"Go Fish" - A Story of How I Began

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
— Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie

A series of unfortunate circumstances have occurred in my life toward the end of December (which is why you've probably seen a decline in blog posts.) I apologize for the lack of art updates but please follow me on Facebook or Instagram for brief photo updates. The string of events that occurred in December allowed me to realize that not many know how to "fish for himself/herself"

In such a technologically advanced society, it's easy to forget how many resources we have available to us. When asked a question that they do not know the answer to - most people tend to ask others or defer the question but not look for the answer themselves. It's a bit backwards in my opinion. I'm not here to vent but merely to bring up a few thoughts that also ties into how I began painting.

Early Beginnings in Art

"Birds of Paradise" - A sketch during my high school years for practice

I've taken a few art classes in high school but those classes do not teach you how to draw or color. Progression is up to the individual. I would spend countless hours outside of class just sketching on my own to practice. My teacher actually once told me that I did not have the "artistic eye".  To prove her wrong, I practiced and strived to better my technique and artistic abilities. I didn't want to disappoint my father with a bad grade in art (when that was the class he excelled at back in his days) so I practiced every chance I had.

A self portrait of myself as a "Na'Vi" from James Cameron's 2009 movie "Avatar" 

Eventually, I developed a great passion for art. It was all I could think about during the day and all that I dream about at night. I delved into other mediums besides sketching like color pencils and watercolors. I never once picked up watercolors during high school or college. The only watercolors I used growing up was the Crayola set that every student had in elementary school. I didn't pick up watercolor until 2013 when I realized that my father was disappointed with my "digital art".

My Love for Digital Art

Over the years I grew fond of Photoshop and photo-manipulation (the art of manipulating photos to the point where all the different elements resembled a painting). I remember coming home one day to happily show him my work but I was met with a grim face and frown. My father looked at my "art" and said to me:

“That is not art. That is a program doing the work for you. There’s no true art here. Anyone can learn how to Photoshop”

His words stung and stuck close to me like glue to paper. I tried to argue with him and declared that my concepts were still artistic despite Photoshop assisting with execution. I tried to persuade his traditional mind into allowing photo-manipulation to be perceived as an art form because it was considered art to me. He wouldn't understand. His reply was "No, art is when you can pick up a brush and come back to me with something that isn't created through a program." My father is not receptive of digital artWe have our differences but I took his words to heart. I stopped using Photoshop to create anything (i.e. digital painting or photomanipulations) and set out to buy some brushes and watercolors.

Transition into Traditional Art - Watercolors & Colored Pencils

 "Scrumptious" - one of the paintings that my father was actually proud of!

"Scrumptious" - one of the paintings that my father was actually proud of!

Of all the paint mediums available, I chose watercolors for several reasons:  

1) It's the least toxic and does not require paint thinner

2) It is cost efficient - I can reuse paint after I squeeze them out of tubes but moistening with water. Unused paint can stay on my palette for years without problems

3) Watercolors do not emit any odor (I have a sensitive nose and live with my bf who despises the smell of oil paints or acrylics)

The only problem here was that I've never actually held a brush and painted before. I assumed it was the same as a digital paintbrush from Photoshop in which you would need several different sized brushes and also layer to create a complete painting. The difference between the two: one was a digital pen and the other was an actual paintbrush that you would have to hold for several hours. My wrist tired easily within the first few days of attempting to paint anything.

So I went online and decided to do some digging for any information that could help me learn how to paint. At this point, I didn't even know how to mix colors. I bought every tube I thought I needed for all the different colors and all the wrong reasons. I had to extensively research how to hold a brush, how to paint and what colors I should be using.

I saw several videos of extraordinarily talented artists and said to myself "If I taught myself how to use Photoshop and photo-manipulate...then surely I can teach myself how to paint!"

Feed Yourself for a Lifetime

This circles back to the quote at the beginning of this post. I'm here to tell you that you have so many resources available and that I am a resource too. If you are patient enough and willing to devote yourself to the practice, you can also paint "well". No one starts off painting like a wonderful artist. We all start at the beginning. At some point, even the best of the legendary artists in history has to have spent time learning how to use a brush and mix pigment.

The internet is a great place to learn how to paint and if there's ever a question you do not know the answer to. Google it! Google is my best friend. Google is how I learned how to Photoshop. Google is how I learned most of the Excel shortcuts & functions (and probably helped in getting a job) and Google is how I learned how to paint!

I can't stress how important practicing is or how necessary it is to enhance one's artistic ability. Never be afraid to experiment or ask questions either. Again, I am always happy to answer any questions that any aspiring artists may ask but don't forget the importance of practice and research. Feel free to let me know your questions or thoughts in the comments below. Stay tuned, I'll be back shortly!