"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind". - Henry James

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Drawing as Preparation for Painting

I love to draw for drawing's sake.  But drawing is also a good way to prepare for and plan a painting.  Many people paint directly with good result.  I find, however, that I really do need to plan, especially with watercolor.

This is my brother on his old sailboat, sadly gone now - donated to a sailing school (the boat, not my brother).  This is probably too detailed for value sketch, but it serves the purpose.  And if I never get to the painting, I'll still have the drawing.  I think I'll do a watercolor sketch from this drawing and see how that goes.

I drew the house up in back.  I often catch a glimpse of it through the trees in winter.  It is a lovely purple and I've wanted to draw and paint it for a long time.  It is partially obscured by trees in the winter and completely blocked once the trees leaf out.  There are more trees than I drew here and I think I'll want to place them strategically for the best design.

There is another house that I can sometimes see through the trees, but I don't think there is quite enough visible for me to draw.  Of course, I could just draw the bits I can see and then use my imagination to indicate the rest.  That might be the way to go.

And of course the day wouldn't be complete without a dog drawing or two

or three or four.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fast Sketching Techniques

One of my goals this year is to learn to draw faster.  I guess that implies sketching.  Which brings up a good question:  What is the difference between sketching and drawing?  I haven't really made a clear distinction in my mind yet.  They're sort of the same, except I think sketching implies speed and a less finished look.  Or maybe it conveys movement.  Definitely energy.

A book on my art-books shelf (one of many) is David Rankin's Fast Sketching Techniques:  Capture the Fundamental Essence of Elusive Subjects.  I think that is what I want to do.  I want to be able to go to a zoo or a farm or any place where animals gather and be able to come away with something recognizable.  Birds!  I'd love to be able to render birds in a way that somehow captures some of their "fundamental essence".  I think this is going to take a lot of time and practice.  I'd better start now.

I'm working my way through some of the exercises in Fast Sketching Techniques.  Here is a page of images I copied from the book as practice.  That blocked bit in the upper left corner is a test scribble that my scanner wanted to scan to the exclusion of all other images on the page.  I don't know why.  The idea is to get a general shape down quickly and then add some shading and blend with some sort of blending tool - a tortillon or stump or even one's finger.  I used a General's Woodless 9B pencil and a blending stump on bristol smooth paper.

More birds~
I tried some of his fast sketching techniques while watching CSpan2 Book TV.  It was sort of fun!  I took too much time with these drawings, but I found I could at least get somewhat of a likeness by drawing fast as the camera cut away and using the pencil as a shading tool and blending with the stump.  
And then I tried drawing from life, which I much prefer.  Of course drawing a sleeping dog doesn't require being able to draw fast, but dogs often shift position.  It turns out it is handy to be able to draw quickly.
Sadly, this book is out of print.  I think a search on amazon.com or Alibris would find you a nice copy at a reasonable price.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Podcast with the Amazing Ricë Freeman-Zachery!

I had the wonderful experience the other day of talking with the fabulous and amazing Ricë Freeman-Zachery of Notes from the Voodoo Cafe about my favorite subject - drawing!  Thanks Ricë!  It was soooo much fun!

That's me drawing jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  If I can find the drawing (I've got to get organized), I'll post it soon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Accordion Sketchbook

I took an old 140 lb. cold pressed watercolor painting I had started and never finished and made an accordion sketchbook out of it.  I covered some mat board with some decorative paper and ribbon for the cover.  It measures 4 by 3 3/4 inches when folded up.  Not quite square, but close enough.
I did a few drawings in it and set it aside.

I started carrying it with me lately and, as happens, I filled it!  A little and often really does work.
Cold pressed watercolor paper has a slight tooth, not as much as rough paper, but sometimes it can be difficult to draw on with pen and ink.  I found I like the way a Pilot V Razor Point pen works on this paper.  It has the wonderful quality of not being waterproof and makes lovely washes.  I touched the ink lines with a Niji waterbrush and the ink ran and made these lovely shadows and tones.

I drew where ever I happened to be and often didn't have time to complete some drawings.  I like the way one blends into another when I unfold the sketchbook.
Having a sketchbook with me at all times is a great way to use those spaces in my day when I'm waiting for someone or I'm a little early for an appointment.
I actually look forward to these moments to do a little observing and drawing.
And I think I found a use for that stack of unfinished paintings I've had for quite a while now.