December 30, 2008

As another year goes by...

This is what I started the year with, making a set of goals for 2008. Now that we are at the end of the year, I think it's time to revisit them. Broadly speaking, it makes no sense for me to go over each of the plans and see if I have achieved them. I did not have any time for art for half the year, and most of the work this year was done in the last 3 months. However, there have been some positives worth mentioning.

Prehistoric Trade Cards
A collage of ATCs from a recent Prehistoric Trade
Copyright Nithya Swaminathan
1. Getting better at composition - I read a couple of books on composition and design elements in paintings. It gave me a great idea into what exactly is meant by "planning" a painting and doing preliminary studies. I really think I have gotten better, and that's not just by reading a few books. I tried setting up my own still life arrangements, and was fairly successful with a couple of them.
The completed paintings don't show the many different alternate arrangements that were rejected outright, but that's where bulk of the learning lies. It has certainly helped me grow and it has changed the way I approach paintings.
2. Getting my self portrait and my daughter's done - The self portrait was done for a challenge on WetCanvas. I moved out of my country recently and wanted to present my mom with a portrait of my daughter. My motivation was higher than ever to get it done, because my mom would miss her granddaughter a lot and this was all I could do. I completed it within the available time and my mom is mighty pleased with it.
Between my self portrait that was done sometime in March, and my daughter's that was done in December, I think I have improved significantly. My daughter's was a much tougher portrait but I think I did much better there. I also had a chance to look back at my husband's portrait that I had done 5 years ago when he was still my boyfriend. It looks so ridiculous now, I seemed to have just scribbled something. I'd like to have another go at his portrait maybe in the coming year.
3. Sketching from life - it was one of my plans to sketch more from life with a stress on human figures. I took part in a sketchcrawl for this purpose and also did sketches of simple still life set up usings day today objects. Cannot say I have improved greatly, because I did not spend the kind of time required for it in the first place. One thing is after the sketchcrawl, I did not sketch figures at all. I'd again like to spend time on it this year.
4. Participating in projects - I did 4 Art trades this year, and took part in the last 3 VSDs. I also did take part in 2 of the Different Strokes projects. Online projects are always great fun, besides offering some great learning as well. This was something I had not planned for at the beginning of the year, but was glad it came across.
5. Working from reference photos - Reading some books on composition and paying closer attention to composition has helped me work better with reference photos. In the last 3 months or so, I have stopped working from references from others. I have switched to using my own sketches or photos for my paintings and I am loving it so far. I'd like to continue this way and completely stop using images from others.
The biggest plus this year was my visit to several museums in Europe, during my trip this summer. It was a huge learning experience for me. Can't say it was a great year, and I certainly look forward to a much better year in 2009. Lots more art to come.


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