|Art is contemplation. It is the pleasure of the mind which searches into nature and which there divines the spirit of which nature herself is animated. - Auguste Rodin|
I've had followers on instagram ask me what artists or books I look at before I start to work. Questions such as these fascinate and also frustrate me. I do not know how to answer the question adequately. Or at least, it feels that way.
Also, I have a difficult time recognizing the value or style of the work I produce. It's all very utilitarian to me. I just create based on what I observe and my own taste. As far as taste is concerned, it so happens that I have a fondness for the aesthetic of illustration between the nineteen fifties and seventies. That's not to say that I want to copy the artists of that era. What I observe of that era is a sense of playfulness and spontaneity. That's what I admire. There might be certain aesthetic attributes that cross over, but it truly and honestly is very subconscious.
Sure, I have all of the "Art of" books that most everyone else who works in the same industry has. That said, I do not rely on them as a resource for the craft. Rather, I own them in celebration of my contemporaries hard work and first rate craftsmanship. For as many illustrations and character designs that I create, I spend most of my artistic time outside of work, studying. I do not mean looking at tutorials, but rather observing the world and jotting it down with quick strokes of the pen. There are tons and tons of drawings and notes in my studio. It's just what I do to better understand myself and this world. That's really what art is to me. A means of understanding and gaining knowledge. There's nothing more beautiful and astounding than nature, and nature provides everything an artist needs to make first rate art.
Style comes from problem solving, and all art making is problem solving. No one artist problem solves the same way, allowing for uniqueness within the drawing, painting, or whatever medium one chooses to work in. There are certain technical aspects that an artist should know, but their decision making during the crafting of a piece is relative to the individual. Thats what I LOVE to see. It's fun to share that work with others and say, "This is how I see things!" It's even more fun to ask another artist, "How do you see things?" Social media sites such as instragram and twitter, have allowed artists to communicate and showcase their vision in a way that has never existed before. It's fantastic! Lets not subdue our own creative visions for the sake of making a cool drawing. Art is created with an extraordinary amount of risk.
That we artists may learn and know such things about nature so well, that we're able to copy it onto a sheet of paper and at the same time express oneself within that copy, is amazing.