Wednesday, May 7, 2014


“Life is a process of becoming. A combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” -Anais Nin

I decided to open with that wonderful quote so that I could apply it to the context of what this post is going to be about: studies. Spheres, cubes, cylinders, pyramids: the bane of my early art studies. I remember loathing art class in middle school and high school simply because of the sheer amount of still life studies we had to do, many of which included the basic objects I mentioned. I couldn't wrap my head around why it was so important to study from life--I wanted to draw battle mages and dragons, not vases and apples!

Of course, as I began my journey on this path to becoming an artist, I realized I was going to need to go back to the fundamentals and that meant drawing/painting from life. "Hello, studies, my old friend." I remember the chuckle that escaped me as I set up my first still life study when I started, and I'm glad I'm not so stubborn that I refused to return to this method of learning.

Studies are so important for anyone of any art skill level. It's not just about learning how to draw what you see, but understanding other important aspects such as, how light interacts with objects, the reflectivity of various surface textures, how forms interact with one another, depth, scale, how the environment interacts with the objects, the list goes on and on. 

Anatomy is another big monster artists have to tackle. I remember Jeff Miracola, a popular fantasy artist, talking about how it took him several years of intense study to really get good at anatomy. That's not mastered, but just good. Also, master studies are a great way to get inside the head of the artist(s) who painted the original, and even a great way for enhancing your personal skills.

So the point I'm trying to make here is to study, and study often! You don't want to get into the habit of doing something a certain way and get stuck in a rut that becomes increasingly difficult to break. When in doubt, always return to studies. It has helped me a lot.

This week is SFAL week! It's coming to Kansas City, MO (my backyard) and I'm extremely excited to get to meet a lot of professionals in the industry. I'll be accompanying the lovely Cynthia Sheppard during the event, and I haven't been this excited for something in a long while. I'll have lots of photos to share and stories to tell whenever I return. A lot of professionals have talked about this being the largest event Spectrum has put together and it only adds to the growing levels of anticipation! Anyway, if you happen to be in the area or have already made plans to attend, be sure to swing by and say, hello! There may be lemon cakes waiting if I haven't eaten them all by then.

Here's a recent study of a masquerade mask I did where I added some fantasy elements to give the mask some life and character. This is a wonderful way for me to bring my technical skill and creativity together into one study. I invite you to give it a try!

Mask from the Deep © 2014 Jonathon Reed

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