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  1. #1
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    Representational Artists

    Hi folks, I was at first thinking about putting this in the lounge but I don't wish to be trolled. I am a little distraught right now. At discovering that being a representational artist is actually frowned upon. I've been seen through critiques of class work to have people reply with statements like "It's too representational" or "It's too beautiful". I'm a little confused as to why those are valid statements to be made about anything. I mean my goal in every artwork is beauty. And I prefer working in the realm of reality (ofcourse with the occasional twist, and defiance of some physical laws).

    Its been very alarming for me that the skills of drawing and painting here at my school are very much lacking. Very few people here are beyond the level of basic drawing, and painting. Sculpture, especially representational is severely lacking. Even animation and book illustration are lacking people with ability to create a compelling composition or a character that shows weight and motion in a convincing way. I decided to use a project of mine to test this little theory out, and basically did it in the 30 minutes before class. With some ink and a bamboo brush I made what would be a sketch at best of a scene using absolutely no reference. And I got a glistening critique with comments like "I like how you chose not to show everything in detail, and the gestural quality." "Its very raw and really shows emotion."

    Of course I also had a completely BS explanation as to what I was going for. But I only had to give that after the comments everyone had given.
    I'm just beginning to feel that visual arts is now more about literature and isms than it is about imagery and visual literacy.

    This doesn't mean I don't like any abstract work at all, just that I feel hard-done-by. That the guy who paints a square gets absolutely raving critiques when I get stuff about my work being too clear or whatever other strange things people have said.


    Thoughts? Opinions? Also PLEASE please if you can reference some artists, because while I love Bougereau and Sargent, and Alma-Tadema and Repin. I always like to see new work. Because these are the people I want to learn from.
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    Get out of that damned school, it's doing nothing for you.

    Tristan Elwell
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    Very much agreed with Elwell, your Dad.

    But make no mistake; there is good abstract art out there.
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    I have to agree with Elwell, what kind of school is this? "It's too representational? It's TOO BEAUTIFUL? What kind of psuedo-intellectual bullshit is that? A school should challenge it's students, it should demand greatness and push people to hone their skills. What your describing sounds more like artistic ass-patting for the over-privileged and untalented.

    I've put up work for critique on this page, and some really talented artists have helped me. And by helped, I mean they've torn me a new asshole. But the quality of my work has increased because of it. Because people demanded more of me.

    Seems like you've got more talent than your school can handle. I recommend you go find someone who will kick your ass.
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    Yeah....don't know what to tellyou. You won't learn anything there about representational art if they don't value it. Don't be distraught over it though - and representational art is very much NOT frowned on. Well, actually plenty of people do frown on ity but so? Most illustration work is very representational, as is concept work. I don't think Cameron hired a single non-representational installation performance artist when he made Avatar. I doubt if he even interviewed very many (that's right, sarcasm...smell it?).
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Most illustration work is very representational, as is concept work. I don't think Cameron hired a single non-representational installation performance artist when he made Avatar. I doubt if he even interviewed very many (that's right, sarcasm...smell it?).
    Is that strictly true? I'm not so sure... Of course there is a huge part of 'illustration' that is representational, but much, if not the majority is more abstract, or rather 'stylised', particularly in the world of children's books, where a huge number of illustrators work, and also in editorial illustration. I know a number of illustrators privately and I'd say the balance between representational and more abstract approaches is about 60/40 in favour of a more stylised approach, although most of them are adaptable. Of course this is a UK perspective. Concept art as illustration, depends upon the project, and if movies like Avatar are your goal, then they will require concessional realism or representation, but they are few and far between. However, developing good skills in representational art means your abstract/stylised abilities will be better grounded and convincing, so I agree with Elwell; the school is doing little for you by the sounds of it.
    Last edited by Aly Fell; April 14th, 2011 at 07:32 AM. Reason: punctuation
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aly Fell View Post
    Is that strictly true? I'm not so sure... Of course there is a huge part of 'illustration' that is representational, but much, if not the majority is more abstract, or rather 'stylised', particularly in the world of children's books, where a huge number of illustrators work, and also in editorial illustration. I know a number of illustrators privately and I'd say the balance between representational and more abstract approaches is about 60/40 in favour of a more stylised approach, although most of them are adaptable. Of course this is a UK perspective. Concept art as illustration, depends upon the project, and if movies like Avatar are your goal, then they will require concessional realism or representation, but they are few and far between. However, developing good skills in representational art means your abstract/stylised abilities will be better grounded and convincing, so I agree with Elwell; the school is doing little for you by the sounds of it.
    I think you're confusing or substituting the term "representational" and "realistic". Representational can include a wide range of styles from Steve Hanks to Patrick Nagel (and broader of course). In that sense most illustration is representational, at least the work I notice. I see very little non-representaitonal illustratiton in most markets.

    I disagree that movies like Avatar are rare - imaginitive sfx films dominate the box office and I'm sure they're working on Avatar 2. I was just using it as an example of an entire industry where representational art (the ability to communicate effectively through visual media) is highly valued. It is only the tip of the iceberg though.

    Edit: Ooops! Note to self: make sure you really ARE at the end of the thread and Elwell hasn't beat me to the punch!
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    "It's too beautiful"

    There's your problem.

    Art can't be "too beautiful" any more than a math or physics
    problem can be solved "too elegantly"..

    Any more than an engine can be "too efficient" or a sword can be "too sharp".

    Someone in your school needs a slap.
    Last edited by Flake; May 18th, 2011 at 09:37 PM.
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    It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great.
    - Tom Hanks from "A League of their Own"

    Good artists never forget that fact, lazy hacks buying their own hype live in fear of it.
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    This sounds like the school from Hell. They should just call it a non-representational institution and get it over with so folk like you don't get stuck.
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    Thanks for the responses. Its definitely been a struggle for me primarily because there hasn't been any structure for the most part. Only 4 or 5 of my classes have involved weekly assignments and exercises meant to build some sort of ability or proficiency with a designated medium. The rest have been. Ok. Do this. You don't know how? teach yourself. It seems the school is looking for super witty gallery artists, who push boundaries. Whatever that means. The problem for me is I wasn't really aware of this up until recently and I'm just now finishing my junior year, so dropping out now would be a pretty big waste. I will just use next year's senior project-type course to build up my portfolio and take advantage of the resources here.

    Like I said before I honestly have no problem with some abstract art, especially when the artist doesn't claim some long winded explanation as to the importance of their work.

    I was watching an interesting talk earlier. And the man giving the talk Scott Burdick mentioned that it seems a little strange that you have to read or hear some explanation as to the deeper value or message before you can appreciate a painting, where as with music, if it sounds great, it sounds great, and thats all you really need.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThabisoMhlaba View Post
    Thanks for the responses. Its definitely been a struggle for me primarily because there hasn't been any structure for the most part. Only 4 or 5 of my classes have involved weekly assignments and exercises meant to build some sort of ability or proficiency with a designated medium. The rest have been. Ok. Do this. You don't know how? teach yourself. It seems the school is looking for super witty gallery artists, who push boundaries. Whatever that means. The problem for me is I wasn't really aware of this up until recently and I'm just now finishing my junior year, so dropping out now would be a pretty big waste. I will just use next year's senior project-type course to build up my portfolio and take advantage of the resources here.
    Or, or you could say "screw 'em" and do your representational art and tell 'em you're doing it ironically. Hey; that's probably the pretentiousness they're looking for

    Like I said before I honestly have no problem with some abstract art, especially when the artist doesn't claim some long winded explanation as to the importance of their work.
    Again 'abstract' doesn't mean 'no design'; Mondrian was an excellent draftsman. Cubism is all about design.

    It's not really the 3D/Representational paradigm that your school seems to be fighting against; it's the idea that drawing/design can be learned, in general.

    Gauguin mostly worked in 2D; but educated artists know he could draw and design and did in his 2D pieces.

    I was watching an interesting talk earlier. And the man giving the talk Scott Burdick mentioned that it seems a little strange that you have to read or hear some explanation as to the deeper value or message before you can appreciate a painting, where as with music, if it sounds great, it sounds great, and thats all you really need.
    Exactly. A lot of post-modern (that's the word your looking for) 'art' has to be explained, which IMO means it isn't art. It's just something someone made. Generally the artist him/herself doesn't even know what it "means"... there was no artistic intent. There's no message. That's why it kind of irks me when people suggest that certain animals can make art by stomping all over a canvas, or flinging paint with their paws.

    That's how I feel about these post-modernist 'artists'; they're monkeys with a paintbrush and no clue.
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    I am in your shoes. My classmates cannot draw. The school I attend is a school of CUNY city college of technology, which is a city level technology oriented college. I went there because they have a bachelors in communication design, which focuses on Illustration or 2D animation. I am there also because I can't afford the private school art colleges and I cannot find a job yet. I also get a considerable amount of financial aid because I come from a poor immigrant family. I can also get work study and work at the school. Other than that, they don't teach you how to do too much traditional art, but does most things on the computer. They also focus more on generic quantities of art rather than quality, when they should be focusing on quality as well. I would rather spend 3 weeks on one good project than 3 weeks on 2 mediocre projects. The teachers also dumb down the subjects because of inexperienced students. The school also have intense required academic courses from English to sciences, and I am unlucky enough to be a student of a particular jerk who claims to teach English composition, when all he does is tell you to read.
    Last edited by Vay; April 14th, 2011 at 01:06 AM.
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