Embracing the community

Part of what I would like to achieve through my blog, is a conversation with other people who are having a go at art. I want to pick their brains, to learn from them and share their experiences. Social media makes this so much easier, opening a window to a world of artistic talent, enabling conversations in which no words are actually spoken and bottoms remain firmly on sofas.

It’s weird. It’s a bit intimidating how much amazing talent is out there. It is also, frankly, totally bonkers. I have lost hours this week watching hundreds of little videos. If I’m honest, only a few will actually enrich my life. Time-lapse videos showing the art process from start to finish are great. I have already learned lots from watching watercolour tutorials.

But then there’s the dark underbelly, that I wasn’t prepared for. I have watched more videos dedicated to mixing thick paint, than I care to admit. The paint is unctuous, and the mixing is slow and usually involves a palette knife. I don’t really know why someone would want to video themselves mixing paint, but they do. What’s more worrying to me is why I watch it for longer than I should. To be honest it’s boring (literally watching paint dry) but relaxing – like tropical fish. The kind of thing that brings one’s heart rate down and judging but the number of views these videos get I am (thankfully) not alone. I also watched someone peeling an orange and slicing it into rounds with a large knife – so maybe I’m just mental.

What is humbling, is the number of phenomenally talented artists there are out there. They are all at different stages of their artistic journeys- some starting out, others old masters. I really feel that art has never been more accessible. When I studied art-history there was a suffocating elitism about art that made me feel uncomfortable and sometimes unwelcome. Social media puts the power into the hands of the artist and the viewer. There’s no gate-keeper making judgements around perceptions of ‘quality’, based on port-folios or calibre, but power is in the eye of the beholder; we each get to comment on whether we think something is good. There is obviously a downside to this. Making a living solely from art must be even more difficult. How can you be heard when there is so much noise?

I’ve been trying to figure out how to promote my blog and my hobby. It is clear that you don’t get very far if you only push your product. This week I have learned that you have to give to receive, you have to become part of the conversation and the community. You have to comment, follow and like. And, it feels surprisingly good! My week has been improved by posting encouraging comments on art posts that I have seen, that I like. It’s nice to be nice.

Which is good because I’ve just started watch Don’t F*ck With Cats on NetFlix…which can make you lose faith in humanity.

ON the art front, I’ve being going down a few detail rabbit holes, and losing myself for hours doggedly copying things, and have reflected that this is not going to be sustainable if painting is going to become a regular habit. Ultimately to maintain momentum, it needs to be fun and (sometimes) quick.

With that in mind and, keeping the theme of feathers, I spent today painting birds – but trying to only let the brush touch the paper 10 times for each. It’s been liberating! I’ve added some very quick pen lines for definition, but I would recommend this as a way of mixing it up when you get into a bit of a fug.

Anyway, see you all next week. And I love to hear any blogging or painting tips

Getting swamped by the detail

Published by berylsadventuresinartland

I'm Beryl, I'm giving blogging a go and publicly charting my meteoric rise to mediocrity in my artistic endeavors. I'm new to blogging, and new to sharing in such a public way. But I'm doing this in the hope that the creation of a new habit will help me stick to learning, and ultimately make me a better human.

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15 Comments

  1. I love your birds, Beryl. Really nice work. I’ve been changing it up myself lately and have introduced some hybrid cat-birds in the canvas currently sitting on my easel (this one has been in the works for over a year now…eye-roll at myself). I know that if I don’t draw regularly and consistently, I kind of lose the will and the memory that I can do it at all, even though I’ve been doing it for most of my own 45 years. It’s muscle memory that we’re trying to develop as artists, though. Bit like riding a bike: You don’t really forget, but you might be a bit wobbly when you get back on at first. Drawing, as it turns out, happens to be my least favourite thing, or at least observational drawing – which is daft if you think about it, being that I consider myself an artist (I prefer colour mixing and painting in general). However, drafting is relatively essential if you want to maintain a broad artistic repertoire. So, I force myself to keep at it because the only way I’m ever going to master this business of creating art is by facing the fears and insecurities I have about it. You seem to be doing just fine. 😉

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    1. I agree! You just have to keep on at it. Even just 10 minutes a day, otherwise other things fill the space that art leaves. Drawing can be frustrating but relaxing at the same time. I love a bit of colour though (especially in dreary January) so I’m enjoying sloshing the paint around at the mo!

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  2. Your little watercolor birds are charming. I like the idea of limiting the brush strokes to get yourself to simplify.
    I am also attracted to videos that demonstrate art techniques (although some are much better than others). I’ve read that our brains treat watching someone else do something as if we were doing it ourselves (the same areas are active whether we are painting or we are watching someone else paint), so it makes sense that we get some sort of satisfaction watching. I remind myself that I will get even more satisfaction doing, but on days when I’m super tired, watching can be a good way to spend my time. You can learn from others that way.

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    1. Thanks Kit! I’ve really enjoyed limiting the amount of brush strokes! I’ve not been able to stick to 10 but it’s more about not overworking the paint to much. There have been a couple of disasters, but it’s been really positive. I’m becoming a bit of an art demo addict – but I figure there are worse vices out there!

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  3. Hi Beryl! I’ve read two of your posts so far and I am totally hooked! Congrats on getting back into the Art World. Your post on turning 40 really rang true for me. However, for me it was retirement that got me wanting to paint again. I did graduate with a four-year degree in studio art, but that didn’t translate into an art career. But that’s a story for another time. Keep up the good work!

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