Saturday, May 1, 2010

Flawless advice from the flawed hand of an artist.

I suggest any of you serious about not just the craft, but the psychological and emotional journey, of art subscribe to Mr. Howe's blog and purchase this book. John Howe's meandering excursions through the wilderness of creative expression is punctuated by moments of striking clarity and sound reason. All of it hidden among layers of complex thought and years of experience. His advice is both that of a wounded sage and a lost young child.

This week's blog article is particularly magnificent. I never tire of Howe's writing, I always find it relevant and inspiring, another's reassuring footprints in the snow when I thought I was the only one walking this landscape.



  1. Thanks, Justin —great link and great topic for a post.

    There are lots of helpful how-to's online. (Oliver linked to some Loomis tutorials a while ago.) Here's a blog many of you probably know about, but I thought I'd add it here anyway:

  2. Oh, you know it, Chuck! I'm a fan of this site and a member of the blog, already :) His latest book is phenomenal. Another great person to see is P.J. Lynch. He's wonderful. A buddy and I are going to start a club. It's going to be something that focuses on the achievements of the classic illustratours and how we will keep them alive and well within our own work. I think making a blog dedicated to this topic is a good idea. It'll additionally focus on how to keep their working methods and ideals, not just their art, as part of the new generation illustration scene. With all the work flooding the market that is both ill-informed and ill-considered, it's important for us all to remember that art isn't just a commercial endeavour, but a soulful journey that grows the heart as much as it grows the mind and skill set. It will focus on illustration and classical fine art, but will not be concerned with creating barriers and invalidating any other school of thought. People can come to the blog site for illustration discussion concerning history, growth, philosophy. Many people create without consideration for what they are doing, or why they are doing it. I think it is important that each person who makes art considers the five questions: WHAT, WHY, HOW, WHEN, and WHERE at some point in their artistic career.

  3. Wow! I confess I did not know Mervyn Peake beayond the Gomenghast books. I had no idea he was an illustrator as well.

    The Gurney site is amazing. His work is a good segue to the critique about the deer anatomy earlier. A lot of times, well executed anatomy can make or break a good fantasy piece (and I have broken many).

  4. I agree with you, Christina. There comes a point in a piece where you have to just say, enough is enough, when it is what it is and you just have to take away what you can from it. That will be this piece, too, but I like to work as hard as I can. Something Kinuko Craft told me one time sticks with me evrytime I make a piece of art (hell, when I do anything): "I give each piece everything I have." This also segues (nice word, Christina :P) into another quote that I truly enjoy: "Do everything with diligence, as if you had only one day to work on it, and with patience, as if you had a thousand years." I think the Shakers claim this one. Very inspiring.

  5. Another good one is the Protestant: "Everything in moderation, even moderation." :P I think mostly because they drank a lot back in colonial times :P but very, very relevant.

  6. Gurney did several postings on color —the traditional color wheel, and color theory vs. practice that was particularly good.

    A lot of artists struggle with color and it's no wonder. The first thing we're taught is that mixing red, blue, and yellow will produce every color in the spectrum (I don't remember ever being taught otherwise, even in college)
    I'm glad someone with clout is working to set the record straight.

  7. I agree. I remember in college (I went to UC for two years and was not happy at all) I sought out a guy who was blacklisted by the rest of the school. I pretty much pushed him until he taught me. I had an independent study with him and he showed me more in three months than I learned in two whole years. I never learned that about colour, luckily. I taught myself until I got to college and the instruction was less than stellar, Post-modern education in the arts leaves a student wanting for structure. CCAD was great for that more classical education I desired. I think I'm frustrated with the way schools are taught, just in general. I want an intensive education, but there are so many rules and regulations and everyone is rushing to cram your head full of knowledge that no one takes the time to question the methods. Everyone is so hung up on what they think is right, they leave no room for question until you're done with the schooling. Personally, I think the education should be less structured and more content. Life isn't a college or high school experience. Going out into the world and experiencing the laws and contradictions of art is instrumental to education. Most of the time I was learning from that guy I sought out at UC we were out in the world, up on the roof of the school while he explained the way light works on the atmosphere at different times of day and why the colours are different at dusk than morning. I was pretty much left alone to make whatever I wanted implementing the rules I learned. I would come back and meet with the guy at regular intervals for critiques and further lessons. I think that the world and the art programs would be a lot better place without so much rushing and anxiety. Art is both intuitive and structured, like nature. Kinda like how our general education systems do not cater to people who need to learn differently than others. They just have to suffer through the drama. Lots of opinions and lots of people wanting to make them heard (I'm not writing this just to hear myself speak. This is a very grievous problem I believe we have here. But then again, maybe we artists need that bullshit to make us who we are? Pardon the language). Either way I think this "system" we have needs to be more organic, a coupling of structural and organic methods of teaching that draws on ALL aspects of life. Dude, I'm rambling, but I feel this is important.