Sunday, May 1, 2011

A great idea, for more capable hands...

So last quarter I took a painting course at SCAD. It was a class of 15 senior painting majors - and me, a SEQA major whose painting experience peaked at painting 102. It was... brutal. My classmates had no desire to welcome anyone new, especially an evil outsider. My professor, while kind, was frustrated to have to deal with someone with so little painting experience. And, of course, I met this challenge with a full-on melt down due to this coinciding with the loss of my grandparents.

Come midterms, I had to show work I knew was weak and, boy, did they let me have it. It wasn't just pointing out that the work was bad, but they treated me as hopelessly ignorant. I wasn't a real painter. To them, I was someone coming into their territory with the arrogance that I could do their job better without any training. They were out for blood.

My reaction to this critique? A big ol' SCREW YOU to everyone involved! You know what? Cartoonists aren't inferior beings! They have every right to be displayed on gallery walls, and I was going to make sure that happened! Not only was I glorifying myself to taunt them, but I designed my series to allow me to use (the horror) store-bought canvasses I already had on hand. (In this class, if you didn't shell out the crazy money and spend all those hours of effort with construction and gesso, you weren't a real painter.) Any questions were hand waved by me claiming it was part of the concept - and concept is king in the art world!

As malicious as my motives were, this isn't a bad idea at all. It would be fun to be the painter who set out to paint portraits of webcomics' best and brightest. I was thrilled to be able to paint portraits of cartoonists I know and admire!

There was only one problem: I was still in a major funk. The reason I've held off from sharing these paintings until now is because, frankly, they aren't strong enough. I care about the people in these pictures and I wanted to do the best for them, so anything short of perfect would not do! I'd really like to see what I could accomplish with a redo and a mind with more clarity. Maybe, one day, this webcartoonist project could be resurrected and become something after all.

If you think I'm doing the typical self-loathing artist shtick here, then consider this merely the pendulum swinging back. For the second half of my painting class, I pretended I was nothing but gung-ho about this series. I put on my best BS face and enthusiastically explained how every mistake and bit of awkwardness was actually deliberate execution of my concept. For my critique, I put a smile on my face and talked boldly - even going to the point where I replaced my proposed sixth portrait with a tiny "to be continued" sign that was meant to mimic the end of a comic issue. (Note the arrangement of the portraits loosely resembles a comic book page.) While they frowned upon the fact the "to be continued" piece was clearly done the morning of - it might not have even been dry when I hung it - they bought my reasoning! Even though it was clear to everyone that I wasn't very good that quarter, my "conviction" salvaged my grade.

And, you know what, I do have conviction about this project. It SHOULD Be awesome. I just needs a better painter behind it. (And maybe, one day, that better painter could be me.)

Since you're dying to know, here are my subjects:

Top-left: Isabel Marks of Namir Deiter
Top-right: Jimmy Misanthrope of Agents of the Endtimes
Mid-left: Sarah 'Pickles' Dill of Distillum
Mid-right: Yeah, that's me. It was the prof's idea and I went with it.
Bottom: Irene Pitcairn of The Elves of LlueGarnok

Much love to all of them for allowing me to paint them. Much apologies to them for coming up a bit short. YOU WILL BE AVENGED!


Iron Ed said...

You're right; this is a great idea!
And, I think it would be great for -you- to paint it, again.

You are -learning- this particular art. That means practice. I think you should keep this particular painting around and repaint the same subjects again, maybe once a year, after you've had further classes. I would be very interested to see the different versions as your skill improves. (And I think even this first effort is quite a good one!

zillustration said...

Now I know the whole story... That was a tough class to be tossed into! GeezeLouise!