I’ve heard artists like Raymond Everett Kinstler, Michael Shane Neal, and Eric Rhoads all say something very important. If you are a portrait painter primarily, your portraits will be enhanced by painting landscapes, and vice versa. In our Art Unboxed post today, let’s talk about starting to Do Something Different.
In every walk of life, whether in leadership, or in another field I’ve heard this same basic advice. As a reader, if your interest generally lies in a handful of subjects, experts encourage you to read something totally different. As in art, this jumpstarts your thinking in respect to both creativity and perspective.
This practice, when applied to art and many other topics, also addresses the area of improved skill. Whether painting in landscapes or portraits when they are not your primary genre, will teach you lessons in color mixing, values, tones, and even shapes that you would not normally address. To address this in a very general way, let’s consider the following example.
The general shapes of portraits, speaking very generally are circles, ovals, and triangles. The general shape of landscapes, again speaking incredibly generically, are squares, rectangles, and triangles. At the very least, this will improve your triangles, but it will do so much more.
In a portrait, one stroke can mean the difference between it looking like the person you are painting, or their fifth cousin, who isn’t paying you. If your lines improve painting the seascape on vacation, then that little painting will pay you in your portrait painting.
To reverse it, color mixing in landscapes often ranges from muted grays and greens to bold warm colors. Portrait painting has to fine tune the mixing of skin tone to the subject, lighting, and variations of their skin. Getting the skin under the eye right on that throw away painting, can help you get the ridge right on that commission of the Grand Canyon which is going to pay for the new living room furniture.
Besides all of this, it will spark your creativity, giving you ideas to approach something else. A painter will tell you, there is something more aggravating to an artist than having problem with a painting. That is not having an idea of what to paint.
I would suggest, no matter what your genre of art, to do something different regularly. Consider the little cartoon in this post’s title. Recently I have not been doing many cartoons, it was time for something whimsical. In the process, I tried a newer tool, I drew in a different style, practiced with some shapes, and it helped to produce this article.
This little cartoon has proved not only creative, but productive. It also made my wife laughed as I sent it to her with the message Harvest the day! I believe art should inspire, reflect God’s majesty, warm the hearts of loved ones, and communicate with strangers. Even a little cartoon like this can do all of that. I remember one I will never forget.
Sis. Gloria Livingston knew that I was going through a very difficult time. She gave me a little cartoon of a frog that, while it was in the pelican’s mouth, had it’s hands around the pelican’s throat. The caption read, “Never Give Up!” That cartoon, and the love, prayers, and thought behind it has carried me through so many battles.
It was truly a piece of art. I pray that in some small way something I draw or paint can serve the same purpose in someone else’s life that it did in mine. I would not trade that piece of art in my life for a Rembrandt, Kinstler, or any other artists you could name. All because she took the time to Do Something Different, it freed me from a mental and spiritual box that I did not see a way out of.