Creativity versus technique and other issues with art

Filed under: Life and Leisure by Hari
Posted at 15:36 IST (last updated: Thu, Apr 15, 2010 @ 15:36 IST)
As a creative person (though I say so myself), one of the biggest issues I face from time to time is the big dilemma: focus on creativity or technique? Or possibly both?

To explain the dilemma, I need to explain what I consider technique. Technique to me is a method which one develops - a process that yields consistent results and a particular style of art. Creativity is the point at which you are comfortable enough with your technique to experiment and explore your style and possibly try things you've not done before.

I'd like to call myself creative and I think I am to a certain extent. There is a problem though: I'm bored with technique and I'm bored with having to practice and practice until I get the technique right. I do want my drawing to get better and stylistically distinct, yet I don't want to get stuck in a formulaic approach. The thought that my current technique might be fundamentally unsound is draining my creativity as is the thought of getting back to square one (unlearning my mistakes and re-learning the right way).

Now I am aware that the best advise has always been to practice and practice correct techniques to the point where you can draw in your sleep. Get the proportions, perspectives, the lines and the shapes right first and then go on to experiment and innovate. If you want to draw a human, first get the realistic proportions of the human body right and only after you do it well, attempt to "stylize" it. This approach should, with enough practice, guarantee that your basic artistic skills are so strong and your foundation is never shaky. You can never make basic errors in proportion, perspective and shapes.

No doubt the advise is sound and extremely useful, but my problem is that I cannot get inspired enough to practice the basics over and over again so much. It becomes tiring and repetitive. I begin to doubt whether I can draw at all. I do have a few artist books and I have practiced the basics in the past. Unfortunately the whole practice routine hasn't helped my creativity at all. I continue drawing in the same way with slight improvements.

I want to remain creative, but I also want a fundamental change in my approach. Obviously I understand that it takes effort and a lot of time to get there, but I keep wondering what my actual goals are: to be a good artist first and then a comic writer, or to simple enjoy the process of creating comics, get better at what I do while staying within or working around my limitations with shortcuts. I do want a good technique, but not at the cost of creativity or lack of inspiration.

Simply put, I'm wondering whether I should continue drawing the way I am currently or dump it and attend a traditional art course during the summer. I realize that this is a hobby and the purpose is to enjoy what I do otherwise it becomes a chore. Therein lies my dilemma.

6 comment(s)

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  1. Attending an art course will give you a solid basis in the basics - as you say, perspective and so on. You could also carry around a small art pad and just sketch on your downtime - on the way to college, on the train, in a park with your lunch, etc. The problem I find with practicing something fun is that the time you set aside becomes the job itself and, like you, I lose interest.

    Stick at it though.

    Comment by ray (visitor) on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 @ 16:08 IST #
  2. Sketching pad is a good idea. Gesture drawing is supposed to be good in improving skills.

    Ultimately you're right about making it a chore. I lose interest when I compel myself to do anything.

    Still, a refresher on the basics would be a good idea. My biggest problem has been consistency in character drawing and anatomy of the human body. It's frustrating enough that I want to stop drawing altogether when I cannot get something right the second or third time. I think I have to go back to pen and paper. Inkscape is all good, but I should not use it for sketching - only for finishing.

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 @ 16:22 IST #
  3. Just found this via Twitter and Boing Boing: http://cartoonsnap.blogspot.com/2010/04/cartooning-advice-zippy-bill-griffith.html

    This is a set of advice from a professional cartoonist. While the whole of the 4 pages have great advice, the one on taking photos is good and pertinent and kind of matches what I said about the sketching.

    Comment by ray (visitor) on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 @ 21:20 IST #
  4. That advise is way too high-level for my skill level. Yet, I think they are useful. Thanks for the link :)

    As for telling a story, I think till I am comfortable with my art, I prefer a gag-a-day kind of strip.

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 @ 21:44 IST #
  5. My friend is a cartoonist. He says that a good cartoonist- who cares if they can draw! What matters is being able to write. Keep at it, keep it fun, and you'll do well. :)

    Comment by Alison (visitor) on Sun, Apr 18, 2010 @ 12:44 IST #
  6. What matters to me is that I must enjoy the process: drawing or writing.

    Drawing badly or making it a chore tends to reduce my enjoyment and my writing also goes downhill.

    At the same time I realize that many new comic creators don't pay enough attention to writing, which I think is the key!

    Comment by Hari (blog owner) on Sun, Apr 18, 2010 @ 13:26 IST #

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