Sunday, September 19, 2010


For no particular reason I can come up with, I haven't spent much time coloring greyscale (or French greyscale) like I mentioned a few posts back. But I have spent most of the past month working on ink. I bought a jar of ink and a quill style pen to try to learn from people like R. Crumb and Rand Holmes*, but then to use their lines for my own art.

A few weeks ago I was telling my co-worker that I was in the beginning of a drawing phase, and he automatically shot back by telling me how terrible he is at drawing. And as the days went on I realized how many people say the exact same thing in the same automated response. I found out that for whatever reason-- time, new responsibilities, new interests-- most people haven't sat down to draw since childhood, beyond occasional doodles on the edges of paper or envelopes. They have, however, seen quite a bit of art and established an idea of what looks like good art or bad art. So however rarely they do sit down to draw, anything produced is crumpled into a trash bin; it doesn't look like what they think good, or even decent art should look like.

My hypothesis is that anyone can be a good artist as long as they: draw in whatever style comes out of their hand (left or right), and see their picture as it is on the paper-- not in terms of what they already think their picture should look like, but in their inherent style used to convey the subject. Then their judgement of the quality of the work should be based on how well they were able to convey the idea within their own style. Essentially, how well can you act like yourself? Did you draw that triangle nose like you think a triangle nose should look like? Or does it look like shit because that's just not how people do 'em.

So it's no wonder people automatically doubt their own talent, when they have the weight of a thousand artists' names swirling in their heads and then whatever gurgles out of their pen doesn't fit into any of their forms. In the same way, I used to limit myself to which subjects I'd draw because "so-and-so artist wouldn't draw that". And by looking at a lot of R. Crumb, Rand Holmes, and Heinrich Kley recently, I've realized how diverse each of their subject matters are within themselves. So I figured the best way for me to get better is to put pen to paper and see what comes out (left hand) without worrying about content. No matter how absurd, serious, or strange it all goes.

This past month has been a success in my book. I like the tension drawing straight ink on paper-- no erasing. I have the benefit of having grown up drawing next to my brother (and if you're reading this you should draw more) so I was able to work out a lot of issues when I was young. But even still, sometimes drawings just turn out like crap and there's not much that can be done. Try again later.

And for your blues fans out there...

...that was my attempt at Rand Holmes' style with a R. Crumb butt.

Surprise! Here's Aichata Sidibe. I like this tape because I can hear kamelengoni songs I know how to play (with arrangements on top).

*there aren't a lot of examples of Rand Holmes on the internet that I could find, but you should check him out at a bookstore.