I used to think so romantically about Monet, Pissarro, and the other
Impressionists. Not romantic like Manet is so dreamy; romantic as in
idealizing this particular group of painters—thinking they stepped
outside of their studios and, snap, Impressionism just happened.
Veneration can sometimes blind the mind’s eye to all the toil and
planning that goes behind an elegant masterpiece. The reality is that
the Impressionists were strategists, thinkers, and pioneering
technicians when it came to the art they produced.
I love how artists can create worlds all their own—using the hills and
valleys of a beautiful landscape or the sensuous curves of the human
form. But that’s not all artists are capable of doing. Centuries ago,
great artists like Michelangelo and Bernini didn’t just build worlds in
their paintings and sculptures, they actually constructed amazing works
of architecture—church facades, magnificent tombs, and exquisite
palaces. The artists imagined an environment from the ground up, and
were often able to turn their visions into reality.
You know how life can sometimes speed by and at other times crawl along
at a snail’s pace? Well, drawing is that way too. There are drawing
techniques that are incredibly labor intensive and deliberate, then
there are others that are quick and unplanned.
Good painters don’t merely re-create what
is in front of
them. An experienced artist knows how to create a successful painting no
what situation or model he or she is presented with. Of course, this
often comes after years of
practice and experimentation—as well as the development of a unique
voice—but there are some basic characteristics that all good paintings
Jacqueline Kamin paints with a
sculptural sensibility that isn’t at all foreign to her practice.
Earlier in her career she spent time as a bronze bust sculptor.
“Working with sculpture is a lot of fun,” Kamin says. “It is very
tactile and organic, but it takes a toll physically, and you aren’t
responsible for the whole process unless you have your own foundry.”
The Savannah College of Art and Design
(SCAD) believes certain artistic skills and techniques are fundamental
for all students, whether these students happen to be filmmakers,
architects, fashion designers, animators, or fine artists. The school’s
approach, therefore, has been to create a core curriculum that all
students are required to fulfill to earn their degree.
I typically don’t carry around a sketchbook, but during this time of
year I could make an exception. There is so much going on, and it seems
like everywhere I look there’s a composition waiting to be found. Just
yesterday I went for a walk, and the sight of a little girl tugging
demandingly on her father’s pant leg, pointing to a 14-foot Christmas
tree was just begging to be captured. Later, two dapper gentlemen
sitting on the subway in matching business suits, horn-rim glasses, and
camel-colored trench coats looked as though they’d stepped right out of
There’s one thing and one thing alone that makes for a successful tonal drawing: seeing masses rather than outlines. Lines are for flow charts, architectural blueprints, and driving on the right side of the road. To a certain extent I am kidding—there are some incredible draftsmen who work solely or predominately with line. But when it comes to tonal drawings, I’m not joking—it is an emotive, immediate way to create inspiring art. It is the painter’s way of drawing because it is all about the illusion of mass by putting contrasting values side by side.