I think one of my strengths is not being able to draw all that well. Many people scoff at artists who have less than proficient drawing ability. For me, being poor at drawing is an asset.
This idea finally jelled while working on a current series of paintings called Pink Face.
The idea is stolen from deKoonig’s “Women” series. Some of them any way. The pink ones.
I drew the faces using photo references and they came out looking nothing like the photos. The faces are gender neutral, or tend toward male, even if the original photo is of women. The faces are not exactly where I want them on the page. The proportions are generally off. And that’s OK.
I understand the concepts of shadows and shading and “drawing what you see,” which approximates reality. My “mistakes” probably reflect real life more than drawing real life because the only sense of reality I have is small. The faces may not be what I “see,” but they reflect a certain outlook on life. An outlook that sees life as disjointed, full of contradictions and rarely pretty.
I believe the faces have more character and meaning as they are than if I could draw figures perfectly.
It is for the same lack of drawing strength that I used collage and tracing techniques to produce “of all my friends and lovers”
Not drawing these freehand does not make them any less cool, or any less artistic.
I have had people tell me that using tracing paper is “cheating.” I tell them that tracing paper is a technical innovation. Artist’s are always using the newest technical innovations in their work.
To say that using tracing paper is cheating is like saying Monet should not have used the latest innovation in paint colors because other artists didn’t have them. And it’s not as if tracing paper is the newest innovation out there. My inspiration is deKoonig and he used it after all.
I’ll leave the figurative drawing to the people who have the skills. So many people think they have to draw perfectly. They practice and practice but they might as well chew on cactus for all the good it does them. Why bother. It’s a product of centuries of the need to draw realistically, which became part of academic rigor (as in rigor mortis), which has nothing to do with the skills and talents of the individual as an artist. Nor does drawing perfectly necessarily express the artist’s voice.
Trying to make me draw like the masters makes about as much sense as my music teachers trying to make me into a classical musician. I was never going to have the skills to play classical music for a variety of reasons, but the academics tried to force me into that hole. Classical music was not my strength. My musical strengths lay elsewhere and were never really nourished by the round holers. That’s why I have never taken an art class.
I am not saying that people shouldn’t learn how to draw skillfully, but I think we all could learn to embrace the talents we have, and the talents we don’t have, and emphasize those, to create wonderful art.