Friday, January 31, 2020

The Benefits of Daily Practice Part II: Discovering Your Personal Style

For years I struggled with my art. I saw so many people that I thought were better artists than me. I wanted to draw like so and so, or paint like someone else. Try as I might, I could never rise to their ability. A few years after graduating from college, I started my MA in Illustration at Syracuse University. Here I was able to study under some great illustrators like Murray Tinkelman (1933-2016), C.F. Payne, and Bunny Carter. I learned so much there, but the work I produced was not good. 

Around 7 years later, I applied for the MFA program at The University of Hartford, Hartford Art School. I was again able to study under the direction of Murray. One day while working, He came by my desk, looked at my work, and said “Barclay, what happened? The work you were doing at Syracuse was horrible. This stuff is good!” 

I responded that I had been reflecting on the work I do in my sketchbook and realized that this was what and how I enjoyed drawing. 

He responded “Well keep it up!”

I had been keeping a sketch book and drawing in it regularly since I graduated from high school. I drew what I wanted to draw in it and how I felt like drawing. But for whatever reason, until that point at Hartford, I didn’t look at what was in my sketchbook as anything of value. I thought everyone expected me to be like other artists – to draw their way. Kimon Nicolades in his book, The Natural Way to Draw said “There is only one right way to draw and that is a perfectly natural way.” I had found my natural way to draw.

Drawing daily, drawing without pressure from the outside world, and drawing free of criticism and judgement can help you discover your own artistic voice and help you realize your own right way to draw and create art. 

I am still influenced by other’s work. I still strive to be better, but now I learn from other artists and apply it to the right way to draw – my way to draw. I have years of sketchbooks and a few incredible instructors that have allowed me the freedom to recognize this.

If you are interested in The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolades it is a wonderful book that was recommended to me by a wonderful painter and friend Frank Magleby (1928-2013) you can get it here.

For more information on the University of Hartford, Hartford Art school's limited residency Illustration MFA you can visit here.

You can also see Murray Tinkelman, and C.F. Payne illustrations.

Monday, January 27, 2020

2x2 at the Quimby Gallery

This year the Quimby Gallery at Northern Vermont University - Lyndon is hosting 2x2 a Community Art Event. Any one can submit artwork that is 2x2 inches to the gallery until March 17th.

It is a great event seeing the art work come in from all over and watching the art increase daily as we hang it.

Art work can be sent to:
Quimby Gallery
Northern Vermont University-Lyndon
1001 College Road
Lyndonville, VT 05851

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Benefits of Daily Practice: Part I, Finding the Joy Again

My grandfather often said, “Don’t get so busy making a living, that you forget what you’re living for.” 

In talking with a number of other artists, I have found a number of illustrators that spend so much time working on illustrating for others, that they lose joy in the creation of their art. It becomes a job and they forget the delight they once found in the creation process. I see this often with students as well. They get burned out with all the assignments that we as professors give them. It is no longer fun. 

Many do not spend time exploring and having fun with drawing because they are too busy with the work. They work, and their art is their work. They do not draw for fun anymore. It is their job and that is all. I believe, that in order to maintain the joy of creating art one must set aside time to draw or practice their art daily. This needs to be free of others expectations and demands.

For me, I try to fill at least a page in my sketchbook 6 days a week. This daily drawing is a free draw for me to explore, have fun, be creative without boundaries, or to practice drawing whatever I want to improve on. I have found that this drawing time generates ideas for personal projects that keeps me going through more difficult jobs and deal with some of my more stressful moments. 

This is not easy. Often the clamor of work, putting out fires, and other pressures cause me to sacrifice this drawing time. In order to combat this, I have started scheduling 15 minutes a day to just draw. Although this does not solve the problem of competing demands, it has helped me draw more. 

Recently, I have discovered again the joy of drawing guinea fowl. They, along with other creatures, like aliens, robots, and observational sketches, keep populating my sketchbook.

I am happier when I make the time to draw regularly. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Personal Project: My Shakespeare Series, Henry VI part II

A few years ago, I set a goal to read all of William Shakespeare's plays and do an illustration for each. 

In Henry VI part II act 2 scene 3, after Gloucester is found dead, Suffolk is accused without evidence. The Earl of Warwick gives the following reason:

Who finds the partridge in the puttocks nest
But may imagine how the bird was dead,
although the kite soar with unbloodied beak?
Even so suspicious is this tragedy.

This image of the kite hovering over a nest struck me. It seemed to say so much more than just the murder of Gloucester.   I replaced the puttock's nest (a bird of prey like a kite) with the crown to emphasize the idea of the impending coup. I chose the black-winged kite because of the blood red eyes gave the illustration a more menacing foreboding appearance. 

To date I have read King John through Henry VI part II in order of the sequence of their action. It wasn't until reading this one that I came up with my first image. I think I will have to go back and review the others again for more ideas.