more, you know you expect a quality of work from yourself and you are telling yourself “I AM BETTER THAN THIS.” Figure it out, find the resources you need that will closely aid you with making your image what it needs to be, collect your ideas first and do the research later. That being said, do not force yourself to look up references right away because you will immediately shut out your creativity… sketch your idea or concept before you even start thinking about how things should look and logical functioning.

This brings me to sketch books, every creative artist needs to have a “rough draft” book of some sort, a sketch book for drawings or lyrics (if you’re a writer), musicians, photographers (your concepts), you need to store your creative ideas somewhere. Even if you draw the worst representation as long as you take notes of your raw idea with all the juices before you clean off the edges with a blade (hope that makes sense to someone else). I think of some of my greatest ideas in dreams, I get lucky and wake up in the middle of them and if I can push myself to wake up and write exactly what my mind’s gears are still churning I get some crazy stories with pretty vivid details I’d love to be able to illustrate.

MY BIGGEST ISSUE IS I THINK TOO MUCH.

I know this post is kind of all over the place and a majority of it is my ranting about what I’ve learned, but I would like to think there is another artist out there like me searching for any help and extra information they can get while going through their journey to bettering themselves. You want to learn how to draw shapes, not objects. You want books with references that justify relationships in space because you need to copy every page from these books, and doing them 100 times each ensures your grasp on them. You want to study lighting, and color theory. Get a book on basic drawing (where they teach you to use your pencil as a reference point (as well as an outstretched arm and winking eye) to draw things properly with the use of angle relationships throughout groups of shapes. Do not get too used to a digital tablet and if your day job (like mine) is using a digital tablet for digital creative designs (for press and print) then make sure you exercise your hand at traditional media like acrylics, water color, and obviously pick up your freaking pencil!

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2 thoughts on “Pick up a freaking pencil

  1. Authors too. Computers are a great labor-saver for us and I knew that when I first saw one in high school in 1977 and said, “That’s how to write a book.” But darnit, paper and pen or pencil. Start there. Try it. Learn.

  2. I do want to tell you thank you Michael for taking the time to read and respond to my blog post. I have to agree any creative process comes down to the basic and simplical form of its origin.. if you want to work with clay? Learn to create the clay using a binding agent and a foundation. Want to paint? Learn to create pigment and (once again) a binding agent. Want to learn to write? Read? Draw with a particular medium? We must ALL learn the fundamentals first.

    “Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.”

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