I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Silent"

“Silent” seems appropriate for my time of continued computer disaster. My friend John has rigged me up to the internet again, but it’s routed through my friend Korki’s old laptop. The laptop is not happy about the things I ask of it, so I’m keeping communications to the bare minimum with continued hopes that John will be able to rescue my hard drive and all those files I neglected to back up. He’s put in a lot of hours trying to help and I’m very grateful, and grateful to Korki for the loaner too. Forced inaction has led me to painting rocks, and there can’t be anything more silent than rocks. It’s an obsessive thing. Maybe I just want the stability they represent? In a way, rocks are a meditative subject for me. I don’t have to think very hard about what they look like. It reminds me of the beginning of one of my previous jobs…

I was assigned a quail illustration. I asked the art director where they kept reference photos of such things. They didn’t keep reference photos. Hm. Okay? ‘How am I supposed to draw it if I didn’t know what it looks like?” “You know what it looks like. ‘Real artists’ don’t need reference.” UH?!! What does a quail look like anyway? Grr… I did a search online, printed a very crappy reference photo, and growled through my painting. This was the first phase of the next couple of weeks where I said at least 30 or 40 times a day “I’m losing my f***ing mind!” It wasn’t a good start to a miserable job, but I was getting paid to paint, so I kept my swearing inside, to be vented in full steam to my friends on the phone when I got home.

Next assignment was a bow. I got a piece of ribbon, tied a bow, and sustained the almost continual criticism from the AD about how I was weak for needing reference. He stood over my shoulder and remarked about almost every color choice, every brush stroke. “Don’t you have your own work to do?” I smiled at him through clenched teeth. When I dropped my brush, he said it was because I held my paintbrush too lightly, and started to demonstrate the proper way for me to hold it. I picked up my brush, slammed it on my desk, and near tears, stormed into the big boss' office. “I can’t work this way!” By this time, I knew that the big boss and the AD screamed at each other at least 3 times a week, so I knew I had an ally. “Ignore him. Learn what you can from him, and ignore the rest.”

After taking a break outside for a silent primal scream, I went back to the office I shared with the AD, and resumed painting. He wanted birds painted without reference? Fine. Cardinals are red, right? Who cares about subtleties or accuracy? Here’s a red bird. Done. Next assignment. French horn? Sure, why not? I dimly remembered that they have 3 or maybe 4 places for fingers, a big bell at the end, and a whole bunch of tubing in between. Done. Who cares if that French horn would sound like a screaming cat if it actually existed? This was all the more ironic for me because in my previous job naturalists held me up arguing about the number of toes a salamander had on its front feet vs. its back feet. (5 and 4.)

In case you can’t tell, I’d rather deal with naturalists arguing over toes than fly blind over quail. Whenever possible, I did research at home before starting new projects in the morning. Eventually I reduced my mental F words to a mere 5 to 10 times a day. I got better, faster, stronger than I had ever been before. Now I feel annoyed when I actually need to take time out of my life to look up reference before starting something. It’s easy to get hooked on the instant gratification of picking up the paintbrush as soon as I have a new thought. Therefore, rocks. No research, and all the effort is in the color and form. It’s a silent meditation of stability.

23 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed the rant as much as the artwork! :) Nice job:)

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  2. Love the post, love the rocks... and a BIG HAPPY BIRHTDAY to you!!! Letting out the secret so all your blog friends know :))

    Have fun tonight~

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  3. wow. well, you tell that CD that REAL artists? they ALWAYS use reference. a REAL CD would know better. and the rocks and quails are just gorgeous. right out of an audubon piece.

    the puter stuff will get better but it did lead you to those nice rocks...oh and HAPPY BDAY, linda! "-)

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  4. Thanks everybody! I've got to agree Froggie about REAL CDs :) I'm halfway between happy and moping about having another birthday. Can I keep my accumulated wisdom and have my 20-yr-old body back?

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  5. Happy birthday Linda... you rock! (sorry, bad pun.)

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  6. Your silent rocks speak to me. They say, "Happy Birthday, Linda!"

    Beautiful quails, too! Real artists don't need reference?!?!?!?! Pffft. What a rockhead. Not even as pretty as yours, either.

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  7. Someone (Rand) stole my thunder...my thoughts exactly Linda...You Rock! I hope your silence is very temporary and you are back in full voice soon. By the way we have quails eggs over here, my Mum loves them. I have always thought they are daft as they are so small you need at least half a dozen to be anything like eating a single hen's egg!
    Enjoy your weekend, I love all your artwork and those rocks "speak" to me ;0)
    Jane x

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  8. Ha ha- The cat's out of the bag...
    Happy Birthday- Hope it's a good year!
    No need to quibble over quail now. Besides, they're great! :o)

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  9. You're all so punny :) Computer friend coming over today, and I'm hope, hope, hoping he can get me functional again. I made gingersnaps. I couldn't bring myself to make lentil cookies! Thanks for the comments!

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  10. "Real artists don't need reference"! Yes, knowledge of what everything looks like is instilled at birth - it's sure to be tested on the artist aptitude test!

    Great illustrations as alway, you're such a rock star! (sorry... happy birthday, too!)

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  11. You know your critque is harsh when they include that you are holding the brush too tightly. Or maybe the brighter side would be that they can't find anything else negative to say. Geez.

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  12. Where were you when I was having my meltdowns?! I could've used some help because I couldn't believe the things that guy said to me. Took me about 5 or 6 years to understand that he wasn't always trying to make me insane. Sometimes he could even be helpful :)

    My computer is working again!!! Yay!!! It's had a total lobotomy, so let me be everyone's reminder to BACK UP FILES and vacuum the insides out!!! Thankfully I didn't lose tooooo much. Sigh. Big thanks to John for many, many hours of help.

    Thanks for the follow Caroline!

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  13. Hi, Linda, LinkedIn has a bird-watching group. I think you could ask around there in the future if you are in need for nice reference photo's of birds.
    You did a nice job, Linda, despite struggling with reference photo's.
    Cheers!

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  14. Heisann!

    I'm too tired to read the whole story, but enjoy watching your illustration.
    I'm back in silence ;:OD)

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  15. Dear Linda, well so you use the "F word, is that like in "F troupe"? :) Yes real artists don't nee references, as long as we don't have a 'real' audience. I wonder what your old AD is doing now? Aren't quail the things you buy in plastic bags from the supermarket freezer? :)

    Those rocks are very meditative, the angle looking straight down really grabs the abstract pattern, in fact I want to walk barefoot through them and wash my feet (it's 800 fegrees here and the glue on my false teeth keeps melting)

    But seriously, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I want my 20 year old body back too. I'm sick of this one.... :)

    see ya

    good luck with your computer

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  16. Happy Birthday, Linda! Wow, what a weirdo, that art director. Maybe he should have been the one doing the painting?

    Thanks, John-- what a guy!

    Gorgeous rocks, by the way!

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  17. "‘Real artists’ don’t need reference.” Boy is that ever a popular misconception! This is proffered by the most unartistic people around. The don't understand that the artist DOES need a diving board, but the flips and twists are all their own.
    Nice twists in YOUR textures.

    .

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  18. "F" as in flower, fantastic, fun, fancy, fabulous... :)

    Yeah, John is quite a guy! I gave him a rock painting in appreciation, but mostly I think he's just racking up karma points.

    Is it just me, or is Blogger/Google making it difficult to leave comments?

    Thanks for the comments and birthday wishes! I did have a nice day :)

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  19. I really enjoyed your post and your work.

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  20. Hi Linda, so sorry to hear about all your computer troubles. Glad you are all fixed:) love your rock illustration great shapes and colours.

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