Connect with us

The Burr Magazine

An Artist’s Challenge

Challenger

An Artist’s Challenge

Illustration by Preston Randall

Even if you’re an amateur making art once a month, you’re still an artist.

I need to remember that. In high school, I took four years of art classes and never went a day without creating. Staying connected to my creative side in college has been a struggle. I feel like a fraud if I don’t make art every day, incapable of using the talent I’m told I have.

I would love to say that art is a release for me, a form of therapeutic expression, but that’s a lie. Sometimes, I can let go and simply let colors flow on paper. Most of the time, making art is a painstaking process for me.

Stage one: Inspiration strikes. I get obsessed with an idea, and I have a vision of how to translate it to paper. Spoiler–it doesn’t always translate well.

Stage two: Preparation. I pick my medium and the canvas or paper that goes along with it. I do preliminary sketches in my sketchbook, then a “final.” Of course, it’s never a “final,” art is adapted along the way. I create a graph to capture the details of reference images. I do a color study to match the perfect shade of green or orange or blue. My analytical side delights in this part. Once, I spent two hours making my own skin color from the primary colors of acrylic paints. It has a surprising amount of green.

Stage three: Create. At the very beginning of a project, I’ll start laying down basic shapes and backgrounds. I have moments of doubt when I can’t see the full picture yet, but I have hope. In the thick of creating, I can spend hours on tiny details in one sitting. These are the moments when my brain is no longer in charge. I act on instinct, the pencils or paint or markers guiding me. I’ll admit, my instinct can definitely be wrong–not every piece is a masterpiece. I know I’m ready for the finishing touches when I start to dread working on my project. I get tired of the process, wondering if I’ll ever finish.

Then, I give up. I decide at some point that I can’t add anything else. I can’t make it any better. 

You’d think, as an artist, I would look at a finished work and be proud of what I made. I only feel relief. 

I still can’t see the full picture.

The moment I finished it, I hated the best piece of art I’ve ever done. I spent a month grinding my Prismacolors to stubs, drawing a row of bourbon bottles as a Christmas gift to my stepdad. I learned to hate how light reflects through glass, the way it glows and morphs colors. I could only see the mistakes in my process. I left the labels and lettering until the end, which I regret. I scraped off layers of my colored pencil so the white “Mattingly” would show. 

Three months later, my art teacher entered it into a county-wide high school art show. It won third place. My stepdad proudly hung it in his office, making sure to show it off to everyone who stopped by. Only then, far removed from the process, could I look at what I created and see the full picture. 

Finally, I was proud of what I created. 

That pride, knowing your combination of talent, time and effort made something beautiful, is what I chase. I don’t always get there. Many times, I practice creation just for the sake of practice. I explore different mediums, I never choose one style, I leave projects unfinished. 

Yet, I love it. I love art. I love creating. It’s become more of an effort in college, when I know I’m not required to complete a certain number of projects to pass a class. Now, whether I’m writing or painting, I do it because I’m passionate about it.

I will doubt my potential. I will make mistakes. I will question my talent. But I know it’s because I can’t see the full picture–at least, not yet. 

SUPPORT STUDENT MEDIA

Hi, I’m Holly Liptak, a senior journalism student from Akron and the editor-in-chief of The Burr this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent, Ohio. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Challenger

Facebook

Trending

Trending Now (& Then)

Dystopian Fiction

Media Monday

Comfort Songs

All Mack No Cheese

Goodbye Fall, Welcome Winter

Staff Playlists

Playlists

Playlist: Rhythms and Raincoats

By November 23, 2021

Playlists

Playlist: Cozy Study Vibes

By November 1, 2021

Playlists

Playlist: Spooky Scary

By October 26, 2021

Playlists

Playlist: Heartbreak Songs

By February 27, 2021

Playlists

Playlist: On Our Radar

By February 13, 2021

Recent Stories

Season of Justice

Evelyn Kay Day

By May 11, 2021

Entertainment Analysis

Dead Poets Society

By May 11, 2021

The Art Outlet

My Journey As An Artist

By May 5, 2021

Celestial Conversations

Taurus Season

By May 5, 2021

Talking With Taylor

Trying Budget-Friendly Recipes

By April 30, 2021

Picture Books Aren't Just For Kids

Bridge To Terabithia

By April 29, 2021

A Step Forward

A Step Forward #6

By April 27, 2021

Season of Justice

Esther Hollis And “Crime Junkie”

By April 26, 2021

FEATURES

Off The Hook

By April 23, 2021

Greetings from the Burr Magazine

Black Lives Matter: Moving Forward

By April 7, 2021

Celestial Conversations

April Forecast!

By April 6, 2021

GUEST BLOGGERS

Kent Love Blooms Every Spring

By April 5, 2021

Picture Books Aren't Just For Kids

“Charlotte’s Web”

By April 1, 2021

Real, Good, Human

Feed Your Soul, Feed Your Pocket

By March 31, 2021

A Step Forward

A Step Forward #5

By March 30, 2021

Celestial Conversations

What Do The Planets Represent In Astrology?

By March 23, 2021

GUEST BLOGGERS

Coffee Connoisseur

By March 22, 2021

Talking With Taylor

Ways I Relieve Stress

By March 19, 2021

Talking With Taylor

Ways I Relieve Stress

By March 19, 2021

Picture Books Aren't Just For Kids

The Books of Roald Dahl

By March 18, 2021

A Step Forward

A Step Forward #4

By March 17, 2021

Real, Good, Human

New Beginnings and Old Memories

By March 17, 2021

FEATURES

Can Totemism Save The World?

By March 15, 2021

FEATURES

Thrift Store Gentrification

By March 12, 2021

GUEST BLOGGERS

(Almost) Legally Blonde

By March 12, 2021

Entertainment Analysis

Entertainment Analysis: Fight Club (1999)

By March 11, 2021

The Art Outlet

Everyday Art

By March 10, 2021

Celestial Conversations

Zodiac Signs And What They Represent

By March 9, 2021

GUEST BLOGGERS

Terry And Reality

By March 8, 2021

Talking With Taylor

My Typical Day At Kent State

By March 5, 2021
To Top