Friday, May 14, 2010

Sharpening the Saw - Mileage

We're not quite certain where the phrase "sharpening the saw" came from, but it is a concept we learned about in an old X-men comic that definitely applies to art. Monkey + Seal finished with our classes at the end of 2009, so for January through March, we weren't doing nearly as much painting/drawing/making art as we were previously. However, with Seal's recent freelance project and Monkey working on his "art every day" over at his blog, we've found that we've gotten quite a bit rusty after so much time organizing and less time painting.

However, now that we're in the swing of things, we find it way easier to create. But just like exercise or any other activity, you have to keep practicing constantly to ever be great. Monkey completed the above digital painting in about ~2 hours, which would have taken him easily 6-10 hours about a year ago. How did he speed up and improve? With increased knowledge (and new tools, ie. brushes) and lots and lots of practice.

Our instructors in our Foundation courses at Academy always told us "You know what the difference between you and me is? Twenty years." Our teachers create art for our demos, then go home and create more art for their professional practice - and they've been doing it for twenty years.

When Monkey first started at the Academy, he hadn't seriously tried to draw anything in about 8 years. He had never used charcoal, and so obviously he was not going to be able to render things photo-realistically - he could barely keep things in perspective! However, three years of four studio classes per semester, look how far he's come!

It's not about inherent skill, or natural-born artistic talent. It's about drive, determination, and practice. And don't think that you have to create a masterpiece every time. As long as you are learning something, and refining a skill, whether that just be a refreshment on anatomy, your line work, or just learning more about what colors work well together and what don't, it's all good.

Draw every day if you want to be a visual artist. If you're a musician, you should rehearse every day. No matter what you're doing, make sure that you're practicing and you'll find yourself steadily improving. Just keep pushing, keep working, and keep on keeping on. It's how we do it here at the Monkey + Seal studio.


Katie said...

This is really inspiring. I think that what happens when you get out of practice is that it seems impossible to get back in practice. But it's important to realize that out of practice doesn't mean bad it just means work.

Ri.S.K. said...

Well put Katie. Getting out of practice isn't the end of the world, but it is an uphill battle.

Even doing a little each day, even if it seems insignificant, will help tremendously, in our experience, so don't fall into the trap! Keep on keeping on!