By: Matthew Sabey Smith
This Is Controversial
This is something that can get a bit controversial in the art world and that is being a multidisciplinary artist. There are some artists who would recommend mastering one medium and then once you are a master then you may move on. On the other hand there are other artists who would recommend letting yourself expand your horizons and take risks in multiple disciplines. The truth is that both of these statements are correct. This is not only something that is applicable to creating artwork, this is applicable to life. If you take the example of wanting to be a millionaire, do you think it would be easier to have a teacher who can teach you exactly how to get there or to have ten teachers to teach you all different ways of how to get there. Well for one, it will probably be up to your personal preference, but at the same time, having some direction may be helpful too.
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
The truth is, as an artist it is important to keep pushing the envelope in order to stay out of your comfort zone. If at any time your art becomes too comfortable, it likely gets boring for you and that usually comes through to viewers as well. After all, the whole reason you decided to become an artist was so that you could live out your passion right? So this is where we come to the fork in the road. Do we stick to a medium or do we branch out? In fine arts it is not uncommon for there to be carry over utilizing different techniques and mediums. Drawing and painting for example pair wonderfully together to understand form, structure, chiaroscuro, and space. Sculpting on the other hand could help you better understand a three dimensional form. When I was in art school I spend many semesters focusing on figure drawing. As we would practice, we would observe the model and pay attention to the curvature and angles of the physical body. What enhanced my understanding was learning the bones and muscles underneath as well! As someone who has loved art and science together, it was a perfect match! Sometimes I would draw the bones, then draw the muscles over it just to get a clearer picture of what I was working with. Physically touching example skeletons, and even using your own body as an example is wonderfully helpful to simply gain an understanding. While I focused a lot on drawing and painting, I had friends who focused on figure sculpting, something I did not get into until I was out of art school! So here is what I learned from that experience.
Become A Master
By getting a really solid foundation in drawing and painting, it was much easier for me to dive into sculpting. Why? Because of my time spent learning anatomy and physiology! The first time I created a clay bust, I created an actual human head out of clay without much experience working with it. As I am sure you can see, the approach was the same. Using your senses of vision and touch to understand your subject matter is indispensable. After exploring with clay I then go back to my drawing and painting with newer three dimensional perspective.
Break Through Your Barriers By Changing The Stimulus
So here is the conclusion I have found in all this. I decided to master drawing and painting as my foundation. I have spent several decades working on these skills. However, I dabble in sculpture in order to change the stimulus in my brain if ever my drawing and painting hits a plateau. And if it really hits a plateau, I make a sculpture then draw it! As we know with any athlete, the stimulus in training must continuously be changed in order to improve. If an athlete trains the same way every single day it creates an imbalance and eventually something will break down due to a lack of recover time. You can look at your art this way as well. I would argue that it is necessary to change the stimulus of your art training in order to improve your craft much like an athlete changes their training. The two are no different in this sense. So whether you are an experienced artist, a singer who wants to try and paint or a viewer who has been focusing on the same subject I am here to encourage you to switch it up! You will not lose the skills you have gained but instead you will find new meaning, appreciation and purpose to whatever it is you are primarily focused on.
Matthew Sabey Smith
Matthew Sabey Smith is an artist and educator who combines his love for the outdoors with his education as a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to create artworks that involve themes related to holistic health, mindfulness and spiritual transformation. He enjoys utilizing his knowledge to educate artists and creatives on how to perfect their craft and pursue what they love.
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