Friday, December 5, 2014

Sketchbook Sketched Books (Or Learning Volume with Volumes)

Once again I am reminded that the world around me is spectacular and complex and full of meaning--just because I drew a stack of old books.

This week in Liz Steel's wonderful Sketching Now Foundations online course (you can link to her blog from my Goodies list and find out more about Liz and her courses), we are learning to see through objects and sketch the complete 3D shapes.  This is to help us better understand how to depict objects accurately, especially in groups, or when parts of an object are obscured.

The first exercise:  draw a stack of books.  First in pencil, drawing each object completely as if we could see through the others.  Then in ink, picking out only the edges we actually can see.

Here's my pencil and ink in progress:

If you look closely you can see the pencil lines of the objects going through each other--and the many different lines I made over and over attempting to get them right (or, at least, closer to right).

I always think sketching objects is fun at least in part because of choosing the object itself.  There are more than a few books in my house at all times.  Which to draw? 

I'm not sure why, but today my attention rested on an old, kind of beat up copy of the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Anthology from 1966, an old Modern Library volume entitled Three Mystery Novels and last winter's Tin House magazine.  I guess the represent my life's span of reading interests:  from the 1960s until now, stories of all kinds, especially mysteries.   What better subject for the mystery of figuring out how the heck to draw volume?

I had such a tough time getting that middle book to work (and I never did get it right).  I have to do the exercise again.  But ever mindful of Tommy Kane's advice that if you start a drawing you must finish it (great, life-changing advice), I spent the time painting this and adding in the shadow shapes.

Of course, one brush stroke in and I realized I had inked it with a brush that had water soluble ink in it.  So that led to some challenging watercoloring.  And, I think I had too many strong light sources going in the room when I worked, because I couldn't see clear shadows at all, so they didn't come out as well as I had hoped.

So much more to be learned about what you see, what you think you see, and--and here's the important part--communicating what you see (or think you see) to others.   No wonder we have so much conflict in the world!  We hardly slow down to really look (or listen) at what's going on around us any more, and when we do, we are just not very good at it!  We are so out of practice.

Now, back to drawing in my sketchbook.

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