Thursday, May 21, 2015

Get Unstuck with These Two Stylized Sketching Techniques

Getting stuck trying to sketch a particular subject?  Give some stylized drawing methods a try!

Stylized drawing--scribbles that aren't intended to look like the subject but to capture an essence of the subject--helped me make a lot of progress in one of my sketching frustrations.

Here is my story, plus two methods that you may want to try.

I've mentioned before that I really want to learn how to better scribble likenesses of my dogs.

That is what got me started trying to learn to draw in the first place--the desire to capture more of my dogs than what a photography could.

I struggle with it.  I delight in all the other things I scribble away at, including other people's dogs and cats, but I am not quite as free or delighted when I draw my own dogs.  Lots of reasons for that, I suppose.

Anyhow, recently, thanks to the "Stretching" class I am taking at Sketchbook Skool, I have made two drawings of my Dutch Shepherd Nik which I not only like quite a bit, but which capture some of what makes my relationship with this particular dog so special to me.

First, thanks to a lesson by Lapin (check out his work!), I did a "Big Head" style drawing of Nik.  The idea here is that you draw so that the face and head of your subject commands the biggest portion of the page, and then you shrink the body to fit.  Proportion is not a goal.

Lapin recommends drawing your subjects while they look directly at you, starting with the eyes.  Of course, Nik wasn't going to hold still that long, but I was able to take a photo of him looking directly at me.  Then, he fell asleep right next to me while I drew.

Later, inspired by the fascinating use of big blocks of black in the work of Miguel Herranz (his stuff here), I tried a completely different approach using only black and white.

Each of these drawings took less than 10 minutes--in the first case drying layers of watercolor took up most of the time and in the second sketch I spent nearly the entire time filling in the black (I should have used a thicker pen!).

So, doing the exercise has me asking some questions that I think are important for us when we use our creativity.  I know how important it is to be gentle with ourselves and not too critical, and for the most part, I enjoy the heck out of my scribblings.  But why am I so hard on myself when it comes to drawing my own dogs?  And why did these stylized drawings delight me?  What can I learn from these scribbles that will take me to the next steps of both drawing and encouraging myself?  What can I learn from my own experience that will help me help others in the future?

I do think that one reason I like these two drawings of Nik is that they are so stylized.  I had no intention of creating even a reasonable likeness.  And voila!!  I captured the essence of the dog.  His highly connected look (which also means he'd like a treat now, please) and his ever-eager stance with the Frisbee as he entices me to play.

In fact, in both cases (and most of the time, whenever Nik is not sleeping) he is enticing me to something!  He is an enticing dog!

Here's a photo for those of you who wonder what a Dutch Shepherd looks like.

So, remember to be kind to yourselves--and when you are having trouble getting the results you want, give stylized drawing a try!

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