When I look back over the last year, I’m amazed to think that from someone who couldn’t draw a straight line, I’ve somehow developed into an artist with enough pencil skills to draw about anything that comes to mind…like this pirate fellow who showed up in my sketchbook a few days ago. I’ve been re-reading Treasure Island again, you know.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of pirates and buried gold is an exciting one. I never tire of it. The journey to the island is fraught with perils. As a child, I loved the story and was inspired by it to follow my dreams.
My artistic journey, by comparison, has met with few dangers. The only regret I have about pursuing my love of art is that it’s now become impossible for me to keep a clean house. It’s not just the kitchen. It’s more than just my “art room”. The whole house is a wreck because I’m having too much fun drawing and painting. Who’s got time for housework?
As I now figuratively “set sail” on the second year of my adventures in art, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to where I’ll be going. How will this year differ from the first? Where will I focus my attention? What will be my objectives?
Being self-taught, it’s up to me to determine the proper curriculum. I’ve been reviewing the many drawings and paintings I’ve made over the last twelve months, going through my old sketchbooks, and like an “old salt” aboard ship, I’ve been charting a course, looking back at the progress I’ve made, and deciding where I want to go now.
In my first year of study, I focused on basic drawing skills. I learned the elements of art — line, shape, form, space, value, texture, and color — and I explored different media. I had a brief introduction to composition and to color theory. I focused primarily on representational art and worked with a variety of subjects.
For this second year, I’m planning to expand on that general approach to art. I hope to improve my drawing skills by focusing more on figure-drawing and portraiture. I’ll be studying more about the elements of composition — harmony, movement, balance, dominance, contrast, repetition, gradation — and I’ll be working with abstraction as well as representational art. I’m going to broaden my artistic horizons by learning more about mixed media, and I want to explore different styles in painting. Learning more about color theory is also on the agenda. I like the idea of building a personal palette of colors for my art. I hope that by the end of my second year of art, I’ll also be doing oil painting.
My first year was about learning how to create art. This year, I think, will be more about learning what. What do I want to say through my drawing and painting? What style best reflects who I am? What medium do I most enjoy?
It’s going to be another interesting journey. I’m traveling to my own treasure island and finding the gold of my dreams. I want to once again thank everyone who’s become “shipmates” on this voyage. I want to remember, too, the story of Treasure Island and the boldness of young Jim Hawkins.
In the words of Henri Matisse, “Creativity takes courage.” This is going to be my theme this year. Be bold, take risks, and don’t apologize. An exciting journey, indeed.