Tag: critique

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Painting Cliche Things

Even though most of my portfolio is acrylic and oil paintings, I actually haven’t painted in a few years. It’s kind of ironic, especially since I’d really really would like that someone commissioned some portraits from me *cough*, but I can understand why not if my portfolio is a bit out of date in that field and the few I have painted are with either myself or really impatient models. I’ve yet to paint a portrait that really flatters someone, please someone give me the chance! I know I could just do it on my own, but I am so poor right now I can’t “waste” materials like a canvas and paint. Sigh.

harbour_sunset_wallpaper[1]What I really wanted to say is that it’s been so long since I’ve painted that I somewhat feel like I am starting over, if that makes sense. I think when anyone pursues art as a profession or hobby, they go through a “phase”. It doesn’t matter what art form it is. Photography: you’ll want to take the perfect sunset, the perfect flower close up, a bird close up, an insect, a cool cityscape, meaningful portrait. Film: Depending on your tastes, you’ll want to make that mafia film, zombie movie, coming-of-age film. Painting: You want to paint a landscape, a cityscape, a portrait, and something in the spotlight (that’s the one I’m doing now).

 

The most iconic images, you’ll want to recreate…and if you’re starting out, you’ll be disillusioned that you’re being original even though what you’re really doing is practicing forming ideas. That’s actually perfectly okay, and I encourage it! If you talked to me bird[1]maybe 5 years ago, I would’ve chewed you out for being generic, but I’ve long since realized there is no such thing as an original idea.We’re all inspired by something around us, and being in a society where you can easily access art lets us absorb lots of previously done ideas. It’s impossible one of those ideas won’t show up in your art. Likewise, when something feels really original, it’s more because it’s culturally relevant and probably something that hasn’t been seen in a long time*. Going through this “phase” lets you get those really generic things out of your head and it’s like baby steps for learning how to develop an idea so that it will be more your own. It’s the training wheels of concept.

Making something your own, IFlower+Wallpaper[1]‘d argue, is more important in art than pursuing being original. But I’m a pretty traditional painter and don’t really care for reinventing the painting medium. I’m not gonna start using my foot or house pant, or painting with gunpowder and fire. It’s not my thing. I appreciate academic painting.

So right now, I am recreating an image I painted very long ago of a ballerina in the spotlight. I’ll explain more later. I anticipate I will probably want to do a pretty cliche landscape next, because I really feel like going through baby steps and seeing how much my painting technique has improved and how I can make really cliche images into my own thing.

* There are things that are truly original, like art depicting new technology, a huge change in culture and society. You can’t say that before the 2000s, pro-LGBT+ art was readily present and sci-fi art definitely was non-existant in something like the 1500s. But you know what I really mean… painting yet another Bob Ross mountainscape is not original, even if you have a different composition and style.

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Credit: Bob Ross.
Photos: No idea, but googled sunset, flower, and bird close up.


Oh yeah, why do photographers obsess over photographing the moon? It pretty much ALWAYS looks the same, maybe slightly rotated.
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My Perspective on The NSCAD Problem as Alumni

So I feel like I really need to say something, as an alumni of NSCAD who was on the inside when things started to really fall apart with my school. It is my school: I invested a good part of money and my life to be there, it is where I met some amazing friends and my partner who I’ve been with for 4 years, and it is where I graduated and really decided to commit to my creative career. To see NSCAD suffer and to hear constant bashing and criticism is like listening to a close friend get trashed and manipulated.

If you’re unaware of what is happening at this small but important Canadian university, a TL;DR: NSCAD is $19+ million in debt, the school in near a state of permanent collapse, and the heritage of being one of the best art schools in Canada is undergoing self-destruction.
There are many articles about this situation, but I feel like this one, by the local Halifax culture rag, The Coast, is a great summary. Many universities are threatened by low profit and outstanding debt’s in today’s economy, but NSCAD is in absolute peril. NSCAD is one of 4 art universities, not a college, in Canada. Its programs are different because they are far more open and focused more on concept than technical skill; you can take different types of courses simultaneously (such as I took ceramics, film, and drawing all within the same degree), you study art history, and you work on coming up with big ideas. What I mean is your classes go beyond just your technical skill and teachers will put in the extra work to really examine your work and offer a thoughtful critique of your ideas. The school is open 24/7 and people work their ass off on their projects. Your profs. will stay after class or go for beers with you quite frequently to talk about your work, the school, art in general. This is what made me come to NSCAD, on top of it being a very small, cozy university that lets you be a focus for instructors instead of just a student number. I wasn’t attracted to school’s like OCAD because I was already fairly well off in the technical realm and OCAD seemed to let anything pass as a thesis project – lots of decorative art and sometimes with very weak fundamentals at the end of a degree? What I found with NSCAD is that completely inexperienced students would enter the painting program, for example, and come out with very strong rendering skills but also with skills in using colour theory, composition, perspective, and generally with a bigger idea to their images.

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Weird…comic

So I posted a little screen shot of this a while back… Let this demonstrate the learning curve I went through the past 6 months in terms of digital art with this image. This is before I took any classes and I was generally really frustrated with digital painting because I had no clue how to approach it.

When I made this, I shaded it in gray and separated absolutely everything. I planned on applying an overlaying colour, but I soon discovered how difficult it is to get that to mix right. I thought it would be a quick solution… but the values are very light, and the shirt there has some patterning….ended up being a bad idea. I should’ve just straight up tried to colour this instead of being scared, because trying to overlay colours after proved to be as much guesswork as I would’ve done if I had just coloured it. Back then, I had no idea how to read the colour picker and make a smart choice on colour.

Anyway….the colour I did on this originally was so hideous I deleted it, and just threw on this stylized gradient map to apply colour. It looks pretty funky…the “idea” is that the desert is so scorching hot, it has bleached out all visible colour. Whatever…

I wouldn’t put this in my portfolio for a large array of reasons.

1. It’s not my style. How do I know that? It’s a complete fluke and looks awkward. When I throw it into my artwork folder, it stands out because it’s weird, not because it’s unique or a step up from what I’ve been doing.

2. This colouring is a sad excuse for colouring. I mean, some of the values are gross…you don’t exactly have a lot of control with a gradient map unless you want to drive yourself totally insane.

3. The scale is wonky – it looks like a tiny comic strip because of the font and proportions of the picture elements, but the details are very small. If this was printed on a page as a spot, it would look off because the details would become hard to read. In comparison to some of my recent comic work (the SFX collab I am doing), this looks very poorly thought out, even though I was more fighting with my inexperience with digital art.

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My biggest hurdle with digital art has been dealing with the layering and the whole…mathematical side to it. Gradients are math, all the layer blending modes are math, colour picking is a math. The process is very inorganic. There’s just something about doing it with your hands and watching the pigment of whatever medium you’re using react, and learning what it’s doing… it’s probably the same for making music on a real instrument versus a digital instrument. Something real gives you the whole process from A to Z, digital is like straight from A to Z without anything in between. You apply a blending mode and BAM! there it is – no way to observe how it happened.

Anyway, this was to let off some steam on job searching.