Inconvenient Problem
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    Inconvenient Problem

    Greetings! I've been lurking on these boards and galleries for close to a year on and off, and I finally got up the gumption to ask this.

    I have a cruddy problem. I have art in my head that I would dearly love to get onto a paper/canvas/screen, and I'm pretty sure people would enjoy it; unfortunately all I've been able to show is that I suck at visual art. I know what I WANT to draw/paint/sculpt, but I can't move my hands/arms/wrists in the right way; nothing ever comes out right. I erase and redo and adjust and I just can't get anything the way I want it to look. I've been drawing and painting for most of my life with little improvement, despite art classes. I've hit a sort of plateau that I desperately want to pass. I want to get into the Art Institute, but I don't think all the classes would do me much good if I can't get myself to move the way I want.

    Bottom line: I WANTS MINE ARTWORKS TO ESCAPE MINE BRAINS WITHOUT GETTING SMUSHIED!

    Does anyone have any exercises or suggestions for me? Or even any questions? Any help would be greatly appreciated!


    P.S. - Something I should add is that martial arts come naturally to me, I don't think it's a motor skills problem.

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    The images in your head aren't images. They are _ideas_ of images. Converting them into something concrete is more than an imagination leap. You need to know the rules of visual communication and that involves learning and studying. It doesn't come naturally to anybody.

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    Well technically, since I was able to hold a pencil, so nearly 24 years. Since I started really wanting to draw, about 14 years. Since I got serious about improving, about 8 years. I don't think it's from lack of practice, personally. I don't have as much experience as a lot of artists, but I'm nowhere near where I believe I should be. I'm embarrassed to show my art to my own family, a lot of it looks like it was drawn by a kid (non-prodigy, of course ).

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    Sorry for editing my post, I noticed you already answered my question.

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    Well, it could be attributed to a lack of study, but I've pored through stacks of books on color theory, form, structure, anatomy... I hear you on the images vs. ideas of images thing, I understand that. It's like my own ideas are in a different visual language. Something as simple as a curved line in my head never looks right on paper.

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    lol, yeah, I was a bit surprised/confused

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    Well if you know all the theory already (Well maybe the gist of the foundations, no need to be sarcastic), why don't you use them to break down your ideas into something you can manage on paper? I don't know what kind of images you are seeing in your head but you could start thinking about what the composition is, where are the main focuspoints? You want your audience (Or your visualence, I think english needs a nifty term for that ) to look at the parts you want to see them. Normally all the deatils and parts in your imagination tend to be of equal importance because we focus on them while thinking about them. On paper, that doesn't work, we need to create a framework for our story. So I doubt that a good composition is already present when you think about your ideas, unless the composition itself is the idea and you are fantasizing in tonal shapes and lines that distribute over a finite plane.
    Another thing is about the form and structure. Anatomy, for example is something immensly complex as you must think about posture, gesture, muscles, bones, force and expression at the same time. And here you have the distribution of importance again. Just because the vivid image in your mind is very expressive and you feel at awe with it, it doesn't mean you don't need a frame to present the expression in. Your subconscious doesn't provide you with the posing and bending of the brachialis if all of what you want to express is the nice tilting of the thumb. You need to fill the gaps, only conscious understanding can bring that.

    I could ramble on and on about colour, design etc but I think you get the gist . Your ideas need a framework to be presented in. Draw from life at least as much as from imagination to understand in what ways your ideas can be reinforced by the outside.

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    Draw something, post it, and let us have a look at what's going on, then people can advise from a foundation of some data, instead of being forced to speculate on the basis of your description.

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    Oooo... visualence. I like that.
    I do have a basic understanding of most of the theory, but a good chunk of anything advanced has been lost in my desperation, lol.

    "unless the composition itself is the idea and you are fantasizing in tonal shapes and lines that distribute over a finite plane."

    Actually, that's closer to how I think, although there are usually gaps here and there when I try to focus on them in my mind. Though come to think of it, it's usually the gaps that end up looking best on paper. Maybe that means something?

    Oh! Something I should also add is I have the same problem just drawing a still life. Does that help at all?

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    "Draw something, post it, and let us have a look at what's going on"
    Eep. I was a bit afraid of this. I really don't mean to "force" anyone to just go off my description, it's just painful to post my art anywhere, lol. I'll try to swallow all that and show you what I'm dealing with, though.
    *hides in a hole with his Wacom*

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    I would suggest looking at how you approach implementing your idea. Are your thoughts before you start to draw dwelling on failure before you begin? If so you've already set yourself up for failure. Are you rushing to go right into your idea without first experimenting and developing it before you start the final drawing? Sometimes gestural drawing/warm up sketches can help free you up before you work on a piece and get you in the right frame of mind. Are you doing studies from real life to observe instead of trying to focus on making a pretty picture. It sounds like a canned answer, but that's really where the most growth comes from. The masters never stopped observing the world around them. If you understand how things are done naturally then it will free you up for it to flow more freely to your hand.

    Another thing I would recommend is to start a sketchbook and start entering some of the challenges and getting your work in front of people. Creating art and hiding it is not going to help you improve. It's made to be looked at and you're losing out on feedback from others and your audience if you don't. It is one of the reasons we make art after all so people can see it.

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    "Creating art and hiding it is not going to help you improve."
    I suppose you're right, DigitalShade. I think I've got a bit of trauma from an old art teacher and a few childhood experiences. Most everyone here seems friendly and constructive enough to not bruise my raisinesque ego, lol.

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    Heya.

    Well I feel you should just draw without worrying about it. I think what people need to understand about art is that it is simply what we make it out to be and no one way is "right" but certain ways are more anatomically accurate and applicable for what is needed.

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    Okay, I took something I made a few months ago, one of the first things I made in Painter, and probably the digital piece I'm happiest with so far.

    And now a few points that hurt:

    1: I know just how I wanted this eyestalk to look, all slick and fibrous. I worked on variations for an hour or so just on that spot, and eventually just decided to keep it looking sketchy.
    2: The pupil of the eye I'm rather pleased with, kinda Kermit-the-froggish. It was also an accident. I wish accidents like this happened for me all the time! lol
    3: Another incident of continual remakes until just deciding to keep it looking sketch-like.
    4: I absolutely abhor that I'm unable to make convincing ROCKS. lol. This is particularly frustrating because I KNOW what a rock looks like. I have access to plenty of them, as I'd hope most people do. I don't want them to look photorealistic, I just want them to look... well, rockish. I think a deeper part of my problem might have a clue here somewhere, I just don't know what, exactly.

    Now, I know this piece isn't polished, but I think this is the first piece where I really felt like I had taken a step towards developing my own style. Most everything before this seemed to imitate other people's art in some way. Probably because my attempts at originality when I was little were so heavily criticized. Anyway, does this give any insight as to what my brains are doing?

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    I appreciate that, WhisperPntr, I just really want my art to look how I want it to look! Not necessarily "better" than anyone else's; rather, closer to what my mind's eye sees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrHoohah View Post
    I appreciate that, WhisperPntr, I just really want my art to look how I want it to look! Not necessarily "better" than anyone else's; rather, closer to what my mind's eye sees.
    That is the good news. Unless you're in the industry or have a personal and professional goal in mind there's no real need to worry about what is "better".

    But to be honest I think if everyone could draw what they saw in their minds we'd all be professionals in the art field unless we think of some really ugly and weird stuff. What some people settle for is to draw from life and do something that is aesthetically pleasing. I believe most critics try to aim for aesthetics when red lining and talking.

    Like you noted, they do not look like rocks to you but I see that they are pebbles. Maybe you can study pictures of rocks to figure out what kind of rock you want.

    Artists use observation as a tool to learn more about how to draw. So maybe study the world some more if you're art blocked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrHoohah
    I absolutely abhor that I'm unable to make convincing ROCKS. lol. This is particularly frustrating because I KNOW what a rock looks like. I have access to plenty of them,
    Quote Originally Posted by WhisperPntr
    Maybe you can study pictures of rocks to figure out what kind of rock you want.
    Never mind pictures, go outside and draw some.

    Ok - hard crit time. Put the tablet aside for the moment, pick up a pencil and some paper. Go draw stuff, real stuff, the things around you. Work on getting drawings of stuff you can see in front of you to look reasonably like what you are looking at, before trying to do stuff from imagination.

    Don't draw a hulking great thick hairy black line around everything. The world does not have an heavy-duty-industrial-strength edge-detection algorithm built into the way it looks. Shade surfaces depending on their angle to the light-source, and look for how differences in the texture of surfaces influences diffuse lights and specular highlights on them. Show edges by how the shading changes, not by drawing a black line along them.

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    I have to agree with Dcorc,
    Everything you imagine is composed by your mind from existing materials. Meaning you saw bits, pieces or even just textures of the things you imagine.

    Before you go ahead and try to depict a fantastical creature or person, you need to become familiar with the not so fantastical. With shapes and light, textures and surfaces.

    So just like Dcorc said, pick up a pencil and work on material objects near you.

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    I'll add, before people conclude that I'm being hard or discouraging, that I think the idea of your creature there is great, I'm just trying to get you to see that, as laxon said,

    Everything you imagine is composed by your mind from existing materials.
    So the trick is working out what in the real world looks a bit like what you intend, and then trying to work out the specifics of its appearance - for example, you said:

    I wanted this eyestalk to look, all slick and fibrous
    So, what might be like that? A tongue, the eyestalk on a snail? etc... once you've found things comparable, ask why they look the way they do - do studies trying to draw/paint them. (I'd suggest, for example, some degree of translucency and light scatter within the volume of the fleshy mass, some variation of colour due to blood-vessels etc, and a shiny surface with prominent specular highlights if its covered in slime). How does that differ from the texture of fur, or of the ground, and so on... If you are at all unsure, go find some reference. Pictures are good, but going and seeing things for real (and drawing them) is even better. You're drawing creatures, but have you spent any time drawing live animals at the zoo, or dead ones (stuffed, or skeletons) in your nearest natural history museum?

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    Well, since the thread is heading towards the "let's learn how to really draw" direction start with simple shapes first if you want to visualize things in 3d and draw from life. Draw an egg on a white surface, and if you have one, draw a slightly see through plastic box also on a plain surface. It helps to pick up basic perspective lessons as well.

    Drawing from life is the right idea, but pick the most basic objects first. Rocks are deceptively complicated as they don't reveal their overall structure even when you can feel their structure in person. So try something that is laterally or completely symmetrical that you can draw through. And then when you got that down, then give that rock another shot.

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    I can't draw exactly as I want - I'm still learning and practising. Go draw some more and look at this thread next year.


    I didn't think it was possible to be called an artist when you have nothing to say. It's like being a writer who publishes individual words as books and expects to be praised for it.
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    Hmm, oh yea here's another one of these threads. Have you ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule? Basically it goes like this; if you wanna be great at something you need to devote at least 10,000 hours of practice into it. That sounds crazy doesn't it? If it does that kind of sucks because for art you really need to devote your LIFE to it and, if you're not willing to do that well I hate to say it but keep it as a hobby. There are no short cuts and, I know you posted this with the intention of becoming a better artist. So my best advice to you would be to well, keep on drawing and never stop. The bigger your visual library is, the more you are able to use your mind's eye to draw from your imagination. I hope that helps.

    Oh yea dcorc knows what he's talking about.

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    Yeah Dcroc is right. Practice the real world stuff first. then practice simulating it in the computer after you have a firm understanding of the real stuff. Once you feel confident in using the digital materials attempt a small simple picture on what you've learned then expand from there.

    As for what to practice take the sketch you posted or another drawing you've done and break it down into categories of study. With this one you could break it down into light/shadow, hands, arms, neck, torso, rocks, hair/fur and moist flesh. Then break down a category like a rock. What makes a rock a rock? They generally have rough textured craggy surfaces. Hows the lighting you've decided upon affect it. Is it an indoor light or outdoor light? Do a study of the rock indoors and outdoors and at different times of the day to see how this would affect the rock. How does it affect its color, light, shadow etc?

    As for style don't get caught up in trying to create one or simulating another persons style. A style will come naturally from your likes and dislikes that you incorporate into your art.

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