Thursday, November 08, 2007

Back. To. The. Drawing. Board.

I am in the process of starting over. And I do mean starting over. I'm speaking in the sense of art education, which is something I have very little of, since I never went to art school. (The reasons for that are a long story, but I'm trying to discard all that baggage, which is holding me back.)

I've given some thought to actually dropping everything and going back to art school, full-time. If I was to do that, I really wouldn't want to go anywhere but Art Center in Pasadena. Almost all of the people I look up to in my business are AC grads and usually also instructors there. I know that if I could go there, I would come out an absolute monster artist; Art Center seems to turn pretty good artists into insanely great ones. Another advantage of going there is the industry connections; if I come out of there with a great portfolio, a jump to the highest level of my business is pretty well assured. Basically I would be doing nothing at all but learning art at my maximum capacity for the next 3 years, in a "push myself beyond" kind of environment. Sounds like heaven to me.

The downside is simple: it would cost roughly $200,000 to do it, and I would have no time to make any income during that time. That's a hell of a lot of money, and I'd probably have to borrow it all. I don't see my dad being able to pay for another college education. Also, I'd practically be living at the school the whole time, so it would require a great deal of patience on the part of The Girlfriend.

On top of that, I'm already a professional artist, and most other pro artists I know (including some Art Center grads) tell me I don't need to go to art school, that I'm already doing just fine, and that any skills I need work on I can deal with on my own time.

All this makes me have to really examine why I feel this urge to go back to school. Mostly, it's because I keep running up against what I call "gaps" in my art skills. These are generally technical things and "core knowledge" things that I haven't picked up in my self-learning, but which are essential to successful visual communication - precisely the kinds of things that a school like Art Center (but not necessarily many other art schools!) teaches. Now, these gaps can't be filled by just instruction or raw study alone, they also require endless practice, drills and exercises - i.e., cranking out a LOT of art, all the time - to develop mastery, confidence, speed and quality. Art Center is a school that pretty much demands that you do nothing but art the whole time you're there, or you just won't do well.

So my thought about going back to school is all about demolishing these limitations in a setting where I both get the instructional information that I need to know, and the "do nothing but art" time and headspace to practice it until I can do it in my sleep.

That just isn't happening, and probably can't happen, in my life the way my current schedule works. There's always something I have to deal with. On top of that, the stress of dealing with whatever that something is makes it very hard for me to get into an "art head" during times where I actually have "free" time.

So the desire to go to art school is really about that old (and very human) desire to just throw everything away, run away, and start over from scratch when things get difficult.

What's really going on is that I'm unhappy with myself for being unable to manage my time and all the things I have going on in life in an effective way. My time management skills are generally poor. The only success I've had in time management is when I set up a very very rigid schedule and adhere to it as brutally as possible, like I did when I paid off all my debt. I could do that again, I could set up a day-to-day schedule where every minute is mapped out and where I've got large blocks of time set out for art and specific art tasks and deadlines all laid out.

Unfortunately, that would probably destroy my relationship with The Girlfriend. Since I don't want to do that, I have to try to figure out some other way of getting the knowledge and the practice in, that will work with my work schedule, my love life and my social schedule.

As you can imagine, trying to figure that out is causing me a great deal of angst. I just never feel like I have enough time for anything, I feel like I'm being pulled every which way, and I just keep going around in circles. It sucks, and it's getting me nowhere artistically. My progress has been glacial at best - as you can see from this rarely-updated blog.

And of course, when I get feeling that angst, the urge to blow everything off and run to school starts kicking in again... sigh.

So at the moment, I'm just trying to do whatever I can. I've picked up some DVDs from Gnomon that are all about very basic technical drawing and rendering - cubes, spheres, cones, perspective, etc. - and there's some books I need to get too. I'm really going right back to the very basics, I'm determined to go back and master all these very simple skills that I've either glossed over, skipped, faked or sorta figured out backwards. It's clear to me that I'm not going to get any better if I don't.

And I have to get better, or not only will I get deeper into the angst (which affects everything in my life), but also at some point I will cease to be employable even at the level I'm at now.

Oye. I'm spending too much time writing about this. I have to get back to work.


Unknown said...

The Gnomon DVDs seem like a good starting point. Could you find a compromise and take some classes to fill in gaps that'd also force you to devote time to practicing so your skills'd improve but not devote your life to art school fully and completely? Best wishes w/all this.


Fabrizio said...

EH... I'm thinking about it too, since my meeting with Iain McCaig. But I come from italy and it would cost to me MORE and MORE! SHIT!!



Jeff Z said...

Iain McCaig is just one of the most inspirational artists in our biz, he's just so great to talk to and his Gnomon DVDs are wonderful. But yeah coming from Italy to go to Art Center would be BIG $$$$$...

MLE, yeah that's pretty much the only reasonably workable plan. I'm not really worried about getting the technical knowledge together or even taking classes, it's the practice time that seems to be the biggest problem. There's only so many hours in the day, y'know? If I didn't have to sleep, it would be no problem! :)