Sunday, October 7, 2007

ArtPact #32

(Originally published October 1, 2007).

There I was, trapped in a vicious circle. I had this incredible photo I took at the cafe, of the lady with the hat, trying obediently follow what I was taught: study the shapes and values, make a value plan - and I got stuck. I know it's supposed to be the right way to go, but every time I do this, it somehow drains the fun out of it. All of a sudden, creating a painting turns into a list of chores, of do's and don't-do's, which frustrates me beyond belief.

At times like this, I wonder whether I should just delve into careless painting, throwing all the rules aside, and get the first version out of my system. Perhaps then I can go back and work on it more methodically? Or, perhaps I am not quite the methodical painter? Could it be that value plans work for some artists, while others have other ways to get to a painting? Or, maybe there is no right and wrong? Why do birds sing? Do angels exist? What's the time?

And then, as I was getting into this destructive over-pondering mood, WackieM launched her online "class", which is what made her start a blog in the first place. As she puts it: "My blogger plan was to create challenges for myself and to encourage others to join in". She posted the first drawing challenge on Friday, and pretty much threw me a life vest. Now I had a distraction, an excuse to get out of my over-analysis whirlpool and follow her challenge, which was all about line. No values, no existential questions.

And so, I cheerfully dropped the hat and the lady, and took the gauntlet dropped by WackieM. Reverting to my comfort zone, I tried doing my self-portrait in that wire-drawing technique that she demonstrated. You basically draw as if you are creating a wire sculpture, allowing the wire to twist and wrap and bend. the only rule: all lines need to connect.

I am a line painter - to me, line is the best and most glorious design element. I love lines! and I mostly love open lines and lost edges that leave room for imagination. So, I thought it's going to be a trivial little exercise, but then I realized the challenge in it: wire drawing forces to connect all lines, and think of the necessity of each and every line. Working on a face, it also forced me into thinking of the planes of the face, rather than the features.

It was a wonderful exercise. I did a first drawing, loved the result, and decided to try and make it more minimal, getting just the essence.

Hmm... I got totally carried away, forgetting the goal of the exercise and just enjoying the process.
So much for minimalism on that one. Nice hair, eh?

And then, after I was done messing with my own face, I decided to get back to the lady with the hat. Something about her is haunting me, forcing me to paint her, and I see a series coming. These little drawings actually speak to me more fluently than the value plans I attempted here. I guess w'all speak different visual languages.

It still has a long way to go, a journey even, but - my enthusiasm is back! So, thank you, WackieM!

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