Odd Duck Out

July 27, 2019

Image Left: (Semi-Recent Sketchbook Drawing of A Pair of Odd Rubber Ducks that came into my head and made me laugh. Done using Derwent Inktense Pencils and a Zeta Series Stillman & Birn Sketchbook, two tools I'm still figuring out.)

I've been thinking for some time about this Art Journey I'm on. And part of it is, I really want this to be the way that I make my living. I've spent the last 20 or so years of my life, in service to others. I don't want to live my life for other people.


I want to be able to enjoy it... and that's what the art is all about, well that and connecting to people. Sharing the images and what's important to me, with others. Letting them see what is inside of me.

I realize now, having watched and read way too many things on how to market yourself and self-reflection for artists, and how to play to your strengths and stuff... and Studio vlogs, and artistic journeys of others. That I'm a different kind of Artist.

 

And yeah, it's possible that no artist actually has that experience but has learned that crafting an origin story is ultimately important to market themselves and their skills in this very loud world, where a single voice gets drowned out unless it's fortified by "branding".

 

But, as I only have access to the brain of one other artist, and her motivations, her origin story, her inspiration is so clearly cut and dry. I'm gonna assume that I'm the odd duck out.

 

I've been thinking for so long about the why am I an artist? And Why doesn't my journey fit into the same neat narrative about the American dream and what not, and I've come to a conclusion, finally.

 

I've been alone my entire life.

 

And by alone, I mean, I had 3 older siblings completely uninterested in what I had to say and do; an absent at best, neglectful truthfully and ultimately abusive mother, and a Dad that worked 2 jobs for most of my childhood. No friend's houses I could walk to.

 

There was no one to turn to for answers to anything. My grandparents, lived over an hour away in either direction... and I had no known or trusted adults in my life who had time to listen to dumb questions.

 

I learned what I knew about the world, from TV, Movies, Books and good ol' fashioned experience. There were no explanations for why the sky was blue, and where babies come from and what happens when you die. Beyond what I did in my own research mostly in fiction and scary stories.

 

Most kids had their parents to question, and their parents encouraged their interests, at least for a time, whereas I had the experience of being told everytime I pulled out my crayons that there was no money in art, before having the concept of a job, let alone an Artist. The first time I ever learned about Artists, was Vincent Van Gogh in 5th Grade in a hour long class where we watched a short video about his tragic life.

 

The only other time I had seen anything like that was after our VHS copy of Disney's "The Sleeping Beauty" went to credits, there was a little intro about the guy who painted the backgrounds. I didn't know that he got paid to do it. I just thought it was cool that he got to draw on a movie. My Dad was really into computers, and the only explanation I ever got for how animations were done were computers.

 

The first time, that had learned about anything other than Van Gogh, was in high school. There I learned that humans usually designed logos and stuff.

 

So pretty much, my entire early artistic development, existed without direction, without mentorship, without financial motivation. (Mostly because I had no concept of anyone using Art to make money.) I've only had art classes on a public school level, what was considered important by the state... and I had no idea that what the fundamentals were. By the time I had an opportunity to learn them, I could copy a reference photo pretty good by eyeballing. I didn't learn about the flour sack or peanut bodies, and blocking out a character and carving out details.

So I draw the way that I draw. There's no direct Disney obsession dictating my character's proportions and form; there's no anime influence (I've seen 2 animes in full in a 15 year period... and was introduced to it later in life than my peers.) and we didn't get the paper, so I wasn't mimicking Calvin and Hobbes or Garfield growing up.


The subjects I draw are what I find interesting, alone. The color selections, mixes, lighting, proportions, line style and the like are a combination of my ability and what I think is pretty or important. So my people don't look like "tumblr" art, or disney inspired, or classic american cartooning, or like anime, or even fashion drawing.
 

I also decided long ago that photo-realism while certainly proves a level of skill and is of itself impressive, is ultimately kind of pointless. Spending 10-100 hours perfecting your pencils lines enough that you can't tell the difference between your photo reference and your drawing, great exercise... but ultimately just printing out another photo is easier. Plus, weirdly I learned about copyright issues before learning about Artists... and Man, if you didn't take the photo, can you get into some hot water.

I've tried enough mediums, and now feel like I know enough about art, that when I visit Art Museums as a grown-ass adult, I can literally see the hand painting the artwork hanging up. On bisque ware I can see the fingerprints of the artist in the cooked clay. With photo realism, I don't. At best, I can see the picture reflected upside down and distorted in the camera lens, with the camera blocking the face of the photographer.

 

It's impressive, yes, but I just don't get the same interaction with it as I do with other art. I don't see the artist, except as maybe as a squinting face, 2 inches away from what they're working on, biting their lip, and trying to keep a steady hand, as they stare at pixels, and their own work, to see what's missing. It's not a joyous image.

So anyways, my art is just me. It's just me, drawing how I can drawing, and drawing what I want to, to the best of my ability, attempting to create things that I like and can be proud of, that other people may squint at, and see an invisible hand creating. I have no direct influence beyond what is happening around me, at the moment of creation. But even that, so much of it is internal... unspoken it's sort of funny.

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©Artwork by Melinda Bosen 2018, template by Artist Corner.

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