|Jar of Olives 7x5 watercolour & gouache on illustration board. 45 minute study*|
I've been wanting to write about this particular topic for quite some time now and haven't figured out a good way to do it. Hopefully this is it. See, some artists like to remain behind the curtain and keep their magic wizard tricks to themselves. I could have easily just said a couple of hours and left it at that, but I make no bones about anything. I made it clear that I spent way more time setting up the composition, lighting it correctly and most of all sketching it out several times before I even began. I probably spent a good six to eight hours working on it before I even picked up a paint brush. All of that preliminary work and sketching allowed me to whip out the painting in two hours or less. Hopefully with time and added experience it won't take me quite as long to do preliminary work, but since I can be fairly indecisive about some things I think that's just how it's going to go.
|*45 minutes of preliminary sketches|
It's not just limited to illustration and painting, musicians can hide behind that curtain too at times. It's the ones who aren't afraid to open the curtain every once in awhile that, I think, are truly great at what they do. I have a friend who's a phenomenal guitar player and everyone wants to take guitar lessons from him. Some of them probably think just by sitting in a room with him while he plays will automatically make them a good guitar player. I remember one time he told a little kid how much he practiced and how long he's been doing it. Sadly the look on the kid's face was that of shock and horror. Clearly the kid didn't want to devote any such amount of time and effort into playing an instrument. Some people might think that kid was just lazy and that if he would've practiced as much as the teacher told him to he'd be a great guitar player now, but in a way that "pulling back the curtain" and being honest with him probably saved him from a lot of anxiety and stress. Going back to the comic book artists, some make it look so easy that some people get it in their minds that they can do it too but when their efforts go unnoticed it's heartbreaking at times.
In no way am I trying to say that every artist out there needs to share every intimate detail of how they do what they do. No working artist has time to do that, they're too busy working. What I'm hoping for is that the next time someone asks how long did that take, you don't just say five minutes and leave it at that. It may have taken five minutes today but that's only after you've been doing what you do for 25 years.
With that I'll leave you with this link to Paolo Rivera's blog, The Self-Abosrbing Man. He has got to be one of my all time favourite comic book artists and everyone should give his work a look. What's even better about him, he shares his "Wacky Reference Wednesdays" posts. Click on that link and it will take you to one. In another post he shows how he makes maquettes to help him with lighting situations. He shows some of his preliminary work and that's one of the reasons why his work is so great. That and he may just be a magical wizard.