Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Scribbling Using a Mentor Artist

I found a book of drawings by William Steig on clearance the other day and fell in love with the quirky drawing style.  This, I thought, is a style I want to emulate!  I'm going to buy it, take it home, and copy some of these, so I can learn to incorporate some of his style into my own work.

Only after I got home did I discover that Steig had written the children's book Shrek!  And more important, he wrote one of my most favorite childhood books, CDB! I actually still have my copy of that book from the late 1960s.

So here are a few examples of what I call interpreted copies I did of Steig's work.  That means I mostly copied what he did, but felt free to change it up if I wanted to.  I used sugar cane paper because of it's interesting resistance to watercolor.

I did probably a dozen more.  Copying these helped me begin to understand new ways to do turned heads (not just straight on or in profile, which is what I tend to default to), how to do hands that work without being fancy or super accurate, how to do feet a angles, and some approaches to animals. 

As much as I love scribbling from observation--urban sketching--I also love interpreting things as comics.  I feel like studying Steig has helped me grow new skills.

The tradition of copying masters is a long one in visual arts.  Even these quick scribbles--because that's what they were, quick and lively interpreted copies, not painstaking exact copies--helped me learn something new.

I encourage you to head to a bookstore or library, or even look online, find an artist whose works contain something you wish you had in your own style, and create some interpretive copies!

Next up:  I want to try to apply this style to some drawings of my own and see what happens.

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