Visual Library: A Vocabulary of Pictures

I’ve been trying to identify and correct bad habits I have as an artist. “And correct” is kind of the important part, and it’s the part I usually forget. I am generally pretty quick to point out (to myself and a few “lucky” others) what I’ve done wrong in a drawing, but I generally “fix” it by hoping that I don’t do it again. This is probably the negative side effect of being out of the art classroom… no one’s there to make me figure out answers. Sigh.

But anyways, I’ve been trying to do better. One thing I want to work on is my visual library. What does this mean exactly?

cassatt-01It’s just like learning a new language or simply new vocabulary from your own language. You have to hear the word, then you repeat it, then you have to write it a few times, and then it finally sticks. That’s how you learn words, and with art and creative writing, it’s not really any different. If you want to get better at drawing people, you study and draw people. If you want to get better at writing mysteries, you read and write mysteries. It really is that simple.

You put out what you take in.

I’m going to improve (and increase) what I take in! I’m deliberately going to try to build my visual library! I’m probably going to drink more coffee!

And that brings me to the new plan for this blog! I thought this whole “visual library” thing might be a cool theme. This could be a place where I can post the artwork I’m taking in, and the notes I’m making in the process, and my visual studies based on my notes. I want to blog this for two main reasons: because I know it’ll help me be more accountable, and also because I think it’ll be helpful to other artists. To start with, I’m trying to improve my color theory by
studying Impressionists (such as the piece above, by Mary Cassatt.) I used to not like impressionism, because it wasn’t In_the_boxrealistic (I was THAT person), but as I got more and more interested in digital painting, the more I felt drawn to impressionism. I really liked the way they could do SO MUCH with so few marks! You can see an entire form, but if you get closer, you realize that there aren’t really any sharp details. The sophistication is in the color, I think, and the mark making. If you can make juuuuust the right mark, with juuuust the right color, then it gets a big job done.

To make a long(ish) blog short, I’m going to conduct an art crash-course for myself, and I’m going to share it with you all!

I hope you all enjoy (and benefit from) the ride!

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