Paint Schoodic

Join Carol L. Douglas at beautiful Acadia National Park, August 6-11, 2017. More details here!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Process vs. Product

Gesture drawings are just so cool.

My son is curled up in a chair making skins for Minecraft. He likes animating, drawing, electronic music, writing games, programming, and—of course—video games. He’s a kid, and kids have an ability to slip into activities with no regard for their value. It’s a trait that usually eludes us "mature" adults.

By the time kids are high school juniors, they no longer spend most of their time exploring the by-ways of human knowledge, arcana and experience.  They’ve had that drilled right out of them by the school system. They strive for AP credits, SAT scores, and a good class ranking.

But dispensable, which is why we frequently throw them on the floor.
Then the lucky few end up in my studio to do portfolio prep, and I tell them, “Forget the results. Right now your portfolio requirements don’t matter. What matters is that you sink into the process of making art, and the portfolio will come in time.”

The paradox of making art is that the more one focuses on results, the less satisfying those results are. Conversely, the more one focuses on the process, the better the results turn out. This state of total immersion goes by many names: in the moment, in the zone, on a roll, present, in a groove, or centered. But whatever you call it, it’s difficult to make good art without it.

Gesture drawings are the perfect way to explore the idea of process. Nobody cares what the results are; they exist simply as warm-up exercises. And yet, in 35 seconds to a minute, the artist often captures the essence of the model.
My beautiful model Michelle Long was so excited to play her ukelele today.


I had two new students experiencing their first model session today. Both are young, and both are relatively inexperienced drawers. Both quickly grasped the principle of flowing with the process, and the quality of the work they did reflected that.

Learning to draw an ellipse is a process, not a destination.

A note: I do my model sessions in natural light, which I find far preferable to spotlights. If you’re interested in joining us, feel free to contact me.

There's still room in this summer's Maine painting workshops, and I assure you I will be totally in the zone. Check here for more information.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is infinite truth to Carol's comment about not being married to the result. All to often young artists approach their work as precious objects, and are overly concerned with the product. They spend far too long on too few works as oppose to producing a large volume. At the Douglas Studio I learned that the first 15 minuteds of any two dimensional work are the most important. And the year leading up to my application to Art School I produced perhaps two hundred works ranging from 1 to 6 hours of production time. Repeating the process of building a drawing from scratch is just as if not more valuable than perfecting the process of refining a finished work. Draw fast, draw true, until your eye and hand are one in the same.

-Matthew A Menzies, Rhode Island School of Design