Monday, January 14, 2013

What You See, Not What You THINK You See

If you're going to be working in any art, but even especially if you want to work in 2D (that's painting and drawing and such), one of the big questions you might ask is this: where do I find subject matter?

Well, I find mine in a couple of different ways. The first is the site Pinterest. On this site, I find wonderful pictures and it gives me a place to store images that I like, all in one place, so I can reference them often. You can find my Pinterest "Visual Inspiration" Board, here. Photographs are great, if you don't have access to models on a regular basis. Pictures will show you how light falls across something so that you can generate good highlight and shadow. I also highly recommend this book. It's been immensely helpful to me.

Highlight and shadow, understanding light, is going to be what will take your art from "a three year old could have done this" to "wow!" Take notice of where the colors of a person's skin gets lighter. That shadow, under the chin? Is it really black or does it look purple?

One of the greatest piece of advice for art was given to me by Mrs. Watson, my art teacher in Jr. High and high school. This was her motto. She even had us write it on the inside front cover of our sketchbooks. And I'm going to share it with you right now. Ready?

It takes a lot of looking, a lot of studying, a lot of getting lines to agree to make a figure look proportional. Look once, twice, three times at a line or a shadow before you draw it. Really look at it. Study it. Does it arc slightly one way or another? Why does it do that? Is there a bone or muscle under there that needs to "come through," yet remain hidden in the figure? All art students start off by drawing naked people. That's because it teaches you how to distance yourself from an object, break it down into its' component lines and shadows, and then transfer that thing you're looking at on to the paper.

Before I discovered Pinterest (and when I was in art school), I compulsively collected magazine pictures. For my purposes, women's magazines and National Geographic were my favorites. I kept these magazine clippings in folders, clipped into a 3-ring binder. You could paste your finds in a notebook or journal. You could tack them up to your studio wall. Whatever works for you.

For starters, don't worry about collecting one type of image or another. If it strikes your fancy, keep a log of it. Even if you're not sure what you'll do with it, yet. As your image collection grows, you'll start to see underlying themes and elements emerge. Are you collecting pictures of women dancing? Animals? Interesting jewelry? Sometimes I combine elements of one or more pictures that I like in my art to give me an entirely new image and concept.

Just keep your eyes open and you'll find what you're looking for. What you look for, you will find.

Hope you found this helpful, my lovelies. Until next time, please remember that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel.

Love to All,


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