Thursday, February 10, 2011

Keeping Things Fresh

In-progress painting, ~5 hours

Before we get on with our usual blog fare, we just wanted to remind you about some of the many events coming up in the next week or so.

This Friday, Feb. 11th, both Monkey + Seal will be in Wonderland SF's group show "Just Because.." along with 16 other talented artists. The opening night reception is from 6-10pm at Wonderland SF in the Mission, 2929 24th Street to be exact.

This weekend at Big Umbrella Studios, we'll be having a super duper trunk show! There will be vegan fare and baked goods, along with other awesome vendors on Sunday, from 12-5pm at 906.5 Divisadero St (x McAllister). You should also stop on by on Saturday to see an entirely different slate of vendors and show your support. Same time, same place, different food options.

Monkey here.

I recently started taking classes at City College of San Francisco (CCSF, for those in the know). As you probably know, I already have a (expensive) degree from Academy of Art University. Why would I go back to school?

Three reasons. The first, which is NOT what this post is about, is so that my student loans might be deferred just a little bit longer.

The second, more interesting reason (but still not what this post is about) is that I wanted to get back into printmaking (other than silkscreen), and by taking printmaking classes I'd have access to some presses.

The third, most important reason is that I wanted to keep things fresh. While at the Academy, because I was pressured to paint in the style of classical realism (ie realistic paintings, rendering form, strong light sources, etc.), I ended up feeling confined and frustrated and that's how I ended up going into my current style of looser, outlined, messy-background paintings that I do now, even going so far as to sometimes including text.

However, after painting in this loose manner for the past year, I started to get a bit bored with my current style. Fortunately I had been changing up subject matter over the past year or so, but I still saw things getting a bit stale. Because I had been fortunate to have a fairly filled schedule of shows, most paintings were paintings done under a deadline, and I didn't have a lot of time to experiment.

By taking painting classes at CCSF, I've given myself the permission (and time) to paint in other styles. Instead of drawing sketches on canvas with pencil (or completely making something out of random brush strokes) like I usually do for my current body of work, I've gone back to my Academy training of painting from reference, doing quick underpaintings with paint, and (albeit stylistically) rending form instead of using line to create the image.

Painting in this way helps me to keep my speed up and is just a great way of practicing my skill set. Regardless of the finished product, I'm practicing more, which is one of the keys to success. After all, practice makes perfect with art, and it's really all about mileage. While it might not be obvious how painting in different styles helps, there are a lot of things that I can practice regardless of the style. How to get my paint to the consistency I want. Brush control. Color mixing. No matter the task, creating with paint on a daily basis is super helpful if you want to improve your craft.

All in all, I think that it is really important to keep things fresh here and there, in order to make sure that you're not getting tired of the same thing. Experimentation and trying new (or older) styles or themes can be really helpful as even if you don't learn something new that directly applies to your current style, you'll be rehearsing the basics, which will just make you stronger.

Whether taking classes at a community college or going to art school (if you haven't yet), by changing stuff up and making time for a change of pace, you'll be able to keep things fresh and, most importantly, keep art fun. After all, when art stops being fun, then it's just a job.

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