For a while I have been wanting to see what it would be like if I drew or painted a landscape from a completely digital world. The image that I drew was from a game called Skyrim. Its a beautiful game and the digital landscapes are very life like. There were so many images to choose from online that it was very difficult to pick one, most were beautiful and all could have exited in reality.
Thanks to Jamie Bollenbach I had the wonderful pleasure of attending a “pin-up” themed drawing class today. The class started at 11am and went all the way to 6pm. It was a marathon drawing session but all the artists had a ton of fun. The models were amazing and each pose was exciting and new. Jamie even had a makeup artist for the models and a wonderful set full of props to add to the mood. There was no lack of interest and I could have drawn for much longer than 8 hours.
I continued with the same drawing tonight, but this time I pulled out the charcoal and decided that I needed to revisit the different mark making abilities of charcoal. Mainly I wanted to try and achieve the same detail with charcoal as I did with the graphite. I tried several different charcoal weights and I found that I could get the same detail as the graphite with a harder charcoal stick but I needed to sharpen it constantly to keep the sharp tip. So I tried different marks like cross hatching, super soft touches and linear marks that followed contours of a surface.
I decided to try a more detailed approach to this drawing. I started with charcoal but soon abandoned it for graphite because I couldn’t get the sharp lines with vine charcoal.
I wanted to do a more detailed drawing of the sunflower to see if I could do an accurate representation of all the detail while getting away from the more sloppy possibilities that charcoal offers. In the end I was able to really get deep into the detail but I realized after 1 hour that drawing with pencil is very tedious and to complete a finished drawing it would be very time consuming. I guess I need a bit more freedom when I’m drawing, and graphite just doesn’t offer it as well as charcoal.
I like the sunflower because I can be very loose and organic with the charcoal with a huge lack of detail yet it still looks like a sunflower. Drawing the sunflower is fun, playful and at the end of a short period of time it looks like I have accomplished a lot. A great outcome with not much effort at all, I guess this is why I enjoy drawing this flower so much. Especially since I have been very busy.
Before driving out to Mt Rainier for Labor Day weekend I setup the sunflower for a second drawing. I figure I should put it in some water so it would still be alive when I returned from our trip.
I really like how loose these drawings are, but I’m also thinking that they are kinda sloppy. Its a fine line between loose and sloppy.
On a whim I decided to go by Central Market and purchase a single sunflower stem and do a drawing of it. Flowers have yet to be a subject of any of my drawing mainly because they are so cliche, but I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed drawing this sunflower. I think the reason why people are so drawn to flowers in art is because you don’t have to be very accurate at all with the drawing and it will still look like a flower. Besides the immense amount of detail they hold flowers are fairly easy to draw.
I figured out tonight that I really need to work more on my gesture drawings, thanks to Jamie replying to my previous question of “Why do I need to do gesture drawings?”.
Also Jamie had a lot of great things to say about the collection of art and what qualities lasting art possesses. Art that lasts usually has a cultural significance an excellence in its craft and communicates an idea. Our discussion was much more lengthy and interesting but I’m tired so I must abbreviate.
2 minute poses
2 minute poses
2 minute poses
2 minute poses
2 minute poses
2 minute poses
1 hour pose
1 hour pose
I didn’t get home tonight until about 10:30, so I drew a couple of the peaches brought all the way from south carolina by my loving in-laws. I had one of these today and it was very tasty. Its interesting how fruits from their native environments taste so much better than fruits grown outside their natural locale. For instance, I never liked red apples until we moved to Washington, the apples here are amazing.
I still haven’t quite figured out the purpose for gesture drawing. I have heard some say that its supposed to “loosen you up” for the longer drawings. I’m not sure how accurate that is considering the longer drawings don’t use long fluid strokes or attempt to describe the figure in just few lines. I know gesture drawing is used throughout the study of a future animator, so I still wonder why its important for me. I don’t question that it must hold some importance for my progression as an artist, but the only thing that I can garner from it currently is that I suck at it.
2 minute poses
2 minute poses
2 minute poses
2 minute pose
15 minute pose
20 minute pose
1 hour pose. The figure in space again. The model tonight was wonderful in setting the mood and I figured that I would try and capitalize on it.
As of late I have not only been focusing on the figure, but the figure within his or her space. There is an effect that every living form has on space, its a subtle and elusive effect but one that I believe can be captured within art.
For weeks now I have turned the idea of connection around in my head, specifically the connection of humans with earth. It seems we have separated so much of our daily lives from the earth, our singular and constant source of life, that most of us yearn for a chance to get lost in its unspoiled spaces. Spaces which sadly have become harder and harder to find. Even now as I write this blog I recognize that my vehicle for these words is in itself the farthest from nature as possible. Yet, sitting here, typing, in some small way I am connected to the earth, I am effecting the world around me.
By no means was this a spectacular drawing tonight. I was tired from a long work day, crossfit then a release at night. Sometimes its really hard to keep the promise I made to myself of daily art, but 30 minutes minimum a day should be achievable under any circumstances.
Not a great drawing but the Arches paper was much better than Rives BFK I used yesterday.
Not much to say about this drawing tonight, much like last nights drawing. Although I did realize after only 30 minutes that I really don’t like drawing on Rives BFK paper. It falls apart too easily. I was so disgusted of the paper I decided to attempt drawing this a second time.
It was a bit difficult to cut off most of the light so the the drawing had enough light on it but my face only received a small bit of light. I’m not sure that I achieved what I was after but it was interesting dealing with the very subtle values.
I taped a black piece of foamcore over the light I used and was able to darken everything to hardly any light.
This week has been pretty damn amazing. Tuesday I had the great pleasure of watching Loreena Mckennitt perform at an amazing concert in Vancouver Canada. Me and my wife have been following her for more than 15 years now and we said a while ago that if she comes anywhere near us we would drop everything to see her. So not only did we get to see her on tuesday in Vancouver with FRONT ROW seats but we had amazing seats at Woodland Park Zoo for her second performance.
It was so perfect, Pattie got to meet her and her whole band, and she has photos to prove it. The weather was literally the best it has been all summer, not too hot, not too cold, just perfect. And our seats couldn’t get much better. We were so close I was able to bust out a few crappy sketches, which I won’t talk much about because I obviously suck at drawing moving targets. I really need to work on that.
And this is why I set daily minimums so low, because sometimes life is so busy that doing “great” work all the time is just impossible. As long as I do at least 30 minutes of drawing a day I can keep my hand, eye and mind connected and constantly familiar with transferring the three dimensional world in to two dimensions.
Now, most people would think that 30 minutes minimum a day wouldn’t be worth it but they would be wrong. Just look at my first post back in january and you can see extreme improvement within only 6 months. Personally I feel my ability to render life is light years ahead of then. But, I do set goals for each and every drawing and I try to achieve something not matter how small.
For this drawing I wanted to explore the differences between life and real time digital reproduction. So I set up a simple comparison. For real life I chose my own face and for the digital reproduction I setup a small ledge on my mirror to hold my iPhone.
I was able to draw a self portrait looking at both life and digital life while comparing and contrasting each. Here is what I found.
- Possibility of extreme detail is almost limitless.
- Tons of little subtle differences in value and color.
- Its life, viewing it directly is the only direct way to emotional response.
- Almost too much detail, its easy to get lost in details and get the larger shapes inaccurate.
- So much subtle differences in value and color that confusion was increased and judging larger masses of similar color or value becomes ver difficult.
- Easier to judge shapes and angles.
- Easier to see RELATIVE values.
- Incorrect drawing stands out and is easy to spot.
- The best way to disconnect yourself from the subject and even your drawing is through digital reproduction.
- Achieving the real values is impossible, all the lights were blown out and too white while the shadows lacked depth and were like black holes.
- Color is completely wrong, the only way to achieve true color is to do studies from life, then use digital for placement.
Eventually I believe I will have to rely on printed or digital media to inform a longer piece so with this study I came up with a few general rules. And we all know how rules work in art… break them when you can.
- If your dealing with color in your final piece, always, always, always reference the color from real life.
- Having trouble with drawing? Reference digital media and the errors will almost smack you in the face.
- If you want huge amounts of detail or beautiful subtle values and colors in your final work, then work only from life.
- Only choose a subject from life, but then use digital reproduction to sketch in quick and accurate masses of value and color.
- Never work from only reproductions gather at LEAST 50% of your information from life.
- Break every or any rule above if the final work demands it.
Not a great drawing, its not even finished. But that doesn’t matter, I gathered so much information from this in such a short time that it was WELL worth it.
We spent all morning at the Vancouver aquarium which is located right in the middle of Stanley park. The aquarium was super small so I was unable to find a good spot to sketch. So while Pattie was off squishing Beluga whale heads I headed out of the zoo to take in the open spaces of the park and a really nice landscape.
Today is one of those days where even my minimum 30 minutes of drawing a day rule was hard to accomplish. I was super busy all day with work and preparing for our trip to Vancouver that all I had time for was looking in the mirror grabbing some willow and going to town.
Although I did have a goal, I wanted to see how the willow charcoal I just purchased worked on newsprint and I wanted to attempt a smiling pose.
The willow worked perfectly on newsprint and I found that drawing a smiling pose wasn’t near as hard as holding a smile for 30 minutes. Maybe I should smile more often and build up those muscles 🙂
I have such a wonderful time at the Gage Sunday class and I just realized today that the reason it is so great is because the other artists are really awesome.
I had no goals set going into this drawing today so I spent the first 10 minutes of the pose deciding on what I wanted to try an accomplish. Lately I have been spending lots of time pondering the focus of my art, and in order for me to embark on that path I need to begin describing the figure within his/her environment. So that is exactly what I decided to do, and this studio doesn’t have any lack of interest and for the next 10 minutes of the pose I did a few compositional thumbnails of the whole scene. I eventually decided on reducing the figure tremendously and allowing the space to engulf the figure.
You can see some of the thought process in my thumbnails here. The first couple thumbnails have the figure taking up most of the space in the composition but eventually the figure takes a back seat to the studio, as far as size is concerned but just because the figure is smaller its importance isn’t diminished at all.
Here is the studio, without the model of course, after all the other artists left I stayed and worked more on the drawing. At one point I was contemplating removing the figure all together and leaving the chair empty, but I decided that it would have been a bit too cliche, and my original reason for doing this composition was dependent tremendously on the figure existing in the environment.
I heard a story once, of a student who had just completed his best painting. In excitement he showed his great accomplishment to his teacher. The teacher promptly wiped the painting out and said “do it again”.
Completing a great piece of art is wonderful, but having the ability to complete a great piece of art repeatedly is the true power. Yesterday I destroyed a great drawing while experimenting with materials, today I was very happy that I was able to recreate the drawing with improvements. I took photos during the process of the drawing.
The Drawing Progression
The placement of my eye on the left is a bit off unfortunately.
I tried as hard as I could to get rid of the texture of the charcoal marks in the dark background but I couldn’t get it smooth at this size, so I took a photo of the work in very low light. The last photo shows the effect that I wanted.
I was loving this self portrait tonight but at some point I decided to experiment with a different stick of charcoal that I had purchased a couple days ago. I really liked these cheap compressed sticks because I knew how dark they could get. What I didn’t know is that they would be so dark that the rest of the charcoal would seam pale in comparison. Soon after adding it to the drawing I knew that it could be a problem, and I even thought about taking a picture before I jumped off the deep end, but I didn’t.
In the end, the compressed stick rained down over the vine charcoal, sticking to it like glue and totally killing all the subtle transitions that I had in my face. I tried to recover from it but alas the drawing was lost. I was a little upset, but I destroy my work all the time, so it just took me a few minutes to get over it. Most of the work that I destroy has been sitting out for a couple of days and I’m completely detached from it, but this was ruined while in progress. I feel like I need to get used to this though, I will always experamint with materials and techniques and there are bound to be failures.
After a few minutes I decided to vacuum all of the charcoal dust off my taboret and while doing that I wondered what would happen if I vacuumed my drawing. It was pretty interesting, I used the brush attachment on our vacuum and it sucked all of the loose charcoal off the drawing, leaving only the deeper marks set into the paper.
Here I also took a picture of the super dark compressed charcoal. Now I know that if I’m going to use this stuff that I should be prepared for it.
I had a ton of fun with this drawing tonight. I was working on ingres paper which has much more tooth than any other paper I work on. The great thing about the ingres paper is the way it can wear down an extra soft piece of vine charcoal quickly and rain charcoal down over the drawing. I found the effect very interesting and I tried to leave it as much as possible in the drawing. I will have to do more like this.
My drawings were all over the place tonight, I was using some new materials, and I was trying out some new ideas of drawing. The combination of the two created of concoction of terrible drawings. But, like it always is with bad drawing days, I tend to learn the most from them.
Speaking of learning here is some works by Anselm Kiefer and Alberto Giacometti. Two artists that Jamie Bollenback said that I should look at and study how they build up forms. I must say that the images are pretty amazing.
I feel like I can usually describe form fairly well with charcoal but when it comes to choosing words to describe Gloria’s beauty, I flounder helplessly. While drawing Gloria tonight I thought, there is no way that I can even begin to describe her amazing form in just three short hours. Gloria pervaded an energy, a beauty, and my materials as well as my ability were too weak of tools to impart such energy. I tried to capture what I could and ended up with this.
I only worked for a half hour tonight, it was a long day. But it was kinda cool to see what I could do with only 30 minutes, of course it looks nothing like me, but I felt like it was a good rushed attempt. Maybe I will use this as a benchmark to surpass in the future.
My serial killer pose… basically its me, relaxed, with a light above…
I have had this idea recently of combining figurative forms, and I’m not sure why. So, I figured I would just chase the idea and see where it leads. After today’s life drawing I figured out that it was a lot of fun, but I’m still not sure of the direction.
I used Photoshop to darken the drawing up a bit. I was feeling like it needed so higher contrast but I wanted to test that idea before I began editing the drawing. I think I’m correct in this assumption, so I will have to work on it soon while the pose is still in my head.
I’m really glad that I have been using a good sheet of paper for these last few drawings. So far I believe that this one sheet of paper has had 3 different drawings on it and its still holding up to the abuse.
Over the years of doing artwork I have always chased images which have originated in my head. Sometimes these images were given light from a moment of inspiration, other times they have risen slowly from an idea or narrative. I’m not sure where the current image I’m dealing with came from but I do know that it has been with me for a long time.
The following three paintings were done 7 or more years ago and were part of a solo show in Florida.
2005: figure in woods
2006: abstract vertical trees
2006: abstract vertical trees
Today’s drawing attempt is coming from these past works and a few other new influences. The photo that I’m working from was taken this year during a hike in Washington. Also many of my current thoughts are being influenced from the videos I’m watching on Kahn Academy and Netflix about artists and the art world. Both are wonderful resources for learning about artists over the centuries, but Netflix is best if you want to see contemporary artists currently working and I must take a space to write about my current favorites.
So far my favorites are, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters and Gerhard Richter – Painting. I find it interesting that only one of those videos is about a painter. And I must admit that Jiro Dreams of Sushi was the video that really influenced me to get back into art after my 6 year hiatus. For every artist I research there is one attribute that connects them all and may be the reason for their greatness, and that is their overwhelming tenacity in their craft and pure stubbornness to keep it at the top of their priorities. The art pervades their life and engulfs them daily, their almost drowning in it constantly like an addict hooked on a drug.
I can’t really explain today’s image, like with most things language is much too thin in explaining such complicated ideas, but I can simplify it by just saying that is has similarities with trees shrouded in fog.
I worked on this from of photo displayed on my computer screen, printing it would be much too flat.
After feeling really unhappy with an hour and a half of work I erased as much as I could. I was hoping that during erasing the drawing I would reach an image closer to my idea but that didn’t happen. But this paper is not done yet, see my next post.
Tonight I wasn’t sure what to draw, so I set up a mirror and drew my hand clasping the top of a glass jar. I figured it would be the best way to keep my hand on one place.
It took me only 30 minutes to finish a pretty good drawing of my hand in Sanguine. I must say that I really love using sanguine on newsprint, its currently my favorite medium. But, after 30 minutes of posing, I discovered that being a model is much harder than being an artist.
Maybe next time I should relax a bit on the pose…
I’m not going to write much about my drawings tonight, I’m tired. Trying to keep up with crossfit and doing art every day is really difficult.
I decided to have a bit of fun for the last 20 minutes and try to get as much of the figure done as I could.
I was very interested in studying the trees that I was attempting to draw a couple days ago at St Marks Cathedral. Specifically I wanted to try and find the best way to simplify these trees yet keep their essence. Basically how far could I simplify this tree and still have it looking like a tree.
First I started sketching in my sketch book, but I ended up with a blob of what something that did not look like a tree at all. So I employed the help of my computer.
I used a photoshop filter on the images of the trees and then removed all their color. I wanted to see how a computer would simplify a tree, then I would attempt to mock that in some way.
Here I’m tracing the tree and with each new tracing I’m simplifying the shapes more and more. I trying to find at what point does the drawing cease to look like a tree.
More simplifications this time I tried to use more organic wavy lines rather than all straight lines.
Most of the drawings that I have been doing of the figure have not really focused on hands feet or the face. After several weeks of drawings where these important parts of the body were left very sketch I decided to do some work on them.
The model was 10 minutes late so we drew Houri for 10 minutes.
Now the models hand for 40 minutes
40 minutes of feet.
40 minute portrait
I traveled to St Marks Cathedral today which is right next to Gage Academy and began a drawing of the Cathedral. I erased most of it at the end, but it took me 2.5 hour to do the hard part, which was getting the geometric shape of the cathedral down. Then I got sidetracked and interested in the best way to simply the trees on the right. My next post is all about studying how to simplify these trees.
I was inspired today by a blog that I have been following for a while, Urban Sketchers. It’s a great blog that has followers from all over the world and they post amazing sketchbooks daily. Most of the sketches are wonderful such as this post which really inspired me to pull out my graphite and work in a very exact cross hatching.
I can’t believe that it took me an hour to work this small drawing to this point. I was even rushing a bit in the last half hour. I could really see myself working on a drawing in this technique for many hours. It may be something that I need to do, all my work as of late has only taken up very short spans of time with a main focus on learning to see every single day, but soon I may move into work with a focus on longevity. I wonder if I could last on a drawing that takes me 20+ hours to complete.
I was pretty tired going into this class. I worked till 4pm then ran over to crossfit real quick so I could get done by 5. Then I rushed home, took a shower and then headed straight to a drawing class at Gage. My goal was to see if I could make the drawing class at 6:30 because traffic sucks. I ended up getting to Gage about 10 minutes before the session started, so that part worked out well. But, after about an hour into the class I knew that I would need to leave early because I was so tired.
The drawings went well, even though I wasn’t super focused. I started in sanguine because it seems to be my most familiar medium now and I tend to work well with it. The model tonight was really great, he was an older gentleman and much more interesting to draw than the normal slender young models.
After the first drawing, I pulled out some better paper (stonehenge) and changed up my approach. I don’t focus much on hands or feet and I have noticed that my drawings have been suffering because of that. So here was an individual with beautifully worn hands that really showed a long active life, and I needed to capture them. I’m glad we will be continuing this drawing again next week because his hands has as much character as his entire body.
Today marks my 178th consecutive day of doing art every single day, that’s exactly half a year!
I’m very glad that this milestone happened at my favorite drawing class on Wednesdays at A&C Art Supply instructed by the awesome Jamie Ballenbach. Although, I was really struggling today to pull off a good drawing. We started as usually with very short gesture drawings, 30 seconds in the beginning. Then I HAD to be a wise ass and comment out loud and sarcastically that I had way too much time. Boy, I regretted that when Jamie switched us to 10 SECOND drawings! Wow, we had no time at all to draw anything but one or two lines describing the figure. I think the rest of the class was cursing my name. Lesson learned!
After the gesture drawing were a few two minute drawings which I couldn’t get in the zone at all. Then I really lost it after our first 30 minute drawing. I started on our hour long drawing but after about 30 minutes I marked the whole thing out planning to go over it again but than switched to sanguine again.
I was so frustrated that I really felt like causing physical harm to my materials. I’m glad I had the good sense to realize how stupid that would be. So when I pulled out the sanguine I said to myself, chill out, be calm, don’t worry about making a good drawing, just get at least ONE thing right in this next drawing. In the end I pulled out a decent drawing and I got more than one thing correct in the last 30 minutes.
Some nights I have no idea what I want to draw, and I’m not really inspired by anything, but I know I have to do something. The best cure for that is just to forget about any kind of inspiration at these times, don’t worry about making a work of art, just start with an object, arrange it with a good light and start drawing.
It so happens that tonight I realized after I had drawn this apple and cone that I setup a really good composition. Its simplistic, but definitely good. The focal point of the composition is the apple, and I have almost everything pointing at it and originating from it, the viewer can’t help but focus on the apple.
See, this is the thing about working on art everyday. Nothing can happen, no accidents, no revelations, no great pictures if your not working on something! Through work I setup the opportunity for discovery, and through analytically or critical thinking of my work I can recognize opportunities.
Tonight I was so tired I just wanted an easy drawing, so I setup an apple in my shadow box. I started in sanguine then thought it would be kinda fun to leave the sanguine for the red of the apple and do the rest of the drawing in charcoal.
I was soon mixing charcoal with sanguine for the darker parts of the apple. I didn’t spend much time on it, but I liked where it was going.
Short post today as I am pretty far behind on posting my work for the past week.
The Drawing Progression
20 minutes. I was thinking about what I wanted to focus on in this drawing before class and I decided to hit the major shadow shapes of the entire subject with a big chunk of charcoal as accurately as possible. I was going very slow on this, I didn’t make many marks at all in the first 20 minutes. But the marks I put down were as accurate as I could manage. I was using a big fat stick of Bob’s vine charcoal. I’m not sure what paper this is, I actually found it on the floor in one of the Gage studios several weeks ago, if I had to guess I would say it was a 190lb cold press water color paper.
40 minutes. This was a fun part of the drawing. After the first break I pulled out a big hog hair bristle brush and started focusing on edges and texture. Almost all the edges were hard at this point, so all I had to do was identify the softer edges and use the brush on them. While at the same time getting rid of the stippling left by the huge chunk of charcoal on the textured paper. I’m also thinking about value here, but in a general since, I’m not trying to be super exact with it.
I would mark this point in the drawing as pivotal. This is where the basics of the entire drawing were established and from here till the end of the session I will deal with detail and accuracy. I dare say that this is the most important point in every drawing or painting and if any artist can reach this point quickly and easily with accuracy, the rest is just embellishment. In fact most of my drawings for the past few weeks just end here if they are accurate, because at this point I have already won, I’ve passed the hard part.
60 minutes. Just to push my point a bit more about the previous photo being the pivotal moment in the drawing. You can see that, comparatively, there is not much change between the 40 and 60 minutes stage. Here I’m just using the good structure that I already setup and increasing its accuracy while building up details.
80 minutes. I’m really focusing down now and trying to get the subtle values and edges over the figure, while keeping the background in mind, its just as important as the figure.
100 minutes. At this point I’m happy with the upper half of the body and I’m moving my focus down the body and into the couch, walls and model stand.
120 minutes. Pure embellishments here, I described a bit of the legs, but most of the time was spent on the fabric and furniture. I even added the model lamp up top, I liked the glare on it an how the light would spill into the shadows behind it.
This is the photo from the Gage studio
I re-took a photo in my studio at home. My wife asked if the model was male or female and I realized that my drawing of Aaron looked very androgynous, its an interesting quality.
I always like to take a photo before and after fixative, just to check the differences. I’m not sure if its my camera, but the drawing seemed to dull a bit after I applied fixative.
Chris is one of the artists who studies in my figure classes, and he’s been documenting his development, drawing every day. This describes something of a breakthrough moment. The method may be realism, but the ultimate subject is more elusive.Jamie Bollenbach
I spent over 2 hours on this drawing, I was struggling with it most of the time and the end result was very disappointing. While drawing I was focusing on line and working hard to get all the shapes accurate. I enjoy some of the areas and how they are treated with cross hatching, but the inaccuracy of the drawing vastly overshadows any superb line work. I feel as though I could just erase everything but the eyes and I would have a better drawing, everything else seems to be a hurried mess of distraction. Maybe I needed to just slow down?
A note on Strathmore 400 Charcoal paper. I would have linked the paper to Artists and Craftsman supply, but they didn’t have it on the website, even though I purchased it from their store. I really dislike this paper and I’m most likely going to give the pad away to someone. For the entire drawing I was fighting the texture. I don’t mind texture, but when its perfectly horizontal machine made lines it looks terrible. I much prefer any laid paper like Arches watercolor, or Stonehenge, or Fabriano I would even prefer the very flat Strathmore Artagain over this.
Speaking of substrate texture, I was talking with an artist that has a studio at Gage Academy while looking at his wall of paintings in his studio. And he made a comment on how he loved the linen canvas he was currently working on and despised the cheap machine made canvas panels. He showed me a painting on his wall next to the other and pointed out the uniformity of the texture of the canvas and how it really deadened the painting and I agreed. The machine made texture really flattened the painting, it was like viewing the work from beneath speckled glass.
My purpose for tonights drawings was to explore drawing with a focus on form, specifically I wanted to see how simplistic I could make the drawing yet still capture a likeness. Unfortunately I spent too much time on the line drawing when its only purpose was to establish a base for likeness. I had stopped after the first drawing but after reading comments on my work from Facebook I was inspired to block out some simple shapes of my face.
This is less than 10 minutes into the drawing. I really tried to hit the basic shadow shapes as accurately as I could, and I’m astounded that with just so few marks I could capture this much of my portrait likeness so quickly.
Here I just pulled out a bristle brush and focused on edges for a few minutes.
I can’t think of any better way to establish a subject as quickly and easy. I call this stage the “punched in the face” stage, because most of the shapes are just a bit off and need to be adjusted to increase accuracy. I will also begin breaking down each shadow shape into smaller and smaller shapes to increase detail.
The more I do these drawings with a focus on form and simple shapes, the more I have come to realize that I have to move slowly and very carefully place these shapes accurately, there is no room for being sloppy here.
Oh, and I did this drawing on cheap newsprint, which I enjoyed much better than the line Strathmore paper.
I setup my mirror and started a drawing. Originally I was thinking I would setup the mirror then begin a drawing after my crossfit workout, but for some reason after I setup the light I was intrigued by the shapes of the shadow on my face. I always like working in sanguine on newsprint so I pulled that out and just started sketching.
It didn’t take long before I was deep into a drawing. I finished my entire head in sanguine then I wanted to see what charcoal pencil would look like over it. Mainly I wanted to try building up the shadows and background with tight hash marks. After about a half hour of working I had to run to crossfit.
My hair was down when I started the drawing, but when I got back from crossfit my hair was up, I was getting ready to take a shower after my really tough workout but there I was standing in my boxers captured by the drawing, continually working. I drew for more than an hour before I was satisfied enough to take my shower.
You can’t really tell in the photo but I darkened up the shadows around my eyes and throughout the head. I really like the scratches of charcoal pencil in my beard, I’m reminded of portraits by Van Gogh. Maybe one day I will attempt to paint myself like Van Gogh did.
You never really know how great a master painter is until you attempt what they have accomplished, its hard to do, mostly it fails and you have to weather a huge blow to your psyche.
My idea tonight was to do as many beginning drawings as I could. I constantly fell as though the beginning of a piece is by far the most important. If I can capture the pose accurately in the beginning in its most simplistic form than the rest of the drawing is mostly focused on increasing details and breaking shapes down into smaller shapes, along with some corrections.
So, my focus for tonights class was to accuratly capture the pose with simple shapes within the first 20 minutes.
I arrived at the class really early so I decided to start a portrait of their resident skeleton. I drew on top of this when the session started.
I’m not sure about this drawing, I think my focus was lacking here, really didn’t define much of the figure accurately.
20 minute drawing. This one is much better than my first. I moved a bit more to the right of the model and most of his body was in shadow from this view. I was able to capture the simple shape of the head and back quickly.
20 minute drawing. I moved to a sitting position for this drawing and pulled out the sanguine. I got way too detailed in the head here. I remember that I was wanting to capture the idea that I was below the figure looking up and I couldn’t quite get it.
40 minute drawing. I moved back to a standing position almost directly in front of the figure. I wish I had taken a picture of the first half of this drawing, I think I got the head and torso down well in the first 20 minutes but I’m not sure.
10 minute drawing. We only had 10 minutes left after the last break and my goal here was to try and get the entire figure within that time. It turned out really sloppy though, I think if I focused a bit more on accuracy then the speed would come with getting everything right with the first marks.
I think I need to stop using newsprint. I love that it is so cheap, and it does have a bit of tooth to it, but it has a ton of issues with charcoal. Sometimes the charcoal glides across it perfectly leaving a great line then, on other days its like a pen thats out of ink and just scratching paper.
The model was new today, this was her first session ever modeling and she did wonderfully. There was some drifting in the poses, but as artists its really up to us to adjust for the inevitable. All models will move and a bit through a pose, every pose will settle and be slightly different, we have to be prepared for it and plan. I think that is hard for a lot of artist I know I have struggled with it, I still struggle with it. One of the best things that I have heard an artist comment on was about the changing of a landscape. Marc Dalessio commented on one of his videos that a landscape is going to change during the time you paint it no matter what, you can either “chase the effects” and struggle with completing a painting, or you can see it as an opportunity to see a landscape much better than the one you originally sat down to paint. The same is true for a model, I have done a lot of drawing from the model in the past few months and there have been lots of occasions where small changes in a pose make everything exciting.
The next three drawings were done from the same pose that was repeated over four 15 minute sessions, I just picked up my easel and moved around the room a couple times. I was talking with Karen a fellow artist in the class and she had commented that the model was challenging to draw, and I would agree. But I didn’t think it was the model that was difficult, it was the pose that was difficult. It seems like the more dynamic the pose is the easier it is to draw. But when the weight of the pose is even, and there is not much transition in the body, this is where the minute accuracy is necessary. Its kinda like drawing a long straight line, like the roof of a house, or a railing, or a vertical beam, if the straightness of that line wobbles in the slightest it is very noticeable.
Here is where I’m having trouble with the charcoal not wanting to mark on the paper.
PS: This is the first night in a long time that I got a daily post out on time, go me!!
I finally finished it, I know it wasn’t exactly a very long drawing, but I was only able to work on this drawing for a couple hours a night. I didn’t have any intention of it actually going this long. When I started the drawing I was in the mood of getting the simplicity just perfect. I’m not even sure if I want to push this idea further. For now I will just be happy with what it is, and move on to the next session.
I took a lot of picture of the drawing because I wanted to see if it changed much after I sprayed it with fixative. I have sprayed many drawings before and I noticed that they are darkened a bit and that the charcoal would gain some texture in places. This is a detail before I sprayed it with fixative.
Another detail before I sprayed it with fixative.
The drawing after I sprayed the whole thing with fixative. The photo doesn’t really look much different, but in looking at the drawing in person areas did darken a bit, and I have some speckling in places now.
You may be able to see the change in the drawing after using fixative in these details. I seems as if has become slightly more dull now.
Last detail, I will have to resist the urge to try and darken up the background more.
Most of the work today was on the lower half. I’m still working in a very simplified manner, unfortunately I’m not sure why I’m working this way. I’m intrigued how so less detail can describe more than is necessary in a subject, but at the same time it is noticeable if the accuracy in the drawing is done well and true to the subject. Its very similar to a blurry photograph, or looking at a figure far off in the distance, even though the exact features are obscured you can still tell if the figure is well formed.
Here is a detail of the lower half. I’m not liking the foot that is in shadow I will have to push that back some more and edit the drawing a bit. I’m very happy with how I described the knee of the back leg though.
The movie theater that I went to has screens on multiple floors. I was on the top floor looking down at the concession stand of the floor below me. It was a lot of fun dealing with all the angles created by the counters, machines and designs on the floor.
No model yet, but here is a skeleton and a nice light. I spent about 30 minutes on this drawing, the detail that is necessary to describe a skeleton correctly is daunting.
Here is the classroom setup with the skeleton and light. Later the model will be on the stand on the right.
20 minutes. I like this one a lot, I got lucky with her face and I think I actually captured a likeness.
20 minute pose again, but for this one I was trying to go as quick and loose as I could. I wanted accuracy, and the whole figure. I was trying to challenge myself.
1995-1997 Oil on canvas 32″ x 30″
Curled nude on a stool
1982-3 Oil on canvas 30″ x 39″
1998-2000 Oil on Canvas laid on panel 14.25″ x 21.25″
1994-7 Oil on canvas 12.75″ x 25″
1971-2 oil on canvas 43″ x 43.5″
1971-1977 oil on canvas 46″ x 65″
Great post about Euan Uglow here.