Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Long View: Making Bad Art and Becoming a Good Artist


DREAM by Lyric Kinard
There are some things I'm good at, and some things I'm not.

I've always loved music and trained on French Horn with the intention to play professionally at some point. Eventually I chose to stay home with my children instead. I didn't come to art until after my children were born. My formal training in the visual arts is limited although in my chosen medium (textiles) I've done fairly well.

Thing is, I can work a textile piece from concept to finish without ever picking up a pencil. Drawing was always something my siblings did and I quietly envied.

I think it's taken a while, but I've finally grown up enough to realize that the things I'm not good at are simply the things I've put no effort into learning and practicing. I'm sure my horn playing in 6th grade was not a pleasure to listen to. It took lots of practice. Lot's of scales and arpeggios before I could belt out a Beethoven Sonata.

Each card with a face - each face a step on the road
Looking back over this year it's easy to understand that progress only comes when you are placing one foot in front of the other on the path you want to travel. You can stand by the side of the road and whine about how hard it is and how nobody ever offered you a ride or how tender your poor feet are. And you'll still be in the same spot you where when you started.

You toughen up your feet by walking my friend. Sure - it hurts and you get tired. But at least you're moving towards your destination.

bad art
As an artist - are you moving towards your destination or are you standing by the side of the road whining? I've been slowly walking down the path, one faltering step at a time. Perhaps a truck came barreling by and knocked me off the road for a bit and I needed a minute to catch my breath. 

getting better
An amazing thing happened when I turned around and looked down the path. That long view back over my shoulder surprised me. I've come a lot further than I expected.

We all have fear. The road to becoming an artist isn't easy and you don't get there in one giant leap. You plod along one step at a time. I'm an artist who wants to be able to draw. I've been taking one step at a time. I've made hundreds of little sketches of faces now - most are unrecognizable as the person I was drawing. But it's amazing, comparing my beginning sketches to what I'm doing now, at the progress. I'm nowhere near the destination - but I've come a long way.

Are you so afraid of making bad art that you haven't stepped onto the path? Realize that every ugly thing you make is taking you one step closer to your masterpiece. 



My article in the Sketchbook Challenge Ezine is about just this. You've got to make bad art in order to become a GOOD ARTIST!

It has a few short and simple exercises that will help you take a few steps along the road to becoming the artist you envision yourself to be. Take a look. It's crammed full of all kinds of fantastic articles and tutorials that will help you along this road.

5 comments:

Lori @ Studio Waterstone said...

Great post! I think many artists, if they nurture their creativity, seem to meander through different avenues of expression. I know I sure did!

Lucy said...

I'm heading over to take a look. Thanks for the link.

cindy said...

OK...You got me. I have followed this year's sketchbook challenge day by day, with every intention of starting to sketch, but no. I am scared. I don't draw. How can I compare to the posted sketches. Your blog has challenged me to begin....tonight!

Linda Strowbridge said...

Thank you for this post! As someone who didn't get any art classes as a youth, I've been trying to learn a lot of basics while making quilts. I make lots of mistakes and -- figuratively and literally -- stitch myself into corners some days. It is GREAT to get a reminder that making bad art is part of the journey to making good art. I know that the mistakes are sources of learning and the 'corners' become good exercises in problem-solving. Your reminder is very much appreciated.

Loralei said...

I was terrified to pick up a pencil before a few weeks ago, when I signed up for your class, the Artist's Toolbox. Now, I find that I am looking at things differently, and forming more concrete ideas - and I am not afraid to put them in a sketchbook any more, lol... in fact, I think I will participate in the challenge next year, as I have only been a follower this year!

As for Dream, it is so beautiful - I have always been drawn to ammonites, and have them on jewelry as well as pictures in my home.. if only they could talk, and share what they have seen...