Sunday, 24 October 2010

A week later

OK, so I haven't been posting a sketch per day, but I have been sketching daily! I've continued working my way through the book and doing the various exercises. Although I feel as though I've improved a bit, I wasn't sure how this would translate from the relatively safe environment of a book telling me how to draw a prescribed image with step-by-step instructions to drawing in a real-life environment.

So this weekend's meeting of The Bristol Sketch Initiative was the perfect intermediate because we went to the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery - a real-life environment that doesn't move :)

I started off in the Dead Zoo (a.k.a. the stuffed animals area) where I had a go at sketching Alfred the gorilla who used to live in Bristol Zoo. Alfred appealed to me because his profile is a very simple shape and it felt like (Darwin-haters look away now) one step closer to being able to draw people.

After Alfred, I wandered around and found the display of stuffed birds. There were a whole load of birds caught in various stages in perching and flight. The one below interested me because again I loved the shape of his outstretched wings. The bird was actually clutching a dead rabbit but I decided not to draw that part...

Part of the museum includes an art gallery and there was an exhibition by a Japanese artist (who's name I can't remember - argh! I'll try to find out and will update this post) which consisted of a series of large drawings of various insects. Now, I'm not a fan of insects as anyone who knows me will testify, but there was one butterfly drawing which really attracted me. I think it may have been because of the colours he used - mixes of purple and blue watercolours - and I wanted to try to replicate it.

I drew this one in pen rather than pencil because I quite like the cleaner, bolder lines produced by the pen and to me the pen seems to flow better than a pencil. I always feel a lot more pressure when using a pen though because you can't erase any mistakes so you've got to be a lot more careful. But I think this one turned out really well so it's given me a bit more confidence to use pen again in the future :)

Finally then I headed downstairs to the Egyptian display. After wandering around amongst the Egyptian coffins and mummified cats (of which there were a lot), I found a stone head of the god Atum, the creator, tucked away in a corner and had a go at drawing him.

All in all, I really enjoyed the day and felt like I'd made a huge improvement on last week. I felt a lot more confident about drawing this week and I definitely feel it's a direct result of using the book. Rather than trying to draw "animals" or "people" I found myself focusing on shapes and lines and gradually building up the picture from there. And I'm only about a third of the way through the book so hopefully will keep improving!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Drawing on the Right side of the brain

In a previous life, I used to do a lot of watercolour landscapes but living in such a vibrant city as Bristol has really inspired me to want to capture urban scenes. And the best way to do that is to (1) learn how to sketch people and (2) learn how to sketch quickly as city life tends to be fairly fast paced.

So, how to draw people? Yesterday, this was the best that I could do:

They're recognisably human (at least to my eye!) but that's not a great drawing. I think you can get the general gist of how these two ladies were sitting, but the proportion is all wrong and there's no detail - just scribbling. The problem was that I was focusing too much on trying to draw "people" or "ladies sitting on park bench" and not focusing on just drawing the shape of them.

So today I spent a couple of hours doing some exercises from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The first couple of exercises ask you to copy some line drawings upside down (to stop you from thinking about what you're drawing and instead focus your mind on drawing the lines and the shapes). I admit I was skeptical to begin with, but I think the results speak for themselves.

This first picture is a reproduction of Picasso's portrait of Igor Stravinsky. Click on the images to enlarge them.

That's my sketch on the left, and the original on the right.

What's interesting to me about this picture is that, firstly, it was drawn upside down. But secondly, the book actually said that whilst you're drawing upside down you're using that more creative right-hand side of the brain which doesn't bother with trying to identify or name what it is you're looking at. It just draws it. However, the book said to try to do this drawing uninterrupted; if you do get interrupted - for example, if your husband sticks his head around the door and asks how you're doing - your brain will switch back to left-hand thinking to allow you to verbalise a response and you'll lose your focus. If you look at my drawing above left, you can see that the head is really out of proportion with the rest of the body. As I was working upside down, the head was the last thing that I drew and just before I started on it, my husband popped his head around the door and started talking to me. I didn't consciously notice any difference in my focus, but when I turned the picture the right way round, I could spot immediately when my brain switched back to left-hand thinking.

The second drawing I did (also upside down) is a reproduction of Lichtenstenin's Anxious Girl.

And finally, a reproduction of a soldier on a horse by an unknown German artist.

Now, I've never been able to draw a horse before in my entire life, so I'm absolutely thrilled to bits with that last one :) Maybe there's something in this right-side drawing after all!

A sketch per day keeps the madness at bay

Having recently started drawing again, for the first time in... well... a long time, I really need to improve my technique and get into the habit of sketching anything and everything around me. The plan is that if I draw even one thing every day, something wonderful may begin to emerge. At the very least, it should make staring down that blank page a little easier each time.