In early times, people did Art to decorate their homes and objects of everyday living. It could be an individual or a group of people collectively working on something. It was mainly Designs and Patterns that could be done by more and more people. Then we came to know of better ways and did more realistic Paintings that conveyed stories. Sculpting, Photography and now Digital Art ; there is always something new and trending. Art is a way of expression. People express their feelings and experiences. Arts and Culture influence each other to a great extent. It is like they are interwoven. Internet and Globalisation made it a boundary less world. This opened up infinite opportunities in Art as well. For a creative person it is like a vast ocean. There is always so much too learn and do. I like to read up, see, learn and better my skills everyday. We are truly blessed to be able to have easy access to so many resources now.
“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly is a way to make your soul grow. So do it” – Kurt Vonnegut
Art is my passion, it’s Life. Your reason could be different : a stress buster, a hobby, a way to be social, helping your child with art at school, being a professional artist or having a part time or full time career. However if you are serious about Art, it is always better to take up formalised training. You have the talent, that’s super. Now all you need is the wisdom. I see many people write ‘Self Taught’ in their bio. It’s great! But just imagine! if you are so good when you learnt only by looking, how awesome will you be if you have a mentor, a guide or a teacher formally teach you!
I would say it is like a Tree. I was born with a liking, aesthetic sense, creativity and a good hand for Art – that would be the seed. I have to water it everyday – that would be practice. I have to add manure, fertilisers or food – that is knowledge. What I gain from this journey or growth over the years is wisdom. That makes me a full grown Tree. Don’t be in a hurry to monetise your work. Learn whatever you can, try your hand at different Art Styles. My friend told me ‘My daughter is really good at doing a flower, she keeps doing it.’ I think that’s absolutely ok but at least try the other things. How do you know if this is your best work or if you can do better unless you try?
By all means make as many mistakes as you can in the learning phase. You know what they say right ‘I didn’t make a mistake, I learnt a 100ways it could go wrong.’ It is True. Besides, being an Artist is also about letting go of the fear of being wrong. For an Artist, what makes him or her different from another Artist is himself. It is difficult to separate an Artist from his work. I could put it as ‘that one special move that you are so good at, makes your work different from the others’. That is why I feel if you are serious about Art, you would invest in yourself.
Most Art Schools and Universities have a system of grading and examinations. The format is similar for most Art Institutes. Knowing this early on can help prepare for the way ahead. Broadly these are five subjects. We can’t be selective and be very good at just one of them. Need to be relatively good at all of them. The subjects are:-
1) Nature Drawing – Drawing and Painting Flowers or Nature. They give flowers in the exams because they have to give something easily available, as there to so many students. It is about actually seeing these flowers in real and painting them. Use Watercolour. The more realistic it is with shadows and highlights, the more points you can score.
2) Object Drawing – Painting daily life Objects. Each material has a texture. Example the skin of an orange vs that of a coconut. Note and observe these details to make it look more realistic. Another way to score better is getting the right perspective. Were you looking at the objects from the front, right side, left side or extreme corner – your artwork should reflect that.
3) Memory Drawing – Drawing People and Places. It is called memory drawing because we are expected to draw what we saw by recollecting the memory. Select a topic which is something you have experienced or seen in real life. Obviously it becomes easier to draw that rather than something you just saw someone else draw. It will make your work more real and different. Creatively highlight your strengths by drawing what you draw best. Complete the background. A complete picture always makes a better impression.
4) Design – The combinations and possibilities in Patterns and Designs are endless. Showing usability of a design or object you are designing scores a brownie point. Commercialisation and mass production of a Design is something most people look out for. For ‘Freehand Drawing’ you are given a design and asked to recreate it. Matching the colours, lines and curves becomes important. Basically the examiner wants to know how well you can replicate the design given to you.
5) Geometry and Lettering – Geometry is about precise measurements. How well can you convey the meaning of the word, keeping it easy to read while having a unique font style? Lettering and Good Type done by hand requires a lot of handwriting practice. Commercialised version we all know as ‘Logos’. This is different from Calligraphy.
Designs and Lettering now most often are done digitally in the Industry for precision. However they will teach you to do these by hand first. It is always better to learn both methods – doing it by hand and digital.
Information is readily available on these subjects. So I thought I would share some additional tips which can help you score a few brownie points in these subjects. Use Gouache Colours for a nice neat look. Make sure you can complete your artwork in the given duration. Last but not the least practice. Try to do better than yourself each time. Taking up work that challenges you makes the learning interesting.
One request, please don’t use help from the digital tools – they will only get you followers on social media, nothing else. During my school days we were not allowed to use any measuring tools like ruler or compass except for Geometry and Lettering. We learnt how to draw without using these. There are methods how artists keep a scale with their eyes, which your teacher should be able to teach you.
I cleared my Intermediate Grade Exams in Art scoring a ‘Grade A’ and merit rank. Intermediate Grade Exams are senior level Art Exams conducted by the Maharashtra State Board and lakhs of students appear for it every year. You may or may not appear for the same exams but training in all these subjects surely helps. I scored ‘Grade B’ in the Elementary Exams (Junior). Then I had my teacher train me. The results you can see.
I also feel this system of training is holistic which creates a good base for taking up any specialisations in Visual Arts and Allied Arts. Once we know these, it becomes easier to pick up any new trends in Art. Further even to get into a good Art Institute we have to submit an Art portfolio on these lines or appear for entrance exams on these lines. So if you are serious about your Art, this is the way ahead! Have an Arty Weekend!
Please Note: All the artwork shared is my actual artwork I had done during my school days when I took these exams. Our references were books and previous years question papers.