Saturday, October 31, 2015

Show me the easy way

 Night Watch - SOLD
5" x 7" oil on panel

“Skills aren’t enough on their own. Emotion has to come through. But when you’ve got the various skills sewn up, that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about.” (Zoe Benbow) 

There is a belief from some people who want to set off on their own art journey is that there are shortcuts to success.  I hate to burst bubbles, but the only way to acheive success is through good old fashioned hard work.

The process of repetition provides familiarity with using tools, making marks, judging proportion, mixing colour and creating values.  We all start out as horrible artists.  I know I did.  My first efforts were worthy only of destruction, though some kind people kept some of them.  And well they did, as they become a marker to show beginnings and measure progress.

Where did the concept of "easy" come from?  Experienced artists make drawing and painting look effortless, but that thought must be tempered with understanding just how many hours and years of work it took to instill those "effortless" skills into producing art.

Is the concept of easy a by-product of the society we live in, where everything is rushed, where busyness becomes a badge of importance, and time is limited to 3 or 5 minute snippets of attention before your brain/eyes/hands are sidetracked?

To draw or paint well takes discipline and alone time.  Robert Genn put it well in an interview saying something to the effect of a learning artist should be sent to their room - for six months or a year.  After concentrating completely on art for that period of time, then results will start to be seen.   Five minutes a day will help, but making time to dedicate to learning and practicing techniques is really the only way to become proficient.

Skills that are worth learning and that take time to learn are hard won.  Drawing, colour theory, composition, values and abstraction take time and practice to understand and become fluent with. There is a lot of unskilled art being made in the world. That can have its own appeal and provide joy to some, no doubt.  But not knowing and not taking the time to know the specifics of different mediums and how to apply them only ensures that after awhile all that art starts to look the same.

Knowing the rules is important before you can break the rules.

3 comments:

RH Carpenter said...

Well said, Jeanette. We often think we can do something before putting in the hours, but it's the every day doodles, reading, seeing and practicing our chosen medium that gets us there in the end - and it's never a quick race from start to finish but one of hurdles and stumbles along the way. The trick is to never never ever give up!

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

people think art is easy, I laugh at them (not a mean laugh tho, just a knowing one).
a lot of people just don't want to put the time in to learn about art in all its forms or at least learn all they can about the one they want to create in. if it was easy we would all be artist, if being a surgeon was easy, ditto. it takes time to learn your craft

Jeanette Jobson said...

Unfortunately there is no fast track to accomplishment in anything. I wish there were! You're right Rhonda, just keep showing up and doing it.

Jen, its a preconceived idea isn't it, that art is simple to make. Its like watching dancers and thinking "I could do that." But of course I can't. Everything takes discipline and time. Neither of which are found in a book or dvd.