Art Unboxed

Art Unboxed Draftsmanship

This week I drew a sketch of an emperor penguin, and for more than one reason I am fairly well acquainted with the birds, including in art. I remember walking into a hotel in downtown Nashville and seeing a sculpture of one. At first thought you may think it’s a black and white bird, but there is so many ways of drawing this one item.

It’s also not just black and white, there are different colors with a Penguin beyond those two. There are also multiple types of Penguins in various different sizes. Just as with drawing, there are a number of choices both in what you’re writing with, and writing on.

Another animal like the penguin when it comes to art is a horse. I’ve seen countless paintings of horses which are unique. Any item, drawn well, can be unique. I think that is one of the things that intrigues me about art, you do not have to become bored. This is because we can always improve and practice our draftsmanship, whether sketching or painting.

A famous painter recently explained he considered painting a craft, and when a painter reaches a certain level it can become artistry. I love this definition, because while my draftsmanship has improved a lot, it has also needed a lot of improvement over the years. While I have a lot still to learn, I am thankful for where I’ve come.

That’s part of the point of this article, not only about our draftsmanship in the normal sense, but our mental draftsmanship. It’s good to not think to low or to high of your own skills, in other words, not to draw ourselves in a corner. If we paint ourselves an overly negative, or overly positive picture of our own skills, it becomes a distraction.

My Pastor said something that applies here in reference to this. While he was talking of thinking of caring for others, it’s true in both cases. To be selfless is not to never think of ourselves, but to think of ourselves less. This is the best way to serve others, placing them above ourselves is a rewarding and meaningful life. It’s also a wonderful lesson when it comes to evaluating ourselves as artists.

It’s good to reflect on both where you started, and have goals to work for, but not to allow yourself to become too focused on it. I would suggest reviewing quarterly or annually, but to spend most of your artistic time focusing on the subject you are drawing or painting. This will improve your skill, but won’t preoccupy your mind with results and expectations.

It’s good to have expectations, and work to return good results, but not to overthink which personally I have a habit of doing. If I focus less on this, and more on the subject in front of me, it turns out far better. Just as when serving others, if my focus on those I’m serving, they are blessed and I enjoy the pleasure of serving them.

I want my art to be about more than me, I want to draw attention to subjects that are important to me, like faith and family, and to make others smile. If I can do that, whether drawing a penguin or painting a landscape, it’s a great way of serving others through art.

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