Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The working tools

I never lose my fascination for drawing or my need to encourage others to envelop this most basic form of art.   Without strength in drawing, the ability to create is compromised I believe.  To see the concentration on classic technique being lost in some art schools in favour of conceptual art and freedom of expression is worrisome.  The need for knowledge on how to construct shapes, understand values and colours and how to apply paints to surfaces will always be there.  Avoiding the those skill development tools is denying or holding back potential for creation.

Sketchbooks are my working tools. I keep a sketchbook near to try out ideas and compositions and as with most paintings, a drawing is the first step.  This fish I found in a market in Saint John.  I think its a gar, but perhaps someone can correct me.  If I hadn't been on holiday, I would have bought it and printed it!  Instead I had to confine myself to sketching.

Of course water or creatures that live in it are never far from my thoughts, so these, done with a water soluble pencil and wash provide the basis for painting.  I use a sketchbook as way of recording colour as well as shapes.  The notes serve as reminders of specific areas of colour that I want to remember when transferring the sketch to a painting.  I take photos too, but the sketch gives a stronger impression of what I see and feel at the time, such as the one below. 

Tools for creating art are what you make them do for you.  Supports can vary from the most primitive to the most elaborate as can mediums and tools to make marks with.  One is no better than the other, although a degree of snob appeal for branding is present in some artists, no different than there is in clothing that people like to showcase as status symbols. Tools don't 'cheat', they provide shortcuts to lessen the amount of time tedious work takes to complete.  I can't be persuaded that just because an artist lived 200 or 400 years ago that they wouldn't have jumped at the chance to shorten the time it took to enlarge a drawing or use a reference photo instead of freezing themselves in the cold and rain trying to duplicate the exact weather and light conditions for a scene.

Each person has different tools and varying needs, as well as ability.  How important are your tools and the process of creating through technique as well as expression?


Katherine Thomas said...

I love what you've said in this post! I have found that to be true about the 'tools' we use too. Some people get so involved in making sure they have the best tools and the same tools that the first place artist is using, so that they too can create winning artwork... but they ignore the basic elements of being able to draw and understanding the basics of composition and value and color. (all of which I have barely begun to understand) Thanks for this inspirational and very insightful post! And I love your drawings, especially the rowboat!

Jeanette said...

Its always amusing to see people chase after whoever the current favourite artist is and slavishly use what materials they use or techniques they use in the hopes that is the secret to success.

As much beauty can be made with a charred stick from the fire on a piece of newsprint with your own inspiration as there can from expensive materials. But without the necessary knowledge and experience, nothing will give you what you look for.

I love drawing boats and water, can't ever resist. This one will be part of an upcoming water painting workshop that I'll be teaching in the fall.

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

i use tools all the time and get nagged at college by the other students for it, they think its cheating :p i'm sorry if I am going to draw something 3 times bigger or smaller, the easiest way is for me to grid it. same with enlargers, if its going to save time, I would use it.
i use a lot of ref. photos, not a lot of dragons in the area :p, so have to look at repitles and other animals. if i can see the animal in person, great, if not, a photo is better than nothing.
i have stopped carring about brands, as long as it works i don't care if it has some fancy brand name.
this college i am going to this fall i guess is really heavy on sketching from life, which is a good thing as long as i dont have to draw out in the rain we get :p

Sergio DS said...

Me fascina tu espacio, aquí me quedo.


Jeanette said...

Jen, that's it perfectly. Tools are made to be used to make life easier. I don't understand why people get so wrapped up the branding and 'master's tradition' as if it becomes a point of superiority.

Sketching really does help drawing skills and anything created from imagination is rooted in realism in some form. Dragons are just large lizards!

Thanks you Sergio and welcome to my blog.

Hedera said...

Very interesting Jeanette. A good pencil sharpener and a block of Arches watercolour paper are my greatest friends when I work. :)