Ways I cheat at being an artist November 28, 2016 09:10

I cheat. I will admit it. I used to feel really guilty. And sometimes I still do. But in order to get up the courage to make my own art I had to start with small bites of ability and from there work my way up. In doing so I learned to cheat.

 I copy… like all the time. I copy a shape. I copy a color combination I copy a theme or an idea; the chore is to make it my own. I don’t take all aspects of someone else’s work, only part of it. Someone famous once said “we must all imitate before we can innovate” I believe this wholeheartedly. In fact many teachers through the years would have their students copy the masters almost exactly to teach them the techniques they used. Those students don’t then claim the work as their own but through imitation we develop our own style.

 I take my own picture: when I am posed with an especially difficult drawing problem of the human body. I will make a face or a pose and take a selfie. Then use that as a reference. But… that isn’t always enough, Particularly with hands. At that point I resize the picture, print it and literally trace it onto my canvas. Then it is just a matter of coloring it in. I realize that I didn’t draw this hand myself but hey desperate times call for desperate measures and hands are hard. I do practice to try to make my drawing better and I reassure myself to know that Michelangelo traced and so did many other famous artists. The process is even known as cartooning.

 My overhead projector. I bought an old teachers overhead projector for 40$ off craigslist. I will take a photo of something or several somethings and print them on transparencies, project them larger and trace them onto my canvas. I have even done it with my own smaller drawings. It uses someone else’s shape and then I change it to my own satisfaction. It is also a foolproof way to enlarge something. And it leads me to my next trick.

 When I cam composing a painting I will take several images I have collected and mash them together. For instance, I recently painted a mermaid. Her body is that of a model I found online, her tail is my own invention, her hands are my hands and her face I completely drew on my own. I realize I took someone else’s photo and used it, but in combination with my own touches the painting is all mine.

 Color Love. When I admire someone else’s work or painting I ask myself what do I really love about it. Often it is about the color and color combinations. Or a shape I love. Maybe a way they composed it. I then take those pictures home and create something using those things. I have taken inspiration from their brilliance. I do this most often with color. For instance “Hey that fabric has pretty colored roses on it with a pretty background. I could do that.” Then I go home and paint something with that color combination. Probably not roses but something else.