Sunday, June 12, 2011

Can one learn to draw?

It's a question I considered nonexistent. (because once you ask the right person, you will get the answer....)

I was in primary school and loved to draw. Like a child. Like Picasso... And had this colleague who drew like an artist. I thought talent is everything you need to be an artist. So I never dared to think I could become one.

Later, went to the film academy. One teacher said: we cannot turn you into a film maker. We can teach you the skill, discipline your work, and order your thoughts.
Once again, I only heard the first part, of not being able to be turned into an artist.
As film maker and photographer I didnt do so bad. I certainly learned a lot of skills, that kept me close to my drawing passion: observation, framing, telling a story in an image, reading deeper someone's face.

The bug always bites back and years later I went to a fine art faculty in the Netherlands. But in the 90s, an art faculty had not much to do with art itself. I do not know, maybe in Russia they were still studying the classics. Image of swimmer by Sergey Svetlakov)

My drawing teacher, a Dutch "artist" was mostly skipping school. Always sick... in the Amsterdam bars. And his main "contribution" to my struggle was "try to do more". Im not kidding! He never told me once that drawing and proportions could be learned. Why was he a teacher? Why was I so scared and stupid?

Years passed and I worked as a videographer. In 2009, while working in Rome with an art restorer, I met a brave painter. I was shyly staying close to drawing by making stencil art. (I still love it). I asked this gentleman whose work I appreciate a lot: what would you recommend a street artist? (notice I didnt even dare to drop a direct question, "what would you recommend ME?"). He simply answered: learn to draw. I was stunned to find out that drawing can be learned... And I started to do so. Since January 2011 Ive been drawing as much as I could sit in a chair. I started with composing the frame in photoshop, as I can easily work with this program. I brought pieces of different photos together, photos gathered here and there.  I asked friends to let me photograph an ear, and arm. I photographed parts of my body. These collages become my models.
I bought books and video tutorials. I started to study anatomy and observe the classics with different eyes. I can stare at an object and see that object with new eyes.

Drawing what you see in a photograph is different from drawing from life. My new teacher explained me why and I figure he's right. This will make the subject of another posting.
I need to step up and draw from life. (image:portrait by Anibale Carracci)

Meanwhile, what is there going to happen with all the self taught or completely naive/street artists out there? There's an energy up their buts, a certain creativity but that's about all. Im not sure anyone will sit in front of a Banksy in 50 years and get emotionally moved. Have an "art experience". But in my web and library search, Ive found a number of self taught artists which I hope will not fade from the art world. I hope they will develop. I hope I will develop into a more accomplished fine artist.

Images under: JH, a self-taught artist

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