Monday, September 22, 2008
Training Your Artistic Eye to See
I mentioned in my last post that I have been reading a fair amount about painting, I thought this week I would share some good quotes and thoughts that I've come across.
Lately, I have been struggling with what to paint. My subject slump stems from a few different things. For one, at this point, painting anything is a struggle - to get a convincing anything is tough, so I'm trying to choose things that I consider "easy successes" rather than subjects that inspire me. Secondly, as I believe in concentrating effort, I want to keep painting similar subjects so that I can improve more quickly - however, as the subjects aren't really inspiring me, it is getting harder and harder to carry on with them.
All that to say, when I came across What Shall I Paint? by Hazel Soan this weekend at the library, I picked it up. I don't think the book gave me any information that I didn't already know, however, it did apply some ideas in new ways for me. She mentions at the outset that an artist needs to focus on the two dimensional qualities that make a painting work...shapes, patterns, etc. That much I knew. In the past, I would choose a subject then work to make sure that the tones, patterns, notan issues, etc were alright. (That isn't a bad way to proceed, but if you can't choose a subject, it doesn't give you anywhere to go.)
So I tried one of Soan's exercises for training your eye to see subjects everywhere. I decided to draw negative shapes - the shapes between objects. (This was particularly nice because I've been in bed with a nasty head cold - I always read in bed so I constantly read exhortations to "draw what's in front of you" when I'm in there and I can never manage to do it from the view I have in there. Well, that has changed!)
Above you see some of those sketches. In the end, they aren't fabulous pieces, but I did find that I got excited about the shapes and patterns made. Even though the subject matter was clutter, I really enjoyed the sketching. I would imagine that if you did exercises like this all the time, you would improve your eye and begin to see interesting shapes and patterns made from tonal groupings all over the place.