Work Stupider (for Beginners): Letting go of your preconceived notions of Art

Work Stupider (for Beginners): Letting go of your preconceived notions of Art     

By Thomas Matthew Pierson     

                Artists can overthink their work.  It is often a voice in the back of your head tossing suggestions or casting doubt. That is the voice of reason, telling you what’s the next logical thing to do.  Ignore that feeling, ignore it completely.  I am telling you to work stupider, not smarter.  This is especially true if you are brand new to drawing, painting, or any art form for that matter.  I am saying this because when you start a painting, a drawing, anything really, there is a preconceived notion of what is considered “good.”  Here is the thing, you (a beginner) do not know what is good.

                Beginners do not know what is good, they know what they like, but that is not a good measure of what makes good art.  They have a preference, often it’s high contrast anime drawings, or comic book art.  Very rarely a person who is just beginning drawing will say they like Rembrandt paintings, or Picasso before he transitioned to cubism.  It is usually anime.  There is nothing wrong with that, the problem with it is when you are beginning, liking a style and preferring a style are two different things.  I like photorealistic paintings.  I prefer painting loosely.  Beginners don’t separate those facts; just because you like comic art, doesn’t mean you like to draw comics. 

                What do you do?  You forget what you know, you but the logical part behind and go into auto pilot.  Draw comics, draw from life, draw cartoons, make a shit ton of mistakes, and repeat.  I will do you one better, draw everything you hate drawing, draw it often, and draw it again.  Draw the stuff you hate drawing so much so, that you begin to like drawing it.  Draw using crayons, draw using markers, pencils, pens, chalk, left handed, right handed, feet, draw upside down, and draw some more.  I want you to draw in as many ways that you can think of, and not the ways that you prefer. Only then will you truly know what you like to draw and what you prefer to draw. 

                This is an on going process, you are always changing and improving.  I find it helps to throw a wrench in the gears and do a complete 180 on my subject matter or approach.  If I notice that I am getting a little too comfortable with what I am drawing, then I change it up, because when you become too comfortable, you become complacent and complacency leads to stagnation.  You don’t want to stagnate as an artist you always want to grow.

                As a side note, I had intended to write about working stupider in the sense that we need to think less and do more when we are drawing.   As I was writing, it had become clear to me what the context was going to be.  The topic of work stupider is not finished and I hope to delve a little deeper into the subject another time.