Monday, December 15, 2014

How much does neatness count?

I tend to be a pretty sloppy artist - well ok, it's not just art. In looking at a lot of work by contemporary fantasy painters it seems they tend to be just the opposite, so I've been thinking about the importance of neatness in drawing/painting. Random thoughts follow.

To be too preoccupied with neatness is extremely limiting. I think it makes a person tend toward very conservative safe choices in what they do, and to put extra effort in at every stage to clean things up. I thin this tends to force you to slow down and not keep up with the racing creative mind. When the ideas are coming in fast and furious I feel the need to mark them down as quickly as possible, so I can keep up and try to get the most out of them.

But the downside of that is I end up with sloppy images and then need to do a lot of cleanup - basically repaint them - in order to end up with something resembling pro quality. And the repainting kills any vestige of spontaneity.

I think there's a tightrope to walk - this is much like my recent post about intuitive versus intellectual thinking - it's a yin/yang thing and you need to be always feeling for the dynamic balance between the two, not automatically tending toward one or the other too much. As in all things, it's not just moderation, but a sensitivity and continually adjusting response between the extremes, not letting yourself go too far in either direction but responding to changing conditions extemporaneously.

In fact, I'm thinking it might be best to have areas of neatness probably corresponding to focal areas, interspersed with areas of controlled chaos. Needs further thought, and mostly needs to be tested in practice.

Further thoughts - the stuff I said about keeping up with the racing creative mind - of course that would be in the thumbnail stage - which is basically what I've bene doing lately, all quicksketch. But on the latest painting - I was having creative thoughts about compositional choices and racing to paint them in fast enough. So yeah, I guess it does apply even in the later stages of painting.

I also think as I get more used to my new approaches to drawing and painting Ill be better able to develop neater work habits without sacrificing the speed and spontaneity. I think it's mostly a matter of knowing your tools and techniques well from a lot of experience, and just knowing when and where to put in a little extra effort to clean things up as you go, so you don't have to repaint.

I ALSO think it's a matter of flipping a switch in your mind, from allowing yourself to be all crazy messy to disciplining yourself to think before you draw. I've flipped that switch before - it doesn't remain permanently, I let it slip after a while. But when I'm familiar enough with the new tools and techniques and ideas I can flip it again.

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