Sunday, 4 December 2011

When at first you loose confidence, go draw in a museum

The way I see it, there have been several barriers to get through, the first was getting back to drawing and getting over my crisis of confidence, then I had to understand some of the processes and principles involved ie. the basics I never knew about, followed by some pretty intensive anatomy study. Now it's the turn of having the guts to go and sketch in a public place.

A recent trip to London was an opportunity to go drawing at the British Museum and that's just what a friend and I did. I just forced myself to do it and guess what? I managed and not only that I enjoyed it, I really enjoyed it.

To me, this is important for so many reasons. One is that while drawing outside the comfort of your own home you are limited. You can't take every bit of equipment you own, you need to travel light. Sometimes by limiting things, you discover what is important. I stuck to pencil and ink, using brush pen for the core shadows, adding the white pen I found was difficult as you can't get different values out of it and you almost immediately over-do it, trying ink and wash on this particular sketch pad was tricky. Also this sketch pad is not a perfect mid tone. So in a very short space of time I had learned a lot of things that don't work and stripped everything right down to basics. In the end I found myself kind of taking notes on the drawing: where is the core shadow, the reflected light, cast shadow, lightest light and darkest dark, then I finished off the drawings later using some of the knowledge I've picked up in the past year.

The middle drawing is a bit of a failure but I've included it anyway, it's important to realise that there will be a lot of bad drawings before there are good ones but in a way that isn't the point. The point is that this particular barrier is down, you can't get better without doing these things.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Selections from a sketchbook

Lately I've been doing a lot of sketchbook work. Most of the time, if I get home from work and only have 30 mins or an hour to draw I will open the anatomy sketchbook and do a bit of study on various things just to keep my brain up to date. This book stayed in a a cupboard for 8 years while I gave up drawing and it's nice to be filling it with something finally.
 I'm happy to say I've found another art class ( and have been going every Thursday evening. 5 mins from work and with a bus that takes me straight home accross the road it couldn't be more ideal. It's been great to get back to it because no matter how much you study in a sketchbook at home, nothing replaces drawing from life.

Not too much to show for my efforts from that just yet but hopefully it won't be long. I've found that my ability to look and see what I'm looking at (muscles, landmarks etc) is a lot better but my ability with materials such as charcoal needs a bit of practice. I think my main issue is hesitation and lack of knowledge, confidence unfortunately plays a big part in good drawing.
The only downside would be that the class is only 2 hours but it's enough and it lets me figure out what areas I need to work on and then I can come back the next week and try again. It is fairly quiet too compared to the Sunday class; I have always been more relaxed in an empty class than a full one- being relaxed is pretty important for drawing imo.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Semi Successful Atmospheric Perspective

Having heard about atmospheric perspective recently, I wanted to give it a go, so I decided to do this study based on a Rubens painting. Atmospheric perspective basically means that where one object is behind another, it will fade into the backround, almost like a mist I guess. It's similar to the principle of lost edges but not quite the same thing. The original painting doesn't have it but it was a good pose to test it out.

In fact, personal study wise, I have changed the way I do things. I warm up by doing a page in my anatomy sketch book and then I do a study based on  a Masterwork. I was worried that I was concentrating too much on anatomy and in reality I think it's probably best to have several things going at once- that way I don't get too complacent in one area. That has been the hard thing this year, I have been essentially setting my own curriculum; everyone says 'Draw, draw, draw' but draw what? In what order? How do you build up your skill from nothing/ very little? So a lot of the time you have to keep yourself in check.

A few things went wrong. For one I labored over it too long but I did take breaks. Also, yet again, the importance of knowing how your materials behave raised it's ugly head. I was drawing with a Chamios leather cloth, rubbing in the gesture and then using that as a guide to do a more accurate drawing. After that, you pick out the lights with a putty rubber and then add your core shadows. But even though I used a good paper it was impossible to rub out the lights back to the white of the paper. So the drawing is mostly shadow and mid value because I couldn't get the highlight tone.

I did another small test on Bristol board and that seemed to rub out better. I considered using white gouache to paint the highlights but I wasn't sure it would look right and I decided to leave it and put it down to experience.