The Artist and the Model in early 21st

I hope the following story will inspire someone, give him/her courage in pursuing a love for creating Art.

I frequent with great pleasure sites like Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest. Many people share their doodles and art. To me it’s a sign that the “art nerve” is encouraged in more people these days than ever before! Maybe it’s a refuge from the horrors the rest of the society constructs, maybe it’s a love for the language of Art as spiritual growth.

In primary school (talking about 50 years ago) I already gave up drawing. There was one guy in my class, he had a natural talent of drawing proportion and detail. And the adults were promoting the da Vinci idea: you’re a born artist or go do something else.

My love for Art never died and though I was pushed to other directions, “more macho”, because I was good at math and programming, I have spent some time in those areas. From a distance I observed artists and never had the guts to just go for it, afraid of failing at what I was loving the most.

Picasso’s and the modern art current didn’t encourage me; they were too “natural born doodlers” and I thought, if the world buys their art, they must do something that I certainly can’t.

Eventually I took to film and photography, it was closer to creating images, to framing the world around me and falling in love with those frames, images.

At the age of 49 (!) I got a health problem and couldn’t perform the job that was bringing me the bacon.
As Janis Joplin sang, “freedom’s just another word for nothing else to loose”. There was nothing else for me to loose so I felt free to pick up the pencil.

It turned out that my constant observation of life, details, human expressions were not wasted.
I made my own learning curriculum, based on the classical schools, mostly defunct these days:
1) The study of Anatomy helps you  understand what you see when you look at your model.
2) Practice like a ho’!

Everybody and his cat has a camera, the web is flooded with selfies, erections, I don’t think men ever felt so confident in exposing themselves nude online, for all to see.
And here comes the punch line: they won’t do it for an artist!

Being a model, nude or not, is not an easy job. It’s a job, those models earn their money.
Regular Joe, whom I asked to allow me sketch him for 30 mins while he was already nude for other reasons in my presence, either didn’t agree (insecurity?) or asked for ludicrous sums of money (he suddenly imagined himself a Prada model?)

I notice many works, from line drawing to oil paintings, are based on photos found online. In principle that would be no problem, just that tracing a photo misses 3 very important points:
1) Training your eye, hand
2) Allowing your personal touch to reinterpret what you see, even if you decide to go for the hyper-realistic style (some hyper-realists manage to make works that look like Art and not photos or Xerox copies – we already got those machines)
3) Returning the immense pleasure of discovering that you can make something yourself, like flying with your own wings, cycling on 2 wheels after abandoning the 2 training little ones attached to your childhood bicycle, swimming without hanging to a raft. That, to me, is immense!

I don’t think 10% of the people posting works online actually live from that. Even artists who try to live from their works, dedicate their full time to making works of art (activity far more time consuming than a 9 to 5 job), even they have a huge problem earning their bread.

Tracing is not new and not completely bad. It helps you get a bit of confidence, like those 2 training wheels. Caravaggio traced, it’s documented by his contemporaries. Many other artists in the Renaissance and after did that. That was Before photo cameras, most painters were trying to be photo cameras themselves. Very few, like Caravaggio, went inside that traced contour and poured a Universe of Beauty and Passion that we still admire, after hundreds of years.

Put everything in perspective: if you want your FB friends to think you’re an artist, go for “coloring books”: trace, color with pencils, oils or computers.
If you want to move further, just sit on the train while commuting, in a park, at Starbucks, observe, sketch, don’t care if anyone peeks over your shoulder and see you’re not da Vinci. Once you take a bite from that Art Love, it will bite back and you’ll be hooked, no need for antidepressants, FB, or selfies.

Here’s a simple example collected online: from a simple photo taken by someone, somebody hijacked it in photoshop, gave it a computer touch. Someone else traced it and turn it into a computer “painting”. Someone else traced it again and turned it into an analog painting. Nothing else to add.

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