Monday, August 03, 2009
Books? Oh no, I don't need any more...
It's all a bit of a blur now but I think I might have said some words to that effect to Mark just before I went to London... How did I manage to gather so many? I really did try to avoid buying any new art books too.
It was all going pretty well until I met Katherine Tyrell (of Making a Mark) in Islington for the SAA Art Event. I met Sarah Wimperis too of The Red Shoes - check out Katherine's review here. I was a little disappointed with the range of supplies they had but I still found some useful things there. There were some plastic viewfinders that I thought would be pretty handy for looking at composition and perspective when I'm drawing in public because I tend to be so nervous, all thought of these things tends to be forgotten. In all I picked up four - a Perspective Finder, a Picture Finder, a Tonal Value Finder and a Scale Finder. Strange really, as I have a real aversion to dividing up tones into a certain number and I refuse to change a photo to black and white to help see values. I've only once felt that would be useful, with this cup I drew. I still haven't worked out if the teal or the brick red is the darkest but I feel it's up to the artist to interpret it, whether it's accurate or not is beside the point. It's curiousity really about watercolours and how Charles Reid works out value - maybe it will help or maybe I'll feel that is irrelevent to me too.
As Katherine mentioned, I bought the Charles Reid book and DVD for the price of one which was a real bargain. The one thing I was looking for was a DVD by Billy Showell, who does lovely detailed botanical drawings, and I was surprised that they were all sold out by the second day. I bought her book, Watercolour Fruit and Vegetable Portraits, and the DVD arrived today - someone took my name and address and despite not living in the UK, I paid less than full price (£14.99 instead of £17.99) and I wasn't even charged postage.
The landscape book is Landscapes Problems and Solutions by Trudy Friend and looks to have lots of practical advice - I have real trouble finding techniques to represent trees and landscapes! The Decorated Page by Gwen Diehn and Collins Artist's Little Book of Inspiration by Hazel Soan were found in Green & Stone. Both are the sort of ideas books that I feel give you a general sense of inspiration rather than hit you with anything specific. I like looking at decorated journals but I often feel that the illustrations are poor but the effect of the text makes up for it - overall it looks gorgeous but don't look too closely or analyse too much. It's something that interests me though - I've been keeping a food diary since March (since that migraine inducing 'aspartame episode!') which is expanding and I can see me expanding it further to include drawings.
Overall though, I've had a terrible lack of inspiration for quite a while now. I've noticed other bloggers mention this too so maybe it's something in the air or maybe after two to three years the novelty of blogging naturally wears off. Like them, I've felt that the need to keep the blog updated drives me to create art a little too frequently and something is lost as a result. Eventually you feel overwhelmed, not only by the need to create but to keep up with what everyone else is doing. I feel the worst is now over but I still haven't felt the spark of inspiration. I've done a lot of analysing this year about what it is that has driven me in the past and whether it is actually relevant now. Constantly reading about other artists striving for this or that and constantly needing validation can make you feel maybe you need it too. It was exhibiting last year and being quite underwhelmed by it that was the catalyst for me. A well meaning remark about my work a little while ago also made me wonder if there isn't actually an expectation for artists to chase fantasies and to be -dare I say it?- desperate. Is it time to step off the hamster wheel and simply enjoy?
I'm often told I'm too critical of my own work but the truth is I love what I do. No artist, even beginners, would continue if they didn't love something in their own work or believe, deep down, there is a huge well of potential even when no-one else can see it. But I'll never be complacent, and I'll always try to view it objectively otherwise I'll stagnate. I can love a drawing and pick holes in it at the same time! However, something I learned about myself in recent years is that I don't get any satisfaction from things that I find too easy. A drawing must take some effort, there must be a point when I feel very uncomfortable, when perhaps I might even feel I've completely lost my ability and I should give up! Maybe I'd started coasting? That might explain why the dreaded watercolours have come out again - I just cannot get to grips with watercolours! So I'm not quite sure how all this will work out - I need to take another direction but not in the dramatic way I did with colour pencils, completely replacing my graphite drawings. I want to be able to 'expand my repertoire' but putting pressure on myself to regularly update the blog doesn't give me the necessary breathing space to do that - not to mention that I don't fancy posting some really crappy paintings while I'm trying out things! So maybe it's best to just 'see how it goes', enjoy the summer and hopefully it will resolve itself!