by Jody Leamen
My advice to any artist beginning their art journey is to join a group so you get the most out of your experience. When I joined the league of artists working in coloured pencil, little did I realize I would be venturing down a path with a team of fellow artists by my side. I had been told art was a solo journey and that the best secrets and methods were rarely shared. Since discovering coloured pencils, I have learned how narrow a view this really was. In fact, those artists helped me to build a website, gave me a platform for critiques and allowed me to share all my art successes and failures in a safe place. I can even say they have a piece in building my brand. They go by many names of which I could not possibly fully cover here. They are my influencers, my mentors, my supporters, and I am happy to call them my friends. Let me share my experience of what it is to have a community supporting your back.
Kaylie-GSD - This was a commission piece. 11x14" on Grafix matte 005 double sided.
By joining a coloured pencil community, I have learned when in doubt, ask the village. Taking it to the group is the safest place to share your concerns. Your concerns they have probably shared in at some point. A good example is Impostor syndrome. This is a common issue facing a lot of artists. Feeling your art is less than someone else or you are not as good as a professional who has been doing it for years, can create an artist’s block for creating more art. You might know that other artists that have been practicing art for years and in your head, you know your journey has just begun. But you worry your skills will never grow and be as good as theirs. Still, Perspective is sometimes best left to others and that is where a consultation with your art group on perspective is very helpful.
“I have learned when in doubt, ask the village.”
Their advice could be to step away from the piece you are working on and have a break, or to continue on with your work and wait for the big reveal. We all know coloured pencil can take a while to get out of the ugly stage and your artist’s community has been there. They can also see when it is self-doubt preventing you from continuing on. They probably know you better than you think.
Luxy - This was a piece I did for myself to push my handling of colour. 11x14" on Graifx 005 matte double sided.
Along this same line, get a community critique. There are official critiques where you hire someone, but realize there is a network of people willing to help you with no added cost. It is a safe place to see if your concerns are valid. I have found this group critique to be helpful information I can use towards my next drawing.
This group consultation even applies to other areas as an artist. As I was designing my own art website, I asked my art group to test out the look and feel of my website presentation. I had a team of proofreaders and fact checkers as excited for me to launch my website as I was. I was also able to see how my website presented in other areas of the world.
Hunter - This was a commision. 11x14" on Grafix matte 005 double sided.
What I have also learned from my art group is that in art, you must always try something more than once before you make a decision to never use “x” again. There are so many different papers, pencils, methods and mediums. Even if you find the results less than pleasing, try it out again in 6 months then again in a year. The issues you were having with the slice tool or the paper type (Pastelmat seems to be a common one) could be attributed to your skill level or understanding of how it would work. Perhaps, your muscle memory needed to grow. Maybe there is an artist in your rank who can even figure out your stumbling block. Leave time to try it again with guidance from your group. The results could be stunning and pleasing.
“You might just have the next helpful tip someone needs.”
By having a group of artist’s to talk to, I have learned we all go through stumbling blocks and spurts of growth. Art is not about rushing. It is a journey. It is less about finishing a piece and more about how you got there and about supporting others. As a member of the coloured pencil community, you have a part to play in helping others figure it out and achieve their goals. Be confident in your value. You have a lot to offer. You might just have the next helpful tip someone needs. You might just know that Derwent Drawing Black is the blackest black or what is the best app for checking values in your drawing. You might already know that you can draw on the back of film or that you can lock the slice tool in place to keep it from wobbling. So next time you have a struggle, check in with your community of artists. The solution to your struggle may be just a quick click away.
Finally, be an active participant. When asked, be the critique, the proofreader, or the pep talker-don’t be afraid to share. You have the skills to be kind, be generous and be a friend who offers assistance. Lending a hand is very fulfilling and fun. Be brave. Join an art community so you get the most out of your experience.
ABOUT JODY LEAMEN:
Jody Leamen is an emerging, multidisciplinary artist working out of Georgetown, Ontario in Acrylic, Coloured pencil and Pastel. Her specialty is pet portraits and wildlife art. Her desire to paint animals and nature comes from a deep love of all living things. As kids, along with her 2 sisters and mother, they used to venture into nature to take photos for use in her mother’s art.