How to give emotion/feeling to your work?

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  1. #1
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    Unhappy How to give emotion/feeling to your work?

    I've been examining my work recently and, besides the anatomy still needing work, I've realized that my artwork has no emotion or feeling when you look at it. I don't find it impacting. At first I thought it could be a color thing, but as my usage of color has been improving from taking painting lessons, I haven't seen improvement in the field I'm looking for. I'm so frustrated over this because everyone mentions anatomy, color, perspective, balance, blah, blah, blah... but no one ever mentions emotion in artwork.

    So here's my silly question: How do you give emotion, feeling or some sort of impact to your work?

    If you need to see my artwork for some sort of reference, please go to my dA account: http://springs-tulip.deviantart.com/



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  3. #2
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    You do not give emotion to your work. You EVOKE emotion with your work to the person viewing it.

    In the early stages of learning, this is something you should not worry about. Gaining knowledge and experience will enable you to evoke feelings from the viewer.

    Understanding and knowing the basics to the point of not having to remember will give you more understanding.

    All this, takes time.

    "Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
    -John Huston, Director
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  5. #3
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    I just posted this in somebody's critique thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Who are your characters? Where are they? What are they doing? Why? What happened before your picture? What's going to happen next? The answers to those questions will dictate how you put your picture together. If you know what your picture feels like/sounds like/smells like/tastes like, then you'll know what it has to look like. What is your CONCEPT? This can be something specific ("that scene in chapter three when they're attacked by wolves"), something general (a barbarian warrior, Christmas), or something abstract (red, isolation, imbalance). Usually it will be two or all three.
    Figure out what you're trying to say, then figure out how to say it.
    Note that, in the first part, "characters" don't have to be people, or even living creatures. The objects in a still life or elements of an environment, even abstract marks, can be characters, too.


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  7. #4
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    Emotion, feeling, impact, mood, resonance, etc. are all implied by the fact that you're making art and have something to say or convey, so it sort of goes without saying. In studies these things do not come through just like practicing scales and chord changes on a guitar does not mean it is a song.

    Everyone mentions those technical things because they are the words and vocabulary required to say something worth saying. Your dismissal of them, and missing the bigger picture does not bode well.

    Also, it can be very difficult for the creator to see or feel the impact of one's work...it's a weird thing but we relate to our own work differently than others see it, and not just technically but emotionally as well.

    What would Caravaggio do?
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  9. #5
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    Comics are a fun way to practice this among many other things it forces you to do.

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  11. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JFierce View Post
    Comics are a fun way to practice this among many other things it forces you to do.
    That's so true. Hahaha.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    Emotion, feeling, impact, mood, resonance, etc. are all implied by the fact that you're making art and have something to say or convey, so it sort of goes without saying. In studies these things do not come through just like practicing scales and chord changes on a guitar does not mean it is a song.

    Everyone mentions those technical things because they are the words and vocabulary required to say something worth saying. Your dismissal of them, and missing the bigger picture does not bode well.

    Also, it can be very difficult for the creator to see or feel the impact of one's work...it's a weird thing but we relate to our own work differently than others see it, and not just technically but emotionally as well.
    So what you're saying is, I won't see the emotion even if it's there?

    Edit: I guess it would be feel, not see. ._.

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  13. #8
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    I'm saying you'll relate to your work very differently than others will, and have a completely different set of emotions, struggles, etc. that puts it in a different context than how others will see and respond to it.

    This has been my experience at least and seems a common thread with all my artist friends, maybe others don't experience this, IDK. Very ften I'll have a painting that I'm only so-so about but others love...and some that I like the most people just don't relate to. Just one of the minor mysteries that we are so much a part of our work that we are blind to it...like the proverbial fish swimming in water.

    What would Caravaggio do?
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    You've gotten some excellent advice already. I'll just add a little exercise that might help you get more used to conveying emotions.

    We used to do this exercise in a beginning painting class to warm up, and it may be helpful to you. Take something simple, like the alphabet or shapes or just lines, and paint it angry. What type of line would evoke an angry feeling? Would it be soft and flowy, looping gracefully around the canvas, or would it be jagged and severe, harsh even? It sounds so silly, but paint happy shapes. Don't give them faces or anything literal. Just paint shapes that make the viewer feel light and joyful. Use everything at your disposal to get the feeling you want, like how they're placed on the canvas (are they clustered together, floating freely, or crashing into eachother?), their size (big and imposing or tiny and delicate?), etc.

    After some practice, you can try adding colors, but make the concepts a little more evolved - like apprehensive numbers or agitated letters. The point isnt to create masterpieces, and you shouldnt spend more than a couple of minutes on each. The point is to loosen up and experiment. You can try having people guess what feeling you're going for, just don't be too disappointed if they're off - if they guess a negative emotion, like frantic, when you were going for a different negative emotion, like fear or anger, you're doing pretty good. If they guess a negative emotion, like frantic, when you were trying to convey something similar but positive, like excitement, you're still doing pretty good!

    I find listening to music can sometimes be helpful too. Is there a band that makes you feel tranquil or a genre that makes you aggressive? Use that.

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    Check out Rusty's stuff, especially the quote in his signature

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  16. #11
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    You have to CARE about your work to do that.

    Not about what you are telling with your work, or about the worthy cause you have there or the like - that's an instant recipe for producing a piece of pretentious crap. You have to care deeply about the picture itself and the characters in it. Be an actor playing a role, not a craftsman making an ornate shoebox.

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    release your anger.

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  18. #13
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    Start drinking...

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    I feel that some of the Nicolaides exercises help you here, like gestures, where you need to feel the action, and blind contours, where you feel the contours. Draw using all of your seven senses, and if this requires you to stick your pencil up your ass, do so...

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  20. #15
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    Belief is the key. If you can live the image in your mind, and feel the emotions of the moment, you will be able to depict it with your emotional state encoded into the work.

    Look at the Brandywine Illustrators (Pyle, Wyeth, Dunn, Cornwell, Aylward, Walter Everett, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Sarah Stillwell, Elizabeth Shippen Green) and read what they taught (Dunn's An Evening in the Classroom should be online somewhere.)

    At least Icarus tried!


    My Process: Dead Rider Graphic Novel (Dark Horse Comics) plus oil paintings, pencils and other goodies:
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