Tuesday, 13 November 2012

003 So how DO you actually start being an artist?

So after all my ups and downs so far with my drawing skills, about 2 1/2 years ago in summer 2010, I decided that this was it. After thoroughly asking myself, what I wanted most in life, one sentence always popped up in my mind: I want to be an honest-to-god artist.

But how on earth do you become an artist? What is an actual artist? Looking at the works of Boris Vallejo, Ralph McQuarrie or Frank Frazetta, it was obvious to me, that I had a loooong way to go....

Which leads me to lesson nr. 1 in becoming an artist:

Never doubt yourself, especially when looking at the work of others!

This is not easy, but I maintained it ever since I decided to get serious with my work. There is always someone out there who is better than you. The trick is not to despair, but to let these brilliant paintings motivate you in becoming better. Analyze and study them instead of just envying them!

As I really had no clue of where to begin my life as an artist, I just jumped in at the deep end, sat down with my trusty Intuos 3, grabbed an image from the web, gathered together all my knowledge of drawing, painting and Photoshop in my mind and started to paint. The result was this:

My first finished digital painting

It´s not really good or pretty, at least for my eyes now, but back then it was a real milestone for me. Another levelup so to speak. I realized that it wasn´t perfect and it had lots of flaws, but I was really proud of it somehow. I was at least so proud, that it kept me motivated.

I jumped right into the next paintings and tried to make a portrait study and a study of one of Vallejos artworks (seems like a little overconfident to me today :) )

To my surprise, especially the study of Vallejos Red Sonja went really smoothly. It was fun to paint and I started to learn at least a little bit about painting. It took forever to paint, but the result was ok.
Motivation was at a high point.

As I had never been too good with drawing figures from my mind (complete or in parts), I started with a large project, where I wanted to paint all characters from a RPG group I was playing with (I still play in that group) Using some of my lesser 3D skills and Poser, I made some base models of the figures and used them as a starting point for the character painting. this was the result:

I also reactivated my old deviantart account and put my paintings online. Most comments where actually good, but some people commented that the characters looked too stiff and their faces where flat. I couldn´t really understand, because I didn´t actually see! I spent several weeks on this painting (not full work days, only a couple of hours per day) and to me it was flawless. Looking at this today I see so many errors and yes, the characters are stiff and their faces ARE flat!

Lesson nr. 2:

Always listen to critique, try to learn from it and do better next time!

By that, I don´t mean, one should take negative critiques to heart! Listen to it, but don´t let it sink into your mind and cause doubts. Always believe in yourself and have a good, healthy dose of self confidence, no matter how bad others react to your work. Rejection happens and you cannot satisfy everyone with what or how you paint. I also know artists who paint absolutely perfect, but I don´t like their style or their themes. It´s just a matter of taste.

By that time, I started to gather as much learning material, I could get my hands on. Books, video tutorials, step by step tutorials, anything! And I used them.

In the months that followed, I finished a personal mega-project in painting a mural in my kitchen, which is about 8x3 meters in size:

While doing that, I didn´t have time to paint digitally, but I managed to learn and watch tutorials while taking breaks from the mural.

Starting again with my digital paintings and full of new knowledge and ideas and motivation, I discovered something interesting....

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