My life has been consumed by art. And that’s a good thing.

It’s not that I’m making art every moment of the day. In fact, I don’t get enough time to practice and it frustrates me. I try to cram in drawing sessions whenever possible, but my lifelong inability to budget time manifests itself even with this hobby (or passion, if you prefer).

But I do draw (and/or paint) whenever I can. More and more, I find that I think about art all of the time. Often it’s not thinking about art itself (although sometimes it is), but observing the world around me, thinking to myself, “I wonder how I’d paint that” or “That person has an interesting face”. I’m beginning to notice things that I never noticed before.

The books I’m reading are books about art. Or books of art. My YouTube feed has gone from being entirely Taylor Swift to a mix of Taylor Swift and art videos (and it’s mostly art videos). I watch videos about drawing. I watch videos of people painting. I watch videos about anatomy. And so on.

Yesterday, I had to dive into my photo library to find an image for another purpose. As I was doing so, I realized that at least half of things I’ve saved recently are art-related. So, I spent an hour sorting photos from the past six months into three albums.

The first (and most obvious) album is art that I’ve created. I need to be more systematic about this. So far, I’ve only been photographing my art when I need it for some purpose, like posting photos to this blog or asking an instructor for advice. I should photograph/scan my work more often.

My progress drawing and painting a snail

My first attempt at drawing faces

The second album is art information. This album contains slides from class, photos of interesting books, and screencaps of supplies from YouTube videos. There are few things artists love more than art supplies. It cracks me up how everyone owns far too many brushes and tubes of paint — and we all want more.

YouTube still showing a brush I like

The third album (which is my favorite) is art inspiration. This is by far the largest album — five times the size of the other two! I find inspiration in a variety of places, and I try to capture it all.

I find inspiration from graphic novels.

A panel from Shubeik Lubeik

I find inspiration while watching movies. (This is from the jaw-dropping exploitation flick, “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”, which I recommend highly.)

A still from Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

I find inspiration while walking my dog.

Photo of my dog next to some mushrooms

I find inspiration while hiking with friends.

Photo of Superstition Mountains in Arizona

I find inspiration while traveling.

Photo of a cool tree in Hilo, Hawaii

I find a lot of inspiration from buildings, for some reason.

Photo of a rundown apartment building in Hilo

I find inspiration from old photos and illustrations. (This is a colorized photo from the early 20th century, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look like Taylor Swift.)

Colorized photo of woman on a beach

I find inspiration on YouTube.

Still of a YouTube watercolor project

I find inspiration from Facebook ads.

Photo from a Facebook mattress ad

And, of course, I find inspiration from other artists.

Painting of a large raven 'talking' to a smaller bird

I enjoy looking at the images I’ve saved to my art inspiration album. The reason I’ve collected them is that each one moves me in some way. Even that Facebook ad! I mean, look at that woman. Look how her pose forms a perfect triangle. Surely it must be intentional, right? Why? I also like the “flow” of the pose, how the lines of the sweater sweep down, the position of her arms and legs, the palm flat on the floor, the muted color palette, how the light and shadow play across the folds of her clothes. That image fascinates me. I’ve tried to draw it a dozen times already, and I’m sure I’ll try a dozen more.

During my watercolor classes last autumn, I created a lot of “finished” pieces. They were amateurish and ugly, but they were complete. This term, however, I’ve produced few final products. Mostly I’m doing quick sketches and short studies. There’s been very little worth sharing.

A lot of what I’m doing looks like this:

My attempt at diagramming facial proportions

That’s my attempt at distilling 8-10 different “how to draw a face” books/videos into one simple cheat sheet that I can use while I practice. Most of the guides say essentially the same thing, but they each say it differently, and it’s all a bit confusing. It was helpful for me to digest it all, then try to spit it back out in a way that made sense to me. (This is 100% like how I learned about money by reading books, then restating what I’d learned in my own words. Exactly the same thing.)

Anyhow, I had my last art class of winter term last night. My first art class of spring term isn’t until April 2. That gives me a couple of weeks to turn my attention to other things. I still haven’t gathered my tax info, for instance. Plus, I’ve hit two separate roadblocks while trying to import posts here at Folded Space. (My GRS WordPress export is too large to import, so I have to do it in chunks. Also, I lost steam on my Facebook import project.) Oh, and did I mention that I haven’t done any yardwork yet this year?

So, yeah, I’ve got to play catch up on Real Life and won’t have much time for art during the next two weeks. But starting in April, I’ll be taking both a watercolor class and a drawing class. Art is fun!

p.s. It occurs to me that it might be fun to share the “art studio” I’ve set up downstairs. I get up every morning and sit at my desk with my coffee. I don’t always make art — although often I do practice — but I at least read about art or watch YouTube videos about art while I caffeinate myself. I’ll make some time to document my setup.

2 Replies to “Art inspiration.”

  1. J.D. Roth says:

    I think it’s interesting how each time I look at an image, I notice something different.

    The two images here that I’ve spent the most time staring at are the panel from the graphic novel — how does the artist get so much from so few lines? — and that Facebook ad. Just now as I was proofreading this post, I noticed something new in the ad. As we look at the photo, the woman’s right shoulder is lower than her left. I’ve been drawing them straight across. They’re not. Because her palm is on the floor, it raises that shoulder.

    Yesterday, I started my first reading/watching about anatomy. Scary stuff. There’s a ton to learn.

    And that’s the thing: If I wanted to go on to be a professional artist, I’d probably want to take some sort of formalized program that would take years. Professional artists have a lot of training. But I don’t want to be a pro artist. I want to be able to create art that I enjoy, and I think I might want to create some sort of comic strip. So, I don’t need to spend years devoted to anatomy and color theory. But I do need to familiarize myself with it if I want my creations to match my imagination.

  2. Melissa says:

    I think this is a perfect example of “falling in love with the process” (as opposed to the destination or end goal) and I just love this for you! What amazing nuance and intricacies we can find when we revisit the same [image, practice, location] repeatedly. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

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