|Copy of Cleve Gray-Untitled|
|Copy of Linda Geary-Black Blue 0|
Anyone remember that book? (Actually titled Are You My Mother?)
Recently a friend and fellow artist, who had heard that I was teaching a class, asked me if I would give a class in creating my figures without faces. She and I had talked about the figures one other time. She liked the "no-face" look and felt it added interest to the composition. As I was talking with her, I thought to myself that honestly, I wouldn't know where to begin. Then, because I am me, I thought maybe she was just being kind. She is a pretty honest person though so I eventually felt that she was expressing genuine interest and the desire to learn something new; something that she perceives to be new anyway.
The "no face" thing is not new or unique, however. After I had done several of the pieces I looked around for other work like this. People do it; it's common. And frankly, other people do it better than me!
I won't be giving a class about this technique. There isn't much to say about painting this way. It's just some simple modeling of a face form with some line work for the subject and the gathering in and simplifying of shadows and light. Mostly though there is no class for this "technique" because it's my point of view; it's my preference for figurative work that I do. And I guess it falls under the heading of style. How do you teach that idea?
My point with the above story is this: how can you help someone (or be helped yourself) to develop a style? After all, wasn't my friend really asking about how to get that look? How could she learn about that? I am guessing at her motivation because it is my own motivation too for asking questions . What is the artist doing, how are they doing it, and moreover, why are they doing it? Can I learn to do it too and is it important enough to me to incorporate into my own work? In other words, how do I develop and solidify my point of view in making art?
This all brings me to the work above that I did over the weekend. I decided to do two copies of work that I admire. (I have given links to both artists, one who has passed away and one who is still very much alive and working in Oakland.) I did these copies first and foremost to figure out what the artists were doing. What the order of business might be. Secondly, is the process something that I think I should incorporate into my own work? And lastly, I NEED SOME GUIDANCE, COUNSELOR!!!! Honestly, I do. Excluding all of the above wondering and musings, I think this is at the root of the problem (and maybe even the deeper meaning of my friend's question). When you work alone and don't have a clear vision and are unsure and fairly uneducated about art (but are trying very, very hard to get there) it's inevitable that you will reach out in some way for help. Ideally you would like a mentor who can help you get your act together; tell you what to do next even.
I understand that this is all one, long process. I've liked much of what I have done so far and think that the palette knife work I am doing currently is a big leap forward. (I enjoy it a lot also.) My drawing is improving and I am learning a lot about art history as well as current art being made right now. The above pieces felt really great to do. There were some wonderful "ah-ha" moments. I admit from time to time that I just don't always know what I am doing. And if I have learned anything in the time since my mom died I have learned that there is no shame whatsoever in not knowing something. The only shame is in not wanting to learn.