I wound up with some free time one evening, so decided to stop by one of the thrice weekly figure studies held at the same studio I go to for the once a month costumed/themed workshop… There were about 6 or 7 artists in attendance, ranging in age from college students to over 50 yrs old. I was talking to one girl who was doing charcoal sketches on a large pad clamped to an upright easel, who said she found that more comfortable than sitting at a desk (as another girl was doing) or sitting back with a pad/clipboard on one’s lap (as I was doing). I pointed out how I think I do better work at a desk, hunched over a drawing, but for sketching I suppose that simply having the pad in my lap felt more natural. I believe this is probably so because when I was a kid I would sit back on our couch and draw that way, with a pile of pencils and erasers and such piled up on my stomach or ribs, and my bent knees as an “easel”. I also had a habit of holding pencils in my mouth and sometimes 2 or 3 in my drawing hand, switching between fine tips to colors or “shaders” with a flick of my wrist.
I had my binder of sketches with me, and showed that I must have done over 50 “presentable” or “worthy of showing people” drawings in the last two months. Obviously the smaller the scale, the greater the output, which suits me fine just now- I still have the underlying urge to sort of “catch up” for the 2 decades of time lost not drawing. The added bonus of using 8.5 x 11 sheets is that I can easily scan the drawings or bind them for safe keeping. It saddens me a little knowing that the reams of drawings I once produced are all lost. The girl sort of chuckled and pointed out she had not even been born the last time I produced a fair amount of work! In retrospect it seems like it would be hard to explain to someone in their 20’s who is excited about their skill/hobby/art/profession and sort of hitting their stride today just what it would feel like to abandon it all for another 20 years – half their life by the time they reach my age.
It is not easy getting the younger crowd to understand what it was like growing up pre-internet, cell phone, etc. Today I can pull my phone out of my pocket, take a photo, and email it to relatives in Greece in an instant. Even when I was in grad school (architecture), it was difficult to document one’s projects to add to a portfolio for prospective employers to see. I would not bother with photocopiers or scanners because they had horrendous resolution by today’s standards. I instead would mount drawings onto a large board, usually 3’x4′ at least, wrap it up in a giant plastic bag, carry it several blocks to the one studio in town that would pin it up and professionally photograph it. They would make the prints at whatever size you chose. This was expensive. Even if you decided to go cheaper and do it yourself, you would perhaps borrow your dad’s “good” camera, and take roll upon roll of photos with different settings, lighting, flash, etc because you never knew which would look best or even be in focus. I would walk the miles to an actual photography shop (not Walgreens) to spend another ton of money on film and developing, sort thru the pics to find which worked, then getting more copies of just those made. I will not even get into the amount of labor involved in assembling the portfolio, with all the exacto blade work, measuring, taping and mounting, etc. Lets say I still wanted to send a pic to Greece- its off to a post office to get the stamps, etc, and then in a few weeks the pic would arrive at its destination. Basically, what takes less than a minute to accomplish today once took weeks and a good amount of legwork and cash.
I still find it so amazing how computers have made work/art so much easier to produce and disseminate, but still feel that somehow something special is lost. It happens every time there is some sort of mechanical/technological tool that creates a short cut… while creativity may stay unaffected, there is a loss of craftsmanship. I see it in frozen or fast foo vs home made o trained chef cooked food. In mass produced or machined art, tools, buildings, clothes, foods, etc. In sampled, dubbed, auto-tuned music. Things may still be catchy and even inspired, but they lack the personal touch. Its kind of funny how in certain ways I am the stereotypical “old man” in attitude, yet in others I think I’m the opposite. When I was young I never understood it when other kids would color their hair or go out of their way to stand out or be different…. heck, I still do not really understand it but now I at least appreciate it. I love the courage it takes in simply putting one self out there and letting people see who you are. I guess that is why I enjoy being part of this community of art bloggers- you get a glimpse of the artist I find it immeasurable in understanding and appreciating the art even more.