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Questions, Discussion, Tutorials

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Posts

  • LiiyaLiiya Registered User regular
    Tynic you are my drawing fairy godmother - thank you! I will do that exercise of over the ruler line and watch that video!

  • ChicoBlueChicoBlue Registered User regular
    This is a pretty good video demonstrating some freehanding exercises.



    But, yeah, get yourself a pack of the cheapest printer paper and just practice drawing straight lines and whatnot all over that.

    Make two little points and draw a straight line between them. Make two points a little further apart and draw straight lines between them. Make two points a little further apart and draw a line between them. And cry in woe as you see your line is bowing slightly.

    Whenever possible, try to turn the paper to suit your arm, rather than contorting your arm to suit the paper when you're making a straight line.

    Liiyatynic
  • LiiyaLiiya Registered User regular
    Thank you, Chico!! I will do that, and probably cry a bit at the bowing line - but with repetition hopefully it'll improve!

  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    ChicoBlue wrote: »
    This is a pretty good video demonstrating some freehanding exercises.

    THAT WAS THE VIDEO I WANTED

  • ChicoBlueChicoBlue Registered User regular
    Tynic, I don't know if you know this but I'm a little bit psychic.

    Right now you are thinking that I am not a little bit psychic, because there are no such thing.

    Right now you are thinking that I am definitely not a psychic and you are perfectly safe to think about...

    oh goodness.

    NightDragon
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    I'll add that in my architecture firm, and in landscape drawings we do and see, even architectural, perfectly straight lines aren't mandatory. We have one guy whose lines squiggle all over the place, and he only uses pen. The important thing is that he gets his intent across with the entire composition, even if his line work is a little sloppy.

    One neat trick for some lines is to lay your pinky finger on a straight edge and follow that for the first line of the composition, to give you a good base to start from.

    I'll also recommend the drawing lines over and over again for practice, and look up books by Ivo Derpic. I'm on my phone so I don't know if I'm spelling that right. He has some excellent drawing tutorial books for architecture that should have some translation to landscape.

    Lastly, some of the best sketchers in our firm have a landscape background, so whatever you're doing must be working!

    Liiya
  • LiiyaLiiya Registered User regular
    Icemopper wrote: »
    I'll add that in my architecture firm, and in landscape drawings we do and see, even architectural, perfectly straight lines aren't mandatory. We have one guy whose lines squiggle all over the place, and he only uses pen. The important thing is that he gets his intent across with the entire composition, even if his line work is a little sloppy.

    One neat trick for some lines is to lay your pinky finger on a straight edge and follow that for the first line of the composition, to give you a good base to start from.

    I'll also recommend the drawing lines over and over again for practice, and look up books by Ivo Derpic. I'm on my phone so I don't know if I'm spelling that right. He has some excellent drawing tutorial books for architecture that should have some translation to landscape.

    Lastly, some of the best sketchers in our firm have a landscape background, so whatever you're doing must be working!

    Someone else in the same/similar field - this is reassuring to hear! I will look that guy up in my university library - thanks!

    Haha our tutors really push the sketching side as (no offense!) the architects tend to not use as much and I think with hand drawn you get a different feel. I'm comfortable now with using markers and soft felt tips for rough concept plans, sections and perspectives which are good to be rough and ready. But for more finite ideas/moving towards final designs I feel I need to be a bit neater!

    But that is very reassuring!

  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    Yeah, architecture professors definitely push sketching, but in the real world, many designers just don't sketch much. It totally depends on the type of work and the phase of design the project is in, but clients do love a good sketch. It is absolutely a good skill, especially since it really does give you a better feel for the design, like you said, and you can pump out several concepts much faster by hand. Especially in client meetings, where you can show several concepts quickly, it becomes an all the more valuable skill.

    There's almost too much good to say about sketches in our world, so definitely keep it up!

    Liiya
  • FlayFlay Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    I have a question about specular highlights.

    So I know that the highlight should be at the point where the light reflects off the surface into your eye, not perpendicular to the light source (like in this tutorial), but I'm confused about what to do when the subject is backlit in moonlight. I'm going to attempt to render this image, and I'm not sure where the highlight should be on the domes in the background. I don't think there should be any highlight, but I've looked up some reference material, and they seem to think otherwise. I'm not sure if they're taking artistic liberties or not.

    Any ideas?

    EDIT: This is the closest real-life reference I've found.

    Flay on
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2015
    edit: I had the references the wrong way round, fuckin ...

    I think the first reference image is complete bollocks, lighting-wise. The second one looks more realistic, at least as far as the dome is concerned. Both of them are playing very fast and loose with the amount you would actually be able to see at night, even with a full moon.

    My gut says that lunar specular highlights won't have that narrow beam you get from close sources/the sun, possibly because of the distance involved - the light from the moon is far more dispersed than a close light-source would be, and it's also much much dimmer than the sun. But I haven't followed that through by thinking out the physics, hopefully Bacon or someone with a more systematic approach to lighting can step in. I think doing something closer the second reference - ie the light off St Pauls - is gonna read pretty well, in any case.

    edit: that real life reference is interesting, I genuinely wouldn't have expected that kind of tight specular effect from the moon. I wonder if it's something to do with rate of photon acceptance in the pupil, also.

    tynic on
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    In both of those reference images, the moon causing the highlights would have to be out of the picture, on the left. The Aladdin one looks especially weird to me, but the 2nd image is passable, IMO. Specular highlight is not as sharp, and is more to the side of the dome.

    If you're aiming for realism, you can probably get away with a small rimlight, and maybe have the dome underlit somehow, while acting as a silhouette, which I think could look pretty cool. Not sure if that ruins the mood/composition you're going for, though.

    NightDragon on
    tynic
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    dang I had the images open in the wrong order. Yeah the aladdin one looked totally ridiculous to me.

  • FlayFlay Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Cheers guys! I'm not necessarily going for realism, but I feel like it's important to know when you're faking it or not.

    Flay on
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    I'm trying to learn how to paint digitally and having a rough time of it so far. A big problem is trying to figure out what saturation and value I need to use and when.

    I've been to figure it out by opening up various images in MangaStudio and recording the saturation and value levels through out. However, I'm sure at least some of the photos have been digitally altered, and I don't think it's best to just blindly copy other artists without having an understanding of why they chose the colors they did.

    For a recent personal example, I tried painting a portrait by applying colors using the saturation and value levels I had recorded from another photo (I did not copy the hue, BTW). However, when I got to the red of their shirt I found that using similar S & V levels created a dull color, but I was also afraid to change them because I thought it might not look right compared to the skin tone.

    Is there a commonly accepted textbook or something that could help me learn digital art? I've bought a few books and magazine's like ImagineFX, but it seems like they assume a higher degree of experience.

    Hexmage-PA on
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    @Hexmage-PA I feel like you're getting much too far into the weeds, here. Don't bother with copying exact saturation and value levels. There are endless successful paintings out there that will break that "trick". The artists you are trying to copy from did not use numbers and percentages to determine which colors and values to use - they used their eyes and their knowledge of what makes a successful painting.

    I highly recommend that you read up on the "Elements and Principles of Design". These are the building blocks that artists use to create successful pieces. There are many webpages and books that you can find that will delve deep into each of those parts. The focus here is more on the design of a piece, and not specifically the color theory involved. The reason I think these would be important to you is because these elements and principles will help you dictate what saturation and value levels are appropriate for different areas of a composition, and for the composition as a whole. Knowing where to place highly saturated colors is not determined by copying values and numbers in an abstract manner, flailing blindly along. You have to learn why the artist used the hues and saturations and values that they did, and why they arranged them in the composition the way they did, rather than learn some obscure numerical values that have little to no real-world application.

    These same issues are going to pop up for you whether you're working digitally or traditionally, by the way. There are handfuls of great books out there that talk about color theory, and will help guide you in figuring out the answers to those "why's" above. While these books may focus on traditional painting and drawing, the theories that are discussed within about can be applied universally in the visual arts.

    Train your eyes to do the art. The more you practice (and the more you learn from sources like the above), the more questions you will answer for yourself.

    NightDragon on
    Enctynicacadiam3nacetapeslingerHexmage-PA
  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Recently I've gotten really into contributing over on the Critiques section of the ConceptArt.org forum. I like it because it makes for very focused feedback on individual images. I much prefer it to the Sketchbooks section of that forum; sketchbook-style threads ARE worthwhile for people who want to track their progress over time, but they're so hard for other people to keep up with and contribute meaningfully to once they start to accumulate so many pages of art.

    Now, as much as I love the PA:AC, I sometimes wonder about its structure. It seems that the small community here leans heavily on the Doodle thread, which usually ends up becoming a stream of images with SOME constructive feedback, but many images are overlooked. And there are so many forum members who hang out in the Doodle thread without maintaining a personal thread. And only a small number of people regularly contribute feedback outside the Doodle thread. I understand this, because like I said, I personally find sketchbook threads hard to keep up with.

    Anyway, I know that this community is smaller than CA, and I'm guessing that most members here are perfectly satisfied with the way things are. I just look at the quality of constructive feedback that is achieved over the CA Critique Center (mostly, I think, due to its structure) and wonder if the PA:AC could learn anything from it. On the other hand, things would start to get real cluttered real fast if you tried to just lump sketchbooks and critique threads together in one place.

    For me, the one thing that is a saving grace for sketchbooks over on CA is that the forum software shows an image for each thread, so you can remember which sketchbook thread is which just by glancing at the thumbnail. But I'm guessing that's not something you could just implement without the PA forums as a whole migrating to a different platform.

    Lamp on
  • MangoesMangoes Registered User regular
    I just think that the userbase is a bit too low in the AC to expect any more than what we have. People contribute to threads when they can, and I think a lot of the selection process of who gets a paintover/crit comes from the recipient's past desire to genuinely receive feedback and improve from it. Just look at Frank: he clearly has a lot of potential, the drive to improve and the willingness to listen, so he gets a lot of feedback.

    The Doodle thread is really the only art-posting thread in the AC that isn't specifically catered to critique. Unless someone seems to be struggling with a difficult problem or searching for answers, they probably posted there because don't want their "doodle" to be criticized. Changing that would just mean less art posted.

    There aren't a lot of problems here that couldn't be easily remedied by having more members who participate in critiquing, but I assume the almost-impenetrable veteran status of this "lurk more" subforum (and forum in general) is a bit intimidating for some. It's like walking in on a random family's picnic and telling grandma the cookies are stale. Her reception doesn't really matter, you'd probably feel like an ass.

    tynicNightDragontapeslinger
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion Pronouns: He, Him, HisRegistered User regular
    Anything that makes critiques and suggestions feel like an obligation rather than a volunteer activity will also have the opposite of an increased participation effect, so comparing AC to other forums might not lead to better outcomes rather than, say, actually posting critiques and suggestions on a daily basis.

    tapeslinger
  • NightDragonNightDragon 6th Grade Username Registered User regular
    The last time I was a regular member of the CA forums, I got tired of their lack of critiques and the poor quality of critiques, and that's why I came back to the AC as my "main forum". Have things really drastically changed that much? When you suggest the quality of critiques is better there, what do you mean?

    I do agree that it would be awesome to have thumbnails by each thread title, but I also imagine it's a lot of work (if even possible) and likely won't be implemented.

    tynic
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    yeah, I remember CA having a deep talent pool but not much in the way of useful feedback. But I literally haven't gone there for years.

    NightDragon
  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Yep, you guys are probably right on all points.

    As for CA -- I agree that the quality of feedback has ebbed a lot over the years. But recently I've noticed that there are a handful of pretty good artists making a push to improve the Critique Center, and I've been trying to do do my small part to contribute. There are a fair number of of good paintovers being posted there, which I've always thought was by far the most helpful form of feedback. At the very least, that section of CA is the first place where I've been able to reliably and consistently receive in-depth, direct feedback (including paintovers) on individual pieces. I'd love to see some of you guys come over and help out! (If you have some extra time when you're done on the AC, that is.)

    Not that the AC here isn't great for what it is -- I've been around here for a long time, and I really like the userbase. I want to start contributing more here as well!

    Lamp on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    One of the older differences of PA and CA was that we accommodate different types of artists, where often CA sort of pushed out people who weren't interested in concept art as their optimal position, I mean, it's in the name. That prioritizes realistic-ish digital painting over most other things. Perhaps that's changed over the years on CA, but it used to be if you weren't on the fast track to paint magic cards, CA didn't have much to say to you.

    Paintovers are pretty time consuming, and I used to see more ones I disagreed with over on CA than I found helpful. To some degree I think you see less here because people generally do it if they have a pretty good idea of both what they are a talking about, and what you maybe going for. I wouldn't try to fix someone's perspective for instance, but I may ping someone who could. The smaller community makes it easier to do that, a high member count isn't the goal if it clutters the focus.

    I don't think organizational issues are holding the AC back, but if people have suggestions I'm willing to play around. Major changes (like displaying thumbnails next to threads) that would require some custom work just doesn't really warrant the amount of time/money/effort it would take to implement, currently. One of the things I'd like to do is find a better way to display the new resources section so it'd be a thing people actually use, but I haven't had the time to coherently propose that to the moderation staff.

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    Interesting perspective on paintovers -- personally, I can't get enough of them! I'm a paintover junkie. Even when it's a paintover that I don't totally agree with, I absolutely love seeing other people's take on an image. I feel like it opens my eyes to all kinds of ideas that I would never have thought of. I love doing them, too.

    I often see stuff in the Doodle thread that I'd be interested in painting over, but I feel weird providing that kind of unsolicited feedback for someone who's maybe just posting to share. I guess what I'm saying is that I wish that some of the members who post mostly to the doodle thread would start up their own threads, where it was clear that they were looking for feedback. But then again, maybe they aren't -- and that's why they aren't starting threads to begin with!

  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Generally speaking, yeah, the doodle thread is a catchall when you want to show stuff but don't really want to get in-depth feedback. There are some members who post stuff for crits in there, because they're reluctant to make a thread for whatever reason, which is also fine, but if people are doing that often we usually suggest they make a thread to keep all the advice in one place, if nothing else.

    I imagine my perspective on this (and Iruka's, and other forumers) differs because we've been here long enough to see a lot of ebbs and flows in activity and membership. To me it feels like the AC is in the middle of a long climb out of a pretty bad posting slump. Things have definitely taken a turn for the better over the last year or two. But I agree with your point, that the doodle thread seems to get the most activity and leaves the rest of the forum a bit barren.

    Just thinking out-loud now: What used to get things fired up and moving around was casual games and silly stuff - art battles, contests, 'draw a forumer', that sort of thing. We've mostly got jobs and things now, so people don't have as much time on their hands, and that stuff only works when you have a critical mass of forumers involved. But it was often a really good way of pulling in people from other parts of PA, or lurkers, and getting them posting more generally.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    The last few activities were kinda dead on arrival, and I think sad, empty activities are way worse than no activities. I think m3naces comic thread is great, I would love to see more stuff like that. I could rotate the enrichments back to the main forum and then move them back out when done for the month. I wouldn't mind having a few more threads where we tackle subjects together, I think that some of the older activities just got a little esoteric.

    If we had a thread for master studies, color studies, and so on that was just always floating about the forum, that does not bother me. I don't mind sillier things too, just so long everyones not making a "DRAW MY FAVORITE POKEMON" on a whim. I'd rather it not be so many that it drowned out the user threads, but I could rotate/archive them.

    I think that the sketch dailies are a nice template, they do really simple stuff, fanart, monsters, whatever.

    tynic
  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    I'd be very interested in getting involved in some group enrichment activities :)

    On another note, I found this really interesting article today about the various ways of checking your values in Photoshop, and the limitations of each: http://www.artofscholes.com/checkingvalues/

    It's really something I hadn't considered before, and the Ctrl+Y shortcut is amazing! Check it out, guys.

  • IcemopperIcemopper Registered User regular
    Lamp wrote: »
    I'd be very interested in getting involved in some group enrichment activities :)

    On another note, I found this really interesting article today about the various ways of checking your values in Photoshop, and the limitations of each: http://www.artofscholes.com/checkingvalues/

    It's really something I hadn't considered before, and the Ctrl+Y shortcut is amazing! Check it out, guys.

    I have watched almost a couple hundred hours of photoshop tutorials, and never saw this. How is that possible?!?

    That is amazing, thank you!

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    So my girlfriend recently moved from NYC to Seattle for a job (she now works for Bungie on the Destiny writing team -- how freaking cool is that?! Sorry, I had to brag!) Anyway, I'm going to be moving there soon too now, and we had a thought recently. While I was visiting, we were out walking around the neighborhood and noticed that there's an art school nearby, the Gage Academy of Art. Now, I have zero interest in spending a fortune on a four year art college, I already have a non-art college degree, and don't particularly see most art schools as a good investment anyway. But I got poking around the website later that day and noticed that they have a handful of *relatively* affordable atelier programs (about $8K for a year -- not bad, I think?). In particular, I got looking at the Juliette Aristides Atelier.

    I like Aristides's work, generally speaking, and it seems like she has the credentials to be a good instructor. Here's some of her work. This wouldn't be my first or second choice out of all the atelier programs I know of, but this one happens to be feasible based on geographic proximity (also, the other artists running ateliers at Gage look terrible to me). Mostly, the idea of having direct instruction to learn how to actually paint with traditional media seems like a dream come true. And just having the time to dedicate to art for a year, along with direct instruction and feedback, seems like it would really be a transformative experience?

    Anyway, after talking about it for a while we decided that it would be feasible that I could take a year off work to attend. I would be sacrificing a lot of income by quitting my day job, but I have some decent savings and together, we could probably afford it. We NEVER could have afforded it with the high cost of living in NYC, but in Seattle this suddenly this seems like it could be within our reach.

    Sorry for typing up my life story, but I wanted to give a good idea of where I'm coming from with my life circumstances. So I guess the reason I'm posting this in here is to see if anyone has any opinion about the atelier experience, or about Aristides in particular? Has anyone on this board spent any time in an Atelier setting, or do you know people who have? They do invite people who are interested in attending to observe how they run things, and I plan to check it out when I move to Seattle next month. They do admissions in the early summer, so I'd be looking at enrolling next year.

    Any thoughts that you guys could share with me would be much appreciated.

    Lamp on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    @Angel_of_Bacon just posted about school in the chat thread. He and @lyrium (?) went to watts, I think, also eyecager and cake.

    I would for sure take a tour and look around. If working with traditional media is a dream for you, Its worth looking into, but would keep a couple points in mind, and ask yourself:

    -Are you going to have the self discipline to do this work and apply your new skills to work that's applicable in an industry?
    A year in a class with an artist who's main thing seems to be portraits is not going to get you a concept job, or even an illustration job. So consider what you stand to gain from spending that 8K and dumping your source of income. How are you going to capitalize on these new skills. Will you have the ability to translate that learning to other applications?

    Would that money be better spent on an online course?
    Consider: http://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/196620/online-art-class-masterpost#latest

    In a years time, for 2k less you could take the watts courses and get personal instructor feedback. 2k is nothing to sniff at, so I would heavily consider trying one month and seeing if you have the self discipline to work through online courses. Go for ones with feedback, and the only thing you are really missing is that true classroom environment.

    I like the classroom environment, so I do understand looking for it. But we are about the same age and if I was going to continue my art education, this is how I would be doing it, personally. Schoolism/Watts is a lot more attainable and flexible for my budget.

    Would taking a year off put you at an extreme employment disadvantage?
    It is harder to find work when you dont have a job. If at the end of this you have to go back to working in your previous field, will this gap in employment make the process significantly harder? If so, I would keep your job. Liquidating your savings for an art job is just not really a great idea. Its a pretty unstable business, you'll find more work contracting than anything else, and its very competitive. If your job enables you to have time to study, I would buckle down and do that first. Spend your weekends in for a few months and really hammer away at your skills. The art school will be there if you decide its not enough, your savings wont if you discover it was a bad idea.

    tynicLamp
  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Thank you for the thoughtful response, Iruka!

    Honestly, one of the big things for me is just having the time to study. Studying for a few hours in the evenings is fine, but imagine if I could devote all my time to it? It seems like it would accelerate my progress by an order of magnitude or two. I almost wonder if I think I REALLY need to physically be in a classroom environment, or if I'm just using it as an excuse to justify taking the time to learn. For example, quitting my job to do online courses sounds crazy, while quitting my job to seek in-person instruction sounds more reasonable, even if the online courses might get me *almost* as far for quite a lot less money. Maybe quitting my job in general, for any kind of art schooling, is just a bad idea that's going to get me into a lot of trouble.

    I know that a number of artists who I really look up to (including Bacon) have gone the atelier route (or other art school) and seemingly saw huge gains from it. I'm a very dedicated, self-motivated student, and I think I am generally intelligent and a good learner, but I do suffer from moments of doubt and sometimes I wonder if I'm kidding myself about the level I can reach just by studying in the evenings and on weekends. I know that's bullshit, because there are plenty of self-taught professionals who got there via that route. But I see kids in their early 20s who have the financial means to attend a good art school (like Watts) and I'm blown away by what they're able to achieve in a short period of time. It really makes me wonder.

    There's also the matter of timing. While it sounds crazy risky, I think the next couple of years might be my last opportunity to do something like this. Right now I happen to have a very supportive and reasonably well paid significant other, as well as fewer financial obligations and personal responsibilities than I probably will ever have; no kids, no house or car payments. But in five years time, that could and probably will change. It's also likely that we'll find our way back to NYC for a variety of reason (mostly family related) in the medium-term future, in which case art school could easily become financially unfeasible.

    As for the particulars of the curriculum, I see what you're saying. She does do more than portraits, even though that seems to be her specialty. The website for the Aristides Atlier says the focus is mainly on figure drawing, and still life, the latter of which is especially exciting to me. I think that sort of curriculum is typical of an academic setting like this? I sort of imagine that learning to paint some really great academic figures and still lifes would translate over into the creative work that I ultimately want to do.

    The big issue is the last point you raised -- how hard it would be to jump back into my current field of employement after a year off. I have to think long and hard about that one.

    I would love to hear some additional thoughts from anyone, thank you very much!!! :D

    Lamp on
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    In terms of subject matter, figure drawing would be really good for you, if you're serious about turning art into a career. Portraiture, not bad per se, but not as helpful at this stage. If you're going to spend that kind of money, I'd be looking for something that really pushes your fundamentals as much as possible. Once you've got a solid base to work from, you'll have an easier time aligning your art with the kind of job you want.

    In terms of whether you should chuck in your job and do this full time for a year - I don't know. I think there's a lot of advice about "do what you love while you can", but you also need to be realistic - are you going to come out of this year off industry-ready? Likely not, there will still be work to do, and you may need to support yourself while you do it. And employment gaps can be a serious issue.

    Ultimately it's something you have to decide for yourself. But the industry is super competitive, networking plays a huge role, and there are no guarantees. Given that it's not just you involved, but your girlfriend as well, I'd at minimum say you need to have some fairly solid backup plans in case things don't work out.

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Thanks, Tynic! Totally agree about figure drawing. Part of the curriculum is three hours of figure drawing every morning, five days a week. I LOVE life drawing and would be so excited for every minute of that. Do you guys have any opinion on her figure drawing?
    https://www.google.com/search?safe=off&site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=893&q=juliette aristides figure drawing&=&oq=&gs_l=&gws_rd=ssl[url="http://"][/url]s


    The other thing to emphasize is that I have one year to think about this, minimum, because as I said enrollment won't come around again until next summer. So it's not a decision that has to be made in the short term. Who knows how I'll feel after another year of personal studying.

    Lamp on
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    One thing to keep in mind is a lot of those 20 year olds hack at it for more than 12 months, and some of them do it with at least part time jobs. I wouldn't quit your job to do either, personally. I would look for night courses or take the online classes and supplement it with open life drawing courses or weekend workshops.

    You may not be very social for a while, But as much as I want to say "follow your dreams!" the older you are, the worse employment gaps tend to get (and the more they are frowned upon). You sort of expect a 22 year old to have no work experience. A 30 year old, less so, unless they are coming out of a masters program or something. I wouldn't drop your job for anything less than a stellar course that has good potential for both networking and getting you positioned for a job.

    tynic
  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Hm, thanks for the honest feedback as always. I'd be really eager to hear some of the folks who done the atelier thing talk about what the circumstances that led to them there. I have a feeling that the biggest thing is the specific program -- Watts really is that good, if you can get there and afford it.

    I do already spend the vast majority of my free time on art these days. Not that it necessarily shows in my work :D Enrolling in an online program where I can get good, specific feedback might be something to look into for now, though, regardless of the possibilities for school in the future...

    Lamp on
  • tynictynic PICNIC BADASS Registered User, ClubPA regular
    I'm looking for a post I remember Ikage making, about going to Watts and the time and effort she devoted to study, but I can't find it. There's some insight here, though it's not the one I'm thinking of:
    http://eyecaging.tumblr.com/post/27390966989/ask-time-x2

    (It's worth checking out her study blog in depth in any case, because it's chock full of amazing resources)

    Lamp
  • lyriumlyrium Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Hey @Lamp, as someone with some atelier experience I can offer my 2 cents. I did not go to Watts- I lived in Chicago. My first year was in a school called SORA (4 teachers, roughly 12 students), and after a year my favorite teacher left SORA so I went with him (SORA has since disbanded). I spent 3 years (also studying through summers) with him in his studio with about 4 other students.

    The very first thing that pops into my head is that before you quit your job, definitely try to have a few sessions with that particular instructor to get your toes wet. Juliette Aristides is a really well known painter who has written a couple of highly referenced books about this kind of study. But forgetting her credentials and focusing on the fact that she is a person, and in an atelier setting you are spending many many hours with the instructor and really really trusting them with the entire basis of your learning this craft, it's important that you click as individuals with attitudes and goals that will work for you. Also the atelier setting is a unique one in terms of how you're living and performing your activities, and that's not necessarily the best for everyone. I'm not discouraging you here, I am very very happy with my atelier years and I know it was the best for me! Here's some things I can think of from my personal experience that might help you. Not only my feelings about it, but my observations of other students that have come and gone.

    The things that this kind of study will undoubtedly give you (if you work hard and stick with it) are good observational drawing skills and discipline. I think that other benefits will vary with instructor. Do not underestimate the role of discipline. This stuff takes a lot of determination and hours to beat it into your eyes, hand, and brain. People struggle to varying degrees in the early stages, where you keep trying and it's really hard and you feel like wow I really suck. The habits people tend to form going through public school in the US do not involve staring at something for hours and hours, it seems to me more like the training a highly competitive athlete or musician would have gotten growing up, you're grinding. It takes work and practice just to train yourself to work that way. But I think it's worth it in terms of cultivating focus and reaping the benefits of a good flow state. You see people make a lot of improvement quickly in that setting, but remember it's not magic, it's a dense concentration of effort. Progressing quickly means you are constantly challenging yourself a lot and pushing through those challenges.
    Here are some things that I believe will vary a lot depending on your school: composition, color theory, anatomy, and artistry. At least the first three are fundamentals, so why would they be different? Well... they are.
    Composition is something I'm realizing I need to learn a lot on my own, since as far as setting up a picture goes, we as students would do it once every few months when setting up a still life, but that's it. We did few long-term pieces instead of many short-term ones, so that's not a lot of practice designing a piece. I'm guessing some schools work with it more. Now in terms of working the composition that you have in front of you, in terms of choices about value, color saturation, edges, etc, that's something you should learn anywhere. Likewise, anatomy is important at any atelier, but the degree to which you learn it will vary. There is a different atelier in Chicago where the two teachers have really advanced anatomy knowledge and teach it very intensely. Since I love anatomy in a nerdy way, my teacher actually suggested I do a piece with them some time. His anatomy knowledge isn't the same as theirs, but in our school he emphasized very well how observations of anatomy can enhance the feeling of the piece.
    Color theory is more personal than a lot of people think. Yes there are fundamentals and rules about what colors will mix to create what and what color temperature is, etc, but your observation of the colors in front of you will vary a lot from person to person, day to day, mood to mood, etc. So the colors that you observe and work with end up being conscious pursuits or personal habits, instead of a flat translation. It's emotional. You will be inheriting a lot of habits about how to observe and use color from your teacher. This goes along with the artistry bit; your tendencies about how you approach a painting, what your priorities are, and how you get the point across will be majorly influenced by your teacher. Make sure you like their work a lot! Flipping through the Aristides book on painting, I noticed some differences between her approach to color and my teacher's, and I personally preferred my teacher's. It's important to have ideas of you own taste and goals.

    So all in all, things to consider about the atelier setting in general:
    It requires you to cultivate discipline and focus, and to be up for working while constantly challenged.
    You will be primarily focused on grinding fundamentals.
    The artistry that you learn will largely stem from your teacher and their work, and how that translates to your own goals.

    Other kinds of schools will be better equipped to teach you about various commercial pursuits, work with you to cultivate your skills at generating creative concepts, etc. The skills you learn at an atelier can be applied to any path of specialization (comics, concept art, illustration, tattoos, whatever), but you will not be learning specifically about any of these things. You will be learning how to draw and paint from observation. Meaningful application of that is up to you. If you are going to study in this way for one year, I would recommend spending the great majority of that time drawing if possible. This is the real groundwork and the thing that any atelier teacher should be able to really help you make a lot of progress with. It's painting where it starts to vary more by instructor.

    One reason I'm so happy with my atelier experience is because of my specific teacher. He was very intense, and relentlessly pursuing the expressive feeling in the piece. I can list the two things he demanded from us. The drawing needed to be solid, and we needed to express the point. Otherwise, wtf were we even doing. The whole reason we choose to spend to many hours looking at a thing and trying to paint it is because when we first looked at that thing, we had some emotional response to the experience of looking at it. There is feeling in gesture, color, form. Your painting serves to give the onlooker insight into your experience of looking at that thing. And that can be beautiful, or it can be technically accurate but dead and uninteresting. To him a painting was not "accurate" unless it also felt right. One huge criticism of atelier study is at the end, people's work all looks the same, and it's simply technical and not artistic or creative. I have seen a lot of academic paintings that do fit this description, and I have had experience with teachers whose work and teaching fits this description. That's why my teacher was the best fit for me, he offered both high standards for drawing and a hard push artistically. And he could be very harsh about it. But that learning environment suited me.

    There is a great deal that you can learn outside of this setting. Seattle is a big city so you should be able to find open figure drawing sessions or classes, places where you can draw from observation, and libraries with good books about this stuff. There is the extra work involved though, of sifting through it all and being self critical enough to continuously challenge yourself and move in the right direction. Taking an online class or a few sessions with an instructor if you can will help you see if ateliers are right for you. When you go to an atelier you are saying to that teacher that you like their work so much you are trusting them to help you build the foundation of your skills. They provide guidance and motivation.
    Looking at your thread, it seems like you don't have too specific of a heading as far as what you'd like to do with art. I think that means atelier could be good for you, because if you simply enjoy drawing and painting, and would get joy and fulfillment from painting figures, still lives, landscapes, etc really beautifully, then this will definitely teach you that. And then you can apply those skills to other paths. But if you had a very specific bearing, like concept art or illustration, I would think more carefully, because you won't get instruction specific to those things and will have to do that legwork on your own later. I get a lot of joy from drawing and painting from observation. But now I'm hoping to move a lot of my work in a more illustrative direction, so I have a lot of ground to cover that I didn't get from the last 4 years of study. If I didn't enjoy painting from observation for it's own sake, it might not have been the best choice in the long term.

    In any case, best of luck dude! Congrats on the move!

    Oh, also I didn't take the 4 years off work though. I worked nights in restaurants/bars. I mean who needs more than 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night, am I right guys?

    lyrium on
    Angel_of_BaconIrukaGethtynicLamp
  • Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator mod
    I know a lot of people at Watts worked part time jobs to support attending there, often skipping terms here and there to continue to support themselves. One person moved down from Canada to attend 1 term every year, then went back to Canada to work for the rest.

    My own experience was I was unemployed at the time anyway, and did freelance on the side- as well as having already been employed in the industry previously. But I also obliterated much of my savings to attend, as my level of commitment is/was "I'm going to do whatever I can to make it, dammit, even if I die in the attempt". I'm not going to pretend it wasn't a risk- but since I have no other employable skills to bank on, for me it was more of a risk long-term to not to beef up my education, to be able to continue to get work, to try to move to higher level work. Is that the case for you, is that even a responsible attitude to take in the first place, I don't know- maybe/probably not.

    So while my experience with employment gaps and such was, "hey, it worked out ok for me" in hindsight, I'm not going to say that that necessarily is indicative that you'll have the same experience, and I don't know enough about your financial situation to be able to say that it would be worth it or not.


    All I know about Aristides is that her book is solid and I don't doubt you'll get a lot of great foundational skills from her. That said, she does seem to have more of a fine arts focus than an industry one- not a bad thing going in- it's not like the information will be any less solid- but you might not get the sort of insight into industry fields that you might get at LAAFA/Watts/Concept Design Academy.

    Whether online courses are an equivalent substitute? I don't know. Personally, I thought I got a lot out the classroom environment and having a schedule to stick to, whereas with online videos it's much easier to be slack on studying.

    You might consider staying employed and just using a week of vacation time to attend an intensive-type workshop just to get a feel for what the experience is like, before making any big decisions.

    LampIruka
  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    WOW, thank you Bacon and Lyrium SO much for your insight. I can't say enough about how much I appreciate you guys taking the time to tell me what you think, I'm so grateful.

    The more I think about it, the more I think that I need to pursue some education, if at all possible. When I hear people talk about how risky it is to blow your savings on a few years of education to attempt to jump into a hyper-competitive field, even if said education will raise your skills significantly, the more it seems like the most realistic path forward by far. After all, what hope do I have if I am NOT able to spend the time necessary to develop those fundamental skills? I know that some people are able to make it happen on their own, but most of the artists I look up to the most are not totally self-taught. I don't think that's just a coincidence.

    Bacon and Lyrium, where could you see yourselves and your careers had you NOT gone to school? Could you say a few words about that?

    I am utterly determined to make it. I know myself, and I know that I am not particularly happy in my current career path and never will be, and I know will never be satisfied until I can make it as an artist. I already spend all of my free time studying art, and have for quite a few years now, and I already have sacrificed a lot of social opportunities to that end. The problem is that stressful job, money and family situations have REALLY held me back in terms of what I could accomplish, because I've been perpetually stressed out and strapped for time. For the next five years or so at least, I have almost none of that baggage, in addition to having some decent savings, and far more support external than I ever have had, including a significant other in a creative career who totally gets it.

    I have no shortage of persistence and discipline when it comes to studying, not to toot my own horn but I have always been a top student in school, even when studying subjects that I didn't really care about deep down. So I know that I am good at learning and capable of squeezing every ounce of opportunity out of a couple of years of school. Which is maybe the answer – maybe one year is not really enough, and I need to do everything it takes to spend at least a couple of years studying. And maybe not all at once, if it's not financially feasible -- that's something I hadn't considered.

    I didn't mention it before, but there's a realistic chance that I could stay on at my current job in a part-time or freelance capacity while I study (I work as a tech journalist as my day job, reviewing computers/smartphones/other gadgets.) I'm not quitting my job to move to Seattle, I'm just going to be a full-time remote employee. Otherwise, I have a good number of connections in NYC in my industry and could maybe get some decent freelance work to do on nights and weekends. I'm sure I could find a way to supplement my income. I really do want it that bad.

    I think the next step has to be just to continue to grind away on my own for the next year, and to check out the Aristides atelier and see what it's like, and hopefully take a weekend workshop there this summer or fall. Maybe this isn't the place for me, I will have to see. We plan to spend at least the next five years or so on the west coast, and it's easy to imagine spending part of that time in California since my significant other works in videogames. Maybe we could find a way to get somewhere in the next few years that WOULD be a better fit for my artistic goals. That would also give us a few more years to save. Who knows. Regardless, I certainly don't plan to make any snap decisions about this.

    I would love to hear anything else you guys have to say on the matter! Thanks again!

    Lamp on
  • lyriumlyrium Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Lamp wrote: »

    Bacon and Lyrium, where could you see yourselves and your careers had you NOT gone to school? Could you say a few words about that?

    Sure, though I'm not sure how helpful it is since I don't really have a "career". I was going to school for molecular biology and working in research labs when I decided I needed to paint instead. I liked what I was doing, but it doesn't feel so much like I thought carefully and made a decision to do atelier study as much as once I found out about it I was going to figure out how to do it no matter what. I graduated early and moved immediately. So it's hard to imagine NOT having done it because the only thing that would have stopped me was some kind of family emergency in which I couldn't go to classes because I had to take care of someone. In that scenario, I would have done a lot of what has been discussed already in terms of learning independently- drawing from life and looking critically at my work, studying from books and class settings (online included) whenever possible. I still would have been trying to build those fundamentals, but I also probably would have spent more time developing creative and illustrative work. So I might be farther along creatively and farther behind skill-wise, but I'd be trying to do the same things.
    As it is, I'm personally not somebody who is good at thinking in the long term and don't have any plans to have dependents, so my 'career' is I relentlessly pursue what I want. I have been poor and am not afraid of being uncomfortable. To go to SORA, I moved to Chicago with my boyfriend and we shared a 'studio' that was a very drafty 15 x 15 space (including the closet and bathroom) with worn down floors, a fridge, and a tiny oven. Our only furniture was the bed that the old tenant left behind, and we ate rice. I would walk a lot instead of spending the 2.25 on the bus and I ate 50 cent bread loaves from the Jimmy Johns below my school as a meal for the day. So you get what I mean that I was going to do it no matter what.
    At this stage I haven't actively worked on making art a livelihood, so that's the next step. I've done commissions, sold some work, and done shows, but only because other people reached out to me for those things. The one thing I did do was apply for a grant, which I got, so currently I am traveling Southeast Asia with a plein air box. When I eventually go home I plan to continue doing commissions, selling work, being in shows, applying for grants, etc. Not much of a career plan really but like I said, I'm not good at planning long term and I know at any point that I'm able to survive on my own and do what it takes to be able to make art. If I have to go back to serving or modeling or whatever other gig at times, then that doesn't bother me. My parents were jazz musicians before they had babies, so I'm really lucky to have my super-supportive Dad who is just happy that I know what I want to do, and doesn't hassle me about having a more conventional path.

    lyrium on
    Lamp
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