Art by Tea for JBASS (Julie Benbassat)
Why do I need to say this? Again.
Isn’t it obvious?
Yes, okay, I’ve been secretly–now, not so secretly–coveting other artists’ styles and wishing I could create lickable art as well as they do. It’s so tempting to draw like them, just to see if I like it. Just to see if I CAN.
And what’s wrong with that?
Well, much more than you think. Probably. I don’t know. It’s one of those things that pops into my head quite a lot thanks to the lack of drawing on my part because of annoying things such as life and family responsiblities. Some days, I’d much rather lock myself in my room and draw for a few hours than clean and cook. Alright, alright–MOST days. You got me.
Why is it that we see art we love, obsess over it, resent/covet it in startling degrees and then try to copy it? Why can’t we just get out a piece of paper, paintbrush/pen–whatever your preferred medium is and NOT WHAT YOUR FAVOURITE ARTIST’S IS–and JUST DRAW?
I absolutely want to smack myself in the head when I start to question myself instead of just picking up a pen and bloody getting on with it. My problem is a ‘restless, poor attention span’ one. I like to draw different things and while that is difficult in itself because I don’t want my Instagram page or website to look like a mishmash of topics, I still want to draw what interests me. And these interests are usually influenced by the artists I follow. When I see what they’re doing, I want to try it out, but–and here’s the important bit–IN MY OWN WAY.
So, where do we draw the line between trying out different things and sticking to what makes our style unique?
Well, I believe that regardless of what you draw, your style will shine through. It may take a while as you develop your skills, but there’s nothing wrong with trying new things out. You won’t know if you like it, until you try it. And using your favourite artists as inspiration is fine, just as long as you are not outright copying their work.
For example, my artist flavour of the week is Tea for JBass (above art is hers).
She’s a wiz at ballpoint pen art, and is known for drawing in a moleskine, which always looks pretty. I love sketchbooks that open flat so you can draw on both sides. Picolo does the same thing. I mentioned him in a previous post.
JBass a.k.a Julie–loves tea, like myself, and in 2015 she did a daily challenge of drawing a tea doodle or ‘Teadle’ and as of last week, has been posting vids of her going through all those sketchbooks she completed in that year. Her artwork is very creative, imaginative, fantastical, unique, quirky. Everything I love. It reminds me of the unusual, thoughtful style of Studio Ghibli.
So from this, it’s inspired me to finally get a threadbound sketchbook. I love the style and I want to do it. I also love tea and that vintage/fantasy style. So, I’m going to incorporate that. I also use biro pens/ballpoint pens a lot, like she does, and after seeing her draw in brown/red colours, I decided I want to get some too. I want loads of colours!
Does anyone see anything wrong with that? Is it copying? Is it cheating? Absolutely not.
I tell you what’s bloody cheating, is when some prick thinks it’s okay to steal an artist’s work and then sell them on an online print store. True story, and sadly happens way to often. I’ve seen it at least five times in my short time on Instagram where someone has posted artwork on their account taking credit for it, when it isn’t theirs.
GET A LIFE.
Back to JBass: I’m taking inspiration from her, based on my own interests and passions and rolling with it to add to my own repertoire.
I also work with markers and ink, in a style that is similar to Sir Pangur a.k.a Nina V, another artist I adore. She has a very free, loose, scratchy, flowy style and I also have that style. She works with indian ink too, and thanks to her pictures and vids of her process, I really want to try painting in ink.
Brian Kesinger, another favourite, does tea painting and sells a lot of tea prints on Etsy. So, that has inspired me to paint with tea and coffee in the future.
Gabriel Picolo, who draws beautiful fantasy/comic style artwork using a mix of ink pens, watercolour and digital enhancement has encouraged me to spend hours searching for the appropriate materials–mostly a sketchbook that is cheaper than a rather bloated-priced Moleskine–so I can try my own creations using his technique/medium.
I follow at least ten calligraphy accounts such as Crooked Calligraphy, One Artsy Mama and Ian Barnard.
I now want to practice calligraphy, which I’ve always loved both from Chinese and Japanese culture using rice paper or sand, and also from the beautiful Arabic calligraphy seen in the Qur’an, which I’m fairly familiar with.
They’ve all inspired me to do more and learn more and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’ve flared old passions and new and I plan to experiment, have fun, use them in my own way. And try to do all these different things whilst still letting my style shine through and retaining a certain level of order and unity in the artwork I produce.
In a future post, I’d like to share my thoughts on creating an intriguing Instagram feed. Tips I’ve picked up by trial and error, which I personally favour and you may or may not like how I do it.
All I can say is that when you sit idly as I have been (not by my own choice) and you’re thumbing through posts of your favourite artists on Instagram or wherever, it can make you question yourself. It can make you restless and chomping at the bit. Should I do this? Should I do that? And that nasty bastard in your head that whispers self doubt until you start to believe him, has a field day.
I see too many budding artists asking their idols “What brushes to you use?”, “What program is that?”, “What sketchbook is that?”, “What pen is that?”, “Where do you get your inspiration from?” and YES, I AM GUILTY OF DOING THAT. But rather than sitting on your arse, asking people how they do it. Why not get up off that arse, grab your pens, your brushes, your paper that YOU HAVE IN YOUR POSSESSION RIGHT NOW, and DRAW.
Go with it. Have fun.
Make something up. Draw from life.
Ask yourself, what do YOU feel like drawing today. Not what someone else is doing.
And a voice might say, “Today, I want to draw some cacti.”
Then you ask yourself, what do I use to draw it?
And that same voice might say, “Well, you saw so-and-so using watercolour this week and you liked how it looked. Why not try it out?”
And that’s cool because you’re not trying to COPY that artist, you just like what they did and want to try it out yourself.
When you’ve finished, you discover you’ve learnt something new. It could be how to blend the colours, what colours work well together, what colours to use for shadows or highlights, how to make that cactus super prickly looking, or it could simply be that you discover you really like drawing cacti.
That’s how an artist is born. And that’s how they get good. They study from life, they do what inspires them and what they’re passionate about and they do it over and OVER again. Each time getting better and better. Because they’re always learning something new.
On a side note, I’ve seen loads–and there’s probably hundreds of thousands out there–of accounts that are dedicated to manga/anime artwork. They’re amateurs for the most part and all they’re doing is trying to copy the artwork of an anime they love. And that’s cool, but it’s clear that they don’t understand anatomy, structure, proportions because they’re too busy trying to make their drawing look like that anime. If they just took some time to draw from life and study the anatomy and proportions, they could stylize their drawings later on.
Stop sitting back and pining over the art of those who’ve worked hard to get as good as they have. They all were where you are now. They may still be there in their own mind–constantly doubting, questioning, totally insecure. They could have a million followers and still feel as insecure as when they started. But what makes them gain those followers is because they bring something new and different to the art world. Because IT’S THEIR OWN STYLE THAT IS THEIRS AND THEIRS ALONE.
You draw, sing, write in your own way, without fear, without worrying what others will think and yet at the same time being savvy and aware of what others think, what is out there, how things are done, and choosing what to incorporate into your craft, and you’ll get there. I know it.
Now, go away, I’m painting.
*throws dirty paint brushes at you*
*kicks door shut*