Week 17: Traditional Skills for a Digital Life

 Proun 19D -  El Lissitzky  1920

Proun 19D - El Lissitzky 1920

SInce last week I have dabbled within traditional media for the first time. I was inspired by Nathan Fowkes' Paintings to try watercolours. Wanting to try watercolours for myself, I invited a friend over so I could use her palette. It was disastrous. I had neatly sketched out a perspective of my room- only to have it completely fuzzed by lack of any skill or understanding with the brush.

I hated the medium. I detested it. It showed me that I was not suited for the painting lifestyle.

While I'm clearly exaggerating my bitterness towards painting, my feelings did indeed lie on that spectrum. The disaster that occurred with my image reminded me of previous 'failures' in my childhood days.

Like many others in primary school, I also had a time where I had access to paint and was allowed to splash colour on paper. But the paintings never represented what I had in my mind. I couldn't even fathom how one would be able to paint dragons with these 'painting' utilities. In my mind I knew it wasn't impossible. People could indeed paint great things with what my former 6 year old had infront of himself. Except I couldn't. I was the 'bad' variable. Other people could do it. I couldn't. I didn't like painting. Painting sucked.

 You gave me this as a kid with no real instruction. I was put-off by the non objectiveness. Therefore I went back to my corner and wrote algebra equations for myself to solve. Math had real solutions.

You gave me this as a kid with no real instruction. I was put-off by the non objectiveness. Therefore I went back to my corner and wrote algebra equations for myself to solve. Math had real solutions.

After my recent traumatic experience with watercolours, I had a different friend come over. I completely forgot I had invited him to paint with me. If I had remembered I might have cancelled. I definitely wouldn't want another bad painting experience!

But this friend was a real painting guy! Jeff Fan Artist! He understood how painting worked!

We went to a grocery store carpark and he showed me the ropes of watercolour. 'The wash'. 'the bead'. 'amount of moisture on paper vs palette'. Many foundational painting concepts that I had no idea about.

That day my painting still sucked. But I was happy with it! I had learnt! I had progressed!

Since that day the concepts of traditional art have been exponentially growing in my mind.

I'm beginning to really understand what 'shape' means.

From my understanding shape is so important within traditional mediums because you must be careful of every stroke. A human does not have to be anatomically correct in a distance. It's 'shape' just has to read. Shape is about creating shorthand for reality.

The shape idea is such a simple concept- but I never understood it before as much as I understand it now.

In addition, the grouping of values becomes more important. I've always known this since day 1. In the digital land there are 0-100 values. Whereas in the traditional world I only had access to 3 different markers. I was forced to group values and objects.

By grouping my values the images turned out better. Instead of things looking worse by a limited marker range, the simplicity of information made the picture read better. Image making follows a 'graphic' read.

Summary:

I had heard many times about digital artists trying traditional mediums. Their reviews were always positive. Their feedback was always along the lines of "It just helped my digital painting." But artists never really tangibly broke down what aspects helped them. Here I briefly mention that I learnt more about shape and value. I would love to write more but I like shorter blogs. If I am to touch upon this subject again it would be focused and with intent.

'Till next time!