Five Reasons Why Artists Should Be Gamers Too

Although I’ve talked about computer/video games and artistic inspiration more times than I can remember (and apologies if I repeat myself in this article), I thought that I’d look at this subject from a slightly different angle today. In particular, I’ll be talking about why artists should be gamers too.

1) Thinking in 3D: I vaguely remember reading that there was actually a scientific study about this, but most artists who are also gamers will know about it anyway. I am, of course, talking about how playing 3D computer/video games can actually help you to think in three dimensions.

What I mean by this is being able to visualise the things you want to draw or paint as if they were 3D objects.

This is one of the most essential skills for making art, since it can help you with things like realistic perspective, realistic shadows, copying from life etc… Being able to see the things in your drawing or painting as three-dimensional objects (converted into a 2D drawing or painting) is an incredibly useful skill- and playing lots of 3D games can really help with learning it.

This is especially true if you play older 3D games with less realistic graphics. Because these games look less realistic, it is easier to see all of the various 3D shapes. Older 3D games also provide simplified interactive examples of things like one-point perspective (eg: any first-person shooter game will use this perspective), 3D shapes seen from different angles etc…

This is a screenshot of “Rise Of The Triad: Dark War” (1993). Although not technically a “3D” game, this screenshot shows how one-point perspective (eg: the bottoms of the two walls beside the player converge towards one point on the horizon) is an essential part of the first-person shooter genre.

This screenshot from “Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines” (2004) provides another example of one-point perspective, albeit from a third-person perspective.

2) Having fun with a creative work: If there’s one thing to be said for computer/video games, it is that most of them are meant to be fun. Yes, I’m aware that this is something of an old-fashioned simplification these days. But, historically at least, fun has been the primary concern of most game developers.

Having fun with games is important if you are an artist for the simple reason that it can remind you that the goal of creating things is to make something that the audience will enjoy. To make something which will impress them, make them think, evoke a particular emotion and/or inspire them creatively in some way or another.

Playing games also allows you to see pieces of artwork “in action” as part of a larger creative work (eg: as backgrounds etc..), which can remind you of the value of art.

Because games are such an immersive and interactive medium, they are a perfect way to remind yourself of the power of creativity. To remind yourself of how fascinating creative works can be and how creating things is a meaningful and important activity.

This is a screenshot from a hidden object game called “The Gift” (2012?), it’s a paranormal “film noir” style puzzle adventure game that (aside from one repetitive segment) is quite relaxing to play. As you can also see, it also contains some cool-looking art (which uses one-point perspective) too.

3) It makes you appreciate how “open” art is: This one is a bit more cynical. But, you may have noticed that all of the game screenshots included in this article are from older and/or very low-budget games.

This is mostly because the computer I’m typing this article on isn’t exactly a modern gaming machine (it’s a low-end computer from the mid-2000s, and I love it 🙂 ). Simply put, it isn’t powerful enough to play many popular contemporary games. If I didn’t love old/ low-budget games so much, then I’d probably feel like I was missing out on something.

This is a screenshot from “Blackwell Epiphany” (2014). It is that rare thing, a “modern” game that will actually run on pretty much any computer.

Of course, art doesn’t really have these problems. As long as your eyesight is ok, then you can look at any piece of art you want. You can look at everything from old paintings from the 15th century on the internet to the latest works of contemporary digital art on DeviantART. Seeing the technical restrictions that games place on their audience can make you appreciate how “open” art is by comparison. How it is something that is instantly accessible to a much wider audience.

Likewise, if you play a lot of games, then you’re inevitably going to think “I want to make a game!” at some point. Of course, even a small amount of research will show you that making a “proper” game is a complicated thing that often requires a team of people, a budget etc.. (it’s kind of like making a film in this regard). Making art, on the other hand, is something that you can do with just a pen and paper if you want to. Again, the barrier to entry is a lot lower.

4) Trickery and limitations: One of the really cool things about old games is that the designers had to make enjoyable games that would run on the low-powered computers and consoles of the time. This meant that they often had to use all sorts of clever trickery in order to make their games seem more visually-impressive than they actually were

Sometimes, designers would actually turn a technical limitation into an important feature. A good example of this can be found in the older “Resident Evil” games from the mid-late 1990s.

These are horror games that create a suspenseful atmosphere through, amongst other things, the use of fixed “camera angles”. Not only does this give the game a more “cinematic” look (and allows for more artistic compositions), but it also allows the designers to occasionally hide monsters just off-screen in order to create things like jump scares etc..

This is a screenshot from “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” (1997) – note the unusual “camera angle” in this scene. By leaving part of the room out of sight, the game’s creators can create a sense of suspense. Likewise, notice how the stag’s head and candelabra in the close foreground help to give the room a sense of depth. Not to mention that this screenshot is a good example of three-point perspective too.

Of course, these fixed camera angles weren’t a completely deliberate choice. They were, in fact, the developers taking advantage of a major technical limitation. The reason why the camera doesn’t move is because the game’s locations aren’t actually 3D. They’re just a collection of two-dimensional pictures, with 3D characters super-imposed on top of them. It was a really sneaky way to make the game run faster and look better on the technology of the time.

Yes, making games and making art are two very different things. But, seeing game designers turn limitations into features can be a great learning experience if you’re a more inexperienced artist and/or you don’t have time to spend months on a single piece of art. Being impressed by games that use technical trickery will put you in the mood for finding time-saving tricks for your own art and/or sneaky ways to make your art look even better.

5) Worldbuilding: Finally, one other thing that makes games so useful to artists is that they immerse the player in a fictional “world”.

What this means is that everything in a game has to look like an organic part of the game’s “world”. If something seems out of place or poorly-thought-through, then it it will be immediately obvious to the player. So, good location design and worldbuilding is very important in sci-fi, fantasy, horror etc… games.

This is a screenshot from “Shadowrun: Dragonfall” (2014). The location in this screenshot is an anarchist micro-state in a futuristic version of Berlin. This is signalled to the player through the futuristic neon lighting/gadgets, some German text on the buildings in the background and the fact that the streets and street lighting look a bit more “makeshift” than usual. These are all organic elements of the game’s world that have emerged from the idea of “an anarchist micro-state in futuristic Berlin“.

As such, games contain numerous perfect examples of how to come up with more interesting or convincing locations if you are painting or drawing from imagination. Even less-perfect examples of this sort of thing can show you what sorts of mistakes you need to avoid when coming up with backgrounds for your paintings or drawings.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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Three Things That Game Design Videos Can Teach Artists (Who Don’t Make Games)

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I’m not sure if I’ve talked about this before, but I thought that I’d talk about one of my favourite types of online videos and how they can also be useful if you’re an artist.

I am, of course, talking about videos that discuss and explain design techniques in computer and video games. But, apart from messing around with a few basic “game maker” type programs in the past, I haven’t made a game [EDIT (16/10/17): Unless you count this gamebook-style interactive novella I wrote in 2015. I can’t believe I forgot about that!]

So, what relevance do these videos have to making art? They can teach us quite a lot, such as…

1) Graphics aren’t everything: Anyone who knows anything about gaming will probably know this already, but it’s possible for a game to look visually spectacular but to be terribly designed. Whilst hyper-realistic graphics might enhance the player’s enjoyment of some games, they’re worth nothing if the actual game itself isn’t both well-designed and fun to play.

Of course, art is – on the surface at least- all about “graphics”. I mean, you are literally creating a single static image (using ink, paints, digital tools etc..). However, there’s a lot more to making a good piece of art than just pure technical brilliance.

I’m talking about things like composition (eg: the layout of a picture), visual storytelling (eg: what is happening in the picture), perspective (eg: the ‘camera angle’ used in a painting or drawing) and the overall visual consistency of a picture (eg: do the colours go well together etc…). If you do these things well, then even an ‘unrealistic’ picture will be far more visually interesting than a hyper-realistic picture that doesn’t do these things well.

So, even with art, graphics aren’t everything.

2) Budget isn’t everything: One interesting thing about game design videos on sites like Youtube is that they are just as likely to focus on the design of obscure low-budget games made by small teams as they are to focus on the design of well-advertised mega-budget games made by software companies. Since game design revolves around ideas (and how those ideas are implemented), games of all budget levels can either include good or bad design.

Thankfully, since art isn’t usually a collaborative medium, we don’t have to worry about team size. However, if you’re new to making art, then it can be easy to think that you need a large art budget. That you need fancy branded art supplies or the most well-advertised types of graphics software. You don’t.

Good art is about skill, rather than about budget. An artist who has put a lot of time into practice and learning can produce stunning artwork using basic, cheap no-brand tools. An artist who is less experienced will produce lower-quality art even with expensive branded tools. The thing that matters most is skill (which can only be acquired through practice, learning, experimentation etc..) and not how expensive or prestigious your art supplies are.

Good game design doesn’t require a large budget. Neither does good art.

3) Ideas mean nothing without implementation: One of the most interesting things in game design videos is when they talk about games that have great design ideas, but which fail because those ideas aren’t implemented properly. In other words, it’s about whether a game puts it’s ideas into practice in a way that is enjoyable (and understandable) for the player.

This has a lot of parallels with modern art. One of the most trendy art movements at the moment is (still) conceptual art – this is the idea that the idea behind a piece of art matters more than the actual art itself. This is why things like unmade beds, pickled sharks and old urinals end up in art galleries. But, although the ideas behind these works of art may be complex, philosophically deep etc… they don’t always get those ideas across to the audience in an immediate, quickly-understandable and interesting way.

So, even if you have a great idea for a painting, a drawing or a sculpture, then you still have to pay a lot of attention to how you will put that idea into practice. How you will use your painting, drawing or sculpture to communicate with the audience in the most effective, understandable and interesting way possible.

Because, in both games and art, a great idea means nothing without good implementation.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Is It Worth Knowing What Materials An Artist Uses?

This little picture was made using a rollerball pen, a scanner and several digital effects.

This little picture was made using a rollerball pen, a scanner and several digital effects.

Well, after mentioning two of the old image editing programs I use regularly in a recent article, I thought that I’d look at the whole subject of artists talking about the tools they use. I’ll mostly be looking at this from an artist’s perspective, since if you’re interested in an artist’s materials, then you’re probably interested in making art too.

It’s usually fairly common for artists to mention the tools that they use. This tends to happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is directly relevant to explaining how the artist achieved a particular effect, sometimes it’s because the audience are curious (or the artist thinks that they might be) and occasionally, it’s because an artist either has a favourite brand of art supplies or has possibly even been sponsored by the people who make said art supplies.

But, how useful is it for an artist to explain what art supplies that they use?

Generally, not as useful as you might think. In fact, knowing what art supplies your favourite artists use is often only ever useful in two circumstances. Yes, just two.

The first is that it tells you what general type of art supplies to look for if you want to make art that has a vaguely similar appearance to theirs. Notice how I said “type”, rather than “brand”.

If you learn that an artist’s pictures are created using a combination of, say, alcohol-based markers and India ink then, these are the two types of art supplies that you need to look for. Any art supplies of this type, regardless of brand, will do (and, if you’re new to making art, it’s worth going for cheaper art supplies that you feel comfortable experimenting with).

For example, my own daily artwork is usually made using watercolour pencils, a waterbrush, a black waterproof ink rollerball pen, cheap watercolour paper, a scanner and a couple of relatively basic image editing programs. But, if you get those particular things, then you probably won’t be able to make art that looks exactly like mine.

Why? Because knowledge and techniques are more important than tools. This brings me on to the second circumstance where knowing which materials an artist uses can be useful.

If there’s a very specific technique that requires you to use a certain art medium, then knowing what to use is obviously fairly important. For example, if your favourite artist uses “wet in wet” watercolour painting techniques and you want to try this yourself, then it’s probably important to know that you’ll need a slightly thicker/heavier type of watercolour paper (with a decent amount of surface sizing!), that powder/pan-based paints work better than watercolour pencils, that you’ll probably need a selection of different size brushes etc..

Of course, in order to illustrate the actual techniques involved in, say, “wet in wet” painting – the artist obviously has to explain what tools they are using.

After all, if you tried to drench a specific area of a painting with water whilst using very thin, cheap watercolour paper then it’s possibly going to ruin the paper. Likewise, some types of watercolour paper are more absorbent than others due to having less surface sizing (generally, I tend to use very absorbent watercolour paper – which helps to speed up drying times, but it makes “wet in wet” painting next to impossible). So, knowing which type of art supplies to get in order to practice the technique you are trying to learn is important.

But, apart from this, knowing what art supplies other artists use is fairly useless information in practical terms. Merely buying the same art supplies as your favourite artists won’t suddenly allow you to make art that looks like their art. Sure, your art will use the same materials (and look vaguely similar because of this) but the thing that makes a painting, drawing etc… look distinctive is the artist who made it. Their knowledge, their techniques and the many hours of practice that they have put into these things.

So, if you want to make art that looks more like the stuff that your favourite artists make, then it’s often far more useful to study the drawing or painting techniques that they use. It’s more useful to study things like the colour schemes they use in their art. It’s more useful to study how they handle things like composition and perspective etc…

I guess that what I’m trying to say is that getting new art supplies won’t turn you into your favourite artist. Art supplies are just tools. What matters is how you use them.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Four Ways That Making Art Regularly Changes How You See The World

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As I’ve probably mentioned before, making art regularly can change the way that you “see” the world. So, I thought that I’d explain some of the many ways that this can happen:

1) All of the usual technical stuff: This all goes without saying, but there are a lot of subtle ways that the technical details of making art regularly can change how you see the world.

For example, you’ll get a lot better at noticing and discerning exact colours. Likewise, you’ll instantly notice complementary colour schemes whenever you see them (the famous “most modern movie posters are blue and orange” thing springs to mind) Seriously, I’ve learnt more about colours within the past 2-3 years than I have done in the time before then.

You’ll also occasionally find yourself doing things like mentally converting 3D objects and scenery into 2D images, as if you were copying them by sight. Or, if you see something interesting, then you’re probably going to know how to memorise it so that you can paint it later (unless you carry a sketchbook, or one of those newfangled smartphones).

2) You respect artistic skill more: Last November, I somehow ended up reading an article about an ultra-conservative painter from America. My reaction to the rather provocative political paintings shown in the article was something along the lines of “I strongly disagree with the political sentiments but, on a purely technical level alone, these are quite impressive pieces of art – they’re more detailed and realistic-looking than any of my paintings are“.

Of course, when I looked at the comments, I occasionally saw people conflating the unsophisticated quality of the political messages in the paintings with the (much higher) level of technical quality in the paintings themselves. And I was completely bewildered by this for a few seconds. But, I realised that – without having the experience of making art – I also wouldn’t know the sheer amount of effort, time and practice that must have gone into all of these paintings.

So, yes, if you make art regularly, then you’ll tend to notice art a lot more. If you see an interesting illustration on a website, or even in an advert – then you’ll tend to either see if there’s anything you can learn from it or you’ll think “that’s an interesting piece of art”. Likewise, even if you don’t like a piece of art for some reason, you’ll probably still respect the technical skills of the artist who made it.

3) You become an analyst: If there’s one thing to be said for making art, it’s that it teaches you a lot more about images in general. In other words, the kinds of analytical skills that you need when working out how to make a painting (or researching how to draw something) can also be applied to any images that you happen to see.

In an earlier draft of this article, I had originally written a short essay about how a stock image in an online news article about science was potentially misleading (and how I was able to work out that it was a work of digital art rather than a realistic photo). But, then I worried that it sounded too cynical and I noticed that the stock image had technically been attributed (albeit with a potentially-misleading caption which could possibly lead readers to think it was a photograph of a real place). So, wary of sounding unfair, I decided to replace this part of this blog article with this description. Sorry about this.

But, yes, making art regularly can seriously improve your image analysis skills.

4) You notice beautiful scenery more: If you make art regularly, then when you see beautiful scenery in real life, then your first thought will often be something along the lines of “I should paint this” or “how do I paint this?”.

In other words, you will not only be more likely to look for interesting views of the world when you are out and about, but you’ll also be more likely to see artistic beauty in otherwise “ordinary” places.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Four Reasons Why Art Is Less Pretentious Than You Might Think

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Whether you make art, or whether you’re part of the audience, here are a few reasons why art is less pretentious than you might think.

1) Art is like music: Yes, music can be pretentious. But, music is usually just an ordinary background thing.

It’s something that you put on in the background because it’s more interesting than silence or because you’re a fan of a band or because you like the mood of a particular piece of music. It’s just a thing that makes life a bit more interesting.

Art is exactly the same. You’ve probably seen more pieces of art today than you might think. Yes, they might be hidden on book covers or in adverts. Yes, they might take the form of the webcomic or newspaper cartoon you read every day. Yes, they might be your computer and/or phone background images. Yes, they might be part of the computer game that you’re playing. But, they’re still art. They were all still made by artists.

Although there are certainly pretentious artists and silly pretentious types of art out there, art in general isn’t a pretentious thing. It’s often an ordinary, everyday background thing that you might not even notice if you aren’t looking for it. But, trust me, everyday life in a world without art would look very different.

2) Artist-related myths: When I started doing daily art practice in 2012, I was extremely reluctant to call myself an “artist”. After all, I didn’t have a studio, lots of oil paints or anything like that. I was nothing like the popular idea of what an “artist” is supposed to be.

But, then again, neither are most artists. All that the word “artist” means is someone who makes art. If you make art, then you are an artist. The important part is the “makes art” part. If you want to become an artist because of the romanticised idea of what an ‘artist’ should be, then you’re probably going to be disappointed.

Making art is an awesome thing to do but, if you do it often enough, then it just becomes an ordinary part of your daily routine. It often isn’t some magical, eccentric thing. It can be fun sometimes, but it can also be a chore sometimes.

Likewise, no artist is inspired 100% of the time, no artist is “naturally talented” and no artist produces great art 100% of the time. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

A dedicated and enthusiastic artist can still produce art when they are feeling uninspired – and there are literally loads of ways to do this (and, contrary to popular myths, none of these involve drugs).

If an artist appears to be “naturally talented”, then this just means that they’ve practiced a lot and/or for a very long time. Likewise, if an artist appears to only produce “great” art, then they’re almost certainly hiding a much larger pile of failed artwork somewhere.

3) Galleries, art history etc…: Believe it or not, at the time of writing, I’ve never actually been to a “proper” art gallery. I’ve never taken an A-level or a degree in Art History. Yet, due to becoming interested in old art in 2014 (since copying out-of-copyright historical paintings is one of many ways to make art when you’re uninspired), I now know a bit about the history of art.

Where did I learn this from? Wikipedia and Youtube, mostly. If you’re interested in the history of art, you don’t need to visit galleries or read lots of books. Yes, these things will probably give you a greater understanding of the artists you’re interested in. But, unless you’re reading a printout of this article, you have one of the world’s largest art galleries quite literally right in front of you.

And, the best thing about learning about art history online is that you don’t have to worry about looking like an idiot in front of people who have actually studied art history when you’re learning about it.

4) Critics: I can’t remember where I heard this but, whilst Britain’s most famous/revered “modern” artist might be Tracey Emin or Damien Hirst, one of Britain’s bestselling current artists is apparently Jack Vettriano. Rather than pickling sharks or leaving his bed unmade, he actually paints pictures.

Leaving aside the fact that Banksy seems to be beloved by both ordinary people and critics, the lesson in all of this is that art critics should be ignored. The type of art that impresses critics often isn’t the type of art that impresses ordinary people, and vice versa. There are a lot more ordinary people than there are art critics. So, don’t let the critics shape your idea of what art “should” be like.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Cool Fringe Benefits Of Learning How To Draw And/Or Paint (That Don’t Involve Drawing Or Painting)

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Learning how to draw and/or paint can be a long and occasionally challenging process. Even after about four and a half years of regular practice, there are probably more things that I don’t know about making art than there are things that I do.

Still, as well as having the awesome experience of creating lots of art, there are also a surprising number of fringe benefits to regular art practice that have relatively little to do with the actual act of drawing and/or painting.

1) You see everything differently: I’m not quite sure when this happened, but one thing that I’ve noticed after I started my regular art practice is that I look at everything in a totally different way to how I used to. This is probably a fringe benefit of learning how to copy photos, old paintings etc… by sight and from making still life paintings.

Because copying images by sight requires you to think of the picture you’re copying as being a 2D representation of a 3D image, you quickly learn to see other drawings, paintings and/or photographs in a slightly different way. Likewise, if you’re drawing or painting a still life, you have to work out how to mentally convert a 3D object into a 2D image.

As well as being a good way to learn, it also affects how you “see” things too. If, say, you see a beautiful sunset, then your first thought will probably be “how can I re-create this as a drawing or a painting?“. You’ll look carefully at the colours (and work out exactly what they are), you’ll mentally convert the scene in front of you into a 2D image and you’ll pay surprisingly close attention to the outlines of the surrounding scenery.

In addition to this, you might also find that you’re able to “read” images and video a lot better than you used to. This is really hard to describe, but I can’t imagine ever being without this really cool skill.

Not only that, optical illusions will seem a lot less “magical” than they used to be (since you’ll understand the rules of perspective that many of these illusions exploit). You’ll also instantly notice the colour scheme of every advert, piece of food packaging or DVD cover that you see.

Likewise, with enough art practice and learning you can also often instantly tell what materials were used to create any picture that you see (eg: watercolour, digital, oil paint, woodcuts etc..). You might also find yourself spontaneously trying to re-create the image in your mind in order to learn how it was made. You might also start automatically analysing the artist’s style to see if there’s anything in there that might be worth adding to your own drawing or painting style.

I couldn’t do any of this stuff before I started practicing art regularly, but now I can’t even imagine not being able to do any of this. It’s almost like I’ve gained an extra sense.

2) Culture: When I began practicing making art regularly, I wasn’t interested in learning about anything other than drawing techniques. I thought that studying historical works of art was a “boring” or “snobbish” thing to do. What an idiot I was!

Within about two or three years, I had a vaguely decent knowledge of European art within the past 500 years and a vague knowledge of 19th century Japanese art. I knew the difference between impressionism, pointillism, chiaroscuro, fauvism, ligne claire, Pre-Raphaelite art, art nouveau, ukiyo-e etc… and some of the history of each of these art forms. I knew how to recognise paintings from several old artists from sight alone.

Ironically, most of this sophisticated cultural knowledge came about out of sheer laziness. Thinking of new ideas for daily drawings or paintings can occasionally be something of a challenge. So, once I’d got vaguely good at copying from sight and had remembered that most old paintings aren’t covered by copyright, making studies of old paintings was something that I did when I was uninspired.

But, of course, I had to find interesting-looking old paintings first. This usually involved internet research and, out of curiosity, I’d also start reading about the artists who originally made these paintings. Without really intending to, I ended up learning a lot about the history of art and also realised that it was a lot more fascinating than I had thought.

3) Transferable skills: You’d be surprised at how much else learning how to make art will teach you.

For example, even a basic knowledge of perspective and composition will probably mean that you’ll also be able to take better photos than you used to. Even if you don’t understand all of the technical details of photography, your photos will probably still look at least mildly better if you make art regularly.

Likewise, a basic knowledge of colour theory (eg: how colours interact with each other) can occasionally be useful. Even if it’s just working out what kind of outfit to wear, or pointing out why a film poster looks so dramatic – you’d be surprised at how often even a basic knowledge of colour theory can come in handy.

You’ll also learn something about pretty much everything that you draw or paint for the simple reason that you’ll probably have to study it carefully in order to work out how to draw or paint it.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Your Art Supplies Don’t Make You Any More Or Less Of A “Real” Artist – A Ramble

2016 Artwork Art Supplies and ''Real'' Artists article sketch

Although this is an article about making art and being an artist, I’m going to have to start by talking about candles (of all things). There’s a good reason for this that I hope becomes obvious later.

Shortly before writing this article, I got some LED candles. These look like real candles (they even have a wax exterior), but they use gently flickering LED lights instead – meaning that, although you miss out on that wonderful candle smell, you can put them pretty much anywhere without worrying about fire or dripping wax.

Needless to say, I placed a few of them around my room, turned off the lights and – wow – I felt like I was in a gothic movie from the 1990s! I’d almost forgotten how timeless, reassuring and atmospheric the glow of candlelight in the darkness can be.

And yet, it isn’t “real” candlelight. Far from being ye olde candles, they use modern technology which only existed within the past decade or two. But it doesn’t matter. The LED candles look like real candles and their beautiful glow in the gloom is virtually identical to real candlelight.

So, what does any of this have to do with making art?

Well, one common problem that beginner and intermediate artists (like myself) can have is the silly idea that you have to have the “right” art supplies. The foolish idea that you aren’t a “real” artist if you aren’t using very traditional and/or famous art supplies.

This is the ridiculous idea that unless you’re using expensive paints, high-end marker pens, famous image-editing programs, high-end graphics tablets, traditional India ink (with a dip pen), sable brushes or anything like that, then you can’t really call yourself a “real” artist.

The fact is that you don’t need extremely fancy materials – or even traditional ones – to make art that you can feel proud of.

"La Chanteuse" By C. A. Brown

“La Chanteuse” By C. A. Brown

For example, this digitally-edited painting of mine was made using four watercolour pencils of varying qualities (and varying brands), an inexpensive Pentel waterbrush, a Uniball waterpoof ink pen, cheap watercolour paper, an old image scanner, an old version of MS Paint and some ancient image editing software from the late 1990s…. Oh, and lest I forget, a couple of years of regular practice.

Out of all of these things, the last one is the most important. Thanks to regular practice – even if I only had a pen and a piece of paper, I could probably still produce something slightly similar. Like this:

"La Chanteuse (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“La Chanteuse (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you use fancy art supplies or traditional art supplies. If you’ve had a lot of practice, then you’ll be able to produce reasonably good artwork using virtually any medium.

When people look at your art, they usually aren’t looking to see if you’ve used expensive, well-known or old-fashioned art supplies. To most people, it doesn’t matter. Your audience will be looking at your artwork on it’s own merits.

If your art looks cool, then it doesn’t matter if it’s been drawn using a cheap ballpoint pen or whether it’s been drawn using an expensive dip pen and high-end ink. It doesn’t matter if it’s been painted with watercolour pencils or traditional watercolour paint. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve used a traditional paintbrush or a modern waterbrush etc….

Going back to the beginning of this article, if you put a LED candle next to a traditional candle and asked someone to look at them from a distance, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. From a distance, they both just look like candles. Somehow, this seems like a good metaphor.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂