Fire: The challenge of putting
life in your art.

When I say "fire" and "putting life" in your art I mean how do you put yourself, your feelings toward your subject, in your art?

How do you add that extra little spark in a piece of art that transfers your excitement to a viewer?

Why would you need to put life or spark in your art, you may ask?

Wouldn't just copying what you see in front of you do that?

These questions were brought to mind this past week by two different events.

The first thing that happened was I received a response to some email questions I asked all of you a while back.

I asked those questions in hopes I could better understand you, your goals and to see what things I might be able to provide to help you grow into an artist.

At times it can feel like I'm babbling away to myself in these blog posts, because it's not often I hear back from anyone.

So the thoughtful responses from subscriber Billie Lambert in this email were quite gratifying.

In my survey I asked why each of you took up art.
"It’s inside of me and needs a way to express itself and speak.  I don’t think it’s so much a choice as a calling."

Is art something you've started early or later in life?
"I started early but lost faith in my ability; I have loved art all of my life in its many forms and I have “dabbled” in it throughout the years. Getting ready to retire soon and hoping to really dedicate my energy and time to expanding my ability..."

What are the most pressing problems you would like to solve right now?
"I’ve been reading what you say about…being like a copy machine and that being an artist is more than that. That’s why I’m struggling; it’s finding what I’m going to add or change to make it original and not just a copy of God’s or someone else’s work."

This last statement was especially relevant for me because of this drawing I did in a Sunday morning figure drawing group.

In the first 20-minute pose the model assumed she stood with her back to me.

I thought: What am I going to do with this? How am I going to put some life in this drawing? The pose just seemed too boring.

All hair and backside.

Not having much hope of creating anything interesting from this pose, I thought: okay, maybe I could accentuate her left side and let her right side be lighter and less detailed.

With that bare-bones plan in mind I began to draw.

And the relevant point to this is that as I worked on the drawing, it began to excite me.

Not because I was drawing every detail of her hair and body, but because I wasn't.

I was letting my creativity take over and allowing it to change what I saw to something I found more interesting. In other words I was beginning to add life to the drawing.

And I continued in that mindset through the second and third poses.

That mindset helped me instill my excitement in these drawings.

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

P.S. Now I realize this drawing may seem a little complicated for you right now.

Or you may not be at all interested in drawing or painting nude (or even clothed) people.

The real point is that whatever subject you want to draw or paint you are faced with a couple decisions.

How are you going to make your art more interesting than what you see in front of you?

And how are you going to put life in your art by transferring your feelings and creativity to it?

So, my question for you is this: Like Billie, are you struggling a bit with how to do that?

And would showing you how to do that be a subject you would like me to explore more thoroughly?

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.

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