Inspiration vs Skill

Car drawing

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I have a 10 hour drive today returning from Ohio and I have been learning a little lesson about how deeply my art is or isn’t based in creativity.  

I’m sitting in a bumpy car with a sketchbook trying to draw some sea creatures from memory. At first I was concerned that the piece would be unappealing because of the sloppiness and difficulty of drawing in the car. I quickly realized this was not the problem. I was much more limited by drawing from memory than I was limited be technical skill difficulties. 

I have only drawn fish a couple times. So when I tried to draw a couple here I completely botched it and hated the drawing. Not because the car made it sloppy, but because I don’t have the details of a fish sufficiently memorized in my brain. 

I moved on to a squid which I have drawn a few more times. I was immediately more happy with this drawing because I was much more confident with the anatomy of this creature. 

To test my theory I moved on to a creature I have studied and drawn more than any other (perhaps aside from the human form) Sure enough, the limitations of the bumpy road were hardly significant at all. 

How is this useful to me? I spend a lot of time honing my skills, working on my pen work and my painting technique. After today I am strongly aware that I am being more limited by my creativity than my skill. I have spent so much time getting my skill ahead of my creativity that I haven’t taken time for a while to study the form of things and learn to draw them. That’s good enough of a goal for me for the next few months, a challenge to notice and internalize the complexity of things. To focus less on skill and more on creativity. 

1 thought on “Inspiration vs Skill”

  1. These are really charming Joel! I love the style; your pen technique really gives a flow and an illusion of movement, lending itself particularly well to the fish – it’s like their fins are waving. 🙂

    Wise observations, too – similar ones I’d made myself only recently. It’s important to try and find a balance between the artistic and technical aspects of creativity – not only for our work, but our own satisfaction. I look forward to seeing where you go!

    Like

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