Friday, September 19, 2008

Pushing My Artistic Limits

As I've mentioned before, this is the first semester I've taken two art classes at once, and it's pushing me in my art, which is great; but the more I feel like I get the hang of it, the more I look at others' art and see how far I really have to go. It's not like this is news - the old saying goes something like, "I knew more in my teens than I do now". Because we all know that teenagers know everything, right?! I never felt it as much when I was in the working world - not that I knew everything, but that there was a finite amount to be learned, so the goal to learn it all wasn't so overwhelming. I don't feel like there's that possibility in art - or even in certain areas of animation. You're always learning more, and always progressing. I like the progressing part. It pretty much guarantees that you won't get bored. Frustrated and angry, maybe. But not bored. And I enjoy learning, but sometimes I just don't feel like I'll get to the point of really knowing these things.

A few weekends ago I obsessed over the Totoro Forest Auction they held at Pixar. If you haven't heard of it or seen the artwork, go check out the online gallery - and very soon most of the art will be displayed in the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. And if you haven't seen "My Neighbor Totoro", go do so now! I don't care if you don't like animated films - it's an early Miyazaki film, and this man knows exactly how to animate people and animals so that even the smallest movements are endearing and true to life (yes, I know he doesn't do all the drawings himself, but he oversees everything and it's all an extension of him). "Spirited Away" is another of my favorites by him.

One half of me was just in awe of the talent displayed in those 205 pieces of art - paintings, drawings, digital art, sculpture, and even some sewn pieces! The other half was overwhelmed by comparing my work to theirs. Most of these artists are from the world of animation - although thankfully most of them are in the Story department, where they're paid to draw! I am under no delusions that I do not belong in that world! Thinking of storylines, sure, I love that. Drawing out the storyboards, character designs, set design, story scripts (color palettes for the film done through panel drawings of the environments) - not for me! I can draw thumbnails for my character poses, and there's a reason I'm taking classes for my drawing and painting (I enjoy it, even when it frustrates me, but it's already improved my drawing and my confidence in my drawing a ton). But the Story Dept. is definitely out of my league! So I'd love to say that perhaps I can be friends with some of those talented people and then they can make art for me because they want to!

Side note - Andrew and I had been bidding on a few of the items online Friday night - silent auction bidding was open till midnight. But we had no idea what might become of our bids Saturday night, which was when the actual event was held, that we hadn't gotten tickets to (next time, my friends, next time!). Well, we assumed that our piece had gone to someone else that night, but I four days later I received an email informing us that we won the item! So incredibly exciting!! It's the sculpture by Elizabeth Ito (scroll down about halfway, and she's posted some great clips from the movie too!), and it was our first choice from the auction. We'll be itching to bring it home, but we'll have to wait until it's done being shown at the Cartoon Art Museum! At the very least, we'll have to visit it, since we haven't even seen it in person yet!

So, in my recent art classes, I've had moments of utter and complete frustration, but I've pushed through and eventually gotten to a place of further understanding, with the hopes of conquering the technique and vision further down the line. But there's still a lot of frustration. I know, it's art, that's how it's supposed to be, right? Well, it doesn't make it any easier to deal with! But I have discovered that everyone is different. I know that there are things that my teacher sees that it may take me days to see even part of. I discovered that I am better at seeing 3D objects and translating those to 2D with lines and shapes. Apparently people who find that difficult are better at shading - which happens to be my weakness. With my painting, I have a hard time simplifying things to their core values - a technique which the Impressionists mastered - you see, detail does not equal a good painting.

I have no huge epiphany to reveal here. I just wanted to share my frustration as I make my way through the semester. I guess the comfort that I have gathered is that I have strengths that are others' weaknesses, and vice versa; and that I should be learning - that's what I'm in class for, right? It's very reassuring to me that I hear time and time again from artists that even the best artists have to work for their art, and everyone needs to practice! Here's to the journey, hoping I come out stronger and thicker-skinned.

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