Real Artists – Are Just Like You
Today, I want to talk about another art myth that keeps popping up. The one that goes – “Real” artists don’t need to use reference material, they can draw “from their head.” Yes, I’m using air quotes there because those phrases are so tired and untrue! We might as well say that real artists breathe rainbow mists and walk their unicorns by moonlight for as realistic as that idea is.
Artists, both beginning and experienced, draw or paint or create from creative inspiration. That’s another way of saying that they use reference material like photos, other art, nature or some other source of visual information. For designs and art that are more abstract or impressionistic, it’s not as obvious that the artist used something as a starting point like a sunset or a person. But, when it comes to creating more representational or realistic art, the artist has to start from a source to be able to create that image. Even professional artists use photo and other reference material in their work.
So, what about those endless You Tube videos where you see someone create a life-like portrait of some kind – aren’t they pulling that from their imagination? Not really, what they’ve done is, through a lot of practice and learning, internalized the basic rules and proportions of portraiture and are able to draw from that pool of reference material to create a version of a person. These types of works are often a standardized image in their particular style. And, there’s nothing at all wrong with them, they can be very compelling and expressive!
Did you notice that I mentioned practice and learning up there? That’s a key part of being able to create art and to draw the things you see. It’s a skill and it can be learned! If you’re expecting yourself to be able to create something from inside your own head without ever having learned the basics and created an internal library to work from, you’re expecting too much. It just doesn’t work that way…you have to fill the well first.
So, take it easy on yourself – everyone started at the beginning at one time and you can too do this!