Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bloody Stumps!

It's interesting just how much philosophy you can pick up when learning how to draw. The old masters certainly jotted down their philosophies and learning. Leonardo wrote down a great deal; Durer drew buckets of diagrams.

We have so much information on drawing technique, yet for each of us to actually make sense of and use this visual language, we must gain an individual grasp of the subjects of study. In other words, until a baby starts to mimic speech, and then speak with its own voice, it won't learn how.

We can read the books, blogs, and internet posts. We can watch all the Gnomon videos in the world. We can go to every atelier in the world and learn from the best teachers in the world. Yet without the singular experience of walking the path, there will always be some un-grasped concept in our understanding that can only be filled by the actual act of drawing.

This is just a side observation about the need to keep blogging every time I seem to have "solved art." I keep making discoveries as I go, and now I understand that that will continue as long as I keep drawing... forever.

So, even though we have zillions of bytes and books and neurons and megapixels of knowledge about art floating out there just within our reach, and even if we can consume and digest it ALL--each of us will always have to make new discoveries about how to draw from our own individual perspective... or we won't advance.

Now the main point:

Bloody Stumps.

Ever get bored with your work? Ever get anxious--wishing you could just sit down and draw, but the thought of it makes you nervous? Ever think that you'd much rather go watch a movie than sit down and do another study?

The reason is that your sub conscious mind hates to fail. It hates to lose, and it senses some "losing" coming along in your drawing life.

Your sub conscious mind seems very attuned to your drawing proficiency and weakness, and when your work starts to curtail in improvement, your sub conscious mind starts to sneak tiny bits of self doubt, little slices of procrastination, and small chunks of anxiety into your thoughts.

Very soon, you find yourself in the highly uncomfortable state of high anxiety about your progress. It becomes very stressful to think about how you're not improving your drawing ability, yet the very thing that gives improvement is the last thing you want to do.

Bloody stumps are the answer.

People preach this in a different ways all over the internet,though it's usually said something like:

Failure is good.

Van Gogh once said that learning to paint is like fighting your way through an invisible iron wall. I've always liked that analogy; but my wall is a 50 ft. marble wall, and every time I manage to scale it... another one awaits. Usually, there's a trail of blood from the top of the wall, down a short valley, right up to the next wall.

So you see what I'm saying, right? Once I've consciously recognized that my sub conscious mind is sabotaging me because it hates to fail... I can switch directions and go right back toward that marble wall, fingernails flexed, to climb that damn thing until I've got bloody stumps for fingers.

Bloody stumps.

So it's this: don't let your subconscious mind move you away from drawing and make you anxious. Instead, as soon as you start to feel this way, recognize that you're about ready to fail at drawing, but that it's a good thing. The only rule is to fail with a purpose; don't be half-assed. Fail only while trying to succeed. If you're conscious about trying to succeed when doing the "fail" drawings, eventually you will succeed.

Eventually, those bloody stumps will somehow stick to the wall, and you'll be able to pull yourself up over the top and jump into the air and kick your sub conscious mind in the butt.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Keep Connnected

More progress in drawing...

Remember "quick draw?" This has evolved into a realization about drawing and "keeping the whole".

When drawing the figure, never draw body parts in isolation. In other words, never draw "an arm" or when drawing the face, never draw "the eyes" and then "the nose" and then "the mouth". Nope. Don't do it.

Every line you put down, every patch of value, every stroke should in one way or another connect and be related to all the strokes you already have drawn--whether through perception, invisible lines, directly, or whatever.

This is important. This means you can't draw a line or put down any mark without keeping all previous marks in your mind and connected on paper. It's this mental as well as physical connection between the "parts" that lends solidity, weight, mass, and "correctness" to a drawing. It's the real secret of keeping your proportions correct.

The human brain has a much easier time keeping track of 3D shape than it does keeping track of stray lines. A line is a good abstraction ... sometimes... for the edge of a plane, but a 3D shape represents life much better. So, when putting down a stroke... careful consideration must be made as to how it fits into the drawing. It's like putting a piece of a puzzle into place more than it is laying down some independent piece.

Every line must fit, every stroke must make sense in context with what you've already drawn. If you haven't drawn anything yet, this is the point where you must establish at least one stroke, and then feel out the initial form(s) in your mind. From there, it's all a puzzle-piece interlocking exercise... because no stroke can stand on its own if you want a harmonious and well-proportioned drawing.

So, while you're moving your pencil or pen or stylus, strive always to feel the connection to the "whole piece" rather than trying to make a good looking arm, or nose, or anything else.