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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Drawing Better (Part 3)

The first step for a fine artist.
There's much more to learning to draw using the numerous benefits of a digital projector than simply setting one up on a firm base and aiming it at an easel bearing a painting surface. First of all, there's the matter of input. In computerese there's long been the acronym GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). Even in the hands of a skilled artist, drawing on a painting surface (output) is seldom better than the input (often worse, in fact). In effect, the digital projector is just an adjunct to a computer. At the very least, the source material--photo, drawing, rough sketch--must be digitized. Therefore, a college freshman would be well advised to choose photography over painting as a major. In just one year, he or she will learn much more about the basics of fine art from an outstanding photographer than from even the best drawing/painting instructor. In both cases, instruction is important, but learning to paint and draw is only accomplished by doing a LOT of both. Composing and producing fine photography is taught both in a classroom and in the field. Moreover, with digital pho-tography, trial and error is virtually cost free. A freshman photography major can shoot far more images than a student in a traditional drawing class could possible put forth.

Creating and preparing art for reproduction.
Having acquired a good handle on photography, ideally the college art student should switch majors--to graphic design. There the emphasis is on computer imaging. More than just a trend, such skills are the future of art. Take a look at sometime. You'll see there very little work done with a drawing pencil or using traditional painting media. What you will see is an incredible galaxy of creativity generated both by what the artist sees (literally from photos) and what he or she feels (often contrived from photos). Some of it will get painted or printed for hanging on walls. However, regardless of the final media, all such work demands at least a working familiarity with photo-editing software.

Upper image: Twenty students creating nearly identical paintings of the same model?
Lower image: Twenty students, painting from photos, each "doing their own thing."
At that point, art students wanting to become painters should once again switch majors. Only in his or her junior year are they ready for the technical skills and missing links in their art education (painting and sculpture). Drawing should only be done outside of class (due to the technical demands of digital projection). Likewise, the student should resist (if possible) any urging to paint from live models (nude models, in every conceivable pose, are available free of charge on the Internet). By this time, the differences between using such images and simply copying them should be deeply ingrained in the artist's psyche. Ironically, in every figure painting class I ever took, virtually all the students "copied" from the model, all turning out nearly identical painted images. Such classes have little or no relevance to artists today. Any residual learning they might provide can be better covered using good photos guided by instructor input.

And finally, an art student's senior year should be devoted to marketing. This one, single area, is where college trained artist are most deficient. With all these changing of majors, today's college art student would gain a very practical, well-rounded education. What he or she would likely not gain is a BFA. Not following a proscribed course of study (curriculum) is a sure road to academic oblivion. However, unless an art student has in mind to teach, a diploma is only a piece of parchment. The real credentials are to be found in that student's official transcript, detailing the scope and personal effort of his or her college career. In addition to an outstanding portfolio, it's what employers care most about. Likewise, the learning it represents is what matters most to the success of a freelance artist.

Which is more important, a practical art
education or a BFA? 

Tomorrow: practical tips on digital projection drawing.


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