Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Millions of Pigs

Dear readers, I will tell you a secret: I am not 100% completely satisfied with my usual painting techniques. As I've been preparing for the continuing ed class I'm teaching (2nd class last night! I will talk more about this in other posts, because it has been SO fun and such a great experience). Where was I? Oh yes, so I've been thinking a lot about what I learned in art school. One of my favorite teachers at RISD was Ellie Hollinshead. She was truly interested in what her students were trying to say, she was passionate & inspirational, and her classes really got me fired up about narrative painting- which eventually brought me to illustration.

Anyhoo, in one class I remember her coming up beside me & saying, "You know, one of the hardest criticisms I ever received was when someone told me my drawings were a lot more alive then my paintings." And I think I said, "Wow, that is way harsh! You must have felt terrible!" It took me months- years, maybe?- to realize, "Wait. SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT ME!" Because I have felt, in recent years, that my drawings have a vitality that seems to greatly diminish in my final paintings.

So this is something I've been struggling with. I tend to think of drawing as fun and free, while doing the completed paintings is more serious and laborious. So I'd like this to change. The first thing I decided to do was to NOT transfer or trace my sketches when I'm getting ready to do the final pieces. The drawing process- the scratchy lines & the sussing out of where everything goes- is a big factor in creating some vitality in my sketches, I think. When I trace my sketches, something already looks stilted & not quite right.

So I decided to have some fun in the studio these past few days- just to experiment & to try to have as much fun painting as I have drawing. I decided to try a page from Olympig- this is the sketch in my dummy:

I just played around with different materials. Acrylics, pens, colored pencil. I also experimented on papers. I usually work on a gessoed surface, which makes the paint kind of "sit up" from the surface of the paper. I did some experimenting with un-gessoed paper, and I like how the paint "sinks in" and allows the original drawing so show through a little more.

I wasn't exactly happy with any of the results I was getting, so I moved on to just a regular ol' glamour shot of Boomer:

This last one ended up being the painting I was most pleased with. I tried using watercolors and then acrylics on un-gessoed watercolor paper, and I liked both the process and the results. It's closer to the blend of drawing & painting I was trying to achieve.

More experimentation to come!


Carina said...

This post makes me feel like you probably felt at my dissertation defense, or reading Margaret's nursing school essay.

How2Bkk said...

I love it, yor blog so cool. ^_^

From Bangkok, THAILAND.

Christina Rodriguez said...

Playing with technique is one of the best ways to get out of a rut, I think. It's always fun to discover something new about how we work or to find new ways of working. That's one of the reasons why I love this job - all the potential for newness!

Vicki said...

Thanks, How2Bkk! And Christina, I agree- it's been so liberating to just play around without worrying about deadlines or portfolio pieces.

And Carina, it's nice to hear I can befuddle my genius friends from time to time, ha ha!

Nina Crittenden said...

Go, Vicki! Go, Boomer!
*The Crowd Goes Wild*

Vicki said...

Thanks, Nina! :)

matt said...

Great post, Vicki. The sketch-to-final problem is a constant struggle for me.

Vicki said...

Ah, it's nice to hear I'm not alone...