Sunday, 30 May 2010

Abandoned self portrait

Ok, I really didn't want to post this but since I have to post the failures as well as the successes it's going up. There are 2 problems; 1- it doesn't look like me and 2- it's terrible. In actual fact this started off quite like me and fell off a cliff the more I struggled with it.

I'm told the average drawing time is about 3 hours. Well this took 6, I can't believe it took that long but it did and as I write this I am well and truely shattered and defeated. I went through to see the Glasgow Boys exhibition at the Kelvingrove yesterday and at the moment I couldn't feel more opposite to the enthusiasm I had last night after seeing it.

I know what went wrong, for the life of me I still can't control charcoal. I totally get why it is a great medium but it's erasability is it's achilles heel to me. I put construction lines down and very soon they've disappeared, it's smudgy, it's blunt (even with breaking the sticks) and willow charcoal only goes grey at it's darkest.

And by 6 hours in my eyes just don't want to see anymore and I'm done. I'd come back to it but I want to try and manage these in 1 sitting. Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself. Must repeat and do better.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Break Through Number 2

So.....for the last couple of weeks I' ve been concentrating on keeping an anatomy sketchbook. It seems pretty technical and boring but I' ve been quite enjoying it. I am aware that concentrating too much on this type of drawing is probably bad so I will move on when the time is right but my thinking is to do it just enough to have a better grasp of anatomy and to always keep the sketchbook going on the sidelines.

But the drawings below aren't the breakthrough, in fact some of them are plain wrong- that's OK right now, the main breakthrough is that I have figured out an approach to tackle figure drawing in a logical order. This had previously been a big problem; where to start? Added to this, I seem to have figured out how to draw open handed with the pencil on it's side- another breakthrough, the pencil grip in figure drawing is a big deal IMO.

Why? Well, in the weekend classes I've been to this year I've been given all sorts of great tutoring, ideas, tips and tricks, I've even bombarded the poor teacher for even more info on the train home. I did this because I'm so eager to learn something. I soaked all of these things up like a sponge and pretty soon all I had was a long list of techniques, not necessarily a logic in how to use them. I realised this in my first class when I totally froze up and couldn't draw and interestingly I've seen other people do the same; they come in with a checklist of what they've been told and end up being confused.

I think that this happens because you get shown so many new tecniques in a class, often without repetition- you try one and then quickly move onto the next one, sometimes it has been hard to see how one fits into another, sometimes it plain doesn't make sense. Added to this, different tutors have different styles of teaching and opinions on the subject and really when you are a beginner you are slightly at the mercy of the person teaching you.

But what I've realised is that in order to progress you have to lean less on waiting to be told what to do and find your own way to understanding all of this. My approach lately has been to get less upset at my lack of ability and try and analyse what it is I wasn't doing right, then try and figure it out. So number one was getting the first marks on the page, the gesture, using the pencil. I'm a big believer that when people get upset over their drawings it's not that they can't draw, it's that they don't know how to use the tools. It's a practical thing and it has taken me over a month of drawing simple geometrical shapes to learn how to use the pencil open handed- I am convinced this is a majorly important step.

Next was taking all of this information and putting it in an order I can use, so I have taken some things, discarded others for the meantime and I feel that it's starting to make sense. In one particular class the tutor was more keen for you to draw what you see. This was good in the sense that using your eyes to see is majorly important and usually taken for granted but with a room full of ambient light often these things are very subtle and they forget beginners can't see what they see. This is where having some sort of anatomy knowledge is useful- to show you what you should be looking for.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Normal Service Will Resume Shortly

No updates in a couple of weeks but I have been up to quite a bit, I promise. First of all I have started an anatomy sketchbook which I can't really show on the blog because it's quite a technical type of drawing and may not be that interesting but it has taken up quite a bit of my time. I've been following the Glen Vilppu lectures that I bought last month and so far I think he's excellent and really explains things very well. I have however noticed a few things that he leaves out when I cross reference him with Bammes or Loomis so I still believe learning from a few different sources is the way to go.

Secondly I was on holiday in Skye. I don't think I've ever used the word 'wow' so much on a holiday, it's an unbelievable place and to top things off we had amazing weather. But there is a slight snag as I had intended to do some sketching up there and that would form the basis of this week's post, except.....I failed miserably. I sat on a hill in front of the Quirang mountains, dusted off the watercolor set that I've never used and then proceeded to paint worse than a 6 year old. My water fell over, my paper blew away and my leg fell asleep from having no seat to sit on. Yes, I looked pretty pathetic as I limped back to the car, dragging my leg behind me, tail between my legs. Not good.

Never mind, I can draw a stone bridge right? Er I can't it seems. Pretty horrific just how far my drawing has fallen by the way side but I guess I have to be practical about it. Ok, I couldn't do it, now let's log it in the (rather large) art to do list. It does show you that if you concentrate too hard in one area you really neglect other skills you should be developing. One other big interest of mine is photography, so here are some of my photographs from Skye to browse. Self portrait next I think.