Every summer I try to take an art class that is different from what I do every day as a pattern designer. Recently, I’ve been looking a lot at illustration, and I have a few illustrators whose work I adore – but I am so not an illustrator. I am a painter – and I see illustration as having a level of complexity and precision that I just don’t have in my art. Scrolling through Instagram I came across a class by the immensely talented Aaron Blaise and thought “Sure! That’s not something I ever done!” so I went ahead and bought the class – it was a complete steal and I’m so jazzed to embark on this new project. Here’s a link to the site in case you’re interested (and no, I’m not an affiliate) creatureartteacher.com.
The course I’m so excited about is Hidden Creatures of the Forest. Granted, Mr. Blaise paints in Photoshop and I use Corel Painter, but it seems like if I use Photoshop a little more, I’ll get an added bonus of being more comfortable in that program as well. As I think about this course, there are so many benefits to doing something completely different such as:
Painting in a style that’s new to me. Painting different subject matter. Working on my illustration skills. Getting outside to find “environments”. Learning more about light and shadow. Gaining some new skills to make objects “sit” in their environments. Working on entirely new material. Brushing up on my photography and photo-editing skills – that’s something I used to do a lot, but I haven’t seriously touched my camera since 2014.
The benefits of doing these things is that it gives my brain (my creative muscles, if you will) a new way to work. By using different subject matter and techniques, it enables me to grow in new directions – and bring new skills to my usual subject matter. Plus, it gives me something to work on for fun – instead of needing to get a collection finished. I just think that pushing the boundaries is a healthy way to grow as an artist – but with that being said, you need to find a project that will keep your interest and something that you know you’re doing just for fun and practice – that’s the point of branching out in a new direction – you’re doing it for the joy and leaving the pressure locked in the closet!
So far I’ve only watched the first two lessons (I just bought the class yesterday morning) and already I have dragged out my camera – brushed up on my photography skills (I hadn’t even seen that camera in three years, hadn’t used it seriously in 6). Today, I remember what an f-stop is and why I need to take my photos in RAW. I’ve gotten outside to just wander and shoot photos. I’ve started using my imagination in new ways. Oh, and I actually learned three things that I didn’t know.
I’d never really understood the concept of reflected light, but I do now! I saw an alternate way of organizing my layers that I’ll be using from now on. I learned a new way of losing the edge of an object that’s just brilliant (and probably common sense or taught in digital art 101, but I’m self-taught so I didn’t know about it).
So for the next month or so, I’m going to post about this new class – and how it’s changing the way I work and forcing me to grow as an artist. I’ll probably even post some of my projects. You see, that’s why it’s important to step out of what you do on a day-to-day basis. If you open up to new subject matter and new techniques you’re skills grow and you’re adding to the bag of tricks you have as an artist. It’s a journey – so a side trip to a new destination is all part of the excitement.