“There are too many ideas and things and people. Too many directions to go. I was starting to believe the reason it matters to care passionately about something, is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size.”
— Susan Orlean, Adaptation
I had a lot of time off from making art at the end of last year and I used some of that time to think. I want to be really proud of my art and although I’m proud of the progress I’ve made there are some things bugging me.
Despite all the progress I made in technique last year I’m still finding myself no longer loving a lot of pieces after a few weeks or so. I got to thinking about what my pieces lack that art which makes me ache with envy has. So for a bit of fun on a long drive along featureless German autobahns one day, I made a list of the features my favourite pieces of art have in common.
Non-cartoony, illustrative style
I think my favourite art is probably split 50/50 between “fine art” and “illustrative art”. My art definitely leans towards illustrative. The style I’m drawn to in this genre seems to inhabit the space between realistic and cartoon – there’s probably a name for it but I’m not educated enough in the arts to know what it is. I’m not a big fan of cartoony illustrations yet I find myself consistently producing them! I think it’s because I keep settling for what I *can* draw rather than what I *want* to draw.
I’ve completely spontaneously come to really enjoy drawing these past couple of weeks and can’t seem to rip myself away from the sketchbook so I’m hoping my technique will develop substantially this year.
An element of fantasy, oddness, or improbability
Again, this isn’t true for all art that I love but it is a recurring theme. I think much of my art incorporates these elements but it could do more so. When I’ve got a fairly fleshed out design in mind I’d like to start asking myself, “How could I make this a little bit stranger, a litter more enchanting, a little more playful?”.
Neutrals and earth-tones with a touch of colour
This is a characteristic that I think might actually be 100% consistent across all of my favourite artists. I can appreciate bright, bold colour but the artwork that makes me weak in the knees is invariably natural, earthy neutrals with discerning splashes of delicious, elegantly muted hues. I’m thinking about experimenting with matt medium and mixing with neutral grey to this end.
And so I continue to whittle down the infinite realm of possibilities until I’m left with only those things which I consistently adore.