"Articles of Art"

I was recently asked if I remembered the "Articles of Art" as they were called by one of my Professors Leon Parson.   I decided to share the answer as a blog post because they are such priceless words of wisdom for every artist :)

Articles of Art
By Leon Parson (from my notes)

  1. If it don't communicate, it ain't art. Any fool can make a mark!
  2. Subject matter has very little if nothing to do with great art. It's what you do with subject matter that makes the difference.
  3. Draw what you know, not what you think you see; until the happy day you know what you are seeing, then you can draw it.
  4. If it looks dumb, DON'T DRAW IT!
  5. A client says "Can you do it?" You say "Sure, no sweat!"
  6. No one part is as important as the total.
  7. In order to do great art, sooner or later you're going to have to look at what you drew.
  8. An unfinished piece is ALWAYS unfinished.
  9. Decide what you want to say and say it.
  10. Do whatever it takes to achieve your goal or satisfy the clients needs.
  11. What if....?
  12. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.
  13. When in doubt, simplify.
  14. Sometimes the part you love the most is what ruins your art.
  15. If a client asks you to finish a month early, you can say "Sure, but it's going to cost you extra!"
  16. There is nothing more appalling than a neat mistake"
  17. If a drawing looks unfinished... it is!
  18. If something looks out of place, add more of it (repetitions creates harmony)
  19. Find out what you are (not who) Get enough education so that you can be a professional you!
  20. Become perfectly ourselves through Christ.
  21. Less is more.
  22. The subject is not more important than the whole painting.

And I'm sure he has added more to this list or there are quotes I missed, but these are some of the things I jotted down from my classes with him. I wasn't completely sure how some of these would apply to me when I was in school, now I can say that he was right on the dot.


Nasan Hardcastle said...

I never had a class from Leon himself. The closest was an illustration class he joint taught with another instructor. This is a nice list of things to keep in mind when creating art.
Does he still talk about the 'screaming mouse?' I can't remember the whole story, but it pretty much boils down to not letting one detail of an illustration overpower the rest of the image.
What did he mean by 'a neat mistake?' in #16?

Jenn said...

He's awesome. I don't remember hearing about the screaming mouse, but I wouldn't doubt if he did tell about it. I believe what he was referring to is some people who make a mistake or "ugly spot" rather then erasing and fixing or starting over will just try and pretty it up instead- which usually just looks more ugly or it still creates a problem.

James L Johnson said...

Email me if you would be interested in some more. This was fun to review.

Jenn said...

I'll have to email you, I'm always up for more Parsonisms