Hey everyone. First time poster, long time lurker here.
Before I get to the point of this post I feel it important to explain my situation so, please, bear with me. Two years ago, when I was nearing the end of my community college career, I decided that the study of psychology was no longer something I wished to devote my professional life to. For a while I contemplated several prospects but, ultimately, was unable to muster anything more than tepid enthusiasm for any of them. Panic and uncertainty slowly took hold in my mind at a time when I should have already known what colleges I would be applying for. Feeling lost and frustrated I began to entertain strange and alien notions of paradigm shattering potential. Notions of things I previously thought impossible for myself. Scary notions.
For the first time in my life I began to seriously consider a career in art.
At the time I was almost 21 years old with no formal art education of note. What little practice I had was completely misguided and unfacilitated. The idea of being a professional artist excited me greatly but I felt it was too late, that I was too old. Surely all professionals practice from childhood, while possessing exceptional, natural born talent to boot. How could I possibly hope to bridge the gap? Then, a godsend, I followed a link on a GameFAQs forum, strangely enough, which took me to a little known thread by one MindCandyMan . . .
Now, two years later, I have a plan and know precisely what I want to work for. Being primarily interested in concept art I had wanted to attend the Next Gen Atelier in San Francisco. I learned of the cost of living in such a city and knew that a lower-middle class family such as my own, living in a small town in North-East Michigan, could never hope to afford even a pittance of the cost. Fortunately for me I had this site to turn to for help and found these words by Jason Manley:
" . . .you are not trapped in your situation. You can get out of any situation you want if you are willing to take the pain of doing all the things you dont want to do..the long hard way. The fruitful way."
I took this advice to heart and, after months of consideration, came up with a solution: I will be joining the U.S. Air Force for four years in order to save enough money for education. My aim is to join the Art Department program as soon as I get out, seeing as how the Atelier is becoming a part of it, or some such thing. I never saw myself joining the military as the lifestyle is not one I relish in the least, but I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to reach my goals, and I've determined that this is my best option. Now, I could really use some advice . . .
After basic training (I leave February 23) I will be traveling to Monterey, California for training as a Cryptologic Linguist. The training for this job is very long, ranging anywhere from 57 to 85 weeks in total, depending on the language I'm assigned to study. For that time I will be very busy, but plan on investing what free time I have to art studies. For this time I'll be on my own, probably with minimal contact at best with any kind of art community. I don't forsee myself having a computer of my own either. What I will hopefully have is an assortment of books and various art supplies.
I would really appreciate suggestions on how to make the utmost best of my art studies over the course of my linguist training. I'm still quite the novice so please keep that in mind. Art books in my possession include:
Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist by Stephen Rogers Peck
Bridgeman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life
Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters by Robert Beverly Hale
Drawing Realistic Textures In Pencil by J.D. Hillberry
Figure Drawing For All It's Worth by Andrew Loomis
Perspective Made Easy by Ernest R. Norling
Portrait Drawings: 42 Works by John Singer Sargent
The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolaides
After tech school I'll have much more time and freedom. Personal computer, Wacom tablet, Photoshop, Painter, easel and oil paints will all be acquired as soon as possible. At about the same time I plan on starting a sketchbook on this site, hopefully to show off whatever wondrous drawing skills I developed.
I want to be prepared for this, as best I can. Being on my own in regards to art studies scares me a great deal. I need to use my time efficiently and avoid developing any bad drawing habits. So whatever advice any of you can give, be it books, exercises, mediums to practice with, etc, I would love to hear it all.
Thank you, truly.
1. Learn from everyone
2. Follow no one
3. Watch for patterns
4. Work like hell
- Scott McCloud
By sincerely taking on board what everyone has to say helps a great deal in forming your own methods I feel. I'd also say succesful drawing is a great book by Loomis. I wish you the best of luck!
Thanks for the response. I've had my sights set on Scott McCloud's books for a while now. Also, I have Successful Drawing on my computer so perhaps I'll print it out and stick it in a binder.
Throw away or burn Nicolaides.
Hey, Just my opinion...
Edit: ok, that reads as harsh.
I appreciate that everyone learns differently but my opinion is that those years spent doing gesture and contour drawings could be better spent doing.. well, almost anything else..
Last edited by Flake; November 25th, 2009 at 09:34 PM.
I've put about twelve hours into Nicolaides and had to stop. It made learning to draw feel far too much like a chore, and I hated that. Indeed, to each their own.
Anyone have anything to say about Bargue drawings? Other than being a foundation for classical atelier studies I know very little about them. The price of the book does not help matters.
Bargue drawings require an easel right? At least, ideally?
Ok first off, I can very much relate to this because I started college not quite sure where I wanted to go and I ended up joining the army for various reasons and while in the army, I was introduced to online gaming and concept art and I knew that was what I wanted to do.
So with that said, I'm 28 and still in school just starting my career. Do not...I say again... DO NOT ever think it is too late or that you're too old. Would you rather have a life in a career which is something you're settling for or would you rather have a career that you really enjoy but it just takes a bit longer to start? If this is the career you really want...then you can get it and if joining the military is what you need to do to make it happen then don't worry about it.
Some things you should look into: The military has great sign up bonuses which includes education, there is tuition assistance and some free college while you are active duty, you can probably go to school while you are in however don't do that until you are thru all the military schooling. Some of this might be different between branches so you'll have to look into it.
Something else to keep in mind: My dad during vietnam enlisted to be a linguist and was sent to monterey...he didn't pass the course so they made him an MP (military police) instead. Any courses you have on your contract can be changed at the militarys whim if you do not pass so take the studying seriously while you are there. Same goes for additional training; I had airborne school in my contract, I failed the run the first week so they took away my leave and sent me to korea.
Oh almost forgot, while you're at tech training, you'll probably have several room mates, shared desks and very small personal storage space so don't bring too much. These were my various living places while I was in military schooling and the majority of my "free time" had to be spent cleaning, on guard duty, ironing uniforms or shining boots.
Last edited by Amber Alexander; November 25th, 2009 at 10:56 PM.
Bad. If it feels like a chore you won't do it.It made learning to draw feel far too much like a chore
Bargue is all about copying what you see very accurately.Anyone have anything to say about Bargue drawings?
I see no reason that you couldn't exchange those for master studies of something that actually appeals to you and learn the same things, possibly while having more fun with it.
I'm currently noobing away at Loomis copies, they're not as easy as you might think either..I'll get to Rembrandt in a decade or six..
If you're enjoying it, you'll do it more.
/awaits rage from classical atelier mob...
Amber Alexander: Thanks for the advice, much appreciated. I am aware that tech school will be intense, with little in the way of free time. I'm prepared to give it my all though, whatever it takes.
And thanks for the pics as well.
Flake: Good luck with Rembrandt! I too am on Loomis (figure drawing) with the hope of someday, in the not too distant future, working up to Bouguereau (ok, that might be awhile).
In regards to figure drawing, if one has no access to live models what are the best exercises to pursue? I've read that photos are no substitute, so am I left with nothing but quick sketches of passersby?
Don't remember if I saw it up there, but Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a book I've always liked. It makes you look at things differently, trains how you see things for drawing.
I've never been in the military, but know many people who have and from what they tell me free time is somewhat of a rarity. With that said, I wouldn't worry about bringing any art supplies with you other than a fresh sketchbook, pencils or pens and whatever books you want to study from.
The reason for this is because improving your drawing skills alone will be the stepping stone to any media you later choose to work in. Simply put, the better you draw, the better your paintings, sculptures, etc. will be. So hone your ability to see by drawing everything around you, no matter what the subject matter is.
Also, there will be plenty of models around for you to draw (your Air Force buddies), albeit they won't know it, but it's an excellent way to learn gesture and proportion.
Hope this helps and good luck!
If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all. -Michelangelo
A friend of mine has a copy of Betty Edwards' book. I'll check it out.
Scribble King: Yes, I hear free time is rare as well. I'm hoping for an hour or two (hopefully two!) of drawing each work day, any more than that is wishful thinking, I know. Ideally I'll be able to get some long hours in over the weekend.
Can anyone comment on any of these three books?:
Each one looks interesting.
Hi Nous...lots of good questions. I find it interesting that your main interests seem to be in classic, academic figure work - very different from the kinds of skills/path required of the concept artist. Probably need to really spend some time analyzing where your interests and goals really line up. I did that many years ago and found making a list of all my favorite artists (a fairly comprehensive list - not just a few - I wanted to find a pattern) led me to the conclusion that even though they were all quite different - 95% of them were oil painters. There was something about oil painting that allowed them to work in ways that spoke to me. Anyway, just a good excercise.
I have all the books you listed...here's my two cents:
Anthony Ryder - great artist - unusual approach in some ways - takes way too long on single drawings for me.
Maughan book - way too complicated for my tastes - took something that isn't that complex and just overdid it in trying to develop his own "system" - I think he teaches at the Academy so maybe Amber has studied with him or knows more.
Aristedes book - ok, don't have this one yet - she's incredible - love her stuff - don't know about the book. They are definitely sort of just re-hashing classic "sight-size", academic drawing and painting.
I really think the two best books out there right now are Deborah Rockman's "Drawing Essentials" and Jim Gurney's "Imaginitive Realism". I recommend them a lot on here but for my money they're the best I've seen in a long time (and I've got hundreds of art books...).
Good luck to you - it takes that kind of dedication and passion to make it happen!
As others have said, I wouldn't worry too much about bringing many supplies-- especially not anything as cumbersome as oil paints. Pencils and a good sketchbook or three are best, but if you really want some color, look into getting a little travel watercolor set, maybe. They make "pocket" sets that can fit on the other side of a Moleskine notebook and you can bring a few small brushes. Of course, you still might not get any time to use them, but it'll be a lot easier to do quick paintings or just color washes over pencil drawings than it would be to try oils.
Bear in mind that every drawing is an interpetation of what you want to draw and so is a photograph, but instead of you the camera makes the decisions.
Lights and Shadows, Perspective - everything goes through the interpreting eye of the camera. In real life Lights and Shadows differ much more and in finer ways as a photograph can show you. The optics also distort your object.
Most beginners don't know about that and have not enough knowledge about how thinks look in real life, therefore often times their work looks dull and flat if they work off of photos.
I'd say its not that bad to work after photos. The most important thing is that you understand what you do and why. You can draw 24/7 and never learn a thing if you don't reflect what you are doing. I learned most of my anatomy by copying comic book characters - and people also say you shouldn't do this. But as I grew older I learned 'real' anatomy, so it wasn't for nothing and it helped me understand easier how it is in real life.
Anyways...for me it is always about your personal goals. Keep your sight clear of your goals and make one baby step after a time toward your goal und you will climb a mountain. It worked for me, too.
Thanks for the great info and advice everyone, very much appreciated.
Jeff: I remember reading some advice from Jason Manley where he said that artists with traditional backgrounds tend to be more versatile. Also, the Art Department program teaches traditional foundations (including oils) as a requirement. At least, so I read in the Art Department Poll thread. But I also agree that it's traditional paintings which tend to impress upon me the most. They seem to have more "soul" if that makes any sense. Just my opinion. But still, I'm confident about my interest in concept art. The digital medium is very fascinating to me.
Will definitely check out the two books you listed. I don't think I've ever heard of them before.
Viridis: I suppose my fear of self studying for such a long period made me want to hoard books written by professionals, making me feel safer, to have something to turn to for possible help. I guess it's a matter of confidence, which is something I have problems with on a regular basis.
Sascha: Methinks you are making much sense. I think I will wait on photos, until after a time when I have a fair amount of life drawing to my credit.