Saturday, March 29, 2008

Keep it simple

Yesterday I mentioned that I would post an entry entitled 'keeping it simple' and that I would explain my art magazine ritual.

First of all, my art magazine ritual is a treat I give myself on days when I am running errands. I try to do this at least once a month. That way I can be sure that I don't miss issues. The treat is quite simple. Sometime in the midst of dashing to the pet store, to the grocery store, to the art supply store etc. I visit my local Starbucks/Chapters store. I buy a cup of something and then I sit and browse through the latest art magazines. This doesn't need to take a long time but I find it quite refreshing to sit and look at the art and to skim articles. I do buy magazines but I enjoy briefly looking at them as a bit of respite in amongst the errands. This is one of my 'add beauty to your life' actions :-) (in addition to the ones mentioned in the March newsletter).

I try to offer suggestions to my students as to how they can stay motivated and enthusiastic about their art journey once a course has ended. Buying art magazines is one of them. You can learn a lot about the making of art by reading the articles and it is a great opportunity to see the work of other artists. You can see how others approach a subject, the colours they used, the composition they chose etc. Even if you work exclusively in coloured pencil, you can learn a lot from artists working in other media. Having said this, I should also mention that there can be a down side...

Thursday night I was looking through the latest International Artist Magazine. While browsing through all of the informative sections in the magazine, it struck me how all of this can be rather overwhelming. There are so many artists out there and so many ways to do this art stuff. How do you master it? To a beginner, this is probably all new information. I imagine that one could be left with a sense of how on earth can I learn all of this. Perspective, hard lines, soft edges, value, composition, mixing colour, warm temperatures, cool temperatures, focal points...on and on it goes.

So here is my advice, if you have a desire to learn about art and you would love to actually be able to create your own work...keep it simple! Don't let everything you have yet to learn frustrate you or worse, defeat you. As one who was a beginner (and we all were, and yes I am still learning) I can honestly say that you will eventually get understanding in these areas, but it doesn't need to happen all at once. Keep it simple right? Just isolate one area that you wish to improve in. Perhaps you need to just focus on your medium. If it is coloured pencil, work on getting more comfortable with your paper, or your stroke or how to build colour. Don't think that you need to create a masterpiece. Don't worry about perfect perspective, or composition. If this stuff overwhelms you, just ignore it. You can deal with it later. Once you gain a bit of mastery in one area, then add something else. Lets say you have been playing with your pencils for a while and you think you are getting the hang of it. Pick an area that you think you need to grow in...maybe you think you need to learn how to compose more interesting still lifes or you would like to improve your photo references. Then take a step in this direction and look for resources that will help you in this area. Once you have learned a bit in this area and are ready to tackle something else, move forward into the next area. Don't overthink this whole art thing. Don't overcomplicate it or you will give up. The key to enjoying your art journey is accepting where you are now. Have fun exploring and taking small steps. I promise you that if you keep at it, adding to your knowledge little by little, where you will end up will amaze you. Just enjoy the process. So read those art magazines for inspiration but don't let all the info scare you. Buy the odd one and then you can refer back to it over and over. It will start making sense eventually. Please...keep it simple!


Belinda Lindhardt said...

Hi Theresa,

This is a fabulous post. Its something i realise i have done in the past to overcome such issues as you are describing. I will bookmark this one to keep on reference to remember when feel down :)

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Belinda,

I am so glad you stopped by to visit. Hey, your work is fantastic, you don't ever feel down do you? :-)

Good luck with your efforts to unite Australian c.p. artists! I am sure this will be much appreciated by the artists that get involved.

Thank you for your comments!