Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Oil painting and "talent"

I recently picked up a set of oil-based paint, mainly for the exhibition-related project. This piece was actually the first painting I made using them (and maybe the third oil painting altogether. We really didn't get to do a lot of this in class.), and I think it turned out nice. It's not completely finished yet, I just realized, but I don't have access to it right now, so I'll just have to go ahead and upload it anyway.

There's some work yet to be done on the hands, the waist, his shoulders and eyes... Well, basically everywhere. And his tusks are missing, which is a real mistake. If I finish it, I might upload a quick update, so you can see what was done.

Anyway, so this was among my first dabbles with oil-based paint. I actually felt right at home straight away, it's really easy to work with. It's quite forgiving, as you can easily redo things, just slabbing some paint over it.

I am using quite cheap paint (Actually, the cheapest paint I could find.), and the difference between this and some quality paint I once used back in art class at Arbis (after school.) is that by diluting the quality paint with oil, you could cover a really big area with very little paint. On the other hand, with the cheap paint, mixing it with oil easily diluted the paint, making it thin and reducing the visual thickness. As a result, I use way more of the cheap oil than one would use of the quality oil, to cover the same area. Both were quite easy to work with, though. I suck at mixing values and hues, so the bigger set of different colours I got with the cheap paints is the biggest benefit I felt over the more limited set of quality paints.

As I've always felt, though, the tools are seldomly very important. Sometimes, getting better equipment can help, but this is mostly true with digital art. Photoshop, or some comparable software, can have clear benefits over some cheaper or free counterpart. For example, Photoshop has a WAY more advanced Brush engine than GIMP (Ironically, I never use Photoshop. GIMP and OpenCanvas are my go-to programs for digital art.). Still, you need to have the knowledge to make use of whatever features your digital tools offer.

Low-quality art tablets can also hamper your progress. But getting a new tablet doesn't necessarily make your art any nicer. In the same way, you can create pretty awesome stuff with really cheap, 6-pad watercolours, but you may be able to work much more efficiently with a good advanced set. To sum that up, it's more important to have tools that you're comfortable with rather than expensive, high quality equipment.

In the end, visual artistry is a skill of the mind, not an ability of the hand. You need to think in certain patterns, and see things perhaps differently than others. Some of this can be learned from books for example, there's a lot of theoretic knowledge on what works and looks good (e.g. The golden ratio, colour combos, the rule of thirds and compositional rules.), some of it can be picked up with experience and practice, and a little part of it has to do with... Uh, I don't like to call it this, but talent.

You can become a great artist without talent, and it's not like it's a binary system. Everybody has a bit of it. And even though one may suck at drawing, this person may still have that artistic predisposition that we generally call talent, this person just failed to put in the hours. Because at the end of the day, you have to put in a lot of work to become good at drawing, or painting. You have to practice.

That's why I don't like to talk about talent. It's the practice that makes you good. Some need to practice more, others less, because that's the benefit that "talent" gives you. Almost anyone can train their mind to see things the way an artist does, and anyone can train their hands to make the necessary pencil strokes, just as almost anyone can learn to play an instrument, provided this person puts in the hours and hones his skill long enough.

I don't like to hear that I'm a talented artist. While I know they mean to say that I'm pretty good at drawing, saying someone is talented really just deprecates all the practice and work put into acquiring that skill. Talent is this thing that sort of implies you just magically got good at something.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to speak your mind!

It's also always more fun if you leave some way for us to identify you.