Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sketch a Complicated Thing Without Completely Freaking Out

One of the greatest lessons I've learned in Sketchbook Skool (everyone check it out!) involves how to approach scribbling something really complicated without a panic attack.  Without quitting.  Or without even walking away from the potential drawing before even starting because it will be too dang hard.  Life is complicated.  The stuff in and around us in life is complicated.  Scribbling from life--whether in words or pictures or both--makes things a lot less scary, at least for me.  And when I'm not busy being afraid of something, well, then, I have a lot more space in my heart and mind to let interesting things in!  

This month I'm starting the New Year off right by participating in SBS Bootkamp--a kourse of exercises designed for SBSers who have completed the three klasses.  It serves as sort of a review and challenge.

The latest challenge I tackled came from SBS co-founder Danny Gregory (everyone read his books!):  draw a crumpled piece of money.  Money is complicated--in more ways than one, but here I mean in terms of drawing.

You can see there is a lot of stuff to draw! In fact, I never realized exactly how many tiny marks there are on a dollar bill before I looked at them and tried to figure out how in the world I was going to draw them!

If you have read Danny Gregory's wonderful book The Creative License, you know that he advises drawing the outside shape of an object first.  He advised that again the instructions for this exercise.

This reminds me a bit of the advice to "start with the end in mind."  There's something about getting the overall gestalt of a thing, or a task, in mind that helps me begin to see how one might get from beginning to end.  It makes it less overwhelming to consider.

Here is my initial outline scribble.  Nothing too beautiful!

You can see that I included the major shadows in this outline.  This helped me "see" the shape of the bill as it curled up off of the surface.

The next step is to begin to mark off the large sections within the complicated object.  Actually, you can see that I started that in the above drawing, having delineated the major fold in the middle.  I needed that line to draw the entire outline in proportion.  But then I went on to find what, to my mind, seemed like the major sections.

Scribbling the quick edges of George's face in there helped me clarify that messy center section--to begin to see what I was going to include and what I was going to leave out.  No way could I catch all the details!.  Then, I started with the numbers in the corners and began to slowly work inward.  Not sure why.  It just made sense to me as I tried to keep things in proportion.  I wanted to be sure everything would fit!

Finally I finished all the line work.  I had decided that I was not going to do any tonal work--shading--with the pen because the bill itself contained so many fine marks.  Instead I would let watercolor wash do that for me.  By the way, I did this ink work with my new $5 Jinghao fountain pen which I have fitted with a $15 Goulet Pens fine nib.  Wonderful drawing pen for $20.  And I used Platinum Carbon ink because I know it to be utterly waterproof.

Here is the final drawing.  It took me about 45 minutes from crumpling of the bill through washing my brush.  That included several minutes at the start of looking at the thing and dealing with some mild "I can't possibly do this" panic.  

But here's the thing about Sketchbook Skool Bootkamp (and taking classes in general, at least for me):  you can't question what the drill sergeant or teacher tells you to do.  I want to get better at this scribbling thing.  So I decided I just had to do it.

Besides, really, so what if I completely screw it up?  I just get to do it again!

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