“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds.” (Winston Churchill)
As I watch the Olympics, my heart plummets when a skater, skier or snowboarder falls or fails at their attempts after a lifetime of diligent practice and study. All are in search of the 'perfect' time, balance, or trick. Many of us as artists search for the 'perfect' as well in each piece we create.
In reading the many art books, magazines, blogs and art sites, I find many who feel that skills in drawing correctly and precisely are the basis for great art, while others will prefer a quick sketch or no sketch at all. Some will say drawing skills are an unnecessary burden, while others, painstakingly, try to recreate with photographic accuracy. It made me think about my own philosophy and teaching art to others.
Whatever moves you to create a piece is the important thing, so go for it, but many who are new to drawing will sometimes try to copy exactly from a photograph or magazine pic for their drawings. They try their best to capture every detail with pencils and erasers in hand. This can be a good thing... to a point. For copying enjoyable things teaches us to really look at the elements of perspective, light and dark values, balance, and the design as a whole. It is a learning process in gaining skills to move forward. But some artists become dejected when their drawing falls short of their sense of perfection, or never stop copying. There are others feel who find drawing the shapes of objects more to their liking, and still others, who quick sketch just to get an idea or hint of what they have in mind in their sketchbook. Some are not concerned with any of it and just start from doodles to create a pleasing, overall design.
My feeling is that in order to draw, we must become Observers and Analyze what is around us daily. We rush through our days with little contemplation of the unique little things that surround us. If we'd just slow down and set aside an hour to observe and contemplate carefully, we can learn to set images in our "Mind's Eye" or to paper as a resource. If we Practice by drawing what we see, we can’t help but improve our skills and also veer off into new unexplored areas and really make our art our own.
A rare few of us will be "perfect" at something, but with discipline and daily practice, we can always improve on any skill. It's like anything else we've learned in life. Learning to walk, ride a bike, play an instrument, ice skating or snowboarding. None came easily without observation, discipline, drive and practice. Will our artwork be a masterpiece or a Gold Medal winner every time we put forth the the sweat and effort? Unfortunately not. You do it because you love doing it. But it's in the observing and habitual practice that our eyes open to what we've been missing. New creative ideas will come from this quiet contemplation of what surrounds us, and with these, new works.
There is no need to strive for the 'perfect' because each of us are individuals with our own unique sense of 'Seeing' the world. This, in turn, creates our unique style. It's what makes you and your art Individual amidst the many. "Seeing" is the key first step!
"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." (Edgar Degas)
Quotes to ponder~
"We first make our habits, and then our habits make us." (John Dryden)
"When you work you learn something about what you are doing and you develop habits and procedures out of what you're doing." (Jasper Johns)
What is a 'daily' art habit of yours you can share?