Harold Speed, in "Oil Painting Techniques and Materials", writes of the balancing act between teaching processes and techniques and teaching students to develop their own - what we call today - "voice".
He writes that if one over-learns and then over-relies on technique it's quite possible one will never develop self-expression. On the other hand, focusing on self-expression before having developed the tools to adequately express oneself leads to childish work.
He ends his essay with this: "But both are necessary, and it is only when what can be taught, is working in perfect harmony with what cannot be taught, that a work of art results."
As we entered a break for the holidays, I set a task for my drawing students. Find an object that is near and dear to your heart. Set it up, light it and draw it once. Then draw it again. Then again. Fifteen, eighteen, twenty-three times. Draw until what is coming out on the paper is direct from your heart - not the result of thinking through the processes we've learned.
Now - you may be delighted with the results - or you may be disturbed. Either way, you've been successful because now your pencil work is you speaking - not what I've taught you. Either way - you've made a huge leap and now your task is to inquire as to WHY you are disturbed or delighted. This is where learning truly begins because now you're learning about yourself.
Here is #3 out of 36 for the new Selfie Project. It's 8" x 8" oil on linen - the linen is 5 feet by 5 feet and contains 36 squares for portraits. I'm doing brief instructional videos for every painting and then I'll also use the footage for a final project documentary. The video for today's posting can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/2H6o4F-6se4
As I mention in the video - this one was really challenging because of how flat the value range actually is. The photo was taken in a mirror with the light source behind and to her upper left - which puts hot points on the side of the head and cheek - but nowhere else. I prefer painting with a much greater value range on the face - so this one was a challenge and I really enjoyed doing it.
I just posted a new instructional drawing video. You can view it here:
and here is the link to the companion pdf I offer with the video.
I'm very happy with these. I spend a brief amount of time explaining how I'm going to approach the drawing - showing on the reference photo things to consider. I then do the drawing, speeding up the video twice: I do the layout portion which I consider the most informative to students at about 4 times regular speed - and then I do the rendering (which can be terribly dull to watch) at high speed.
The feedback I've received so far has been great! I hope you like this one as much as I enjoyed doing it.
I've always considered myself to be pretty self-sufficient - out of necessity. I grew up very poor so I've learned to fix cars, install water heaters, tile bathrooms, do taxes, cook - and the list goes on - (I don't do my own brewing - but I've considered it) - anything to avoid paying someone else to do it for me.
So this year, facing the annual enrollment at healthcare.gov and subsequent ruin of our December, my wife said, "I heard of this person who helps you navigate enrollment - she's a licensed blah blah blah" (I'm glossing over at this point). I ignored her and stubbornly logged into healthcare.gov - got befuddled and nauseous, and, crying for help I gave the licensed blah blah blah a call. Best decision I've made in months! Done in thirty minutes - and over the phone no less - Julie - we love you!
So it got me thinking. Maybe I should consider having a person (it just doesn't sound as good as "I gotta guy" does it?) for all those things I do myself because I don't feel I can afford not to: stretching canvas, editing video, keeping track of expenses, doing taxes, marketing, heck - even being the family cook. All the things that keep me from doing what I should be doing to make my way in this world: painting.
And then I thought, "I want to do it. But I can't afford to." I'll bet you've heard yourself saying the same thing. I listen regularly to a podcast by the amazing Amy Porterfield and she's devoted at least two shows to this topic. And her answer to the conundrum boils down to this: there is a way to have a person doing those things that suck all the time and life out of your art - find it and do it because the alternative is NOT working for you is it?
So I'm thinking of making a New Year's resolution: 1. Get help with video production and 2. Get help with marketing and 3. Get help with a fitness program - because you know what - you heard it first here - I CAN'T DO ALL THIS STUFF MYSELF - and expect to make a living as an artist.
What do you think? Do you have "a guy"'? I'd love to hear from you.
I am continually amazed that my best of intentions just get blown to the wayside by everyday life. Here it is at least what, four months? since my last post after I had committed to posting three times a week!
So. Have you ever thought you were ready for the next big thing - all set to jump with all your ducks in a row and then realized you're not ready to even walk much less jump? OK, that was me in August. I had all my scripts written, my website formatted and was ready to start filming and I just realized that my scripts weren't right and that my drawing was way too rusty to start taping drawing sessions. And then the housepainters and floor tilers showed up - and then my son's marching band season arrived (I'm in charge of pit instruments) - and then my son's deadline for college applications came walking into our life and now we're on a merry go round of visits for auditions and interviews with university music departments. To top it off, I have quite possibly the most challenged group of college students this semester that ever graced the doors of my institution.
And here's what went out the door: nutrition, sleep, exercise and my project work.
I HAVE been working HARD on getting my drawing skills back in shape. The two drawings above are nearly to where I should be. In the process of improving, I discovered every pencil I owned was inadequate so I bought a set of every pencil you can buy except one from Japan and I ran tests with them. I have winners and here are the results:
Faber-Castell Goldfaber for B, 2B, 4B, and 6B
Derwent Graphic for 9B and 9H
Staedtler Mars Lumograph Black 8B
Koh-i-noor HB and 6B leads for my lead holders
General White Charcoal pencils
I'm in the process of re-writing my scripts with a view toward simplicity and brevity. And my drawing videos will be done at high speed except at the key points of introduction, shape finding, and value mapping. I think that's sensible - watching an hour and a half of rendering isn't informative except to the most hardcore of us.
I have finally figured out how to work my selfie project so that it will be displayable: it means starting all over - but that's fine - sometimes things just work out that way. It's going to make a great mini-documentary.
Oh - and Dick Blick is featuring one of my still life paintings in a three page spread ad for Utrecht paints in the March issue of The Artists' Magazine!!!
OK, I'm out of breath. I'd love to promise that I'm going to post three times a week again . . . but that would be unrealistic. What I can commit to is not to let another four months go by.
My name is Kevin Russell Hunter. Art and Design are my passion. I work in all media including digital. This blog is where I express my thoughts about drawing and painting as well as discuss works in progress.