Thursday, November 4, 2010

How do you make it to Carnegie Hall?

Growing up I loved comic book art, I never really read them...I would just copy the art. So if you were to ask me which which Iron Man comic introduced Tony Stark's alcoholism, I would stare at you like you had 3 heads.  Comic book art always seemed alive to me, more so than any other genre. Comics could break physical laws, exaggerate body proportions, and by doing so were able to capture movement without getting bogged down in extraneous details The result was always exciting art. I always felt that an invaluable exercise that will help you improve artistically is to copy other artists. Whether it's proportion, muscular development, perspective, etc.; there are lessons to be learned in every piece artwork.

This brings me to this weeks project. I found a great scene (below) in an Utlimate Annuals book, drawn by an extremely gifted artist, Mark Brooks. What appeals to me about this, it the movement and linear tension...OK I made up the phrase "linear tension" but I could not think of a better way to describe the tension of the lines used to convey anger, fury, as well as surprise. Also, by making the villain (Rhino) abnormally large, you get the feeling that the hero (Spider-Man), who is drawn as wispy yet muscular, is in for quite a fight.  No words are necessary here.

Here is my take on the above:
So what did I learn re-creating this?? First, it's really goddamn hard copying a comic book artist's work! It's even harder when you haven't been drawn in a long time. It's been a few days since I've looked at this but now that I am able to compare the two, I see all sorts of mistakes that I've made. Besides the obvious reference points being off (like the left arm of Rhino and the perspective of the head),  I see that I completely lack the overall style and fun it must have been to create the original. I was so worried about copying the image perfectly that I completely forgot to have fun and relax. To understand what I am talking about, watch this 2 minute video of one of the greatest comic book artists of all-time, Jim Lee. He creates something in 8 minutes that's better than anything I could accomplish in a month. 

Granted, he does this for a living and draws everyday, but the video points to something for us to learn. Through enough practice and comfort with your medium you can create anything and have fun doing it. I remember how it felt to have fun creating and I want to feel it again. I want to be at that level where I can draw and create without having to copy another artist.

I'm sure there are days when even the greatest artist is sick of what they do, but what makes them great is that they do it anyway despite how they feel. I look back and lament on what I gave up. I took my talent for granted and chose not to practice and now I see how far I've fallen off. I feel like I am learning to walk again. It's frustrating and humbling, but in the end I look forward to being able to create and have fun. There's only one way to get there though....PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

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