Artsy-Fartsy Questions

MadameI put “fartsy” in a blog title. Ha.

In a previous blog post, I talked about asking the right question. I think that’s an easier concept for writers to think about questions. Visual artists have a harder time because they’re answering visual questions. For us, our questions don’t have “?” at the end, they just have the gut reaction of “something’s off.” And that’s just not much to go on.

So if you’re a draw-er, how do you learn to ask the right questions? That’s a good question. See what I did there?

In my previous post I mentioned that the right questions always lead to more questions, just like a detective mystery. The same thing goes for drawing and painting: Why doesn’t the head look right? Is it the eyes? The nose? Yes. How can I fix the nose? How do I draw a nose? What does a real nose look like? And then you do a study of a nose. Or if you’re a really good artist, you’ll do several studies. And never stop.

This line of questioning even works for more conceptual problems. Why is this drawing exciting, but this one is boring? Is it the way I colored it? The composition? Yes. It’s all horizontal. How can I redraw this scene with more diagonals? This page is jumbled and complicated. The characters? The camera position? The word balloons? Yeah. Simplify the dialogue. What parts of the conversation can I cut out?

This is what active thinking looks like. It’s crazy, and it can be really confusing until you find your rhythm. But once you really figure out how to think in terms of puzzle-solving and questioning, you don’t need to be conscious of it anymore. It just happens all by itself.

Have you ever tried seriously critiquing your old work? Not in a mean, self-hating sort of way, but really analyzing something, finding the issues, and finding the solutions?

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