Even Great Art Only Begins With An Idea

The idea for great art may spring spontaneously from your imagination.

Or it may evolve from a photograph you’ve seen or shot yourself. Something about it evokes ideas for drawing or painting.

You want to share the excitement you feel with others.

This could be a great piece of art.

Your excitement grows and builds as you imagine how the final art will look. You can already feel the satisfaction and joy you’ll experience from completing it.

You can’t wait to get out your pencils or paintbrushes.

Now, at this point a couple different things can happen.  

You may look again at the photograph, sigh and decide that this particular subject would be too hard to do.

And simply give up.

Or you can admit that yes the subject may be a little too complicated.

And maybe the way things are in the photograph isn’t quite the way you’d like.

So you get to work simplifying and changing the photograph.

And hopefully strengthening your original idea.

Or you discover an even better one!

That’s what is needed in the above photograph I took in Guanajuato, Mexico. Like most photographs, it only contains the possibility of great art.

It is up to us to focus on the possibilities that interest us the most and develop them.

By changing and improving them. Making them into something more interesting.

Because even great art only begins with an idea.

What’s important is what happens after that.

One of the important things that should happen next is asking yourself questions.

Do I really need this? Are these important? Are there simple ways to simplify this area?

Or should it be eliminated entirely?

That’s what I’ve begun to do in this second photograph.

Instead of creating a pencil sketch, I thought it might be clearer to show you a manipulated photograph.

In it I asked myself: Do I need all of these people?

Since I want to make the woman in the foreground the star of my picture, would it create a better design if I moved her closer to the fountain?

And so on.

I don’t know yet whether there is great art in my painting ideas based on this photograph.

But this is the process for finding out.

More on this later.

Best Wishes,
Gary Gumble
Founder of BeginningArtist.com
Without art the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable. (George Bernard Shaw)

P.S. Too often I think beginning artists become intimidated by this process. Or undervalue their ability to use it.

That can create the false hope that if only you could find the right art materials, your problems would be solved. 

I wrote about this in a blog post a couple weeks ago.

After that post subscriber Ray Braun wrote me about his experiences with this phenomenon.

“Your "Pencils And Paintbrushes Know Zip About Art " email was right on target. Good instruction from you and a lesson to be learned.

I had an art instructor get quite exasperated with our class when we kept asking about art materials. He said we were becoming artists and the materials aren't as important as the drawing itself. He said he could draw with shoe polish and a twig and create great art! It's less frustrating to use quality materials but the art tools aren't as important as the concept and execution.

I heard Michael Dudash during a painting demo say that his "secret to great art" was a battery-powered paint brush, which had a few people scratching their heads and others laughing!”

P.P.S. Have a friend who would enjoy this article? Send it to them and invite them to join my blog. Click here to Subscribe.