OMG, a post about me and not some other artist! I'm sorry! (Or at least Canadian....)
Years ago, I picked up a camera and started taking pictures pretty seriously. This was back when I was a computer consultant, thoughts of painting and drawing were still 6 years in my future. I worked pretty hard at it, and focused on it like I tend to focus on everything, so you probably understand where I was coming from.
Anyway, for the first year, I really struggled to get "good" pictures...and by good, I mean "Well composed, in focus, exposed properly, good range of colours." Even with photography, that stuff takes some work, at least once you move beyond the point and shoot cameras. I shot A LOT, and made progress. Then came a turning point - It was April 2004 in NYC, and the weather was finally nice enough I wanted to wander around midtown taking pictures. I hit up the library, and did a whole bunch of shots of the stone lion statues by the stairs. You've seen them in Ghostbusters.
I got home, downloaded them all and started to go through them...and was completely bored. Basically, every shot was "good." They had all met the criteria I'd been holding myself to - composition, exposure, focus, colour....but there was NO POINT. I pointed at all of them and said to myself, "Great, another fucking stone lion." This has become something I say to myself A LOT since then...weird how your personal phrases come about...
They didn't say anything. There was no emotion. I had captured the physical aspects of those statues without exposing any part of myself. Every statue I ever took a picture of after that, I tried to image as a living model I was interacting with. Still got some more "stone lions", but my success rate went way, way up.
I wasn't shooting "badly" when I was focusing on technique. When you start out, I really believe you have to focus on that stuff. You must learn to talk before you can orate. We don't expect toddlers to talk like Dr. Martin Luther King. We also don't tell kids that their 3rd grade paper about their summer vacation is literary genius.
Your art is not going to be interesting for a LONG time. If you only focus on being interesting and not learning the fundamentals, I personally believe it's not going to be interesting FOREVER.
Two weeks ago, I talked with Pascal Campion at Wondercon. That man is entirely about the emotional content of his work. When you look at it, you FEEL what it is like to be swimming as a kid in the hot summer afternoon.
This last week, I was profoundly affected by http://shitmyphotoprofsays.tumblr.com/ - Sure, it's funny, but it is absolutely correct.
I have been painting stone lions this year. I've needed to, and, while I will always get more technically proficient, I can paint "correctly" now. It's time to say things. "Because it's freaking cool!" isn't a reason that calls to me. I am now completely inspired to go paint. Hopefully I will make you feel something.
5 years ago