View Full Version : just thoughts on painting...

02 February 2010, 06:26 PM
I'm not a painter. I never have been. I started painting in Photoshop last year when I got an Intuous for Christmas. I realized, like Robert is always saying, that my problems and obstacles that I keep running into are due to a lack of foundational knowledge. Maybe I can learn about color and value and painting, to an extent, by doing it all in PS. Maybe I can't. I felt like I was missing an experience. I pulled out my Reeves acrylic set. 10 tubes or so and 3 brushes. I set up a still life. It was just a sugar dish under the normal light in my kitchen. I took my paintbrush and put it on my canvas and I swear my 3 and 2 year old kids have produced prettier pieces! Man! I stopped the still life. I took the brush and I just started exploring the brush strokes on my canvas. I have a lot to learn. For some reason I am drawn to traditional painting. I like that PS doesn't require all the mess of painting, but for that period in time I was practicing just the strokes, I was at a different place. I'm not even sure where to start. I brought a canvas pad. I thought that was cool. I have my acrylic set of 10 or so colors. I have a bunch of brushes that came in this pack but they didn't cost much so I'm not sure if they're good quality.
Here's my question. I'm currently studying anatomy so I'm not sure if it's a good idea to start studying something else. Should I tackel one area at a time? I want to learn so much! I know a problem I do have is I don't commit to anything long enough to see it through. I don't have any finished pieces of work. Everything I have can be considered a big collection of studies. Should I focus on one are at one time? Is it wise to stop studying anatomy (loomis and other sources), and go into color theory, painting? I know a painting will look like trash if the anatomy, composition, value is off. Then again, grayscale is what I'm going for right now, so that would help with value right? AHHHH!
Thanks for reading and if you have any frustrations or any advice please add. I probably posted something like this before, but I wanted to share that painting experience.

02 February 2010, 04:23 AM
Traditional painting is a very seductive endeavor, because it DOES take you to another place that's very different from the digital realm (and even with all the complications and mess, you love it anyway). If you find yourself feeling that way with acrylics, wait until you try oils. Oil painting has entranced and stolen the hearts of perhaps the largest percentage of artists in the history of art. It's really a totally magical medium--so rich, lush, creamy, malleable...etc. Oils is my number one love when it comes to painting by a far mile, although in my pre-digital days, I worked mainly with mixed mediums (watercolor, gouache, acrylics, markers, colored pencils, pastels, ink...etc) due to deadline requirements. But once I entered the game industry and worked with digital all day long, I started to only paint in oils in my personal works (except in figure drawing sessions, where I used mainly charcoal, acrylics, pencil/ink).

Your question is a good one, because it shows you are serious about improving. If you only wanted to have fun and dabble, then this question would not weigh on your mind at all.

I think diversifying your learning is mostly a good thing, when you go about it with a logical and rational mind. In your case, you realized that without proper understanding of some of the foundational knowledge, your time spent painting becomes just playing around with brushstrokes. You may not realize how precious that insight is, but for a novice artist to intuitively understand that right off the bat, shows your mind is working in the right capacity. There are far too many novice artists out there who never realize that, and they go on painting really really bad paintings without trying to improve their foundational knowledge.

I think if you're smart about it, you can kill two birds with one stone, and when I think back, that's what I did in my youth. I was self-taught, but I think for a young'un, I was pretty clever in general. My approach was to practice my painting skills with learning foundation at the same time. For example, I'm learning about values and lighting, and I would execute those value/lighting exercises with painting instead of pencil/pen. That way, I'm learning my foundation and learning to control paint at the same time. Same thing with anatomy and figure and other foundational studies.

Looking into all the drawings, sketches, paintings..etc I did in my formative years, I see a very wide range--anime/manga, life drawing (figures and portraits), American/European comics, anatomy studies, sci-fi/fantasy illustration, figure and portraits from photo references, still life, logo design, storyboards, concept art, experimentation with various mediums (watercolor, oils, pastel, color pencil, pen & ink, charcoal, gouache, acrylics, markers, airbrush, conte, poster colors, digital pixel art...etc). I never felt like I was "spreading myself too thin"--it all felt totally natural and matter-of-fact. I simply satisfied my curiosities and fulfilled my creative thirst.

02 February 2010, 05:41 AM
Thank you for sharing that. The "two birds with one stone" approach is motivating. Perhaps I can do my figure studies and apply value studies using paint? For example, today I did gesture drawings of my wife. Then I did some with her hold our 2 year old. That was crazy! Then I did one of my 8 month old crawling and playing with different toys on the floor. 10 secs the most on him, but I was working on line confidence. I then went through my sketchbook reading and reviewing my "notes" from my loomis and Structure of Man studies and repeated the excercises from memory as much as I could have. Now when it comes to value or painting I have to get clever. I can set up a still life and the supplies, but I have 3 kids here at home. By the time I get set up I have to stop for one reason or another. Painting in PS doesn't require all that set up. I have it in our bedroom and I get my PS time after the kids go to sleep. I'm still trying to figure it all out. I'm learning new ways to incorporate art into my daily life. I hate sitting still and not learning or drawing. If I'm not working, at home spending quality time with my kids or my wife I'm either reading something art related like anatomy mostly, or I'm drawing, and there is my guitar! I get 10 min here and there sometimes aside from my "drawing" time. I embrace those periods. At night when it's quiet, I'm overwhelmed with all that I want to do and the free time I have at night. It's like "alright, make this count". I believe that man isn't to be idle. So much in this world to enrich our minds and souls. Free time is just free time to engage your mind in something else. I like to rest. Lord knows my wife and I sneak in a nap here and there after long nigts with the baby, but that's another part of the life!
Just babbling now, but thanks for the direction. Should I start with one of those portable eisel sets? They have them for all different paints. I thought about getting one of those. My wife gave me a gift card to the art store for my birthday!

02 February 2010, 06:35 AM
Do you have a link to the kind of portable easel set you're interested in?

Back in the day, my standard portable setup was this:
-Folding plastic palette roughly the dimensions of a regular paperback novel, filled with dried cakes of watercolor and gouache paints.
-A small accordion style folding plastic cup for water.
-A magazine sized watercolor pad/sketch book.
-Pencil, non-photo blue pencil, ball-point pen, plastic nib pen, sharpie, eraser, kneaded eraser, waterproof india ink, dip pen.
-A few well-chosen brushes of varying sizes and tip shapes.

All of that will only take up about half the thickness of a small laptop bag.

02 February 2010, 11:19 AM
Here's my question. I'm currently studying anatomy so I'm not sure if it's a good idea to start studying something else. Should I tackel one area at a time?

Sorry for not giving any practical solution, since you have got some good advice already and if we limit the subject just to painting/drawing, you can get better advices from better painters, but just an observation - it might be usefull to find the ways how do _you_ learn things.

At least it has been very helpfull for me to know what I need to do to learn something I want and it also reduces stress from not doing some way just if someone says so, if I know that it is complitely waste of time for me (but there has to be carefull and at least listen anyway since someone may have a point I miss at first glance).

Me and my wife have complitely different ways of learning things, even when studying the same subject, but both can be successful. Whatever method you use, you still need to keep you goals in mind and be persistent with em. That also allows you not to worry about things outside your current goal. For example not committing to see trough some _particular exercise_ if you have already reached the goal that this exercise can give you. There might be also some other exercises that help you another bit towards you goal. I'm probably trying to say that you need commitment, but towards your subject, not necessarily towars some exercise.

For me committing to something means that I take care that I'll stick with the subject. Not only to be persistent, when I'm out of my comfort zone rehearsign something, but also to take care that subject remains interesting for me. It would be shame to stop painting/drawing, because of (deadly)booring line exercise and nothing else before I can draw a decent lines... So it's a balance where it helps to know something of yourself.

edit: an example. If I were studying anatomy (and I should) I'd probably read everything about it, ask questions, study other peoples works, make my own studies about the subject with any method that I find interesting at the moment, but when get totally boored of drawing silhuettes, heads and hands, I'd probably place those characters to some awesome environment with some interestin poses and small storyline, since I like doing those, or polish some piece once in a while, because it is nice to see also something finished once in a while. Those things are not needed to study anatomy, but it might spice up doing studies for me, so I'll do what I need to do to keep me commited to the subject. Everything else is not allways waste of time.

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02 February 2010, 11:19 AM
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