Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Give yourself TIME...

Sketchbook cover
Rick St, Dennis
1998 copyright

What kind of thinker are you?

Do you think in circles, squares, lines, shapes…what is your best guess?

I, myself, think in movements-the eye must be led from one place to another but must eventually come to rest at the center of interest having assimilated the images passed on the voyage.

Whether its colour or lines or shapes there is a way to compose elements so that this process is a success.

I have talked before in this blog about symmetry and asymmetry but composition is far more complex in most cases than simplistic descriptive titles.

A very symmetrical circle or pyramid can be populated by the most asymmetrical design entirely composed of symmetrical objects…as transparency and layers become involved shapes within shapes are created…it becomes extremely complicated like advanced mathematics.

Looking at samples of altered art, ATCs (artist trading cards) and even more complicated assemblage/collage pieces I see how simple some can appear and yet how much though and attention to composition has gone into them-conversely I see complicated, highly textured pieces that when dissected are very simple and many pieces that bridge the range of possibilities between the two.

A way to start looking at how you think is to doodle, grab a student grade sketch pad from the local drug store stationary department and use a pencil-whenever you have a few minutes just put down shapes and shapes on shapes-make yourself little challenges like a pleasing combination of 5 circles of different sizes or 1 circle, one square and one rectangle and all must overlap at least one of the others but none can be contained entirely within another shape.

Teach yourself…forge a path and see where you repeat yourself then challenge yourself to break your own patterns.

I have old sketch books full of bizarre renderings of abstract and representational compositions, pages with nothing but eyes, noses and endless variations of hands.

I never asked anyone’s opinion of any of these exercises or personal assignments because, going back to my previous post, they were done for me not for anyone else’s critique.

I could see that I had a problem with hands, also the way heads sat on necks and how bodies changed when they were twisted and back then I had no access to life drawing classes or nude models so I worked until I was successful within my own vision of what I wanted to achieve.

Beyond this I looked at many books and images that showed things like Disney’s approach to animation, Frank Frazetta’s approach to motion, Beardsley’s arrangements of lines and compositions, literally anything from which I could cull a sense of vision however diverse that vision might be.

Remember WALTER FOSTER art books? I lived for them, I devoured them.

And PBS art lessons even when they were bad…when you are hungry enough even bad recipes can nourish the body, same with bad art, you learn sometimes more from what is terrible and nourish your sight in a positive way.

In later years after I did have a few life drawing classes and instruction in rendering fabrics and how to portray textures and objects in two dimensions I honed my skills and built upon the base of what I had taught myself.

I kept the parts I liked and layered upon those selected parts of what I had learned.
Showing my art at street fairs and art shows where the public feels not only at liberty to comment on your work but almost compelled to let you know their opinions I was compared to Beardsley and called “Disneyesque” and whimsical-Frazetta like…those who viewed my work would pick out the parts of each picture that I had learned from looking at that artistic style in the milieu of that with which they were familiar.

I always thought I was very much influenced by Alphonse Mucha and for a period my work was very arte nouveau but eventually I became very much me, I developed my own style.

Through all of this and as recently as immediately before I started this blog entry I have never stopped doodling and I have never stopped making lessons, challenges for myself…little assignments that stretch me to do something in an area where I am not as strong as others.

I can stand over you and I can show you how I see in your work but I can’t make you see it-that’s your job-I can guide but I will never force a vision.

It is consummately hard to put into words concepts which are better demonstrated-maybe someday in the future there is another book or a video or a holographic data disc that will make all this easier for me-what I am trying to do, and I know I have been repetitive and will continue to state the same concepts in alternate ways, what I am trying to do is get you to start moving forward, to believe in your ability to do whatever you envision and to have confidence in the process-YOUR process.

When you feel it is too simplistic see it more complex and when it is too complex edit yourself.

Do it in doodles.

I will see something in my head but not the fully completed piece so I doodle it out-I play with various possibilities and arrangements-almost invariably the answer will come to me or I will find a new direction that is superior to the one I was originally set on.

I even doodle in Photoshop-it’s not messy, easy to erase and move components and change colours-typestyles and textures…I dump as much as I keep because often I am playing and in playing I learn so it is never time wasted.

Finally GIVE yourself the gift of time-even if its ten minutes early in the morning or late at night.

We become so invested in the “have tos” of life that we neglect the “want tos”.
Allow yourself the time to do something you want to do because it enriches you.

I assure you that you will become a kinder, more tranquil, less stressed and anxious person-maybe not immediately but at the point at which you stop feeling guilty and realize that the time you allot to yourself is no different than exercise, diet and medication in the total health of your mind and body.

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