Sunday, December 8, 2013

A niche for inspiration

The object isn’t to make art,
 it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.

I feel like my whole life thus far has been spent on trying to find inspiration. I've struggled for so many years with all this creative energy, but I didn't have a niche that I could focus it all into. I tried music, which was fun and freeing, but wasn't exactly "my thing". I did photography for a long time, and still do, which is also amazing, but I struggled with the interaction that came with working with models. I've dabbled in crafting and still do, but I wouldn't necessarily say that I'd want to make a living out of it.

So about 5 months back (give or take), I was inspired to purchase a watercolor paint set. I've worked with water colors once before in college when I had to write a children's book for a children's literature class, and I remember how wonderful the medium was. So I decided to give it a go again. I've worked with acrylics before, but found them to be frustrating and annoying. The plastic-like consistency of it drove me crazy. I felt like I couldn't control and maneuver it the way I wanted to. I suppose using various paint thinners and exploring the medium a bit more would help me work around that frustration, but the fact still remains that I'm not crazy about the way acrylics look. I wanted to create soft, delicate looking paintings, and acrylics are a bit too harsh looking for my style. I've also never attempted to use oil paints. I find them incredibly intimidating, but one day I will definitely give them a try.

My first watercolor was a complete and utter failure. I mean, it was really bad! It looked like a 10 year old tried to make a bird in art class. Maybe I wasn't inspired enough, or maybe I was leery about using a medium that I didn't have much experience with. Whatever it was, it definitely allowed me to create utter crap as my first painting. But everyone has to start somewhere, and I knew that afterwards I had a basic understanding of watercolor paint. I figured out how to manipulate the paint, how I could control it on the paper. 

I think the biggest mistake I made with my first painting was the I tried too hard. I really wanted to have my first painting be perfect. I set an expectation for myself that I had to make a museum-quality painting. Which was completely ridiculous and un-realistic. I can't believe I'm going to do this right now, but here's a picture of my first ever watercolor painting.

This is a picture of the painting before it was completely finished, but honestly it didn't get much better than that. A few tail feathers later and it still looked like crap!

But I didn't want to give up. Luckily for my second painting, I was incredibly inspired. I wanted to paint something for DK so he could hang it in his new place. We always had a sort-of inside joke about pugs and how they all look like creepy little aliens. I could have gone for something "prettier" but I wanted to paint something that was unique, and that would put a smile on his face every time he looked at it. Thus Pug Life was born! I worked on this painting every night for about 3-4 weeks. It was long, and tedious, but I really enjoyed every minute of the process. When it was finished, I was thrilled. I had finally created something that I was incredibly proud of. I had found my niche! I wanted to make watercolors work for me, and I worked hard to make that happen.

Now I'm whipping up paintings left and right. I don't have to think in advance of what I want to paint. It comes to me naturally now. I am actually inspired enough that after a long, tiring day of work, I still want to come home and sit down in front of my paintings for 3-4 hours before bed. I paint realistic animals, which is funny because I'm incredibly inspired by artists like Greg "Craola" Simkins and Ryohei Hase. 

I'm going to wrap this post up by saying that I think anyone, and everyone, can be an artist. I think anyone is capable of creating. But I think it takes practice, hard work, and persistence. You aren't born with talent, you develop it. Not everyone is born with a vibrant enough imagination to create great paintings like Craola does, but that's OK. Don't ever tell yourself that you can't do something. That's just an excuse to not put the work in. Just find your niche, practice hard, and it will all become natural after that.

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