Common Misconceptions: Traditional Art

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ArtistsHospital's avatar
First of all, hello!:wave: It's been almost a year since I contributed a blog post to this lovely group so I want to say hi I'm back folks! I have a lot of artsy things to share with you all that I've learned (and am still learning) so hang on tight! While I was thinking what to write as my first topic, I decided to kind of go back to the beginning as far as our thinking as artists goes in the creation process. I've come up with a short series called "Common Misconceptions" just to debunk some myths and misguided trends that are so often part of what we experience as we grow. This first "Common Misconceptions" topic will focus on traditional art.


Traditional is better than digital because it takes more talent and skill

WRONGWRONGWRONGWRONGWRONGWRONGWRONG. Did I say that was wrong, I'll say it again for emphasis WRONG! Like all mediums, digital art is simply different than traditional art in the same way photography is different than film. They are simply different. Photoshop does not "magically" give you the skills to recreate the paintings in the Sistine Chapel any more than holding a paintbrush makes you Rembrandt.


It's 'bad' to use reference images

I'll admit, I was wary of using reference images well into my second year of art school. The notion is that as artists, we should be brilliant enough to come up with completely original ideas (which is in part a completely different myth that will be covered later). Also, there's concern that if you reference something, you won't be really learning, but copying. Lastly, there's the idea that "good" artists shouldn't "need" a model to work from. Trust me, all of those ideas are flat out wrong. Part of learning how to correctly draw an apple is to study an apple! This goes for any subject you wish to draw. The area this is most debated is when it comes to drawing the figure. If you want to get better at "drawing people", by all means, study people! Beyond simply learning, having a reference image or model handy for your work is key for creating the best work possible.


This is 'my style' of drawing, so I don't need to learn anything else

If we give it a lot of thought, every artist has a distinctive 'style' of drawing, painting, sculpting, ect. However, that's a no brainer once we realize that each artist is a unique individual with personal aesthetics and reasons for the way they work. Drawing is one of the concentrations where this is most easily seen. The idea of this myth is a weak one at best. Not one person on Earth is ever at point in life when learning is no longer required or even necessary, artist or not. Don't buy into the 'my style' bandwagon. This will halt any further development in your drawing strength and creative process. Let me present a rather funny (and sad) example: I had my very first college drawing class about 5 years ago. I'll admit, I didn't enjoy it much, but I learned valuable things about the nature of light, perspective, ect. On the last day of class, we were all reflecting on what we all had learned and one guy actually said "I didn't learn anything, not one thing. I'm going to make graphic novels and comics, what does that have to do with drawing a box?" If you're picking your jaw up from your keyboard right now, you get the point.


Materials don't matter, even crayons are fine!

This is actually somewhat true to a certain point. You don't need the entire art supplies store to do something great, but it is important as you move and grow as an artist to have a look at what you're using and then see what else you could incorporate. Don't misinterpret me here, I'm not saying to go out and spend a fortune on supplies, because Lord know's even I can't do that! What I am saying is, if you've been using the same paint brushes for over a year, it's time to buy some new ones. If you've been working in crayon, check out oil pastel. Are you a painter, have you looked into mixing mediums into your paints? Working on college ruled or printer paper? Go down to the drugstore and at least buy a small blank journal to draw in.


It's ok to buy pre-mixed pigments

Learning how to mix color if you are working with pigments of any kind is very important. Pre-mixed colors have a tendency to look very unnatural and plastic, especially when it comes to skintones. Color temperature makes more natural, interesting, and exciting images. If and when you buy paint, try to buy the basics (ie.lemon yellow, ultramarine, cadmium red) and take some time to mix up your own hues, you'll be surprised how many shades of one single color you can get out of very little paint!


Because of technological advances, traditional art is dying

I can assure you my friends, traditional art has not diminished, wavered, or died since the creation of the computer, or even the internet. It certainly has changed and grown, but it is not going anywhere. One reason this myth is getting around is because how we as connoisseurs of art view it these days. Most of us see art through a computer screen, therefore, you're going to be seeing a lot of digital art because it's linked by medium. Traditional work is (and in my opinion will always be) best viewed in person. Also, the western art world is very much a bubble. Take a look around the world (and the traditional category here on dA for that matter!), and you will see quite a bit of contemporary traditional art.

If you guys have any more questions about trends and myths surrounding traditional art, just post them here and I'll try to the best of my ability and knowledge to answer them (or find someone who can)! The next 'Common Misconceptions' series will be digital art.

Thanks for reading!
:heart: Xadrea
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evil0verlady's avatar
I have such a hard time finding good books on digital painting! I finally decided to study traditional painting techniques and think about how I can simulate them in Photoshop. I really wish there was a good book that does that!