Up until very recently I considered myself a fledgling artist. Four years of college art, studying everything from photography, to sculpture, I struggled to lock in what I considered to be my style. Thumbing through art books was really no help either. I remember pouring through a book about Seurat, and being in awe as to how such a young artist could have developed the iconic style of pointillism. I’d sit in my studio admiring his paintings, and copying his conte drawings, learning about how to quickly and efficiently manipulate light and shadow.
Eventually I’d move on to other artists, admire their work, copy it, and repeat. This mode of operation is one that I continued with for quite some time, and it extended not just to famous artists of the past, but also to Pinterest and Google image searches. The more art I copied, and the more I learned about technique, but the further I felt from honing in and creating my own style.
I remember standing in front of the whiteboard in my first classroom with a dry erase marker in my hand and no ideas in my mind. The blank page can be very intimidating for an artist and some say that making a stray mark can be a good place to start. For myself I feel a sense of permanence when I putting my ideas on paper or canvas. I had to drive to the store, wade through vast hordes of consumers, seek out the products that I wanted, and pay for them. Before even starting a project I already have time and money invested! I’d better not negate my efforts thus far by drawing or painting garbage! However, a white board drawing is nothing permanent. I didn’t buy it and I don’t have anything invested in it, thus there is no intimidation factor. Horrid drawing or masterpiece, the life of whatever I was about to create would only exist for a day or two. I was free to draw to what I chose without consequence!
What I noticed when I started working on this impermanent surface was that I felt free. I didn’t feel like I needed to produce great work in order to vindicate myself or some made up animistic god living in my pad of Canson! Drawing became quick and uninhibited. Instead of producing of a doodle here or there, I would fill the whiteboard daily! Drawings I disliked would quickly meet the eraser, and I would take pictures of the compositions that I liked, in order to turn them into completed works on paper or canvas.
My advice? Ditch the fear of creating bad art. If that means drawing on a whiteboard, or sketching on scrap paper then do it! Great art doesn’t have to be conceived on high-priced artist grade materials. Many of my painting ideas were worked out on used envelopes taken from the recycling bin.