Saturday, February 19, 2011

Art and the Head

Or Something is up up There!

The thought processes behind creating and living with your art.

Art happens in the head, not the hands. Anyone with enough manual dexterity to sign their own name has enough muscle control to draw, if sufficiently motivated.

Painting can be even easier. The basic skills of handling a pencil or paint brush, learning about color and color families, composition, etc. can be taught, even to a certain extent, creativity can be taught, or rather techniques for unlocking your own creativity can be discovered. These “keys” to creativity can and will be different for everyone.

But the main one is the same for all. The more you create, the more experience you get with the basic act of creating, the more in tune you will be with your own, unique creative process. And that happens inside your own head, not on a piece of paper or canvas.

Skill, don’t knock it.

Skill is required to successfully create any work of art. It just doesn’t “just happen”. Yes, there is serendipity in art. What other artists have called, “happy accidents” but you are more likely to have these happy accidents if you have mastered basic skills in whatever medium you have chosen.

This leads to:

Practice makes perfect in art as in everything else. The more you paint, draw, crave, mold, staple and manipulate any media, the more mastery you will have over it, and the more inventive you can get with it.

Guilt by Association

Another strange thing about creativity, the more you are around creative people, the more creative you become. This is the reality behind things like artist’s colonies. Creative people have found that by associating with other creative people the more creative they become.

Such is the reality of many of our art movements. The impressionists had their own little impressionistic “club” same with the Fauvists. Picasso did not create in a vacuum, he surrounded himself with an invisible and sometimes visible support to his creativity.

Which brings up to the art league, art association, artists group, etc. Many of us feel the need to join such groups. They can be a large influence on us or a drag, depending on how good they are at inspiring creativity. Some are great, other can drag you down. So you have to investigate and decide just how stimulating they will be to you, the artist.

Find a Mentor

Ask yourself how will this group help you further your own artist ambitions? Do they encourage the work? Supply you with information or access to learning experiences? Do they sponsor the kind of shows that accept creativity or do they simply sponsor the same clickish work?

Select carefully when it comes to learning experiences. Many “classes” are more social clubs. You do a selected, pre-thought out complete painting in an afternoon. These are fine for what they are, but they will not stimulate your own creative direction. Find a mentor.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The First Time

The first time I sold a piece of art; I could not believe it. I was prepared to have a quiet little show, have the pieces on the walls of the local coffee shop and then fade away

Field of Daisys
S. Tschantz
When the owner called me after I had hung the works, but before the meet & greet that one of the pieces had sold already I was flabbergasted.

Someone forked over money for something I put together? What is this? Ordinary everyday people buying art?

But it happens.

I don’t sell art to big time collectors. Don’t know any. They would not be interested in my work anyways. I am not avante guarte. I don’t understand reactionary art. I take photos of things that interest me. I paint happy little realistic paintings of things that interest me.

But from time to time I do sell things.

And that is and will always be special to me. It means I have connected, even for a little while with someone else.

Still Life with Blue
S. Tschantz
One painting that sold was a little painting of gumballs. (Still life with blue) the person who bought it loves it. He hung it in his modest home in the entry so that when he comes in that bright painting is the first thing he sees.

Another person, a doctor bought a scene of a frozen creek, Icy with green slushy snow. That now hangs in his den. When life gets hectic and the pressures mount, that scene is there to as he put it “get lost in”.

These people are special to me.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Drawing the Winter Landscape Part 4- Value and Light

Reference Photo
Value and Light

There are several challenges in doing a winter landscape. You have to making the show look real, dealing with the subtle and necessary value shifts and working for the soft texture you need to make the snow look nice and fluffy. So often it is not a mater of drawing the shapes, but shading in everything around it. Dealing with the negative shapes, which in this case are white or near white. One of the biggest challenges is finding your darks, and not being afraid of them. Shadows and shading are all important.

Light source

It was a snowy day in early March, one of those deep spring snowfalls that bring such a soft blanket of snow to the area. We had had a real storm, with thunder and lightning thrown in with the heavy snow cover. But the day these photos where taken had been a rather bright, sunny day so there are nice shadows and contrasts.

When this photo was taken, the sun was beginning to lower in the west, but the shadows were not yet very long. Keeping this in mind, I know the sun would be to the right on this drawing, so things sloping away from there would be in shadow.

Shadows and Shading are all important in any drawing, but they become obvious in a snow scene. There is value to white. Angle of sight changes things. sometimes in large ways, but more often in small ways. How well our drawings turn our depends in large measure on how well we deal with both types of shadows.

Cast Shadows and Contour

There are two types of shadow or shading going on here, the cast shadows from the sun and the contour shading you get with any 3-dimentional object, like the columns of the trees. Both are necessary to work this drawing. Since in this photo reference the trees now become the focal point, handling both shadows is very important.

Working the shadows

There are two ways to deal with these shadows. You can use softer pencils and rework these shapes, and you can use blending tools, like a stump or tortillion. Many blending tools are possible for any drawing. I tend to favor the judicious use of kneaded erasers. This seems to work especially well on snow scenes. Sometimes it is just as important to remove graphite, as it is to apply it

Winter Drawing
3 Trees
You as the artist must be sure of your light source. This is especially important if the photo reference you are using is unclear or confusing on this subject. You must be sure. If the artist is confused, the work will be confused. Now, on this project I have a slight advantage, as these are my photographs, and I remember the conditions when I took these pictures. But you might have to simply pick or study the photo for clues as to the time of day and where and how strong the light source is. I have been known to draw myself a little sun on the paper, outside the margin to remind me where the light is coming from!