I’ve been thinking about art today and talent. What made me start thinking about this is the image I’m working on in Painter for shore-girl.com. I’ll get to that in a minute though.
I’ve always imagined a real artist to be able to create great pictures from their imagination. I could never do this. Whenever I try to draw from imagination, things end up looking cartoony and sometimes just plain awful. I realized as I grew up that a lot of artists use references, but I still haven’t been able to shake the mindset. Something happened in high school to further ingrain that thought.
My high school has always entered the Scholastic Art competition. I think I might have won a certificate of merit one year…can’t remember. When I was in 11th grade though, they changed the rules and my school didn’t enter that year. It was something about not being able to draw gridded pictures from photos to use as a basis for a piece of art. You put a gridded transparency over a picture, and draw a similar one on your piece of paper. You label the grids ABC… down one axis and 123… down the other. Then you transfer the image grid by grid to the paper. Most of our projects started this way and I always liked it. It made it easy to get everything in the proper place and size. But that made me think about why they didn’t want us to do this. It also made me feel that what I was doing wasn’t considered real art.
Back to my painting for shore-girl. The first version of the background wasn’t very good, perspective-wise. I’m embarrased to actually be posting it. I’m very pleased with how the waves turned out in the second version, for which I used a reference. It makes me wonder though about my label as an “artist”. I took a picture of myself and used the outline of that to create the girl. I used a photo reference for the waves as well. Nothing was really created from my imagination (except for the bikini, but that’s nothing). I guess I’ll just have to accept that I’ll never be one of those people who can work without references.