Thursday, August 23, 2007

Aquarelles on coloured paper, 20 minutes.

Aquarelles and coloured pencils on coloured paper, 15 minute pose.

6B and coloured pencil on coated paper, 20 minute pose.

Some drawings are better than others. Sometimes the model moves. Sometimes I get tired or uninspired by the pose, or hungry or just because. But the name of the game is to continue to look at the challenge presented by the subtle nuances of the body, and convince your eye/brain/hand to act in concert; and hopefully the gods of drawing materials join in and together we all create a masterpiece. And you think about it, and think about it again. And again, when you look at the drawings, and again, when I edit and post them here. Mark Bernstein asks, 'Can we do it all, better?' He sees 'galleries and museums are a big conversation: how can we do this?', and asks what is the purpose of music. Big questions, Mark, good questions. In the age of machines, it is the hallmark of humanity. There is no machine that makes art - drawings, music, or any of the other glimmers of creativity that define us as a species. The purpose is itself.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

After last week's breakthrough on capturing a likeness, I couldn't wait to grab my 6B and settle in to see if I could create another likeness this week. What if it was a one off? A weird torture from the universe - a likeness once, and only once. I'm pleased to say, no, it seems like it is something you can learn, get better at, and generally keep in your repertoire of skills. I feel pretty pleased with this drawing. 6B on coated paper, 15 minute pose.

6B on coated paper, 20 minute pose.

6B on coated paper, 20 minute pose.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

10 minute pose - 6B pencil on coated paper.

20 minute pose - coloured pencil on coloured paper.

20 minute pose - aquarelle on coloured paper.

Finally! Something resembling a likeness. It was a good night's drawing tonight - one of the other artists looked over my drawings from a week or so ago, and said, 'Oh so it was (model's name).' I was amazed that he could interpret that information from my drawing as I didn't think there was even a passing resemblance. This drawing is different, it actually does begin to capture a reasonable likeness. An unexceptional drawing, but nevertheless, one I'm very pleased with. 20 minute pose - 6B pencil on coated paper.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Some models have an unwitting gift in that I find them easier to draw. I have no idea what is the difference that makes a difference - confidence and energy for sure - but I 'm not sure if that's on the part of the artist or the model. Coloured pencils on coloured paper, 20 minute pose.

I like the cleaner hatching - the aquarelles don't always take to the gloss paper very easily, so strong and incisive work is what is required. It makes any mistakes really obvious - not very forgiving at all. 20 minute pose.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Still working on capturing a likeness. 20 minute pose. Aquarelle on gloss paper.

Winner of the Mekon look-alike contest... oh dear, not very flattering. The great thing about using strange (well, strange to me) colours is that it shakes you out of the rut - the ideas and colour combinations that are known and safe simply don't work any more. Aquarelle on coloured paper. 20 minute pose.

I like the look of the ink lines and the colour work after - it's a bit like Carl Larsen's work, unfortunately quite a long way to go. It requires two skills for the price of one - the lines have to be spot on, and then the colour work needs care and balance. There's a lot going on in a 15 minute pose. Ink and aquarelle on coloured paper.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Anatomy of Anatomy

One of the better descriptions of the agonies and ecstasies of life drawing can be found at Everyday Matters - illustrator/writer Danny Gregory explores aspects of the human form. Danny's right - part of the drawing process is the artists themselves are laid bare - your every error, your every inadequacy is laid out, 'permanently' on paper. It's daunting holding your work up for comment or critique, even in an informal session. Friends and family have no care for this - they simply think: arms don't look like that, or oh dear, according to your drawing that poor model seems to have had an interlude with a chainsaw.

Call yourself an artist. My theory is that it takes about 10,000 hours to get good at something (about five years, full time), and about another 10,000 hours (total ten years, working full time) to become an expert. You might get there faster with a motivated teacher, but if you've become a genuine, world-class expert in less than ten years, let me know so I can celebrate you. Meanwhile, only about another 19,999 hours to go...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm finding the two minute poses are getting a bit easier. I'm getting much faster and can do a better job of getting in some of the details. I like one minute poses - I draw fast gestural drawings and sometimes they work better for me than something I labour over. I've heard that some people can capture a likeness in that sort of time - that they practice by sketching from the tv news. Phew! I wish.
6B pencil on paper. Two minute pose.

jun28-3-2007The coloured paper I'm using is quite soft - I'm still working out what methods of applying the colour will work, and which will not. In this drawing I wanted to explore some of the green and blue tones - I struggle with drawing warm skin tones in cooler colours. By layering in the colours I get a result I can tolerate. Only another 100,000 (or so) drawings to go...
Coloured pencil and aquarelle on coloured paper. 20 minute pose.

I got a bit distracted drawing this 20 minute pose - I could've done with another 20 minutes. I like the warm colours - rose. One of the things I find interesting is once I've reached a good drawing state I notice a 'flat' surface - like the model's back - is not flat, there are some shapes and depressions. And then there are more - and more. Suddenly an apparently flat surface with not distinguishing features becomes this fascinating landscape of subtle colours, textures, and undulations; oh, and then it's "two minutes more in this pose..."
Coloured pencil and aquarelle on coloured paper. 20 minute pose.
Foreshortening - the bane of most artists life - no wonder portraits used to cost an arm and a leg - I'd charge extra for them as well. 20 minute pose, aquarelle on coated paper.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

how to sketch a portrait

animYou can have fun drawing online at BenettonPlay. This is a 35 frame animated gif. The whole process is managed through a Flash 9.0 application. I suspect given how long it took to save and render that if you've got dialup and an old computer try the 5 frame animations. My prototype was 100 frames. Um, everything died. It is fun, and the results are easily achieved, albeit slowly. I particularly liked the 'onion-skin' approach as this allows for quite accurate animation and tweening, if that is your wish. I didn't need it for this anim, but it's good never-the-less.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hmmm - no really, although we draw at 5:30 the model didn't have a 5 o'clock shadow. Grrr - still working out how to keep the paper from going muddy, and keeping the colours incisive. There's not much room for error. Coloured pencil on coloured paper.

Purple. Good grief - purple? Hey, if it was a long-lost Picasso from the blue period you'd be excited. Of course, Picasso would've drawn with greater clarity. Even he started somewhere though. I'm quite enjoying the experiments of adding darker and lighter tones over the mid tones. It feels like a whole new area to explore. Coloured pencil on coloured paper.

I feel as though this new season of life drawing is really starting to work for me - the big break through, he said, feeling slightly stupid about the whole thing, but pleased nevertheless; is being able to keep the model on the page. If nothing else, the drawing stays on the page. I attribute this to the more sophisticated and experienced Wellington models. Coloured pencil on coloured paper.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

I'm working on capturing likenesses. It's still an exciting opportunity for improvement. Not only would nobody recognise the model from this drawing, the model themselves would disavow all knowledge of the experience. 10 minute poses don't enhance themselves to me - I still have a long way to go. Aquarelle on glossy (clay coated?) paper.

Coloured pencil on coloured paper. 20 minute pose.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

This model was such a funny, laughing, life of the party sort of person it made my drawings easy to do. I certainly did feel any concerns about making mistakes, and I made a number of quick drawings - say two x 5 minutes drawings within a 10 minute pose. This was a 20 minute pose. Aquarelle on paper.

20 minute pose. Aquarelle on paper.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


One of my drawing buddies suggested getting this gloriously cheap, slightly scary coloured paper from the Warehouse. It's not of a particularly high quality, but it's ok for fun and experimentation. This is my first take - ink and aquarelle. The paper is soft and unstable when wet which makes it not overly useful for the aqua part of aquarelle. I'll try next session with coloured pencils instead.

Oh dear - the coloured pencils are too hard for the soft paper, so the paper cockles a little, and I have to work the colour again to get it to show how I want it. I like the colored paper despite this and I think I can get a better look.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

For some reason tonight I was inspired by the cave paintings of Lascaux. I felt very satisfied by the work and on the rare occasion I show my drawings from my books other people seem to like it as well. Aquarelle on paper.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sometimes it's easy for me to get into a cruisy drawing mind set, and that doesn't always serve my work well. This was a short pose - 10 minutes - and the model exuded a real dynamism. I really like the drawing - much better colours in the real than here on the net. Aquarelle and gold ink on paper.

After the break we settled in for a slightly longer (15 minutes), and a more reflective pose. I find the short poses quite difficult from the perspective of wanting to get every last detail - but the quite poses end up looking less contrived. I envy my drawing buddies who can knock out a reasonable likeness in the time it takes me to connect a pencil with the paper. Practice, practice, practice.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

relax, redraw

One of the great things about drawing is I find I can generally suspend judgment while I'm making the drawing and just fix things up. Here the yellow first sketch shows some issues with proportions - and then I've just redrawn over the same ground and corrected the drawing as I went. There's bit of a message for life there - simply go back, apologise, and get on with fixing it up.

The other big progress for me was seeing one of my drawing buddies mixing purple and orange - woah - it made me see in grey - and I liked it - things to experiment with. I've always found adding more colours (which is not the same thing as huge volumes of colour) has made my drawings more interesting. Note for your repertoire - add more colours. Aquarelle on paper.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

sizing people up

One of the things I've learned from life drawing is that the model's beauty is only partly expressed by their physicality. I can recall having a model who was large, and while not externally unpleasant, clearly had personal issues - and these showed in her body language. It was evident that she loathed herself.

In the case of this model, she was clearly more than content with herself, and drawing her was good fun. Ink and aquarelle on paper

Sunday, April 15, 2007

starting art

It's been a long time since I did any life drawing. I'd forgotten how hard it is - and how rewarding. Ink and aquarelle on paper.
A few two-minute warm-up sketches. Ink on paper.
It doesn't take long for you to remember how the lines should go, could go, and it would be so good if they did go... where you want them to go. Ink on paper.
In the end you end up learning as much about yourself as you do about the model. Drawing as meditation, as reflective practice. Aquarelle on paper.