Left: A graphite drawing from 2014/2015
Right: A Digital Drawing From Summer 2018
My process has changed a little bit over the past couple of years. I stopped trying to render the figure in its idealized form, its literal form, or trying to portray the subject matter as verbatim as possible. I realized I can still talk about the same themes that resonate with me and not have to default back to being too traditional or academic.
I got my start in drawing by using Japanese anime and manga as an entry point. Most millennials probably enter into their artistic practice that way. I know as a kid I enjoyed shows like Sailor Moon, Yu-Yu Hakusho, and Inu-Yasha. I thought they were so entertaining to watch. Often times the manga (or comic book) versions of these cartoons were even more interesting to me. Not so much for the story, but for the drawings inside. The line quality inside the comic books was often gorgeous to me, and I tried to painstakingly copy the drawings. The televisions shows often times were too clean and polished for my own personal taste.
Surprisingly I did not go down the path of being an illustrator or an animator. I still enjoyed the open format that painting allowed.
As I got older and entered academia, I was pulled in many directions. Both in high school at Stivers and in my undergraduate experience at MICA. Professors saying that drawing that way could not be taken seriously. There is also the difficulty in trying to stay true to yourself while trying to experiment with other media.
That reminded me of the first reading I was given in my Elements Of Visual Thinking class. (Its a freshman course at MICA) We were taught about losing ourselves to find ourselves again. I think that applies in many other avenues outside of painting.
I started being able to find artists that influenced my practice over time. Sculptors like Bernini and Michelangelo. I thought about how they were able to render parts of the hair, and the eyes were the most fascinating to me. The proportions were often simplified in some ways and exaggerated in others. I was attracted to artists that found ways to work ideas of movement into a still image. Painters like Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt, and Degas caught my attention as well. To more contemporary painters like Jenny Saville, Lisa Yuskavage, and Goerge Condo who also influence my work. Not to mention the professors at MICA who were able to shape my practice.
Clockwise from the top left: Yuskavage, Condo, Saville, Unknown, Cassatt & Eakins.
I'm so relieved I was able to find a way to marry those attributes into my work. There were so many times that I invalidated my own work because I felt that it had to live up to someone else's standard aside from my own.
"What" I wanted to make and "how" I made the work paralyzed me. There were too many cooks in the kitchen, ironically there being only one cook...Me. I had to understand that it is all noise. Just filter out the unnecessary stuff and keep the valuable information.
Through all of this, I realized I am such a perfectionist when it comes to what I produce that sometimes I can find comfort in doing nothing. I am trying not to use the term perfectionist as a way to toot my own horn. I am meaning it more in the way that I'm afraid to fail (That fear permeates in other parts of my life as well, but that is another story for another day). In my mind I rationalized it to be. If it isn't right then why should I make it, and if I do? Why show it to anyone at all?
I'm trying to learn to be more vulnerable and open about the way that I work. I even tried recording myself draw. I'm trying to equate it to an unfinished painting. There was always a certain quality an unfinished painting or drawing had that its completed counterpart did not. There is a rawness and authenticity to them as well. You can learn from them. Hopefully this blog is doing that to a certain degree as well.
Speed Drawing: 1 Minute.