Saturday, 10 September 2011

Tulip History in mixed media

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is boundaries. When it comes to art, I have plenty of boundaries.

The first one, as anyone who's been to this blog before knows, is calling anything I do art. It's doodling. It's a hobby. I can't take it seriously, because if I do it might stop being fun. If I broke through that boundary I might get more accomplished, but as things stand now I'm just not willing to head that direction. Doodles it is, and doodles it'll stay.

There are other boundaries, of course. For me, a huge boundary is my eyesight. I'm terribly myopic, and that's always going to keep me confined to smaller subjects. Concentrating on, for example, a landscape for long enough to send it to my hand -- erm, so to speak -- is a literal headache.

One of the biggest boundaries, though, is lack of training. I'm acutely aware of the fact that I am very self-taught. I had one art course in junior high, and that was it. Science ended up taking all of the spaces that arts would have by the time I hit high school. It didn't bother me too much at the time, or (if I'm going to be honest) for a lot of years after. I doodled a bit here and there and I had enough drawing skill to be able to manage lab sketchwork, but that was about it.

When I very tentatively returned to art in my mid-twenties, I naturally went to the pencil because that was what I'd learned in that one art course. We did sketching and a little bit of sculpture, and... you know what? I can't even remember what else now. The point is that I knew my pencil basics, so pencil it was. I spent a number of years doing little else but smudging away. Happily smudging away. I like smudging. It brings out my not-so-inner five-year-old.

I'm not sure why I even decided to pick up a pen for the first time (in an art context, at least), but it scared the hell out of me at first. I didn't know what to do with it, and if whatever I did was wrong it was going to be there forever. It took me a long time to relax with a pen, and it took me even longer to warm to it. I did warm to it, though, and now I really enjoy playing with pens.

Now if that could only happen with painting.

Sigh. Painting. I'm never going to be a painter, so it's a good thing that it's never been a huge dream of mine. I dabble here and there in watercolours and very occasionally have some success, but I just don't seem to have the patience for it. That, plus the fact that I mostly don't have a clue what I'm doing will probably always keep colour work on the periphery of my art world. I'm ok with that, obviously, or I'd be working harder to get the hang of it. After all, the pen thing worked out eventually.

Don't even ask about my success rate with acrylics...

Anyway. Think of today's doodle as a brief history of me and art. And keep in mind that my scanner has, as usual, ignored any subtlety that might have accidentally made its way into the painted portion. It looks a fair bit different in person.

One other thing that kind of ties in with the post title: my source material was some old photos of different kinds of tulips that used to grow in my father's yard. We don't have them anymore; we have deer instead. Deer + tulips = tulips are history.

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