Thursday, October 28, 2010

Studio Stuff

Last night was our weekly life drawing session. We normally start with a series of 30-second poses. These are gesture drawings, very quick, and they help both the model and the artist loosen up. Here's one page from my drawing pad, with four poses on it.

Then we went into 20-minute poses. Here are two of mine. I was using conte crayons, both white and black, on gray Mi-Teintes paper. The gray paper gives an overall medium tone, the black crayon provides the basic drawing, and the few white highlights give it extra depth and life. I've found that it's best to be a bit stingy with the white.

The past couple of days have been occupied with non-studio work. I had to put together the monthly newsletter and get it out. It didn't help when the system ate my draft three times and kept trying to send the previous month's newsletter. Then, once it went out, I had to publish it on FaceBook and LinkedIn. All of which took time. All these contemporary, time-saving methods of generating publicity take a good bit of time to do right. It just kills me to see these ads on TV showing people "effortlessly" doing a zillion things at once on their smart phone while they sip cappuccino on a beach. Yeah, buddy: anyone who has ever fought with an "effortless" interface that is anything but effortless will just laugh at those commercials!

I got to spend a good bit of time working on the conception of a new narrative painting, though. In an earlier post, I wrote about how I didn't have that creative thinking process going yet. It's still not up to speed, but yesterday afternoon, it got a good workout. I had three ideas for paintings, worked through what they might mean to me and to others, settled on one idea that had the most promise, and then worked at developing the concept. There was a lot of drawing, cutting and taping (literally, not Photoshop cut-and-paste), sitting down with my journal and thinking, then going back and removing or adding things.

I mentioned a journal. This is an indispensable part of my creative thinking, a way to get my thoughts out on paper. I use a sort of guided stream-of-consciousness writing: I'll focus on the artwork (the conceptual drawings, actual painting, whatever it is I'm working on) and scribble down my gut thoughts and impressions. There's no thinking or editing, my pen is just recording whatever's bouncing around in my brain. Sometimes it can be quite surprising - I'll write something and then wonder where in the hell that thought came from. Well, it came from the subconscious. One of the things I grew to learn in the art program is that the subconscious is very active all the time. "Gut feelings" are really decisions that your subconscious has already reached but your conscious brain hasn't figured out yet. So I learned to work with it. When considering an idea for a new painting, I'll look at a lot of stuff related to it: lots of different images, writings, whatever I can find. Then I let it percolate for a while in my subconscious, sometimes prodding it a bit ("hey, brain, what's up with that idea? Got anything we can work with yet?"). Before I went to Iraq, this process was working fairly well. Sometimes it would come up with things I hadn't even asked yet - my painting Pleasantville is one example that just came to me overnight. But since I've been back, it is really rusty, and going through the creative process with this new painting-to-be is slow. But it'll come together. It's like any other skill: if you don't use it for a while, it atrophies. The good news is that once you start exercising it, it comes back. So that's what I'm working on today.

And now it's time to get back to work.

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