Have you ever looked up at the night sky and been bamboozled by the size of the moon? Where it just looked so big it seemed like it was engulfing the earth, every etching and crater so crystal clear that it looked like it was carved by kids chucking rocks at it? Well, it’s happened to me. In fact, once I was so awed by how bright big ol’ Cheese Face was in the sky that I decided to document it by snapping a picture of it. When I excitedly looked at my camera to see how it captured the beauty before me, I was dismayed to see something like this:
If you’re interested into diving into the subject of how we process sight/vision biologically, a really good book to read is Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing. Be warned: A technical but good read.
I never really understood the standby advice to “draw from observation” until that moment. No one had really explained to me why it was so important and it honestly seemed like dumb advice, especially since using photo reference was so convenient. But looking at the sad photo, it suddenly became very apparent how easy it was to unknowingly strip away the very thing that you think is beautiful by leaning on something that’s presumed to be “correct”.
Objectively speaking, the photo reflected a legitimate reality with accurate renderings of scale, light, and color (as sensed by the lens of the camera), but it ultimately failed to express what I personally found so entrancing about the experience. That “thing” that I found so entrancing is the secret sauce of great image making. In a word, it’s love.
Love? That’s it? How sappy! How corny! Too simple! But isn’t it?? And the kicker? This appreciation for life is entirely intrinsic. That thing that you are enamored with could literally be anything and it will inform everything about how you approach image making whether you like it or not. Why? Because you’re a prisoner of love!
And like any good romance, there are bound to be challenges that must be faced. Many forces will try to convince you that your love is “not correct” or “stupid”. Here are some ideas that you might have to contend with:
- “I wish I were as good/in love with the world the same way as X artist.”
- “Everybody knows X is considered the most respectable form of art.”
- “The world doesn’t need another drawing of/like X.”
- “How can I completely change my style to be accepted by this cool group of people/instituion?”
Some or all of these thoughts might run through your head, but denying what really draws you into image making is like voluntarily declaring eternal love to the chum standing NEXT to your true love. The insincerity always shines through and you might just be changing yourself in pursuit of a bad time.
Until the question “To what part of life do I honestly craft love letters to?” is answered, I found it best to not lean too heavily on an outside interpretation for the answer. However, once the question IS answered, art and technology created by others become indispensable tools to help express that love.
So what might the different kinds of love look like? Here are a few that I just thought off the top of my head:
You could be in love with the way that light plays with its surroundings.
Or the expressiveness found in movement.
The balance in type and graphical elements.
Elegance in simplified forms.
Punch out vibrant colors.
The beauty in patterns.
The intricacy of machinery/engineering.
Or hell, how about how cool hair/cloth/swoopy things are?
It could literally be anything. And the best part? There’s no right answer except the one that feels right to you! 🙂 So go, FOLLOW YOUR HEART!
I’ll end with a video of four artists from The Sleeping Beauty crew painting the same tree in different ways. Thanks for reading!