The study, for me, has rarely been one of 'realistic' rendering. I study energy. Feelings. Relationships. Stories. How this translates through unlikely movements and layers when held in the holy space of presence and palpability.
Even when I practice from images, this is the approach that stretches and surprises me most - and that, quite frankly, I don't get ridiculously bored with. Needless to say, this view of mine was not well received in art school.
Making art is a practice of moments threaded together and presented as one... moments on a page to create a finished spread, paint marks on canvas to become a portrait, or art-making over a lifetime, to tell the longer story of exploration and discovery through one person's life.
Seeing and translation changes what moves and cannot be contained into something that speaks to our need for identification and form... and if we're committed to the process of communicating this way, with our wholeness all in, there are worlds within worlds to explore... and a million ways to say the thing, to see each other and to experience our own essence. Worlds that our eyes alone can never perceive, and our hands and words can only fumble to express from limited capacities, materials and notions.
Evoking a sense of connection is, thankfully, not an exact art.
To render realistically is a fine skill indeed. But it is often said to be "true to life." I tend to disagree. Or at least to feel that there are many, many ways to render true to life. A telling of reality that surpasses convention.
For me, to render realistically means to let the fires of creativity move through my innate humanness, to express freely on the page that which is felt and intuited, both of and beyond the day-to-day experience. To bring forth from within that which is often ignored, but feels as vital to one's self as breath and bone.
In the shape-shifting of my mixed-media contemplations, the process brings consciousness to cycles, possibilities and connections that were previously unseen or forgotten, but that remain, undeniably real and true to life.
[contemplative altered book art journal spread with self-portrait study: acrylic, collage, watercolor, ink, graphite with memories of birds and gators from real-time encounters and persistent dreams]