This last week I have taken a break from digital drawing and gotten really into weaving. It’s fun and totally different. I used cardboard box pieces to make my looms, and yarn to do the actual weaving. It’s all simple and achievable.
I’ve also been feeling very serious which is rare and makes me uncomfortable.
When I started art school, I drew like this:
But I hated it. I was impressed by stuff like this:
Mostly because I didn’t understand how to make it. So I thought that meant it was superior to what I did understand how to make. The fact that it was swirly and complex meant that it was better. After trying to imitate for awhile, I was able to remember the kind of art that had meant something to me for its character, not its swirliness. Art that looked like this:
Quentin Blake has had the single biggest impact on me. Simple sketchy lines, simple watercolor, lots of children. That is what I wanted to make. How did I let some stupid swirls make me forget that?
We eat art all day. It’s so easy to like someone else’s stuff better. I like everybody else’s stuff better. If people want to buy my art I say, don’t buy my art! There’s much better art! I would love to tell you whose art to buy!
There’s a difference between what we love, and what we make. I love what I love, but I have to make what I make. I have to.
Remembering that is an entirely different battle, though. What happens is you forget. And you venture out into making what someone else makes. For me, this is the stuff that allures:
I fall so in love with this stuff that I think I have to change my whole way to accommodate it. But which thing should I align myself with? I can’t do all of them. And I can’t blend them together.
Here are some examples of me imitating others:
Things got particularly insane when I started working in animation and was introduced to visual development. Visual development is basically the exact opposite of what I naturally do. What an artist is tasked with doing is sketching up the look and feel of an animated movie, scene by scene. A sample:
(art by Pascal Campion)
I had a complete breakdown when I started looking at stuff like that all day. I mean I just can’t do it. Not because I couldn’t learn how to draw like that, but because it doesn’t accomplish what I am trying to do when I make something. They are figuring out mood, lighting, scene quality. I am trying to make a joke, usually as quick as possible. Super super different. But, his art is WAY MORE BEAUTIFUL than my art. No contest. How can I not be bowled over by that? I couldn’t draw confidently at work for months.
Eventually I recovered. My stuff is about jokes and his stuff is about being amazing and talented and incredible. Also his name sounds French. I cannot compete with that.
The lesson: Long after finding something new and exciting, and mimicking that new and exciting thing. After you’ve failed and then given up and retreated back into your little land of lines and simple color and jokes. Maybe it exists so small that you can’t tell, but you are better for having loved that other art. Maybe it’s an instinct about composition, or a new way of drawing dots as eyeballs. Who knows. But you are better at art because of other people’s art.