In-Depth post #6

It has been a while since the last update and a lot has happened. But before we can get to that, we need to talk about this week’s skill from How to Have a Beautiful Mind. The skills we had to practice this week were concepts and alternatives. 

  • Concepts are like the big ideas or the underlying subject you are talking about. In the book we are told that identifying concepts is important because they help you to further your understanding of the topic being discussed. They also help you to formulate new ideas about a topic. For example, the concept of school (in its most basic and general form) is education. You can then use that to go into more detail about the topic, like how in school education is divided up into subjects to make it easier to learn. 
  • Alternatives are the other possibilities. The book describes alternatives as the opposite of rigidity. The concept of alternatives is that there are always other possibilities. That is why they are so important. They allow you to think of the other options. Once you can do that you can use them to find the best way of doing something and use them to further your understanding of a topic because you know the other possibilities. 

My mentor and I talked about a lot of stuff over the course of this week’s meeting. We talked about how to create perspective in drawings and paintings, how to properly use distance things from the horizon, how to do basic landscape paintings, and how to put together an art portfolio.  

One of the main concepts of our recent meetings has been perspective. The concept of perspective I have been able to come up with, in relation to painting, is a constant angle used to give a painting depth and scale.  It is constant because things start to look inaccurate when you use different point for the perspective. My mentor told me of a lady, he paints with who has been painting most of her life and still cannot understand perspective. That is why he wanted to introduce me to the idea while I am still new to painting and art.  

When we were talking about perspective, I asked “Are there any alternative ways to practice drawing perspective, because I still don’t have a full understanding yet.”. My mentor said, “Yes there are. But have you finished the last picture I told you to try with the table and chairs, because for that will probably help you understand better?” I said, “No I haven’t because I wanted to make sure I was practicing properly, so that I do not learn the skills wrong.” He said “Well, once you have finished that. I can find some more lessons for you to practice on. Like when I used to teach art, I would get my student to do a one-point perspective road that went off into the distance. I also used to get them to do a three-dimensional spaceship. That one would probably help you. Anyways, once you are finished the table and chairs, I can give you some alternative ways to practice.” I said, “Oh, thanks! That would be great.” 

We also talked about perspective and horizon lines. They are the lines that dictate the angle and scale of the perspective. When we were talking about them, I said, “So, the concept behind perspective lines is that they dictate the angle you draw things at to give a picture perspective?” My mentor said, “That is correct. You use them to keep the perspective constant throughout your painting.” 

Another concept we discussed was proportions. We were talking about my most recent painting of the lady. I asked my mentor “Is there anything I could have improved on this painting?” He said, “It looks really good, and it is no big deal but some of your proportions were just a little bit off, like the size of the body to the head.  When you look at it again in a year, if you continue with art, you will laugh because of the little mistakes you made. But considering you have only been painting for a couple months, it looks really good.” I said, “The idea of proportions is that everything is in scale, right? It means that nothing is too big or too small?” “That’s right.” He said, “It means that everything is properly sized.” To give me an example, he said “Have you ever seen a caricature? They are the drawing where they make the head way too big for the body. Those work so well because they are not in proportion to the rest of the body.”This helped me to understand the concept behind proportion. The concept of proportion is to have everything in scale. 

My mentor hasn’t offered me a lot of alternatives, but I also haven’t asked. I think this is because of his background in teaching. He just started giving me “assignments” like painting the portrait of Rodin (the guy with the beard), giving me videos to watch to help me learn fundamental skills. There has never been an assignment where he gave me two options. It has always just been to practice this skill, do this. I am sure if I asked, he would give me alternative ways to practice, but I have been enjoying the assignments he gives me, because they are always challenging, and I always end up learning new things. The “assignments” have also had an overarching plan behind them, like how he started me on painting skin tones, then portraits, then figure paintings, and now we are moving into landscapes. But starting now I will ask my mentor for alternative “assignments” and ways to practice. 

If I had a different mentor, this project probably would have started by me telling them what I wanted to learn, and them giving me alternative ways of practicing to get to that end goal. This would have repeated at every meeting. I would give them a few different skills I was interested in, then they would have given me alternat ways of practicing to develop that skill. Whereas with my mentor, I need to ask for the alternatives and possibly come up with some myself. 


I have done three major paintings in the last couple of weeks, as well as a few practice drawings to learn certain skills. 

At the end of the last blog post, I said I would show the finished copy of the painting I was working on at the time. Well, here it is, as well as a picture of what it was before (so you can compare). I had to brighten up the left side of the face to get the values right. Once I did that, I put some transition colours in, added some hair for his beard, and gave him some eyes. I fi could change something about this picture it would be his ear. I didn’t realize it when I was painting it, but it is the wrong colour. 

My mentor also got me to practice figure drawing. To help me practice, he sent me a link to a video that had a model in different posesEach pose had lasted a certain amount of time. I was told to draw the model as best I could. I slowly started to get the hang of it. You want to start with some rough lines, then slowly start to go into more detail.  

The next painting, I did was a silhouette of a climber. I am quite happy with how this painting turned out. It took me a couple tries to get the background gradient correct, but once I did, I put the rock face in and started working on the climber’s figure. The hardest part of this painting was the rope. I had trouble getting my paint brushes to make a small line that was also consistent. 

The last painting, I did was the previously mentioned painting of a girl. This one took me a long time to finish. I started the painting with a green background, but I soon realized that it was too overpowering. So, I switched it to a milder blue. After that I sketched out her figure and started to fill it in with colour. Once I had a base skin tone, I started adding highlights and shadows. This is one of the few paintings where the shadows look correct. Something I am proud of with this painting is the feet. They are not where you normally look but you can see the individual toes on both feet and that is something I am proud of. 

The final practice I did was perspective. Before this, I did a couple quick sketches to learn how to use perspective lines. Once I was done with those, I moved onto these. If you look closely you might notice (as my mentor, put it) the roof “looks a little wonky”. That is because I did not follow the perspective lines. For those who don’t know, perspective lines are the pencil lines that all meet up at the same point on the edge of the sketch. You use them to determine the angle of a line you want to draw. Where they meet is called a vanishing point. All of these drawings were done in 2-point perspective. 


For my final presentation, I would like to put together an interactive online art portfolio (as recommended by my mentor). In it I would display my works from the last few months. Starting at the first painting and working all the way up to the most recent one. This would be a great way to show off my progression over the past months. It would also give me a chance to share my thoughts and challenges with each individual piece.  

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