Friday, February 29, 2008

Sketches From the Walters Art Museum

Not scans, just photographs. Too many to scan (and I'm too lazy).

This is the first one I did. I realized quickly that it makes more sense to do quicker drawings than to spend a lot of time and energy doing detailed rendering. In other words, I got tired and frustrated with this one and that's why I didn't finish it. I can definitely spend more time on a drawing if 1) I am sitting, and 2) I'm using a medium I can erase, so I'm not married to all the mistakes I make.

Three attempts at the same head. Man, she was a tough cookie to capture. I will be trying again. This particular statue really evoked a mood, and I am determined to capture it.

This, too, evoked a very strong mood. I really enjoyed trying to render it. It's probably my favorite 3-d piece in the whole place. I'll definitely be working on her again.

I made this guy too efeminate, I think. :)

Last one I did--I was tired at this point.

Gesture in sharpie (pic is sideways).

This is my favorite so far.

A gesture of the same statue.

Detail of her knee, which is really cool-looking.

Sharpie marker.

Gesture in sharpie:

I've been having trouble with proportion, and often make the heads of these statues way too small. I think that will improve with time and practice. I'll also try using pencil, so I can erase.

Gesture in charcoal. I like this one, too.

Gesture in charcoal. A little 8-year-old girl watched me working on this one and came over to admire my work. She expressed frustration that she wasn't that good at drawing, and I gave her some sage advice. Then she sat down next to me and proceeded to draw the same statue with her crayons. :)

Two attempts at the same face. This is another one I want to try again. It's a great little sculpture, only a few inches high--but SO much emotion in the face and posture.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Drawing Lessons

Just a brief, brief background of my art study: I took at least one art class every year from the time I was in fourth grade until I graduated college in 2003. I wanted to be a fine artist or graphic designer up until I was 17, read Faulkner for the first time, and decided to become a writer. I was an art minor at Goucher College. I did it for the sheer love of creating art, not because I ever thought anything would come of it (and that's why I didn't choose to double-major).

Anyway, I haven't made much art in the past five years since graduating school. Of course, I've had my Etsy endeavors, but that is largely outside the realm of what I consider to be "fine art": drawing, painting, and sculpture - the classical kind of art I was learning in school.

I don't know what exactly prompted it, but I've recently started to make a serious effort to continue my art education through self-teaching. It might have been when Chris gave me a sketchbook and travel watercolor set as a gift before our trip to Montreal. When we visited the Musee des Beaux-Arts, I used that sketchbook to draw sculpture from life - the first time I'd ever done so in a museum. I was hooked. For months, I vowed that I would go back to a museum to spend time doing it again, but I just never got around to it.

Finally, two weeks ago, I spent my Sunday afternoon at the Walters Art Museum drawing statues from life, and I went back again the next Sunday. I plan to go once a week for at least two hours, as my schedule allows. But more on that in another post (I still have to scan in my sketches).

I've also started some exercises at home. Before I dive headfirst into some juvenile attempt to create a "masterpiece," I feel like I need to hone--even remember--my basic skills, since they've been so long out-of-use. I also need to give props to an artist I've come to admire and respect, Jason Sho Green, who, though his talent and brilliance is evident, is still pursuing self-education in traditional technique. I've definitely taken cues from reading his blog about different exercises to pursue.

Outside of working on quick sketches at the Walters, I wanted to have a longer-term piece that I could work on for several hours with a "slower mind." So I set up a simple still life of shoes at home. Shoes are some of the first things I remember drawing when I finally started to feel like I was learning real technique from my art teachers (about seventh grade). They are simultaneously organic, recognizable, and easily accessible, so it is no surprise they are common subject matter for young art students. I put a sheet in the background, because I'll eventually be working on tonal value, and set up a harsh spot light to increase contrast on the objects. Here's kind of a blurry picture from the angle I'm drawing from:

I started out with an old standard: the blind contour drawing. It's an exercise I love and hate at the same time, but the results never fail to be interesting. Unfortunately, I was interrupted by a phone call and unable to complete the exercise. I felt it would be a waste of time to start again, so I moved onto the next phase.

For this phase, I did a pencil contour drawing of the shoes. It was minorly frustrating because I could feel in my mind how out of practice I was. I was trying hard to draw with the "right side of the brain" - a fantastic hand-eye coordination technique taught to me by Glen Grove at North Harford High School - but I felt myself slipping into "symbolizing," the bane of life drawing. I had to work hard to stay on the right side and draw what I was seeing instead of what I thought I was seeing. This difficulty goes back to the fact that the shoes are easily recognizable.

I didn't time myself, but I think I spent a little over an hour getting all the contours in. I used an HB graphite pencil on a Strathmore sketch pad that I've probably had for ten years. I drew very lightly because I do plan on filling in tone next (would have used a 2H if I could have found one laying around). Here's the result (not a great image, because this is a digital camera picture, and not a scan):

I think I did pretty well, but there were definitely some errors that I was feeling too lazy to correct. For one, I was pretty sure the toe of the front shoe was too narrow. That could have stemmed from any number of errors in proportion/distance judgment. But I didn't think the problem was so eggregious that it merited erasing and re-rendering such a large portion of the drawing. I'm also dissatisfied with the composition. I really need to try harder to get the subject more centered on the page, or at least in a more purposeful composition. But I'm not too concerned about this because it's an exercise, and not to be a final piece or anything. Again, not worth starting over to fix this problem.

Out of curiosity, and because I have access to digital tools that I never had in high school or college, I decided to see how "well" I did with rendering the still life. I overlayed the photograph of the still life with my contour drawing to see how they matched up:

I was right: the toe was definitely too narrow. And there are, obviously, other errors, but I'm not a camera - I wasn't expecting perfection. In fact, I did better than I imagined I would, being so out of practice.

The next time I have a free evening (and who knows when that will be), I will spend a few hours working on filling in tone. I'll post pictures of my progress.

Who Am I Kidding?

This blog started out as a way to document and market my crafting efforts for my Etsy shop, and I kept that up for a while. When I grew tired of that, I decided to do a "blog overhaul" and focus completely on my literary endeavors of reading and writing. Well, lo and behold, I got tired of that, too.

I am not the type of person who can focus on just one thing, ever. Why should I try to devote my blog to just one thing? That makes no sense at all.

So this is yet another somewhat awkward transition entry to let my innumerable readers (HA!) know to expect a lot more variety and randomness from this site. I think it will be lots more fun for everyone.

Let's begin. Here's a picture I drew last night of my cat, Squinty: