15 May 2012

Contour drawing for 75 days?

My pursuit of the "artistic license" began yesterday. For now, I am being faithful about doing only contour-line drawings in pen. This may change as the 75-day period progresses, but I am going to pursue this kind of drawing to sharpen my eye, hone my sense of perspective, and learn to really look at what I'm drawing instead of reproducing what I THINK is there. It may get boring to look at, so I'm not going to post every blessed drawing, but I thought I'd start with a few.

Here is my footstool with my book and glasses. Yes, the book IS beginning to levitate off the footstool--it is a magic book. I specialize in drawing those.

Here is the top of my bookcase, with an array of framed photographs. Making your way around all of this with contour line is tricky and messy. I think I used about four lines for this.

And here are my most available and faithful models, Beatrice and Miniver, the one usually somnolent and therefore offering a perfect opportunity for drawing (although the poses remain quite similar), the other stately and languid, but prone to jumping up to howl and nip her sister at a moment's notice (she has thyroid issues that make her crazy).

I'm hoping to find time to paint something this weekend.

13 May 2012

Day Three, Part Two: Sketch Collage

Brenda does something she calls "sketch collage," but the name is a bit misleading, since most people think of a collage as bits and pieces of photos, drawings, tickets, leaves, or whatever that you glue into a hodgepodge of images, like scrapbooking. The sketch collage is indeed a pastiche, but it's not cut out and glued together, it's drawn together (literally and figuratively) because of the significance or similarity of the sketches. For instance, you take a trip to a town in Italy, or to the county fair, or to your farmers' market, and do a bunch of small sketches all on the same page, then find a way to relate the images to one another, with words and format. Or you put together a bunch of botanical images, or sketches of birds you saw on your morning out with your binoculars.

Our homework on Friday night was to decide on a theme and pull together some objects or images of objects that we wanted to inter-relate in some way on paper. The results were pretty amazing, and ran the gamut of: architectural wonders from European capitols; the famous buildings of downtown Los Angeles; garden gloves, a trowel, a watering can and a couple of flowers, all tied together by a wandering vine; a robin and its nest/egg, with a border of feathers and bird tracks; and many more. They were all different, all personal, all interesting, all illustrative.

For my theme, I started out with literal artifacts that my parents had given or left me, and I was going to title my page "Inheritance." But as I assembled images, I thought about the less tangible things they had given or taught me, and decided to include some of those, too. Ultimately, my picture remained title-less, but some of the words it inspired were included as book titles on the shelf at the top. (And I included Betty Crocker too, because who doesn't have a copy of the Betty Crocker Cookbook residing in their kitchen?)

This was a fun and instructive exercise, which I hope to repeat.

Note: I tried to do as much of this as possible as modified continuous line drawing, so the candlestick, the door angles, etc. are all a little wacky. Someday I hope to be able to do continuous line with accuracy and grace! So...75 days of practice await (see previous post).

Another note: I had to scan this in two pieces and I couldn't get rid of the shadow across the bottom half of the top or the top half of the bottom.

Working with watercolor(s)

A new EDMer, Linda, wrote and asked how to get started with watercolors, because she hadn't used them before. I answered privately, but then thought I'd post my answer too, because I'd like to save others some frustration and disappointment! Linda asked,
"Shall I just start with a kid's pan set?"

My advice is, if you want to paint with watercolors, do NOT start with a kid's pan set, or even with student grade watercolors! Make an investment in a small array of good quality tube paints, buy a palette to put them in, and begin as you mean to go on. The kid's pan sets are hard and chalky and will prove so unsatisfactory (pallid and weak) that you won't be happy with your results and will perhaps give it up.

Also, be sure you buy only transparent watercolors. The way to do this is to avoid anything with "cadmium" in the title. I have been painting (off and on) for seven years, and no one EVER said this to me until this weekend (thanks, Brenda Swenson). I often wondered why the work of others was so translucent while I had to struggle for that light-filled look, and now I know!

Also, get a couple of grades of paper to work with. You can start out on cheaper paper (no sense spending ALL your money!), but you need to see pretty immediately what the difference is between watercoloring on sketch paper vs. on 140-lb. (or better!) watercolor paper. It makes all the difference in the world how the paint moves around and into the page.

The hardest thing to master about watercolor is the reverse nature of painting. With acrylics and oils, you build up layers and add your highlights last. With watercolor, your highlights are created by the white of the paper, so you have to remember to save the lights and whites you want to show at the end, which takes a little wrapping your head around. (I'm re-posting this plate of olives to illustrate--all those highlights were painted around, not added later. It takes some thinking.) But don't be daunted by this--once you get it, you will love it.