Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Valuing the Allosaurus

Last week in the "Drawing Practice" class I'm taking with Roz Stendahl, we practiced learning to see values.  We also practiced how to capture them quickly because, ultimately, we want to be able to use them to depict live subjects in public places.

For practice, Roz recommends using high quality toys.

I pulled out my allosaurus.  I haven't drawn her in a while.

I have a very hard time seeing value.  This I know from other failed attempts.  So the first order of business, for me, was to use my newly honed awareness of contour drawing and draw contours--outlines--of the different shadow shapes I saw on the dino.

Then I filled in those shapes with different shades of blue (after I thought about red, but decided against it).  You can see the results below.

You can see all my notes, a little bit of my frustration in trying to capture the values with colored pencil.

I think I made it too hard for myself.

I forgot the principle of scribbling. Relax, have fun, make marks, enjoy the process.    See what you can learn and what you can enjoy.

So I turned the page and reset myself by doing a blind contour of Allie.

Then I tried the shadow shape contour drawing again, using the paper's white and three pens in black and two grays.

I had a much better time doing these scribbles.  You can see, in fact, I actually was scribbling with the markers, coloring in and really just enjoying myself.  I felt quite good about the giant step in rendering volume I took, just because I backed myself up, loosened up, and set myself a more manageable task.

I wanted to back up a bit more, though.  Try to see what I could do to understand and capture values with just a pen.

So I went looking for inspiration and education in one of my newest books, Pen and Ink Drawing: A Simple Guide by Alphonso Dunn.   And voila!  Not only did I get to see some pen-specific value techniques at work, but he had a drawing that looked exactly like my allosaurus.

I immediately found an empty spot on a page and did my best to copy it.  See below in purple ink.

I have written about the importance of studying and copying mentor artists before.  I teach this technique in my creative writing classes and I find it always useful in drawing.  Just making this one copy taught me a lot.

Look what happened when I next tried to scribble some value with Allie.

Next, I changed position so I could be sure I wasn't just reproducing from my visual memory of Dunn's drawing.  And I changed tools as well.

What I'd like to improve about both of these is proportion--I shorted up her jaw quite a bit.  I kind of forgot to measure because I was so excited about finally having my brain click on the value thing!

Later, I tried one more time and in a different way:  this is a scribble drawing of Allie in my Hobonichi planner.

I really really like the energy of this one!  This is the sort of drawing I want to make.

A few days later we switched to water media.  You'll see in my next post what happened when I took that out into the field and worked on live (but slow moving) people.  But when I first started, I tried a different animal.  And though a cow is not an allosaurus, my work with Allie sure helped me get this first quick brush scribble down.

What I like best about this is, hey, you can tell it's a cow!  Plus, the blue gouache is lovely.

I had hours of fun this week drawing my plastic dinosaur.  Others are doing flowers and fruit and lovely arrangements of still life objects.  

Gotta draw what you love.

You are what you give your attention to.


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