I’m over 1/6th through my 60 day challenge. How has it been? Oh it has been a rocky road. I always knew that x day challenges are a back breaker for me. Posts won’t come in the same time everyday, some days I won’t get to draw anything and there will be too many merges for the days lost. But, I didn’t give up on it altogether. I’ve found a perfect hour to paint or draw. Right after lunch.
But this challenge has been so weird I’m surprised at my daily visions.
I did these digitalized black pencil drawings of mountains for days 5 & 6.
And this strange field for day 7. Again, a digital artwork. I liked the negatives I created without assigning any meaning to it. Just a few possible visions. At this point I think I was refreshing my mind for new images I could create. And next? A canoe.
I was truly starving for inspiration at this point. And I turned to pastels, which is quite a change for me! I drew this piece inspired by John Harney’s beautiful photograph.
And for days 9, 10 & 11, I tried painting the same image in my head with different color palettes.
So far, I’ve found this challenge very rewarding. I think I’m learning more because of how much I want to create in a specific time frame. My favorite work so far is the watercolor painting from day 9. I just love the subtle pink and varied brushstrokes. But I’m also daydreaming of that canoe.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Central Park or even seen snow because of where I live. But I always enjoy watching videos of children and puppies playing in the snow. This year, it’s been extraordinarily virtual, but in a good way. I’m glad such an option is still feasible.
For the second day of my 60 day challenge, I’ve chosen to continue the black pencil streak and see where it takes me. Unsurprisingly, it took me to Central Park. There were children with parents, dogs, the elderly, and lots of snow. I also went to the ice rink to skate a little bit. But then I got so tired I fell into the pond.
I imagined the first day of my 60 day challenge to be the hardest. I announced yesterday in my recent post that I will be doing a challenge to help me pass time in peace. It’s been difficult focusing on life and keeping track of time, let alone painting on a fixed schedule. But I found this challenge to be on a good start.
As I said in my post, the first artwork will be a black pencil drawing inspired by the Fauves. I’m not sure if it matches the picture I had in my head, but it is inspired by the things I’ve been experimenting with lately. And there is even one more thing that will add to its quirkiness: it’s digital. I broke almost all the rules there were when I began playing with fauvism in watercolor. But the way I see it, fauvism is all about breaking the rules. So why not go back to the basics to redefine the rules?
Here is the digital drawing I made.
I’ve been realizing how much I paint and draw the things I don’t particularly like when I’m out of the picture. It’s like my hand automatically designs skies and bodies of water. It’s not that I’m against painting nature; I just don’t see myself in the pictures I create. And I’d like to be able to enjoy every scene I’m making. So this time, I thought of expanding the possibilities of the vision. Is this a digital demonstration of a river? Are the black areas rocks on a road? I may never know. But I feel like I want to dive into the drawing. Don’t you?
I’m very excited to announce that digital commissions will be accepted as of tomorrow, Monday 14th of December. I will be accepting commissions from the new “Commissions” menu bar, and I’m looking forward to creating the artworks you will be requesting. Use the form to enter your name and email address, as well as describing your digital commission.
In the meantime, enjoy this digitally used napkin from Crinkle Cafe (you’ll be familiar with it soon) with a Christmasy kiss.
There is little way to create if you’re not getting inspired by some source or another. But what is considered ‘getting inspired?’ Some artists make the mistake of unethically retracing the work of well-known and lesser-known artists as a way to grow in their techniques and vision. How wrong could this be and what is the right path to growing as an artist?
What does retracing mean and is it wrong?
Retracing is when an artist retraces the design, drawing, or the entirety of a painting that is done by someone else. There are many practices that are somewhat similar to retracing, which in fact aren’t unethical. For example, in many grape and paint events, artists redraw and revive a painting done by some of history’s greatest artists. This is actually a great way of growing and adopting the vision of an artist that inspires you.
However, if you find yourself copying (such an ugly word) a painting line by line and imitating it’s methods stroke by stroke just to claim it as a new work under your own name, that’s quite unethical. There are levels to retracing, and you should fall on the lighter end of the spectrum where you use another artist’s art as a stimulator for your creations.
Can I possibly retrace unintentionally?
Definitely. There are many occurrences where an artist unconsciously retraces another artwork to the point where it’s impossible to miss. This happens when you secure a deep connection with an artist or collection, and you have the colors, style, and theme in your unconscious creative space.
A way to escape that is to be aware of what resources fuel your creativity. In other terms, more inspiration. It’s easy to get lost in your imagination and mix up some of your ideas with the works of others.
Why do ethics matter in the field of arts?
It may not be a constant topic of discussion, but ethics shape our lives more boldly than we think. It’s crucial to have fulfilling experiences as an artist, instead of easy and fast ways that can get you further in this field. There are so many rewarding ways you can grow in your own steps. This means seeing more but connecting less of your eyesight to your brushstrokes. It can be difficult at first, but you will reach a certain point in your artistic career where you’ll be proud of being ethical in your approach to getting inspired.
How can I tell the difference between retracing and reviving practically?
To examine the difference, I’ve come up with a real example of where you should draw the line between the ethical and unethical sides of revival.
I was really inspired by Holly Warburton’s Evening Sketch. I chose to illustrate something that reminded me of the hem of the woman’s dress/skirt. Here’s how it turned out:
While I was illustrating this piece, I had Audrey Hepburn in mind too. But I was mostly focused on my own idea for a short story, and what the other objects in the scenery would be doing for the whole illustration.
It’s quite obvious that these two paintings look nothing alike. There may be similar colors, textures, and brushstrokes in two paintings that are linked by inspiration, but they aren’t usually identical. This is a classic example of how I choose to revive, cautiously staying away from stealing someone else’s style.
What do you think of getting inspiration and the ethical consequences of it?
It’s getting pretty difficult to keep track of the times. Everyday a new event changes the way we work and live, and for some of us being inspired is part of that change. For me, it has been exceptionally difficult this year to focus on the right sources of inspiration that will fuel my mind for my own art. But there’s no excuse to that. An artist should always feel inspired.
Is it art block or not having access to inspiring resources?
A lot of people confuse these two problems. It’s much different when you have an art block, compared to when you’re just not being fed the art you need. I’ve not been able to go to any of the museums or art galleries I usually go, and I haven’t been traveling for a year. I usually feel most inspired when I’m at these places, but I haven’t had access to any of these resources.
What should I do when I don’t have access to inspiring resources?
It’s difficult to find other ways to feel inspired and motivated, but there are still options out there. Currently, a great friend of mine has been sending me photos of paintings and sculptures that they see when they go to art museums and galleries. I know I will be able to see them after the pandemic, but it has been very helpful for me to breathe the fresh air of art once again.
Another way is to attend virtual art galleries and workshops. Many artists showcase their work this way at the moment. It’s also great to visit some of your favorite art bloggers’ websites to see what they’ve been creating.
What if I still feel uninspired? Are there any other ways out?
The answer is complicated. There are still other ways you can feel inspired indirectly. For example, sometimes I feel inspired to paint after watching a movie or reading a book. It may seem unnatural but it’s not! Movies are just moving pictures, which stimulate the image-making part of our brains with the memories we receive after watching.
But texts can contain imagery too. What’s most unique about this is that each person has their own personalized perception of what the image might look like once they’ve read a poem or novel, or any text that contains imagery. So try it out! Read and discover what you may see and whether you’d like to bring those images on paper.
How do I keep myself inspired for a longer time?
Once you have been inspired, it may be difficult to maintain that state. It’s wise to continue exposing yourself to the sources that get you creating, but it’s also important to be aware of what can grow inside you. There are many things we think of, which may be potential artworks and creations. But sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that creativity must be fueled externally. Keep track of your thoughts, embrace your ideas, and strengthen your vision.
There are just too many lines drawn from the emergence of mankind. Even the tree of Eden had lines that constructed it. Everyone has lines; lines on their fingertips, their hair, their lashes, the outlines of their figure and the lines of their outfit’s silhouette. How can there be so many lines in the universe? Your wrist will be sore and your fingers numb after drawing a tree with only lines and no curve. Even harder when they’re parallels. And how does it feel when lines finally collide? Does it hurt?
If our eyes only captured the lines of things and not their other properties, would everything suddenly turn back to sketch mode? I want to see the design of things, just to know what it would be like without any color; just lines in greyscale.
Blue outlined living things; trees, people, leaves, hair, bees, flowers, and squirrels. There is a squirrel who stores too many acorns under the tree, and the tree sheds enough leaves to cover it. Then a little kid comes along playing in the park, asking the oak tree: “where are all the acorns?” The tree lies and says it’s all gone, just like the leaves that have dropped to the ground.
Yet the little kid isn’t fooled because it isn’t fall and the leaves are as green as a frog.
Kees Van Dongen was one of the pioneers of Fauvism, focusing on women and portraits with unique details. Among his paintings, there are countless figures with memorable faces. But an important feature of his women is their clothing. Colors, creases, folds, and textures are very well defined in Dongen’s artworks, which is something to consider if you’d like to start painting portraits in the form of Fauvism.
What does it mean when clothing is important in an artwork?
Now you may ask what it translates to in the art world, when I say that clothing is a dominant part of Dongen’s work in Fauvism style. It’s easy to think that clothing should be detailed if the art form is Fauvism, but that isn’t the main point.
It’s essential to go back to your vision and build on what you create as you keep the eye of a viewer as well. Sometimes you might find yourself buried in layers you’ve created for the characters you paint, which will prevent you from seeing it the way a viewer might. So start sketching clothing that strikes the eye; garments that appear before the women (or men) you’re depicting. Sometimes clothing makes the character!
How would Fauvism work digitally?
Well, in short, it won’t if you’re hoping to revive Fauvism resembling the work of its pioneers. Many artists such as Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, and Van Kees himself worked with gouache, lithography, and oil colors. But if you’re like me, you’re giving the digital programs a chance. It may never look like a real painting done with those colors since it’s more of an illustration. However, it’s a fresh way to give your illustrations a direction to a specific art form.
The key to making digital art lean toward an art style is to preserve the elements that make an art form complete and recognizable. For example, Fauvist paintings have a notable outline around objects and people. This outline is usually in deep blue, and not drawn so precisely. Another property of this art form is the strong colors that stand up to reality. In the field of Fauvs, you don’t have to worry so much about things looking real and making so much sense through the lens of impressionism. Paint colorfully and don’t be able to define your work imprecisely.
Layering a Fauvist illustration in Procreate
There are many different programs and applications that are great for illustrations. I personally use Procreate because of the variety of brushes and textures, easiness of layering, and ability to make alterations to my work conveniently. Here is a video where I illustrate using many different layers.
The purpose of this video is to show you how illustrations are layered digitally. This is not a tutorial video, but rather a snippet of the work behind my illustration. A great thing about digital illustrations is how much you can change and how indispensable layers are. You can hide and unhide layers or even delete them. You’re able to erase again and again and change brushes, colors, and textures as you’re learning. So take the opportunity to build on your vision as you choose the art style you’d like to revive. It is always great to be traditional and go for pencil and paper, but remember that digital programs can also be an awesome alternative if you’re going for less waste (read more about art and waste here).