Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Torso Study from a Painting- National Gallery Scotland

Did an awful drawing before this, considered quitting for the day but decided not to and look what happens. This is often the case, I'll have a false start then do a good drawing straight after. Half the battle with drawing imo is learning to push through the failures and not give up on a drawing until you get there.

This is Polychromos pencil on cotton writing paper.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

New Sketches

I'm mostly updating Twitter these days rather than the blog- can be found here:

But below are a couple of recent sketches.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Glasgow School of Art Class

More updates soon. Still alive.

Below is a white (on umber ground) under-painting for a class that I'm taking at GSA. Admittedly this has been helped from some auto leveling in photoshop, it doesn't look quite as vibrant as this in real life, though it should. The idea is that you do this one week, let it dry and do colour the next on top. Unfortunately I ballsed up the colour stage this week, so I'm glad I photographed it before.

You gain another level of appreciation for some of the master painters once you try to paint- especially if, like me, you're used to photoshop and multiple undo's. With actual paint there's nowhere to hide, mix a wrong colour or get your values wrong, things head south very quickly and you can struggle to undo your mistakes. But I like this in a way, it helps you become decisive and it makes you really think about colour and form. It is though, very very tough.

There have been some weeks where I've struggled badly and wondered why I do this to myself. But the simple answer is, you don't know what you can achieve the next week or what's around the corner and so this shows. The week before this was painted was a disaster and I considered quitting.

This week opened up some failings in my mixing of colour so the plan is to do some small thumbnail studies. And I also have bigger questions about what I'm going to do with all of this. Eventually I'll want to start producing finished pieces that can be considered good enough and sold. Scary thought.

I think it's in there, just need to keep going...

Monday, 8 July 2013

Portrait Gallery Sketches

No update since February. That's just scary. Locked in some of the worst work overtime known to man and  despite life drawing most weeks, having very little to show for it. I've been drawing all the time though, mostly learning things, as much as I can and sometimes this leaves me with very little to put on the blog.

Trying to learn new things in drawing is interesting, I've found that my skill level takes a big hit as I try to wrestle with some of the new ideas. You think that you would just get better in a nice straight line but I've found I get way worse. I'm not surprised people hold onto bad habits rather than trying to break them.

This week I got a fairly successful life drawing, might put it up, might not but it marks an end of a very long plateau. I switched from drawing on newsprint to drawing on proper paper and because charcoal behaves quite differently on the two surfaces, this hit me for six. I just wasn't feeling comfortable with it but gradually this seems to be getting easier. I find that if you come up against a barrier you have to face it. I could never draw at an easel, so in the end I bought one, didn't let myself draw any other way and now I prefer it to sitting. I also couldn't draw open handed, again.... force yourself to do it and it becomes second nature.

So here's a page of museum sketches, this was done in a rare day off hanging around Edinburgh. Happy (ish)  with these; as you can see I struggled with the brow line on the bottom left but all and all an enjoyable day's drawing.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

February Tonal Studies

Well it's been a slightly less successful week, I completely tanked it in life drawing and so here we have some tonal studies instead. I tried these in carbon pencil, some have blending and others don't (I think they're more successful like the top left study). The Velazquez bottom left is rubbish, don't think I was feeling one and doing a 3/4 portrait like that as a small thumbnail proved tricky. Charcoal works better for these, it's easier to move and play around with the tone.

But yes life drawing....what is going on there? I should be so much farther along than I am and I know not to make a lot of the mistakes that I'm making. I think I haven't got to the stage where I've relaxed into it, it's still a struggle and you know how it goes when you think about things too much.... Awkward pose and shifting model last week but I should have been able to handle it. I seem to be like that, I'll either really progress or really tank it and nowhere in between.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Museum Sketch

I meant to get this up on the blog several weeks ago but the weather has been so bad I couldn't take a proper photo. These drawings were done at Christmas, we visited the National Museum in Edinburgh for a day and whilst I did take my sketchbook, in reality I spent most of the time chasing after my son who was having a wail of a time running off everywhere :)

But I ended up going back by myself for two more days and it was bliss. Not that it wasn't without it's difficulties, the first day was tough, lots of people filing past/ blocking the light and I also couldn't figure out what type of drawing I wanted to do. In the end I actually got a decent page of pencil drawings from day one but then I ruined them by trying to go over them in ink and wash afterwards. This is the hard thing about learning, you have to accept that quite often you will balls it up. I'd love to be good with pen and ink but I find it the hardest thing to master.

Which brings me to day two. Less busy and the museum has quite a nice Egyptology section. Looking at the statues really reminded me of the amazing pencil drawings by Disney artist Paul Felix on Emperor' s New Groove. They were drawn in blended graphite and although I decided to try out carbon pencil instead, essentially I was thinking that instead of drawing in line I would be drawing in tone. Similar idea.

And it turns out I really like carbon pencil. It feels like a cross between pencil and charcoal but best of all it blends very nicely but doesn't cause a mess like charcoal. And drawing tonally works very well in an environment like a museum because trying to build your drawing up in line takes way too long.

The drawing on the top right is my least favorite  I think I really lost the idea of concentrating on the simple shapes first, on the other drawings I managed this better and I think it shows.

I've been busy in work for a long time now and the tiredness is affecting my ability to get out and draw. I haven't lost my enthusiasm for it but I am physically done at the weekends. But for those two days at Christmas it was really nice to feel rested, de-stressed and get out there with the sketch pad. I hope that there are more days like that this year. I think about that Neil Gaiman speech a lot and right now that mountain seems mighty far away.....

Saturday, 15 December 2012

December Drawing

Semi successful week I think, there's something up with the head proportionally but I can't quite put my finger on it. That's the problem with drawing, you can be off by a fraction and it immediately jumps out. I didn't get much time to refine this to be honest, the time limit is too short for this type of drawing. She's sitting on drapes and I never even got round to those! Wish I had.

I'm starting to move away from newsprint, I really like drawing on it, the charcoal layers up nicely but you can only work it so much until you almost go through the paper. So I got some Strathmore Charcoal paper for next week, it has a slight grain which might take some getting used to but we'll see how it goes. Still need to play around with surfaces, haven't quite found the one I like yet.

I made a decision to get the head in, I always seems to leave it, so I'm pleased I got it drawn, the hair was a nightmare. Short poses are still posing a problem. I think it's because I'm not sure what I'm aiming for with them, I'd like to be doing them in pen but I'm really not good enough yet. I got a book by Karl Gnass, lots of nice quick drawings and it really made me think.