Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Drawing, design and composition...the foundation of good work.

Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Ford » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:08 pm

This is a subject I've been wondering about for some time. Which is the better way for those starting out making things?

Is it more creative to work from your own designs, however inept and poorly conceived they may be, or will the student learn more by attempting to copy the work of good artists who have gone before. Design and drawing training can still be carried on when not actually "wasting" metal ;)

The usual complaint, and it is applied to classical training and apprenticeships too, is that suppressing the beginners personal creativity by making them copy existing work may destroy their own expression. On the other hand, by only making one's own designs it can be very difficult to asses your true level of understanding of the processes and there is a very real danger of the design process, and even degree of expression being controlled by the limited abilities that the novice is comfortable with.

The other aspect, slightly related, is the wisdom of the beginner deciding for himself what he needs to learn...and when. Surely at this stage, with no experience or real understanding he is not qualified in any way to design his own training process.

So I'd be very interested to hear your views, and thoughts, on this. In particular because it relates specifically to the tutorials I am working on and what I hope to be able to teach through them.

Namaste, Ford

p.s I've referred to our imaginary student as "he" because obviously a woman would not have any of these limitations, we all know they can do more than one thing at a time. :scream: ;)
"The artist yields often to the stimuli of materials that will transmit his spirit." Odilon Redon
my website
User avatar
Ford
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 4856
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:30 am
Location: Torquay, 'The English Riviera', Devon, England.
Has thanked: 201 times
Been thanked: 204 times

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Karl Wunderlich » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:42 pm

Very interesting start of a thread, Ford.
I have to adjust my confused thoughts about that and will try to write them over the weekend...
Wunder-Page
My Blog

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo
User avatar
Karl Wunderlich
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 1519
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:30 am
Location: Berlin
Has thanked: 14 times
Been thanked: 23 times

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Lorenzo » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:04 pm

uhm.. as a really not knowledged beginner, i think i have some feeling to express.

To start from my own point of view, can be better maybe, but i think soon i will reach some limit and try to find a walktrough instead of try harder.

Coping masterpiece, can be more asking task. Also, i think it can show us true difficulty, and let us learn more about different styles. I don't think that if i try to copy a tsuba made by you i will make forever square copper tsuba with hon zogan.. maybe i try to make one, and my taste change a bit, but i would try to make sukashi too, and so on.. who knows after my training how my tastes will change?
Taking risks is how we really find a more honest way of expressing ourselves in our work - FH
My website
User avatar
Lorenzo
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 1799
Images: 95
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:30 am
Location: Milano, Italy
Has thanked: 109 times
Been thanked: 30 times

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Doug Sanders » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:16 pm

Ford, I've been thinking a bit about this- it's really a complex question.
Let us make an initial assumption that an artist/craftsperson's development proceeds along two paths simultaneously: that of technique and practical fluency, and that of personal expression and style. These are both mutually dependent to a creative effort,

-let me quickly digress by saying these are current Western views... beautiful and artistic creations have been made by people with little personal expression, following tradition and accepted pattern for ages- but this is not how we're operating in the 21st century

but both these sides do not necessarily proceed in parallel, at the same time and at the same rates.

More and more, I'm coming around to the belief that one's initial attempts at art production must weigh more heavily on the technical side. We must have a tool box (skills, options, knowledge, materials) in order to create something physical- otherwise art is just a thought in our minds. Given then that we need to learn technique first, how do we go about it? An analogy might be in the field of martial arts- KATA, or forms repeated many times until they become second nature. Kata in art might be repeatedly practicing brushstroke forms, or engraving exercises, or punchwork until depth of strike and spacing control become consistent. Those handwriting exercises we practiced as kids, if we're over 35 years of age :naughty:

The trouble with this approach applied to distance learning is that students may fall into a 'pick and mix' approach. You know- the candy bins at the store where you can choose your favorites and pay the same price no matter what combination. What you're left with is a toothache and not much nutrition. The art school I attended was much to this pattern; with no pre-requisites to courses, people devised eclectic paths of study. Of course this worked for some people- but overall I don't think it produced better artists than other more structured programs. Possibly fewer. People may try some exercises, get discouraged by one and move to another that they're initially more adept with.

You mention people might try their own designs, no matter how inept or poorly conceived. In my mind, composition (is this what you're referring to?) is another technical skill- just more cerebral than tool use. Leon's notion of combining the two into one exercise is the way, I think.
Degree of expression being controlled my limited abilities? I think this exists through just about all stages of artistic development. I'm not quite a beginner anymore, but there are still many ideas I have that I put off because of limitations of one form or another. Your own example of wanting to achieve an effect in dragonfly wings, without quite knowing how you'd go about it is another example along the same continuum.

As we develop the 'tool box' there are plateaus we reach, when artistic expression is added to the mix and we begin to create art. Eventually, we either develop more expressive ideas, requiring greater technical skill, or we get tired/dissatisfied and search for another piece of candy. I'm finding with my own work I'm needing to constantly assess where I stand technique-wise. Am I ready to seek the acquisition of another method, or is there still more to explore with what I've currently got?

This is getting a little long now, so I'll close-
hope it helps.
Last edited by Doug Sanders on Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Doug Sanders
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 1241
Images: 0
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:09 pm
Location: Indiana, USA
Has thanked: 33 times
Been thanked: 49 times

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Ford » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:19 pm

This is the thing, Lorenzo.

What does the beginner really know about the possibilities or truthfully, their own taste, if they have only the most basic exposure to art. No previous, personal, in depth investigation. Most of what the world thinks it likes is not a real choice, it is just what they are familiar with, what they have been exposed to. Mostly, this means pretty dull stuff.

Should the student expect the beginning to be easy, or even enjoyable, in a pleasant, hobby sort of way? This is my concern. I do this for a living, my family rely on me being as dedicated and professional as I can be. I don't know what I can give if people only want to play...In fact I'm not interested, at all, in that aspect, this is a serious thing for me ;)

Dedicated to Fine Art metalwork, small sculpture and the associated arts
I hope this doesn't give the wrong impression what this forum is trying to support. ;) or teach.

Just seen your post, Doug, My post was written before I saw yours but I'll get back to you.. ;)
"The artist yields often to the stimuli of materials that will transmit his spirit." Odilon Redon
my website
User avatar
Ford
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 4856
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:30 am
Location: Torquay, 'The English Riviera', Devon, England.
Has thanked: 201 times
Been thanked: 204 times

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Debbie » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:58 pm

It would not apply to a woman!!!!!!!!!!!
I will have you know that an everyday subjects and tasks at hand that man is so enept at, I mean I have seen my own husband step over a bag of trash 5 times after I had asked him to take it out, not telling how many times he had already stepped over it already. Oh he said he knew it was there because He stepped over it, but he ignored it, :angry:

But getting back to the subject, women yes can multitask, but when it comes to training there is no difference. One step at a time, sometimes baby steps.
Considering you and others have been fishing for the answer to a question that not many are able to answer these days for very few have experienced it. In these times of liberal thinking and lack of determination on the teacher and student to achieve the goal of building the finest artist, tradesman, or craftsman is the acceptance of mediocrity in today’s accomplishments. Which has brought our culture down to Neanderthal level, especially with some men, but that is another story.

With this mediocrity and liberalism there comes a lack of respect and pride, then nobody knows anything of themselves. Considering most of you know of the pride and workmanship in the ‘ancient’ arts of Japan, let’s look at the level of culture they have achieved. Those who practice the ancient arts are very secure, peaceful, understanding, and very knowledgeable of many things in there craft and do not explore outside of that for it creates confusion thus creates frustration and we know where that goes. If a person is trained in a craft from a very young age they are secure within themselves thus feel no need to war, which creates a peaceful environment.

This has been considered ‘obsolete’ and in the infinite stupidity of man, has attempted to train people as if people were not individuals, all different, all one upon themselves. This has created a growth in the most horrible creature known to man - GREED!! Man (and woman) have found that they are inadequate in everything, so they find something they can do that pays them money and they can fool the world into believing they are worth what they are paid, where in reality they have no real value only perceived value! Whereas a craftsman knows their value, especially one that has been trained in the ‘old’ way.

Who knows of the old way? How can you find the ‘old’ way? And the big question - Who can train in the ‘old’ way? The answer is you must find a true ‘Master’!
This comes to the question that has been asked several times in this forum, basically, what is a ‘Master’, what defines a ‘Master’, who determines who is a ‘Master’.
I am not able to speak for or on behalf of any other craft or trade, or speak about any other ways of training to be a master, only my own experience of becoming a master draftsman. As you have noticed, when speaking of myself, I do not capitalize master, for I am still a humble student of the Masters that went before me and the ones who trained me. I do not bow to anyone else! I do not proclaim at the top of my voice "I AM A MASTER DRAFTSMAN" that is vulgar (please look this word up before any assumptions, it does not mean what most people think). I am proud, I am secure, I am peaceful, and I do not feel I owe anybody anything, even the Masters I learned from.

This security came after a long period of being trained for one thing (a lot of times I felt as though I was a slave), to be able to draw anything with ease and mastery. To be able to pick up anything that would leave a mark and draw on anything that would receive the leaving of that marking instrument and render the closest approximation of a subject on a 2 dimensional surface. But also, if need be, manufacture writing instrument and 2 dimensional surface out of what may be available.
I was 2 years old when my training began....
Debbie
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 177
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:27 pm
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 0 time

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Ford » Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:41 pm

It would not apply to a woman!!!!!!!!!!!
it was a joke :rolleyes:

I read your post, Debbie, but can't see what it has to do with the question I posed....even though I can agree with much of what you said, sorry :?

Namaste, Ford 8)
"The artist yields often to the stimuli of materials that will transmit his spirit." Odilon Redon
my website
User avatar
Ford
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 4856
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:30 am
Location: Torquay, 'The English Riviera', Devon, England.
Has thanked: 201 times
Been thanked: 204 times

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Remo » Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:07 pm

Hi,

The basic process of learning begins by imitation (children mimic what adults do)

When you are able to think for themselves can express more freely.

As the educator has certain goals in a lesson, I proposed that the exercises do not limit in any way the expression of each, :lipssealed:

remo
User avatar
Remo
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 898
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:30 am
Location: brazil
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 8 times

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Debbie » Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:05 pm

Remo,
You see what I am saying, rather than picking apart what I have said and not seeing as some people we know you see to be an artist we must first imatate what we see, then with confidence we create our own.
I was thinking of putting in the next instalment in my little monologue but considering the first instalment is not well received...
Debbie
Debbie
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 177
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:27 pm
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 0 time

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Remo » Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:40 pm

Don't worry Debbie

By syllogism,

As the Japanese are male chauvinist and ford learned the traditional Japanese arts soon ..... :lipssealed: :biggrin:

A woman will have some difficulty to be understood in this clan :hehe:

One day you will be understood, be sure that all the big genius of art were only understood after his death. :trophy:

god save the woman :Peace:

regards,

remo
User avatar
Remo
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 898
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:30 am
Location: brazil
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 8 times

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Debbie » Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:52 pm

remo wrote:
As the Japanese are male chauvinist and ford learned the traditional Japanese arts soon .....



Thank you Remo of reminding me of the Japanese male and yes Ford fits in quite comfortably there! :cheers2:

I am still questioning weather or not I should put in in the second installment...

I'll let this one simmer for a while and see what happens.

Debbie
Debbie
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 177
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:27 pm
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 0 time

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Patrick Hastings » Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:16 am

I agree with Remo.
Learning metal work is like learning a language you need to express yourself with confidence. You might be able to speak, but it is not until you can communicate fluently that you can really express yourself. Things need to be learned in context to truly understand. So many nuances free to be ignored if you are just winging it.
Speaking specifically of Tsuba.
One scenario that occurs to me is that when you free style a piece you have nothing to compare it too. You may not see what is missing so how do you improve? When you attempt to make a replica you have a base line to compare with. Even if you do a horrible job there is always some conclusion you can draw as to how your rendition might be deficient and how it might be improved.
I have seen a couple dozen different people post their early efforts over the years (specifically Tsuba). None of them were replicas. Most were fairly sincere attempts. In retrospect there are consistent oversights in every single one of them including my own. Tsuba shape, Seppa dai shape, Nakago ana always look awkward and so on. Crude finishes and textures that are chosen for convenience rather than what is elegant. They are mistakes that are not necessarily for lack of technical ability. The main problem is they have not developed the "eye" to really see what they are looking at. There are layers to what we perceive when we look. As you progress the layers reveal themselves to you one by one. Working from a good antique shows you those layers even if you don't perceive them all yet. Just putting together a design from all the Tsuba you remember seeing adds up to a muddy view and results in a Tsuba like object. I have seen many of them and made more than my share.
For me personally when I do a replica it helps focus my eye. It teaches me to see what I could not see before. In copying details closely within the original context provides insights that would be difficult to achieve otherwise. I can better understand The techniques, the design, and how they interrelate. When making an original there are only as many layers as you bring to the piece. The missing ones will be slow to reveal themselves to the creator. I have many small epiphany as I explore each detail of an old piece.
Ok that being said I like to mix it up. There is no reason to focus on one or the other exclusively. I really think that both should be apart of ones training. I don't think that a persons creativity should be stifled. Learn some skills and express yourself with them. Why not? It is a valuable measure of your abilities. Even if it is crap you will probably be bolstered by the effort. Then come back and study the real thing again until you have hard time telling them apart.
If a person is just playing around then they are going to do what ever the hell regardless.
patrick
User avatar
Patrick Hastings
Registered User
Registered User
 
Posts: 1508
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:30 am
Location: Cudahy, Wisconsin USA
Has thanked: 0 time
Been thanked: 17 times

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Leon » Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:35 am

Patricks reply is spot on. I wrote this before I read his but they are more alike then it seems.

Ford, I think your 'imaginary student' does not exist.
One is attracted to design, another to technique, another to tools alone.
One is patient enough from the beginning, the other is restless till he found his way.
What they all need is a teacher that can hit the right buttons.
And when the teacher is ready they need a new teacher. And another and another. Learning must become an addiction.
Of course there's good in copying, as there is in original design. Good teachers cover both or send pupils to a colleague.

Maybe this is the 'arts or crafts'-discussion in disguise!
And don't we all think we are artists? Artists with a need for fine tools. Grinding and polishing our ideas to a shine.
Wasn't it Michelangelo who said that you can throw a good sculpture from a mountain and you will find a still good sculpure downhill? Is what rests the idea of a good piece of art or will the residu reflects the skills of the maker.

If you work in a tradition, be sure you know it well! Otherwise it's just a joke.
If you think you are original, know history! Otherwise you might end up copying.
If you are just starting, learn, learn and don't stop learning.


(ending with a giant chorus, all saying "we are unique, we are unique")
User avatar
Leon
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 811
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:30 am
Location: The Netherlands
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 13 times

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby D.Sweet » Sat Apr 12, 2008 3:11 am

Ford wrote:This is the thing, Lorenzo.

What does the beginner really know about the possibilities or truthfully, their own taste, if they have only the most basic exposure to art. No previous, personal, in depth investigation. Most of what the world thinks it likes is not a real choice, it is just what they are familiar with, what they have been exposed to. Mostly, this means pretty dull stuff.


It really is interesting to watch and understand one's own progression when it comes to taste, perception, understanding, and opinion the more one learns and experiences. The more you understand, the more you appreciate, and the more evolved your opinion and taste becomes.

Speaking as a novice, i think it is extremely important to study, and even attempt to mimic, the examples that are left before us. I would imagine that all of us started out as enthusiasts.
The silver smithing that i have done thus far has been primarily of my own understanding and design. And even though i have been complimented on the few completed pieces i have actually produced, i would still say that they are rather crude attempts at best. Though, i think my girlfriend would totally disagree with me. She seems to love the necklace, earrings and ring that i have made her thus far :p.

-Donovan
-Donovan
User avatar
D.Sweet
Sponsor
Sponsor
 
Posts: 280
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:31 pm
Location: Damascus, MD
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Your first attempts...original design or copy work?

Postby Ford » Sat Apr 12, 2008 5:58 am

Debbie,

I wasn't picking apart your post at all. I merely said that I could not see where you made any reference to the question I posed, ie: original design or copy work as the basis of training.

Your comments about my alleged "chauvinism" seem to me to be a projection of your own experiences in general, rather than based on anything I've written or said. I used the male pronoun in my initial post merely as a convenience. I made a joke about women being able to multi-task as a way of indicating that I was aware of my having left the female pronoun out. I certainly did not mean to imply any gender bias.

Please don't hesitate the post your second instalment just because I made a comment about your first one. Whether or not ideas are well received is no reason to hesitate about presenting them in an open discussion like this. After all, if we are all careful only to say what we think others will agree with then what would be the point of the exercise?

respectfully, Ford
"The artist yields often to the stimuli of materials that will transmit his spirit." Odilon Redon
my website
User avatar
Ford
Administrator
Administrator
 
Posts: 4856
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:30 am
Location: Torquay, 'The English Riviera', Devon, England.
Has thanked: 201 times
Been thanked: 204 times

Next

Return to The Drawing Studio

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest