How to create ideas or the art of finding concept and composition in your OWN work.
For long, I had been thinking there is something wrong in the way I see many people drawing and painting*.
Some are very skilled people. Yet, their final work of art leave me indifferent at best and sometimes upright puzzled to say the least.
Why using the best techniques, the best skills, the best tools and materials just to EXACTLY** mimicking a photograph for instance ? Or just to show what I see as "sick" art of demential if not downright diabolic influence such as the one contained in certain videogames, cartoons, illustrations and paintings?
This is something I don't understand.
When I draw or paint I feel the difficulty of finding ideas. Maybe I have a rough indication of what I want to achieve but it's not easy either to decide on the next steps.
I felt frustrated feeling that I had the means to achieve something, yet feeling the pain in front of the white board: I didn't want to "just" be drawing something.
So it is with the outmost welcome that I discovered this book The Basis of Successful Art : Concept and Composition , written in 1983 by Fritz Henning. by each page it was like seeing my own thought written down in abetter, more precise form, on paper.
And so I am creating this webpage, taking notes from my own and Mr Henning's thinking. To unite and combine different skill levels, educational backgrounds and just associate with people is by the way a good way to realize how to create ideas.
HOW TO CREATE IDEAS AND CONCEPTS
Here my notes
The first think that catched my soul is that actually the "path" is already inside ourselves. We need to look for it. Like I said earlier, there is already a way you can draw a cat your own style.
Why do you rush to get to know exactly how to reproduce THAT cat realistically in the first place? You might get there eventually, by careful obesrvations and attempts....But first don't spoil the moment and be yourself!
"Some are able to learn all manner of arts, but not all have that capacity. But no man of sense is so rude that he is not able to learn something to which his spirit most inclines him" (Albrecht Dürer)
To have an idea and a good idea is not easy!
If you are unsatisfied, stop working. Ideas will pop-up when you don't think about them!
There is no better way than Henning's own wording to express what I kept repeating to myself.
"A disquieting number of experienced artists, as well as most beginners, fail to recognize it takes more than skilfful drawing, dazzling technique, control of color, and tricks to a worthy picture make. True, these elements are important, but without a provocative concept soundly composed, the results will be as rewarding as losing a lottery ticket. Sadly, much fine work is wasted for want of sufficient preliminary thought and planning. The craftsman is so eager to display his skills that he builds his picture structure on a shallow base" (page 12)
And he concludes that you can still make an interesting picture when the IDEA behind is good:
"Most artist soon discover that if the basic idea of their picture is good, the concept clearly expressed, viewers will appreciate the statement even if they find a fault or deficiency in some aspect of the work. The reverse of this is seldom true".(page 23)
We live in a photographic era. But a photography is not reality. In a photography we cannot see the real colors, we cannot hear the sounds of the environment, the whole landscape around, its depth and breath....
A photography is a just a tool.
Inside yourself, there is much more!
If you are afraid of the blank empty paper in fron of you, just draw anything on it! It's better than an empty space. This is a suggestion from Norman Rockwell who painted a lamp post just to start and then proceeded with successive ideas in a chain to get inspirations:
lamp post -> drunk sailor leaning on it -> sailor mending his uniform -> houswife seewing with a boy looking -> home scene with boy and dog -> dog is sick ->etc....
All this by doing sketches
* It also certainly applies to certain of my drawings.
** I did say "exactly". Photographs can be a useful tool, too. See here