Monday, April 5, 2010
The Learning Curve
There is definitely a curve in learning how to draw and paint well. Not only is practice involved, but learning from professionals who have been there--done that. I want to thank my first art teacher (I've forgotten her name). A professional art educator and artist in her own right. She taught classes in her basement each week, and I was an avid student.
She taught me how to see, especially how to focus on shape and form, and the tricky details of foreshortening. She taught me how to prep a canvas, and how to plan a composition and paint it in oils. Everything I learned from her became the basis from which I work even today.
I also learned through classes at junior and technical colleges. I discovered my favorite medium was brush and ink. I liked the stunning effect of black on white (or sepia). I won my first art contest with a linear drawing of a nude. I started the painting at the top of the figure and continued my stroke until the ink was dry. A first prize ribbon graced my efforts in the art show.
I learned how important live models are to the drawing experience. The freedom I felt in those classes gave me a new life and a purpose. Overwhelmed by personal problems in those days, I literally found an escape hatch. When I was painting and drawing, nothing else mattered. I was lost in a world of my own making. I felt in control of my circumstances and my art.
Sometimes I struggle with writer's or artist's block. I freeze up. I lose my self confidence. I become analytical and critical of both my skill and my execution. At those times, I try to get back to the freedom I felt as a student when it was all about discovery and learning. Then I didn't worry whether something was good or bad or whether it was the correct form or perspective. I just let my imagination fly and my spirits soar.
There is a learning curve in doing anything correctly, but there's also a choice. Plug along methodically and practice your art as a pianist does his scales by rote, or enjoy the ride: experiment, play, enjoy the freedom, savor the moment.
My oil on acrylic painting "Flash Dance" was an experimental painting. I let myself go. The colors are wild, the leaves and petals have a somewhat fanciful feel. I wanted the flowers to literally dance before your eyes. Did I succeed? You be the judge.
NOTE: This is the third time I've deleted my page counter or flag counter since I started my blog. Quite by accident, I assure you. Now it looks as if I'm getting NO hits, when in fact I do get a steady stream of visitors each day. HELP ME OUT! Visit my page a few extra times and get my page back to where it was. THANKS FRIENDS!