Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Permission


Hi all!

I am coming to the end of a lull in work. Things have quieted down, and that affords me an opportunity to blog before it gets all crazy again.

I'm going to attempt to keep it brief this time (HA!).
But if you'll indulge me, I need to process something I've been grappling with: Art-fear.

I feel like I've been going through (a second) art-puberty for the last several months. I've been experimenting with style and trying to find ways to get excited about making pictures again. I've been doing the same thing for a while now, and in order to get away from it all I started taking long bike rides and watercoloring- which I found was just about the only thing I've wanted to do.

It's therapeutic. I do a lot of art for other people- to see their reaction, to get a paycheck, to feed my insatiable approval-hunger. But watercolor I generally do for me.

The thing about watercolor is: It doesn't do what you want it to.

Watercolor does what it wants. It arrives when it arrives and it's more or less up to you to get on board. The less control you exert, the better it will be. It's permanent, unforgiving, and you have to take a leap of faith with your precious drawing.
If you let it surprise you, it will give you better gifts than if you assert your control.
It requires trust.

Photoshop, on the other hand, is all about control- what color would you like? Have you adjusted the contrast lately?  Are you sure about that pixel, sir? UNDO UNDO!

So I started to play. And I did a sketch (up top) that I really liked. The thing was- between pen and watercolor, there's no way to erase, precious little control, and no time for second thoughts.
I didn't know who that kid was going to be when I started- he just happened. Does he have anatomy? pffff. Is he a "Great Design"? naw. Will people be impressed? probably not.
But something surprising occurred and I was holding the brush when it happened and I liked it. So naturally I wanted to do it again.
Womp Womp.
Man plans. God laughs. Watercolor does what it wants.

The blank page can be totally paralyzing when you bring expectations to it.
"I don't know what I'm going to draw, but it's got to be amazing!" is a pretty sure guarantee you're going to make stiff, awkward, insincere garbage. Fear makes me a terrible artist.

So I sat down and I froze up and awkwardly tried to put pen to paper and wound up with this mess:

NOPE.

Maybe you like it fine. Maybe the shirt turned out alright and the watercolor was gracious with me, but that face is a turd (at least it wasn't what I was hoping for/what I felt I was capable of) I was afraid, and by the end of sketching I was SO FRUSTRATED.

I left the coffee shop I was sitting in and went to see a friend in a cloud of art-angst.
During our conversation we got to talking about fear and expectations, and I vented about my unsuccessful sketch. And he reminded me of something I've told people, students, myself...time and time again...

"You have to give yourself permission to suck."

To make god-awful, un-viewable hot-garbage. You have to go there. You have to make your worst art. TRY to make bad sketches. Stop being afraid of it- leap into the blank page and make a mess. Break the seal. Look that giant boss-monster straight in its terrifying red eye and then throw your sword away, put on your most ridiculous hat and do your most alarming dance. You might not kill the monster, but you might make it so uncomfortable that it just leaves. It doesn't want to eat your kind of crazy.

I forgot that. And fear makes me seize up and I make no art at all.
If I want to improve I have to remember- bad art is better than no art. Always.
At least you're moving.
In high-school theatre the director could shape the performance of that one girl with the loud voice who would sing anything at the top of her lungs, out of key. You could work with that.
But good freaking luck pulling anything out of the wallflower who's too shy to make a peep. It's like pulling teeth.
God can help direct you once you start moving.

So I sat down and I made some hot garbage.

Hot Garbage. 

Maybe you like it, maybe you don't. That is a terrible cup. And what even is that underneath it?
I can promise you all of these looked heinous before watercolor. But I would submit to you that each sketch here is better than the stiff, awkward attempt at a mustachioed fellow above. They all turned out better, stranger, more alive.
I did this so fast and so frantically. And once the dust cleared, I didn't feel paralyzed anymore.

Nobody yelled at me. Nobody was "disappointed, son". The world didn't fall apart, and now I have two pages full of raw material. New experiments!
So if you're afraid, I prescribe making a mess. Go a little crazy. Draw only what you want, as fast as you can, let it be awful...like, really awful and unrecognizable. And let Control-Z take a flying leap.

It's weird, and I hope you'll allow me to wax poetical- but I feel like watercolor is teaching me things about God, about love, about decisions and life. "Let go- trust. Move. Make work, don't fear." God is (once again) speaking "art" to me because he knows I'll hear it when he does.

Praise the Lord for grace like that.

Breathe.

As the experiment continues, I've been trying to find ways to combine my love of watercolor with the colors I get digitally. I may even break out more colors than Prussian Blue eventually! Who knows? Baby steps.


I defy you, perspective.

To keep moving, practicing and experimenting I started painting Pokemon (because that's kind of all I want to draw these days) and then decided to join the Pokemonathon! I'm gonna draw em all! :)
You can follow my progress at pkmnathon.tumblr.com and nicholaskole.tumblr.com!

But since you're all so lovely and have listened so far, here's a look at the set so far (with a few I haven't posted on tumblr yet):



That's it for now.
I wish you the very best and God's blessings in chilly, icky winter!
Much love,

-n

22 comments:

Jacob Miller said...

Dude brillant work on the watercolors! Can't wait to see the rest. Watercolors are quite scary to tell the truth haha any tips?

scruffy said...

Taking it in, passing it on to my sons. Thanks for sharing dude, again!

kelpeterson said...

Thank you for yet another encouraging post. Intellectually, you know everyone struggles with fear over something, but it still feels like you're the only irrationally afraid, frozen stiff coward in the world every now and again.

Thank you for the beautifully put reminder that fear equals failure and God wants us ready, willing, and moving. (The pictures were a nice bonus. Good luck catching them all!)

Aya said...

Thank you for this. I've been experimenting this fear since one year now. It's comforting to see that I'm not the only "tortured" artist with existential obsessions about art. You made a pretty accurate summary of the thing. In the end, art is just finding who you are, who you want be, what you want to express and give to the whole world. No matter what it looks like, if it's bow-legged or clumsy, you just have to put love in it. This is the thing. We don't have to be afraid of our weaknesses. That's what make us human.
Anyway, thanks again and keep it up with your generous art, and let's do art!

Mist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kendall Robinson said...

I would "Like" this if I could, instead I'll bookmark it :) I do the "bad" art so much before the "good" art that I just got used to it but yeah, sometimes I still take so long to start a drawing because of my expectations.

sindos said...

Now I want to willingly make a mess :]

Richard said...

I shared this post on my blog. I really enjoy your water colors.

http://doodledaddy.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/art-crush/

By God's Grace,
Richard

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being honest enough to post bad art.
P.S. Even your bad stuff is great.

Markus said...

Hey you!

Can I just babble a little? Okey. I started reading your blog a little before Christmas, and read through all your posts in a few weeks. I enjoyed it so much, listening(reading) to you talk about your art, life, job and God.

I love drawing, and spend most of my time with a pen in my right hand and paper in the other, but I often find it quite hard to be proud of my own work. I look at it and just don't see the life and joy that I can see in proper artists works, and it truly kills my motivation every time to just look at my grey doodles - desperate to achieve something more. Reading about your art (which I for the record find amazing, inspiring and truly alive) and your own fears have truly made me look differently at my art/sad little grey doodles, though. Now I am sure that things like this will pop more into place as I get older, and I still have time to develop my artistic library(or something) and become the illustrator that I dream of becoming.

When it comes to your God, I have to admit that threw me off a little to begin with. I've always been an atheist myself, and I find it hard to believe that some otherworldly power has laid out a plan for my life, but I still really enjoyed reading about, and it actually made me quite happy to imagine some greater power looking over us, and it made me worry less about my future for a few seconds. I sometimes wish that I was religious, it must be peaceful to always have something you can trust in.

Oh well. That's really all I wanted to say. Sorry for the rant! I'm looking forward to your next post, it really brightens my day every time I see a new watercolour on the top of your blog :)

- Markus

Nathan said...

Amazing work man. I've been a fan of pokemon too and always want to sculpt them! This makes me want to paint some as well :D

zhaomeng said...

"bad art is better than no art." Words to live by, man, thanks for that.

B said...

" "You have to give yourself permission to suck."

To make god-awful, un-viewable hot-garbage. You have to go there. You have to make your worst art. TRY to make bad sketches. Stop being afraid of it- leap into the blank page and make a mess. Break the seal. Look that giant boss-monster straight in its terrifying red eye and then throw your sword away, put on your most ridiculous hat and do your most alarming dance. You might not kill the monster, but you might make it so uncomfortable that it just leaves. It doesn't want to eat your kind of crazy."

That is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks a lot! (:

Sean Evans said...

This is great. It shows a small path in that labyrinth mind of yours. Keep at it!

alex said...

Wow! Love your blog (and your watercolors), Nick!

nfl jersey said...

Thank you for the beautifully put reminder that fear equals failure and God wants us ready, willing, and moving

saeed ahmed thanvi said...

Its Awkward to Say some one you are doing Lol.... Every thing you want in Lol and Troll, Now you Get all in one Network, LolsGag, Lol Pictures, Lol Videos, Lol Peoples, Funny Peoples, Troll Images, Awkwards Text, Funny Comics, Jokes, Funny Jokes, Funny Facts, Humour, Funny Planet, troll pictures, funny pictures, Facebook pictures, facebook funny pictures, facebook lol pictures, Funny videos and Much More only Laughing out of Laughing
lolsgag.com

Taranimator said...

This is absolutely fantastic. Thank you thank you thank you. I've been using watercolours for years and you're right - they do what they want! At the same time I've been learning digital tools for years but I'm stuck between being a former user of analogue tools and a new user of digital tools. It sucks because I don't feel I can control either medium. I know I need to just make ANYTHING. It's better than nothing. And while I look at your beautiful art and thing, "sure, buddy, easy for YOU to say with your gorgeous art all over the place" I must accept where I am and embrace whatever garbage I must create to get through to the (hopefully) good stuff to come. Thanks again.

Ian said...

Fantastic!

Akuiso iso said...

nice share...nice posting...



http://www.akuiso.com/the-basics-of-hair-removal/

Online Education said...

such great to see impressive work keep doing hard work

High School Diploma Online said...

Thanks well post you have shared with us.