"Street smart" is a very good expression and spot on. I had a big laugh! A dear friend and I have been chatting over drawing methods, theoritical issues, styles, her approaches and my approaches. Street smarts are my case.
People ask me how to draw, colours, composition. I have to confess that I draw like a happy child and it's enough. Other famous artists do preliminary sketches and well organise composition, colour etc, etc. I always... do not do it. I've never thought of theoretical stuff. My good work is a sub product of coincidence. Or when intentionally / deliberately / consicously / calculatedly I had tried to organise these theoretical things in my work, all of the attempts died in theories and lively work never came up. Probably, I'm not a type to obey to disciplines. My honest feeling, "I like it. I want to draw it," motivates me to get on a painting. It works well. What about you, Friends?
My study of David Davies, "A Summer Evening."
I made his oil work much brighter than the original.I assume that a theory or theoretical stuff are all made by clever people in an art history. Sometimes, theories are helpful. However, any theory has limitation and it's not almighty to cover all areas in art (*My study at uni taught that a theory is not perfect). Always we have exceptions. We can do work different from a theory. In addition, a publisher or an editor asks an artist to demonstrate or show drawings, not a theory at all. Don't worry about a few publications in your CV. A publisher/an editor searches for an illustrator who has drawing skills and matches their projects, not a number of books.
Instead of "street smart," a very famous picture book illustrator often told me, "Instinct" to organise images and checked the balance of colours etc in composition. The illustrator was originally from design. She said with surprise, "You understand what I've said about picture books and illustrations (*composition, colour, page structure etc). Often others do not get my say!" Her feedback made me happy. We have instinct to feel something good or comfortable in drawings/art like a golden ratio and it's universal. All of us have it, don't we? I emphasise it in my workshops. I encourage anyone to feel that "instinct" or "street smarts," when we need to check technical things in work. "You know where's wrong in drawing. You can tell which colour is uncomfortable. We all have knowledge accumulated in our eyes. Use it!" My say lightens up participants. In my opinion, only the difference between an artist and a non-artist could be being activated by instinct or not. Technical things will follow it. It's a matter of time and as long as a person has enthusiasm to draw.
My study of Sydney Long, "The Hour Of Romance," oil on canvas.
The simplified and enhanced contrast in a subject interested me so much.
I enjoyed playing with colours in watercolour.At the same time, the street smart has made this woman quite humble in a group because of no official education of art. "I'm a starter. Please teach me," is my say in any group. I met art students or graduated people in life drawing class and an open teaching day of Julian Ashton art school. My life drawings amazed art students and impressed their teachers. (*their response surprised me so much. I blushed up.) The excited art teachers said, "Your next stage is to express different styles," and suggested me to explore different approaches.
I study other people's approaches like above. When I read the art books, I understand them well and reproduce their work in practice from my street smarts. I remember that famous illustartor's say above. My experienced simple drawings have allowed me to study other's work and learn techniques. Also, I've been looking at good art works since childhood that have taught me well and are still teaching me. The little girl dreamed and vowed to draw like the greats in a humble manner. (I'll see them in NSW Art Gallery!) In picture book industry, I fell in love with leading Australian picture book illustrators' work such as Robert Ingpen and Ann Spudvillas etc, etc. I still dream to draw like them, but in my own way.
I do not focus on others styles too much. I always remember my wise publisher/editor Helen Chamberlin's say, "Where's your stance!" and "Enjoy it!" In picture book illustration, Helen Chamberlin wanted me to keep what I am fully. It's is so true and important. Thank you, Helen.
Whilst keeping my own stance, I want to grow in art. Friends, teach me and guide me so that I will bloom out in my own way. Educate this street smart. I'm a life long learner.
Btw, if you have any feedback to my study of Australian landscapes, I'd really appreciate it. Thank you!
Friends, Happy Painting!