I don’t have a visual arts degree. Both of my parents are visual artists. My brother and I studied music, instead. Aside from a few courses in art history, art criticism, and fibers, my collegiate background in the visual arts is pretty sparse.

But I was always drawing. In notes, on the backs of tests, on my arms. The urge to create has always been a part of me. However, the urge alone isn’t enough. As years of experience in both the musical and creative writing worlds have taught me, one must practice, and one must learn.

Having, at this point in my life, neither the time nor the money to pursue yet another degree, I’ve elected to study technique on my own.

This isn’t to say I don’t have help. In fact, my work would be utterly stagnant were it not for the few close friendships I have with honest artists and people with analytical eyes. Also, I’m lucky to live in an area with a library system that provides free access to several online self-led learning centers that would otherwise be financially out of my range.

Perhaps the most important aspect of teaching oneself, however, is honesty. I have to face my weaknesses, head on. Drive right into them without fear or expectation. It’s okay to make comfortable art every now and then, but to grow my technique, I have to push into realms that don’t come as easily to me. Realms like realism.

At this point in time I have three main weaknesses: proportions, perspective, and shading. Funnily enough, these are the three components that make the difference between a caricature and a portrait. After a three-day study on the subject, I feel that I had made some progress, which is something to celebrate. But I make no claims to have “arrived” yet. Simply that I am straining in the right direction.

The result of those three days of effort?

“Portrait” by Ditrie Marie Bowie

I can point out a thousand flaws with this image, but I won’t. Instead, I’d like to hear your thoughts on it. What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it?

Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Posted in: Art

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