Thursday, October 15, 2015

Some leaves and an acorn on a branch

This isn't quite done, but is as far as I got during art class on Tuesday. In each class, I seem to learn something but probably forget something else. I am not sure that I am actually "getting better", but I am learning more techniques and how to look more closely, so someday all of those things might come together. Though by then, I will be a better judge and probably be just as dissatisfied. Oh well.

I am more and more aware of the difference between the parts that feel really right (the curves of the leaf on the upper left and the leaf on the lower right/middle) and the parts where it doesn't feel as good (anything in the middle). When I started, I was mostly impressed if it looked like a leaf at all, but now I can see how I did better some places, and can't understand why that doesn't translate to other places.  

The huge challenge for me is the permanence of drawing. I have spent more than three decades creating software and, more recently, writing books. Even the art I have created has been digital art. With code or writing, if I don't like one section, I can rewrite it without hurting anything. I can undo, and I can go back to a save point. Even digital art is like that, but aside from limited erasing (which tends to smudge), drawing goes in only one direction, and that is forward. If I draw something "wrong", I have to find a way to work with it or start over. If I make one part too dark, I can't just adjust the brightness. 

I realize that I have spent much of my life creating digital content, and I have to learn a different sort of patience and foresight than I have needed before. With digital content, it is often best to get something completed quickly, then go back and rewrite and flesh out to make it better. While there is some of that with drawing, everything is additive. You can't rip out a section and start again. So, you start light and frame things with both negative and positive space, then slowly make decisions and darken parts. Shading multiple levels with different "values" (levels of darkness) and "contours" (indications of direction of flow) can be difficult, and I seem to mess up as often as I get it right. There is a constant tension between what to emphasize and what to ignore or minimize.

This stuff is hard, but rewarding when I am not actually beating myself up.

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