After writing the essay on Kubota’s work, I realized that I had declared an intent to be a serious artist. By which I mean, someone who creates pieces of great beauty, power, and aesthetic, that express the Muse strongly enough to prompt the sense of awe I felt looking at Kubota’s work. That seems ambitious, but without ambition, nothing would happen. I certainly think it’s something worth striving for.
But, if I want to be serious about art (and I do!), I’ll need skills and knowledge that I don’t have. My training is in science, and my professional experience is in business/organizing software projects; I don’t have any background in art or art history, color theory, or any of the ancillary skills that I believe would be helpful in creating the kind of work I’m after. I can develop those skills and get that education, no problem: my problem is figuring out what to study. My education is woefully deficient in these areas – the school I went to didn’t have a single class in art (unless you count a how-to course on silkscreening), so not only do I not know anything, I don’t even have a good idea of what’s out there.
I don’t mean to denigrate my skills, by the way – I’ve worked hard to get a fundamental understanding of weaving, and I understand a fair amount about fiber arts in general. But I don’t think that that alone will get me “over the top”. So I am struggling to figure out what tools might be useful.
Obviously, this would be easier if I had a good idea of where I was going. (In that respect, Kubota had it easy: he knew what he was after when he started his fifteen years of hard work and study.) I don’t. I believe this is something I will only find out as I learn and grow, and that’s the hard part: bumbling along while I figure out what suits me best as an artist.
I do know a few things. I know that my medium will probably combine two or more of the fiber arts. I know it will involve color, since I like using color. It will be fine, detailed work, because that’s what I’m drawn to. I’d like it to contain representational art, which makes much more “sense” to me than abstract art. And it is most likely to involve weaving, dyeing, and/or some sort of surface design.
That’s pretty general, but it’s a starting place. The most obvious deficiencies, if we’re talking about representational art, is that I can neither draw nor paint anything representational. I can do simple things – I once spent an hour sketching a poison oak leaf, and the results were pretty good – but complex things like the human figure are beyond me. So I have a choice between studying drawing and/or painting, or restricting myself to things that don’t involve freehand drawing. I think I need to study drawing.
I also think I need to study color and light. The book on Kubota’s work mentions that he was strongly influenced by Impressionist painters and their use of light. I’ve seen Impressionist paintings and I haven’t the foggiest clue what the book meant by that. I think I need to understand how color and light interact to form the “feel” of a piece. So I’ll add that to my education list.
And, of course, I’ll need to understand weaving. I do have ideas of what to pursue in that vein; obviously I can’t study everything, but there are a few areas that seriously interest me, and I’ll start there.
Outside of that, I don’t know what would be useful. So I am curious: if you were me, where would you start? And, any recommendations for a jumping-off point in drawing/painting, art history, and color theory?