This particular work of art was presented to my drawing class last spring for a critique. Our assignment was to draw whatever we wanted, however we wanted, and with whatever we wanted. No rules to break, no limitations to adhere to.
I chose to draw a nude figure with acrylic paint and indie ink and make a mixed media background for it with newspaper.
When I heard this, I was shocked. Not because of the seriousness of the subject – because art deals with dark and serious issues all of the time – but because this could not have been farther from my intentions when I went to create this work.
I simply wanted to practice my figure drawing skills while using media I thoroughly enjoyed working with. I expected to be critiqued on my technical skill work with the figure’s anatomy and perhaps the interaction between the figure and the background.
When I expressed my intentions for the work to my classmates, everyone simply shrugged their shoulders and we moved onto the next student’s work hanging on the wall.
Later that day I called my mom, a professional oil painter, and I explained my classmates reactions to my figure drawing. My mom is a portrait artist by trade, and she also is a master of the human figure.
This work that I created was her favorite of mine up to that point in my life, which is something I am very proud of. She told me that she experienced similar things in the art world that I had experienced that day in class. Sometimes she felt that her art was boring compared to art other people were creating in the art world today. I can assure you, my mom’s paintings are far from boring. However, I knew exactly what she was talking about.
My generation of art students, at least based off of my observations for the past year and a half as an art student, is so caught up in being the next new crazy thing that the world has ever seen.
I am not saying that every classical nude painted in Europe in the 18th century is fascinating, but I am saying there is something important we must take from work like that. Not all art has to have some deep, bizarre interpretation that may sound crazy to many people.
Some artists, like myself when I presented my nude figure, wanted to be appreciated for the technique and the creativity behind the work. I do not mean to say that I do not create work that has a deeper interpretation than the surface level, and when I do, it is up to the viewer to determine what that is.
I do hope, however, that while we, as art students, are taught to think and interpret creatively, we hold onto what interested us in the art world in the first place. For me, that was the love of drawing and creating, but I had to learn how to draw before I could even become decent at it. As many say, you must know the rules before you can break them.