Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When Artists Rest in Stasis

A bizarre situation, indeed.

I'm specifically speaking about artists on any skill level who are caught in a perpetual state: a state lacking in improvement, and sometimes, succumbing to regression.

Two cases of such a feat have caught my eye in the past year. These online people were relatively close to me. For both, I met them years and years ago (before/at the beginning of high school), lost contact with them, and recently found their work again. I've decided to write about them. I won't mention names, but it's much too hard to describe their situation without at least a description and background.

-long post warning-

Misguided Comfort Zone:

Upon first finding this person on the Internet, back in my preteen years, I was amazed. It started a small obsession for me, which guided my art in a strange, but temporary, direction. Their art primarily existed (and continues to exist) in the realm of fan art to a popular franchise. The dinosaurs and characters they drew seemed so distant and professional to me. From my point of view, I could see this person taking their talent and skill into a career one day.

Now, at least six years later, I found myself thinking of them again. I looked them up online, and lo and behold, still around! And rather active at that. This thrilled me to no ends, and I instantly rushed to see their art.

It is an oddly tragic thing to idolize artist's work one day, then years later look upon it with surprised confusion and worry. They had hardly improved. In six years, their subject matter, skill, and style remained the same. Some aspects had even relapsed.

For instance, instead of improving anatomy, lighting, shading, and an expanded understanding of digital art tools like Photoshop and Corel Painter... They focused on developing a more painterly digital technique. This technique itself is a difficult thing to grasp. It can be done extremely well, but only after the foundations of art creation are understood. Yes, it is very apparent their recent art is more painterly. But without a full, well-rounded grasp on such aforementioned skills, their works lack integrity that one would expect after six years.

That isn't to say this artist is a bad person. Quite the opposite! They're very polite and amiable. In the past few weeks, they have finally begun expanding their subject matter, so I am curious as to how they will address more realistic approaches.

This in complete contrast to...

Improvement is Unnecessary, for [Self-Proclaimed] Mastery is Already Achieved:

When I first met this person, I could really connect with them. We were both young and breaking into our teens - out to take the world by storm. To me, they drew really cool dragons and art in general. We would roleplay our characters together, talk about art, and blab about random crap.

Unbeknownst to my teenaged Internet self, this person led a ridiculously psychotic online life.

They suddenly contacted me a few months ago. I hadn't spoken with them in probably four or five years. I was pleasantly astonished to meet them again, instantly curious about their artwork, and they eagerly guided me to a couple pieces.

I found myself feeling the same as I did with the previously mentioned person. This person had not improved. In a way, their skills even deteriorated.

With further investigation, I discovered their other online life: the one I must have been too blindly naive to notice way back when. They self-proclaimed themselves as a Master Artist sent from God - born with holy talent. Supposedly, they began consciously drawing at the ripe age of two. Those dragons and characters they drew?: a majority were copied off the style and scheme of a popular artist. They developed such a conceited attitude, that when they asked for comments about their art, they completely ignored any and all critique, suggestion, or help - even from professional artists (whose art was then called, and I quote, "shitty"). Their excuse circled around the idea that their art is already perfect. It is strange that they see themselves as divine, and then fish for compliments in every aspect of their life. If perfection is achieved, what would they care about what others think? One moment they say no one else matters, and the next moment they squeeze positive feedback out of you. Those who have provided even the slightest negative feedback have been ignored, cussed at, or argued against.

You might think I'm kidding, but the sad truth is that I am not.

As for their art specifically, the transparency of their artistic deterioration allows me to see who this person really is. They consistently avoid drawing hands and complete faces. Cartoony, simplified, and always identical facial features float around sporadically in their sketchbook, detached from completion. If they draw a torso, that torso is guaranteed to lack at least the head, legs, and hands. Sometimes, this goes so far as to forget about the arms, or even gravity. They boast a professional grasp of art but what they deem as professional is widely known as a fear of change and development, under the guise of self-proclaimed 'perfection.' Their understanding of anatomy is incredibly childish. They say they use references: art books, photography, life studies, and such. But looking at their work, you would never guess this.

It seems they unfortunately fall into what art professors call 'Drawing what you think you see / what you wish to see, and not what you actually see.' This is more common a trait than you'd like to think, but most growing artists pop out of this box. It is easily amended with some honest training, willingness to improve, and an open mind.

...Which this person lacks. I have never seen a worse case of narcissism.

Two entirely different personalities, yes. Should these people ever visit my humble little blog and recognize themselves, know that I don't regret what I've said, for it's true. To the first person - you're awesome because you are still working towards improvement. I'm excited about what you have in store for the future. To the second person - grow up.

If anyone out there is curious about the subject, feel free to comment here, drop me an email, or message me on AIM. I'm always open to discussions. =)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Art Update 01

I noticed a serious lack of art here. This situation is now amended. (sorry about the terrible image size+quality, I'll try to fix it) Here is some art I have done/have been working on this semester, both in and out of class:

Creepy skull monster thing

Ideas for the purple ship posted earlier

Linux Penguin stress ball, modeled for class in Maya

I felt the penguin didn't allow me much freedom, model-making-wise, so I've been messing around in Maya if/when I find the time.

Alley concept for CA(3D) class. My idea wasn't chosen, but we're working on a much cooler idea. ;)

A wooden pallet for CA class

Lots of stuff in Unreal

My next prop model for Unreal is a mattress (doesn't look like anything yet...)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Art as Illusion & Aesthetics

I recently gave a presentation to my Aesthetics class. Each of us had chosen a class session to present the topic of their choice relating to art and philosophy. My presentation summarized my own personal definition of art:

Art as illusion and aesthetics. Basically, 'perception deception' and brain-candy combine forces to make cool stuff like art, music, movies, games, etc., that people enjoy because it appeals to the senses. I defended my views by saying the more a person can recognize aspects of the piece, the better - whether that's complete realism, or a gestural and eerie painting of a crow, it's up to the creator's intentions of how they want viewers to see their piece. I'm bad at summarizing it, but moving on.

It proved to erupt a great argument in class. A couple of the students were aghast that my definition basically throws out, and I quote, "..the past one-hundred years of art." Namely abstract and modern art that resembles this level of skill, mastery, and talent:

(not my image)

Anyway, I actually told the girl that I didn't want to offend her or be very harsh, so I stopped my presentation short (short? It wasn't supposed to exceed 20 minutes, but I stood there arguing for a good 45 minutes, haha). If I had continued, however, I would have told her my later Facebook status:

"...sorry, but I have to let this out... A flat blue canvas is to art, as homeopathy is to medicine. It is -not-. Pseudoscience and pseudoart: things that try to play in the realm of reason but only succeed in ruining it. So sue me, argue with me, whatever you please. It just seems duly insulting when the profession I'm aiming for can be more easily achieved by, apparently, shitting in a can. [insert image of a serious artist's creation: a can of their own poo]"

Harsh, huh? Yeah, sorry; stuff like that angers me.

Besides, in all honesty, isn't art cooler when you see this sci-fi photo-manipulation I made...

...and after that, I tell you it's all from texture photographs I took around my own campus? It's not space at all. It's pixels on a screen. ;D

Oh well. I had a great Halloween, btw: I hope you did too!