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.

Saturday, 17 November 2012


Not sure about this one, I did better with getting most of the figure drawn but really those hands should be in there. Again, the time limit is causing a bit of an issue, I might have to rethink the type of drawing I'm doing in 1.5 hours. I'm rushing to get to the tonal stage and I'd like to be taking a little more time over this. The measuring is getting better though, I think here I may be slightly out: it is definitely starting to click though. That cast shadow over the shoulder is still a problem area and this week I tried putting in the shadow lines with compressed charcoal to make them a little bit more permanent. Not sure if I'll do that again as compressed charcoal can be quite severe and you have to be careful that the drawing doesn't go dark too early as it has here.

As much as I appreciate how difficult a life model' s job is, these guys absolutely love bolt upright long poses and I think that's one of the issues I have with this. The pose is just so darn dull and every week it is similar. It's all practice and on a brighter note the upright pose is good for proportions but still, maybe if I was a better artist I could have enhanced it a little with a bit of a twist or something.

I've been looking at a lot of Dean Keller recently, that great line quality he has with charcoal. I really love his drawings. Thinking about  moving away from the rough newsprint, it holds the charcoal nicely but isn't so good when you start into tone- at least not with my haphazard method.

The regular classes are great though, I come away with so many ideas for things to try the next week. So it's all good :)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Birthday Sketch

On my birthday this year I got a rare day off, just to myself and I went sketching around the art galleries in Edinburgh. I get to do this maybe twice a year and as I was sketching I was thinking what a shame we all don't get to do things like this more often rather than spend time behind a desk.

This is a little cast study from my sketchbooks, measuring a few inches across. I did the original drawing in graphite at the museum, then pen and wash at home, finally adding some gouache and watercolor. I recently picked up some gouache as I like using watercolor and the two work well together but I have to admit my handling of it here is very clumsy, I really couldn't work out how to paint with it. Whilst gouache is opaque, it's not totally opaque and it picks up the ink and wash below- I found this very difficult to control. But there's something in this sketch that might have potential. It needs to be looser, outlining the shadows and filling them in doesn't quite work but as an effect, I like the color in it, I think it works in some ways, it's just lacking experience.

Managed more life class this week. Seem to be getting small improvements every week, post coming soon.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Life Drawing

Another Life Drawing this week,it's OK I think but with a few problems. One is speed, I'm just not fast enough to complete a drawing in 1.5 hours and I was aiming to always get the head, hands and feet in. I think this is still down to being a bit slow in the measuring phase of the drawing, I need to figure out a better methodology there. I'm also hoping that my drawing will loosen up a bit as it's a bit too tight at the moment but I'm not too worried about that versus getting an accurate drawing.

I'm getting my butt kicked on the shorter poses and would like to be getting something out of that, so more work to do there. One interesting problem I'm running into is cast shadows over a dark area. Because shadows are transparent in ambient light you can have an area of the body turning into shade but with a cast shadow falling over the top. An example here is the right shoulder which was definitely in shade but was also getting a strong cast shadow from the neck. I have a feeling I should be leaving one of these out, it doesn't really work on this drawing but I'm not sure how to handle it. It's times like this I wish I could ask a tutor their advice but I can't so......

I have some cast sketches I did at the museum last week, will share these soon :)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

New Book: The Visual Language of Drawing

I also thought I'd mention that I've been reading the new book from the Art Students League this week: The Visual Language of Drawing. I'm most of the way through and have mixed feelings about it. It's written in such high Academic language that my poor, simple little brain implodes after just reading a few sentences. I will probably have to re-read it at some point. Most of it goes way over my head. I feel that if the idea of the book was to educate the general public on the various principles of drawing then it's a bit of a failure. Or maybe I'm just dumb. Possibly the latter.

There's some interesting ideas in it, for instance: never erasing a mistake before you've corrected it on the page but in general I can't really follow it. Amazing how in depth people look at Art? Maybe I'm not there yet, I doubt I ever will be, I just enjoy learning. When drawing starts getting Academic and teaching gets opinionated to the nth degree, I start to feel uneasy. But I think it's important to read everything you can about it. There are some people in this book that don't like Bridgeman. I do, though the smaller Dover books have terrible printing, he's helped me a lot.

Life Drawing

If I can be pleased with one thing recently, it's that I've manged an entire month of regular life drawing. I had hoped that this would provide a fair amount of material to post on this blog but in reality, despite all of the things I have taught myself and learned over the past 2 years, it has been a real struggle.

I think this goes to show that there is quite a difference between knowing all the theory and actually doing. I think you need a healthy amount of both. Certainly knowing my anatomy well helps me see things and I have a good handle on materials etc but you have to be careful you don't neglect one area in favor of the other.

I've set up some rules. One is that I only use charcoal, I actually take very little with me to class and I think it helps. I have a tendency to reach for other pencils when a drawing doesn't go well and this forces me to focus back on the drawing. The other rule is to measure. I was very strict last week that I really measure properly and that I was really looking at the model. You would be amazed how easy it is to look at the model and not really focus. You skip the hard parts you don't want to draw. I used a bamboo skewer, a piece of card with head lengths measured on it and plum lines on the drawing itself. Most people had an almost finished drawing well before me but I stuck to my plan and most of the shading you see here is actually done in the last 15 minutes of a 1.5 hour pose.

I got caught up in some measuring mistakes and I got bogged down in certain areas. I should really have got more of the head, hands and feet done- I've been trying to get through the whole figure in passes and not skip any bits. I have squashed his crotch for instance and made him too wide, I had tried marking the top of the page, the bottom and then working into the center. I was making a real effort to place to place him well on the page and my measuring isn't quite there yet but it will come with practice.

So this drawing below has a lot of mistakes, it's far from good but I was very happy with it: for the first time I could see things beginning to work and that's a great feeling.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Back From The Dead

Haven't seen one of these in a while have we? Well yes, my bad, lately it seems that getting time for art has been impossible, I've either been shattered from work, parenting or a combination of the two. I've also felt the strain of being pulled in several different directions, on one hand I want to develop my ZBrush and 3D (lack of) skills and on the other there's drawing and the traditional art. There isn't time for all of it unfortunately.

Drawing has it at the moment and I'm glad because I missed it a lot. I'm going to try and get back to regular blog posts. Two things are apparent: I need to get to a life drawing class each week or I won't progress and I need to get out and do some plein air sketching. I've been reading James Gurney's book on colour and also picked up a book of Charles Dana Gibson's ink drawings which has got the creative juices flowing again.

So here we have some more thumbnail tonal sketches, using charcoal and about 5x3 in size- so pretty small.I figure that in a tight week I should at least be able to so a few of these and they're useful to do. I should probably make some colour thumbnails as well to help develop my colour sense.