If you were to asked to choose between an artwork that displayed an amazing quality of realistic rendering or one that captures your attention due to its unique expression of ideas, which would you choose? Are you one of those people that just plain hates all degrees of abstraction in art, praising only those artists who consistently produce work with high levels of realism? On the other hand, do you find photorealism boring and lacking a particular style or unique touch on part of the artist?
``Neither is there figurative and non-figurative art. All things appear to us in the shape of forms. Even in metaphysics ideas are expressed by forms. Well then, think how absurd it would be to think of painting without the imagery of forms. A figure, an object, a circle, are forms; they affect us more or less intensely.´´
In this blog post I will explain the differences and similarities between figurative and abstract art styles, as well as why it is important to make space for both in our artistic journeys. Also, I will be sharing some effective tips and exercises that will help you move towards creating artwork that shows both technical skill AND is also meaningful.
This is not going to be an opinionated post bashing either abstract or figurative artwork or anything in between. This will not be a rant about how much I dislike either style and, much less, a criticism towards artists of any kind. Au contraire, my friend! One of my main philosophies in life is appreciating and learning from all types of things and finding morsels that speak to me so I can create my own unique mishmash of awesome. I believe that there is something to learn from everything, and that if one remains open, there will ALWAYS be something valuable to take that will enrich us as human beings (and consequently improve our work). I believe exploration and the desire to improve should be an intrinsic part of an artist's life, and feel like constricting oneself to a particular style will not allow as much progress to be made.
This said, today I am not going to get into the contemporary kind of artwork that does not really demonstrate any kind of particular knowledge about Art Fundamentals on part of the artist. You know which kind of works I am talking about! Though I do give some of these artists merit for striving to engage with their audience at a philosophical level and attempting to communicate ideas about difficult topics, in this blog post I am only considering work that shows knowledge of Elements and Principles of Art/Design.
In my personal case, it didn't take long to realize that I am naturally drawn towards creating figurative artwork. What HAS been a struggle, however, has been reaching a conclusion about what degree of realism I want my artwork to convey. You see, though I admire and respect hyper/photorealist artists very much, I would like to be able to arrive at some distinctive style that I can call my own someday. Though it requires an immense amount of patience and skill to produce hyperrealism, I want my work to be more than an exact replica of what everyone else is able to see by looking at a picture. I'd like to arrive at an artistic style that demonstrates both skill AND is able to communicate an idea or feeling. I know I have a long way to go before arriving at this point, but simply having reached this conclusion tells me I am making progress as an artist.
What do the terms “Abstract" and “Figurative" mean in Art?
``Figurative´´ and ``Abstract´´ are simply two (very broad) categories in which artwork, be it painting or sculpture, can be divided into. It is important to understand that there are numerous degrees of figuration and abstraction, and this can even occur within one same piece. Though some art can be easy to categorize into either pool, others are a bit harder to decipher. There are a few art terms that are often confusing when learning about figurative and abstract art that I want to touch upon.
The word ``representational" is often used interchangeably with ``figurative´´ but these two terms are not synonyms. Both abstract AND figurative artworks are usually representational. Why? Because, most of the time, even when creating work that is completely abstract, there IS something from the real world that artists are trying to represent. Two artists, one figurative and one abstract, can be creating a painting using the same flower arrangement as reference, and each of their works at the end (though completely different from each other) are going to be a representation of those same objects. Abstract artists simply choose to express what their eyes are taking in in a more expressive and unconventional manner.
Also, it is important to note that the term ``figurative´´ does not solely refer to artworks containing the human figure as subject, though many times they do. This term describes any work that is clearly derived from object (or living) sources, be it a portrait, landscape, still life, etc. In other words, if you are able to instantly recognize what it is your looking at, whether its a house, a flower, or a horse, it can be classified as figurative.
Finally, just because an artwork is figurative/representational, doesn't mean that it has to be realistic! Realism in art is created by the ability to render pictures using perspective, value, proportion, form, texture, etc. to depict subjects as closely as they appear in real life. This type of artwork is created with the intention of representing the subject as truthfully as possible. Realism is also an art movement, but we are talking specifically about styles today. It takes an immense amount of knowledge about Art Fundamentals (form, perspective, shading, proportion, human anatomy, color theory, etc.) and practical experience in order to create realistic artwork. This is not to say that abstract artists know nothing about Art Fundamentals or how to create the optical illusion of three dimensionality! There are amazing abstract artists that are able to combine color, line, texture and shape to create three-dimensionality, movement and many other interesting effects in their work. Consider the artwork below by the great Victor Vasarely. There is simply NO WAY that he could have created pieces like this one without having extensive knowledge of the Elements and Principles of Art, as well as years of practical exploration!
“It takes years for representational artists to develop their skills in mimicking the objects before their eyes."
This term simply refers to artwork featuring subject(s) that retain a fair amount of real-world characteristics. It is always representational and the audience is easily able to recognize what they are looking at, no matter what degree of realism is involved in the creation of the piece. The term ``figurative´´ became a common term to use in art conversation after the arrival of abstract art.
Consider the following two artworks. Sargent and Matisse were both figurative artists, but they had VERY different styles!
For a very long time in history, realism was sought after by artists and praised by art appreciators. From the time the Greeks became obsessed with the human body and began studying its proportions to create beautiful marble sculptures representing their perfect Gods and Goddesses, to the Renaissance, when Filippo Brunelleschi discovered how to transmit perspective and depth on a flat, two dimensional surface, creating true-to-life art was what all artists strived to achieve. Throughout history, mathematical and scientific advances allowed for both greater knowledge on part of the artist, as well as more effective artistic tools and supplies. It wasn't until the second half of the 19th century, with the surge of Impressionism, that realism started to be challenged by artists who wanted to explore further.
``Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot see physically with his eyes...Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas.´´
Contrary to figurative art, abstract art does not attempt to represent subjects in an accurate or natural way. It is not the objective of this kind of artist to achieve realism, but to communicate emotions or ideas. These artists make use of Elements of Art such as shape, color, line and texture to create visually appealing compositions that are meant to express what is in their mind. As mentioned before, this kind of artwork is usually also representational, as the artist has at least some sort of reference to work from. However, there are artists that do not use any particular reference, but apply their knowledge of Elements of Art and Color Psychology in order to very effectively transmit emotion. Abstract art can range from easily comprehensible to entirely geometrical/organic with no recognizable figures. One of the main characteristics of this type of artwork is that it interacts with the viewer in the sense that it calls out for interpretation.
With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution and the invention of camera, artists started seeking new ways to create artwork that went beyond a realistic representation of what they could see. The Impressionists were the first to start exploring use color and paint in new ways that would permit not only the rendering of a beautiful picture, but expression on part of the artist. They wanted to create work that the camera couldn't. It was in this time that the manipulation of color and shape started to occur. Later on, the Cubist movement brought forth an even greater degree of abstraction.
Though the stylized drawings on cave walls and symbolic stone sculptures created by prehistoric people are disregarded by some as simple decoration, they demonstrate that abstraction has been part of human life since its beginnings. Groups of people all over the world used shape, color and line to communicate ideas and created decorative designs on pottery and other tools. This means humans have been creating abstract art since we first had the need to express ourselves. Abstraction is not a completely ``contemporary´´ or ``modern´´ thing, but a style that has been with us all along.
Tips to Explore/Improve Both Art Styles:
1. Practice drawing both from life AND from quality photography. First focus on shape and proportion to create an effective outline drawing. Worry about detail and shading only after you have been successful in this. Once your ready, explore shading in whatever technique yo prefer (you can learn about hatching/crosshatching shading techniques and download free practice worksheets in my "Guide to Shading Techniques: Hatching, Cross-Hatching, Scribbling and Others" blog post).
2. Keep a sketchbook and use it CONTINUOUSLY as a means of exploration. Read about why it is important to keep a sketchbook and how to use it in order to improve in my blog post titled "Why Sketchbooks are Essential Tools for Artists and a Few Usage Tips". Your sketchbooks will be your best friends!
3. Whatever your subject or choice may be (portraits, landscapes, still life, etc.), study the elements involved INDEPENDENTLY. For example, if you wish to be a portrait artist, make time to study only eyes, then focus on noses, then lips, and so on BEFORE attempting to draw or paint a complete realistic face. If you want to do landscapes, make time to study different types of trees, how to paint clouds, water, and so on BEFORE attempting to create a complete realistic landscape. Explore your medium of choice and practice creating different colors and textures with it.
4. Always keep learning and practicing Art Fundamentals. No matter what your artistic style is or even what subject you wish to specialize in in the future, ALWAYS make time to practice things like form, perspective, anatomy and effective compositional arrangement. I created a blog post for beginners about perspective and drawing three dimensional shapes which includes free worksheets to practice with that you can read here. I will be expanding on different Art Fundamentals in the future, so stay tuned!
1. Practice the deliberate manipulation of Art Elements (be it color, shape, texture, etc.) in order to more efficiently transmit ideas or emotions. Maybe for you this will mean simply starting to use colors that are slightly more unnatural, bright or contrasted in order to make your drawings or paintings more impactful. Maybe it means arriving at your own, stylized version of a human figure. Maybe you wish to bring out only a certain part of your drawing or painting by adding more detail to that area. Whatever this may be for you, think about the message behind your work and how you can modify reality in order to impact the viewer. Don't be afraid to break the rules!
2. Try using art supplies that FORCE you to pay less attention to small details. This goes especially if you are naturally prone to want to create high levels of realism. If you paint, try using larger brushes and/or creating a picture using less brush strokes! If you draw, try using a medium like charcoal or oil pastels that don't really allow for high level of detail. Try to discern between what a picture has to NECESSARILY include in order to portray what you want to portray, and what can be left out. Also, try using techniques that will allow you to work faster and looser.
The following pieces have been explorations I have done in the past in order to gain practice at working faster and more loosely. This has been hard for me because I am prone to want to add detail, but I am seeing much progress with time!
3. Experiment and explore with unconventional supplies! Use ready-made things you have laying around in your studio or home like fabric, paper, pieces of plastic, etc. and think of them in terms of shapes, color and texture. How could they complement each other to create one same composition? Make your collection and think, are you drawn to these particular objects for a specific reason? One of the best (and most fun) ways for me to explore shape, texture and color is by creating collages! They are something I start with no particular idea in mind, but new ideas always pop into my head throughout this process!
4. Look inwards and use internal stimulation instead of external stimulation to create your work. Give importance to getting to know yourself and think about what ideas and themes are important to YOU as a human being. Continuously write and brainstorm what comes into your mind. Start works based on these ideas instead of working from images or objects that exist beyond you. How can you use color, shape, texture, etc., to transmit your idea?
Making Time to Explore Both Styles
``What interests me is all the stuff that goes into abstract and abstract-figurative art. Not the styles, but the stuff that, in various combinations, make the styles: mixing and matching painting methods and ideas.´´
As artists, we should make time to explore both figurative and abstract art throughout our journeys because it will enhance the outcome of our work. I believe we should always seek improvement and be willing to step out of our comfort zones. On one hand, it's incredibly important to learn the rules before attempting to break them and to always make time to go back to the basics, no matter what level of expertise we have achieved. This will help us maintain our observational and rendering skills fresh. On the other hand, we should explore new techniques that will enable more effective communication with our audience because, well, isn't that the point? Great art is engaging at a visceral level and makes people feel and/or think!
Personally, some of the artwork that has called out to me the most combines both figurative AND abstract techniques within them. This is what I seek to achieve some day with my work!
I hope that you found this post useful! I'd love it if you could answer the quick survey below!
Have a wonderful rest of the week and I hope to see you around later!
Hey there! Thank you for visiting!
This week was kind of rough for me. Not only did I have family staying over at my house, but I also got a bit sick. I'm fine now, thank goodness! However, once I got back to it, I decided to take it easy and paint some fun stuff (thus, the food). I spent a good portion of today cleaning my house and organizing my studio so that next week can be super productive and I am excited for all the things I will be advancing on. Next Thursday's blog post will be about Figurative vs. Abstract Art. It's going to be a good one! Though I don't make much Abstract art, I'll be challenging myself to make some original examples! I will also be continuing with Christmas-related artwork.
I hope you had an amazing and restful weekend! See you around soon!
Hey you all! I hope that you are having a wonderful and restful weekend!
As I do every Sunday, here are a few studies and pieces I was able to complete this week. This week I worked primarily with watercolors and oils. You may have already seen some of these, as I created them specially for my Day of the Dead blog post I published this past Thursday. Read that blog post here to learn more about this wonderful Mexican celebration and how to draw a human skull (for beginners)! I included a free step-by-step .pdf at the end for you!
Next week, I am continuing with the plant/flower studies I promised myself I would work on. I really need to improve in this area! In next Thursday's blog post I will be sharing with you how I am brainstorming and planning for the seasonal/Christmas paintings, cards and tags I will be selling both personally and through my online shops. Just in case you aren't aware, my Redbubble and Society6 stores are now open! I am making it a priority to keep uploading awesome products with my work to sell there, if you are interested!
Thank you for visiting and I hope to see you around soon!
Hey there! Here are a few drawings and paintings I worked on this week. I've been very much into watercolor face sketches lately! I've decided that, starting next week, my quick daily sketches/paintings will be of flowers and plants. I will be practicing these subjects for the entire month of November and am excited to see how much I can improve. I was also able to start a new still life oil painting that I am hoping I will be able to finish next week. Thanks for coming by and stay tuned for next Thursday's blog post! It's going to be related to Mexican Día de Muertos artwork and I will be painting something inspired by this interesting celebration!
How to Effectively Use Other Artists' Work as Inspiration and a Great Method to Start Developing Your Own Artistic Style
Are you constantly trying to find inspiration by admiring other artists' work and find yourself copying more than you'd like? Do you feel like you are making no progress towards finding your own artistic style? Are you simply unable to produce as much original artwork as you'd like?
“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing."
In this post I will explain one of the methods I use to make sure I produce original artwork while getting inspired by other artists. This strategy is an amazing way to work towards finding and developing one's own artistic style. Plus, it's very fun!
The act of copying is a very delicate subject in the artistic field and just the word seems to put many of us on edge. I say, let's try to relax and admit that each one of us has been constantly inspired throughout his/her life by people, experiences, artwork (and by “artwork" I mean movies, music, theater, books, etc.), the environments we have lived in, advertising, and pretty much everything around us. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has a conscious or unconscious effect on us and, therefore, on the work we produce as artists.
We have all been influenced by a combination of different things and have different likes and dislikes. This is not to say that two different artists are never going to produce similar work. There are bound to be similarities amongst us in terms of technique and/or subject matter because there are only a certain amount of techniques and subjects to work with. However, if we put in the effort to discover ourselves as artists (what techniques/supplies we enjoy working with most, what our own distinctive abilities as well as areas of improvement are, what ideas we want to put out into the world, etc.), we will eventually get to a point at which our work will be a direct representation of ourselves. This is, in my opinion, what matters most and what I am personally working towards. At this point in my artistic journey I allow myself to admire and analyze other peoples' work, but make sure that the bulk of my time goes towards looking inwards and doing my best to apply what I have learned in my own way.
Having said all this, let's begin!
The Artist Mishmash Exercise
The purpose of this exercise is to start pinpointing specific characteristics of other artists' work that you are drawn to, whether it's related to subject type, technique used, general mood of the piece, etc. Afterwards, you will explore how to use characteristics found in different artists' work in one same piece!
To begin you will need a phone, computer, or any other device on which to search for existing artwork, a few pieces of blank paper and a pencil. Make a list of three artists that create work you greatly admire. If you have already created a Pinterest inspiration board like I have, go ahead an use it! If not, now is the time to investigate. I really recommend keeping it at only three and trying to select artists that produce very different types of artwork. Once you have finalized your list, and perhaps read a bit about each artist if you don't know about them already, analyze several of pieces of each, and write down four to five specific characteristics that you have found in each artist's work.
a) Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
French artist Toulouse-Lautrec was both a painter and an illustrator. He is known for his provocative paintings and drawings depicting the decadent Parisian nightlife, that he was a part of himself. He created many posters and advertisements for nightclubs including the Moulin Rouge, and elevated advertising to a fine art status. He was a skilled Post-Impressionist painter that experimented with a variety of techniques and supplies. In his posters, he made use of bold, flat shapes of color.
Characteristics of his work I really like:
-Roughness/raw quality of his work in both subject and technique
-Bold use of color, perhaps unnatural at times
-Variety of mediums and substrates used in his sketches and paintings (charcoal, pastels, oils, lithographs, graphite, crayons, canvas, paper, cardboard, etc. )
-Hand-lettering in posters
b) Hannah Höch (1889-1978)
Höch was a German visual artist that is considered the pioneer of the photomontage technique. Her work transmitted deeply rooted social and political messages regarding issues that were occurring at the time (sexism, war, etc.). Though she also worked with oil paints, she is primarily known for her bold collages created with images taken from fashion magazines as well as illustrated journals. Her work conveyed strong, important messages, but were humorous at the same time.
Characteristics of her work I really like:
-Collage/photomontage technique (I think it's quite interesting how we can take bits and bobs of already existing images and create a whole new meaning for them by combining and rearranging them)
-Charged with deep meaning about political/social issues but humorous at the same time
-Incorporation of popular elements into artwork
c) Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Hopper was an American artist that started his artistic career as an illustrator and turned into a fine artist later on. He is considered to be one of the most important realist painters of the twentieth century. His enigmatic artwork depicts the loneliness of modern urban life in America. The arrangement of elements within his compositions, as well as his amazing use of light/shadow and detail, create very visually striking pieces that very effectively create tension and emotion in the viewer.
Characteristics of his work I really like:
-Realist style but not literal copy (certain degree of interpretive rendering that makes artwork more expressive)
-Artwork tells a story or makes the audience think
-Use of color and contrast creates very striking imagery
-Feeling of mystery and solitude
Alright! Once you have your three artists, and you have listed a few characteristics of each person's work, start brainstorming ideas in which you could incorporate most of these into one same piece. Create several different sketches! You don't have to use ALL of the points you've written down, but make sure to at least use one characteristic of each artist.
Having trouble? Consider these tips.
-Start with the artist that uses subjects or styles that you have a bit of practice in already and then see how you can incorporate characteristics of the other two.
-Instead of wasting too much time thinking of the overall idea you want your drawing/painting to transmit, start drawing ONE object/person/animal/shape and add to it as you go. You'll start making connections between the elements you start adding.
-After you have learned a bit about your favorite artists, think of an idea that is personal to YOU and YOUR LIFE, and then think about how one particular artist might go about representing that particular idea.
Once you have selected an idea to work with, go ahead and start with your final piece! Remember, this is an exercise and is not meant to produce a finalized artwork. As with all types of explorations, try to have fun with it and not pressure yourself to create something perfect. If a great idea for a final piece, awesome! If not, at least you learned something new!
My final exploration piece:
After having sketched out a few different ideas, I selected one and created a composition in Photoshop using five different pictures. I used this (digital) collage as reference as I drew and painted. In this piece, I used a variety of supplies and techniques including watercolor pencils, Prismacolor Soft-Core pencils, Gamsol, watercolor paints, black gouache and even a bit of charcoal. Some areas in the painting are purposely made to look more realistic and polished than others. Finally, I did my best to create an image that propelled the viewer to think about and interpret what he/she is seeing.
Thank you so much for visiting and reading! I'd ABSOLUTELY LOVE it if you took a minute to comment below about what message/idea you took from my exploration piece! Let me know what you come up with yourself! Cheers, friends!
Hello art friends!
Here is my mini-collection of drawings and paintings I was able to create this week. This is my third week doing face studies! As you will see, I started using a drawing pen for some of these, which was super fun. I think next week's sketches will be created using ink as well. I was also able to finish up a watercolor painting and started a new oil painting! I will probably finish the oil painting at some point next week and will re-post the finished piece in my next weekly collection post.
Make sure to check out next week's helpful blog post, in which I will be sharing my thoughts about how to stay confident as an artist and sharing your creative work.
This week I started my days with face sketches. I am pushing myself to draw faces in a variety of angles, which is something I think I need practice in. I was also able to complete my second collage painting based around a picture of my hands. I am really enjoying painting these experimental pieces and am going to continue doing more, which I am selling later. These pieces mean a lot to me because they are the first to actually have a more personal meaning behind them.
I hope you are having a wonderful weekend! Cheers!
This was my last week drawing hands at the beginning of my work days. I can't believe it's been a month of morning hand sketches! I can definitely see a lot of improvement compared to the first week (see sketches in this post). I am still thinking about what my next subject for morning sketches will be.
This week was kind of nuts for me. Between business appointments, family commitments to attend, work to finish for family, other work popping out from out of nowhere with very tight deadlines, and a lot of house cleaning, I didn't have the time I would have liked to paint. I did, however, explore a new method in the only painting I was able to finish. I've always loved creating collages and wanted to try to paint a composition made of various pictures meshed into one. I'll be experimenting more with collage painting for sure!
Thanks for coming by today and I hope to see you around soon. :)
Hello! Here are some sketches and paintings I did this week . This was my second week starting my days with hand sketches and it's amazing to see how much I have improved already. I can tell I am getting faster and faster at drawing the initial hand shapes and proportions. Next week I want to focus on creating cleaner and more effective hatching and crosshatching when adding in shadows.
The first painting included here was created with gouache and it is literally the second painting I have done using this media. Gouache is something that I want to keep improving at. The second was created using watercolors and it was a remake of a painting I had done several months ago. This exercise was something I was interested in doing because I wanted to be able to compare two paintings of the same subject created months apart. After that are my morning hand sketches of the week which I post on Instagram and Twitter every morning from Monday through Friday.
Original photo by Jonathan Pielmayer found on Unsplash here.
And last but not least is something I don't usually do much of and didn't know if I should include or not. This is an acrylic canvas painting that I created as a present for my soon to be born nephew. My sister-in-law asked me to create some room decor for him that included a Winnie-the-Pooh inspired quote and I came up with this. Hand-lettering is something I really enjoy so I had fun coming up with nice design. I am also creating some watercolor paintings of Winnie the Pooh for his room but will not be posting those.
Thank you for coming by! Enjoy your Sunday!
Hello! This week was a tad busier for me in terms of non art-related appointments and obligations. I have been meeting with different accountants in order to choose who will be helping me set up the financial/tax side of starting my own business. I have finally decided who I'm going with and am super happy because this means I will be able to move forward with my online shops very soon.
Next week I'll be starting to teach my after-school acrylic painting and oil pastel extracurricular classes at the wonderful school I used to work at full-time, which means shifting my schedule around a bit. I am super happy to be seeing my old students again, and also meeting new ones! Teaching classes means having to do plan work and also buying/transporting supplies, so that's something else that I will be having to schedule in as I try to build my business.
As some of you may already know (especially if you follow me on Instagram), this week I started my days with hand sketches. I really want to improve my hand-drawing abilities and will be doing my morning sketches of this subject for probably the entire month of September. Near the end of the month I plan to start painting hands with gouache. I also started a new oil painting this week and will be posting about it soon.
I am going to start out this post with a somewhat embarrassing confession. Until about two years ago, I never had a sketchbook. Pretty much all my drawings were created on loose sheets of paper that ended up in folders (if they were lucky) or lost under piles of junk never to be found again. What can I say? I got busy with full-time jobs that, perhaps were “artsy” and creative, but never really left me the time and energy to explore art for myself. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with daily responsibilities and forget about that one activity that we'd really like to spend some time doing if we could ever find some extra time. Keeping up with demanding jobs, family responsibilities, social commitments and making time for health on top of everything else, can keep us from pursuing activities which we know would bring us a great amount of joy and inner peace, but sometimes loose their priority amongst everything else. I’m sure many of you can relate.
It took me forever to fill up that first little sketchbook I ordered from Amazon two years ago. I moved out of the house I was living in back then, got married and was extremely busy giving my all at my job, working overtime several days a week and arriving home exhausted. I had started trying out some new art supplies in this sketchbook (I think mostly watercolor pencils and drawing pens) but wasn’t really serious about it yet. My priorities were still elsewhere. Finally, last year, I became incredibly inspired by artists I was finding online and I made the decision to make time for my own improvement as an artist. I knew that this would not only bring me personal fulfillment, but would also help me become the Art Teacher I wish I had when I was a student.
So little by little I began investing in more art supplies and, this time, I actually USED them. I started consciously setting aside time for my own art after work and on weekend mornings and it went on like that for months. I began getting more and more excited about my personal improvement and finding my voice as an artist. I can honestly say the elation I felt from creating something and sharing it with the world was unlike nothing I had ever felt before. I started to feel like this big part of me that I had been suppressing for so many years was emerging, like I was finally becoming whole. I had never experienced anything as addictive as creating these little artworks that began filling my sketchbook (by this point it was a bigger one). The part of my days which I looked forward to the most were those moments in which I could immerse myself in my art and slowly peel back these layers that would lead me to discover myself as an artist. I haven’t stopped since.
Later on, as I found myself filling not only sketchbooks quicker and quicker, but creating painting after painting on proper watercolor paper, I began investing in higher quality supplies. I am still in the process of creating my collection and finding those specific brands of paper and paint that I love most, but my persistence and personal drive to become better have brought me far from where I started.
Why sketchbooks are so important in an artist's journey:
How to get the most out of your sketchbook:
``The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing.´´
Thank you for reading and have a good one!
What sketchbook brands or formats do you love most? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
Hello everyone! I hope you are having a great weekend!
This little collection includes pencil sketches as well as oil and watercolor paintings. I am pushing myself to continue with drawing one female pose per day. I share these on Instagram and Twitter every morning (Monday through Friday), so if you follow me on there you've probably seen a few of these before. If you aren't following me by now, please do! I'd love to connect!
Hello! Here is a collection of pencil sketches and watercolor paintings I have created in the past couple of weeks. Thanks for popping by!
The past weekend I decided to go back to basics and do some human figure studies in my sketchbook. I want to get quicker at drawing the female figure in interesting poses because, for the longest time, I drew very stiff and boring bodies. I really admire comic book artists because they have to know how to draw pretty much every pose imaginable super fast!
I initially started learning about human body proportions around six years ago, when I came up with the idea of giving a Fashion Sketching Extracurricular class at the school I was working at. Even though back then I was focusing much more on creating templates that my students and I could use to design clothes on, I learned as much as I could about proportions of the human body and how to go about drawing one. I learned that even though in reality there are a million different body shapes and sizes, there are certain measurements that have to be kept in mind when drawing a believable human figure. Usually, realistic (adult) figures are around 7.5-8 heads tall whereas the fashion figure is elongated to around 9 heads tall. There are also other measurements that have to be considered like arm length, shoulder width, feet size, etc.
With this information in mind, I took out my ruler and created templates that I could use to start practicing an over-simplified skeleton of the human shape using simple lines and shapes. You can find a lot of different ways of drawing this skeleton, and in my opinion it doesn't really matter how you do it, as long as it represents realistic proportions and it allows you to visualize your drawing so you can eventually work from it.
By taking time to practice drawing this skeleton and (when your ready) using it to flesh out your humans, you'll eventually be able to develop an eye for what looks right in an artwork and what doesn't. After some practice, you'll be able to draw any pose that you see in pictures or real life and you'll become faster and faster!
The sketches below are recreations of what I used to start practicing all those years ago and an empty template that you can use to practice yourself! If you have never tried this before, I suggest beginning with the forward view. When you've got that down, start moving that skeleton around more and more! What would it look like dancing? Sitting down? Kicking a ball?
Once you can do this, it will be time to look into how to draw each bodily element!
Drag these .jpgs onto your desktop or download them below to use them as you'd like!
I am enjoying this time of experimentation with different supplies very VERY much. I had the opportunity this week to play around with oil paint, which I am totally a beginner at. I have not finished the large canvas landscape painting that I am working on, mostly because I am making sure to allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next. I will share that as soon as I am done. Today, what I will be sharing is this grayscale oil paint portrait which I finished last night. It is the first portrait I have ever painted in oils.
Here are three suggestions for those beginners out there looking to start painting portraits. Most of these can apply for gouache or acrylics as well.
1. Always use a good reference photo and take a few minutes to really observe it. Try to find one that has a good image resolution and interesting lighting. Even if your goal is not to create a painting or a drawing that looks like a specific person, it is always going to be helpful to have an image to look at throughout the process. This will help you establish realistic values and proportions.
2. It is ESSENTIAL for you to have a good amount of practice drawing realistic faces before attempting to paint a portrait. The only reason why I did a semi-decent job in my first portrait oil painting is because I have studied facial proportions for years and have a relatively good amount of practice drawing them. Only through time spent observing and practicing will one start developing an eye for what looks good and what is off. I once read that, since we humans look at faces probably more than anything else on a daily basis, anyone would be able to tell if something is slightly off with a portrait when they see it, even if they can't exactly pinpoint what it is. You NEED an effective sketch to start a painting off with. Or be such a pro that you have realistic proportions/angles engrained in your head so well that you can go in with your paintbrush right away. I wish to get to this point someday!
3. Once you feel ready to try your luck at your first portrait painting, do it in grayscale. This takes away the need to create realistic skin tones if you are not yet at this point. It is better to take the learning process step-by-step! Keep in mind that, aside from facial proportions, the other important element behind creating realistic art is the effective use of color values. I recommend focusing on setting up a palette with a variety of gray values, from lightest or darkest, and then making sure to place the different tonal values in appropriate places. I used odorless mineral spirits and Gamsol to thin out my paints and do blending. I really recommend this grayscale exercise. Once you succeed at this, go ahead and go for the color!
I am going to travel to the U.S. to pick up a few Amazon art supply orders very soon. I've ordered a set of gouache paints which I am super excited to experiment with!
Have a wonderful weekend and I hope to see you around soon! :)
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