Thursday, October 01, 2009

Grids, projectors and other secrets

I usually resize images by gridding but its a task that I truly dislike. All that measuring, all those lines, all that transferring of squares. So I decided that I'd invest in an art projector. Not a hugely expensive piece, but one that would allow me to increase sizes of original drawings or play around with reference images to get them to the size I want without tears.

There are a couple of schools of thought about using projectors, or even gridding for that matter. One school of thought brings out the 'are you cheating' concept. This says that if you use a mechanical aid to help you, you're less of an artist for it.

The second school of thought believes that aids are simply that. A method to move you more quickly and more accurately towards the end result that is in your mind's eye.

I have a foot in both courts. I don't believe that using a projector is an any way 'cheating'. If creating an outline or pinpointing angles of facial features or landscapes makes a person an artist, I'd love to let them tackle a full piece complete with values and colour. I do believe that slavish use of a projector or gridding diminishes the ability to make that mind/eye/hand connection that helps you judge and measure and draw effectively. If you use a crutch enough, you will forget how to walk without it.

For the tedious aspects of drawing, such as transferring drawings from a master to a clean sheet of paper. For increasing the size of a piece and for accuracy when it really counts, I believe in using every aid that exists. It doesn't make me a better or worse artist for it, I am still an artist. In your job, I don't ask if you used a computer to create a presentation or a graphics program to manipulate an illustration. I accept that you do your work and use the tools that you need to do so.

After all, who where the original users of similar items? The camera lucida and obscura go back hundreds of years and are reported to be used by some of the most famous artists. David Hockney's book 'Secret Knowledge' looks into the use of tools by artists of the past. Durer's grid seen in the image above is an early form of using a grid for a life drawing. A challenge in a life drawing class I would think!

There is no stygma in using tools to help you achieve a result. The problem only arises if they are what you rely on completely so that you can not produce art without them. There are pluses and minuses on both sides. What is your take on it? Do you use tools to help you?

Finally one of several pairs of earrings I have created that will go into my Etsy store. Sterling silver wrapped from head to toe with tiny clear glass drops that looks like rain.


Paulette said...

Lovely design Jeanette!

I think along the same lines as you, tools are just that, use them when you need them and do lots of practicing without them.

Margaret Ryall said...

I always feel that the cheating comments come from people who have a very narrow view of art. It is so much more that a realistic rendering of something. Using a writing analogy Art is more like poetry than a descriptive paragraph.

I've gotten the same "cheating" comments to my use of photo transfer in my painting practice. I posed the question "What's your definition of art?"

Bring on the tools I say! For me art is a form of communication and how you create that "message" is not the important thing.

Jo Castillo said...

Well said. Thanks.

"JeanneG" said...

I really like those earrings. Pretty water drops.

Jeanette said...

Thanks Paulette. It seems the individuals who protest the most are the ones who know the least about the process.

Very much so Margaret. How any creative pursuit is developed is usually the missing link in those who ask those questions.

Thanks Jo.

They are sweet little earrings Jeanne. I think I'll make more of them - mostly cause I want a pair! :)

Jennifer Rose said...

I think grids, projectors etc are tools, and do wish that people would see them as such. So many people think that if a person uses a grid that that person can't draw. you still have to fill in the details, tonal values tc. i get a mad when people dismiss people that use these tools as non artists

Michelle said...

I really enjoyed your perspective about using tools to aid you in the process of creating. I work with large scale art boards and find it very helpful and less time consuming to use an art projector.
I remember the first time my mom watched me create art this way and was convinced I was cheating.
After a full day in the studio and seeing a finished piece she changed her mind.

Jeanette said...

I agree Jennifer. Tools are requirements of the artist's job. Simple as that. To be able to continue a piece on from a contour or landmarks is essential as it the ability to draw. Anyone can trace a piece, only an artist can create the magic that turns it into art.

Thanks Michelle. I agree, it would take valuable time to scale up large pieces such as yours, so to use a project only makes sense.

I wish more people could see how they're used and understand the process of creating art.

Sydney said...

I've never used a projector but I frequently use grids or tracing paper to transfer a sketch to a new support for painting. Mostly I don't want to have to reinvent the wheel. Like you, I feel they're useful tools as long as you don't become too dependent on them.

RHCarpenter said...

The final outcome is the you got there, like you said, is just using your tools wisely. I think people assume because you trace a sketch onto paper or enlarge using a projector, you can't create art - but that's due to the few who do use the tools as the final outcome, photocopying someone's photo on a canvas and then dabbing a bit of paint over it and calling it their own. Most of us work with what we have when we need it. When I feel I can draw it, I do...when I feel I need help, I use it until I get better with my drawing and rendering skills.

Sjamesportraiture said...

Totally agree with you on using a projector, artists have used this sort of stuff for years. Its what you do with it once you've got the basic proportions....

Susan Parsons said...

Last weekend I did a workshop where ten artists used a projector to transfer the same image to a canvas. The instructor even told us what colors to use to mix our paint. At the end of the weekend there was not one painting that looked the same. You knew it was the same subject but not one looked like the other. As soon as I got home I ordered a projector because now I'm convinced that it is not cheating, it is just a tool and a great time saver for composition.

Sheona Hamilton Grant said...

This is an intersting topic.
I agree with you fully. It's how you use your chosen tools to obtain your own personal result that's vital.
On this subject I totally recommend reading "Secret Knowledge" by David Hockney.