An Artist Prepares

Guest post by Ben Nunez.

I think it was Stephen King who wrote that writers should read everything under the sun in order to broaden their perspective and enhance their range of influences to pull from; i.e. science fiction writers shouldn't just read science fiction, but also non-fiction, mysteries, etc. Taking that advice and adapting it to drawing, I started reading Constantin Stanislavski's book on acting, "An Actor Prepares", to see if it had anything to offer me as an artist.

Part of my thinking was that, drawing characters (as in comic books) was, essentially, creating actors with pen and paper. And beyond their surface details, I should also consider things like character motivation to better determine the way they ought to be posed, why and how they were doing the things they did when I drew them.

As it turns out, the book gave me more than I bargained for. Here's an example:

"When the actor's reactions are more powerful, inspiration can appear. On the other hand, don't spend your time chasing after an inspiration that once chanced your way. It is as unrecoverable as yesterday, as the joys of childhood, as first love. Bend your efforts to creating a new and fresh inspiration for today. There is no reason to suppose that it will be less good than yesterday's. It may not be as brilliant. But you have the advantage of possessing it today. It has risen, naturally, from the depths of your soul to light the creative spark in you. Who can say which manifestation of true inspiration is better? They are all splendid, each in its own way, if only because they are inspired."

A lot of what Stanislavski had to say about acting I found could apply to being an artist in general, particularly when it came to developing creativity and generating inspiration. Insightful stuff.