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.